I had the blessing to attend Ananda Portland’s 20th anniversary a few weeks ago. I had decided to go because I love being part of these celebrations with our greater Ananda family. I find it’s fun to be serving in that flow of energy. It was a wonderful weekend and I was grateful to have been a part of it. There were so many beautiful shining faces that were joyfully taking part in one way or another. It was inspirational to see all that had been created by all the years of loving service. Together we enjoyed a retrospective on Friday night, looking back at the last 20 years and the founding of Ananda Portland. Saturday Morning was a wonderful look at the future of Ananda, not just Ananda Portland, but Ananda Worldwide. Saturday night there was a beautiful concert and then after lunch on Sunday we dedicated the new community room and meditation chapel. Between these events there was time to enjoy the sweet satsang of fellow devotees. It was great to see that there were devotees from Sacramento, Palo Alto, Seattle and Nevada City (the village) there to support Ananda Portland at this milestone.
Two concepts that speakers touched on that weekend struck me in a way that they hadn’t before. The first is that Ananda is not a place, it is a movement. It’s a change of consciousness and a flow of energy. I’ve noticed at different times that when I try to define exactly what Ananda is and try to hold on to that image, it becomes crystalline and fragile and soon shatters. No box can contain that flow of energy. It was even said that the form Ananda takes essentially doesn’t matter. The important part is not what we accomplish or how good it looks, but rather how we do it. It also doesn’t really matter where we are. What is important is the consciousness we are experiencing as we embark on this endeavor. How’s our attitude? And are we, as individuals, deepening our experience of the divine within? Are we in tune with the divine flow of Master’s grace?
The second concept is that Ananda’s success is not based on getting more members. We are not in some sort of numbers game where whoever gets the most members wins. We are successful when we inspire and help others to find that presence of the divine within themselves. If we can show people how beautiful it is to live for God and seek Him inside, then we are succeeding. We need to show people that this is something that they can accomplish. We of course have many tools to help get there, but I believe that the essential part is that the individual is inspired to find that divine presence within. That yearning must come from within themselves, no one can do that for them, but we need to inspire those who are ready. Each seeker will search in their own way, but the important part is that they are sincere in their search for God.
Any box that we put Ananda into will only end up limiting the flow of energy that comes to us and therefore limit the extent that we can express the vision that Master brought.