Of Spirits and Sanctuaries

Full Moon Puja

Spiritual Sanctuaries are unique places.  In this realm, this place where we wake and dream,  sleep and walk, Sanctuaries are profoundly special. For as solid as they are in their appearance, made of earth, trees, air, water, and buildings, they are Transcendent.

They hum at a different vibration, a different pitch.  And they will vibrate you towards the Unconditional,  for they are  imbued with the Transmission of the Spiritual Being who has Blessed and worked and conformed the elements of that  particular Sanctuary to be a means of sensitizing and awakening other to the Realization of That which is not separate, That which is prior to the ordinary sense of separate I  and the unconscious  activity of identifying with persona.  Why?  Compassionate service.  Service to the world. A service that offers individually and collectively an opportunity t0 be touched by and be moved toward what is greater than oneself.

For the last eight years I was graced to serve at such a place.  My Spiritual Master,  Adi Da Samraj, has established five such Sanctuaries.  Each Sanctuary differs in how they work with an individual, yet each are steeped in his Presence and move people toward understanding and transcending that which makes us small.

Sanctuaries are necessarily set apart, protected and served in a particular way so the Transmission inherent in them  is preserved and magnified. They are formal places, with spiritual protocol.  There are practical needs of course, but those needs are performed in a posture where spiritual practice is first and this in turn helps maintain the integrity of that Sanctuary.  There does not tend to be a lot casualness,  a lot of coming and going by those who are not sensitive to this.  That is not meant as a policy of exclusivity, but rather as a means of allowing the Sanctuary to do its vibratory work of service to all in an unhindered manner.   After all, when you get the oven at the right temperature, you don’t open and close the door unconsciously.  There are times where the Sanctuaries are open and people come on retreat. There are times when access is fasted, and the Sanctuary is simply cared for via bodily service and invocation.

And we of human form are not the only ones who wish to come to such places.  At Da Love Ananda Mahal, on the island of Kauai, there has always been a history of active spirits.  In the Hawaiian culture that is certainly the case so it is natural for there to be occasions of spirits making themselves known.

There is one particular site on the Sanctuary on Kauai that has been set aside for the spirits.  Many years ago,  devotees who lived in one of the few buildings on the property, reported being visited by several spirits.  No one could hear footsteps, yet devotees who were asleep in the end room, could hear each door opening and closing in the middle of the night, as if someone was poking their head in looking for someone.  And indeed that is what happened.  The door to the last room finally opened and a Hawaiian Kahuna and his female partner came in, looked around and left.  There had been no footsteps because they  floated slightly above the ground.

Needless to say there were a few freaked out devotees.  No one felt threatened. But spirits are spirits and simply not human so they tend to be unnerving in their unfamiliarity.  There is a reason the hair stand ups on the back of your head.

Adi Da was informed of this. He said he was aware of them, that they had been associated with the land there for a very long time.  He informed us they were looking for the current chief (or Tui) of the land,  which would be he,  Adi Da.  In the older times,  in the Hawaiian custom it was inappropriate for someone  to approach the Tui directly. What was proper was to go through certain channels and be formally introduced.  Adi Da said this is what those spirits were doing when visiting Frog Mound. They were looking for someone to introduce them.

So we were instructed to establish a holy site  at Da Love Ananda Mahal where spirits who wished to make contact with Adi Da and continue their own spiritual practice could do so. It wasn’t for devotees who lived or visited there but specifically for the spirits.  It was for them but it was also instruction  to us in how a True Spiritual Master teaches and Blesses and moves beings in all dimensions and planes.  Particular instructions were given as to how to serve this site and that is continued to this day.

There are other outdoor holy sites at Da Love Ananda Mahal.  Each one uniquely different in how it functions  in its Invocation of Spiritual Blessing  and how it not only serves a person’s  spiritual practice but serves to magnify World Blessings  that mitigates negative situations.

One of these sites is called Fire Keeper.  It is where fire pujas are performed. A puja is a ceremonial form of devotional attention, or worship and invocation. A fire puja is very elemental, purifying in nature, and a potent means of releasing obstructions, freeing attention and magnifying sensitivity to that which is Unconditional.

