Ananda Family News

Monday, July 26, 2010

Guru Day Retreat

Heavenly Father, Divine Mother, Friend, Beloved, God. Jesus Christ, Babaji-Krishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, Paramhansa Yogananda.

Guru Purnima is traditionally observed on the full moon in July, as a day of celebrating ones gurus, and how marvelous it is that these great souls came to earth just to help us in our spiritual development. Our celebration on Saturday evening was fittingly beautiful, moving, and inspirational.

Around the central lawn of the Ananda Palo Alto community, many devotees worked for hours ahead of time creating gorgeous shrines to each master in our line of gurus. Beginning at 6 in the evening, we gathered in front of each of them in turn. Asha would speak for a bit (you can find the recordings here), helping us focus in on the particular vibration of the guru we were facing, then we would do a couple songs and chants, then meditate for 15 minutes or so. Finally, we would each pick up a small votive or tea light candle to place at the altar before gathering our chairs and moving on to the next station where we'd repeat the process.

One thing Asha suggested at the beginning of the event was especially helpful, and that was to practice japa as much as possible during the evening. At each shrine, you simply see how constantly you can keep a part of your mind silently chanting the name of the guru in front of you. Aum Guru, Aum Christ, Aum Babaji, etc. Not only does this help keep us inwardly focused, but it also helps us to tune in to each master's individual thread weaves into the complete tapestry of our path.

You might think that, over the course of a 4-hour event, the tiny candles we lit at the beginning would have long since burned out. But even well after the end we still had glorious constellations of flickering lights around each shrine, made all the more beautiful by transition from day to night. Asha also remarked that nightfall is particularly dramatic from her perspective up in front of the crowd. While it's still daylight, you can see everyone very distinctly as individual souls and egos, but as time passes we all just blend together, and the light concentrates entirely around our gurus.

The entire evening was a very powerful experience of communion with the masters. And the effects carry on well past the event itself. The next morning at choir practice, one of our sopranos was complemented on how beautifully she was singing. Someone asked her in admiration "What are you doing differently?" Her reply: "Well, I went to Guru Day last night...." Great answer!

There are more pictures here, courtesy of Chidambar, Amara, Karen, and Dambara. Many thanks to everyone who made this event so special, and most of all to our line of masters.

Aum Guru.

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