One year ago Swami Kriyananda was speaking to a group of youths at Ananda Village. During this satsang, he suggested that the next generation of Ananda focus on “outreach.”
As Swamiji’s successor, Nayaswami Jyotish, has since explained, “outreach” in its deepest sense means “to share”:
Sharing the teachings of our path from our own center of experience and from our individual soul’s inspiration and attunement with Paramhansa Yogananda (whom we reverently call, Master). It means to share with others the joy and love that we have been blessed with at Ananda through the practical spiritual teachings of Self-realization.
“People who live their beliefs and ideals together would constitute a force that, gradually, would uplift the world. Yogananda’s legacy will point the way for all men to a new and better way of life.” —Swami Kriyananda
When I heard that there would be an international retreat weekend dedicated to sharing a “better way of life” to help “uplift the world,” of course I was excited to be a part of the action! And then I heard through the village grapevine that the retreat was going to be held the weekend before Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village.
Together, we started calling this inspiration to share the movement of Ananda: The Next Wave (at first called, Ananda for the Future).
Devotees from many of our communities, centers, and of all ages came to connect, support each other, and become inspired at this retreat. Throughout the weekend there were nearly 100 people that attended either in person or joined online.
The first evening several of us spoke for our first time in public about what the future of Ananda meant to us:
Topics ranged from spreading the idea of world brotherhood colonies to sharing the universal message of the Finding Happiness movie to learning to teach yoga and meditation courses, to connecting more deeply with people through video—all over the world!
The second day we held a wonderful and deep group meditation at Hansa Mandir with Jyotish and Devi (also shared online with our friends coming from afar). After a quick break, we all came together again to listen to a beautiful and inspiring talk they gave on the future of Ananda.
That day we also had a live Google hangout (there wasn’t Zoom back then :)) with youth from all over Ananda, more amazing speakers shared their vision for the future, and we had a successful brainstorming charrette about possible next steps to take action after the retreat.
For me, the most memorable moment of the entire weekend was that day’s virtual gathering.
It was the first time we used the online chat successfully with all of us in one place—at the same time! We had people sign on virtually from Ananda Oregon, Ananda Washington, the Ananda Farm Camino Island, Ananda Assisi, and Ananda India! Despite some technical difficulties at first, it was still incredible just to be with one another. Some of us met each other for the first time, and could finally put to the names we’ve heard before to the right faces.
After everyone joining in from outside the village introduced themselves, it was our turn! And we had just in time figured out a way that we could each wave and say “hi!” by taking live video with Indra’s iPhone across the room.
Many of us were so thrilled to finally see our old and far away friend, (including me!)—that when it came to communities like Ananda Assisi we all began shouting over each other, “Ciao!!! Ciao!!!”
Together in this Dwapara Yuga moment we seemed to finally overcame the limits of time and space.
During this live Google “hangout” we also shared the inspiring projects taking place at each of the communities, the new directions people felt their communities moving, and how we cold better connect with one another to support these great efforts.
And to end this wonderful shared experience, nearly 70 of us, at one moment, rubbed our hands together and sent out AUMs for the upliftment of the world.
It was something I will never forget. Seeing all of us united as one, as Yogananda said, “going north, south, east, and west to cover the earth”… demonstrating a life that leads “to the greatest happiness!”
So upon ending the retreat, off we went! Inspired to help share the blessings we have received with the world to help others find a “new and better way of life” that leads “to the greatest happiness!”