Leaving Somaskanda Ashram

Words will not do justice for the experiences that were had since leaving Somaskanda Ashram yesterday, as well as what I experienced whilst at Somaskanda Ashram.

It’s hard to chronicle what happened, because there are so many emotions involved in the happenings of the last few days.

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Nandi with a fixed gaze on Lord Shiva

On Saturday morning, Swami Amba and Swami Durga called Silja, Ralph and myself into the seminar room for a private talk. We were told that the previous night, Swami B had walked out of Skanda Vale. He’d walked out with Brother Danny and Sister Jo. It’s impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t know Skanda Vale about how monumental this drama is. Swami B has seemed like, if anyone could be considered to uphold the role, a leader of Skanda Vale ever since I’ve known the ashram. I lived with him for a few months in Somaskanda Ashram last autumn/winter, and got to know him very well especially when we’d become quite isolated up the mountain as just the three of us in December. I know deep inside me that he is pursuing God’s direction in his movements, and that is why he left Skanda Vale. I’ve prayed for him so strongly, and I have a lot of trust in God looking after him.

On Sunday evening, at the end of the Christian Service at Somaskanda, I suddenly felt a strong feeling of urgency in regards to my actions in life. I felt something telling me that I absolutely can’t go on in this way, and things need to be very different. I need now to have a definite focus and scope in my life. I requested to God that things be made clear by May next year. And I said that if things are not clear by then, I will write to Skanda Vale requesting to become a monk.
When I returned to my bedroom after the service, I felt an urge to turn on my phone, to check my email/internet. I received a whatsapp message from Anja, replying to a massage I had sent her over a month ago. She pulled me towards her in Basel.

I left Somaskanda yesterday (Monday 2nd October) afternoon to travel to Bern, where I would be hosted by Meret and Martin for the night and then travel by train to Basel this morning to see Anja/catch my flight.

Swami Durga encouraged me to stay helping him finish a job at Somaskanda of extending an outdoor shelter in time for the inauguration anniversary celebrations of the temple. I’d planned to leave on my journey in the morning, but of course didn’t leave Somaskanda until about 3pm. Swami Durga dropped me at Fideris train station, where there was a good place for people to stop and traffic went slowly there. He said he would take me to Rapperswil, before Zurich, if I was still there by half 5.

Within a short while a man stopped in a pickup truck with a horsebox attached. I saw what looked like antlers in the back, and was dreading that it was a deer carcass, as it’s now hunting season. It turned out that the young man is a farmer and had gone to the Prättigauer mountains to collect his two goats and two donkeys to take them back to where he lives in St Gallen for the winter – they spend the summer in the mountains. The ‘antlers’ were in fact of the goats, who were very much alive and well. The man was called Simon, and he dropped me in Landquart.

From Landquart, I was sending a message on my phone I think to Anja when I heard a beep from a car. It was beeping at a car that had stopped for me, who had stopped in maybe a slightly dodgy spot. He hadn’t recognised me before he stopped, but had merely stopped because of my sign for Zurich. It was Ulrich, who I know very well from seeing him a few times last year at Somaskanda Ashram. We’ve always connected really well, and deeply, so it was quite something to be sharing this really long satsang with him all the way to just past Zurich. He was overjoyed about having picked me up. I told him about Swami B leaving, and also reminded him about Mohanji coming to Somaskanda next week. He offered to either take me to the train station and pay for my train to Bern, or to take me to a big services at the start of the main highway to Bern from Zurich. I told him I needed a few minutes to think about it. After a few minutes, it was clear that I needed to go to the services and hitchhike one more lift. He told me he had a feeling that I would get a lift from someone who really needed to meet me.

After maybe 20 minutes of hitchhiking, a lady in a small and fairly full car stopped, and apologised that her car was maybe too full to take me. I said I could take my backpack on my lap, and accepted the lift. And that started my amazing encounter with Sabine.

Sabine recently lost her job working to improve how employees work in a certain big company. Within a month of losing her job, she’d found out about a clowning weekend workshop in Constanz. Now she is due to be starting a 2/3 year clowning course, and her life has massively shifted. We connected very very strongly. It was like our hearts were sharing a big long hug the whole way. When we arrived in Bern, Martin invited Sabine in for a tea, and she met Martin and later Merit. It was incredible. Funnily, Ulrich had kind of predicted that such an encounter would happen.

In Bern I shared a lot of talk with Martin and Merit over dinner, and later shared a lovely puja with Meret.

They paid for me a train to Basel, and thus began a meet with Anja that felt like it could be the thing that changes everything.

Last December, Anja came to Somaskanda with a friend of hers for the weekend, right at the beginning of December. We would stay up until gone 1am talking, heart on heart, eyes seeing into depths of being. But also, we had the devotions in the temple to focus on. The night before Anja left, I dreamt of her leaving, and dreamt that she walked down the road and I walked the other way, and it was very sad. Then we both turned around, and she came running to me, and we embraced and declared love. When she actually did leave (now not in a dream), this did not quite happen, but it was a very high-energy afternoon/evening, and it was also the last time I saw a number of other people, who had all come for a board meeting. Walking back up the track to the temple on this clear December evening, on my own, the Swamis driving down to the valley too to do a few jobs, I felt such a heaviness and sadness that I hadn’t felt in many years, and I had to stop on numerous occasions to just process it all. I understood the Goddess Lakshmi to be right by my side in these moments. The moon was bright, and stars too, and I was the only person up this mountain at this time. I cried a fair bit, and sung a lot to Lakshmi.

