Walk the Talk



I remember listening to Jaya (Ashmore) give her first Dharma talk during our first Dharma Gathering in Sarnath, India in February 1999. Sitting besides me was Nina from Sweden, my partner at the time. At the end of the talk –(on the nature of inter-connectedness, inwardly and outwardly), Nina turned to me and laughed: “Christopher, you’re history. I have a new guru. Her name is Jaya.” Don’t laugh. She meant it.


For years, I had a quiet wish that there were be a Dharma teacher in India to give support to Dharma practitioners; a teacher not bound by ideology, forms and heavy duty practices. Jaya became an answer to the prayer. In 1999, I had known Jaya for a decade – quiet, totally unassuming, non pushy, steady in herself who spoke little but insightfully.


I invited Jaya to teach mostly on the way she walks. She walks with presence, anchored and calm. She reminds me of Ajahn Dhammadaro, my Vipassana teacher. They walk the talk. Literally.


Dharma friends responded to her teachings with a Ganga full of appreciation and year by year her programme in India grew. She also accepted and declined numerous invitations to teach in different parts of the world.


If you have listened to some of Jaya’s stories, both childhood and adulthood, in the West and in India, she doesn’t fluff around. She acts. She is pretty fearless. Being rooted in India for many years, it requires a fast learning curve to understand how the West functions in terms of economics, property, charities, fund raising and social services. With the planned birth in Spain and considerations for a centre there, too, Jaya is learning much quickly. The West is a tough environment and knocks back quickly idealism.


So when she e-mailed me three months ago about her pregnancy, I had the initial “wow” but soon followed by the recognition that Jaya follows her line that remains true to love, vision and adventure. As any parent knows, she has now taken on a major challenge – to combine a life as a parent, partner and service to others. It will take much love, wisdom and support to ensure harmony in the roles.


Jaya didn’t ask me to keep it a secret about her pregnancy but to use discretion – there is a vulnerability to a miscarriage in the early months. I immediately told three teachers – Martin, Radha and Subhana – with the same request for discretion.


After that, I kept quiet – not easy. Jaya’s name pops up regularly. Some people who have known her for years won’t have found out about her pregnancy until the Dharma e-News. Typical Jaya. She described the pregnancy to me as “little/big news.” A very non-dual statement.


Gemma, her loving partner and co-teacher, and Ajay, a co-teacher, will look after the Sangha in India in the months ahead. Others are also emerging in Jaya’s networks to serve the dharma. Mother India is certainly Jaya’s spiritual home. She will be back there sometime next year. The baby is due in early December, 2007.


When we see Jaya next leading a retreat, there will be a team of keen volunteers to offer rivers of love to the baby to give Jaya time to offer that extraordinary quality of attention that she gives to dharma students.


Love is the power of attention. The power of attention is love.


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