Namaskar to you all,
A short update with few photos... [it became a bit longer...] In the beginning I did not have a camera so no photo's till March. Now sponsored by my friend Bill I got a very nice compact camera, a Nikon S10. The lens swivels so even though it's a good size lens, with 10x zoom, when it folds up it still fits easily in my pocket. The previous camera was getting too big... I guess you didn't know cameras grow... I just found that more and more I did not bring it as it was a bit bulky, so now things should get better again :-)
Ok, since the India tour the earth rotated a few thousand times, it seems so... and lots of things happened. Happy things but some sad things as well. In February one of our very senior margiis in Monterrey, Gagan, who was the pillar here in Mexico passed away. And not by natural cause, he was killed in his own house, the one guilty has not been found yet. I don't like to start news letters with sad news but I do want to give him all my respect, as he was such a dedicated member, brother and friend. Is was a great loss for everyone here.
Well, after the India tour, early Feb I had a few day stop in The Netherlands and was happy to catch up with my laokik family, and had the honor to conduct the baby naming ceremony of my brothers and sister in laws baby daughter. The program was very blissful and sweet. During the ceremony the parents and everyone present (representing the society) take oaths to take care of the child on the physical, mental and spiritual planes. Yes, children in Ananda Marga are so much part also of the bigger family that this is part of the ceremony. Similar in the marriage ceremony, the couple promises to each other to take care on all the three levels and again the people present take an oath to take care and support the couple. Both ceremonies are simple but very touching for members and non members alike.
--- sorry no photos --- no camera ---
Back in the USA I spend some days to recover from all the travels and get sick as well... no rest as I was fighting with IBM to fix my computer for 10 days. It has been an ongoing (and still) fight for close to three years. 15 or more technicians worked on it and mostly they couldn't fix it or made it worse, when finally after this 10 days the problem was really solved I found it was replaced by an other... its still working but over heating so I have to put it on blocks with a fan pointed at it. It's amazing how almost every single promise to come, to call, to follow up, to resolve has been broken and I had to call again and again and again... Now they promised to replace the computer, lets see how much endurance I have to make them follow through on that promise. I was supposed to be contacted in 3 days and that deadline, passed four days ago. [this went on few more weeks with many promises and than they declined... I have not yet given up]
From New York to Asheville to slowly make my way down to Mexico. There I got the news about Gagans death so no more slowly but straight down, three days drive, 4000Km!
|Bhaera||Internet café at the RDS|
|Meeting on the veranda||The moment of releasing the white doves, photo one second late|
After all the ceremonies it was time to drive back up for our quarterly meetings, they were in Asheville so back up the same 4000Km, fortunately this time I was joined by others so driving was shared. The meetings were nice, that is being with all my brother and sister Acaryas was very nice. We also had some long chanting sessions with all the local members joining as well as a marriage ceremony. There were even white doves!
|Our retreat centre in Asheville where the meetings were held||An Earth building from recycled tires: It's called an Earth Ship|
Often I get the question how we support ourselves and the projects, well as you know donations is one but when that is not enough we'll have to be creative... So now an other adventure started. We heard that it's good business to import cars to Mexico, in fact most of the centre in Cuernavaca was paid that way ten years earlier.
|My fleet, a Ford Escort and a Ford Explorer.|
In the end we got three cars (and we were three drivers, myself, Dada Arddhvendu and LFT Keshava...) and drove as a caravan, stopping in Austin for Dharma Cakra with the margiis there, and at Didi's Master Unit in San Antonio, to the border. We still had a contact from all those years back so in few hours all the paper work, that normally takes more than a day, was done and we could still reach Monterrey that evening.
Oh, just after the RDS, these meetings with all Dada's and Didi's in our Sector (North and Central America) one margii, Krsna Priya organised that we (same three that drove to Mexico) could attend Land Mark Forum. That was a very interesting experience, some of you might have heard about it. It's gets very positive to very negative reports. It's a very intensive seminar and we all got a lot out of it.
|Beautiful flowers on the Master Unit in San Antonio||Retreat in Allende|
Well back in Mexico we were getting close to the Easter retreat, this time of year it's normally in Cuernavaca area and the margiis there and Dada had found a beautiful place close to the city, 15 minutes from the Jagrtii, but up in the forest. The retreat was really well attended with many classes, workshops, walks, social service programs and meetings. I think all went home inspired.
|After the retreat some holiday visiting nearby town with a beautiful church and lots of handicrafts|
Feeling more and more my inadequacy working here without speaking the language I finally made the push and enrolled myself in an intensive Spanish course. 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I did 8 weeks. Initially they asked me only half price for the first 4 weeks but as I really didn't speak much after that the director insisted that I should stay, no charge. This game went on for four weeks, testing me, and than telling sorry, I can't let you leave yet. It was really kind! To express our appreciation we organised twice a vegetarian dinner for all the teachers, staff and students. Each time around 15 attended and really liked it.
|Some of the students and teachers at my Spanish school||The lunch party for the school at our Jagrtii|
The time in Cuernavaca was very nice as we were many in the centre, We did meditation and chanting together and often margiis (members) would visit and join. Every weekend we had one DC (group meditation) in Cuernavaca and one in Mexico City. Lots of activities.
