Butterfly Angels

 

Today I found another little book in which I wrote notes. Remember, I am sorting out things, packing boxes and getting ready to leave this apartment for another in another part of the city.
I lived here for 10 years. Prior to that, I lived in another place just after I moved out of the monastery, for  two years.

It seems my life has a 12 year cycle, so who knows I may live for another 12? I will be quite an old man then.   But I found this story I wrote 10 years ago.

It had not been very long since I moved here when one evening I took in with terrible pain and a friend drove me to the nearest hospital.  I had the gall bladder removed.
It must have been a day or so after the night after the operation and I wrote the following note.

It must have been around 4 am and I was awakened by fluttering sounds and my eyes a wee bit opened I saw these little lights and these creatures gliding across the room. They looked like night butterflies.

They glided across the room doing a thousand things. One came across and held my arm as she took my blood pressure…poof poof poof poof she pumped the little instrument and took the count. Her pen was squeaking as she wrote on the chart.

The other glided over and checked the intraveinous while sticking a little thermometer in my mouth.

Then they all formed a sort of circle as together they checked the charts, whispering to one another and soon it was all over and they began to leave.

My eyes were now wide open as though I was a kid who just spotted Santa

They were flickering out the room and suddenly the last one in line looked back at me and smiling she waved.

She had long black curls, as black as the night. It fell over her back and on to her starched white wings.

I could see her twinkling face.  It was Vietnamese.

I will not forget…..my angel butterflies.

Van Morrison - The Healing GameVan Morrison – The 

In Loving Memory

“In the Eastern traditions, spiritual teachings are handed down from Guru to student in a form of transmission – often orally or physically. Neem Karoli Baba is Ma’s guru, and that is the lineage of Kashi. Baba’s two words, “Feed Everyone” are the essence of the teachings of Kashi. Ma also has many teachers who were very influential in her spiritual life.
About lineage, Ma says  “It is in your lineage to walk the path of the heart and live your lives, while taking care of others and yourself in the divine name of God. Be filled with joy and bliss this life. This is in your blood and in your lineage. The beauty that you receive as you walk the path of the guru tradition is one of the links to the chain of lineage. This is an endless chain that reaches to the formless, allowing the form to remain motionless until it is absorbed.”

Ma Jaya’s Teachers and GuruAs Ma’s personal journey unfolded in the early 1970’s, several saints and teachers came to teach her starting with an experience of Christ who told her to “Teach all ways, for all ways are mine.” This established Kashi as an interfaith path of life.

Her personal journey then led her to her teacher, the great Indian saint, Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, whose influence created a foundation for her teaching to this day.
Neem Karoli Baba, appeared to her. This began another chapter in Ma Jaya’s life. Through her work, Neem Karoli Baba’s blessings have continuously graced her students’ lives. His presence is felt in every aspect of life at Kashi.
Among the other saints and sages who have had an influence on Ma Jaya’s teachings are Ramana Maharshi and Shirdi Sai Baba.


Swami Nityananda

Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri is one of the most beloved Saints of India, born in the first half of the 19th century. He is closely connected with Sri Neem Karoli Baba, and is one of Ma’s most important teachers.
Nityananda is considered by many to be an avatar. He is known by the world for his great austerity and compassion. He left his body in 1961.  He is also known as both the author of the Chidakash Gita and as the carrier of the essence of Lord Dattatreya (the Hindu Trinity of “Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva in One Form) and of the Dancing Lord Ganesha.
Swami Nityananda brings to the world the gift of the Chidakash. The Chidakash is the “heart space over the head”. Within this sky of consciousness rises the great orb, Surya– The Sun — The Absolute Godhead. This divine space, where one’s individual soul merges with its Divine Soul, makes its heavenly home in the upper part of the skull. This space is our true home, our birthright.
For books about Swami Nityananda’s life and teachings, click here. For photos of Swami Nityananda, click here.


