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Radha's Life of Service IX

May 19, 2008 by Lightwaves

1_lifeservice.jpgIn this installment of Radha’s Life of Service, Swami Durgananda explores the early days at the Ashram when new buildings were being constructed and some of the young men were taking initiation.

(Click on the pictures for a full-sized version. Click here for a full-sized version of Swami Radha’s picture)
By 1964 the Ashram was expanding, coming to life with new renovations to the old buildings and work starting on new ones. But Swami Radha courageously took three months for seclusion from January to March, and as she noted: “doing intense spiritual practice in the neighbor’s house, upon his invitation, next to the ashram property” while they were away. (The Ashram bought this property around 1986 and the house she was using in 1964 became Parvati House.) She did some spiritual practices with The Lord’s Prayer and intuitively discovered the translation in the New Testament was not accurate. The line “Lead us not into temptation” she knew was wrong as no God would lead someone into temptation. She realized the words should be “Do not let us enter into temptation.”

The April Issue of the Ashram Newsletter #10 opened with some special news.

“The most notable news of the month is of the taking of sanyas by two members of the ashram, Hugh MacKenzie (now Swami Turiyananda Saraswati) and Michael Tacon (now Swami Krishnananda Saraswati)—the first such initiations in the ashram.” Having found the way of the sanyasin as spiritually fulfilling and religiously all embracing (a sanyasin belongs to no particular religion but may worship in any), Swami Radha takes great joy in this latest development.”

Excerpts from The Ashram Newsletter #11, May 1964 tell of a new building project.

4_lifeservice.jpg“Spring is in the Kootenays: the trees are bursting into their fuzz of light green; the birds are busily gathering and building; the streams running full…As nature builds, so must we. And in preparation for silence and contemplation, the clang of hammers, whine of saws, and sundry similar sounds and activities bring noise and ferment. The Ashram has lacked a prayer and meditation room, suitably separated from the areas of general activity….The new chapel being built alongside the log cabin on the lake side will fill a pressing need.”

3__lifeservice.jpgSwami Radha wrote a letter in May to some friends describing the work that had to be done, mentioning that “three of the boys go out and work to make money as we like to be self-supporting. Premananda (Joe) has only me to help him with the building, so I have taken to hammer and nails and nailed floorboards of the new prayer room. Straight, simple work is all he can get from me. After a days work like that I am too tired to eat, never mind cooking. So the boys take turns.”

2_lifeservice.jpgThe money for this project was donated to Swami Radha by Rosemary and Paul Beard from England. She was the daughter of Margery Eyre who wrote “The Revealing Light”. They had visited the Ashram and felt that Swami Radha needed a place of her own where she could meet with people in private. But Swami Radha felt that a prayer room was more important and used their donation in this way. The pictures show the view from the beach before the addition and next, the construction of the prayer room, and then the view of the completed prayer room and lake cabin from the beach.

Newsletter #12 June 1964“

June—summer warmth…snow melting in the mountains…and for a while it seemed as though the new meditation chapel by the lake might become a meditation boat on the lake…but the late thaw, though heavy, has not been devastating; and although the lake is still inching upwards, it should stop short of the chapel and adjoining log cabin.” (At that time there was no control of the rise and fall of the water in the lake but the construction of a dam has made a difference now as the water level can be controlled.)

5__lifeservice.jpgIn July work was begun on another project. Swami Radha wrote to a friend “The boys have started Krishnananda’s office building, as we all decided he should stop working all over the place and stay here.” As a surveyor he needed office space and he was also training one of the other young men to become a surveyor because it paid well in this area. This new building became Sivananda House which was later shortened to Siva Hall.

In a letter to another friend Swami Radha mentioned the progress of this construction. “…the office building has been rather a growing building, office, garage, upstairs a large living room, big long attic on top of that, and underneath, a big first floor, cement walled, floored, AUM-signed, etc. for meetings, etc. There are some other changes but I am NOT going to tell you all, come and SEE.”

The ashram residents did not only focus on building and karma yoga. They knew the importance of personal development. In Newsletter #7 this subject was brought forward:

“”Maybe we should begin at the beginning, at ourselves. Become aware of our selves! Find out all that can be found out—to know our selves. It may lead to God—the purpose of our life.…In the end what counts is only one’s experience, and what we do with that experience….The light of awareness has to be thrown a motive and attitude….This place here is the battleground—as all life is—and in time one sees that the battle is with oneself, and he realizes that to get to grips with self is hard work.“…. everyone here has the freedom of his own belief….We share everything: money, work, gardening, building, painting, daily chores: cooking, cleaning , etc.—-all that needs to be done. We share in singing, music, reading aloud, prayer, meditation. And we share our laughter. We are like an open book to one another in many ways. And this is good, for we can help each other in times of difficulty….It is a tough job to face yourself daily; again and again you realize you fall short of your goal. Understanding love and friendship of your ‘fellow-traveler’ becomes then a wonderful experience. But all human help has its limitations. In the very end we must stand on our own feet.

It all comes down to just this—To become one with God, one has to stand in His presence—naked and transparent! God be with you.”

Yours faithfully,

Swami Radha

We can see from these entries how Swami Radha joined in willingly with the work that needed doing, and that is true karma yoga. She also joined the young men in weekly reflections to deepen awareness and understanding, She was very honest in her assessment of the issues and encouraging a way for all of them to come together.

The Ashram was growing with new building projects and more people coming. We will continue to follow the development of the Ashram leading to the start of the Temple of All Religions.

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