Windy, cold, and rainy. Not my usual experience of India! Winter in Delhi is only a few weeks long, but I’ve landed in the middle of it. Fortunately, at the last minute I was persuaded to throw in a few warm clothes so all is well. By the time I leave this area and go south a week from now, the weather will already be shifting.
The trip started in Mumbai with a VIP showing of Finding Happiness. About 90 people in a perfect small theater -- best sound and visual that I’ve seen anywhere. Once again, enthusiastic response that has led to more endorsements, contacts, and some very promising possibilities for the premiere now set for April.
Many of you know that Elisabeth Rohm, the lead actress -- in fact the only actress in Finding Happiness -- has a role in what is turning out to be a major award-winning movie, American Hustle.
Amusing to contemplate the difference in the names of these two movies! Finding Happiness vs. American Hustle. Both, of course, reflect the fundamental human condition: All sentient beings seek to escape suffering and increase happiness.
The solution proposed by the Ananda movie, however, is quite different than the other!
For Elisabeth, the success of American Hustle is an enormous boost to her career, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving person.
And, incidentally, her increased name-recognition will also be a nice boost to Finding Happiness.
Amazing how Master orchestrates everything in ways that we least expect.
A day after the film screening, I did a morning seminar in Mumbai. Quite well attended and a strong feeling of connection between me and the group. Helped me remember why I like to come to India.
After all the effort to extricate myself from Palo Alto life, followed by hours of travel, shifting to a hotel, getting used to the whole new setting, it all seems like an end in itself and I forget why I am here.
Then a few hours with sincere devotees eager to learn about Master’s teachings, and I it all comes back.
After Mumbai, I came to the Delhi area. We have two centers here, geographically and energetically think Palo Alto-San Francisco -- close to each other, but separate spheres.
The Delhi center, run by Keshava and Daya, is still located in the delightful garden house where I stayed last year. As a house, still my favorite in India. But it is too small for their purposes, plus the lease is up.
Fortunately, Master and Swamiji had it all worked out, and renovations are now happening on a much larger ashram and teaching center that has been offered for Ananda’s use. Very centrally located in an excellent area. The present house has four fairly small rooms; the new center has at least a dozen, large, spacious rooms, plus terraces and garden.
Once established there, Ananda Delhi will be able to serve in much bigger, more complete way.
Now I have moved to the Gurgaon area, where we also recently moved into a very large ashram house. Dhyana, Amit, and Devendra live here full time. In addition to me and Bryan (who is traveling with me to do the video), there are four guests from Pune doing business in Delhi, but the house is so large, and well-designed (as a multi-generation family home) that we all move easily without any sense of crowding.
It is in the same area where Ananda started in 2003, so it feels familiar. From the first time I came to this neighborhood, it felt like a place I had lived very happily before. So it is a treat to be back here. Gurgaon also has a large center separate from the house. So things are happening here!
I gave a series of classes at the Delhi center, which were quite enjoyable. My series in Gurgaon starts tonight, plus I am going here and there to two of the smaller centers we have in the area.
Bryan is filming and posting fairly quickly, so you can follow what is happening on line.
Master spoke of bringing unity between East and West. Mostly I have been aware of the East coming to the West. Like all American devotees, expanding my consciousness to embrace that vibration and make it my own.
Now I have been meditating on the West coming to the East. Master spoke of the spiritual efficiency of the East uniting with the material efficiency of the West.
How does that express in the path of Self-realization as we follow it? And what of that message can I share with the devotees here? That is what intrigues me now.
A characteristic feature of Indian audiences is their love for abstract, philosophical questions. Spirituality has been a subject to discuss and speculate about for centuries.
For most of us at Ananda, and certainly for me personally, spirituality is about seeking happiness. Abstractions interest me very little. I want to do something that will change my life for the better.
I see that this inclination of mine is more than just my way of approaching the path. It is at least one thread of Master’s mission.
I’ve hardly begun to spin this thread, much less weave it into a whole cloth, but it is providing an interesting theme for my meditations and sharing here in India.
I realize, with no small tug at my heart, that my letters all these years from so many different parts of the world were always centered around news of Swamiji. Everything, now is “news of Swamiji” as I feel his presence strongly here in India.
Still, I am accustomed to adding to that inner reality, outward experiences.
The only certainty in life is change. And happiness is found in flowing gracefully and gratefully with whatever comes. All is a gift from God and Guru.
Blessings and love,