Dallas Silent Meditation Retreat — a beautiful beginning ダラスの沈黙瞑想リトリート すばらしい始まり

On Monday, I returned to Chicago after the Dallas AmritaSRI (Silent Retreat Immersion). After such a profound experience, the mind has no words to express what transpired, but perhaps some photos may convey what all of us felt. Hopefully, this will encourage people to come to Chicago in early April for the next one.

月曜日、ダラスのAmrita SRI(沈黙に浸るリトリート)を終えてシカゴに戻りました。とても深い体験だったので、どうお伝えしたらよいか言葉が見つかりませんが、写真をお見せすることでわたしたちが感じたものを何等かお伝えできるのではないかと思います。4月初めにシカゴで参加したいという気持ちになっていただけるかもしれません。

Please click here for a full photo album of the retreat.

リトリートの写真全体はこちらから。

After orientation and a short tour of the ashram, the 7-day retreat began with a Mahasudarshana Homa on Sunday night, February 19.

オリエンテーションを行い、アシュラム敷地内を少し見て回った後、2月19日、日曜日の夜、7日間にわたるリトリートがマハースダルシャナホーマから始まりました。

Thereafter, each day began with the pre-dawn glow, then archana, followed by a seated meditation.

その後は、夜明けの輝きと共に毎日が始まり、アルチャナを行い、座った状態で瞑想しました。

Then, the sun greeted us with many a breathtaking sunrise…

はっと息を飲むような日の出が私たちを迎えてくれました。

Still, before breakfast there was time for gentle Amrita Yoga and a session of IAM-35.

そして尚、朝食前に軽いアムリタヨーガとIAM35(通常のアイアム瞑想)のセッションを行う時間も取ることができました。

Between breakfast and lunch, there were nature walks, seated meditation sessions (40 minutes), and walking meditation sessions.

朝食と昼食の間には、自然散策、瞑想の時間(40分)、ウォーキング瞑想の時間がありました。

Lunch was followed by one hour of silent seva, since karma yoga helps prepare the mind for meditation.

カルマヨーガをすると、瞑想する心の準備にもなるので、昼食の後は沈黙のセヴァを1時間行いました。

Fortunately, the weather was nice enough that we could conduct the afternoon meditation session behind the main house, overlooking the lake.

幸運にもお天気に恵まれ、午後の瞑想セッションはメインハウスの裏で湖を眼下に見ながら瞑想を行うことができました。

Classes were conducted most days from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, on a variety of subjects, like Upasana, Karma Yoga, Sound/Bhajan as Meditation, Obstacles to Meditation, and Food & Meditation.

クラスは、ほとんど毎日4時半から5時半に行われ、ウパサナ、カルマヨーガ、瞑想としての音/バジャン、瞑想の妨げとなるもの、食事と瞑想など、様々なテーマが取り上げられました。

The concluding hours of each day were full of awe-inspiring sunsets, a bhajan session, and more meditation.

日々の締めくくりの数時間は、神々しい日の入りに畏敬の念を呼び起こされます。バジャンを歌い、さらに瞑想。

Before the retreat concluded, we got to celebrate Mahashivaratri during the regular Dallas Satsang time, which included a talk, abhishekam of the Shivalingam, bhajans and meditation.

リトリートが終わる前に、通常のダラスサットサンガの時間にマハーシヴァラトリをお祝いしました。講話とシヴァリンガムへのアビシェーカ、バジャン、瞑想などを行いました。

Just before the concluding meditation session on Sunday, February 26, we all truly felt Amma’s divine presence when a beautiful, bright white swan flew directly over the meditation hall, over my head, and landed gracefully in the lake.

2月26日日曜日の最後の瞑想セッションの直前、美しく輝く白い白鳥が瞑想ホールの上に直接飛んできて、わたしたちの頭上を舞い、湖に優雅に降り立ちました。それを見て、わたしたちは皆、アンマの神聖な存在を実感しました。

In the concluding sessions after breakfast on Sunday, the retreatants came out of their vow of silence consciously, after praying for Grace to the god and goddess of speech. There was also an opportunity to share experiences for those who wished.

日曜日の朝食後、締めくくりのセッション。話すことを司る神と女神の恩寵を祈り、参加者は、誓いとともに続けてきた沈黙の状態から意識的に戻ってきました。そしてシェアしたい人には体験を語ってもらいました。

Then Dayamrita swami arrived to give a talk on “What Next?”, and conduct a Q&A session.

ダヤムリタスワミが到着し、「この次は?」というお話をしてくださいました。そして質疑応答。

After we expressed our thanks to all who attended and helped put together the retreat, we closed with a prayer, then invited each attendee to receive a token of our appreciation.

