Hawaii 2015


omsignThis month one of our sangha families from Portland came for an extended visit to the Big Island, where our Hawai’i center is located.  Their older son, Mikah, has been taking classes for a couple years in Portland, and got to have classes at the Hawaii center too.  The first class, after a little puja with flower and food offerings, focused on Om, or more precisely, AUM.  

Mikah learned that the three letters of AUM stand for our waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states:

  • In our waking state (“A”), a lot is happening!  Our mind is connected to our physical senses — our eyeballs, ear flaps, tongue, nose, and skin, our hands and feet — and so we experience a lot of things while we are awake.  
  • When we dream (“U”), our physical senses are turned off but our mind is connected to our inside senses — our dream senses!  We walk with dream legs on dream land, we swim with our dream body through dream water, we use our dream eyes and ears to see and hear things in dreamlands, we even fly through dream air.
  • Then we enter deep sleep (“M”), everything we experienced in waking and dream become like seeds, even our waking and dream senses, and earth, water, fire, air, and ether all become seeds.  It is very peaceful without anything happening for awhile.

But then we begin to dream and all those seeds start to sprout, and when we wake, they are all on the outside again.


Children’s Easter Puja

SRV Kid’s Focus in Hawaii

JesusOver the Easter Weekend a Children’s puja for Jesus Christ was held with our one little student. Together we prepared the garland (lei), polished the vessels, and made cookies. These activities are fun and interesting for children and provide a perfect opportunity to practice concentration on the Deity in the midst of action. It also provides experience in making one’s actions an offering to God. One of the ways we maintained our focus was by chanting the name of Christ in Sanskrit in a traditional kirtan melody. Om namah Ishaya Chaitanya (Om, Salutations to Jesus the Christ).

A few of Jesus’ teachings were selected for study over the next few weeks (and for all of one’s life!)

Teachings of Love & Wisdom from Jesus Christ
Wisdom Teachings

Wisdom Teachings show us the difference between what is Eternal and what is always changing. They teach us about God, about the birthless, deathless Soul, and the oneness of God and our Soul. People suffer and are unhappy because their attention is on changing things instead of our oneness with God, who never changes. The Incarnations of God (like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Ramakrishna, and more) and other illumined beings want us to realize God within us so that we will be free from fear, full of peace and bliss, and able to see and serve God in everyone and everything.

Jesus Taught:
The Kingdom of God is within.
To know God, we must “tuck” our senses back into the mind, then train our mind to look inside very quietly and patiently. The Kingdom of God is not matter, energy, or thought. It is Existence, Awareness, and Bliss.

Clay Connections

groupChildren’s Class in Winter 2014

The most recent visit to our SRV San Francisco center commenced the first in a series of classes intent on cultivating the children’s awareness on the connection between consciousness, mind, senses, and elements.  This establishes a solid foundation for teachings concerning discrimination between the Self and the nonSelf,  the real nature of objects, and eventually the knowledge that the universe is a manifestation of mind at individual, collective and cosmic levels.  This sounds like a tremendously high goal, yet it can all start in a children’s class with a block of clay and creative conversations.

We began with our tradition of practicing the meditation posture:

• seated on the floor in “tripod” position, cross-legged with hips level
• small of the back flat, not arched, and the pelvis straight, not tilted forward
• comfortably straight backs balanced over pelvis, not leaning forward or back
• chin slightly tucked to straighten and lengthen the neck.


Growing in SRV

A Child’s first SRV Class & Meditation

This is the account of a four and a half year old’s first SRV Kid’s class written to his parents afterwards by Annapurna who teaches the children. Little M is special in his own right, but also unique because he is the sangha’s first child born to sangha parents. From the beginning he has made visits to the shrine, been rocked in loving arms during pujas, and attended satsangs with growing attention span over the years. He will reach the magic age for attending the summer retreat just in time for this summer.

Teach Your Children Well

The most important thing we can give our children is the knowledge pertaining to the true Self — that It is birthless and deathless — along with the methods that clear the veils that conceal this inherent knowledge from our minds.  As Swami Vivekananda declares in his lecture, “Freedom of the Soul”, nothing makes us so moral as this knowledge that the Self and God are one, and that we, ourselves, are responsible for our destiny and never bound by matter, Nature [paraphrased].

