USA, Haidakhandi Universal Ashram
This morning at 7:30am three of us from the Ashram arrived at the outdoor cremation site for Crestone. One of only two such sites in the country, it was begun in 2006 by people who wanted to support simple, natural, and humanizing end-of-life choices. The group called: “Crestone End of Life Project” is a voluntary organization that counsels grieving families, helps to arrange for the deceased to repose at home before cremation, helps with the legalities, and finally orchestrates the amazing open-air cremation or green burial.
This cremation, attended by about 150 people, was for Robin Ross. She and her husband Noah were pretty regular attendees at our new and full-moon fire ceremonies. I spoke at the ceremony about their sweet presence at the Ashram and their devotion and tenacity over our somewhat rough terrain with Robin’s frail body. I reminded Noah, that we are here for him whenever he needs some companionship or just a good meal. I was grateful that Jonathan, Brent, and I could attend. As I listened and watched the rest of the ceremony I was struck by how many other spiritual traditions were represented at the Cremation. Besides the Sanskrit chanting to the Divine Mother, there was a recitation of the Jewish Kaddish, and other poems and prayers. The Shumeis (our Japanese neighbours) attended the ceremony, were part of the fire team, and offered their large 15-seat van for ferrying participants to the site. A Buddhist monk was there in her garb, several people from the Catholic Carmelite monastery as well as many members of the other Buddhist sanghas and spiritual traditions in the area.
One of the main organizers for the project had lived and worked at the Ashram when she first arrived in Crestone. As I thanked her for the work she put into the beautiful cremation, I told her that it seemed she had truly found her spiritual practice serving in this way. She agreed and said
that when she cares for the dying people with so much love and tenderness she realizes that she learned much of this from caring for the Divine Mother, Haidakhandeswari, at the Ashram. With her statement and this beautiful display of spiritual diversity, I realized once again how our Babaji Ashram, in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains here, plays a part in this much larger example of a loving, inclusive community of such great diversity of spiritual traditions, a real living tribute to world peace.
After arriving back at the Ashram, the realization of how we play a very expansive role continued. Gujarati families arrived from Denver for lunch, so grateful to have Mother and Baba’s darshan. A Telagu family came a bit later from Colorado Springs to say goodbye to the temple and us, as they were moving to Dallas. They shared how they would miss the Ashram here, for even though there were many temples in Dallas there were none that was as peaceful and loving as ours. A Montessori teacher from outside of Denver arrived and wanted to know if she could bring her class to the Ashram for a tour and talk. I told her we had just had the Crestone Charter School here a few days ago for a fire ceremony and chanting, and that we loved to host school groups, particularly the young children.
Finally in the afternoon another young Indian family arrived from Denver with their new baby. They had been pregnant a couple of years ago and after nine months of what appeared to be a normal pregnancy, delivered a stillborn child. Needless to say, this last pregnancy was very trying on them and they came several times to pray at the temple here to Mother and Baba for the safe delivery of their child. When the wife went into labor, they called us to pray for her. By Baba and Mother’s grace, all turned out fine and they have a healthy two and a half month old little boy. This was his first road trip because before they took him anyplace else, they wanted to bring him here to thank Mother and Baba for their gift to them.
And so the Ashram seems to span lives from birth to death. We are part of so many people’s lives in whatever way we can be of service. We are grateful to be here for everyone. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!