Around the World with Love

It all started on that beautiful Sunday morning, the 14th of January 2018. Looking back, our meeting was divinely ordained.
I shouldn’t have been in Mumbai that day. And if yes, certainly not in Gordon House Hotel in South Mumbai.
And Clau and Blanca told me, when I met them in Guatemala a year later, that they too had made the change of the hotel at the last moment.
And again it was a coincidence, that we were at the same long table at the same time for our breakfast.

Clau is a shy young lady, not like the extrovert Blanca! And when we met, a year after our first contact in that boutique hotel in Mumbai, Clau told me that she had heard a voice in her head telling her to talk to me!! She had said hello and told me that I had very peaceful aura about me! And then she asked me what do I do? And I told her about our YSS (Yogoda Satsanga Society of India) cruise the previous evening, my Guru – Paramahansa Yogananda, and the Autobiography of a Yogi. And that was the beginning of a beautiful and loving friendship, which eventually led to my visiting Guatemala a year later.

First and last I had heard of Guatemala, before this, was in my childhood when I used to collect stamps, about 55 years ago!! I love traveling but visiting this country wasn’t even at the bottom of my wish list. It just wasn’t there! But it happened. And I am so glad that it did.

It was such a beautiful and enriching trip around the world. Pune->Mumbai->Los Angeles->Guatemala->Los Angeles-Brisbane->Mumbai->Pune. Three very long flights and a very long stop over in Auckland. Every place I visited and every person I met was so different from the other. Australia and Guatemala are poles apart! 180 degrees!! And Los Angeles another story of divine love and friendship altogether!! But this trip strengthened the world view I have had for many years now. And that is:

People, at the core of their hearts, are same all over the world. Everyone wants some love, some respect, some appreciation…..every one wants to be happy …..they have similar fears, worries and insecurities…… However different people may look and whatever language they may speak; and whatever may be their food habits and lifestyles; essentially they are all same.

 

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Peace ❤️ Love 💕— SRF Lake Shrine Retreat💕🙏

I was back in LA after spending 18 amazing days in Guatemala!

Christmas in Los Angeles ❤️

Love in Los Angeles ❤️

More peace. More love 💕

It has been my dream to be able to spend a few days at our Lake Shrine Retreat. Simply divine. The love and care and hospitality of the staff and volunteers is incomparable. And such uplifting vibrations! God willing shall spend more time here in my next visit.

Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a Temple, a Shrine, and a Meditation Garden offering people from around the world a quiet oasis for meditation, prayer, and receiving the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. All are welcome here, not only devotees 🙏

For those who love silence and nature it is an amazing retreat to spend a days or weeks. Simple yet beautiful rooms. With every little detail taken care off. All rooms face Pacific Ocean. Wholesome, pure, tasty vegetarian meals. A chapel for individual meditations and a study room to sit and read. Conducted meditations are in the main temple.

We were 11 of us there in the retreat. Most others looked like a Spanish group. Another two ladies used to share the dining table, where I normally sat. We used to smile at each other but never talked. Retreants normally remain silent. On my last day there it was raining and I was wondering how to go to the temple for morning meditation. One of these ladies had an umbrella and offered to share it with me. It turned out that both these ladies too were from India (Mumbai only😊) and thought I was part of the Spanish group 😊 We were together for three days, from the same city – Mumbai and kept thinking that the other person was from Spain 😇

Lake Shrine is dedicated to all religions 🙏🙏

Gandhi Memorial – has Gandhiji’s ashes 🙏

With a couple visiting from India, with their children living in the US and Canada. In the center is Pillaar, the ever smiling and ever helpful supervisor at Lake Shrine😊😍
Later I was able to accompany this family to SRF Hollywood Temple too. They were happy and grateful. A day well spent 😊❤️🙏

Love and Good Bye – Guatemala 14❤️

All is well that ends well … the whole trip was so enriching (thank you so much Blanca and Clau- I love you both so much) and the end was even more divine ❤️🙏

Around the World with Love

All of us went together for Sunday morning group meditation at SRF center in Guatemala.

