We were sitting in the radiant, late-August sunlight at the Ananda Retreat, overlooking the gently rolling Umbrian hills outside of Assisi, Italy, chatting with a friend of ours from Rome. She told us with joy in her warm, brown eyes and a sweet smile on her lips, “I recently came to the Retreat feeling quite depressed about many aspects of my life. But after being here for only three days, my thoughts now are filled with such peace, and my problems all seem so trivial.”
Ananda Assisi is a place of deep spiritual vibrations that heal the heart and mind as they uplift the soul. People come here from all over Europe to learn and practice Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings, but mainly to bring joy back into their lives.
Jyotish and I have been here for two weeks now, offering classes and satsangs for the guests and community members, and deeply enjoying the peace and blessedness that permeates this place. Last Saturday night we helped lead a Kriya Initiation for two hundred people coming from ten different countries. As you can imagine, a variety of languages were represented in the softly lit temple, made especially beautiful that night for the initiation. Throughout the ceremony you could hear the whisperings of several translators helping everyone to receive Kriya in their mother tongue.
This gathering of disciples, all dressed in white and filled with a shared devotion for God and Guru, was like a vision of the future: a time when this planet will be united in peace and world brotherhood. Our guru spoke of such a time to come. As harbingers of a united world, our Kriya Masters are bringing their blessings for global upliftment.
The next day, following the Sunday Satsang and lunch, we signed copies of our new book of blogs, Un Tocco di Gioia (A Touch of Joy), that has come out recently in Italian. Learning people’s names and signing their books gave us an opportunity personally to meet many of the devotees who had received Kriya the night before, as well as some of the other guests who were also present that day.
I kept a mental tally of all the different countries from which the people we met had come: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Siberia, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Holland, and, of course, from all over Italy. We signed books for nearly two hours, though the time flew quickly by as we met our spiritual brothers and sisters, and they shared about their lives.
We came to understand how many had come from difficult circumstances, either nationally or personally, with health, family, or financial challenges. Yet Yoganandaji had found all of them and had changed their lives. Eyes filled with light and strength, person after person spoke of the joy of coming to Ananda and practicing Master’s teachings.
My heart began to expand and soar as I felt the limitless scope of Yoganandaji’s presence throughout the world, and the blessings that he brings to “all those waiting, thirsty ones.”
He describes it best in his poem, “God’s Boatman”:
I want to ply my boat, many times,
Across the gulf after death,
And return to earth’s shores
From my home in space.
I want to load my boat
With all those waiting, thirsty ones
Who have been left behind,
That I may carry them to the opalescent pool
Of iridescent joy,
There where my Father distributes
His all-desire-quenching, liquid peace.
Oh! I will come back again and again!
Crossing a million crags of suffering,
With bleeding feet, I will come,
If need be, a trillion times,
As long as I know that
One stray brother is left behind.
So, my dear friend, have no fear, for “God’s Boatman” is ever seeking to find those who, from their heart, call out for God.
In His love,