Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Road to Konya

I am home, I am home of my beloved Rumi and shams. 

Left the Dergah in Docedere today morning, with Gem baba and few other dervish friends. After a 8 hour drive we reached Konya. 

Initially we were going to come to Konya with teacher Uruc but since there were not many people coming, he cancelled the trip. Bit dissapointed I said to myself whatever happens is for good. 
Last night as we finished the Sema, Uruc shared how when we face obstacles or disease in life, it's because there's clogging of energy and this energy could be released by accepting and giving presents/gifts. I remembered that I had not given my donation yet to the Dergah for my time there so immediately I went and put it on the donation box. Minutes after I had done that, a friend told me that there's a van going to Konya next morning and we can go with them. Immediately there was flow of blessing, you could call it a coincidence but I think it was connected with the giving of present. 

The trip was beautiful with 8 of us, two dervishes and other friends who had participated in the Sema gathering, including dearest Premal  Ma who has been living in India since last 12 years, and other friends from Iran. Our driver Elash was smoking seesha all the way and we couldn't help smiling all the time filled with exhilaration of this trip. 
Along the way Gem baba shared some Sufi stories and wisdom insights. I really liked him, 60 year old yet quite young and powerful spirit and presence. 

As we reached Konya, we first went straight to shrine of Shams. It was closed as it was 10.30pm. We offered our prayers from outside, looking through the window. Immediately I felt a rush of excitement being here finally, a dream since I read 'forty rules of love', where for the first time I was introduced to Shams. On my knees I prayed, prayed to keep my heart open. 
A friend remarked, that there are several shrines of Shams around the world, most don't know where he was buried as he was mysteriously disappeared, some believe he was murdered and his body was put in the well in Konya, which is still here below the shrine till today. Baba said "it doesn't really matter, if people come here for shams, then shams comes here for them."
We then in the silence of night drove towards the center of town where Mevlana's shrine is, in the night, decorated with lights, it looked enchantingly beautiful. 
For the night we stayed in a cafe, which belonged to baba's friend. The name of cafe is Hic, which means 'nothingness'. 

With excited heart of being here in Konya, I fall sleep, dreaming about Shams, dreaming about Rumi and dreaming about love. 

24th August , Konya, Turkey. 

The dervish van and fellow pilgrims. 

First glimpse of shams through the window. 

In the shrine of Shams. 

Hic cafe. 

A dervish who had travelled the world, carried a board on his neck, written 'nothingness' (in Farsi). 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sema- dancing with the Sufis

Once a Sufi Saint was walking through a desert with a young boy, 'where are we going'? asked the boy. To a Sema gathering, the man replied. And then the boy asked many questions. 
Where is it?
I don't know 
Who is coming?
I don't know 
Do the people who are coming know it ?
So how will they come?
Old man looked at him with love and said - the ones who need to come will find it and will come. 

Sufi, a word which has been a mystery, fascination and admiration for me, and now it has become an exploration. Experienced my first retreat with two Sufi teachers in feb this year. Met many friends there who became dear as they were in similar path. This enquiry created a longing to come to turkey. Country where Rumi and many other Sufi teachers are from. I booked my tickets and planned to visit at the end of my Europe trip. No one to know, no place to go, just trusting an inner voice that said 'go'. Now I am here, arrived two days back in Istanbul. Hosted in a friend's friend place, by dearest Gozde. Within few hours of my arrival, dear friend David, who lives in London connects me with a dear friend Hatice and who immediately invited me to a Sufi gathering or Sema as it is called, happening an hour away from Istanbul. 
As I was standing in the dock of ferry, looking at the sea waves on my way to this gathering, I was reflecting how every moment in our life is orchestrated. In this trip I have felt deeply held by life, always feeling path opening or emerging as I took the next step. 
From yelova took a bus to Gokcedre and then walked on a small path asking occasionally for Mehmet Rasim Mutlu Dargeh, that's where we all meet. After 20 mins I reached the center, a concrete building with two floors, the bottom one used for serving food and the top floor for Sema, where they do 24 hours, non stop prayers, singing and whirl dancing. 

It was the day of full moon and As I entered the Dargeh, everyone I met greeted me with a smile and a bow with heir hands in their heart. Salaam or Merhaba they would say. I immediately felt home. 

When I was in Spain, a random friend I had made told me that "ahh 
You are going to turkey, you should meet this teacher Uruc, she didn't knew where he stayed or his contact, I  smiled and said, turkey is a big country but you never know, inshallah (by god's will). 

