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Rev.Babuji Maharaj Birth Anniversary Celebrations - April 2011, Molena, GA
It was a gift to arrive at the ashram before Babuji’s birthday celebrations began, finding brothers and sisters already creating the amazing transformation needed for the comfort of the 1200 who would soon follow. Although the amount of work necessary to prepare for the gathering was daunting, there was a strong sense as new arrivals joined in that Master was watching over, making sure everything was in order. In those quiet days before most arrived, his presence was in everyone there and all around the grounds, especially as we worked.
On Friday, the official start of the seminar, it was a joy to see how many abhyasis arrived to be part of this “Hearts United” celebration. Master’s choice of theme felt perfect, and as the weekend unfolded, the profound meaning of that choice became even clearer.
There is no way to know or even describe what takes place at the heart level. All we can do is continue to cooperate with him and open ourselves more and more to be able to receive all that he wants to give.
After the first satsangh on Friday morning, Sister Janmarie Connor asked how many abhyasis were visiting Molena for the first time. More than 250 brothers and sisters raised their hands. She then spoke about how preoccupations and thoughts had disturbed her at the beginning of the satsangh, until a solution had presented itself: “Let go of yourself and wait.” Sometimes meditation is a matter of waiting. She also spoke about her recent visits to North American centers where she found that abhyasis shared a common concern: How can we integrate our everyday lives with our practice more and more? The question is something for all of us to ponder, and it was addressed again after Saturday morning satsangh.
Another sister spoke Friday morning about how inner conflict generally comes as a result of our wants. In her own life she decided to try “wanting nothing” and found there was a feeling of incredible power when she could just bring herself, without fear, into the present moment. She wondered if this is perhaps Master’s “power”—that he is so utterly himself.
Other speakers talked about expanding the heart so that it is visible and palpable. If Master is sending love all the time, our job is to appreciate that love, accept it, try to reflect it and manifest it generously.
Prior to the Friday evening satsangh we heard a recording of a talk Master had asked Santosh to bring to the abhyasis of North America. “There is no security where the heart is not involved,” he said. He defined growth as the increasing ability to overcome bigger and bigger problems until the ultimate problem of death. Finally he said, “I wish you all to understand the global significance of the spiritual pursuit.”
On Babuji’s birthday, following the Saturday morning satsangh, there was a presentation of three classical pieces on violin and guitar, including a soulful playing of “Ave Maria”, a song to the Divine Mother from the Christian tradition. Afterwards Brother Santosh Sreenivasan spoke to Janmarie’s question of integrating our spiritual practice with the responsibilities of home, family and job. He said he had repeatedly asked Master about this but had never been fully satisfied with the response. Finally Master replied, “I never saw anything as not being His.” Santosh also spoke of transmission as a silent, undemanding, nourishing love that we receive. He said this is actually oneness which contains everything. He reminded us that we walk out of every satsangh transformed, more complete. On the theme of Hearts United, he said that we have been accepted for who we are; why would we be any less accepting of each other? And finally, at some point in our abhyas what we see on the outside should reflect what we feel inside.
Throughout the gathering the family tent was abuzz with fun and interesting activities for the children. After Saturday’s lunch, as a prelude to the evening’s cultural program, the children of the Atlanta Centre performed a skit which they had lovingly prepared. This was followed by a beautiful guitar and voice solo by Sister Carolyn Romano.
To further mark the special occasion of Babuji’s birthday, a new road sign for the Molena Ashram was inaugurated. The Pike County Sheriff, Jimmy Thomas, toured the ashram at the invitation of the gathering organizers. During his visit he asked many questions indicating a sincere interest in our purpose and activities, and his subtle suggestions showed a genuine wish to foster good community relations and involvement.
Later in the day brother John Barlow spoke, saying that the timing is right for change when we all get together and work for it.
A warm tribute was given to Brother Victor Kannan and his wife, Prati Kannan, for their many years of service in the U.S. Mission. Their family will soon be moving to India, but their contribution to the vitality of Sahaj Marg in the U.S., and especially the development of the Molena Ashram, will always be remembered.
There was a multi-cultural program Saturday evening comprised of all age groups, with songs from different parts of the world, including France, Latin America, India and Jamaica. Many abhyasis joined in, some at the last minute, in a spirit of joyful participation.
The celebrations were brought to a hushed close with the Sunday morning satsangh.
Among their many benefits, gatherings present opportunities to serve when the heart is pulled to do so. A deep sense of joy and contentment comes from such participation, along with the chance to meet and get to know brothers and sisters who have been in the Mission for decades, and especially to learn first-hand the details of how such a gathering is organized. Whatever our role may be, we find that other tasks are being handled invisibly by capable and willing hands. We hardly notice the work that takes place in the kitchen, in the parking lots, at registration and in so many other places. Instead, throughout the weekend we enjoy delicious meals, prepared and served with love, and are graciously accommodated in every imaginable way. This invisible service is surely evidence of Master’s love and guidance and work, and a reflection of the example he is perpetually setting for us.
Inevitably, the last day of the gathering brought the bittersweet ritual of goodbyes and the realization that this special time of being gathered in the cocoon of our Master’s love, without the distraction of worldly obligations, was coming to an end.
Again, the ashram was quiet. By Monday there was just a handful of local abhyasis working on cleaning up. It could have felt overwhelming to see the size of the job at hand, but by just diving into the work, we did not feel the work. We didn’t think about much as we went about the process with a profound sense of Master in our hearts instead. The extra time gave us a chance to digest all that had been given while remaining in the atmosphere of unity and love.
Those of us fortunate to be there were given a tremendous gift. In quiet moments Master seems to remind us of the importance of nurturing this gift through constant focus and attention to our abhyas. We must tend it each day, keeping it close to our hearts so that one day we can become this love that will unite the world.