Pilgrimage to sacred sites, or power spots, can greatly enhance one's meditation.
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”--Joseph Campbell
"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us."-- Proust
Ramakrishna, a great sage of India, would extol those who wanted to come closer to God to go out in the wilderness for three days and have a fast from the world. With such advice I have often gone out in secluded areas to practice meditation and to be with just me and the Silence of Nature.
I have found that it would take at least a day to settle into such a retreat. At first the mind rebels at this privation, throwing out lists of what needs to be done and what other wonderful things that were being missed. Then finally, the mind would relax and I could enjoy where I was. It is not easy to be with oneself, if one has judgments. Because when one is alone then one must look at one's subconscience, and in that there are many wounds.
So with that in mind, all of Nature, that is free from the noise of civilization, is a sacred site and offers power spots for meditation. However, there are certain places on this planet that are more highly charged with spiritual energy. These are perhaps natural energy spots that are like the chakras of the earth. Or some will say are confluences where energy lines, or ley lines, meet, like points in a geometric grid.
Other sacred sites, or power spots, are created because of the spiritual practices of holy men and women, or by thousands of years of worship. Temples, mosques, shrines, megalithic sites and churches fall into this category.
I cannot speak to Earth chakras or ley lines for I have not experienced them per se. And I try to keep my words confined to my direct experiences. Yet, I have gone to famous sacred sites and have had profound deep experiences. Sometimes the hum of the Silence of such places are almost deafening when I would go into meditation.
Just like everyone will be drawn to certain cultures and regions of the world, people will be drawn to various power spots and will have different experiences at these holy sites. While one does not have to make pilgrimages to sacred sites to find one's Self, they can be a great kick in the pants for one's meditation.
The following is a list of some of my favorite sacred sites:
Mt. Shasta, California
Mt. Shasta is perhaps my favorite power spot. I have been there often, camping in either a tent, or sleeping in my car at the parking lot high on the mountatin as I passed through the area. I just want to lift off when I go there, and I am filled with inspiration in my writings. One time I woke up in my car early in the morning. I felt a little dizzy as I got out of the car. Then a glowing ball of light arose from the woods to the north, silently approached me with the speed of a bird, and passed overhead before heading to the mountain peak. I felt like I was just "off dimension." Here, but not here; if you know what I mean.
There are so many legends about this mountain considered very holy by the various Northern California tribes. The energy was said to be so intense no one could live upon it and keep their sanity. It is also said to have an enlightened city called Telos within its bowels, an old Lemurian outpost. Some say its inhabitants come into the small town of Shasta to check things out. I knew a guy of Scandinavian descent, who was very tall, who lived in the town for a while. He said people would often approach him and ask him if was from Telos. St. Germain and the Buddha are two masters who are associated with Mt. Shasta.
Mt. Lassen, California
Just south of Mt. Shasta along the volcanic Cascades stands the very active Mt. Lassen. While Mt. Shasta lifts my thoughts to celestial heights, Mt Lassen, with its bubbling mud pots and hot sulphuric pools have an opposite effect. It is more subterranean. When I was going to school in near-by Chico State a friend who grew up in the region took me and another into an underground passage. We had to squirm and twist our way into the small hidden opening where few people have ever gone. When we finally emerged we came to a large ice chamber where a rat scurried away into the darkness. After a short time of exploring we came to a dark underground lake. In my college days I was far from being a meditator, so I did not meditate there unfortunately; however, thinking back to that trip and my subsequent time there where I did meditate, that journey was very indicative of the energy of that area.
Sometimes meditation is just a joyous, uplifting experience. Other times, it can be a real downer, for down into the dark depths one must journey. One must squirm and twist to discover the little rats gnawing in the cold darkness, that makes one cold to the love that God wants to give us. There is a vast chamber inside that can hold so many heavenly treasures; but, instead, there are the dark emotions that sit unmoved, uninviting.
Mt. Lassen offers a plunge into the dark, hellish realms of the ego, that seeks to destroy, ready to explode at any moment. When one can look at those unwanted aspects without judgment, with love unconditional, then one comes to a place of wholeness. Both the positive (Mt. Shasta) and the negative (Mt. Lassen) need to be loved if true freedom is to be found.