My trip had started from LA, where Guruji had established our Mother Center, and Guatemala leg of the trip ended with meditation in the center here and meeting a beautiful, God loving couple(Francis and Sheny) 😊🤗

Love in Los Angeles ❤️

Good thing with Self Realisation Fellowship and Yogoda Satsanga Society of India is that we have centres all over the world. We can attend group meditations and meet other divine souls😊❤️ It doesn’t look we are in a foreign land.

Not only my young friends joined me that Sunday, they have been going regularly for meditations. I have no doubt their lives will change for better. If I had done nothing else in the trip, this was a big enough reward. But I got so much more. When we expect nothing and give unconditionally we get so much more. There is no end to His grace 🙏🙏

We had breakfast together at an Organic Café (Thank you Francis for your hospitality) and heard beautiful tales of the SRF center and an amazing story of Love and Marriage of their daughter 💕🙏

And later exciting Sushi lunch and visit to a beautiful park; and we had child like fun 😊.

Nothing lasts….

Bye bye and thank you Guatemala ❤️🙏❤️ God willing I shall be back again 😊🙏

Four Generations ❤️ – Guatemala 13❤️

Blanca’s sister – Italia😊, Blanca’s mother – America 😊😊 and grandma- Armenia 😊😊😊live in Antigua. And Italia has a heavenly baby – Isabela😍 It was such a beautiful and fulfilling sight to meet them together – Four Generations ❤️❤️

And I was thinking Blanca needs to be renamed😂 — Armenia, America, Italia and Indiana 😊 I had met Blanca first in India and Indiana would suit her perfectly 😊❤️

America and Armenia live in the city while Italia, her husband Juan Pablo live in a farm house a little outside the city. We had stayed there only. Beautiful place – open and green. And it was such a pleasure meeting Italia, Pablo and the baby divine, Isa❤️

Traveled in a public bus to the city and Blanca kept warning me to take care of my mobile 😝

Had tea with America and later she took me to a couple of churches nearby. Love needs no language 😊❤️

Mother and daughter 😍❤️

Juan Pablo is a good painter and one of the more conscious and aware persons I met in Guatemala.

Love at first sight ❤️😍Guatemala 12❤️

Love in Guatemala ❤️ – 1

Around the World with Love

Love at first sight ❤️😍Guatemala 12❤️

Antigua- Small, touristy city with cobbled streets and single story houses – old world charm 😊 Much more cosmopolitan than Guatemala City. Loved it at first sight 😊❤️😍

City in the embrace of the volcano 🌋

Lively streets with locals, tourists, vendors, churches, eateries – (many vegan and Indian names 😊)

A fine dining place attracts fine puppies too 😊😍

Rare to see Blanca in a pensive mood🤔🤗

Loved walking around, eating, meditating in beautiful churches; in this beautiful, slow paced city, surrounded by volcanoes.

We were waiting on the roadside for our lunch call and this gracious lady invited us inside her house to sit and wait ❤️
This lady was painting with the brush in her 👄 😍🙏

Love in Guatemala ❤️ – 1

Around the World with Love

The Mayan Ritual ❤️🙏 Guatemala 11❤️

My bonita sobrinas (beautiful nieces😍) had arranged for a Mayan ceremony/ritual for us during my stay in Guatemala. In fact Blanca has asked me much earlier if I would be comfortable with this. More than comfortable 😊 I love life and all the experiences it offers❤️

So we landed up in Iximché, Tecpan on the 10th of January, on our way to Antigua. It was the first capital of Guatemala, after the Spanish conquest. The ruins here are a National Protected Monument now and we had the privilege of performing the ceremony at the very site where Maya used to do more than four centuries ago😇🙏

In 1980, during the Guatemalan Civil War, a meeting took place at the ruins between guerillas and Maya leaders that resulted in the guerillas stating that they would defend indigenous right. A ritual was carried out at the site in 1989 in order to reestablish the ruins as a sacred place for Maya ceremonies.

