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Wake up

Updated: May 4, 2021




Many years ago, in the eighties, while residing at my teacher’s ashram in India, all was going well except for one minor ailment. More about that later...


My days were filled with seva (selfless service), chanting and other spiritual practices. Up early (very early!), at one point, I had the seva of supervising the cleaning of the main courtyard in the ashram as well as an adjacent outdoor meditation hall. What memorable times...


As I was an inveterate jogger at that time, and this athletic outlet was not, in a practical sense, available to me then at the ashram - I devised an interesting way to get exercise before I launched into my day. I would rise at the unbelievably early hour of 2:30am and do fifty rounds of a hatha yoga flow series known as Suryanamascar. This is a lot of Sun Salutations! (English name of series). Then, I would take a freezing cold shower, as it was not until later that I discovered that hot water was actually available! :) And, then, I would proceed to the courtyard and meet with the others, around four to five folks, to commence our seva.


As we would be finishing, the first early morning chant would be about to commence. People would silently glide through the courtyard on their way to the temple holding their meditation asanas. (mats) The hush of the early morning was serene and magical. And, then the day would proceed from there, following the contours of the ashram daily schedule.


Of course, my seva schedule would end before many others as my day had started well before the crack of dawn! I would help with other tasks in various departments, during the morning and part of the afternoon. And, during both my stays in the ashram (I had the good fortune to reside twice for several months each time during the eighties) I had more than a few differing sevas that spanned such tasks as chopping supervisor in the main kitchen (Believe me, this was a substantial task in terms of the sheer number of folks in residence!) to garden work to heading up the seva center. This last one afforded meeting people from all over the world. It was lovely.


I look back in awe and gratitude at this time of profound immersion in spiritual life.


Back to the minor ailment...During the first ashram visit, I developed a stye that was not going away. As it continued to enlarge, I became concerned about possibly needing surgery. This was not an attractive proposition being so far from home, though I knew I would probably receive excellent medical care in the nearest metropolitan area. Still, I very much wanted to avoid this possibility.


I finally decided to confer with my teacher about this. So, one day I went up in darshan - the time describing being in the presence of the teacher - and asked her for advice about this predicament. She listened with concern and compassion and then one of the things she suggested was that I splash cold water (There’s that cold water again! :) on my eyes. As she suggested this, she gesticulated with her beautiful hands several times the motion of doing this. I nodded and thanked her, and was then on my way.


That night, I had a dream. In the dream, I was with my teacher again discussing this same situation. She was, again, gesticulating - as she had the previous day - but instead of relaying specific instruction regarding the ailment, I heard her say,


“Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.”


Though the apparent initial message was much appreciated, the real communication came through later in my sleep state...


A journey and great destiny of a lifetime, this spiritually waking up. She loved me so much as to convey the real point of it all; this waking up to the great heart of Being, to the truth of who we really are...this powerful, profound and beautiful waking up...


My stye did heal. Surgery was not needed.


“Wake up,” she told me.



Annie Kiyonaga


May 2, 2021







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