It is not uncommon to learn that someone you know exploits drugs to exist day-to-day. This was my way of life until fate carried me down a dark and tragic road, ending in a drug overdose in early December 2003.
I had been high on crystal meth—awake for five days straight— when my then girlfriend gave me a quarter-glassful of GHB (a/k/a the date-rape drug). She told me it was water.
We were in the midst of a fight and when I drank it she said, “You’re gonna die!” And I did.
The EMT’s pumped adrenaline straight into my heart. I had lost total physical control of my bowels and I was vomiting. I was naked, having torn off all my clothes to keep them from getting covered with puke and sh*t.
The catastrophe, which could have led me to pass, was met by Divine grace’s miraculous hand. The Divine’s loving embrace reached down to provide an opportunity for me to rise out of a cloudy, angry, toxic way of life.
I would later come to learn just how blessed I had been to be given the opportunity to LIVE again. My family, in supporting my recovery, had arranged for me to enter rehabilitation in Peru. I arrived in Lima just before Christmas, on December 23, 2003.
Yet I could not have anticipated what would unfold before me just a few short weeks later. It is said, “When a disciple is ready the Guru appears.”
When one meets a Sadguru it is generally something unforeseen. This means you are not expecting to meet Sadguru, but that circumstances get so arranged that you do meet him. ~ Shree Vasant Paranjpe
On January 4, 2004, I was introduced to my spiritual teacher, Shree Vasant Paranjpe, who guided and encouraged me onto a path where I could find peace and joy through service.
I believe the Divine brought me to Homa therapy (or Agnihotra) and Shree Vasant, which he so kindly confirmed in my first darshan with Him, saying, “Your life was saved because of your karma. You are one of us now.”
Shortly after this meeting, Shree and his translator/personal assistant, Dr. Irma Garcia, accompanied me into the Peruvian Amazon, where I would begin the first stage of my drug de-addiction process. I am eternally grateful for Dr. Irma’s love and support. Some 26 years ago she left her former role with the United Nations as coordinator of women’s projects in the Caribbean and South America to take up Homa Therapy and Homa Organic Farming.
It was Dr. Irma, whom my family (I’m half Belizean) called upon when I overdosed. Her care and encouragement, whether comforting or stern, would know no bounds over the years.
In a recent interview she beautifully described how Homa works:
“The basic principle is that you heal the atmosphere and the healed atmosphere heals you. The healed atmosphere heals prana—vital energy that pulsates through us and connects us with the cosmos. In turn, prana heals the mind.
“Agnihotra is the basic healing fire in Homa Therapy and a conjunction of three disciplines: mantra, the science that controls and governs everything; burning of medicinal organic substances such as dried cow dung, clarified butter (ghee), and grains of unpolished, unbroken rice or akshata in a copper pyramid of a prescribed size. Agnihotra is done at the exact time of sunrise and sunset, based on a definition given in the Vedas. This calms the mind, fills it with love and nourishes the vegetable kingdom and eliminates sickness in a particular area.” (See the entire interview here.)
While staying in a rented house in the Amazon community of Pucallpa, I received detoxification using the Homa therapy described above. My progress was strictly watched over by Gloria Guzman, a local biologist and farmer. She made sure I adhered to the daily discipline of the fire, trapping the healing energies of the sun at precise times each morning and evening.
Homa was uniting me with all of those who maintain the ancient practice at home or in Homa centers around the world. The schedule of daily meditations offered the proper structure for me to journey back to a more balanced state of spiritual and physical wellbeing.
Even my seva, or service while undergoing detox involved Homa. I assisted a biologist who was using Homa practices with organic farming methods to plant 10,000 trees in beds. Those trees were my babies. (The trees were to be replanted in stages in the Amazon jungle.)
I underwent countless transitions, shedding my baggage emotionally and physically in short periods of time.
While exploring Peru, I was introduced to Parvati Rosen-Bizberg* and her husband, Jarek Bizberg,** keepers of the sacred Ayurvedic healing fires at Bhrugu Aranya Ecovillage*** in southern Poland. Both Parvati and Jarek would soon play crucial parts in my spiritual self-development.
After I completed three months in the Amazon, Shree instructed me to return to Lima. I remained one month in Lima, where in another sitting He said, “You should only be in America for three to five days.”
I had no idea how to wrap my head around that instruction or where I would go from South America.
But as grace would have it, I found myself passing through the United States for exactly three days after Peru, on my way to Poland.