リトリートに参加した人、リトリートを実現するのに尽力してくれた人、皆に感謝し、お祈りして会を終えました。それから一人ひとり来てもらって、わたしたちの感謝の気持ちを受け取ってもらいました。

Most people stayed for lunch, some even overnight. The Dallas ashram is such a peaceful place, many find it hard to leave…

ほとんどの人は昼食まで残りました。中には夜まで残った人も。ダラスのアシュラムはとても平和に満ちた場所で、去りがたく感じた人も多かったようです。

Deepest gratitude to everyone who came, and especially to the devotees who worked tirelessly for weeks and months to make this event a reality. Most of all, thanks to Amma for her divine guidance and grace, without which none of this would have been possible.

来てくれた人全員、そしてとりわけこのリトリートを実現するために何週間も何か月も休みなく働いてくれたボランティアの方たちに心から感謝します。そして何より神聖な導きと恩寵を与えてくれたアンマに感謝いたします。アンマのお導きと恩寵がなければ何もできませんでした。

Hope to see lots more of you in Chicago next month!

来月シカゴでもっとたくさんの人たちにお会いできますように。

2016 Herb Farm in Chicago — Part 3

First, permit me to introduce our diligent Japanese farmers from 2016, the Miyazaki twins — Kouta and Keita.

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They deserve most of the credit for all of the hard work evident in the photos to follow.twins-1

Next, the continuation of the 2016 herb growing season narrative…

Being a cold hardy flowering plant, 275 calendula seedlings (Calendula officinalis) could be safely planted at the same time that the Krishna Tulasi seedlings were getting started in the greenhouse. The photos below were taken on the same day as those posted yesterday.

We grew calendula for its bright orange flowers, intending to use them both in our herbal soaps as well as for their medicinal properties. The oil of calendula flowers is used by herbalists as an anti-inflammatory and a remedy for healing wounds. Calendula is also used topically as an antiseptic and for treating acne, controlling bleeding, and soothing irritated tissue.

The plants quickly took to the rich Midwestern soil and developed a bright green color.

After sprouting 700 ashwagandha plants (Withania somnifera) in the greenhouse, the Japanese farmers began planting them in the field in late May. This herb is a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine, which primarily uses the root, but also the berries and leaves for topical treatment of tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers. It is also used in Yemen, where the roots are used in the treatment of burns and wounds. A lot of research has been performed on this plant to confirm its active chemical constituents, some of which are found exclusively in the ashwagandha plant itself.

Here is a young ashwagandha plant in our field.

One well known Western herb is Sage (Salvia officinalis), which has been used in the Western world since antiquity. The Greeks were aware of its medicinal properties at least as early as the 4th century BCE, and Pliny of the 1st AD century refers to its use in the Roman empire. In modern herbalism, some refer to studies that have demonstrated that sage extracts can facilitate improved memory and alertness, as well as improved cognitive and behavioral function in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Below is pictured a young Sage plant, shadowed by a thistle plant…

Another traditional Chinese medicinal plant recommended to us was Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula). As with many of the other herbs, it is the roots that are used as medicine, and are said to build chi and tonify the blood. (Dang Shen seedling below)

More to come…

2016 Farm in Chicago — Part 2

Last year, I was able to take photos and videos of the herb farm at different times, which by Divine Grace ended up being the key stages, resulting in a kind of visual documentation of the process. Thus, I will be sharing those images across a number of posts, to give others a sense of participation in the joy and wonder of nature’s bounty.

First of all, some of you may already know that for decades Amma has been praising the medicinal benefits of tulasi, or holy basil . Of the several varieties available, she has repeatedly emphasized that Krishna Tulasi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) has the most powerful medicinal properties. This is the type of tulasi that has deep purple stems and leaves that turn a similar deep purple when exposed to powerful sunlight.

I remember many years ago when the wife of a particular country’s head of state came to see Amma, mentioning that she had breast cancer, Amma immediately instructed her to eat fresh tulasi leaves every day. She told me to bring a tulasi plant for the First Lady, somehow intuiting that I had one in my room, I suppose! When I brought the plant, however, Amma said “Not this type, you should give her Krishna Tulasi, as it is more powerful.” Sadly, I did not have Krishna Tulasi with me at the time, but later we were able to deliver one to the First Lady, much to her joy.

After experiences like this, I knew we needed to make Krishna Tulasi the cornerstone of our herb farm. With the help of two very dedicated Japanese farmers, we were able to sprout 2700 Krishna Tulasi seedlings in our greenhouse last year.

The photos below were taken on May 27, 2016.