I have since always associated Anja with Lakshmi. She somehow holds a reservoir of Maha Lakshmi’s love and grace. Seeing her again, in Basel, was, for me, an incredible encounter, and absolutely amazing that it was somehow made to happen. If I were to move to Switzerland without it being a move to the ashram, I think it would have to have something to do with Anja.
We didn’t have so much time to share, and Anja said a few times about it being the shortest stay she’s ever had from a guest. I had my flight to catch, because I had duties to fulfill in Britain.

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Memories of Skanda Vale, at Basel train station

Anja lives in a little wood chalet at the end of a wooded garden, completely sheltered and hidden away from everything. It’s like a hobbit house in a way. I felt so reluctant to leave. And if there’d been a clear sign not to, I would’ve taken it.

Anja is studying hyperwerk – ‘post-industrial design’. She explained it a little to me, that it is a course based around thinking about how we will live after the industrial age comes to an end. She said about one student doing a project on leaning back with hands together behind the back and walking slowly whilst whistling, and how this is the solution to everything.
There was a feeling of encouragement from her for me to be thinking about doing such a thing. My life on the Isle of Wight is really not ideal, and there’s been a feeling inside me that I might well be wasting a lot of time and energy with what I’m doing there, that should be going into something more important. Sure, there are things that are really good to be involved in, like the pilgrimages I’ve been on there, and my volunteering work. But my Greenpeace work I’ve now become very uncertain about, and also definitely where I am living.

I said goodbye to Anja at the airport.

I chanted throughout the whole flight, going through my mala over and over, and spent the last half hour or so singing ‘Vel Vel Muruga’ (Come, Come, Muruga). It’s been through this song that I’ve sent energy and prayers out to Swami B. When the plane landed, I felt my devotions becoming intensified…Muruga, Muruga, Muruga, Muruga, Muruga.

I got my luggage fairly quickly, and left the airport to hitchhike to my dad’s house near Newmarket.

I got a lift quickly from a taxi driver, who was going to London but took me to the next services. This was strange because the services were not the services I was aiming for, but I’d given a request to God that I get some cardboard to make a sign with, and cardboard was available here. Then another taxi driver stopped, and he was also going to London, but he took me to the big services. A Russian/Bulgarian man, who might well move to the Isle of Wight because I said it’s rather nice there.
Then 10 minutes stood at the slip road going towards Cambridge on the M11, and another taxi stopped, this time a bit dangerously as he’d been in the wrong lane really for stopping. I’d just started singing a bit more intently to Lord Muruga when he stopped. Of course, he was an Indian man, and of course, he was driving back to Newmarket.

He was from Rajasthan, a deeply traditional area of India. He goes back there every few months, for a month each time. I found it amazing how much holiday time he has. He remarked about how different it is in Britain how noone looks after their parents here, and he’s happy to hear that I’m living with my mum. I said that living with my mum has a lot of complications, but, for the time being at least, it is my duty. He had a deep gentleness and sweetness, that I much appreciated.

He dropped me in Newmarket, and Jasmine and Iona came running up to me at Waitrose, our meeting point.

The feeling of returning to Britain has been heavy – but there’s things I’m here for. I can’t delay with stuff anymore. Switzerland is calling with quite some urgency, and I’ve not got much time. Swami B’s walkout has shaken everything up for me, and I can no longer say for definite about anything. For all I know, I could be given a clear sign to become a monk next month. I could also be given a clear sign to move out to Switzerland, or whatever, and I’ll be listening with intent for whatever signs come my way.

I spoke tonight with my mum about what I’ve been through recently. I told her briefly about my experiences in the pujas over the weekend, and the developing energies, and feeling like I have a role in it all. I also said that, if things don’t tell me otherwise by the springtime, I will write to the Swamis Council about becoming a monk at Skanda Vale.

There is a real certainty inside me now about needing to be clear in what my life is about. I can’t go on pilgrimage and experience all of these extraordinary things and then go back to the life that I was living before. I have got to let it take me somewhere, and continue living my life by God’s direction, which comes about through my experience of intuition.

I was originally planning to travel from here, in Suffolk, to Slough to visit Joanna, Andrew and Leo, on Friday. Andrew has colon cancer, and his status has recently been changed from level 3 to level 4. So they are going to Scotland for him to receive mistletoe therapy, because he has outright refused to have chemotherapy (as it essentially just kills off a part of the system and often the symptoms come back a few years later but when you don’t have a strong system left to fight it anymore…. He’s really keen to put all of his faith into alternative therapies and spirituality, which is really encouraging to hear). I will instead travel back to Isle of Wight on Saturday theoretically (though I wouldn’t be surprised if something happens to happen en-route to add another twist in the tale!).

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