Tag Archives: Somaskanda

Swami, Jai Jagadisha Hare

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Blessings from the sky, the wind, and the rain.

I can’t say things have been easy.

Almost every day, I am getting different realisations, insights into life and how things are, that destroy over and over any set way of anything being in any way. I question what it’s all about, over and over. Where people dedicate their lives to their cars, households, jobs….and there’s a general encouragement from near enough everyone around me to at least try to do the same. And ever since I was a young teenager, I knew that it wasn’t going to be straightforward, at all, where this life would be heading.

I try to tell people that I’ve seen things that are too special to live this normal life whilst carrying. It’s hard to express this to anyone, except who have lived through it too. I saw Swami Durgananda at Skanda Vale last weekend, and with him I share this total understanding and relating of it all. We lived through all of what built the Somaskanda temple. I still get fairly short of breath thinking about when he was separated from the temple on the day that the murthis arrived, and I was put in charge by default for doing something that I hadn’t been instructed about properly. It was the most important day for the temple upto that point, and somehow I was there to organise everything, without speaking the language, and without any drawings showing where each part was due to go. Yet, it was okay. Swami Durga arrived back just after the last delivery had been finished. And that is what we lived through together. He needed me to take some of the weight. It was what I was there to do. I could take the energetic load.

I have been building a website for Bob, whilst he’s maybe in his final days of life in this realm. He’s a kind soul, and saw that I needed to take on this last wish of his in his long life. I’ve only known him a year, yet have been directed into his most significant karmic episode. I’ve taken it all on as it is. I’ve just watched what’s gone through myself with it all. There isn’t sadness inside me about what’s going on. There’s joy where there are breakthroughs. I had a big block with the website, made some breakthroughs yesterday evening, and then spoke to Bob on the phone today and was really happy to speak to him all about it. It’s funny though – it’s a job that I’ve needed to be able to dedicate myself completely to in my spirit, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I were working a lot, or busy in any way in life. As life has seemingly come to a halt of some kind, it’s opened things up to allow my focus to be much stronger, and more devotional.

My relationship with my shrine has gone in different directions. I’m feeling myself slowly getting more and more into a meditation practice, for the first time in over 4 years. Things are slowing down, and it’s become possible again. It’s always felt important for me, but never been possible. Bhakti has been my sole practice as a result – but deep meditation practice is what I lost. Devotion and meditation should go together, but it’s hard, and seems to need such a deep processing of so much stuff.

I also have started to go for walks again, for the first time in many months. I hadn’t been for any proper walks by myself in about a year. Then, with this snowstorm coming over us last week, it opened up this beautiful, magnificent world to me all around me. I just need to chant all the time. Chant and be happy, so they say. But chant, no matter what, and there’s unlimited protection there all the time. You need to break down in order to refind. I broke down a lot of what has been beneficial to me over recent years, and it’s come back to me gradually, and I notice it’s importance, I notice it’s effects. I became complacent for years. I’ve been divinely blessed with this opportunity to come back to myself. To refind myself. And it hasn’t happened quickly at all. In the spirit of just letting everything happen, because there’s nothing gained from forcing anything (on a deeper sense), I’ve just waited and it’s come.

The world around me, as well as the world inside me, has seemed and felt much more illusory in recent times. All this stuff that’s written in the news, or on social media….there’s this question inside me, that says, ‘and so…?…what is this? what, really, is this?’. There’s so much relative suffering everywhere. And most of it comes out of disconnecting from nature. It comes out of having a huge disconnection from all life all around everywhere. In Brading, we have few birds, or any wildlife for that matter. There are no foxes, or badgers, or deer. I heard the dawn chorus this morning, but only because I hadn’t gone to bed yet. After the dawn chorus, there’s no bird sound till a little around dusk. The energy around these parts is shaky, like lots of not so good stuff has gone down over a long time. But it’s all quite hidden – people just keep to themselves, and you see nothing. It feels safe. But there’s something really missing. There’s a barrier between everyone and everything. I spent one day in Freshwater, seeing Raymond, and everything was the opposite. There were birds everywhere, playfully dancing about in the winds. People talked, and laughed, and eye contact with everyone, everyone noticing everyone. It had a glorious feeling. It felt like something to work towards. No holding back, no inhibitions.

