A diminutive figure, with black hair pulled tightly over his forehead where delicate details of the workings of cranium and veins were revealed through taut fresh skin. Aging only found in the silver strands tousling in the beard, and the regular release of laughter free from the preoccupations of youth.
His energy directed to Rob initially, and I was happy to let that him soak up the early conversation as I progressed with menial tasks of uploading videos and turning my thoughts to writing. At one stage, I even went to sit apart to try and get my keyboard tapping. The re-involvement and re-engagement ironically only occurred when we were explaining how he didn't need to wait and accompany us to the solar meeting, he has been heavily involved with Lotus for the past decade. However, through this 'rejection' of sorts another portal opened to a variant future.
We were communally drawn into a conversation discussing collaboration between people and how ego interrupts this progress. Mahananda spoke about his time as an Anamarga monk (the same branch of being that Didi was involved with), and how a power vacuum emerged in the order upon the death of the founding guru, how three sects had then emerged and split from each other in the acrimony of ego. Mahananda and others had pulled away from the order at this point of politicisation and had looked afresh. For the last 20 years, he has been living on a 260 hectare commune near Melbourne, owned in shares amongst ten other 'excommunicated' monks and nuns. Mahananda offered a refreshed image of a monk with biker leathers and goatee.
Mahananda has led meditation retreats at the commune and at Lotus itself, and helps the children in self-knowledge and connecting to themselves and others. The origins of the center emerged from Didi and her path of compassion which is rooted in the same ground as Mahananda. He is transplanting the sustainable living practiced on the Australian commune to Lotus: creating buildings made from sandbags and recycled bottles and tires, starting off a permaculture effort, and getting the circular notion of wast products spinning there. He explained how this is more to alter the children's mentality as it is to alter their living conditions. The emphasis is to get the children to understand that what they need is sometimes already in their direct environment if used in the right way, to pull the children and staff from a reliance on external aid to a sustainability where their basic needs are met on the land about them, the sunlight above them, and the in-house initiatives that will grow and create value for them. 15-20 years ago in Mongolia, nomadic life necessitated circular living and people practiced the skills and mentality for that mode of living. Since then the excesses of waste capitalism have rushed in and broken that, even in the haven of Lotus. The most fertile and powerful place to reinvigorate that sustainability is in the minds of children, and that is but one of Mahananda's missions at Lotus.
The conversation swelled into the gaps and details of these topics, and was then reflected into our own experiences and dreams. My vision for a haven in Portugal powered by permaculture planted some new roots in the exchange. Whilst it was fascinating to hear of Mahananda's experience of popular non-violent direct action in protecting his commune from fracking. In all ,time stood still and apart from the pressing engagements and tasks that awaited us all, providence birthed a potent exchange of energy occurs between the right people and the right time. A meeting that was the gift of the day, that I know will bear fruit in many to come.