Thousands of tulasi seedlings…

Richo Cech, a well respected American herbalist, calls this variety “Amrita Tulasi”. He says it “has a wonderful aroma and tests very high for rosmarinic acid…. We tested this cultivar and confirmed the eugenol marker.  This is the holy basil my wife and I grow for ourselves to make into tea.  We find it very satisfying, with aroma most appealing. Traditional usage (Ayurveda): stress, anxiety, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and dementia.”

As the seedlings mature, the leaves begin to take on a wine-colored hue…

St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is another favorite of herbalists worldwide, due to the medicinal effect of extracts and teas made from its bright yellow flowers. Mentioned in the 4th century European herbal text “Herbarium of Apuleius,” it is traditionally used as an antidepressant and to restore damaged nerve tissue and strengthen the urinary organs. We were blessed with very good germination rates, ending up with over 700 plants.

Another very successful herb was thyme (Thymus vulgaris), of which we were able to produce 1100 some odd plants. Everyone knows about the culinary application of this herb, but people are often surprised to hear that it has medicinal properties, as well. The flowers, leaves, and oil of thyme have been used to treat bed-wetting, diarrhea, stomach ache, arthritis, sore throat, cough, bronchitis, and as a diuretic.

Another medicinal plant that may come as a surprise to some is marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). Originally, the root of this plant was an ingredient of the candy that still bears its name, though no longer contains the herb. The same 4th century Herbarium of Apuleius recommends the root of the plant for sores, body stiffness, and  foot diseases, like gout. In traditional herbal medicine, the leaves, flowers and roots are used variously as an immune stimulant, for irritation of mucous membranes, and as a gargle for sore throat, as well as for ulcers of the mouth, throat and gastric system.

In a similar vein, we also have licorice! The root of the cold hardy Chinese variation (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) we are growing has been used since ancient times as a traditional Chinese medicine, throughout Asia and as far as the Middle East. Licorice is valued by herbalists around the world for the wide variety of health benefits attributed to it, such as healing digestive illnesses, boosting the immune system, pain relief, easing respiratory congestion and sore throat, reduction of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms, and prevention of heart disease.

Hyssop was considered by the ancient Celts to be the most purifying of all herbs, and was also used for religious purification in ancient Egypt. Today, many herbalists use its dark blue, fragrant flowers for their traditional application in treating the common cold. The essential oil includes the chemicals thujone and phenol, which are said to give it antiseptic properties.

Last year we tried growing this herb as an experiment, which went very well. This year we plan to expand the area to about 150 plants.

Last year, our Japanese farmers successfully sprouted over 400 astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) plants, as well. This variety has a history of use as an herbal medicine in both traditional Chinese and Persian medicine. In Chinese medicine it has been used to reinforce vital energy (qi) and protect against illness. Its extracts are often marketed for their life-prolonging effects. 

Along with licorice, one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine is an herb known as “baical skullcap” (Scutellaria baicalensis, Huang qin)  which was recommended to us by Richo Cech. The seed sprouting efforts resulted in about 150 seedlings of this precious plant.

In Chinese medicine, baical skullcap has a broad range of applications: antiallergic, diuretic, hypotensive, antibacterial, antiviral, tranquilizing and fever-reducing, commonly used for treatment of dysentery, hepatitis, staph. It appears to be a good source for flavonoid compounds, and several chemical compounds have been isolated from the root, the major ones being baicalein, baicalin, wogonin, norwogonin, oroxylin A[3] and β-sitosterol are the major ones.

Last but not least, we also had great success with an old herbal favorite, chamomile…

Chamomile tea is one of the most famous varieties, traditionally used for a sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. The 700 chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla aka Matricaria recutita) seedlings that sprouted grew vigorously in the greenhouse and were soon ready for planting…

In the next post, we will see how the seedlings looked after being planted in the field…

2016 Herb Farm in Chicago — Part 1

Another project that has been keeping me very busy over the past year has been the new medicinal herb farm in Chicago.

After months of planning that began in December 2015, the 2016 growing season in Chicago began on March 27, with a seed starting bonanza in the GreenWorks building. The task ahead was quite a daunting one — creating a 2-acre medicinal herb farm with 35 different varieties of plants. As nearly 10,000 medicinal herb seedlings needed to be sprouted and planted in the field within 2 months, there was no time to waste.

With the urgency of purpose and high stakes, I knew we needed some heavy firepower, so I called in for reinforcements… AYUDH! 🙂

After watching a short instructional video on seed starting, prepared by dedicated Japanese devotees, I became the de facto subject matter expert (?!), showing everyone what to do. This day was for sowing the seeds of the less cold-hardy plants that would need more time to mature before being transplanted in the field.

