Dear Great Souls,
“That which you offer to God, that which you give to God is blessed. It’s not charity, for you’re giving to your own Self. What you offer to God is blessed a million fold!” (Swami Kriyananda)
July 29,2014 we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Ananda Meditation Retreat’s new incarnation – its return, after many wonderful years as home to the Ananda College, to its original purpose as a place of seclusion. What has come about in this short time is an inspiring story of a dedicated band of disciples giving of themselves, serving together selflessly and harmoniously to realize Master and Swamiji’s will in this one area of Ananda’s world mission.
During the anniversary celebration, Durga gave a short history of the year. I quickly became lost in the details – curtains, mattresses, bathrooms, rugs, sofas, dressers; colour combinations, matching sets – the thousand decisions and actions behind making each seclusion cabin shining, magnetic, welcoming, uplifting. The surrounding forest had attracted a small group of volunteers who had been coming up weekly since May 2013 to clear brush and gather fallen limbs into burn piles – it took just about a year to completely circle the Retreat grounds. Another small crew had gone through every structure to tear out damaged parts, to repair or replace – to make each building structurally sound, weatherproof, well drained, clear of debris and old energy.
What lay behind all this activity was, as clearly as I have ever felt it, Master’s light, Master’s joy, Master’s vision for Ananda. When Durga and Vidura were asked to move from Ananda L.A. to help the Retreat, they approached every challenge by turning to Master – “What do you want now, in this moment, for your Retreat?” A donation came for a statue of Yogananda. Their question wasn’t “where would the statue look best?” but, “where does Master want to be?”
To any earthbound way of looking, the task ahead was overwhelming – so much needing to be done, so little money, so few resources. Durga and Vidura, from the beginning, kept to simple ground rules – always to know that Master wants this work done; never to block his will by saying, “we can’t afford to” or “there is no money.” And, “whatever we who serve at the Retreat face, we will face together, working in harmony with one another, knowing that Master can speak through any one of us. As Master teaches, we are children of God and, as His children, know that whatever we need will come to us. Our job is to keep our hearts open to receive Master’s guidance.”
From the earliest days, group meditation at noon in the Retreat Temple came to be a special time to tune into Master’s guidance for the Retreat. Everyone serving the Retreat listened inwardly, prayerfully, gratefully for direction – and, steadily, direction was there, even in the tiniest details. Walking out from these meditations, each one would feel Master and Swamiji’s guiding presence. The ideas received in these meditations, once shared with the whole staff, invariably met with universal agreement.
A few months into that first year, Durga said to Brindey, “we need an affirmation for the Retreat, and I think it’s supposed to come through you.” Brindey followed Swamiji’s example in writing music – she placed pen and paper by her meditation seat, then meditated an hour and a half, the whole time holding mind and heart open for guidance. Gradually clarity came, and the affirmation:
Great Gurus, Master and Swamiji
We thank you for your light that blesses this land,
Bringing everyone and everything
That is needed to fulfill the highest purpose
For your holy Meditation Retreat.
Loving, thankful, focused practice of the affirmation has brought daily experiences of the real and immediate presence and practical response of God and Guru. Whatever has been needed – not more, not less – has come in steadily, and with divinely precise timing: furniture, vehicles, money; people to help would appear just when needed – a housekeeper, a gardener, a cook, even an interior designer! It has been a moment-by-moment experience of the spiritual basis of tithing, of giving oneself to the source of one’s inspiration. The more completely we can offer ourselves, our service, all that we are and have, to the Divine, the more completely the Divine can enter and take charge of our lives, can provide whatever is needed for us to continue forward in joyful service, knowing that everything we do is for God and Guru, that everything we have is from God and Guru.
Master and Swamiji shine their great light out from the heart of the Retreat, flowing through all who serve there, reaching out to touch receptive souls everywhere, to draw to the Retreat whatever is needed, whoever is needed, and whoever needs to bathe in its sacred vibration. God is serving God.
In divine friendship,
For Ananda’s “Thank You, God” Tithing