Neem Karoli Baba

Ma’s Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, was is believed by many to be one of the greatest spiritual masters of our time. Even today, many years after his death in 1973, Baba continues to touch people’s lives in many different ways.
Neem Karoli Baba first appeared to Ma Jaya  in 1973 and has been teaching her ever since. Through Ma’s work, Neem Karoli Baba’s blessings have continuously graced her students’ lives. His presence is felt in every aspect of life at Kashi.
Baba’s main teaching can be crystallized in the words, “Feed everybody.” This command to feed pertains not only to physical food, but to the food of the heart, direct and unconditional love.
Following in his footsteps, Ma Jaya and her students are engaged in service activities, touching people with AIDS and other diseases, children from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, and many others.
“Having seen Him, all is seen. Having heard Him, all is heard.
Having touched him, all is touched. Having known him, all is known.”
Ma Jaya – speaking about Neem Karoli Baba
While Neem Karoli Baba never gave sermons or speeches, he taught through the immediacy of his profound ability to love. As many people who experience his presence today say, “He is as alive today as ever.” In this way, he maintains the ability to touch the lives of many in tangible and lasting ways, opening those who turn to him by awakening a great and never-before-known depth of love within themselves.

  • To find out more information about Neem Karoli Baba click here.
  • To see video of a puja to Neem Karoli Baba in a train caboose at Kashi click here.
  • To purchase books about Neem Karoli Baba, click here.
  • To purchase photos of Neem Karoli Baba, click here.

Shirdi Sai Baba

Shirdi Sai Baba is worshiped and loved by millions of people in India and throughout the world. He taught tolerance and harmony between Hinduism and Islamic traditions, and in fact, it is not known whether Sai Baba was himself Hindu or Muslim. He often taught in simple parables and stories, using metaphor and paradox. He would sit by the side of the road and beg for one rupee. By this, he would teach individuals about generosity and stinginess. It is said that his presence conveyed a direct experience with the holy and sacred.
Shirdi Baba is remembered for promising his devotees that … If you look on me, I will look on you. Shirdi Sai Baba left his body in approximately 1918.
For a book about Shirdi Baba’s life, click here. To see websites about Shirdi Baba, click here andhere.


Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950)

Revered as one of the greatest spiritual teachers of modern-day India. At the age of 17, Ramana Maharshi had an experience of death, in which he realized that one’s body dies, but the eternal stream of consciousness is not touched by this death.
This was a profound experience of the True Self, and notably occurred without the guidance and protection of a guru. He remained conscious of his identity with the Absolute at all times, and for the rest of his life. From this awareness, he taught his students to simply ask, “Who am I?”
For books about Ramana Maharshi and his teachingsclick here. To view websites about Ramana Maharshi click here and here.

The above texts were taken from a page in Ma’s blog. She left her body at Kashi Ashram on the night of 13th April at 10pm.

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Ma’s River

I chose this picture of Ma because it says so much to me.

She sits with open hands. Hands that pray, hands that serve, hands that hold, hands that give, hands that bless, Hands that wrote the poem that I first heard and draw me to her:

“ Children play by my River

Sadhus stay by my River

Cities old by my River

Temples made of gold by my River

Cows stray all day by my River

Young men and women now die by my river

We are all the widows who cry by my River

1008 candles drift on the leaves that float on my River

They light the hope of the many by my River

River, river, I am thirsty

I am burning, my River

Quench my thirst, my Mother

I need the River to know her own

Ganga, take my children home

Let them feel your abundance

Let them know your tears

Let them know that you, the Ganga, are always near

The worship of my river is so very old

Her story must be told

I shall worship and tell of she I bow to

Mother Gange, I shall tell of you

The River of my dreams lives and flows in the

City of Lights.

Her blanket is Kashi

Her soul is Shiva

Her sister is Kali

I, Ma, am her daughter

I, Ma, thirst for her water

I shall drink my fill and then drink more

I shall give what I have consumed to my sons

And daughters

Her riverfront shrines shall live in my heart

The Holy walk down Kashi’s narrow ancient streets

Behind the dead they walk repeating the name of my

Mother Gange

Her name comes to the near-dead

I place her tilak upon the dead’s head.