The youth quickly took over and immersed themselves in the process.

Each one of the dozens of 72 cell-trays prepared was labeled with the name of the plant and the date the seeds had been sown.

In a short time, we had finished enough trays for almost 1400 plants. Not bad for a group of beginners…

In the days to follow, many more such trays were prepared, until we had all of the herbs below ready to sprout.

1 Alkanet Alkanna orientalis
2 Ashwagandha Withania somnifera
3 Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus
4 Baical Skullcap Scutellaria baicalensis
5 Calendula Calendula officinalis
6 Catnip Nepeta cataria
7 Chamomile, German Matricaria recutita
8 Chinese red sage (Dan Shen) Salvia miltiorrhiza
9 Comfrey, true Symphytum officinale var patens
10 Coriander Coriandrum sativum
11 Cornflower (Batchelor’s Buttons) Centaurea cyanus
12 Dang Shen Codonopsis pilosula
13 Echinacea Echinacea purpurea
14 Ginger Zingiber offcinale
15 Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis
16 Lavender, English Lavandula angustifolia vera
17 Lemon balm Melissa offcinalis
18 Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus
19 Licorice, chinese Glycyrrhiza uralensis
20 Madder Root Rubia tinctorum
21 Marigold, French tagetes patula
22 Marshmallow Althea officinalis
23 Nettles Urtica dioica
24 Peppermint Mentha piperita
25 Red Clover Trifolium pratense
26 Rhubarb, Victoria Rheum rhabarbarum
27 Rose, Damask Rosa damascena
28 Rose, Rugosa Rosa rugosa
29 Sage Salvia officinalis
30 Spearmint Mentha Spicata
31 St.John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum
32 Stevia Stevia rebaudiana
33 Thyme Thymus vulgaris
34 Tulasi, Holy Basil Ocimum tenuiflorum
35 Wood Betony Stachis Officianalis

First ever week-long Silent Meditation Retreat in MA Center Dallas  1週間の沈黙瞑想リトリート MAセンターダラスにて初めて開催

After yesterday’s post about Amma’s new Dallas ashram, some people may be wondering what kind of regular activities are happening and when the next larger program will be taking place. First of all, since September, weekly satsangs have been taking place on Saturdays from 4 pm to 6 pm. If you would like to attend, just type “MA Center Dallas” in Google Maps on your computer or mobile device, and it should pick up the location right away, for easy navigation. Or, you can just click here.

昨日の記事をご覧になった方の中には、新しく開設されたアンマのダラスアシュラムで普段どのような活動が行われているのか、また次にいつ大規模なプログラムが開催されるのかなど、知りたいと思っていらっしゃる方もおいでになると思います。まずサットサンガですが、昨年9月から毎週土曜日、午後4時から午後6時まで行われています。参加してみようという方は、パソコンかモバイル機器のグーグルマップに〝MA Center Dallas″と入力してみてください。すぐに地図上で場所が特定できますし、行き方も簡単にわかります。あるいは、ここをクリックしてください。

Regarding larger programs, the title of this post already gives away the next one. During the Fall Europe/USA Tour last year, Amma mentioned several times that we should start week-long silent meditation retreats in the USA. Though I wanted to get started right away, the need for preparation and providing advance notice to prospective attendees meant that the earliest date we could feasibly accomplish such a program would be mid-February.

大規模なプログラムについてですが、この記事のタイトルを見ればすでにもうお分かりですよね。昨年秋のヨーロッパ/北アメリカツアーの最中に、アンマは何度も1週間の沈黙瞑想リトリートをアメリカで始めるようにとおっしゃいました。私はすぐにでも行動に移したいと思いましたが、その為に必要な準備や事前告知にかかる時間のことを考えると、現実的には実行できるとしても早くて2月半ばになってしまうだろうと思われました。

Now, mid-February didn’t sound like an ideal time to start something new in Chicago, with its daunting and unpredictable winter weather. So, we decided to conduct the retreat in Dallas, which would also give people from other regions to visit the new ashram and enjoy its tranquil beauty.

さて、2月半ばというと、冬のシカゴの天気は、恐ろしく予測不可能なので、新しいことを始めるには理想的な時期とは言えません。そこで私たちは、ダラスでこのリトリートを実施することにしました。そうすれば、ほかの地域の方々にもこの新しいアシュラムを訪れ、ここで静寂を堪能してもらえる機会を提供できます。

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To view some details of the retreat, click here. It is a stroke of Divine Grace that Maha Shivaratri falls right in the middle of the retreat, too!