Da Love Ananda Mahal is surrounded on two sides by dense jungle and one side by the wild Wailua River.  Fire Keeper is in a corner of the Sanctuary where jungle is immediately on one side and 50 feet away on the other side, the land drops sharply to the river below.  It is profoundly elemental, elegantly primitive.  There you most certainly feel that you are not at the top of the food chain.  You are humbled, you are part of the whole, you are not the one in charge.

On a full moon evening, around 2:00 am I was offering a fire puja.  I was alone.  It was a clear night.  The river was roaring, arising in a  stillness greatly magnified by the time of night.  In our tradition, prior to the start of a puja or any occasion, we offer an invocation. We also offer one to formally end the event.  Everything was prepared and I was standing in front of the fire pit, ready to sit down and start the puja.  Suddenly, the hairs stood up on the back of my head.  In the perimeter of the jungle, where the cut lawn of the Sanctuary grounds meets the jungle, I strongly felt I was being watched.  It felt like a number of beings had come to the edge of the jungle and were standing there, gazing at me.  My first reaction was fear. I took a breath – their presence  was not menacing.  Good.  Releasing attention from the movement towards fear and turning into the Presence of my Spiritual Master, I spontaneously said out loud, “Now let us offer the First Great Invocation”.

Then an amazing thing happened.  The spirits ( who I could not see but could definitely feel) glided out of the jungle.  There was literally a slight breeze as they went past me, three to my right, three to my left, and took their seats behind me. I was breathing quite deeply at that point, believe me.  Very grounding so as not to run type breaths.

They sat down, I sat down.  I began the puja.  Once the puja formally started, the fire lit,  I could not sense them any longer and forgot they had even been there.   The puja was done in forty minutes or so.  I sat longer  in deep meditation, overwhelmed by the down pouring of Blessing that was occurring.

Afterwards  I realized the spirits were being very formal.  They were waiting to be invited to join the puja.  The invitation to offer the invocation was what they were waiting for.  Spiritual Sanctuaries are special places.  Especially Da Love Ananda Mahal.  Sacred Ground.  The Hawaiian spirits knew that.  And respected it.

Temple Adi Da at Da Love Ananda Mahal. Mt. Waialeale in the background.

May all beings be Blessed,



Onto the Next…. I Guess

"Waters of Conscious Light" 24 x 30; arylics; Temple Adi Da, Da Love Ananda Mahal Renunciate Sanctuary

The “Waters” painting is with the print master.  The giclee should be ready by weeks end.  Thanks to Bryan and Aaron for helping me see some things that were either escaping my awareness and others  I was ignoring and hoping no one would notice.   The sidewalks still received a tiny more work after this last photo so  this isn’t the absolute latest digital image, but plenty good. I must say though, the painting has a lot of mana in person.

It was an interesting time, painting a subject  that resides at Sacred Grounds which are set apart for contemplation, meditation, service and the reception of uninterrupted Blessing. Moving onto the next painting, a street scene in Kapaa feels like a casual conversation after finishing a heart deep discussion with an intimate.  I do have some other subject though I want to paint of the Sanctuary and will do so  after this next one. Or maybe not. If I can locate one from the archives I have in mind it my just alter the course of the artistic river.

But for now here’s a sketch of the proposed new one:  Looking from the inside  of the Small Town coffee shop onto the tables and across the street to a bridge that goes over the river by the ocean. Clouds have yet to be sketched in.

Ben drinks Jo

Lotsa positive comments over this current piece. Thank you all for taking the time to voice your support.

Thanks for taking some LIP from me,


#10- Waters Of Conscious LIght

"Waters Of Conscious LIght"

There are four or five hours left on painting #10. Need to finesse, massage, sharpen lines, blur lines and be fussy. But hey it’s the weekend and so a good time to share the almost completed work with friends. It’s a tough painting to photograph so my apologies for a not quite on the money  representation.

This is a scene from the full moon evening of July 2009.  It was such an incredible,  brilliant moon that Guru Purnima evening.  Hopefully the last painting captured some of the Mystery of the Sanctuary  and this one lets you feel some of the Magic.  I didn’t doctor the physical aspect of the photo so it is extraordinary to look at the fountain waters at the end of the reflecting pool to see the Yantric symbols the crossing waters made.

Off to the printers on Monday with another thank you to Ritch who added  a giclee of this painting to his collection.