And now in a small village in turkey, where with synchronicity I find myself attending this very beautiful Sema, I met the teacher or Sufi Sheikh who started it all, he was none other than Uruc. When I told him how I came there about this turn of events, he just smiled and said "that's life" :)

Teacher Uruc would share Sufi stories from Rumi's methnava every evening, with joy and twinkle in his eyes, a man with joyful heart. 

"If you are dark like Iron, polish polish, until your heart becomes a mirror filled with images, beautiful images, everywhere inside it"

Their Eyes were soft, warm hugs and deep reverence presence. We would deeply look into each other's eyes and greet with Adab softly saying salaam / Merhaba. They came from all corners of the world, hippies, wanderers, seekers, pilgrims, musicians.. All in the path of Sufi. The gatherings is called 'Sema', in the tradition of Mevlana or Rumi, they would meet to do Ibadat/ Zikr or remember God. This particular one is of 9 days and nights ( also happens for 3, 5, 40, 114 days) chanting, singing , whirl dance to evoke ecstasy and connect with divine throughout 24 hours non stop. Offered in the spirit of gift and donations, the center is open for all. With food and tea always there on the table, pilgrims sleep in their own tents outside or in the prayer hall, dancing, resting and then dancing again. 
I would spend hours, Just listening to the music in Sema hall to various musicians from around the world, Music is healing, it slowly grows on you, it relaxes the nerves, I felt my own presence expanding, more peaceful, and I felt it in the collective energy, so much love, softness, and respect. 
We would enter the Dargeh and the sema hall with Adab (bowing down) and the same we would do when we greeted each other. 
One of the Hadith in the Quran says "two opposite feelings cannot stay together in your heart, if there's love there cannot be hatred" , so greet everyone with love and Adab, even if they don't respond back. 

After an intense week for me, with moments of exhilaration, joy and also sometimes deep exhaustion and emptyness, the Sema finished yesterday. We closed with dance and prayers. This week has been really a big gift from God, one of the most beautiful gathering of my life where my every breath said 'ahhhhha'

One of the dervishes I met, summarized this event very beautiful my to me, he said "the work we are doing here is creating a wave of positive energy, the work done by Mystics and Rishis since thousands of years. This is real activism, creating inner change and this further creates a flow of love which vibrates in our environment wherever we go. It's creating a balance in the world."

As we said good byes today morning, my heart was full with love and hope which I have seen many around the world in different forms and yet in same universal spirit, towards oneness. 

Finally leaving for Konya, my beloved Rumi's place with few dervishes in their van. 

With teacher Uruc

Story time in the evening. Inside the dergah. 

Sema hall in the Dergah. 

Saw this in the center - 
"Sufism is not mere looking inside but to invite the entire existence inside". 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Savitri - bringing heaven on earth

"O Satyavan, I have heard thee and I know. I know that thou and only thou art he. "
Savitri thus recognizes Satyavan for who he is, the eternal soul, the divinity who needs to come to the earth and thus create heaven on earth. 
A story of a grand dream, our greatest possibility, our highest truth and brightest light. Shri Aurovindo pours his heart and soul in this epic creation of his. 
This week has been a beautiful exploration of this magnificent creation. Annette very beautifully brought the essence and helped collectively imagine what seems almost impossible, to have heaven on earth and our individual role in making it happen, our commitment to say 'yes' to our highest potential, our inner light and hearts calling, if not this than what. What will be life worth leaving for. 
The retreat was entirely in German with long periods of silence. Not knowing the language helped me to listen from my heart, to feel beyond the words, to have a glimpse in people's eyes and see their soul, and not judging them from the words they speak. It helped me intuitively tune in and to trust that whatever needs to be transmitted will be done energetically. Annette also did a session on dream work where many shared with her about their dreams. "What does the person or thing in your dream represents for you?" She would always ask. Dream work has been very important in Sufi tradition, as we get a glimpse of our true selves through our dreams. The people or things we see in our dreams are mostly always us, our own projections, our own longings and expressions. "Trust your intuition, you know what they mean to you", she would say. 
Many a times she would invite people to ask her any questions and very beautifully, with a clear sharp clarity she would deeply listen and answer in short, sometimes with humor but with lot of compassion. People would share their deepest feelings and vulnerabilities, breaking down in process and very delicately she would hold them all. It was interesting for me to see her in action. A Sufi teacher for modern times, always encouraging to listen to your own heart, without many rituals, without any exaggeration, always direct and simple. 
I had the opportunity to read few passages of Savitri in English and i loved it. I would pray to Shri Aurobindo before starting and calling him in spirit and i always felt supported. Many came and shared how they enjoyed listening to me. Some who I had never spoken in the entire week would come randomly and tell me how much they enjoyed my presence and soul. Most of the participants were clearly quite evolved in their spiritual practices, you could tell the depth of their journey through their presence. And I felt grateful to be in this circle. Various time I was touched by moments of generosity and kindness, people would offer me food, and invite me for dinner, taking care of me throughout. With a prayer you take it all with a promise to share this forward. 
Today morning I left Windschnur , Germany with Bettina in her car and after 5 hour ride she dropped me at Pfaffikkon train station in Switzerland, even buying my train ticket, sharing immensely till the last moment. I meet another friend Julia in Winterthur and stay with her tonight and then depart tomorrow morning from Zurich Airport to Istanbul, where a new adventure awaits. 
15th Aug 2016 - Flah, near Zurich, Switzerland. 