This body cries out for different things. I offer it all up. I needn’t be in puja or meditation to offer everything up. Just offer it all, as it is, in every breath. Today I found a solution that felt right for my long-term problem of not being able to run. I really feel I can definitely run now, and I’d love to run, but my feet have not been good when I’ve been running. I found that there are minimalist shoes that can be bought very cheaply, in the form of water shoes. I’m excited for running to St Helens along the old road. It feels like that’ll be my running route – though I don’t know which way I’d run back. I’d love to run a half marathon again sometime. And maybe I can get to be in good shape for longer runs. 10 years ago, I needed constant exertion. I couldn’t deal with life without it. I would get headaches and anxious if I hadn’t had a proper exercise in a few days. Now I don’t get that, but I feel not quite right most of the time. Running is the way, because I have learnt deep secrets in how to run, to run to commune with all nature and all things.

I still offer, in many moments of every day, this feeling and suggestion of life going in the direction of a monastic commitment. It would just be a confirmation of how I’ve been living anyway, should I make the commitment. But to live in Skanda Vale would give me much more support, which I’ve noticed the importance of since leaving. And recognising my potential place in the community, that I would have a very real role in fulfilling the works of Guru Sri Subramanium. I will continue to offer in every day. But I do pray, also, that I get given much grace to enjoy dimensions of life where I am now that I would not be blessed to experience once rooted into community life.

I’m eternally grateful for all of the clarity and understandings that I have received in recent times.

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Journey to the centre of being

It doesn’t matter so much what you do. The cause and effect will happen. The opposite will always be invoked, no matter how good or bad.

I had quite the internal crisis on Thursday night. I’d been to badminton club in Ryde, and lost every match except for the singles I played at the end of the night. The whole night I was feeling uncomfortable, feeling something odd going on energetically in the hall. It was like as if everyone was asleep in some way and something else was there.
I left feeling internally in pieces, pulled apart from the sense of stability and solidity that normally guides everything for me. I took my shoes and socks off, cranked up some music, and walked slowly through Ryde to some skips, and then to my bus stop. I felt as if everyone around was suddenly against me in some way. I got thoughts of where I could go and live instead. I thought of Bristol, South Wales, Switzerland, the Pyrenees, and Indonesia. All places where I’ve felt a feeling of freedom to be. It felt kind of urgent.

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I feel asleep on the couch trying to write about everything. I woke at 5am and went to bed for an hour, before I had to get up for work. I was still in pieces.

It had rained a lot, and was raining a little when I got out. I got my feet soaked when I got off the bus because my shoes don’t resist water. I got to work. I was told a few minutes after starting work that I hadn’t clocked in. I had clocked in, but it hadn’t registered so – normally this means missing morning tea break as a result. The supervisor said I’d clocked out accidentally instead of in, and everything was fine. I went through the first few hours in my own world with my assembling job that I was going for a new time record for. I was going so fast.

At tea break I spoke briefly to Mai, a lovely Thai lady. She pretty much just wished me a really pleasant weekend, we didn’t have much time for talking about anything as she was on the earlier tea break and had to go. The energy was soft, and loving. Everyone on that table was soft and loving.

I went back to work, and started conversation with my neighbour, a new guy, Phil, that started a few weeks back but had been repositioned next to me the day before. We connected strongly. He came to the island from Manchester because he has family here. He’d like maybe to start a business around his cartoons he draws. He doesn’t know where to get started with publishing. He’s a quiet man, and gives the impression of being very reclusive. But his energy is warm, and loving.

After work I needed to go to Newport to pick up a piece of wood for a miniature door carving I agreed to do for a dementia project. Phil got on the same first bus, and there were a couple of other colleagues that we sat upstairs with. The energy was fantastic, like we all shared in this club of living together at the factory.

In Newport I got the wood and went to Independent Arts, to see the project assistant. She was really excited by my enthusiasm to take this on, and said she’d like to put my progress on their website, and have a grand unveiling of the door on the 24th April. I felt feelings of real adequacy. I felt, for the first time since leaving Somaskanda Ashram, that I can call myself a carpenter again. I realised that I do have the skills and ability to do this project.

