Recently I found myself reading the last article about Ananda’s Spanish Ministry written in 2008, and felt maybe it was time that I gave another report. The last visit I took to Mexico was a three-week trip to Monterrey, Lazaro Cardenas, Edo. Mexico, and Guadalajara.
What a blessing it is to serve devotees in Mexico. Their deep devotion moves the heart and creates a special atmosphere to share Yogananda’s (Master’s) teachings. Their hearts are open and their intellect is receptive. Chanting and meditating is their favorite activity; they become so still, that it is easy to meditate with them.
Although traditionally at Ananda we celebrate Master’s birthday with a flower ceremony, we did it instead during his Mahasamadhi. It was a perfect venue for the devotees to express their love and gratitude. I see this same devotion and gratitude at Ananda Village during Master’s birthday celebration. There is an underlying unity of all souls seeking and aspiring to the same goal of Self-realization.
Since 2008, there are two new Ananda Centers in Mexico. One is in Monterrey under the leadership of Alicia Reyes, a Meditation Teacher Training student who has visited Ananda Village a couple of times. The other one is in Nicolas Romero in the Northwest area of Mexico City. Luis and Jacquelina Barron, brother and sister, were inspired to take the step of creating this center after their visit to Ananda Village last summer, and especially after they heard the account from Casey Hughes about the birth of Ananda in Encinitas, California.
During my visit, nine devotees took Discipleship Initiation to Yogananda, and another group has begun the Ananda Course in Self-Realization. Seven to eight Kriyabans meet regularly for a group meditation; now the new disciples will be joining them in their monthly meditation, forming a very magnetic group of around 14 – 15 devotees.
I gave two Sunday services: one in Monterrey and another in Nicolas Romero. For the Festival of Light blessing that is a part of our services, because it was new to them, I decided to say out loud “May the Light of Christ Shine upon you” as I placed my index finger on their spiritual eye. Just these simple words filled them with such a feeling that, one by one, they went back and prostrated in front of the altar. It was very difficult to hold back the tears — actually there was more than one occasion that I felt the same way. In gratitude, I said to Master, “Thank you, for giving me this blessing to serve you through these divine souls.”
The weather in Mexico was filled with beautiful sunny days, ideal temperatures, multi-color bougainvilleas, and jacarandas blooming with their purple flowers reminding me of the spiritual eye and the spiritual awakening we all seek. Neither traffic or noise got in the way of the very uplifting and joyful experience.
During a visit to Xochimilco, lazily moving through the beautiful canals, I was serenaded by mariachis, bought beautiful flower baskets to give my hosts, and thoroughly just enjoy this gift from God.
The visit to Lake Chapala was a sweet experience; My heart felt uplifted and blessed with Master’s presence. Children playing in swings, young people dancing to the rhythm of Mexican music, families just enjoying the day, young women fishing — it reminds you of an uncomplicated life and of what it is like just to be.
On Lake Chapala, I found it especially touching that they have erected in a shallow part of the lake a statue of Jesus pulling a boat.
There is a picture of Master in this same lake during his visit to Mexico in a boat with a rectangular sail. It made me think of the lines from Master’s poem, “God’s Boatman”:
I want to ply my boat, many times,
Across the gulf-after-death,
And return to earth’s shores
From my home in heaven.
I want to load my boat
With those waiting, thirsty ones
Who are left behind.
As a devotee it is impossible not to melt away in hope at this promise and I was reminded of it in the same place that Guru had visited many years ago. His presence is etched in the shores of Lake Chapala in Mexico. So sweet was his presence.
Next spring, with God’s blessing, we will be going back to Mexico to give a Kriya Initiation, our largest one yet, with around 15 devotees. Almost all the “old” kriyabans are now getting involved in all the activities, making it sweeter.
The group in Nicolas Romero wants to start a choir, so Alejandro Hernandez will start teaching chanting and how to play the harmonium. I mentioned Swami Kriyananda’s Christ Lives! oratorio to the core group in Mexico and asked how could we present this program in Mexico City. They saw the possibilities and made some suggestions; they even suggested the venue and how to go about it.
There is a new center, Ananda Varela, in the province of Buenos Aires. It is lead by Nayaswami Mokshananda, who visited Swami Kriyananda last year and was blessed with the new Nayaswami vows and pledged to follow Ananda’s guidelines and to represent Ananda there. The group in Maracay, Venezuela meets regularly, and helps new devotees to prepare for Kriya Initation.
Little by little Ananda is growing in Latinoamerica and the seeds of Community have begun to spread. Please keep the Hispanic devotees in your prayers.
In divine friendship,