Have a great weekend,


P.S.  As always you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.


Hmm? ….. Hymm?…. Ha-a-a-a-a-a……Achoooo!! ….. Hmmm?

No,  I haven’t lost it.  I’m just parroting back to you what the parrots were saying to me this afternoon as major housecleaning occurred in their Aviary home at Da Love Ananda Mahal.

underneath the koa trees

There is nothing more entertaining for Pleasure Dome and Tilyou than seeing Bruce scrubbing the floor of their not so small house.  They almost have as much living space as I do,  so floor washing is no small task. I am sure they would do the same for me.. However,  since I don’t ask, they help out in their own way, coming  down  close to where I am working, making sure everything passes muster, providing the entertainment  with their vocal comments.  Tilyou finds even more pleasure using my back  for a landing field as he practices his touch and goes.

Several years ago, thanks to a generous donation from Chuck and Molly we were able to build an exceptionally nice enclosure for our Solomon Island Eclectus friends.  Pleasure Dome is the female.

Pleasure Dome inspecting her new home (2008)

She is about thirteen years old. Elegantly adorned in deep red and blues, she is aloof  much of the time, enjoys the company of ladies more than men, and  expresses her clear opinion of men by attempting to bite off their fingers. She allows me to feed her and provide basic M&R  (maintenance and repair) to her domain. But I indeed have  just missed losing  digits while readjusting water dishes and breaching her comfort zone.   Tilyou, her companion is a youngster.  He is about three years old now. A complete jock and goofball, he  doesn’t talk much when some one is around him for just a few minutes but has hilarious prolonged conversations with himself at other times and loves the company of those serving around his home. His feathers are an amazing bright green with red and blue underwings. Together they make quite the striking  couple.

Vern ( see photo in the last LIP ), our retired Boeing person, engineered and helped designed their enclosure. Aaron and I along with various others, also threw in our design ideas. And when Chuck and Molly threw in the bucks, we were off to the races.  Getting some help from another friend, Tempus for the foundational stages, we built the aviary on an existing cement pad. Then Vern and Aaron and I continued on with the project for quite a while until the grand opening when Pleasure Dome and Tilyou were handed the keys to their condo.

It is a design that harkens back to the bedrooms of the 1950’s with the his and her beds. The aviary is actually split in two, providing two separate but still roomy and long enclosures so the birds can enjoy flight exercise. The reason for that is the female eclectus is very aggressive to the point of doing serious damage to the poor males. So companions they are, cuddle bums they are not.  But they still take pleasure in hanging out close by one another, even if there is a substantial wire partition between them, helping Tilyou keep his beak on where it belongs.

One of my daily early morning responsibilities is making and giving them their breakfast.  Klik and Klak are also part of the Avian breakfast club. Every day. Everyday. Every single day…….Now, whenever I go away from the Sanctuary for any length of time I have to make breakfast for someone. Sometimes I feel like an extremely boring person. But the birds sure like seeing me. It’s not just food time for them,  it’s social time with a friend also. Even Pleasure Dome, who wants to keep her distance, comes over while I am on Tilyou’s side,watching with participatory interest while I am  getting things squared away  and  serve up the trays. They eat pretty good too. Passion fruit and carrots from the gardens. Sometimes they like  garden greens. Always edamames and seeds. Peanuts are a staple. Papayas or mangoes when we can get em and of course bananas.  Even  grains and bread on occasion. Ceylon tea, cinnamon toast, marmalade, bacon,  warmed croissants with  Gruyère cheese.


Well…..not exactly all of that but you get the idea. They could do worse.

Tilyou sums it up well. He flew over to the aviary door one time  as Vern and I stepped out  after  visiting. He looked at us  and clearly said, “Happy Bird!”.

Thanks for taking some LIP from me,


P.S.  a few more photes to click on, expand and enjoy

Into The Garden

Circles.  I am going in circles.  And more circles- spinning, dodging, dancing.  Stopping now so quickly the stomach keeps going while the backbone wonders where his neighbor went.  Backing up, going forward, missing some things.  Ouch— nailing others.   Crawling, when possible , over Mother Nature’s booby traps of grassed over left over tree roots.  Ahhh, there lies Grace incarnate – a straight shot with no obstacles, only grass on Hawaiian steroids begging for a haircut.