(from Ma’s book, “The River” Kashi ashram)

In 1993 the Franciscan community in Montreal sent me as a delegate to attend the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. It was there that I first met Ma.
She was coming into the hall in procession just behind a Cardinal from N.York (they had become friends). I was standing near the door and as she approached she was smiling and the young Indian man next to me said “let me introduce you to Arlo Guthrie’s Guru” and with that he said “Ma, this is a friend from Montreal”.  Ma had a warm smile.
One night at the Parliament, Ma read the poem written above, and for some unknown reason I began to cry. I wanted to know why and wanted to know more about her. This led me to take a workshop that Ma was giving, in which she was giving teachings as how to serve people with aids.
This was in the early 90s  and we know how much stigma and prejudice existed then. I took the workshop.
St Francis of Assisi, at the end of his life wrote how he was converted and he attributes his service to the lepers of his time, as the key factor which led him to be the man we now know as a Saint.
In the 90s, people with aids were treated as lepers and I felt drawn to serve but did not know how. I was very inspired by the way in which Ma served and gave herself so fully to the cause of these men who were so ostracized.
Ma invited me to come and visit her Inter-faith ashram in Florida and that began a whole new world of service and adventure for me. I will develop more about this in time to come.
Ma was an embodiment of service, especially to the poorest and most abandoned. She also stated that the ‘flesh of the Christ’ was the cement on which her teachings are based. “as you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me.”
I have grown to know and love Ma over these years although I have not been able to visit her ashram as often as before, and will miss her physical presence, her teachings and words will never leave me. She is a great source of inspiration and grace.
She passes away at a most auspicious time when we are still contemplating the greatest moments in the history of mankind as we celebrate the passing of our human brother Jesus and his Resurrection. As the words of an early father of the Church said “God became man so that man may become Divine”
There is a depth of understanding that surpasses our human mind to grasp fully what Jesus meant when he spoke of the Resurrection to Martha in the Gospel of St John 11 v 25
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

I understand and fully believe that one day we will also, because of our faith in His Word, our very human flesh will be as Christ Himself. Death is conquered and will be no more!
Jai Ma! http://youtu.be/xezYcILoO7

Easter Sunday

Gospel, John 20:1-9

1 It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb

2 and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lordout of the tomb,’ she said, ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

3 So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb.

4 They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first;
5 he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in.

6 Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground
7 and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.

8 Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.

9 Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

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Mary was standing outside the tomb crying and as she wept, she stopped and looked in. She saw two white robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.  “Why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her.  It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.

“Why are you crying?” Jesus asked her.  “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener.

“Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned toward him and exclaimed, “Teacher!”

“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father.  But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!”

Then she gave them his message.”

John 20:11-18

This is my favorite Gospel. Mary is the first one who is asked by Jesus Himself to take the news of the Gospel to the others. Peter was not the first. Mary Magdalene was the very first missionary!

                                                   

Blessed are You Lord, King of the universe who made us holy with His commandments…

We sanctify the kiddush cup by understanding that it symbolizes the “cup of salvation” that Jesus offers to those who trust in Him.

“Return ,O my soul to your rest, for the Lord has dwelt bountifully with you.
For  You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living
What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116 7-9, 12-13)

(This refers to the cup that Jesus lifted up and asked us to remember His blood which was shed for us)

These were inspired by some quotes from “Jews for Jesus”

Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth the Living bread from heaven.

This is considered a prophetic blessing (The Messianic Blessing) as it relates to the resurrection of the Messiah.

“He who brings forth bread from heaven”   Jesus is the true bread from heaven, Bread of Life (John 6:35)

Date: 1865 (?

Jesus washing Peter’s feet at the Last Supper
(Ford Maddox Brown) 1821-1893 British Museum

After the meal Jesus took bread and gave it to the *disciples. He said, ‘Take this bread. Eat it! This bread is like my body’. Also, he took the cup of wine, and gave it to them. He said, ‘Drink it, all of you. This wine is like my blood. God is making a promise to you. I shall pour out my blood so that God can forgive the *sins of many people.’ The *disciples would not understand the meaning of this until later.