Retreat room in Windschnur, reminded me of Sufi lodge

Passages from Savitri

In Julia's beautiful home in Flah

With shining light , dearest friend Julia

Friday, August 12, 2016

Windschnur - an exploration

Windschnur, here I come, in your home, to discover later our relationship and its meaning which will emerge with time. The energy was palpable, surrounded by lush green trees, rain softly falling welcoming our arrival. Marcus drives me in. Throughout the way, with a gleam in his eyes he would say, "are you ready for your heart to be polished?", it going to be one great adventure of silence and inner work. 
It was 10 minutes left to 7pm, as I enter the meditation hall, I look around, approx 40 people, mostly middle aged. I take a seat, not being very visible to the group, behind some chairs, resting the wall. Minutes later Annette walks in, I could feel my heart beat bit faster and cramps in my stomach. She is significant to me, yet to be known how. There's lightness in her presence, of a real human being, devoid of any pretense, natural as it is. She speaks in German, and also introduces me, I felt blushed and humbled. With humor and joy she held the circle and after our introduction of names we go in silence. It was one of the most deep meditation I had experienced, the energy in the room was so dense that you could cut it with a knife. I felt in the presence of deep meditators and conscious living people. It would be interesting to witness what this week will unfold. 
The retreat is mostly in silence. I am invited by Annette to read Passages from Shri Aurovindo's book - Savitiri. Again I feel humbled and privileged to do so with little doubt of doing justice to this beautiful task given. 
I trust if the task is given then it will also prepare me to do it as my best. I read the passage 2-3 times now to get the essence and prepare bit for tomorrow, but tomorrow will be a new day, with its own flow and gifts. 
Be present, be in now, rest will happen.

10th August 2016- Windschnur, Germany. 

In the streets of Munich

In the streets of Munich I walk, passing by Incredible church of Asam, the English gardens near the river Isar. Listening to moving dolls in the Marien plaza and basking the view of the city from St Peter's church tower. Always wanted to visit Germany and here I am. Touched by kindness and generosity of my host family Marcus and Sandy who welcome me with open hearts. A Country that has seen so much, still carrying the wounds and guilt of past. A man with a dark heart (Hitler) burdened the souls for generations to come and now a woman chancellor with motherly compassionate heart, welcoming the refugees in Germany and paving the path for future with light and reconciliation. 
From here I goto Windschnur, a retreat with Annette Kaiser. We meet again and again, the purpose will be revealed with time. We will be exploring Shri Aurobindo's epic poem Savitri, a book they say where he poured his heart and knowledge. It's a call for bringing heaven on earth and a divine possibility which doesn't seems afar. 

- 8the Aug 2016. Munich, Germany

My beautiful host family, Sandy, Marcus and little Querin. friends who seemed we knew each other for many lifetimes. 

Lake in Seefeld. 

Spain - calling the pilgrim

2.17am, Sunday night, on a bus to Madrid airport, I reflect on what I learned in last two weeks in Spain. 
Abundance was the first visible lesson, to see everything as an energy, the more we flow the things the more we feel the flow of life. Every person or incident is there for a reason, be present, and wonder why it has come in your life, what insight it is hiding. It's really a state of mind and with practice we can train it. 
After the retreat we stayed in Villasur, a small village near Burgos. It is Joserra's family home very generously offered by his parents. Of many things we shared, we talked about the possibilities of Lokmitra, or exchange of friends living in Spain and in india for 40 days, growing in service and love. One of Gandhi ji's last dream before he passed away was to make a shanti sena, an army of peace warriors who would have immense internal spiritual strength with love and would go to any conflict place in the world and work there. What would love warriors of today would look like. How would we prepare ourselves internally, create inner strength and immense love that our presence it self would bring healing and relief in the lives of others. As we heal others we heal ourselves, as truly we know there are no 'others'. 