It has been an afternoon in the orchards  on the Husquavarna ZTR mower. ( ZTR= zero turn radius= extremely nimble and efficient = above described mowing gymnastics.)

Just down the street from the Sanctuary ( Da Love Ananda Mahal Renunciate Sanctuary for any welcome newbies to this LIP) is the “140 Property”,  which although isn’t physically connected to the original Sanctuary, is considered and feels very much a part of it.   It is eleven acres on which sits an extremely humble 900 sq. ft. home that is the staff house for we who serve the Sanctuary full-time ( me in particular).  It also  doubles as a retreat house for those who make  pilgrimage across the Big Waters to drop out on retreat here at Da Love Ananda Mahal.  As you can imagine, a 900 square foot house does not  take up a lot of space, leaving a helluva lot room for —-trees, lots and lots of young, reaching for the sky trees of many varieties.  Mango, macadamia, cherry, grapefruit, avocado, papaya…… on and on.   And gardens….gardens  where kale, chard, bok-choy, basil and squash, yard long beans and dandelion greens keep company with zinnias and gardenias, marigolds and orchids. And of course  there is a healthy volunteer force  of  of weeds, rebellious grass and hungry bugs.

One would think there is a battalion of young, strapping transplanted mid western corn huskers out there, making all this happen. Boy, you got that one wrong.  It is the “A” team of Vern, Jennifer and Jim.    Vern is 83. Jim is 73, and Jennifer is younger, not sure exact;y how much younger, but I can assure  you she is not texting on her Iphone while skate boarding in the banana patch. These three are amazing and I have to sing their praises loud and clear. Even if mowing around all the stuff they planted is a colossal  pain in the butt.

Jim is big into “no till” gardening. He started working the earth behind the house about five years ago, wanting to experiment and prove his theories of how the tropical soil can be built and brought to fertility without amendments and tilling. He is of the persuasion that tilling does more long-term harm than good  and  is actually a disruptive force in what can be a more natural cycle. I don’t know. I mean, I mow lawns for crying out loud. And paint. But I know I do enjoy and am grateful for the rewards of  his endless labor in the gardens, as I go out every morning and pick  vibrant organic greens for the day. He rides a little putt-putt scooter to and fro.  Aaron and I want to get him a black leather jacket with a big nasty skull and cross-bones on it. Emblazoned  beneath that would be the words: ” NO TILL“.  Maybe for his birthday.  Jim doesn’t get a lot of help in the gardens. His wife Christine, helps out from time to time, heroically weeding out unwanted intruders.  Jim’s passion is his service.


He has a blog site where he shares his theories and his considerable knowledge  of gardening: http://notillgardening.com/

Vern is a miracle. He is a retired Boeing engineer. He had a serious brain anurism  two years ago at 81 years of age.  He shouldn’t be here. But he is.  And with a weed whacker in his hands to prove it.  He and his intimate partner Jennifer, have between the two of them, cleared some very gnarly property, dug too many holes to count, grew seedlings, bought, begged ,and stole saplings, and planted what I call our “foodular IRA”.


Vern most likely won’t be around to enjoy the full fruits of his labor. Jennifer will, barring any comets in 2012 or other unforeseen ill-humored universal events. They too have been working the  140 Property for the last four years or so.  It is indeed a labor of love.  There are now well over three hundred trees planted.  Some won’t make it. They know that and so overplant to compensate. Most if not all are two or more years from really being independent and not needing so much work. But for now they are like a so many baby birds, mouths open and wings fluttering for mom and dad’s  giving care and attention.  Jennifer isn’t a socialite. Doesn’t drive. Doesn’t really like to be in the same room with a lot of people. She suspiciously wasn’t around for a photo-op. But she sure loves Vern, definitely loves trees and devotedly takes good care of them.  This is a good thing.

Aaron and I are the “B” team and show up periodically  to mow our lemus off.  Otherwise you know what happens here. It sure looks good when it is done.  Some people count their blessings amidst such beauty.  I count my fillings to make sure they’re all still there……. It is indeed a vibrational universe in more ways than one.

Thanks for taking some LIP from me,


p.s. A few more photos to click on, enlarge and enjoy :