Recently I received an email laced with unfair criticism, and my first reaction was to get defensive. I could feel my mind speeding up, getting ready to argue. Then I had a flash of insight and remembrance: You can’t fight darkness with more darkness. I decided instead to neutralize negativity with gratitude. I thought about this person and recalled several things about him for which I was grateful. Within minutes my happiness level began to climb. I realized then that gratitude brings happiness.
We’re in the midst of a glorious weeklong celebration of Ananda’s fiftieth anniversary. To make this rejoicing even more wonderful, nine hundred friends from all over the world have joined us. It’s hard to describe the feeling of upliftment and joy: Many people have told us, “It feels like we’re in the astral world here!” Most of the activities are being live-streamed as well as recorded, so do watch them when you can.
Next week Ananda will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. We took possession of the land we now call Ananda Village on July 4, 1969. We have often remarked on the “coincidence” of July 4 also being what is generally considered to be the birthdate of the United States, the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Both were born from the desire to fight oppression: one against a tyrannical overseas power, and the other—Ananda—against an even more tyrannical ruler, delusion.
After she had blown out the few candles on her cake, Gloria said, “I’m glad they didn’t put all 90 on it. I’m not sure I could have managed that.”
We often ask this question of someone we’ve just met to get to know them. Predictably the answer people give is their occupation: “I’m a doctor,” or “a cook,” or “a machinist,” or “a mother of young children.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta told this very touching story. The sisters from her order were visiting the very poor during a time of famine in Calcutta. To each home they brought some desperately needed food: a bag of rice, some lentils, and a few other bare necessities. As one sister gave the food to a mother of several starving children, to the sister's surprise the famished mother divided it in half, saying, “My neighbor’s children are also starving, and I must share this with them.”
Her name was Ofelia. She was born in Mexico and grew up in an orphanage there. In her early twenties she made her way to California, where she married and raised twelve children. She and her family lived in the Hispanic district of Sacramento, and though her home was small, the doors of her house and her heart were always wide open to anyone in need.
What are some of the qualities of youth? A sparkle in the eye? A buoyant step? An enthusiasm for life? Laughter that springs easily from the heart?