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Eyes Filled With Wonder

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By Sean Fennell

Yesterday a boy I know well, Cheechihoh, was coming to the Sunburst garden to work with me. He pestered his “Lala,” Ilene about it all morning. She was enjoying her grandson’s summer visit at her Sunburst home. But she was concerned about taking him to the garden on such a hot afternoon. Finally, it seemed a bit cooler, so she brought him over to work with me. 

Cheechihoh was amazed at all the new growth of the plants he had helped put into the ground as transplants only a few weeks earlier. His six-year-old mind had so many questions! After we placed drip hose along a newly planted bed, he saw the water dripping out onto the soil. He wanted to know, “Where is the water going?” 

That afternoon, everything in nature seemed to be a cause for wonderment. While we were working, there was a rustling above us on the hillside. We stopped to observe the source, a doe with her two spotted fawns. The youngsters were playing, jumping around amidst the tall grass. 

After a bit, Cheechihoh noticed some vultures sitting atop a fence at the far edge of the mandala garden beds. “Why are they sitting there?” he asked. I pointed to the area beneath a butterfly bush. There, very still, sat a mother quail on her nest of numerous eggs. They were probably soon to hatch. 

After an hour and a half, our work was done. But my joy at seeing the garden through a young boy’s eyes would always be with me. I felt I had learned much more that afternoon than he had. 

As we walked toward the gate to leave, Cheechihoh turned to me, asking, “Can I make this my playground whenever I come to Sunburst?” 

My eyes teared up. One of our aims at Sunburst is to give others the opportunity to see Spirit alive in the glorious body of Nature that is Sunburst Sanctuary. What better gift could I have been given that day? May we all experience life through eyes filled with amazement and wonder. 

Three Horses and a Lone Poppy

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by Ischa Beharry

There they stood, majestic, commanding, glorifying the entire hillside with their immense beauty, three magnificent horses, while a beautiful lone poppy bloomed in full majesty on the Wheel of Life trail silently proclaiming to all, “Welcome!”

It was a late February morning as Sharon Ray led our silent procession to the Wheel of Life, an exercise in Mindful Walking Meditation, styled after the precepts of Thich Nhat Hanh. A cosmic blessing indeed to watch the pretty lone poppy as if proudly declaring, “Here I am – alone, yes, but here to offer joy and bring a smile to the faces of all who enter upon this sacred trail.” And smile we did!

As we stood on the hilltop in reverence of Divine Mother’s Nature, Sharon reminded us of the necessity to slow down, to observe, to feel nature and “listen.” And that we did for on our way down the hill on our way to the sanctuary temple, there stood the three gorgeous horses, looking directly at us and as I “listened” their voices in unison conveyed the message to me, “We bring blessings of the Divine Father to you.”

Weeks later, a large group of us made another procession to the Wheel of Life Seed Ceremony led by Sean Fennell. And what were we sowing? Poppy seeds! Could it be a Divine call from that lone poppy that she needed friends? Could it be Divine Mother’s blessing that she recognized just how much we appreciated her lone poppy child and wanted us to create a glorious poppy community? Whatever it was, it was all wonderful, for as retreat participants made their sacred seed offering at the Wheel of Life – sowing symbolically the seeds for the future flowering of their innermost hopes and desires – we knew with conviction that Spirit had heard our prayers and proclamations.

Having explained the Wheel of Life and its significance spiritually as our inner journey, and physically as our outer journey in the world itself, Sean talked about the spiraling nature of our inner journey and showed amazing physical examples of spirals in nature, some of which (a conch shell and pine cone) powerfully captured the message that all life forms, including us humans as well as the orbiting planets and galaxies themselves, are always moving and expressing their spiraling nature.

Once again, the same three horses stood majestically in the exact location they had for the Mindful Walking event weeks earlier, as we proceeded down the hill toward our lodge area. Inwardly, I felt that Divine Spirit and the Ancient Elders of this sacred Chumash land were showering countless blessings upon us and our sincere efforts through these events to bring back Heaven on Earth, right here, right now.

Nourishing rainfall did not deter the afternoon’s planned outdoor events, for in its place an incredible Permaculture movie was shown that created an atmosphere of great anticipation and excitement as participants later eagerly planted trays of vegetable seedlings. These were to be taken home for infusing their own gardens under the guidance of Sean Fennell.

Little Eli, Sunburst’s most adored resident, was, of course, the most eager of all as he dug into the compost, playing with it, wanting to plant also but too young to do so. So thrilled was Carmen, one of the participants who had brought about twenty friends to the event, that she hugged Sean and said to him, “Thank you so much. This is the best birthday I’ve ever had!”

And as Sean humbly put it, “This is our gift to you for gifting us so greatly with your eagerness to learn, your loving presence, and the joyfulness that you and your friends all brought to us at Sunburst.”

Two months filled with many treasured memories of wonderful people, incredible energy, and great learning, blessed by three stately horses and that glorious lone poppy!

Blessed Are the Pure of Heart

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By Patricia Paulsen

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God,” a powerful statement! “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” This was spoken by Jesus to let all the people know this is possible.

Today we saw, in the early morning, a thick fog that was just hovering around us outside. It was actually very beautiful. I could barely see the tops of the trees, it was so present. It was comforting; it almost felt like it was a nice embrace. It made me think for a moment, as Jesus always put stories into nature, that my faith would know that there was still a sun in the sky shining somewhere, and star systems, and galaxies above me. But my senses couldn’t see it; I only saw what was right there.

It made me think about the similar journey of our soul. Sometimes with that cloud around us, we’re not able to see fully an understanding of the soul’s spiritual journey. We only see and comprehend what’s in the sensory world, what’s around you—and your security, and your basic needs.

But there’s always something in you, longing for more. You realize something more has to fill that space inside of you that is hungering. When you have that awakening, that moment is when you begin the journey of the spiritual warrior, walking the journey of your soul to its full potential of God realization.

This is the resurrection of our souls—to know that inwardly there is that light of Christ consciousness shining upon us all. We are the waves in this ocean of love. Sometimes we forget the ocean, but we are each a part of this eternity.

We Danced Together With Spirit, Nature, and the Cosmos

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by Ischa Beharry

The month of August was a momentous one at Sunburst. A journey through the cosmos, exploring the cycles of cosmic time in relation to ancient Sanskrit texts was a most unexpected and fascinating highlight of our yearly Star Party.

Sunburst’s own, Moksha Badarayan held spellbound an audience of sixty eager partiers as she explained the direct correlation between the length of the great Yugas (cycles of cosmic time) calculated by the ancient Indian sages, and the Yugas’ duration as validated by present day science. Recent archaeological findings have provided irrefutable evidence that highly sophisticated civilizations existed more than 200,000 years ago!

Jaws dropped as Moksha showed pictures of those findings. Minds raced as each of us tried to understand the vastness of time and place in those spectacular discoveries, and their import. Complicated, advanced mathematics known to pre-Neanderthal races—now how’s that even possible?

A recent article in The Guardian stated that, “Archaeologists unearthed the bones of at least five people at Jebel Irhoud, a former barite mine 100km west of Marrakesh…. They knew the remains were old, but were stunned when dating tests revealed that a tooth and stone tools found with the bones were about 300,000 years old.” Another discovery in San Diego, California posits the claim that humans might have lived in North America 130,000 years ago!

Homemade chai tea, all types of snacks, salads, finger foods and cookies provided an incredible prelude to a small trek up the Wheel of Life hill to view the Perseid meteor shower. What a memorable evening it was as all celebrated the fact that it is science that will continue to debunk what mainstream academia has for far too long deemed: hardly likely, impossible, or simply a myth.

The excitement of this memorable event had hardly waned as yet another fun and exciting happening followed two weeks later—Family Weekend! Oh what a joy to see families having fun together painting sand mandalas, practicing yoga, learning meditation. Kids excitedly andjoyfully helped Sean Fennell plant young starters in Sunburst’s permaculture garden. There was harvesting of all types of yummy vegetables, dancing and playing under the sprinklers and even more fun at a beach party afterwards. A scrumptious dinner was to be only a teasing prelude to yet another amazing evening—a live concert by Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda.

