Ananda Marga Ananda Kanan Summer Retreat was held from July 3 – 9, 2016. The retreat was overall very successful with the participation of about sixty Margiis and eighteen Whole Timers. It was the first Ananda Kanan retreat under the guidance of our New York Sectorial Secretary, Acarya Abhiramananda Avadhuta.
This week had plenty of rainfall, especially in the first two days that gave the benefit of cooler temperatures.
The whole day programs combined plenty of kiirtana (spiritual chants using the mantra BABA NAM KEVALAM), collective meditation, classes, workshops and delicious meals. The schedule was tight but gave ample scope for spiritual practice, learning new things, socializing, planning for future development and enjoying vegetarian meals. The participants took turns to prepare the meals with the guidance of Jyoti Friedland.
Daily akhanda kiirtana was organized both during the RDS meetings (June 28 – July 2) and throughout the retreat. In this way a total of thirteen three hours akhanda kiirtana took place from June 29 to July 8. This helped to build up a strong spiritual flow that enhanced all the other programs during the day.
Some Margiis came earlier and helped to clean and prepare the venue and also participated in the spiritual programs.
On 4th of July it was raining heavily in the morning and even on the way to Willow Springs but fortunately there was no rain during the 4th of July parade and all villagers and nearby farmers were lined up on the side of the street as usual participating in the national celebrations.
The Seminar programs are very important part of Ananda Marga organizational life. Central seminar classes take place in India in beginning of January and after May DMS every year. Those that attend the Central Seminar Classes become sectorial trainers and will give classes on the same topics in their Sector. Similarly those who take classes in the Sectorial Seminar will give classes for people in their Region. The system will then repeat all the way to village level. During seminar, the work of that region or sector is reviewed and duties given to every participants. The seminar has therefore multiple functions to educate, train the participants to share their knowledge and review and plan for upcoming organizational work.
During this retreat, July 5 and 6 were the main seminar days. We were fortunate to have two Central Representatives give the classes. On July 5, Acarya Savitananda Avadhuta gave a class on “The Intuitional Science of Tantra”. Acarya Shambhushivananda Avadhuta was the Central Seminar Trainer. He gave two classes on July 6 on the topics, “Psychic Assimilation in Psycho-spiritual Practice” and “Prana Dharma”. After the classes there was organizational review and Margiis reported of progress in Dharma Pracar in their region/diocese.
The classes were highly beneficial and combined a deep analysis of the subject and devotional stories of the personal experiences of the trainers with Baba.
Every evening there was scope for sharing in a relaxed and devotional setting.
Katha kiirtana is a devotional program where the participants tell Baba stories and their personal spiritual experiences. We were fortunate to have many senior Margiis, Dadas and Didis share during the katha kiirtana and after Dharma Cakra in the morning and evening.
On the first evening we had Margiis and WTs sharing their work in education and other projects.
The RAWA (Renaissance Artist and Writers Association) program had some outstanding performances. Among others, Dada Muktatmananda read out some of his recent poems, Ac. Pashupati enacted a drama with Arun from Denver. Sister Chandita from Dallas performed kathak classical Indian dance.
Two workshops took place during the retreat lead by Avdtk. Ananda Tapomaya Acarya. The first one was a creative workshop stimulating the artistic qualities of the participants. The second one was a debate on Ananda Marga philosophy. The participants would divide themselves into teams and have a debate on spiritual and social topics. It was highly beneficial and entertaining.
On the evening of July 8 we had closing ceremony. Margiis shared their experiences during the conference and there was price distribution to in-charges for their excellent service. The retreat concluded with Baba video and Avarta Kiirtana in the night.
This retreat gave a great inspiration to everyone present and we left with a feeling of optimism for future service work benefiting the society, and blissful feeling of Ajana Pathik (The Unknown Traveller) ever present with us.