How Ananda is preparing for coronavirus, now that the WHO has declared it a "global pandemic?"' Since you are a community, and in California where there are cases, what plans do you have for isolation and resource management? I’m sure your community in Italy must also be preparing. I think this may be the part of the "world catalcysm" Swami spoke about? At least it will bring people together to fight against it and maybe even be more spiritual while self-isolating. Thoughts?
This pandemic and its worldwide consequences may be part of the world cataclysm Yogananda predicted. Certainly this event is prompting us all to dive very deep into our spiritual teachings and practices. Ananda village and our Ananda communities world-wide are taking this seriously on all levels. Yogananda always encourages us apply the teachings practically and not have our ‘head in the clouds’ when it comes to safety on the physical plane.
Since I live at Ananda village I can give you a snapshot of what Ananda village is doing. We have a physician who lives at Ananda and directs our local medical clinic who, in conjunction with our spiritual directors Jyotish and Devi and our Ananda leadership, have put in place measures which are considered the best current understanding about how to decrease the spread of this disease. Our physician is also giving us daily updates on the most current worldwide medical knowledge of how best to protect ourselves from the virus. Much of the information he shares comes from www.cdc.gov so you can go there to get this information as well.
On the physical level we are practicing social distancing, minimizing in-person contact, staying at least six feet apart from other people even within the home as much as possible. We are using masks (or if not available some sort of bandanna over the mouth and nose) if we will be in a place where others are. We are regularly disinfecting (before and after use) all of the surfaces around our home and anywhere else we are. If we are ill for any reason we are self-quarantining.
All of our group gatherings have been cancelled but we are increasing our on-line gatherings for meditation, Sunday service, sadhanas and classes. This is an Ananda worldwide effort that many of our centers are contributing to and if you would like to participate in these you can go to www.Ananda.org/community/upcoming-events/.
Here at Ananda Village we have a little community co-op where we can order groceries. For essential items not available through our co-op we have a designated shopper who can drive to town using maximum personal protection to pick up items such as prescriptions. We have eliminated all non-essential trips away from Ananda village except for such matters as urgent doctors’ visits. People who do not live at Ananda Village are not coming here except essential outside services such as deliveries. For those who need the support of meal preparation there is some central meal preparation and delivery happening using high levels of sanitation and precautions. Everyone is staying at home if at all possible. Many of us are unemployed at this time just as in the rest of the United States since non-essential businesses that serve the public have all been closed. Some people are able to work from home online. We are doing everything possible to shelter in place and support one another.
I encourage you, in your home, to do as much of this protocol as you can for yourself and your family. The word from the medical experts is that the absolute maximum precautions we can do is in all likelihood the bare minimum amount necessary to control the spread of the disease. There have been a few success stories such as South Korea where these measures have been effective in ‘flattening the curve’ of disease spread.
Another important thing we can do is offer kindness, compassion and emotional support to those people we come in contact with who are having ‘adjustment’ reactions where they are in denial or angry or confused and pretend the problem is not there. Offering this in conjunction with the information they need to be safe is vital spiritual support in these challenging times and will help them move toward acceptance. We must see one another as God loving God.
This is a time of extraordinary spiritual opportunity. With increased time at home and less distractions there is more time to study and meditate. Our usual routines have been upended and old habits which normally seem to interfere with our spiritual practices are interrupted. For many of us there is not much about our current circumstances that is typical. This is a great opportunity for us to recognize where our true safety, peace and strength come from and to draw deeply on Divine help.
Yogananda’s poem God! God! God! is especially helpful for us now. Here is one of the stanzas.
When boisterous storms of trials shriek,
And when worries howl at me,
I will drown their noises loudly chanting:
God! God! God!
God is everywhere, right with us, in the center of life’s storms. We need to call on Him strongly: Help us tear away the veils the keep us from knowing Thee! The gift of these times may be that by learning to call on Him now with all of our strength we will come to know Him in all circumstances whether challenging or ordinary. This is the message of the final stanza of this poem.
In waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping,
Serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving,
My soul will constantly hum, unheard by any:
God! God! God!
I encourage you to read the entire poem at this link God! God! God! I have been practicing it at the end of every meditation recently. Yogananda predicted that people will become much more spiritual as a result of these upcoming trials. If this time of trial has indeed arrived then as Yogananda said, “the time for knowing God has come!”