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Vignette: The Lama Foundation
The Lama Foundation rests 8, 600ft high in the
Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, about seventeen miles north
of Taos. "Lama" from
the Spanish, "la lama," meaning "mud." "Lama," the
name of the mountain. "Lama," sacred to the Taos Pueblo Indians.
Sangre de Cristo meaning "blood of Christ," named by the Spaniard,
Antonio Valverde y Cosio in 1719, after being inspired by a blood-red sunrise
over the mountains.
1967: Lama Foundation founded by Steve and Barbara Durkee.
Steve now "Noorudeen." Now Muslim. Now Sheik of the Shadhuli Sufi
Order. Barbara now Ashar Greer.
1968: first structure built on Lama's 108 acres
of pristine wilderness. Building. A "spiritual dude ranch." Building.
A "family monastery. " Building. An ecumenical spiritual community.
Buildings for pilgrims around the world. Buildings made from "la lama" and
straw. O.E. streaw "stems or stalks of certain cereals." lit. "that
which is scattered or strewn."
1989: Arrived here under a full-moon. Cold
mountain air. First cup of chai. Wondering. Wandering. The beauty of the mountain.
The vibrational quality of light.
1990: Arrived here under shooting stars.
1992: Arrived here under rainbows.
1994: Arrived here under spring rains.
Hondo Fire. Lama burns. An act of purification. Only the heart of Lama remains.
The Main Dome for spiritual teachings. The kitchen for spiritual feeding.
the urge for sacred circles. Being part of the loop, curving back through time
along the arc of the spiral, rediscovering, Ram Dass. Jack Kornfield. Rabbi
Zalman Schachter. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Father Thomas Keating. Sufi Sam.
Robert Bly. Baba Hari Dass. Joshu Sasaki Roshi. Little Joe. John Gomez. All
the elders veering towards the centre of the spiral.
2005: The visit. Walking
tendered paths. I think of Jasper. Kirtan. Zikr. Yoda. Shabbat. I-Ching. Sweat
A Week In The Life Of Lama
only one person under
the solar shower
along the path—
fireweeds almost touching
peeling off the handle
my favorite outhouse—
the flies get there
Gypsy "free box"
Mickey's T-shirt tangled
up with Mimi's
Jasper, the skunk
runs the gauntlet
dental flossing together
Hindu kirtan: (in Sanskrit, kirtan means to sing)
To sing a mantra over and over, and bring the mind into meditation. Musical
instruments used: harmonium,
drums, and tamboura.
Here is an invocation to Shri Hanuman Chalisa (prayer, praises to the lord).
Shri guru charana saroja raja
Nija manu mukuru sudhari
Varanao raghubara vimala jasu
Jo dayaku phala chari
Budhi hina tanu Janike
Sumirau pavana kumara
Balu budhi vidya dehu mohin
Harahu kalesa vikara
I cleanse the mirror of my mind with the
dust of my Guru's Holy Lotus feet. I
Profess the pure,
untainted glory of Shri Ram (Raghuvara) bestower of the
fruits of life. (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha).
Fully aware of my ignorance I concentrate my
on Hanuman (Pavana Kumara) and humbly ask for strength,
and wisdom to free me from the pain
suffering and all blemishes. I take refuge at the feet of Ram.
After kirtan, I roam the mountain listening,
hanging from the logs
the worn dinner bells
ring down the mountain
m & m's
on the prasad plate—
red ones go missing
Gypsy "free box"
up with Millie's
I hike to Lama's Maqbara Hermitage and read the
silence is the space
God has been poured
of the rocking chair
Almost sunset. Lama's
library. I sit by the window, open a book.
over the pages—
"The Only Dance There Is"
In the Sufi tradition, zikr means remembrance.
It refers to the repetition of the phrase La'illaha il'Allahu (there is no
reality but God; there is only God).
la ilaha illa 'illah—
he turns his head
the wrong way
the confused devotee
pulls out Yoda
from his pocket
First verse of a favorite poem by the Sufi mystic, Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi:
Listen to the story told by the reed, of being separated.
"Since I was cut
from the reedbed, I have made this crying
Anyone separated from someone
he loves understands what I
say, anyone pulled from a source longs to go back."
"Judaism: Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word "Shabbat" comes
from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest.
The difference between Rabbanites and Karaites
that is most commonly noted is in regard to Shabbat: the Karaites noted that
the Bible specifically prohibits
lighting a flame on Shabbat, so they kept their houses dark on Shabbat. The Rabbanites,
on the other hand, relied upon rabbinical interpretation that allowed us to leave
burning a flame that was ignited before Shabbat. Karaites also prohibited sexual
intercourse on Shabbat, while Rabbanites considered Shabbat to be the best time
for sexual intercourse. The Karaites also follow a slightly different calendar
than the Rabbanites."
The beginning ceremony of Shabbat: a female
Lama resident lights two candles twenty minutes before sunset, recites the
blessing for the candles:
Barukh atah Adonai, Elohaynu, melekh ha-olam,
asher kid'shanu b' mitzvotav, v'tzivanu
l'had'lik neir shel Shabbat (Amein)
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the
who sanctifies us with his commandments, and commands us
the candles of Shabbat (Amen)
he misses her mouth
A recipe for making challah:
Dissolve 2 packages yeast.
In a separate bowl,
mix 2 eggs with 1/2 cup sugar. Mix in 1/2 cup oil.
Add yeast to egg mixture.
Add up to 1 Tbsp. salt to mixture.
Alternate 8 cups flour and 2 cups warm water into mixture.
Place in oiled
bowl (oil all sides of dough) and cover with a towel—place in warm oven (150
degrees F for 1 minute then turn off) until dough has doubled (approximately
1 1/2 hour).
Punch dough down—let sit for 15 minutes.
Remove a piece of the
dough for the "challah" (see note below).
Shape the challah (makes
4 batches) and place on lightly greased cookie sheets, loaf pans, or pie pans.
Let the dough raise a second time in oven (150 degree F for 1 minute and then
off) for 45 minutes.
If desired, beaten egg yolks, along with sesame or poppy
seeds, can be spread on top of the dough before baking.
After second raise, back
in oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.
"It is traditional
to pinch off a piece of dough, the size of an olive, before shaping the dough.
This is called "separating the challah." The
separated challah is symbolic of the first portion which the Israelites were
taxed to give the High Priests. The following blessing is said as the challah
is separated: 'Blessed art Thou O Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, who hath
sanctified us by His Commandment, and hath commanded us to separate challah.' "
Gathering yarrow stalks to make divining sticks
for the I-Ching.
"Dense clouds don't always bring down rain. Accumulation of
things we need at present and for future times, depends on finer deeds than
artificial restraint. Dealing sincerely with one's accumulative resources could
draw neighbours and mice to take advantage - alas. Thus, one needs to be clever
to hoard handsomely. You may look at how plants do it - much is stored out of
Preparing for a Native American sweat lodge:
fasting, collecting willow, digging a pit for the hot rocks.
a glowing rock lights
the silent darkness inside—
a penetrating radiance
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