The Sanctuary for Peace, located near Ojai, CA, is a land of Light, a land of peace, and a land of love. It is a refuge, a safe haven, a spiritual oasis. Imagine entering a realm whose air washes over the body, mind, and soul, and cleanses one of sorrow and pain. With every step, one's spirit feels more uplifted and serene. It is said that the Sanctuary contains the Energy and Grace of the Himalayas. Just as spiritual seekers make a pilgrimage to those mighty mountains of India, so too, they may enjoy a similar power at the Sanctuary.
Recently I led a group meditation walk at the Sanctuary for Peace. Passing through the front gate, we drove by the house of Anandam where Swami Purna dwells a few days out of the year. Swami Purna sanctified this land in October 2014. We sit near the spot where Swami Purna first set intentions for the land, and we sing a holy mantra in honor of the Divine. I speak about the nature of Truth and how the Sanctuary environment is so helpful for catalyzing spiritual evolution.
We approach the fountain of Gaya where we pray for our ancestors. The blessings at Gaya empower our prayers and purify our ancestral line. Then we walk up to the "Purna Path," a walking trail energized with Health and Happiness. On the sign is inscribed the Purna mantra: "Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudacyate Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashisyate." Translation: "This is Whole, that is Whole. From Wholeness comes the Whole. When we take away the Whole from the Whole, the Whole still remains Whole."
We approach the statue of Ganesh, overlooking the distant Pacific Ocean. Ganesh is the God with the head of an elephant who helps to remove obstacles from one's path. By connecting to the energy of Ganesh, one can release blocks to a deeper connection with the blessings of the Sanctuary. Then we face the beautiful statue of Hanuman, the Monkey God, who helps us to increase strength, faith, and devotion.
Moving down the wide path, covered in wood chips, we approach a rock in the shape of a Shiva Lingam. The Shiva Lingam is charged with the energy of pure consciousness, assisting us in transcending the body and mind. We touch the stone and then rub the energy over our forehead. Then we come upon Swami Purna's "padukas" or holy sandals which represent the Grace of the Guru. Tuning in to this transformative energy, we circumnambulate the sandals three times and ring the bell to complete this spiritual practice. Circumnambulation, also called "parikrama," is an ancient practice from India in which the spiritual seeker makes circles around the blessed object to connect with the energy. The sound of the bell is a vibration beyond this world that can send the mind into deep meditation.
Nearby is the Sankalpa Bench handmade from clay and straw (cobb). Sankalpa, a sanskrit term, means wish or determination. As we sit on the bench, we make our sankalpa for whatever our heart desires most, and the energy of the bench empowers this wish. Across the way, there is a small bench overlooking the mountains and ocean where we can sit and contemplate.
Further down the trail, we arrive at the Yoga Deck, a place designed for physical healing and strengthening the life force. A few people can do yoga on the deck at the same time. On this spot, Swami Purna chanted "Om Praan Vayu Namaha" to empower the energy that runs the body. Then we walk through the woods to reach the end of the trail and sit underneath the "Bodhi Tree." The energy of meditation is so peaceful in this spot. It overlooks a beautiful view of the valley, mountain ranges, and city of Santa Rosa.
Then we return to the beginning of our meditation walk and sit together, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received. I am grateful to have the opportunity to share the Sanctuary with other people. I am grateful to witness the peaceful change that affects many visitors. May we continue to support the Sanctuary for Peace and share the Light that emanates from this holy land.