The creation of Portland Ananda Church of Self Realization began in the early 80’s. It started with the thoughts and wishes of devotees who knew of Ananda and wanted to bring that vibration to Portland. Master taught us how to use our will, energy and action to manifest these thoughts into reality. Ananda Porltand became this reality with the guidance of Swami Kriyananda, the Ananda ministers, and Divine Mother’s grace. Our fledgling Portland meditation group planned a joint retreat with the Seattle center at a cabin on the coast at Rockaway Beach. Originally, the cabin had been a hunting cabin. Seeing the animal heads of moose, deer, elk, etc. up on the wall was a bit of a shock at first, but we set up a beautiful altar amidst them. We had a wonderful day of silence and became quite used to our animal friends. On Sunday, we brought the children over for service and brunch. The children walked in wide-eyed and their mouths dropped to see our animal altar. Later, we heard the playing hunter and gatherer games outside. In the fall of 1987 construction began at the Victorian house on the corner of NW 23rd and Pettygrove in preparation for the opening of New Renaiisance Bookshop in December. Jyotish and Devi came by to dedicate the bookstore before it was finished. At the dedication they said the mission of this spiritual business will be to help people of all paths take one more step into the light. —Jamey and Darlene Potter
Nitai and Kalyani Deranja were asked to come to Portland to help start a center there, in response to a growing meditation group. They were able at first to offer Sunday services on the second floor of the shop, and soon they were looking for a place for an ashram. Nitai was very attached to a community in the country, so they began searching and found a house in the greenbelt area for $75,000. Having recently come from the San Francisco House, where they were accustomed to home prices being in the 1-2 million dollar range, they at first thought that $75,000 was only the down payment! Learning that this was the total price they applied for a bank loan for the $75,000, but were mysteriously given $85,000. Knowing that Divine Mother must have a plan for the extra $10,000, they put the money in the bank, waiting until they had some guidance. After moving into the house with several other devotees they were now ready to find a way to support themselves. Ananda Village in California had a successful vegetarian health food store and restaurant in Nevada City (Earth Song), and they learned through New Renaissance that a restaurant next door was for sale. The price? $10,000! Of course, they knew nothing about restaurants, but as it turned out they were the only vegetarian restaurant in town at a time when vegetarianism was becoming popular. They also found out from someone in the business that their location was considered the prime spot for a restaurant. After they had been open for some time the largest TV station did a special on them on the nightly news, as the only vegetarian restaurant in town. This showed aired a couple of more times and each time it boosted their sales immensely. This was a time of much growth and faith producing time. Needing an experienced cook, they decided to spend an evening in prayer and affirmation after the restaurant closed. As they were meditating, someone knocked on the door. Thinking it was a customer, Nitai tried to explain that the restaurant was closed. The woman insisted on coming in and finally said that she was a vegetarian cook looking for a job! She was hired immediately. Add more after about 1½ years they had a “Song of the Rose in the Black Celebration Dinner”.
The White Elephant Era
Soon it became evident that we were outgrowing our church space. New Renaissance Bookshop needed to expand at that time too, so we entered into what some of us like to call “the White Elephant era.” Paula must have visited at least a dozen different places before settling on a large building in a park-like setting that had once been a nursing home. It was immense! Fortunately, before we got ourselves too deeply into it, Swami came up to take a look (with the idea of possibly moving Crystal Clarity into it). He was so sweet, but also very clear, that this building was the epitome of Kali Yuga (the darkest age). At this point Paula joined forces with a real estate agent named Versie, and discovered our existing church in Beaverton. This was quite a miracle in itself since it had just been taken off the market. Paula called Vidura that evening to tell him we’d found our church, and ever after was teased about what wild things happened when “Paula went shopping”. We raised the $30,0000 for the down payment from within the congregation and the owner took a note for the rest. When we first got a chance to see the church on the inside we were somewhat surprised to see coffins in the “show room” and longer-than-usual cabinets in the “kitchen”. Of course, it was a mortuary after all. Interestingly, it had no existing strong vibration, good or bad. About a year later it was time to sell the Ashram House and find our community. Paula joined forces with Versie and “went shopping” again. We were fortunate to find an existing apartment complex that was in relatively good shape. So many wonderful memories are part of the tapestry of these early years of the Portland Church. But what stands out in our minds are the shining eyes and the glowing faces of the many gurubais who were drawn to come be a part of this magnificent experiment, to be channels for Master’s love”. —Kent and Marilyn Baughman