Jesus did another wonderful thing. He took water and a towel. He washed his *disciples’ feet. Peter protested about this. When Jesus had finished, he said this:
John 13:12-17 ‘Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘*Lord’. This is right. I am your Teacher and your *Lord. Now I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have shown you what to do. You should do what I have done for you. I tell you the truth; no servant is greater than his master. A man who brings a message is not greater than the sender of that message. Now you know these things. God will bless you if you do them.’
The *kingdom of God is a *kingdom of love and service. We love and serve each other. It is not a *kingdom where some people give orders to other people.
(Wycliff Associates Bible Study)

Holy Week 2012

From: ‘Guide to Saint Peter’s Basilica ‘
“This is probably the world’s most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old, and it is the only one he ever signed. The beauty of its lines and expression leaves a lasting impression on everyone.
With this magnificent statue Michelangelo has given us a highly spiritual and Christian view of human suffering. Artists before and after Michelangelo always depicted the Virgin with the dead Christ in her arms as grief stricken, almost on the verge of desperation. Michelangelo, on the other hand, created a highly supernatural feeling.
As she holds Jesus’ lifeless body on her lap, the Virgin’s face emanates sweetness, serenity and a majestic acceptance of this immense sorrow, combined with her faith in the Redeemer. It seems almost as if Jesus is about to reawaken from a tranquil sleep and that after so much suffering and thorns, the rose of resurrection is about to bloom. As we contemplate the Pieta which conveys peace and tranquility, we can feel that the great sufferings of life and its pain can be mitigated.
Here, many Christians recall the price of their redemption and pray in silence. The words may be those of the “Salve Regina” or “Sub tuum presidium” or another prayer. After Peter’s Tomb, the Pieta Chapel is the most frequently visited and silent place in the entire basilica.
It is said that Michelangelo had been criticized for having portrayed the Virgin Mary as too young since she actually must have been around 45-50 years old when Jesus died. He answered that he did so deliberately because the effects of time could not mar the virginal features of this, the most blessed of women. He also said that he was thinking of his own mother’s face, he was only five when she died: the mother’s face is a symbol of eternal youth.”

Thoughts for these days.
Because of the importance of this week for millions of  Christian brothers and sisters all over the globe, I thought of adding a few words for us to think and pray about and maybe we can stretch out and do something to help someone on the streets or in our midst.

The aspect of human suffering is something we can not ignore in these times. In the parable that Jesus tells of the judgment in Matthew 25. v35  “for I was hungry and you gave me food.thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me….
v40, ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”   Jesus identifies with those who suffer.

If I contemplate the “Way of the Cross” and ignore those who, by their lives and suffering are on the way, on the road, on our path, on our news, in our newspapers, on the TV, on the internet, on the radio, then my contemplation of the “way of the cross” is useless, for I am deaf and blind to the fact that right in my face, the Christ still suffers and is in need.

See Christ , holding his dead daughter in his arms.

Youthful Christ  sleeping on the streets.

The homeless Christ

I do not have to put many photos here. We see enough all around us in our own cities and all over the world. Each one of these people is the Christ.
Some years ago Mother Teresa was visiting Montreal and she was being interviewed on TV and was asked how, a woman of her age, was able to do the work she did and she replied:

“In the morning I meditate and receive all the strength I need and when I am kneeling on the street attending to someone who is sick and dying, they may be Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, I don’t know. All I know is that when I look into their eyes, I see only the Christ that I worship”

Here are some words of Father Bede Griffiths

“To enter deeply into meditation is to enter into the mystery of suffering love. It is to encounter the woundedness of our human nature. We are all deeply wounded from our infancy and bear these wounds in the unconscious. The repetition of the mantra is a way of opening these depths of the unconsciousness and exposing them to light. It is first of all to accept our woundedness and thus to realize that this is part of the wound of humanity. All the weaknesses we find in ourselves and all the things that upset us, we tend to try to push aside and get rid of. But we cannot do this. We have to accept that “this is me” and allow grace to come and heal it all. That is the great secret of suffering, not to push it back but to open the depths of the unconscious and to realize that we are not isolated individuals when we meditate, but are entering into the whole inheritance of the human family.” Bede Griffiths OSB, THE NEW CREATION IN CHRIST: CHRISTIAN MEDITATION AND COMMUNITY (Springfield, IL: Templegate, 1994) p50.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkvCWeqKVEQ&feature=related

Buddha’s passing

“Ruins of ancient cities recall flourishing civilizations established more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Sri Lanka. The nearness of India had great influence on Sri Lanka’s development. Both the Sinhalese and Tamils trace their roots to peoples who came over from India, and it was from India that both Buddhism and Hinduism spread to the island.”
(Children’s encyclopedia)
There are, in different countries, several statues depicting the Buddha as he passed into nirvana. The one above is from Sri Lanka. I also visited one in India. I will say a few words about that later.
This one below is from Bangkok.
We are so accustomed to seeing statues of the Buddha seated in meditation or teaching and also at times standing but I have never seen any reclining Buddhas in the West.

