Ananda Family News

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swami Visits Sacramento and Palo Alto

Swami Kriyananda is leaving today to head back to Italy, but he wrapped up his California time with a couple of satsangs -- one on Sunday night in Sacramento, and one last night in Palo Alto. (You can find audio and/or video recordings of the two events here and here, respectively.)

The talks he gave each night were very different, making it well worth the drive in either direction for those of us who went to both. In Sacramento, the talk was very lighthearted and humorous. It felt more like he just came to hang out with us than to specifically give a talk. He did take questions from the audience for a while, though, so he still ended up touching on a lot of different topics. In typically delightful Swamiji fashion, an answer to one question would happily spiral off into long braided skeins of teachings and stories. Sometimes it just doesn't seem to matter which questions actually get asked or not, because you find out that whatever you were wondering about somehow got answered anyway. After one particularly long succession of thoughts, he finally paused and asked "Did I answer somebody's question? I hope so! Who's next?" At the end of the evening, he saved a few minutes for us all to meditate together with him, which was very sweet.

In Palo Alto, the talk felt rather more formal, and there was no question and answer segment. He also spent more time on the "buy land in the country because things are going downhill fast" kind of theme, which can leave people feeling a bit less bubbly. But it's a blessing to have that kind of thing told to us by someone who can also show us how to face it joyfully, regardless of how or when it comes. A highlight of the evening was that Swamiji also decided to sing for us. At the beginning of the program he sang "Peace" with the Palo Alto choir, and at the end he sang "God, God, God" a capella. What a perfect song to end on.

On each of the evenings, he was wearing a new robe of a brilliant blue, the prototype robe for the new swami order he's working on creating. (He says he's "tired of being the only swami in Ananda!") Funny story about that blue, actually: Apparently it was originally supposed to be a very different shade. However, the person dyeing the cloth, who has always been spot-on with color matching in the past, just completely missed by a mile this time around. And yet, once they saw it, everyone realized that it really was the perfect color after all. Fun how things work out, sometimes.

Anyway, Swamiji is now headed back to Italy (and on to India later this year, I believe), but it's been a good few months having him out here and physically closer to us. Looking forward to his visit next year, though!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fundraising Lunch — Success!

If you've been by the Sangha at all in the last couple of months, you've probably noticed the various color changes that the walls around the courtyard have undergone. Each iteration is getting it closer to the final "Italian Piazza" look that the overall remodeling project is aiming for. (I think the wall behind David in this picture is the final color, but don't quote me on that. Click any of the pictures for a larger version.)

This past Sunday, after service, we had a fundraising lunch to help us move ahead with the next phase of things. The courtyard is going to get repaved, and there's a lot that needs to be done for that before we get our California approximations of winter and rains. Attendance was excellent, filling up the tables in the courtyard and completely cleaning out the Buca di Beppo catered lunch, right down to the tiramisu.

Frank and Dambara treated us to some Italy-themed music of Swami's, complete with mandolin accompaniment. The final song was "Napoli" (a.k.a. "the la la la la la la la la song"), towards the end of which, Dambara called out "I dare you to dance!" Never ones to resist such a challenge, Graham and Cheryl promptly leapt up and did a couple polka circuits of the less-crowded section of the courtyard. Well, somebody had to, right? :-)

Alright. Food: check; music and dancing: check. But how was the fundraising? Well, after some inspiring talks from David and Asha, it turned out that we raised double (yes, that's "double" with a "2") the target amount for this phase of the project! Jai guru and well done gurubhais!

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