The Ananda Marga Winter Retreat, New Year 2020 took place at Cleburne State Park in Dallas from December 27 to January 1, 2019. This was a New York Sectorial Retreat organized by a team of Acaryas and Dallas Margiis.
The retreat started with a three hour Akhanda Kiirtana on December 27. The Margiis decorated the meditation hall and Puja Table beautifully with an abundance of flowers and lighting. As the retreat moved on, the every-afternoon Akhanda Kiirtana was growing in intensity and sweetness. The culmination of the retreat was the nine-hours Akhanda Kiirtana ending at midnight of the New Year, followed by collective meditation and a Baba video. After a short rest, the programs continued on the morning of January 1 with Paincajainya, Dharma Cakra, reading of Ananda Vanii, and another Baba video. During the closing ceremony, Margiis and Acaryas shared their joy of participating in the retreat and how it had touched their lives.
The weather in Dallas was good, mostly sunny in the day, and a light freeze in the night except for one day of rain and warmer weather. The Margiis enjoyed the calm natural environment and, on the third day, went together for a walk around the lake. On Saturday, December 28, Acarya Diiptimanananda Avadhuta gave an introduction to Ideological Training – the syllabus, benefits, and how to implement in all major units of the Sector. He then went into details of the benefits of Prabhata Samgiita to our spiritual life, the best ways to practice the songs, and taught four songs to the Margiis. In the evening, Didi Ananda Acira gave a beautiful workshop and introduction to Yama and Niyama. She first presented Yama and Niyama and how it relates to our lives, and then we split into groups and made dramas based on the principles. It was a lot of fun and a refreshing way of remembering the foundations of our spiritual lives.
On Saturday, December 29, after morning walk around the lake, the Margiis and Acaryas came together for a PROUT workshop lead by Acarya Dhruva. He explained how Baba introduced PROUT in 1959 and how PROUT continued to develop through various discourses and social work. The second part of the workshop focused on Baba’s article about some important aspects of an Ideal Constitution.
Baba emphasizes that an Ideal Constitution should guarantee minimum requirements to all human beings and provide security to all plants, animals, and other species on this earth.
An Ideal Constitution would influence the way governments function, and eventually, all life on this earth. The workshop then concluded with a brainstorming of all participants how PROUT could serve the society and how to implement and popularize PROUT.
On Monday morning, December 30, Acarya Satyamitrananda Avadhuta gave a workshop about Tantra, its history, and its importance. In the evening, we had Katha Kiirtana, and the Margiis and Acaryas shared their experiences in their spiritual life and with Baba.
On December 31, Acarya Diiptimanananda Avadhuta and Acarya Dhruva lead “Review of the Year and Envisioning the New Year.” Dada Diiptimanananda first presented the various good news of the Sector of the last six months, and the Margiis and Acaryas also shared from the programs that they had organized. Acarya Dhruva then introduced the importance of setting goals, envisioning how to achieve them, and how Baba had given goals and taken reporting from the Acaryas and Margiis. The session then concluded with a presentation by sister Vandana and the Dallas Margiis for a new project to establish a Master Unit and affordable housing project in the vicinity of Dallas. The Margiis are already searching for suitable land and building and planning for the project. Vandana’s presentation was enthusiastic and inspired the Margiis.
The Kiirtana every-afternoon culminated in nine hours Akhanda Kiirtana on December 31. More Margiis from Dallas joined on the last day of the year, and the Kiirtana was very devotional and energetic. The Kiirtana ended at midnight, and the Margiis entered the New Year with Samgacchadvam and collective meditation. Everyone then enjoyed a nice Baba video and prasad.
On January 1, 2020, we had Dharma Cakra in the morning and then another Baba video. Everyone did Guru Puja together and received Baba’s Blessing on the New Year Day morning. Ananda Marga is truly a multicultural and multilingual organization, and when reading Ananda Vanii, the Margiis and Acaryas represented about twenty native languages from India, Europe, Asia, and Russia. The retreat ended with collective noon meditation by the lake and lunch. Everyone left with a light heart with hope for the New Year and all its challenges, joys, and spiritual development.
The organizing committee of the retreat was Swami, Onkarnath, Vandana, Sainjay, Ac. Abhiramananda Avt (SS NY), Ac. Advayananda Avt., Ac. Diiptimanananda Avt., Ac. Anudhyanananda Avt., Avtk. Ananda Hitaprabha Ac., and Avadhutika Ananda Acira Acarya. Ac. Sarvajiitananda Avt., Ac. Satyamitrananda Avt., and Ac. Muktatmananda Avt. also participated and enriched the retreat with their contributions.