One time we organised a excursion with the school and visited some very nice caves. Other long weekend we went to Morelia to do more work on the dome. Many margiis from Mexico City and Cuernavaca came all the way to help.
|Camping at the dome building site||One side dome is finished. The rest is getting close.|
What happened to the cars? Well few hours before I was going back from Cuernavaca to Monterrey (to go to the US for our summer retreat) someone who walked by saw the car for sale, and just before leaving they got the money and bought the car. I lost $200 but this was the car I had used for a year and a half so no complains. The other had received some interest but nothing solid. Actually it took 8 weeks to get the license plates so really we had only two weeks to try and sell. The other car finally sold a few days ago, I think I made a whopping $200 profit that I share with the Dada who actually sold it in my absence. Not sure it this is really a good business... But we learned a little and it had also covered our travel expenses. So maybe we will try again :-)
On the way back to Monterrey, this must have been early June, we stopped in Mexico City for a surprise birthday party. Asiimá our Bukhti Pradan for that area thought everyone had forgotten as we had not called... Actually I spoke with her that day but had not mentioned anything... She was so happy when she realised we had not forgotten at all!
One week I was in Monterrey, we had lots of meetings trying to solve some difficult matters. Not too inspiring but I think a better understanding was created so we won't get in such situation again. After it was time for the summer programs in Ananda Kanan, Missouri, USA. Visiting Austin on the way and traveling through Arkinson we reached after three days.
|Flag raising ceremony||A visitor and new friend during the camp and retreat.
We kept respectful distance from this cute baby Skunk.
There we had a camp, a yearly event to really learn and refresh ones discipline... And I was the discipline in charge! To tell others to follow, naturally one has to first follow one self! So it was quite a challenge also as I had to point out the lapses of those who would normally be my supervisors. I survived :-)
|Karma Yoga as part of the camp||The camps group photo after the closing ceremony . I am there :-)|
The camp was followed by the Summer retreat, I think close to 300 attended. Like last year I was in co-incharge for the teen age program. Not easy as they really have their own mind and often attend more to meet their peers than for the spiritual programs... Still the canoeing is always popular and so is preparing some thing for the cultural programs in the evenings.
|Ice cold spring water gushing from under the cliff in the back joining the river on the right.|
The older youth had organised their own retreat just before the main one and were full of inspiration and ready to take Ananda Marga in the next era. This was very inspiring for us, older guys, as well! Baba talks about the happy blending of the idealism and close to infinite energy of the youth and the wisdom and pragmatism of the elders. I hope we live up to that, but surely the youth lives up to their part! The had organised a very funny drama about Ananda Marga 30 years ago. The young margiis were acting out their parents. Hard to explain but really funny and touching.
|Flag ceremony during the camp||Mural as part of the teenage program.|
After the retreat it was time for an other RDS, meetings and more meeting. We are in a phase that we are really struggling with leadership and how to run the organisation so these meetings are not so easy. But somehow despite all the opposing views and understandings unity was maintained. I think we learn each time a bit more and ultimately I am confident we'll work it out. Every spiritual organisation goes through a rough part after the Guru leaves physically.
As I had sold my car I had to find new wheels. I had been looking in the newspapers and on-line but nothing in the area of the retreat centre. So after I decide to jump on board of this years KX-press tour and get a ride to Asheville. In this way I could attend the first concerts, look for a car, visit my good friends and get to use the free massage beds that really help my back. All went well except for finding a car... I stayed longer than I planned and finally got a car to bring me back to Mexico but not really the one I was looking for. After buying I found the AC was broken, AC is not really a luxury here. It was a very exhausting trip back to Monterrey, driving alone and being stewed. Fortunately I had some audio books so I could listed and make the time pass a lot quicker.
On the way in Austin I gave a workshop in Yama and Niyama the Yogic moral principles and really the base of a happy and blissful life. We could only touch it a bit, we had a bit more than an hour and each of the 10 points could easily take an hour by itself.
|Cloth distribution by Devakii, one of the young margiis in MTY||Fresh Mango juice to distribute.|
I got back to Monterrey 10 days ago. The margiis had organised a social service event in a poor area of town. We all made food packages. I went and helped with the distribution of fresh juice, snack packs for the children and the food packs. Two doctors had given their time for free consultations and medicine. We also distributed clothes and toys. It was an inspiring program for all.
|Phaniindra on the right our announcer of all the activities.
On his left Arjuna who gave free consultations.
Till now I have been catching up will the piles of e-mails that I had not have time to answer, to make more preparations for the next India Tour and finally writing this news letter. Next newsletter hopefully by November before the India Tour... No promise but I'll keep taking photo's.
Right now I am back in Cuernavaca continuing my Spanish studies. Rest of the year already very full...
Till next time :-)
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