SRV’s mission – setting the feet of humanity on the path of universal Truth – takes two intrinsically related approaches.  First, the householder, the working person, the family person, the grandparent, aunts and uncles, must be taught the Vedanta and other darshanas for the removal of ignorance* so they cannot only free themselves, but be examples for the younger generation.  Second, children and youth must be given deep and comprehensive teachings so that those who are to raise families will be natural teachers of their children from birth; so that those who remain single will serve a high ideal in all their activities; so that those who are called to a dedicated spiritual life will have the opportunity to recognize this and find support for it.  

Spiritual Tools: The 3 Bodies & The 3 States of Consciousness

Children’s Class in San Francisco
Saturday, April 21
According to the tradition that we have now established over several years, the children first practiced their meditation posture and a few cycles of basic pranayam to calm body and mind.  We then offered a simple arati at the altar, the children joining in with bells, and everyone, parents too, offering flowers.  When we were all settled in this peaceful mood, Babaji came in to give us instructions on meditation.

Teaching Children Viveka

How to tell the difference between the Self and the not-Self

by Bharati
Today is January 21, and again we are blessed with the presence of four beautiful children, ages 6 to 10 years, in the SRV San Francisco ashram.  We have become a divine little group, all progressing at our own pace.

Each lesson always includes asana poses, breathing practice, meditation, a teaching, a discussion, contemplation, an activity, and then prasad.

Asanas & Meditation Pose:
The children know what to do now when they come for class at the ashram: enter into the upstairs classroom quietly, bow down to the altar, and gather in a circle.  Then we began our asana, breathing, and meditation pose practices.

One of the mothers was able to join us, and her boys enjoyed her being there. Usually we have one or both of the mothers in attendance and they seem to glean a great deal from the class. Not only that, but they witness how their children blossom with each class they attend and are truly delighted by the outcome.

Spiritual Graduation

This year’s River Retreat deserves a special place in the history of our SRV Associations.  I am writing this from the standpoint of being the children’s teacher for the last 10 years.  There have been children passing through our program since 2001 and choosing not to continue once their teens set in.  But over the last 5 years we have had more consistency with a few of our kids and some youngsters who have started out in their teen years.  What was unique in this year’s retreat was an obvious “graduation” from children’s classes held in the teaching tent across the stream, to adult classes with Babaji, and the introduction of a special afternoon class for teen and young adults, called Chela Dharma, the path or duty of the student, in which the students studied Swami Vivekananda’s teachings on Karma Yoga.

It gave me a special feeling to watch Marleigh and Allegra settle solidly into the adult retreat, complete with 5:00am meditations.  Allegra became the recorder of Babaji’s progress through his class outline of teachings for the adult classes [see RR Notes and Reflection 1].  At the end of the retreat, Marleigh helped me take down the children’s teaching tent.   Simply crossing the bridge (“to the farther shore beyond all darkness”) and seeing the site of her introductory classes in Vedanta and art/science projects, evoked a feeling of nostalgia for a phase well-completed.

Kid’s Retreat: Revealing Scripture

My favorite part was doing the quilt and working with annapruna [Annapurna] was really fun. It gave me a new persecptive [perspective] in vadate [Vedanta]. I am better at concentraing [concentrating] now.
                                — zuzu

A Solo Retreat
This year’s River Retreat witnessed a graduation of our former “children” into the adult classes, and the beginning of a new series of children’s classes.  Our youngest student, Zuzu, who is 8 years old, was the only one of our kids able to make the retreat.  

Teen Classes held in Sacramento

Last May 12, Max Hopson and Logan Fansler (Yogin), two of Babaji’s young students, coordinated SRV and Babaji’s first Vedanta class in the Sacramento metro area.  Nine people attended including some parents.  Babaji talked on the fundamentals of Yoga and Vedanta and the importance of study, meditation, and holy company.  The next class is scheduled for early August.  For more …