Ananda Family News

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Celebration

We had an excellent Thanksgiving at the temple last week, with over a hundred people coming in for the worship service and the following banquet. During the service, Nirmoha led us through musically meditative experiences of the different paths to God: bhakti yoga, karma yoga, gyana yoga, and raja yoga (devotion, action, wisdom, and meditation). The karma yoga step seemed to take particularly well, seeing how miraculously quickly we transformed the temple into a banquet hall. (God can really get things done when folks let Him work through them.)

Our traditional nutloaf dinner was accompanied by the even more traditional mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry relish and, of course, music. The entertainment kicked off with a song inspired by Rajarshi Janakananda. Click below for the video of “The Yogi King.”

Not to leave the Gilbert & Sullivan contingent unchallenged, Team Barbershop also turned out a couple gems, also with videos: Ananda is Home, and Goodnight Yogis (which doubled as this year’s cleanup song, inspiring another round of cheerful karma yoga).

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may we continue to give thanks for food, friends, and fun year-round!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Free & Clear Auction

This year’s fundraising auction had a very special theme: Most of the items were “spiritual souvenirs,” having been directly connected to Swami Kriyananda in one way or another. These included various shirts and a jacket that he used to wear, signed photographs and books, a comb, the mug he had on stage with him at the recent Foothill College event, and much more. There were also a number of malas (created by Narayani) that Swamiji had blessed. (One was designed without a guru bead, but we were assured that when the buyer was ready, the guru would appear.)

The “non-Swamiji” items weren’t too shabby, either. We had two of Jyotish’s paintings, a beautiful wooden altar by Sahadev, a “Shanti” sign from one of the original cabins at the meditation retreat (you can guess who won that), and a spineless Burbank cactus, a strain developed by the “American saint” that Autobiography of a Yogi is dedicated to.

There was no silent auction component this year, so everyone got to engage in the bidding for each item, whether as participant or observer. It turns out that an auction is just as amusing as everything else we do around Ananda, especially with David and Dambara MC-ing and obligingly modeling various items of clothing and jewelry for us. A tricky thing, though, about bidding amongst a group of people who are all so nice and fond of each other, is that items sometimes don’t sell for as much as they ought to. But the problem of having cruelly out-bid one’s friend is easily remedied by the winner promptly turning over the prize to his runner-up.

The auction wrapped up with a unique Ananda tradition, one that would only work in a crowd of yogis and renunciates: bidding on absolutely nothing at all. For a flat rate of $25, you would be generously allowed not to acquire any new possessions, while still being able to contribute to the Free & Clear effort. A remarkable number of people were delighted by this option, regardless of whether they had already purchased anything else.

In all, the evening brought in nearly $9,000 towards paying off our temple. (For the record, the highest-ticket item was a lapis and gold spiritual eye pendant that traveled for years in Swamiji’s luggage, as a sort of “Dwapara Yuga St. Christopher’s medal.” It went for $675.) This was enough to get us a new puzzle piece added to our church-o-meter at Sunday service, and to get us within a few hundred thousand dollars’ shouting distance of paying off the mortgage completely. (And there’s still time to wrap that up by the end of the year!)

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