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The good vibes wood

I went looking for tools, and ended up buying some online. An investment – a jigsaw and a rotary tool. The rotary tool would take quite some time to sand it, but I can give the time. I will cut it with the jigsaw, then plane to a decent thickness, then carve patterns in with the rotary grinder. I can do this because I was carving into a meteorite rock with a rotary tool at Somaskanda. I am skilled.

I left home just after 7pm to go back to Newport for an Amnesty International meeting with Lucy. I heard from Tārā who told me all about Somaskanda – the first news I’d heard in quite some time to a place I feel so very much connected to. We met in Newport and talked briefly before getting to the meeting. I’d told Lucy I’d had a hard time and wanted an evening of good vibes.

The meeting was hot, way hot. I took my jumpers off but was still really hot. We were the youngest there by a long way. Most were very much retired. The Isle of Wight Amnesty group was set by Derek Stirman in 1962, 55 years ago. He was in the meeting. We were told he keeps quiet nowadays in the meetings as he feels he can’t contribute anything anymore because of his age, but that it was completely because of him that the group has been going the whole time. I felt like I was meeting a living legend.

They talked about different prisoners that they’re trying to help, and different events they’re putting on. I’d been quiet most of the time but ended up agreeing to promote some of the events, and I wrote a birthday message to a prisoner in Morocco about football (I was told he likes hearing about football and so I told him briefly what’s going on at my club, Newcastle United, with all the good vibes Rafa Benitez has invoked). I marvelled at the stone fireplace, and especially at the beautiful long stone shelf that stuck out of it. As a stoneworker myself, I saw this as something really accomplished and beautiful.
We left, it was raining a lot, and quickly the chair of the meeting picked us up and took us to Brading.

I suggested us going to the Kynges Arms pub on the high street, an Oldy Worldy pub I’d always wanted to go to but hadn’t been in yet.
We went in and immediately a girl came running over to Lucy and gave her a big hug. An old friend she hadn’t seen in a few years, since being her bridesmaid. The universe brought them back together here.

We sat at another table by the window with our drinks. There was an old well in the middle of the table. I was flabbergasted. The universe brought me back to the living waters.

Everything was all good vibes. Lucy asked me if I’ve ever done any building work, I told her about my first ever proper project I’d managed, and completed with David within our time limit, of building the shelter for Nandy. Of course Markus and Swami Narayana didn’t tell us their thoughts on it, they tended to keep their praise to particular planned-out moments. But it was brilliant. And it was David’s first ever building project (he didn’t tell me until after – I’d assumed he had some experience). He absolutely loved the project, and that’s what it’s all about in the end really. Loving what you’re doing. It really shows if you love it.

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Nandy Boys

I said about wanting to do face masks sometime. I hadn’t had a face mask since I was 17, but always found them so relaxing. Lucy said she makes face masks, but normally they’re for ‘girly nights’ and realised how much of a gender stereotype that is. We agreed that I would be seen as gay by other men if I spoke of wanting to have a facemask. It’s a desire for relaxation, and for some reason it’s seen as extremely deviant for a man to want that. It brought my mind quickly back to the Amnesty meeting, when a call-out was made as to if anyone would lead up a Pride project to do with Amnesty on the island, and the chair specifically looked at Lucy and myself, and we both stayed quiet. I hadn’t ever considered myself within that grouping, but there are so many things that make me stand out from the ‘man’ stereotype. I feel uncomfortable when other men are sexualising women in any way (and this includes even ‘chatting up’ women at events based on their looks), and don’t actually see myself feeling an attraction to anyone based solely on their looks. I sleep cuddling teddy bears every night. I wear hippy trousers that are only sold in women’s sizes. And for years in the past would be confused for being a lady, because of having long hair and no beard. But then I feel that all people, regardless of sexual leaning and what have you, should have every right to feel ‘pride’ in being whatever feels natural. Whatever feels natural.

We left, Lucy caught her bus, and I had a brilliant puja at my shrine. To bed, and a night of crazy dreams, lots of disturbances throughout. But I’m here now. I need to retreat away sometimes, but will continue to affect things around me even if I have retreated. Sometimes a retreat is the most powerful action, or is the only thing that feels right.

And I feel all vibed up. The crisis of Thursday night brought a lot of things up. I doubted everything I’m doing. Now I’ve been given signs that I’m doing all the right things. And that’s all I need.