We have just finished one of the most remarkable weeks in the long history of Ananda. Last week we held a worldwide online Spiritual Renewal Week. This event is a tradition at Ananda, going back more that fifty years to the roots of our work. In the early days, Swami Kriyananda led everything: the sadhanas, the classes, the evening entertainment. This last week, however, we had more than forty teachers sharing from centers and communities around the world. And we reached by far the largest audience ever: over two thousand people. Many more will watch the recorded events in the months and years ahead. It was a great success, but a surprising one.
Last year at this time we had a large gathering at Ananda Village in Northern California. It was our fiftieth anniversary and we were also dedicating the new Temple of Light. Nearly a thousand people from around the world gathered here, and we were expecting to continue what appeared to be the beginning of a new tradition and do much the same this year. Then the coronavirus hit.
If someone had told us last year that we would be unable to gather together this year, we would have seen it as a disaster. If he had told us that, as a result, we would have a much larger gathering, we would have suggested he see a good therapist about his delusions. So much for logic.
We should have paused to remember Paramhansa Yogananda’s teaching, “There are no obstacles, only opportunities.” Fortunately, this principle is deeply ingrained in the hearts and minds of Ananda people, so as soon as the virus appeared we immediately started looking for solutions. The obvious step was to increase our offerings online. Immediately, every Ananda center around the world started doing this, and today we have two or three times as many students attending our courses and events.
What is the lesson here? As soon as a problem arises, immediately start looking for solutions. Don’t waste time worrying about it or allowing negativity to paralyze your mind or your efforts.
I recently saw a very inspiring video about a man who was born without arms or legs. Yet, he never let this hold him back. He’s learned to do amazing things: swim, play golf, and most importantly, inspire people around the world. As a youngster, he decided to let nothing hold him back. Today, he is filled with joy, and a motivational speaker, inspiring large crowds, especially effective with teenagers. He says, “There is almost nothing I can’t do,” and, “If a man without arms and legs is dreaming big, why can’t we, why can’t we all?” His is an incredible story of using even a severe “obstacle” as an opportunity.
You and I will not face this particular challenge, but, rest assured, we will face whatever karmic tests we need in order to grow spiritually. The first step in the process is acceptance, not to waste time finding excuses or trying to run away. Accept your obstacle as an opportunity, and you will rise to new heights.
For Ananda, last week was a proof of concept for this attitude. It will make Ananda stronger, deeper, and more serviceful than ever.
In acceptance and gratitude,
P.S. You can enjoy the newly released kirtan from Spiritual Renewal Week here.