A full day, a fun time, and a restful night were followed the next day bySunday services and a yummy brunch. This marked the grand finale before Labor Day celebrations. We had explored the cosmos, meditated and explored inner space, worked and played in the garden, sang and danced in the temple, and made special connections with each other. Spirit and Nature had joyfully and effortlessly played and danced together for three glorious days.

Developing Intuition

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In 1939, an article by Paramahansa Yogananda stated (excerpt):

Intuition is that directly perceiving faculty of the soul which at once knows the truth about anything. Unless you have the power of intuition, you cannot possibly know Truth. It is the knowing power of the soul without the help of the senses or the mind. Intuition can give you knowledge about things which your senses and understanding can never give. Intuition does not depend upon any outside data whatsoever.

Intuition means “soul-perception.” It shows the difference between true and false reasoning. Many books and courses of study are prescribed for students in school, but nothing is taught them about concentration and the development of the sixth sense–the all-knowing faculty of intuition. 

By the development of intuition one can outgrow the law of cause and effect in one’s own life. Intuition tunes the mental radio so that it can intercept all vibrations of future happenings which otherwise are deflected by diverse currents.

In India, Lahiri Mahasaya, revived the ancient meditation technique of Kriya Yoga for our era. He is quoted as saying: “Solve all your problems through meditation. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man’s ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite [Comforter] is no less resourceful.”

Sunburst’s teachings, outlined by founder Norman Paulsen, lead us to a life in greater harmony with the divine creative forces. He wrote and spoke of humankind’s evolutionary steps, which include gaining a “moral compass” that Norm says “derives from knowing our oneness with all life.” He goes on: “There will be no doubt of the Absolute Godhead, as every spirit shall see and know God, I Am That I Am, face to face.” There will be “no worry of death, or the future to come.”  

O Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God! I will reason, I will will, I will act; but lead Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right things that I should do. –Paramahansa Yogananda

Wandering in Wonder

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Al-Wandering-in-Wonder

Wandering in amazement, as I roam across this land.
            Wandering in wonder, amidst your miracles. 

Sailing on your oceans, your wind it fills our sails.
            I see you in the stars at night, and hear you in the waves. 

As the darkness of the starry night, gives way to the light of dawn
            Reds and oranges in the clouds foretell the promise of the day 

In the evening when the sun is going down
            The colors in the sky remind me of your presence

 Wandering in amazement, as I roam across this land.
            Wandering in wonder, amidst your miracles.

 In the trees of the forest, and the flowers in the meadows.
            I feel closest to you on the mountains ‘bove the trees.

 From ice fields in the mountains high, water flows down as it can
            Into majestic lakes that reveal you in my mind.

 Streams cascading down from lakes into rivers calm and wide,
            Reflecting the majesty of your creation.

 Wandering in amazement, as I roam across this land.
           Wandering in wonder, amidst your miracles.

 I know you in the flowers in the desert after rain.
           Your presence is so palpable, I know you and I are one.

Tune into Your Fire

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By Dawn King

Fire CeremonyAt the end of June, Erika Indrani Eddy led a weekend workshop at Sunburst that addressed Chinese and Ayurvedic approaches to summer. “Tune In To Your Fire” gave us a yoga practice appropriate for the hotter months of the year, as well as one that tuned our digestive juices and supported the heart.

In Erika’s talk on Chinese medicine and Ayurveda she explained, among other things, how the heart takes over and works harder when other bodily systems are impaired. With props, handouts, and interactive segments, this was an extremely informative and helpful afternoon segment of the workshop.

Saturday evening treated us to an authentic Vedic fire ceremony, or havan, just as one would participate in a puja or homa while in India. Erika is an accomplished student of Niranjananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine. She led chanting at the next day’s Sunday service as well. It was a magical weekend, filled with blessings for body, mind and spirit.

Fire Ceremony 2

Enjoying Silence

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By Valerie King

elephant2AdjAmidst the lush green landscape of Sunburst Sanctuary in late February, about fourteen people gathered for a silent retreat weekend. The elephant image shown is one of the group mandalas that participants enjoyed co-creating together. We also practiced walking and sitting meditations, listening to singing bowls, a grounding yoga session, and mindful eating, There was plenty of free time for rest and solitude

Everyone learned to carefully listen to and be ever so grateful for the sounds of life which are always all around, like the crunching of our footsteps, the singing creek, the croaking frogs, or simply our rhythmic breath. Silence in a group was powerful and soul-nourishing, transforming participants and facilitators alike with deep peace and strength to move forward in life.