This was a clear demonstration of the nature of Shree to guide me into environments where I could receive proper spiritual direction and support, especially while my de-addiction continued.
Set in the bucolic foothills of the Tatra mountain region of southern Poland sits Bhrugu Aranya, a magical land of amazing subtlety.
This powerful community is composed of four families whose dedication to the daily maintenance of the fires has brought amazing ecological results in farming, as well as some unique developments in the animal kingdom—the reappearance of two extinct frog species being one example.
This Devic kingdom is alive, and you can feel the presence of these forces all around, fostering humanity and its immediate environment into peaceful coexistence.
At Bhrugu Aranya I was the only guest being cleansed of drug addiction. Sunrise during the Polish summer is at 4:30am. Who wants to get up at 4:30 every bloody day? Parvati in her lovingly stern way, made sure I did.
Having been blessed to participate and learn in such an environment has brought depth and new meaning to my life experience.
I am deeply grateful for the time I have spent traveling under Shree’s guidance. I am especially grateful to Parvati and Jarek for sharing their unconditional love and patience with me during my ever-changing moods and detoxification while at Bhrugu Aranya.
There would be many more transitions, eventually bringing me a direct and complete healing process.
People who hear my story often say to me, “Well you had a teacher, you had Poland, you had Peru. I’m stuck here, I have work, I have kids. I don’t have somebody taking me in like you had.”
I get twisted up in trying to answer because it’s so difficult to stay disciplined when you’re trying to battle addiction/s. There’s so much inner conflict.
But the key factor is the structure or discipline. That has to take place within yourself. With your own willpower you commit to performing the daily fires with meditation, cleaning up your diet. Yes, it takes community. Even two is a community. I challenge anyone reading this who has an addiction—chemical or other— to find one person to practice Agnihotra with, every morning and evening.
Agnihotra helps by increasing willpower as well as the transformation that you go through in performing the fire daily. I rapidly transformed by practicing Agnihotra—which I do to this day. It is my life support.
The author would like to thank Michael Petronio, Mallory Weatherly and Chitra Turley for their editorial assistance.
Shree Vasant came from Pune, Maharashtra, India. In December 1970 He was given the command by His Master, Parama Sadguru Shree Gajanan Maharaj of Akkalkot: “Carry our blissful words to all peoples of the world.”
Shree would bring the Fivefold Path teachings to thousands over 40 years of traveling to every continent on the globe.
*Parvati Rosen-Bizberg (oriontransmissions.com) is an artist, healer and author, who has written several books, including the biography of our teacher, Master Shree Vasant Paranjpe: Messenger of the Sacred Fire – The Extraordinary Life and Work of Shree Vasant Paranjpe.
**Jarek Bizberg a/k/a “Mr. Poland,” learned Agnihotra over 30 years ago while in India, under the guidance of Parama Sadguru Shree Gajanan Maharaj. He is the author of Homa Farming for the New Age, a comprehensive guide to organic farming, utilizing Agnihotra as the basic practice. He presents lectures and workshops, free of charge, on Agnihotra and Homa Organic Farming throughout Poland and Europe. http://homatherapypoland.org
***Bhrugu Aranya Ecovillage is open to visitors desiring to learn more about Agnihotra (Ayurvedic healing fires), and Homa Organic Farming, community development, self-development, and much more. Fundacja Terapia Homa (Homa Therapy Foundation), was formed by Jarek Bizberg to teach Vedic methods of organic farming, alternative medicine and, very importantly, atmospheric purification. In 2010, a project developed by Fundacja Terapia Homa, was designed to manifest the “Center of Light,” a Polish ecological/educational healing center. http://centre-of-light.org
 Parvati Rosen-Bizberg, Messenger of the Sacred Fire, the Extraordinary Life and Works of Shree Vasant Paranjpe (Ashok Nagar India: Fivefold Path Publications, 2007), p. 75.
 Rosen-Bizberg, p. 75.
 Rosen-Bizberg, p. 77.
 “Homa or Yajnya is the purification of pranic content of the atmosphere through the agency of fire. This leads to purification of the mind. “ Fivefold Path Mission.
Author: Mary Lee Weir, founder of Satya Media Group (satyamediagroup.com), is a documentary photographer/filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Europe and India. When not traveling she volunteers her time, teaching Agnihotra and Homa therapy. Find her at maryleeweir.com.
Prepared by Valerie Carruthers.