Ananda Family News

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Day at the Farm with Jyotish and Devi

We were blessed this weekend to have Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi, spiritual directors of Ananda Worldwide, visiting us in Palo Alto. In addition to enjoying Sunday Service with them, we took them on Saturday for their first visit to Ananda Valley Farm.

Lahari and her team masterfully transformed a seemingly ordinary greenhouse into an uplifted, uplifting temple, sattwic and calming, with beautiful plants everywhere, and no matter where the eye went there was an altar waiting to raise your consciousness. Divine Mother played Her part as well by providing us with an exquisite day — sunny skies, perfect temperature, little wind.

Jyotish and Devi were very moved by the beauty and peaceful vibration of the farm, and both gave talks that focused on the land. Devi remarked that “if I had two bodies, one of them would be right here.”

She went on to share that nearly every senior Ananda member had worked in the garden, under the tutelage of Haanel Cassidy. She was new to Ananda when she began working in the garden, and after years of college and mental busy-ness, it was the garden that brought her experiences of deep mental calmness and peace. Though she sometimes found at night, when meditating, that instead of seeing the spiritual eye, she saw endless rows of baby carrots (well-weeded, of course)!

Jyotish also spoke about how it is necessary to spiritual life to gradually slow our vibration, in order to experience the Divine (which is free of vibration, in its pure form). Living in the Silicon Valley is a little like living in your office — not something we want to be continuously immersed in! The farm offers a nearby respite from the faster vibration of urban life, where we can come to replenish and renew ourselves, and draw closer to Spirit.

Both of them encouraged us to keep our consciousness focused on the Divine as we moved about the property, now and always. It seems none of us could ever be on that land in the same way after their talks. We were all feeling blessed from the outset with this land but they added an element of grace and power to it all.

We then blessed the farm with the installation of a murti (similar to the one recently arrived at the temple). The sculpture of Paramhansa Yogananda was carried around the pond in a procession, accompanied by chanting, and touching all of the corners of the pond in a ceremony such as one might see in India. Once he was in his final place, rose petals and blessings were offered by all.

Then, back into the greenhouse for a beautifully laid out and really scrumptious farm lunch — a gourmet sandwich bar. The grand finale of the day was a reception line with Jyotish and Devi, so that everyone had the opportunity to meet them, share a few moments with them, and receive their blessing.

You can see many lovely photos here, and there’s also a short video that includes a slideshow and some footage of the procession.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy New Year

New Year’s Eve at the temple began with a long meditation and a Pilgrim Vow initiation — always an auspicious way to herald a new beginning. Then during the service itself we held an extended purification ceremony in which we each got to offer ourselves and our aspirations for the new year up to God and Guru. It was a very personal and inward celebration, and all the more so for its contrast with most of the other celebrations going on around the planet at that time! You can see a few photos here.

On the day after New Year’s, East West Bookshop closed for its annual Inventory Day, inviting numerous friends and volunteers over for a joyful work party. In addition to getting an accurate tally of the merchandise, we also took the opportunity to clean, organize, or throw away anything the could possibly be cleaned, organized or thrown away. Doesn’t it look like fun? The store positively glows now with the fresh infusion of energy.

Sunday January 5th was the 121st anniversary of Paramhansa Yogananda’s birthday, but we went ahead and began the festivities on Saturday night. The best birthday present to give to our guru? Ourselves, naturally. And so everyone who has taken any step along Ananda’s particular ray of the spiritual path had the opportunity to reaffirm their vows and support others in their reaffirmations. (A few first-time initiates slipped in to the Sadhaka and Sevaka vows as well.)

Then at Sunday service the next day we celebrated a birthday gift, as it were, from Master back to us. We’ve just acquired a beautiful statue of Yogananda, done by an Italian sculptor named Sandro da Verscio, with personal guidance from Swami Kriyananda. Master has a completely blissful smile on his face as he meditates, and his presence shines through the statue so clearly that it’s a breathtaking joy to behold. At the end of service, the entire congregation came up to the altar to shower it with rose petals before it made a procession down the aisle to its more permanent home in the foyer. Isn’t it lovely?

Many blessings to all in 2014 — and Happy New Year!

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Ananda Sangha, 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306, (650) 323-3363
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Peninsula, Silicon Valley, and San Jose, CA
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