リトリートの詳細が知りたい方は、こちらをクリックしてください。マハー・シヴァラトリの日がリトリートの真最中に当たっているのも神の恩寵の顕れですね。

Actually, within about 48 hours of this retreat going live online, we already reached our capacity and were forced to suspend registrations. 😦

But, there’s still hope. Another week-long silent retreat is scheduled to be conducted in the Chicago ashram soon. We have tentatively scheduled it for April 2-9, so please save the dates!

実は、リトリートの受付が始まってから48時間ぐらいで定員に達してしまい、申込の受付を停止せざるを得ない状態になってしまいました。

でもまだ望みはあります。シカゴアシュラムでもまもなく1週間の沈黙瞑想リトリートを開催する予定です。今のところ、4月2日から9日の予定で進めていますので、ぜひその期間を空けておいてくださいね!

Amma’s New Ashram in Dallas ダラスにアンマの新アシュラム

One reason for changing the blog name has been the recent formation of a new ashram in Dallas, Texas — MA Center Dallas. Formerly a horse ranch, it is located in North Dallas, outside of Denton, in an area known as “Horse Country USA”.

ブログ名を変えた理由の一つは、テキサス州ダラスに最近新しいアシュラムーMAセンターダラスができたことです。もとは大牧場だった場所で、以前は「ホースカントリーUSA」として知られていた地域、北ダラスのデントン郊外にあります。

Situated on a picturesque 50 acre plot, complete with a beautiful ranch house, scenic pond, and outbuildings, MA Center Dallas provides the ideal environment for a calming and uplifting personal retreat.

50エーカーの絵に描いたような土地に眺めのよい池があり、美しい牧場の母屋と数戸の離れとを備えたMAセンターダラスは、心を静め、精神性を高めるリトリートには理想的な環境です。


For a full photo album of the center, click here.

センターの様子はこちらのアルバムで

To view a playlist of aerial videos of the center, click here.

センターの空からの動画はこちらから

The center was formally inaugurated on September 5th 2016 by Amma’s senior disciples in a ceremony conducted on the center’s large summer porch.

MAセンターダラスの開設は、2016年9月5日。アンマの高弟により広いサマーポーチ(屋根のある玄関先のスペース)で落成の儀式が執り行われました。

MA Center Dallas will be the
focal point in the region for regular spiritual activities such as bhajans, guided meditation & yoga, retreats, discourses and the celebration of all major festivals and holidays. The ashram will also serve as a medium through which many of Amma’s projects and initiatives will help to uplift society in the South Central region.

MAセンターダラスは、バジャンや誘導瞑想、ヨガ、リトリート、講話などのスピリチュアルな活動、そして主なお祭りや祝日のお祝いすべてを行う場として、地域の中心となっていくでしょう。アンマのプロジェクトやいろいろな取り組みを通して、アメリカ中部の社会の精神性を高める助けとなっていくことでしょう。

The newly page on Amma.org for the center is here: http://amma.org/groups/north-america/macenter-dallas

MAセンターダラスについてのAmma.orgの新しいページはこちらです。

Location and contact information are here: http://amma.org/groups/north-america/macenter-dallas/contact

アシュラムの場所と連絡先はこちらです。

Due to the addition of this ashram to the Central Region, I have been spending much more
time in Dallas recently, and expect to continue to do so in the days to come. Hope to see many of you there sometime soon…

アメリカ中部の地域にこのアシュラムが加わったことにより、最近はダラスで過ごす時間がずっと多くなりました。今後もしばらくそうなるでしょう。多くの皆さんとダラスで近々お会いできればと思っています。

 

New activities, new blog name… 新しい活動、新しいブログ名

I know, I know…  It has been over 9 months since I have posted anything here. New developments in Amma’s activities have been keeping me so busy, I was unable to spend any time blogging.

気にかかってはいたのですが、9ヶ月以上もの間ご無沙汰してしまいました。アンマの活動に新たな進展があり、ずっと忙しくしていたため、ブログを更新する時間が取れませんでした。

Now that I am here for a sojourn in Amritapuri, India, I am finally finding time to catch up.

今はインドのアムリタプリに滞在中。やっと更新するところです。

The first order of business has been to rename this blog. It used to be “Life in Chicago Ashram”, but due to new developments I have changed it to “Spiritual Life in Central USA”. The reasons for this will become clearer in future posts.

まずは、このブログを改名することから始めたいと思います。このブログはこれまで「Life in Chicago Ashram」だったのですが、新たな展開があり、このブログの名前を「Spiritual Life in Central USA、(アメリカ中部のスピリチュアルライフ)」と改名致します。理由につきましては、これから投稿していきます。

Now, on to preparing the next post…

つづきは、また次の投稿にて。