Beautiful day – cold and drizzling to begin with but breezy and sunny later. Very big calm and quiet place – filled with trees, large grounds and ruins; blue, grey and white sky and clouds with hills in the background. As good as it gets ❤️🙏

The ceremony, more like our Indian Havan, but with many more things – like candles, lamps and herbs, seeds etc, lasted a little more than 2 hours. A local priestess did it for us. 20 spirits in the body were invoked, and so were ancestors. There were prayers and rituals for health and abundance and peace for us and the universe at large. There were rituals for cleansing the body. And different coloured candles were offered in the holy fire for different elements and nature – white for Wind, different shades of blue for water and sky and black for sunset and red for sunrise etc.

The lady who had done the ritual for us had an old Maya book/almanac, which is used to know our life path number and our nature; based on our date of birth. My number turned out to be 5 and am a Jaguar 🐆 😊, a guardian of nature and close to nature 😊❤️

So true. I love nature. For me Nature is God 🙏

After the ceremony we meditated together for a while and the priestess joined us too. All of us felt the peace and the elevated consciousness.

Ajaw is the name for God used in the ceremony 🙏🙏

Love is all there is ❤️❤️

many Wives many Masters😎 – Guatemala 11❤️

…..my second husband or my third wife or my sister from my fathers first wife and so on ….wasn’t an uncommon comment that I heard in Guatemala….

And I have been wondering why? Our parents were poles apart and yet they lived together for 71 years 😊❤️🙏 We are six siblings – and we have had our challenges…. but none of us separated or remarried …Two of us are married for more than 50 years 🙏 Thank God 🙏🙏

So many things in Guatemala had reminded me of India; there are so many similarities- why this big difference? In India too things have been changing. Market led economy, more money and at the same time more pressures of work; big Hollywood and Bollywood influence 😝 ….resulting in more divorcees than there used to be. There are remarriages, though rare. But in Guatemala this malady and incidence is much more pronounced. Why?

There could be multiple factors leading to this unhappy and unnatural situation. But I think the two most important ones are:

First–Longevity is rather low in the country. Could be life style related. Unhealthy diet and lack of focus on personal fineness. Lives aren’t so balanced. And when the spouse dies young there is more likelihood of remarriage.

Second and perhaps more important–lack of spirituality in daily life. Mayans were supposed to be a very spiritually advanced culture but that is missing today. Many do go to churches regularly but that isn’t being spiritual. And this lack of emphasis on spiritual aspects of life leads to imbalance; which is not conducive to a happy and fulfilling married life. God has to be a part of our day to day lives. There is a saying : When people pray together, they stay together😊🙏

I know ; There are no hard and fast rules in life and no cut and dried fixes for unhappy lives. Every person, every culture is so unique. But I do believe all relationships need working and the toughest one is — to manage, to understand and to love your life partner 😎

We need to give and take, adjust, accommodate, be tolerant, have patience and what not 😊 But at the same time we need self respect, self esteem and can’t become a door mat. Once we have done our best, and consistently and it is still not working…..we need to look at other options. I know of many women in India who have tolerated physical and mental abuse for years. And that too doesn’t sound right. We need wisdom. We need to know when – enough is enough! And wisdom comes in living the life 😇

Meditation – Single cure for all human suffering 😊🙏 SRF YSS

I sincerely hope and pray that the consciousness changes are fast and widespread and that the people in this beautiful country of Eternal Spring, Guatemala, lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives ❤️❤️

Aum Amen Peace🙏🙏

Mothers and Puppies 😊🤗 – Guatemala 10❤️

In one of very my first blogs I had mentioned how had I hardly met/known Blanca and Clau when I decided to visit this far off country : Around the World with Love

And I had such wonderful time and awesome experiences in the 7-8 days we had spent amidst beautiful nature in NE Guatemala: lakes and rivers and forests and love and laughter ❤️🤗❤️

Picture Perfect – Flores – Guatemala – 6

RIÓ DULCÉ – Love in Guatemala-5❤️

Tikal National Park – Guatemala ❤️9

Now we were back in Guatemala and I had the pleasure and privilege to meet their families😇

Though all the three mothers I met ( Clau’s, Pepè’s and Blanca’s) came from differing backgrounds and social environment- they had one thing in common–Love for Dogs 😂 🐕 🐶