Diken had come to drop me to the bus station. As we walked by the cathedral in night, in the streets of Burgos, we shared how a pilgrim should continue to walk. It always feel safe and comfortable in a place where we stop but we have to continue walking with faith that next stop will have its own adventure. 
Since I walked the way to Camino two years back, Spain had always called me back, like a love  which was not yet completed or fulfilled. A longing of the heart, knowing there's something else here which has not yet been revealed. 

- 7th Aug 2016

With Bea, Joserra, Diken and Candida

River in Villasur 

Three generations together, joserra's aunt, mother and sister Gema. 

Castrokariz village. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

reLOVEution - experiments of joy and abundance in Spain

"Be open my brother", Mau the eternal pilgrim tells me as we met in near the church of the nuns. 
He was sitting on a bench, in deep meditation, feeling the sun on his face. Looking at him baught tremendous peace within me. I went and sat nearby under a tree not wanting to disturb him. Later he described that when he saw me sitting in silence he felt the same. 
"Be like a pilgrim in life" he continued further, "we are constantly moving inside, to be with it and be open in receiving it is a practice." Mau has been a pilgrim most of his life, traveling various countries, doing service and walking and now he opened his home for anyone to walk in and experience silence. He calls it 'Hospital de Alma' or Hospital for the soul. It is really an experience to visit his home and if lucky to meet him. 
I walked the road to Santiago in 2014 and now coming back as a visitor feels quite different. There's a certain energy or spirit guides you and moves you when you walk the path. I feel nostalgic thinking about it and miss it. But then you also learn to let it go and see life as a pilgrimage itself, with every moment creating a new experience. 

I came to Spain on 20th July after the global friends retreat in Switzerland. First in Madrid I met and stayed with Miki, a dear friend who had recently volunteered in Ahmedabad, India.  A free spirit living in trust. Making his own soap, avoiding super markets, offering yoga classes in gift and receding humbly whatever life offers without much external needs. He would go and ask the local store owners if they had any food which they are going to throw away, receive them humbly and would often go back and tag the store owners with small gifts. He reminded me of the quote 'live simply so that others can simply live.'
After two days in Madrid, I reached Burgos via a shared car ride, now very common in Europe. A beautiful way to save money and also connect with strangers. 
Burgos is a small town on the road to Santiago with an incredibly majestic and beautiful cathedral. Passion of Joserra to create a community of gift and abundance locally was contagious and inspiring to witness. And this year as they had their first Moved by Love retreat, the fruits of seeds planted in these last several years seemed to be visible. 
Many friends from Spain had been recently volunteering in India with Manav Sadhna in Ahmedabad and together they bought the spirit of Gandhi ji and gift back to Spain. They started Awakin Meditation circles , Karma Kitchen (A restaurant run by volunteers offering food as a sacred offering as a gift) and now their first full retreat. 
Two days in the Retreat we spent in Castrokariz village. 30 people, mostly from local community in Spain came together, with also a surprise visit by Rose Maria and Mukesh Bhai from Switzerland. 
It was a beautiful gathering filled with love, silence, joy and moving towards new ways for a living community. 
There's something about seeing a dream manifested, it gives wings to your own aspirations and hope to keep working towards them. 
May our highest intention and possibility manifest and we move towards oneness.

Albergue Rosalia in Castrokariz where we stayed during the retreat. 

Awakin circle in Burgos 

Karma kitchen volunteers in Burgos. 

With Bea... Never a dull moment

Opening circle in the retreat 

In Santa Clara monastery. 


Friday, July 22, 2016

Global friends retreat 2016 - Switzerland

"As a world citizen going back home being part of a new culture in the spirit of love, taking responsibility of whole, what is my gift ?"
A beautiful question to hold and explore. It was my third time participating in Global friends retreat in Switzerland, first one being in 2013. My understanding got deepened and faith restored in our non separation and oneness. Around 30 participants from various parts of the world came together, holding these questions. We all realize that humanity is going through a major shift. Today as we have greatest of crisis we also have greatest potential for transformation. There's a cosmic intelligence that governs all. We don't know how it collaborates, cooperates, so how do we design for a new world through this unknown ? How do we leap from separation to oneness. What are the attributes of a perfect human being ? What does it mean to meet in prior unity? How to bring heaven on earth or even imagine that it could be possible? What is our individual jump for 'it' to manifest? 

