A Kriya Retreat and a New Year Treat!

By | Events, Sunburst Teachings | No Comments

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

By | Daily Life, Prayer | No Comments

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

By | Daily Life, Events, Prayer | No Comments

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.

solstice-winter-labyrinth_57

On Being Thankful

By | Daily Life | No Comments

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.”

photo-oct-01-10-37-24-am-crop

Fun With Triangles

By | Events | No Comments

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!

screenshot-2016-12-08-08-47-20screenshot-2016-12-08-08-46-49

Permaculture As Spiritual Practice

By | Daily Life, Eightfold Path of Conscious Living, Sunburst Teachings | No Comments

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 

By | Events, Sunburst Teachings, The Twelve Virtues | No Comments

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

A Spectacular Heavenly Event

By | Daily Life, Events | No Comments

By Ischa Lea

Saturday, August 13, 2016 was finally there, charged with anticipation as we prepared for yet another evening of great fun and excitement at Sunburst. Decorating the Lodge, preparing snacks, laying tarp upon the sacred Wheel of Life hill for eager campers created a high-energy environment perfect for those who would stay awake all night looking at the heavens. Celebrations for our customary annual “Star Party” had begun. The Perseid Meteor Shower was to make its grand entrance!

Sunburst-star-party-2016_03Moksha Badarayan, our renowned Sunburst science teacher, held her large classroom full of eager students, both mature and young, spellbound as she presented a three-part slide show on astronomy that included the latest discoveries and scientific information that kept us riveted in our mental journey through outer space, traversing the Milky Way! How amazing to hear the many theories put forth by science as they try to define and categorize the very subtle differences of what constitutes “life” in outer space – mind-blowing and intriguing propositions that elicited much teacher/audience participation, with the tiny “grown ups” asking the most interesting questions, resulting in the most interesting answers! Needless to say, Moksha’s acumen and preparedness placed both her and the kids among the “stars” that night!

Sunburst-star-party-2016_02And the evening was just starting! On the patio outside lay mounted three gigantic telescopes, manned by an amazing group of seasoned astronomers, including Sunburst’s own Steve Anderson. Not only were we all in awe peering at the rings of Saturn, the moons of several planets, watching the space station whiz by, but an occasional meteorite would streak by too, further building the excitement of the evening as  some made “goop” as a science experiment, drank hot homemade chai, snacked, and continued their periodic visits to the telescopes.

The grand finale marked a short pilgrimage to our Wheel of Life hill that held a 360-degree view and upon which some of would spend all night scanning the heavens, “ooing and aweing” as the heavens presented the ultimate light show – incredible meteors with their comet-like trails streaking across the land! Oh what a night to remember – warm, starlit, fun-filled and joyful. Looking up I could only sum it up in a few words to Moksha camping beside me: “Look what beauty our Heavenly parents have created for our enjoyment.”

Thank you, Moksha for making “Star Party 2016” a memorable one!

Moksha holding her classroom spellbound.

Moksha holding her classroom spellbound.

3-D Big Dipper

3-D Big Dipper

Exploring Soul Growth Through Mandala Painting

By | Events, Sunburst Teachings | No Comments

By Ischa Lea

What an exciting day it was at Sunburst Sanctuary on Saturday, May 28th as Reverend Ron Gibbons guided all participants through a meditative journey of soul exploration through mandala painting. Signifying the wholeness of creation, the word mandala is derived from Tibetan Sanskrit. Mandala translates “to be in possession of,” or “to know oneself.”
IMG_3559_MandalaWorkshop-crop-768x437A well-seasoned teacher on this topic, Reverend Gibbons touched on some of the historical aspects of mandalas reflected in both Eastern and Western renderings. He said:

Representing the order beneath the change and apparent chaos of our lives, it is the invisible thread that ties our existence into a living net, or the spokes of our turning wheel. It is then the relationship between the individual and his life situation, the seeing of the relations between things, and the vividness of life as it is.

The mandala is universal, with one constant, the principle of the center. The center is the beginning and origin of all forms and processes, including the extension of form into time. Nature paints for us the most magnificent mandalas in flowers, snowflakes, galaxies, the rings of a tree, even the eye, all emanating from the grand center of creation, the mind of God.
The speaker’s words and the visual slide show inspired participants to enter their “inner garden” during a guided meditation. Some amazing revelations emerged, and were later shared—unique experiences coming from a Higher Self. A personal mandala rendering by each participant expressed this significance, no matter one’s artistic talents.

IMG_3564_Mandala-copy-768x512A mystical, magical time, it was as evidenced by the healing that occurred for one person, the overall clarity that most experienced as it pertained to their present life situations, and the overall excitement and joy that pervaded the room.

One cannot but feel the childlike anticipation of intrigue that further inspirations might hold. We continue to meditate and embellish our individual works of art, or create new ones. A joyful, healing and meditative journey of exploration still unfolding, one must reflect in awe the power of the mandala. And, as Reverend Gibbons cited:

2016_05_28_mandala-workshop_03-rev-300x200The center of the mandala is not only the external constant of space, but also of time. The center of time is now, living totally in the now of one’s existence is to unfold like a mandala.