We’ve had a cool rainy spring, perfect weather for tulips. This year more than 4,000 visitors came to “Springtime at Ananda,” to see the gardens at Crystal Hermitage and the 9,000 tulips. Many have commented that these gardens are among the most beautiful in the world, not only because of the amazing flowers but also because of the uplifting and expansive setting — vast vistas and joy-filled residents.
A couple of years ago at the end of the tulip season, we mentioned to Swami Kriyananda, who was in Italy, that in spite of so many visitors, the gardens still looked beautiful. His response was one of those simple statements that has a profound impact. He said, “Well, of course they would look good. They’ve just had thousands of people appreciating them.”
Many emotions — frustration, anger, delight — seem to be thrust upon us without our conscious consent, as if they had a life of their own. But appreciation is a feeling that can be cultivated through practice. When we do, life begins to bud and blossom.
Swami Kriyananda returned to America last week. On the drive home we stopped at a café with Swamiji and, as he often does, he complimented a woman on her dress. This simple act of appreciation created a lovely connection. She told us her daughter brought it for her from Hawaii, and we chatted briefly.
Life led with simple acts of kindness becomes rich. Positive emotions send signals from the heart to the brain that releases a cascade of healthful neurochemicals. Appreciating gardens, events, people, and tests is a powerful pathway to happiness.
Like the gardens, Ananda’s work everywhere is exploding with new life. In India we are working on plans for a large new center in Gurgaon. This project is being done in cooperation with India’s largest real estate developer and could become a model for future centers throughout the country. Also in our community near Pune the first 28 flats are nearing completion and the first pioneering families are starting to arrive.
Ananda’s work is also booming in Europe and America. Near our community in Portland, Oregon, we have acquired a former 7th Day Adventist Academy which has housing for over 500 people. Set amidst verdant farmland, Ananda Center at Laurelwood will become a center of learning for Education for Life, permaculture, ecology, and community living. Starting next year it will also become a branch of our Ananda College. A famous physicist and author, Amit Goswami, who recently visited the Ananda College said, “Harvard and Stanford are good schools, but students of awakened intuition will want to come to the Ananda College.”
Ananda Village is also growing. We’ve recently installed hundreds of solar panels and are expanding our agricultural efforts in new and innovative ways. The baby goats have just arrived and are bouncing around as if they had pogo sticks for legs. A new Master Plan for future expansion will soon be submitted which will allow us to build many more houses for new members who want to live here.
But all this expansion of facilities wouldn’t be very meaningful without the continued growth of the spirit. What we have or do is not nearly as important as what we become. The most gratifying growth can be seen in Ananda members worldwide in their deepening of dedication, devotion, service, and love for God.
Swami Kriyananda is at Ananda Village now and will be in this country until mid-September and then return to India. (You can see his schedule here.)
This is a great time to visit. Come and refill your cup of joy and appreciation. Who knows, it could change your life.
In divine friendship,
Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi