Founder and director has been living and serving in India for past 34 years.
“Once we can see the wholeness then our inner divisions disappear; then a beautiful chaos arises-a chaos which contains the cosmos in it….a chaos out of which stars are born, Dwabha.”
~ Osho ~
As a child growing up in southern Colorado where my mother was the postmaster and ran a Trading Post for the local Navajo and Ute Native Americans; living and working in India was the furthest thing from my girlish dreams. There was never enough of anything that I dreamed of and too much of all that I loathed. I wanted to be a famous movie star, live in a grand mansion, drive my fancy sports car wearing all my jewels and wonderful gowns. I wanted to get as far away from the dusty bean fields, pigs, barnyard chores, and let-down hems as possible.
My mother was a giver. Her greatest joy in life came from helping others whether it was giving all our provisions to the Indians free or helping a family in the community in need. I resented her generosity as the reason for me never having enough of all the things I wanted.
Right out of high school at 17 I was driving across America in search of stardom. When Hollywood, didn’t fulfill my dreams I put out my thumb and hitchhiked across the states to New York to fly to Europe. Eighteen months later with just 50 cents left in my pocket I finally had to return and surrender to my mother’s dreams of me having the great college education she never had.
I bounced up and down the coast of California from the Redwoods to the beaches of L.A. studying as little as possible toward a degree I was never really interested in. I still longed for stardom and the lifestyle I imagined would come with it.
In the next seven years I banged my head and heart against every door in Hollywood and had nothing but bruises and hollow promises to show for it. I worked in nightclubs to survive and continue my pursuit of that ever evasive star.
By the late 1970’s I was earning enough to at least taste the affluent life I dreamed of. I had my bright red sports car, a house on Venice Beach, and closets of designer clothes. But in my heart I was still barefoot in hand-me downs. The more I chased after the “more” that I was sure would fill this hollow emptiness inside me the more painful it became.
In 1978 I flew to India but even here I was still searching for something outside myself; a guru, or a magic mantra to help me obtain all my desires.
Slowly those desires fell away. Fourteen years later I found myself living on the banks of River Ganga in a cave. For the first time in my life I felt like I had come home. I began to discover the treasure I had searched so desperately for outside was inside me and the key was love and gratitude.
The simplest things filled my heart with joy and gratitude; a child’s joy writing her own name, helping deliver my first healthy baby, helping the village women with their harvest. The more this joy arose; the more I longed to share it. First it was with the village children who came to create our first little school together there in the cave. Later that school blossomed into thirteen more with projects in 68 villages.
I never decided to do social work. I haven’t decided yet. I’m just saying yes to the moments and needs as they arise. Someone told me you learn what you live. I believe that. Life has shown me time and again that the more you give, whether it is of your self, your wealth, your time, your knowledge, or your heart, the more you draw back to you.
It is my tremendous privilege to share my home with 66 children who otherwise would be on the street or worse. I delight to wake up every morning to the sound of 189 students in our Free Primary/Junior School’s laughter. Most of my clothes come out of the donation box and I’m so happy when something actually fits.
Our project keeps changing and is ever expanding. We have lived in a construction site for 15 years. Sometimes we have more than enough and then we celebrate with picnics, outings, and cake. Other times we have just enough but we are always abundant. I have learned the true meaning of creating abundance is creating a feeling of plenty within and without yourself and sharing that with others.
It is not about waiting till you think you have “enough” to share. Our minds will always tell us it isn’t enough yet. You just have to share whatever you have from your heart.
There isn’t a single child living in Ramana’s Garden that hasn’t known the depths of loss and despair. Many have come to us without parents, clothing, food, and they have been abused. It is my experience that the only healing for these horrors is to transform them through forgiveness and gratitude.
There is no doubt if you have lived through what most of these kids have gone through you will have a strength known to few. It is empowering these strengths through creative expressions and positive validation that create the healing that gives these kids the courage to dream. They dare to dream to become doctors, engineers, scientists, professional dancers, and teachers. While some of them are happy just to be able to build their own house and grow their own food.
Whatever they dream, it is not about finding wealth and abundance outside in material things alone. They know from living that it comes from within through sharing their dream for a better life for us all here on Mother Earth.
They are already busy working toward creating exactly that. Our 2 oldest boys are making documentary films that will carry their message of change across the world. One is still studying toward his 3 year degree while the other just landed his first job with R.K. films..Yea!!
Our oldest girl, Sunita stood first in her division started medical school to be come the best Gyn. in all the Himalalyas. She dreams of helping bring the chance of life the hundreds of women and infants who still die in childbirth here in the remote village of India and Nepal.
Every year I travel and teach internationally to raise the funds we need. I meet hundreds of people who are living more impoverished lives than we are living here. Impoverished by their own fear of letting go of what they think they must hang onto to be safe; Impoverished by their own search for abundance outside themselves in material things or others approval.
It is in these moments I offer up a prayer of gratitude for all the doors that slammed in my face and all the times my dreams got shattered until I understood how to really live in a-bun-dance.
I dreamt, and saw that life was joy.
I woke, and saw that life was duty.
I acted, and saw that duty was joy.
~ Rabindranath Tagore ~