What a necessity this kind of experience is, especially in these times on our planet. We hope many more people will be able to experience this healing retreat in times to come!

misty-morning_silent-retreat

The Silent Retreat inspired me to write this poem.

Like a fish who longs for the waters,

As soon as I step into silence

Your Presence

Is so tangible.

Roaring around and through me…thick Air,

Thick with Spirit Divine.

You are always here,

Permeating every particle of my being,

Enfolding me in the Matrix of your Being,

Silence brings it to the fore

Sweet yet utterly powerful Om.

To be still is to Awaken.

Participants commented:

This is my new favorite retreat and one that will feel new and different each time I do it since the silence takes me on a unique journey.
– Michelle

I loved this opportunity for intentional silence. To be around other positive, intentioned energy without having to fill the space with narrative; to be able to work on creating more space within myself while not feeling secluded or alone—what a magical concept!
– Breana

The retreat was well conceived and planned; wonderful activities and the freedom to engage or not.
– Laura

sunrise-over-pond

All Clans Gathering at Sunburst

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by Dawn King
In mid-February, the Native American Flute Circles of California’s south coast gathered at Sunburst Sanctuary for a potluck and jam session. Most often once a year Sunburst hosts this event, since Sunburst Lodge is the perfect meeting place. Participants usually come from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Everyone brought food to share at a noon sit-down, while catching up on life with old friends and new. The afternoon open mike found a variety of flutes played, and other instruments offered for accompaniment. Three flute-makers displayed their beautiful hand-crafted items in an adjoining room; but everyone had time to perform, switch instruments, and create impromptu duos, trios, etc., just for fun.
Before the event, some participants enjoyed taking a walk in nature, on the labyrinth or one of the gravel roads. It was a beautiful day between the blessed rains, and we all gave thanks. If you are interested in what else Sunburst might have to offer see http://sunburst.org/upcoming/
Flute_2.17_All_Clans

Renounce Ego and Enjoy Life!

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By Craig Hanson

Craig-profile-photoTo renounce the ego is a little different than what we may think of as renunciation. The Upanishads say that letting go of ego is not a renunciation of life; it’s a renunciation of all those things that make us unhappy—anger, selfishness, and desires for things or people, desires for money, for relationships, or to be recognized.

What is ego? I think of it as being like a grain of sand in an oyster. The grain of sand is irritating. It causes development of layers and layers of belief systems and sense impressions around it, eventually becoming a sphere of what we identify with. The ego builds up this whole concept of what we think we are.

I find when I’m working during the day, if I’m not staying centered on the work at hand. I’m thinking about results—thinking, “I want to get this job finished, so I can go on to something else.” This is ego talking. Or, when I get done, if I keep looking back and thinking, “Oh, that’s a great job. I hope someone notices my beautiful work.” That’s the ego talking. Oyster on the Beach

The ego is a slippery little guy. It has all this inner dialogue. It can look at a person and all of a sudden form a judgement: “Well, that’s probably somebody I wouldn’t want to know.” Ego creates a whole culture of stereotypes that we’re familiar with. if we watch the news, we’re constantly confronted with it.

The ego has created what we see in movies, and in our daily lives. But, we can look at our lives and ask ourselves how we’ve really enjoyed life over the years. What experiences have we found most enjoyable? Looking back upon my life, I see the most joyful times are when I’m giving a present, or making a gift for somebody. I’m not thinking about how much I’m going to receive for this; I’m just giving it. I’m not thinking, “If they don’t like it, then I can always get it back and resell it on e-bay.” My ego has had those ideas, but I had to say to myself, “Let go of that thought, and bring it back to center.”

Each of us is exploring our inner world and learning to use our God-given abilities to bring heaven on this earth. Whatever talents or gifts we have, let us remember to give those gifts unselfishly, for the enjoyment of others and the inspiration that we might give to others. This is our true enjoyment.