Updated: Jun 20, 2021
Lalita Chandika Temple
Namaste and Happy Father's Day to all of the Fathers out there!
Who is a Father? A Father is one who is there for his family, his extended family, and even his friends and inner circle, at the right times to protect and guide them. They teach, they mentor, they set the example, and they step up when it is needed!
We bow to all of the Fathers on this special day. Happy Father's Day!
Today we want to tell you of one special Father who has stepped up, set an example, and continues to go beyond the call of duty. His name is Sarada and most of you know him as Joe Burke. He lived at the Devi Mandir in Napa between 2000 and 2005 and helped build the Napa Temple.
Six months ago, Sarada uprooted his wife and two children and moved them to Vermont to help take care of his good friend and fellow musician Shivani, who has been suffering from debilitating Lyme disease.
Many of you remember Shivani as the sweet-hearted, creative type whose angelic voice blessed the walls of the Devi Mandir and opened the hearts of all that heard her sing. She also performed years of seva for the Gurus and the community, consistently sacrificing her own needs and desires in order to serve, even while dealing with symptoms of an undiagnosed chronic illness that she could not seem to understand or shake.
Shivani, we thank you for your service to the community and Sarada, we honor you for your big heart, for doing what it takes to help our sister Shivani, and for setting the example of what a father figure looks like. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Below is Shivani's story, and when you hear this story and look through the pictures we are certain there are some members of the community that feel compelled to help.
As for me, Pushpa Rashmoni Maa, I am one of them, and so the Lalita Chandika Temple will be setting up a charitable grant program and fund for Shivani's care and any of you who would like to help support, just mark your donation as "Support Shivani" and we will ensure the funds get to her.
Here is a note from Shivani and some recent pictures of her:
It feels a little strange to be this open and vulnerable with you all. At Devi Mandir I learned to make myself into nothing and put others' needs above my own. Anything else seemed selfish. Now I am here before you sharing my story and asking for help.
A few months after returning from India in January 2019, I got a dirty tick bite that sent my health spiraling downward. I have significant bacterial infections in my central nervous system and throughout my body that are physically and neurologically debilitating. I've essentially lived in bed for the last two years and am unable to work or independently care for myself.
There are very few doctors who treat complex Lyme cases like my own, and the ones who do don't accept insurance. An intake appointment is anywhere from $1000 to $5000, with subsequent appointments ranging from $500 to $700.
Healing from Lyme is not a fast or easy process either. I've been on antibiotics for more than two years and still have a long way to go.
One of the hardest parts of healing is going through something called a “Herxheimer Reaction, ”or Herx." A Herx is a worsening of symptoms that occurs as bacteria are killed, and a bad Herx can lead to extreme crisis episodes. There have been multiple nights where I said my goodbyes to this world, thinking I might be on my way out. Sarada is the only person who has been with me during these episodes.
Last week I went through a Herx that led to two nights of multiple seizures and
hallucinations, which at times left me unable to move or form words.
Sarada stayed by my side without sleep for three days straight, holding my body and head as I shook, getting meds into my mouth, taking me to the bathroom between episodes, and sitting with me in the Emergency Room for eight hours while holding my hand and saying mantras.
After the ordeal, Sarada went home to his partner Ester and their two children - ages 9 and 11 - slept a few hours, then left the house at 5am for an eight hour work shift at Trader Joe's.
Sarada is a hero. He is my hero. He works full time to support his family, takes care of his kids, and takes care of me. He has made my Lyme journey his own, taking days off from work and leaving his house in the middle of the night whenever I'm in crisis, with no regard for his own well being.
Even before he moved to Vermont he would stay up all night with me on the phone, helping me to make it through. And in Vermont, when he didn't have a car, he's walked four miles in the snow in order to get to me. It's quite amazing.
Sarada's partner Ester is also a part of this story. She shops and cooks for me, makes long drives for medical supplies when necessary, and holds down the fort at home when Sarada is with me - which means less work hours and income for the family.
Now that I am with a new doctor and taking stronger antibiotics, things have gotten pretty turbulent. My herxes are more extreme, and the situation is challenging for everyone involved.
I need more help, and our hope is that Sarada can reduce the amount of time he works at Trader Joe's in order to be available to me while still spending quality time with his children...and getting some sleep!
Lalita Chandika Temple wants to help by setting up a fund for my care. This was Pushpa's idea, and I finally agreed. This fund will help us more than I can possibly express; it will be life changing for all of us here.
Your donations will also empower us to create content that shares a message of spiritual upliftment with the world.
Since I got sick, Sarada and I have used my "good days" to create music based on Sanskrit philosophy and the passion and yearning found at the depths of the spiritual path.
Sarada is an amazing jazz bass player who grew up studying under some of the world's best musicians, and I like to sing and write poetry. Together we create spiritual music using Sanskrit and English that spans every genre - from pop to R&B to reggae. We call our band Savarni, just like the character from the Chandi Path: S/he who is One with all castes, tribes, colors, and creeds. One who transcends all boundaries.
Here is a playlist of our songs we think you might enjoy on Soundcloud. Please keep in mind these are all rough drafts - ideas that we will refine once I am stronger.
This is a playlist of Sarada's all instrumental ambient music that he created in order to help me relax and get through the hard times. It will be really good music to play in the backgroud while you rest, work, cook, do yoga, etc.
I've also just started creating visual art, with pieces in the works that will (hopefullly) express the spiritual transformation which can occur through an illness like Lyme. Check it out and follow me on Instagram @art_spirit_lyme (www.instagram.com/art_spirit_lyme/).
In closing, I'd like to share something we wrote - or rather, something that came to us - at the end of five consecutive episodes of seizures. I'm sharing this because, in addition to communicating our struggle, I want to express the transformative love, power, and beauty that is manifesting through this experience. For illness provides an opportunity to heal on every level; it's a pathway, a fire of tapasya, that can take us deeper into Love and Freedom if we let it:
You don’t have to try to get to the state of enlightenment, because it is a state of "Not Trying".
In Sanskrit, this is called sahaja - completely natural and thus effortless.
Our true nature is enlightened consciousness. All we have to do is be ourselves, fully and completely. We already are full and complete anyway.
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnaat purnamudachyate
Purnasya purnamaadaaya purnamevaavashishṣyate
Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ
From the whole and perfect comes the whole and perfect. Everything, everyone is whole and perfect. Only the whole and perfect exists. Only the whole and perfect is real.
Everything else, Everything that is asat - not truth - anything that feels bad, anything other than pure love, peace, and bliss, is unreal. False.
We see the rope and confuse it for the snake. If we experience fear of death, we think death is the problem. We think death is real, so we get scared. But there’s nothing to be scared of. Only the whole and perfect is real.
Only Sat - Cit - Ananda.
Sat = Truth
Cit = Infinite Consciousness - an experience of Pure Being that extends beyond our individual
selves. An experience of One Consciousness pervading the Universe.
Ananda = Bliss.
Sat Cit Ananda is real. Everything else is false.
Thank you, and Love. Om Namah Shivaya!