Here is my writing assignment for Module 1, describing how I came to know the Kali Mandir:
I grew up in the 1970’s a very small seaside town in the south of England, UK, called Swanage (where, incidentally, Usha Ma lived in a complete coincidence - more on that later!).
My parents were devout Sufis - my name growing up was Habiba. Seven times a day my Dad, a poet and scholar on the work of Sufi poet Rumi, would go to our prayer room to pray.
Needless to say, I really just wanted a Western name, ham sandwiches in white bread in a plastic container (not home made brown bread in a paper bag with some vegetarian spread: incidentally this is what I love now!) and a ’normal’ family, this was obviously never going to be my karma …I chose to change my name to Claire when I was 10 years old. I moved out and went off to study dance in London at 16 years old.
In the mid-1990’s I was dancing in New York and was told about a yoga studio. On arrival at Jivamukti I walked in and was immediately at home. A fusion of sacred texts, intellectual theory and vigorous asana. These teachers were chanting (something I remembered from my childhood), reading Rumi in class, playing brilliant music and had an altar with photos of saints. Monday nights were singing led by a dude called Krishna Das who talked about a saint called Maharajji. He played a cassette of him chanting Ram Ram - transfixed I realised this was the guru mentioned in my Mum’s blue book called Be Here Now that I found weird and interesting as a child. Somehow, this has all made sense at every step. Fast forward to 2015, having been a yoga teacher for 15 years, immersing myself with teachers in India - and I’m told about a temple in Wales called Skanda Vale that has a 6 feet tall Kali Murti!
While there on pilgrimage, one of the monks discusses his brother who is in the film industry in Los Angeles. He told me there was a Kali temple near Los Angeles, “you should go". So next time I went to LA I drove down with my husband and young daughter. On walking in, it was the second time I knew I had found ‘home’. My heart. In the garden: pranams to Maharajji! Then chatting to Usha Ma, we realise we had Swanage in common, in fact, 'the man in the yellow jeep' is a friend of my family growing up. She is also from Vienna, where, I have an affiliate yoga studio where I trained all the teachers and travel there every year to lecture and know it very well. Oh all the synchronises, all Ma’s work.
I will gladly and happily travel over oceans to be with Ma, and be with Hanuman or Maharajji devotees. With my sacred spiritual family, past present and future. With beloved Satsang. When you surround yourself with honest, holy and loving people, the ripple brings a pulsation of continual positivity and faith that brings the same back - and we have enough energy to serve in any adversity. I feel my whole live has been blessed with love, support and generosity. Thank you, Ma and all at Kali Mandir.