I realize it's good to hold and explore a good question than look for an answer for a bad question. 

Here's few reflections which came up as we held space and sacred circle around it. The space was held and guided very beautifully by Annette Kaiser, a universal spiritual teacher. 
shift from 'I am that' to 'I am'
In new culture the individual is more transparent. We are all together moving in that direction. 
What really creates in cocreation that which has no name. The power in silence that creates. 
What is the meaning of our true powers that is good. 
Something new is coming that I am not familiar with, trust it. 
Humanity perceives the possibility of one world and is in time space to take a quantum leap. 
Sat: responsible for form, chitta: responsible for depth of consciousness, Anand: responsible for bliss. 
Our true impulses are co-operation and collaboration. 
To incorporate we develop presence. We are not separate anymore when we are present to 'now'. 

We were all together for one week. In small groups we had heart circles, sharing everyday what is emerging and the truth of the moment. Day started with meditation in morning for earth and self. Many concepts were explored through individual presentations, from moneyless economy, collaborative platforms, wisdom of elders and gift culture. Explored the dialogue principles in our conversations which allows us to deeply listen to others and respond from the depth of our hearts without judgments. 
We played, we danced, we talked and talked and listened deeply, shared our unique gifts and our individual jumps for the manifestation for whatever that needs to be created. 

I would like to jump towards :
towards unconditional love
Towards fearlessness 
Towards remembrance that we are non-separated. 
Holding sacred spaces and circles for the same jump to happen for others. 

Overall always trusting what 'it' wants from us and not what we want from it. 

We closed the circle with making flags of our commitments to ourselves and with a blessing Ceremony for each other. 

For me personally, I felt I had many little breakthroughs. As I was volunteering this time and had the opportunity to cocreate the retreat and hold it together with Annette, Katarina and Anne Christine. I felt very humbled in their presence and learned tremendously about holding space with my intuition and presence. We would constantly ask ourselves "what serves the most?"  
I go further in this path of love , as a pilgrim through the gateway of heart in the service of the whole. 

Reminding myself to Look at the stars, but go behind the light which makes it shine. 

Villa Unspunnan - the beautiful retreat place. 

Mandala made with our offerings from the nature. 

We had a gift table with hand made smile cards, playing secret angels to each other. 

The bright room. The flags hanging are the drawings of our jump or commitments to ourselves. 

Holding hands towards the birth of a new culture. 

My jump or next steps 

Brother Yan had this idea of making butterfly symbol with participants which reflects the transition of humanity. 

Essence of all our conversations, made collectively. 

Full moon of Guru Purnima from the Swiss alps. View from our retreat center. 

For more pictures -

Thursday, July 07, 2016


'Roamers', a new word for wanderers and travelers, I learnt today. It's been over a month I left india. Spent 4 weeks in the refugee camp of France. So many impressions, so many stories, I know it has made a deep impact in my life and heart, what and how it will translate in my life only time will tell. 

Went to Brussels from Calais and spent two days with Arathi and Pratul. I was infected with their enthusiasm for life and work. With their initiative 'connect the dots', they seems to life my dreams and wishes and it was nice to see someone manifesting it. More than anything we need safe spaces today, to be able to sit in circles, share our heart, our vulnerabilities and our gifts. We had enough of heroes, everyday heroes, change makers, we need everyday people realizing our own uniqueness with all our flaws and to be able to still love each other. 

Sitting on a train now towards Interlaken in Switzerland. Will be participating in global friends retreat, and the intention I shared with them was - 
"In today's time, my mind witnesses our constant separation, violence and  greed yet deep down my heart holds a highest conviction that we are all one beating heart, deeply interconnected. I am humbled to participate in a gathering, where all of us are exploring this paradox and finding new ways to live in love, joy and peace. May our coming together nurture spaces of love rooted in prior unity as we become an instrument to the service of the whole. "
Around 33 participant from across the world are participating, with similar intention of oneness. I feel excited and thrilled to be here, to cocreate, and explore together. 

Life has been kind, even with all the personal challenge in relationships, it is teaching me everyday, loving me with all its heart. 

Alhumdulillah (by the grace of God)