There was a page in my Indian journal which I left out and it was about how I spent the Holy Week. I was travelling in the South and had been to visit AroroVille, the place of Sri Aurobino and the Mother. I visited Goa and was surprised at how much influence the Portuguese had left there. There were quite a few Catholic churches including one which housed the body of St Francis Xavier. His body was in a glass casket and one could come quite close to see it. He was a very short man and all dressed in his priestly garments.
I remember being invited to someone’s home for a meal and to my surprise was served a glass of red wine. On the same street there was a bakery that made croissants. I thought this part quite French and I have to do some reading up of my history of India.

I was staying in a Franciscan monastery for the time of the Holy Week and my plan originally was to spend Easter with them. The ceremonies of Holy Week were quite impressive but I did not feel comfortable with some of the customs. I hope they may have changed over the years.
There was quite several processions in the streets re-enacting Jesus’ journey to Calgary.

They had a huge sculpture of Jesus with lots of red paint to show how much blood he was losing and it was really a horrific thing carried through the streets. I remember seeing a little child with her mother standing near the door to their home and watching as this procession went by. I thought that maybe it was a Hindu family and I wondered what they must have thought. Here was the God of the Christians being dragged through the streets and people following in procession and saying the rosary.

That very day I left Goa and travelled on my way to Delhi! I wanted to get away as far as possible. I had an address of a Christian community called “The Brothers of the Resurrection” and to their place I headed. The abbot was a good friend of Fr.Bede Griffiths and I had a good letter of recommendation.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the reclining Buddha. Well on my route to Delhi, it was quite a traject. I wanted to go by bus and the only fast route I could take was to travel to a place called Ajanta and from there, I was told, I could get a bus.

The Ajanta Caves (Ajiṇṭhā leni; Marathi: अजिंठा लेणी) in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are 30 rock-cutcave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to the 600 CE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales)[1] as well asfrescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka.[2] The caves were built in two phases starting around 2th century BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE.[3]
Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajinṭhā(20°31′56″N 75°44′44″E). Caves are only about 59 kilometers from Jalgaon Railway station (on Delhi – Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India); and 104 kilometers from Aurangabad (from Ellora Caves 100 Kilometers).
(Wilkepdia notes)

As things happen, I arrived in the afternoon and took a quick tour of the caves before boarding the bus to Delhi. If ever you have a chance to visit this place., it is indeed a wonder of the world. How did these monks build such monasteries carved inside the rock. They had no instruments as we have today.
There are paintings also, showing the life of the Buddha from his birth to his passing. As we came to the place of the Buddha’s passing, the guide was explaining and I will always remember as the tour ended there, I thought, at that time many Christians were also doing the “way of the cross’ which led to the crucifixion of Jesus and here I was, contemplating the passing away of the Buddha!
I thought of myself as being a rather original Christian. It was one of those moments when one steps out of oneself and looks at himself and says “what would the brothers say if they saw you now?”
So how could I ever forget the reclining Buddha?

See him here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulveltman/4627085663/

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Statue of a reclining Buddha carved on the wall of the ancient Buddhist rock temple (Mahayan Chaitya-Griha Cave Temple) Ajanta Caves near Aurangabad India. 5th-6th Century AD.

We go through many changes in our lives. We know that this very body is continually changing. On another level, the world around us leaves us its impressions and changes us.

In the caves, the monks carved the Buddha from birth as a child, as he grows and eventually goes to the forest and receives enlightenment and then he begins to teach and in the end he lies down and passes away.
As they carved, the hard rock changes through their hands to depict a story in the life of a man. As we sat and looked at the different statues, at times we forgot that we were looking at stone. The artists were able to capture the serenity in the face of the Buddha as he meditated that only someone who experienced meditation could do.
The very face of the Buddha in meditation had something to change our busy mind and take us in. What the hands of the artist did, so too the hands of time carve and shape us as we are transformed into being whatever the artists so desire us to be.
In the video below, see how the famous Catholic monk Thomas Merton expresses so beautifully the change that he experienced in Asia,