Spiritual Directors of Ananda Sangha
Put Ananda On the Map
October 14, 2010
We’re now back in Los Angeles after a short trip to Ananda Village to take care of a few things. While there, we had some time and space to consider the broader implications of what Ananda is doing in southern California.
This posting will be more thoughtful and less newsy — hope you enjoy our ruminations.
It seems that what Swamiji and our LA team are doing represents a new kind of expansion for Ananda. Since our beginnings, we have always been looking for the next step in outreach — and taking it. Swamiji’s creative, expansive energy has been the driving force in developing communities and teaching centers throughout the U.S., Europe, and India.
Still, this expansion has been more out into the “landscape,” and less into the “mindscape.” By this we mean that Ananda is one of the most dynamic sources for Yogananda’s teachings, meditation training, and Kriya Yoga. It is also probably the most successful example of spiritual communities in the world. And yet, we are relatively unknown in the public mind.
So here we are in Los Angeles, one of the media capitals of the world, and one of our main goals is to “put Ananda on the map.” It’s not that we have a desire for recognition, but we deeply believe that Master’s work through Ananda can transform people’s lives, AND it is our job to let more of them know about it.
Swamiji’s film projects — “The Answer” and “The Wayshower” — have the potential to reach millions. These movies can make the general public more aware of Yogananda than anything we’ve done before.
When Swamiji was interviewing potential publicists, and listening to their ideas about getting his name better known, he said, “I have absolutely no desire for personal fame, but I accept that publicity is necessary for people to know more about our Guru.”
Rescuing Yogananda also represents a new kind of expansion for Ananda into the “mindscape.” The story of how SRF threw Swamiji out has been told in other books and writings, but this book represents something more.
It shows with increasing clarity and impact throughout its pages how SRF has departed from Master’s original vision and stripped his work of its joy, humor, compassion, and kindness. More importantly, it has made Master’s work a museum piece – something remote, removed, and protected behind mental walls.
But now that Rescuing Yogananda has been launched, Ananda plans to do what it does best: share Master’s teachings with people in a dynamic, accessible way that relates to every aspect of life.
We were talking with a group of people after Swamiji’s satsang last Sunday (see sidebar) and someone asked, “Do you know how I can get a copy of Master’s original lessons, so I know what he wrote as opposed to what’s been edited?”
After we explained that these lessons are hard to come by, a member of Ananda Palo Alto who was present said, “Why don’t you take Ananda’s Raja Yoga classes? That’s the way you’ll get the real teachings.”
It was a humbling comment, but at the same time, we realized it was true.
So, these are some thoughts that we want to share with you as Ananda reaches out more dynamically to the general public. Already so much has happened: Swamiji’s Sunday satsangs, billboards advertising our events, new class series, new meditation groups, movie production teams, long-time Ananda members moving to Los Angeles, and our new ashram house.
All this is to offer Master’s living presence with joy, power, and love.
In divine friendship,
Jyotish and Devi