Clearing and Blessing
We had recently purchased our new mandir in 1993, which, like Sacramento’s, had previously been a mortuary. One of our members, who had a background in shamanism and a very heightened psychic ability, told us that there were lots of disembodied spirits still within the walls of the building. She urged us to do some “clearing and blessing ceremonies” to get the spirits to move on. It was an extremely busy time. Lots of renovating was going on with a deadline at the end of the week when a Kriya Initiation Ceremony with Jyotish and Devi was scheduled. We definitely weren’t going to have it all ready in time, so we decided that even with the telltale signs of a work in progress (including scaffolding at the altar), that the Kriya ceremony would be a blessing for our new mandir. I was feeling pressured to get this exorcism accomplished before the ceremony, as the woman kept asking “Have you done it yet? Have you done it yet?!” Then it came to me in meditation: “What more powerful way to accomplish this than by our Kriya Initiation itself?” The initiation took place as scheduled and was a very beautiful and uplifting event. Afterwards, I asked her “How was the energy in the mandir for the Kriya Initiation?” She commented how wonderful the vibration was and how the temple was filled with a beatific light and had assumed that we performed the “clearing ceremony” sometime before the initiation. She was amazed and dumbfounded to learn that nothing had been done prior and it was the initiation itself which had produced the wonderful vibration and light. It was indeed due to the powerful vibration and blessing of our line of Masters that cleared the Mandir of these old energies. —Krishnadas LoCicero
As they were at all the centers, events at the Village were a common occurrence. Some of them took the form of fund raisers; others were merely another outlet for creativity. Plays, concerts, fairs, and holiday gatherings took place nearly every month, sometimes nearly every week. Workdays might also be included in this category, as they often had a festive air as well as a sense of accomplishment. These events offered another facet in building community. In 1982 or 83, we put on an India Faire at which we were all decked out in Indian clothes and painted faces. That year, Venkateshananda was our guest speaker. The Faire was Kalyani’s idea and really I just assisted her. She decided it would be great to have elephants, and locating some in Reno, Kalyani sweet-talked the company into bringing two elephants out – free of charge! During the Faire, the handlers walked the elephants around the grounds, and as a reward, the elephants were taken down to Lotus Lake where they rolled around in the water. These happy and good-natured elephants even let people walk up their trunks and
dive off their backs. We could hear their deep rumbling purr, which elephants make when happy. The India Faire was such a hit that we continued them for several years, even without the elephants. We also did a fair in town on the grounds of an elementary school in Nevada City. The fair served both as a showcase of Ananda to residents of Grass Valley and Nevada City, and as a fund raising event. Called the Fun Faire, it had a Gold Rush theme and an auction of items donated by merchants in town. Performances included Arati playing the character Diamond Lil, and Sadhana Devi and Paul Perry playing two-handed piano. Although we did not have rides, there was a carnival atmosphere. Kalyani convinced the Dairy to bring cows and goats for the kids to touch. We had food booths, too. Entrance was free and several thousand people came.
First organized in 1979 by Catherine Kairavi, Rajarsi Day continues to be our most important workday of each year. In the early years, we had fewer events so everyone came. About 250 people participated, including many from all the colonies. There was lots of entertainment. Each colony put on a skit and the local talent put on a play. Soon after we began using The Expanding Light we also began fundraising for improvements and by 1990 we were able to raise over $600,000. This early fundraising efforts gave birth to the present Fund-Raising Department, formed after Catherine Kairavi and Iattended a Fund-Raising University (really!) “Catherine and I also worked together to raise funds here and in San Francisco for the final push to move our main guest facility from the Meditation Retreat to the Expanding Light location. Shivani and Arjuna were determined to get that done! Their dream was realized in the summer of 1984. With a large initial donation and many workdays—the Expanding Light’s current Kitchen, Dining Room, and Temple were built. We dedicated a few Jogathons to The Expanding Light, even after we began using the facility, as well as monthly pledges from ourselves and friends and members from outside the community. We also funded capital projects including draining and resurfacing the bottom of Lotus Lake so it didn’t “leak” anymore, recreating the driveway up to The Expanging Light, building the amphitheater, and partially funding a new guest house to replace the one at the bottom of the hill (the one lovingly decorated by Paula).