Ananda Family News

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Oratorio

It’s been a couple of years since we last performed the entire Christ Lives Oratorio here, but we brought it back in style this past weekend after Sunday service. David Eby came down from the Village to conduct and inspire the choir, whose ranks were swelled by a number of singers from the Village, Portland, L.A. and, apparently, the astral world. Several newer soloists got to perform (including Rita, D’Arcy, and Graham), and we also enjoyed having Chaitanya back for some of his wonderful tenor solos, including “Psalm of David,” accompanied by one of Rita’s dances.

Several much-appreciated volunteers were responsible for videotaping the entire concert, and we’ve been improving our recording process in the temple. So while nothing is really like being there, this at least begins to do our wonderful choir some justice. If you missed the show, or if you just want to re-experience it, you can watch it below, or listen to it as you browse through the photos.

Happy almost-Easter!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Subject Tonight Is Love

The subject tonight is Love
And tomorrow night as well.

As a matter of fact,
I know of no better topic
For us to discuss
Until we all


The subject of this year’s Living Wisdom School play was Love, taking form in the life and poetry of Hafiz, mystic poet of medieval Persia. Over 70 children —every student in the school— took to the stage in a glorious pageant illustrating the transformation of human love into Divine love.

As a young man, Hafiz fell madly in love with the beautiful daughter of a family above his station, and began writing and reciting poetry that quickly gained renown. His feelings finally led him to undertake a 40-night vigil at the tomb of a great saint who was said to grant such a worthy supplicant’s heart’s desire. When he reached the end of the vigil, the archangel Gabriel appeared before him. In the radiant beauty of God’s angel, Hafiz forgot his human love and desired only to know and love God. And so Gabriel guided him to his spiritual teacher Shiraz, who would in time lead Hafiz and his poetry to God-realization.

If you think I am having more fun

Than anyone on this planet

You are absolutely correct.

There is a fascinating quality to LWS productions that was particularly powerful in this performance, which is that there very noticeably seemed to be two distinct plays going on simultaneously. If you tilt your head just right, you can see these are children who have grown into their voices, bodies, and self-control to widely varying degrees. You can feel the poetry’s translation into a new language, and into little bodies. It can almost seem like a school play.

But shift your mind and heart back over that subtle dividing line, and you can feel the enormous power behind these words and bodies, animating the entire hall. That’s where the real performance is taking place.  That’s the part that leaves you grinning through tears for the sheer beauty of it. That is God’s power as it acts through our own lives every day, made more visible to us for one beautiful evening on the stage.

The five Hafizes.

You can find some more photos here, and a beautiful slideshow here, courtesy of Heather.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What We've Been Up To

After Sunday service this weekend (and lunch), we invited everyone back into the temple for our annual-ish church meeting, reviewing the accomplishments of the past year. If you missed the list of what’s been going on around here, prepare to be impressed....

Ananda Church
Initiations & Ordinations

  • 34 Disciples
  • 10 Kriyabans
  • 14 Sadhakas
  • 1 Lightbearer
  • 1 Minister
New Programs & Directions
  • Meditation 1, 2 & 3 offered in Spanish
  • Raja Yoga 2
  • Heart to Heart discussion group
  • AKASH class series
  • Gateway to Membership
  • Wedding Renewal for 16 couples
  • Kirtans now every week
  • Introduction to Self-Realization after Sunday Service
  • Meditation groups launched in San Jose, San Carlos, Fremont, and San Francisco.
  • Weekly email lists: Ananda Family News, Ask Asha
  • Database shifted to the cloud, using Salesforce
  • Banner: “Google can't satisfy every search.”
  • Ananda Palo Alto’s website in 2011:
    • more than 2,000,000 hits
    • over 100,000 unique visits
    • people have listened to or watched more than 250,000 videos of recorded classes, music, and Sunday services
  • Refurbished the outside of the teaching center: stucco, paint, and new windows
  • Installation of religious symbols in the Temple
  • Free & Clear raised $425,000 of $1,000,000 needed
  • Thank You & Goodbye (remember Ananda in your will) now established
  • Expanded our self-concept to be the Ananda Community for Self-Realization
  • New membership process with Gateway to Membership monthly gatherings
Ananda Residential Community
  • Shrine to Lahiri built by the Sadhaka Training Group
  • Community Supported Agriculture had an outstanding first season
  • Local Exchange Network (national non-money system) launched
East West Bookshop
  • Now is the largest independent metaphysical bookstore in California
  • Management passed gracefully from Tushti and Surendra to Graham and Nooshin
  • December 2011 sales up 9% from year before
  • January and February 2012 sales up $30,000 from year before
  • Again voted “Best Place for Unusual Gifts” (won every year since 1996)
Living Wisdom School
  • Enrollment higher than ever: more than 70 children this year
  • Increased interest allows us to be more selective in accepting students
  • Successful internship program is developing talented new teachers
  • Theater Magic broke all records for attendance: over 1,000 people
Jai us!

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