Had a beautiful evening with Clau’s family : tea and walk around their locality and great dinner followed by party games–such fun. Once we have love in our hearts everything else falls in place ❤️❤️ I was so touched when Clau and her mother, Mauri, told me that now I have a home in Guatemala 👏👏

Maria with Max😍
With Mauri and my bonita sobrinas 😘

Another day had lunch with Pepè’s mother and visited a beautiful bookstore. And had one of the best teas in Guatemala at that store, Sophie’s ☕️😊

Gautemalans are basically coffee drinkers and produce good coffee. It wasn’t always easy for me to get a good cup of tea. But the Earl Grey tea I got at Sophie’s was as good as it gets – the tea pot, temperature and the infusion- perfect 👌 ☕️

Tea with Sonia😊☕️

Tikal National Park – Guatemala ❤️9

Tikal was discovered in 1848, exactly hundred years before I was born and was opened to public in 1955, the year my wife was born😊❤️

And it was recognised as a site of ‘Humanity’s Heritage’ by UNESCO in 1979. The Mayan culture dates from 800 BC till 900 AD and the nucleus of the city was about 65 square kms.

Acres and acres of trees and forests all around and many Mayan structures of 7-8th century.

Beautiful

Ancient

Divine

Peaceful

Temples and city plazas to palaces and burial sites — lush green landscapes; a great place to contemplate and to meditate.

Maybe in our next visit we shall stay at Tikal and explore the place more.

I had just read the last chapter of the Autobiography of a Yogi and Guruji had mentioned Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh – Trinity; and here I was at Tikal and this temple top looked so much like the Trinity. God has His ways we know nothing about yogananda.org yssofindia.org

The end – Guatemala 8❤️

The end – Guatemala 8❤️

Well it was not the end of my beautiful trip but a small village called El Remate at the Eastern end of lake Petèn Itza 😂😂 El Remate means The End😊 – end of the Lake, and we reached here at night after about 25 kms ride from Flores. Idea was to park ourselves here and visit Tikal, the world heritage national park and Mayan ruins site.

Blanca and Pepè had stayed at this place earlier too (Eco friendly); forget me – even they weren’t prepared for a single room, without attached bath for the 4 of us 😝😂 It still turned out to be huge learning, acceptance, fun, love experience ❤️❤️

The hut on the right with thatched roof is the WC and the one on the left, without a roof is the shower😊 The rope at the entrance indicates someone is using it😇

Clau enjoying the hammock 💃🏻

At opposite end of the world; more than 27,000 kms away from home/India and far away even from Guatemala City (530 kms NE) – when we entered the open air dining space; an Aum chant was playing – classical Indian, and the menu had Indian curry, lassi and chai ☕️ ❤️

I had to get up at about 2 at night to go to the toilet; tiptoed out of the room and was greeted by an amazing site – sky literally filled with stars, bright and shining and big; the kind of sky I had seen only once earlier – Leh, India in 2013. Oh God Beautiful ❤️❤️

While peeing I was thinking I will come back with my mobile to take pics of the amazing sky. But just at that time I started to hear some strange animal sounds and was a little scared – we were staying in wilderness. So I didn’t come out again and came to know next morning that it was only monkeys 🐒 😝

I had got up rather early in the morning and it was still pretty dark. I decided to sit on a bench outside to meditate. After a while a heard some movement and was a little concerned. After a few more minutes it became louder and I realised someone was sleeping in a sleeping bag a few yards away 😇. Found out later that it was a young girl who had driven down at night on a motorcycle 🏍

I had mentioned in an earlier post Love in Los Angeles ❤️ about my Guru – Paramahansa Yogananda. In fact my trip to Guatemala had happened through this connection of Guruji Around the World with Love

Since last few years I have been reading The Autobiography of a Yogi, with many others around the world. We would start the book on the 18th of Nov and read one chapter a day. As it has 49 chapters it would end on Guruji’s birthday on the 5th of January. SRF YSS

Just imagine my elation and happiness that I read the last chapter of The Autobiography of a Yogi at El Remate – The End❤️🙏 I had goose pimples that day and even now; thinking of this amazing coincidence or His grace😇

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