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!

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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/
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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.

A Kriya Retreat and a New Year Treat!

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By Ischa Beharry

The first evening approached with participant’s rapt anticipation. A sumptuous light dinner, a social circle and welcoming of guests was to follow, culminating in gentle, relaxation yoga. Sunburst’s beautiful lodge was exquisitely decorated for the holidays with soothing warmth radiating from its native stone fireplace. The stage was set; ending 2016 and Screenshot 2017-01-23 16.54.19ushering in 2017 would be the full script. The Light and Renewal Kriya Retreat was about to begin!

After Emily led us in warm introductions, Valerie shared some highlights from the history of Sunburst, starting starting with a little boy’s childhood visions, his years in Paramahansa Yogananda’s ashram at Mt. Washington (Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters, Los Angeles, CA). Years would pass before countless young souls sought Norman Paulsen, to learn about his experience of God, and how they might also know God. Yogananda’s request to Norm became reality in the birth of Sunburst. Valerie also introduced Sunburst’s eightfold path and twelve virtues.

Screenshot 2017-01-23 16.54.47Friday was a day of silence and deep contemplation, a class on Hong Sau technique, yoga, amazing meals and meditations. Saturday was a memorably soul-nourishing experience as everyone gathered for the Kriya Initiation ceremony at Sunburst’s temple. Fresh flowers, fruits, and soul-stirring song set an energetic framework for the sacred Kriya initiation.

One can attend dozens of these initiations, yet feel renewed each time at all levels of one’s being. The final highlight of the day was a sacred seed ceremony at the hugeScreenshot 2017-01-23 16.59.56
lodge fireplace. Gone would be the karmic baggage of 2016, offered into the fire for transmutation! And into the ethers were sown the seeds of individual intentions for 2017—an experience of joy, peace and fulfillment.

But wait, the party part of the evening was about to begin! A sparkling apple cider bar provided drinks for toasting “Happy New Year!” Those who chose to stay past midnight were served Ischa’s secret
recipe chai. What fun it was to stand in a gratitude circle and usher in the New Year, and to send into the ethers planet-wide blessings. January first 2017 dawned to the offering of a light breakfast, Energization Exercises, and an inspiring Sunday service. Time to visit over a generous Sunburst brunch followed, ending a perfect weekend, a perfect retreat, a special treat!

The Greatest Gift

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By Dawn King

This is the holiday season and filled with thinking about gifts, what to give and what we might receive. But you might sunburst-lodge-christmas-tree_2016reflect on “What is the greatest gift you already have?”

You might be thankful for family, for home, for the long-needed sporadic, but drought-quenching rains we’re enjoying on the southwest coast.

But the greatest gift you have is You—your consciousness, your life. This is the Creator, God, IN and AS YOU.

There is a Sufi saying: “La ilaha ill-Allahu” meaning the Creator (“Allahu”) is everything. Literally it can be translated: “There is nothing other than You, only You are God.” Sh’ma Yisrael (“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the LORD is one”) is a similar Jewish prayer.

If we contemplate this, that everything we know of IS the Creator, then we realize we are one with the Creator. We can then make the leap to realizing each of us is potentially the Christ child, the spiritual Christmas gift, the savior, or liberator, anticipated by the world’s great religions.

Sunburst’s founder, Norman Paulsen, liked to use the Christmas Tree as an analogy for a human being. My version is that the Star atop the tree represents your Pure Self. The rainbow of colors, as we have represented on our Lodge Christmas tree, represent your spinal chakras, with red (life force) at the bottom.

We can open the flower of our ourselves—develop and express our gifts, our talents and virtues—and live more fully. Let’s aim for realizing our oneness with the Creator every day of 2017.

Beginning With New Resolve

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by Dawn King

Indigenous peoples have always celebrated the winter solstice as a time of new beginnings. Each of us is then thought of as being a year older and hopefully wiser. It is a time for people to come together in observance of natural phenomenon, such as at Stonehenge, as well as for sharing food.

img_4686adjSunburst observes this unofficial New Year with ongoing silent meditation, a dinner and observances at our standing stones and labyrinth or lighting of candles.

Winter solstice is the start of the winter season, a time of reflection, a season for nourishing the soul as well as the body. In northern latitudes we see the days grow longer after this solstice, although the earth is cooler until spring’s equinox arrives, three months later.

This year’s Winter solstice is particularly meaningful as we set our intentions for deeper soul connections. To help fulfill this resolve, we will participate in the year-end Kriya Meditation Retreat. Starting 2017 on a spiritual note can only be a blessing to ourselves and our world.

For more information on Sunburst’s Winter Solstice Meditation or Light and Renewal Kriya Retreat, click here.

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