There’s a delightful story about a sculptor who was renowned for his ability to create marble statues filled with life. After carving an amazingly lifelike image of an elephant, he was asked, “How were you able to make the elephant look so real?”
Recently we watched an episode of the remarkable nature documentary, “Planet Earth.” There was one breathtakingly beautiful scene of thousands of pink flamingos flying together in unison, their image perfectly reflected in the still waters of a pristine lake. The photography in the whole series is beautiful and mind-boggling, instilling a profound sense in us of the harmony and oneness in the natural world. Even the scenes of predators stalking their prey captured not cruelty, but the balance in nature in which every creature plays it part.
There were several hundred of us in the opening circle, holding hands and chanting. We had gathered, not only those who live at Ananda Village, but people from all over, to help prepare the Temple of Light for the hundreds who would soon be visiting. This was just the latest of innumerable voluntary workdays that I have attended over the years. Group workdays are one of the main reasons that Ananda Village has risen from the mud and dust of its early years to the place of beauty and inspiration that it is today.
Please bear with us for a while if we continue to gush about the new Temple of Light at Ananda Village. That the temple stands today, filled with divine light and joy, is a testimony to the omnipresence of God’s grace. Each step along the way has been filled with miracles: from the conception, to planning, interior design, fund-raising, construction, and final completion. They all testify to the power of such grace.
Once in a rare while we are lifted high on the wings of grace. Last week was an extraordinary week filled with laughter, tears, joy, inspiration, friendship, and hope. We celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Ananda and dedicated our new Temple of Light. For the thousand people attending it felt like we were raised out of the mundane world and into an astral heaven for a few days at least. Many people told me that their lives will never, can never, be the same after feeling God so close and tangible.
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.”