I was entrenched in corporate America when I first came to Shri Kali Ashram. For a single product I can write a business plan, design a new product launch, set pricing, project sales and predict overall profit margin in a day. The decision to leave my job, store my belongings and move to India was both easy and profound.
I grew up in New Orleans, which is a city both decadent and spiritual. The decadent aspect consciously effected me as my love of food and cooking. The spiritual aspect effected me subconsciously, eventually making my studies at Shri Kali a rich experience. I understand, on a deeper level, the beauty behind the city's many festivals and traditions: Mardi Gras, the St Joseph Lucky Bean, and King Cake.
In 2010, my father recommended Walt Whitman and I read Song of Myself. I had already visited India once and could see the spiritual and Indic inspiration in his poetry. Once at Shri Kali, Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha suggested I read Henry David Thoreau and my admiration for the American Transcendentalists grew. Thoreau's expression of personal freedom, self-hood and humanity are some of the core principles of Tantric philosophy. I understood how his influence touched so many, including both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. “If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.”—Henry David Thoreau
Shri Kali Ashram is an ideal environment to develop the skills of looking at life in a realistic manner and then be able to share that with others. I am surrounded daily with people from different cultures and I now see how deeply culture is embedded in all. With this insight, I have developed a broader understanding of humanity and this gives me the ability to see the world more wholesomely. Carl Jung says that it is difficult for people's conscious mind to realize that they are exactly what everyone else is. Being here, surrounded by so many people from around the world, makes that process much easier.
My goal at Shri Kali is to eliminate anxiety and develop my sense of personal freedom, self-hood and strength. With the guidance of Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha, I'm able to relax on a deeper level than ever before. In a comfortable and safe environment, we are all able to look at how we interact with the world and develop the skills to make that interaction as honest and as rich as possible. Yoga, reading, lectures, prāṇāyāma, and puja all combine to develop ourselves subtly and overtly into wholesome, aware and happy human beings. Heather is currently teaching in Denver, USA.