The Himalayas, Nepal
Not only are the Himalayas the crown of India, the land of ancient wisdom, but they have had holy men and woman meditating in these mountains for thousands and thousands of years. The atmosphere crackles with the prayers and the spiritual energy of these masters. It is said there are sages who have lived in these mountains for thousands of years, such as Babaji. I went on a 6-week solo trek to the Everest region and my mouth was ever-opened in awe of the beauty around me. It was here, overlooking Namche Bazaar, that I first felt God's intense Presence. And from that moment my life was changed. I consider these holy mountains the place of my spiritual birth.
Joshua Tree, California
Even deeper than most deserts, there is the deep Silence of being at the bottom of the ocean at Joshua Tree. In the depths of the sea, the tumultuous waves are not felt. Those depths can still be experienced here, and in all deserts, no doubt. Beautiful rock formations and the unique Joshua tree cacti abound in this park.
Isis Oasis Sanctuary, Geyserville, California
I have come to this beautiful spot several times over the past few years, usually just keeping to myself, meditating and writing. But I have come up with my family as well to see the animals. There are a host of birds to interact with, cockatoos and parrots, as well as some amazing pheasants and peacocks. There is also a feline sanctuary where rare cats are cared for, in honor of the Egyptian tradition of seeing cats as sacred. The two Isis temples are very beautiful as well s the grounds. There is definitely the energy of the Goddess swirling around here that is very refreshing and invigorating. It is a place I plan to spend more time at.
Sedona and the San Francisco Peaks area, Arizona
I spent a summer in this area, living in a trailer with a group of people near the Hopi Lands. This is called the land of the Kachinas, great elemental beings the indigenious people work with. Profound silence is felt here; and Sedona, especially, is a pilgrimage spot for New Agers. Also it was here that I saw my first flying ships--small ones and an enormous one. According to the teacher I was studying with at the time, who could sense the ships before they came into view, who said he was in contact, claimed that the area was a labyrinth of underground bases. Never went into a base, but I did see the ships. So who knows.
Monument Valley, New Mexico
Again, there is Silence of the desert. I went there with my parents as a young boy. We took a jeep tour given by this Navaho man. He took us to his family hogan and we met his family. His young son and I played together, neither of us speaking the same language, except the language of belonging. This land continues to inspire me today with its red beauty and strange rock formations.
Ananda Village, Nevada City, California
I had the great joy of spending a long retreat at this village situated in the Sierra Foothills. I spent time there in the late eighties, before all the lawsuits and convictions. I spent the time mostly in silence and would often meditate in the quaint little chapel that was dedicated to St. Francis, which was built out of stones imported from Assisi. I lived in my little tent, ate great vegetarian food and practiced Hatha Yoga. I was very close to becoming a disciple of Yogananda's when I was there being so filled with peace, but something told me that he was not my Master, so I left feeling a little saddened.
I never returned to Ananda but I hold my time spent there with much fondness in my heart. Over the years I have been disappointed (but not surprised as so many organizations crystallize into hierarchies of power) how the Ananda Church has been embroiled with lawsuits, and their amassing of money and power. Kriyananda, the founder and spiritual leader of the movement, like so many male gurus, has been accused of abusing his position and exploiting female disciples(actually convicted of abusing one woman) and being a cult. So if you visit Ananda, enjoy the beautiful sacred spot, but go there with your eyes wide open.
The Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia
In the Eighties, I traveled to Indonesia and spent a few weeks on the island of Java. I had spent time before in Bali, but I really enjoyed the lack of tourism on this island. One of the sacred sites that I journey to was the Dieng Plateau, "The Abode of the Gods." It is situated up in the sulfuric mists of an active volcano. There are a series of ancient Shiva temples on the plateau, pretty much abandoned in this Muslim country. No priest did I see worshiping in them, only a few burnt-out candles at the altars were in evidence. It was exactly how I liked it--empty of crowds. In the evening I would escape from my lodgings and go meditate in a shrine, sitting in the silence of Shiva. No one to bother me.
On that trip I also visited a small grotto that was dedicated to the Javanese god Semar. I don't remember exactly where it was. It was not the large Goa Semar, but one that was more obscure. Semar is a clown god that is unique to the Indonesian version of the Hindu Ramayana. Anyway, meditating inside that holy place one night was a very special time, connecting to the sacred clown within.
Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Arthur's Seat is on top of crag overlooking the magnificent castle of Edinburgh. Whenever I hear bagpipes my hair stands on end. That is how I felt seated upon that windswept crag. A mystical place for me. I have a deep affinity for Arthur and the legends around him. He is the archetype of divine leadership. Whether King Arthur existed or not as a real personality, does not matter to one's spiritual journey. King Arthur and his knights, Merlin and all the others, exist very strongly in the mythic realm, the place of the imagination. He is the archetype to the just king, who comes to realize that he and the land are one, that his rule, his sovereignty comes with it not the desire to conquer, but to protect. The law that he upholds is more important than his own desires. He does not rule and use his power for his own gains, but to help those he is to serve. Unlike corrupt rulers who see that the tip of the pyramid is for all those below to serve them, King Arthur inverts the pyramid and sees that he must serve all those above him.
Vedanta Temple, Hollywood,
This temple, which stands adjacent to one of Los Angeles's freeways, was a great oasis for me when I lived amidst the wilds of that city. It was also a refuge from an intense relationship I was having at the time. The loud Silence of this place filled me and gave me strength to face my wounds and demons reflected in the other. This sacred temple was founded by Prabhavananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna, in the 1930s.
Lake Shrine Temple, Pacific Palisades, California
On the other side of L.A. you can go to the Lake Shrine Temple, a garden refuge that the yogi, Paramahansa Yoganada, sanctified when he brought Kriya Yoga over to the states in the 40s. There are wonderful statues of Christianity and Hinduism upon which to meditate. There is a shrine to world peace containing some of Gandhi's ashes. I went there often over my years in the L.A. area, and even had the joy of living next to it for a while.
Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel/Santa Cruz, California
While living in Monterey, I would frequent this holy site and get my Tibetan Buddhism fix. The Dalai Lama, on one of his visits to the area, said that the Santa Cruz area was one of the new holy spots on the planet. Indeed, the Santa Cruz mountains are filled with many retreat centers of all faiths. Land of Medicine Buddha is a great place for a personal retreat. Fairly inexpensive and beautiful, it is situated in the redwoods.
Mount Madonna Retreat and Yoga Center, Santa Cruz Montains, California
Located near the Medicine Buddha you will find the Mount Madonna and Yoga Center. This site was founded by a mouni yogi (one who has made a vow of silence), Baba Hari Dass. I have a deep appreciation for Hanuman, who is the embodiment of devotion, and this site is dedicated to him. It is a great place to go if you want to practice meditation or if you want to be around others who are living in a conscious way. It is also located near a county park in the redwoods. There is an alternative school on the grounds that puts on a Ramayana play every year, which is quite an extravaganza.
Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, India
Arunachala is considered one of the holiest sites for those who worship Shiva. It is said to be the manifestation of Shiva as a column of light. This is the mountain that beckoned Ramana Maharshi to come after his realization at 16 years of age. Once he arrived he never left. There are several caves where he spent his early years meditating and maintaining silence. Eventually an ashram grew up around him, Ramanashram. Ramana would occasionally refer to the Siddhas, powerful spiritual beings, who it was said resided inside the mountain.
I met a man, who later became a good friend, who had just returned from there and he told me of the indescribable peace he experienced there. After he told me of this place I looked into Ramana's teachings. They were so simple, so direct, I became hooked.
Mt. Kailash, Tibet
I don't know if I will ever get to this sacred site, at least physically. It is not an easy journey to reach this holy mountain that is considered by Hindus to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Being on the Tibet side of the Himalayas the Chinese government has to be involved and there are little accommodation for the travelers. Many pilgrims go there and do austerities, such as circumambulating the mountain in one day (which takes about 15 hours) or worse, doing prostrations all the way (4 weeks to do this feat!). Such austerities that people feel they need to do to win merit from Shiva or the Buddha I find is another way of the ego playing the game of, "Not yet, you still have more to do before you are worthy." Still, to walk around that natural pyramid would be a great joy. Until that time, there is always flights of imagination, for where your mind is, there you are.
So many special places on this lovely planet. What is yours? Where is it? What is so special about it? What would you recommend for others who follow in your footsteps? What was your experience? Life changing? Why did you go there in the first place?
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