Ananda Family News

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Members' Candlelight Tea

On Saturday, Ananda members and guests all gathered for our annual candlelight extravaganza, celebrating our joy in being together in this spiritual family.

This year, the gorgeous altar was mirrored by another incredible display at the opposite end of the temple. Surrounding us with the masters this way really transformed the space in a very special way. (See all the photos here, courtesy of Suman.)

Going far beyond mere "tea," food was seemingly trucked in by many culinarily talented volunteers. We had savories (saag paneer, samosas, mushroom empanadas, salads, and tables-ful more), sweets (the brownies alone came in 5 fancy varieties), and a chocolate fountain with a variety of dip-ables.

Enjoying the company, the dinner, and the chocolate fountain.

Ananda being the musical place it is, we did enjoy a song from the choir, but we also got the whole audience up on stage as well (nearly -- we did rather overflow). Split into six groups, we all sang each other Swamiji's 6-part song, "Channels." Very appropriately for a members' celebration, this song reminds us that we're all channels for God's grace in our own unique and important ways, and that it takes all of our parts to make a beautiful, harmonious whole.

For further entertainment, we played a game of "Guess Whose Mysterious Past." Groups of devotees sat on stage and the audience guessed which of them was described in each surprising, unusual, impressive, or even frightening story that David read to us. You may not have been aware that there are those among us who have rebuilt the engine of a motorcycle to drive it across the country, were olympic-level swimmers, or can sing like the reincarnation of Louis Armstrong.

And last but not least... have you ever wondered what it would be like if Gilbert and Sullivan had been devotees on our path? Wonder no more, for the song has now been written and performed. (And Jeffrey was even quick enough with his iPhone to get a video of it.)

I Am the Very Model of a Yogananda Devotee
Inspiration and music by Gilbert and Sullivan. 
Lyrics by Graham Waldon.

I am the very model of a Yogananda devotee,
I've information blessed with far more levity than brevity,
I practice Kriya Yoga and I'm always sure to energize,
And when I do my asanas it never will offend your eyes.

I'm very well acquainted with the guidelines of Patanjali,
I know they'll help me re-a-lize my full potentiality,
My favorite place to travel is to islands in the BA-hamas,
Where it's a cinch to practice all the yamas and the niyamas!

I'm even-minded and I'm cheerful just as much as I can be,
Even when my karmic bombs insist on blowing up on me,
In fact it is my cup of tea to be all filled with levity,
I am the very model of a Yogananda devotee.

I'm a member of the sangha and I always tithe my 10 percent,
Even when I've no idea where all my other money went,
I volunteer my service and I always help my gurubhais,
I listen to the Pravers and I do the things that they advise.

And when it comes to eating, it is true I'm no barbarian,
My diet may be noted to be strictly vegetarian,
And when I have a free weekend I take a drive down to LA,
To go see Kriyananda and to hear the things he has to say.

In fact it's thanks to Swamiji that you can see me here today,
He models for us all the best discipleship in every way,
I know you will not disagree this fills our lives with levity,
He is the very model of a Yogananda devotee.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cry from the Heart of the First Americans

This week hundreds of people enjoyed the Living Wisdom School's annual theater production, with a Native American theme this year. The play told the story of the great peacemaker Deganawidah and his follower Hiawatha, who together overcame a warring, revengeful culture to bring five tribes together into the Iroquois Confederacy of peace.

All of the school's children, from ages 5 to 14, were part of the play, all with multiple roles. It's always incredible to see how they rise to the occasion with such poise and magnetism well beyond what you'd expect from their years.

In addition to recitations of Native American poetry and proverbs, there was also flute and drum music, with enthusiastic dances by all the children. One dance illustrated the whole harvest cycle, beginning with older children sowing seeds, then being joined by younger children as the growing corn stalks, and even smaller ones as the bees.

Atatarho, the villain of the play, is tormented by demons, and his soul is sick of all the war and hatred between the tribes. In the end, Hiawatha, a great medicine man, is able to heal him and include him in the confederacy.

For more photos of the beautiful event, costumes and children, please watch the excellent slideshow Heather put together for us:

Update: In the humanitarian spirit of the great historical and spiritual figures that LWS honors every year in its plays, the school decided to donate a portion of its proceeds to a Japan relief fund. Between this and additional donations from the audience members, they sent about $1,000 to Japan. Thank you all!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Joyful Arts at Ananda

Have you seen the new Joyful Arts at Ananda website? Swami Kriyananda has always wanted to do more to share the artistic side of Ananda as a way to reach out and convey to the rest of the world what we're all about. Jyotish recently passed this concept on to Rick and Peter Skillman, who turned it into a videography project which has rapidly blossomed and taken on a life of its own.

Over the course of only a few days, they recorded over 32 hours of video interviews with Swamiji and with various other Ananda members, on music, painting, theater, and more. There's also a "how I met Swami Kriyananda" section (see Asha's part here). These videos are gradually getting edited and posted to the website, so everyone can enjoy them.

Everything is (not surprisingly) very beautifully done, so have a look, enjoy the videos, share them with friends, and we'll all enjoy seeing how the project evolves!

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