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

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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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On Being Thankful

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By Ischa Beharry

As humans, we have a tendency to take so much for granted that we forget that the very air we breathe, the sunlight that gives life to us and our planet, the food that magically grows from a tiny seed – all these are major things in our lives; yet do we thank the Divine daily for them? If only every day was a day of thanksgiving, what a life that would be!img_4371_jk-kitchen-brunch

Gratitude can contribute immeasurably toward our joy because it is an essential aspect of love. As such, it draws us to the source of all love. To express loving gratitude for our blessings, whether great or small, brings us greater attunement to the Infinite, and a greater awareness of Life’s responding love. In addition, the divine laws of abundance become more fully operative in our lives when we acknowledge and appreciate the Giver behind the bounty of spiritual and material blessings.

How can we proceed to be grateful often? By catching the moment and inwardly saying, “Thank you God” for any little grace that comes to us. By practicing being thankful for the smallest of things is to dwell on good. And to dwell on good is to magnify it. A mind thus enlivened with gratitude is mirrored in the outward behavior of its host. 

Reflecting on this year as it soon comes to an end, I cannot but with deepest gratitude and appreciation think of the efforts of all those who actively support the mission of Sunburst. From our daily activities, to major events, the love and commitment of many have made 2016 a powerful and meaningful year of both personal and collective growth.

2016_11_19_sacred-geometry_27A heartfelt and special “Thank you!” to the ministers, childcare helpers, brunch cooks; the office, kitchen, and administrative
staff; our dedicated work crews and temple keepers, permaculture expert Sean Fennell (and his helpers) in growing food as an expression of feeding body and Spirit; Erika Eddy for her amazing workshop on Chinese medicine; Moksha Badarayan who, amidst her busy teaching schedule, finds time to host an unforgettable yearly “Star Party;” Rev. Ron Gibbons for his fascinating workshop on the Mandala; Michelle Schaefer for her illuminating workshop on Ayurveda for Wellness; Craig Hanson for his presentation of Sacred Geometry in nature; andSunburst-musicians the dedicated yoga teachers: Patty Paulsen, Dawn King, Jennifer May and Carrie Smith; and for all our musicians who help create such a sacred space including the Kings (Valerie, Al, Dawn), Leela Badarayan, Peter Schaefer, Les Boyer, and Ann Kathleen; and any Karma yogis I missed. You are doing your part to make Sunburst happen!

To all our friends and guests, we appreciate and are most grateful for your presence and support in our lives. To each and every one of our sisters and brothers at Sunburst, without whose individual and collective efforts Sunburst would cease to exist, I salute you all and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

And to our Eternal Well-Wisher, without whom we would cease to exist, with utmost gratitude I say, “Thank you, Beloved Spirit, for all your love, light, patience, understanding, compassion, kindness and grace; for your precious gifts of friends, family and community, and for the countless blessings you bestow upon each of us daily.”

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Fun With Triangles

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By Dawn King

sacred-geometry-slide-showOne of Sunburst’s most popular “playshops” (never a “work” shop) is Craig Hanson’s annual Sacred Geometry event. Each year it offers a new creative and educational activity for our enjoyment.

This fall the theme was Triangles, how Nature uses them as the building blocks of atoms, and snowflakes, flowers, seeds, our physical bodies and more.

After Craig’s slide presentation, each participant constructed a star tetrahedron covered with Craig’s beautiful artwork. Every drawing on
it represented a triangular image found in nature.

Comments ranged from: “This was the most fun project, yet,” to “Wow! I loved this event!” Perhaps you’ll find time to enjoy an upcoming Sunburst activity. We hope so!

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Permaculture As Spiritual Practice

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By Sean Fennell
At Sunburst I employ the principles of Permaculture to observe how I live daily, how I connect with the wisdom of the Earth, with myself and with others. This is the outward journey, having been sculpted inwardly through my practice of the twelve virtues and the eight-fold path of conscious living.

Sean FennellThis practice supports a continual path of transformation and growth in my everyday life. It helps me approach ordinary activities in extraordinary ways.

Where Spirit, Nature and people meet in oneness in activity, as well as in non-activity, is that place where I find my center. Permaculture is the marriage of the spiritual with the natural and social and is, therefore, one of the highest expressions of spiritual practice.

Permaculture begins with the individual, and is contingent upon one’s thoughts, ethics and beliefs. This, in turn, is what one can fully utilize in creating a sustainable way of life, starting from the inside out.

By employing the benefits of meditation, deep self-reflection, time spent in nature and group interactions, one’s creative expression and endeavor can translate into a life that’s fun, rewarding and sustainable for oneself, for others, and the Earth!

“If it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable” is the Permaculture mantra.

Sean demonstrating the permaculture method of planting trees.

Sean demonstrating the permaculture method of planting trees.

Permaculture and Virtue – A Perfect Marriage 

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By Ischa Lea

The backbone of our spiritual practice at Sunburst is the application of  the Twelve Virtues in our lives: Charity, Faith, Loyalty, Patience, Honesty, Perseverance, Temperance, Humility, Courage, Equanimity, Continence, and Compassion. This makes for balance, peace, and inner joy — the barometer of all spiritual success. Likewise, the application of these virtues with the Twelve Principles of Permaculture and Permaculture Ethics ensures success in our outward endeavors at Sunburst.

A successful Permaculture project is contingent upon the application of Spiritual Principles, whether we use such terminology or not.

Charity resonates with the Permaculture Ethics of Fair Share and People Care.

Faith and belief in our endeavor creates the motivation for success.

Loyalty among participants ensures steady commitment.

Patience is critical, for even the best designs and objectives in Permaculture are still subject to extremes in environmental conditions.

Honesty is important — As in spiritual practice, we must walk our talk.

Perseverance in meditation and living in virtue ensures spiritual advancement; likewise, perseverance in Permaculture and living in integrity ensures generational rewards.

Temperance in spiritual practice ensures balance; in Permaculture balance ensures that no strand in the Web is broken or weakened.

Humility in spiritual practice ensures that we’re not acting from our lower ego selves; likewise, humility in Permaculture ensures that we are open to suggestions, respectful of other’s opinions, and are able to “hold hands with each other” and work together toward our common goal.

Courage is critical: Spiritual advancement requires courage, patience and perseverance. Likewise, Permaculture cannot survive as a practice without courage, patience and perseverance.

Equanimity in spiritual practice means overlooking obstacles and maintaining even-mindedness in our goal to achieve enlightenment. In Permaculture we are faced with doing the same in order to maintain symbiotic relationships that ensure successful outcomes.

Continence, the practice of self-control, ensures the conservation of vital energies necessary for higher meditational practices. Likewise, self-control is necessary in Permaculture — it ensures that our goals and visions do not exceed our physical capabilities.

Compassion may sound simple; yet, in spiritual practice our ego selves can often propel us into being critical and judgmental rather than compassionate and understanding. Likewise, in Permaculture, without a loving and compassionate relationship with the Earth and each other as we work toward a common goal, there can be no successful rewards.

In the end, Permaculture at Sunburst is Spiritual Practice!

Permaculture and Virtue

Ischa during Sunburst’s “Permaculture As Spiritual Practice” workshop