Updates on Corona Virus from Dr Peter Van Houten

Monday Sept. 21, 2020

Sars2 Coronovirus Pandemic Informational Update with Dr. Peter, Jyotish and Devi, from Ananda Village, in Nevada County, CA

Update #49

Our schedule will now continue on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month, we’ll see if this is enough to keep us updated, 8am on Mondays. If something urgent comes up, we can have an extra broadcast.

Outline of Intended Topics for 9/21/2020 

 Local, Regional, and International Statistics

 Update on the weekly meeting w/Public Health Director – relevant to local and nationwide issues.

 Data showing inflammation and possible testicular damage in men

 The importance of Vitamin D levels

 Comparing Covid with 1918 flu pandemic and the annual flu

 Increase in Behavior health issues in US – Depression

 Early appearance of a second wave in Spain*?

 What Cycle Threshold means, and meaning of positive tests

 Myocarditis in young college athletes

 Restaurant dining is a high risk factor.*

 For future broadcasts, Peter wants to cover: Vaccines, status of the economy, some problems occurring within China

Statistics as of Friday September 17th

Nevada County – Population based per 100K Nev. County – Population about 100K. NC is at 506 total cases, up from 482 last week ago. Rate of increase has been slowing.

Western Co. 310, up 20 from a week ago;

Eastern Co increased by 4. Case Positive Rate (CPR) is stable at 2.7 % Good news that it’s stable. If CPR rises it usually means more cases are on the way. NC has had a total of 6 deaths so far. We still have 41 total cases from Ananda Village’s zip code (95959).

Counties surrounding Nevada County

Sierra County – 3100 population. Still 6 cases total. Case positive rate is stable at 1%. No new cases in 3 wks.

Yuba County – 80,000 population – Over 1100 cases now, up from 1057. Slowing of new cases week to week. 7 deaths total.

*Placer Co. 400,000 population, includes the town of Auburn – at 3466, up from 3300 last week. 39 total deaths. Case positive rate is at 3.2% down from 4.5%. Auburn specifically – 269 cases, up only 3 cases from last week.

Looking at Population based cases – in last 2 weeks, Nev. Co. 506 per 100K, Sierra Co. 593 per 100K, Yuba Co. <1400 per 100K , Placer Co. 866 per 100K.

*California – Population 40 million – 780K total cases up from 762K cases. Total Deaths are at 14,500. Case positivity rate in CA is down to 5.8%, from 6.0%.

Central Valley is still having the greatest number of new cases. Case fatality rate stays stable at 1.9 % . Almost 2000 cases per 100K population.

*USA as whole – 330,000,000 pop. Cases at 7 million, up from 6.7million. The daily case gain has been about 32K – 42K per day. deaths 204K. Average about 500 deaths per day. Case positivity rate is 2100 per 100K population.

Mexico – Population of 129 million (less than 1/2 US) 700K cases from 670K last week, 74K deaths, Case Positivity Rate is at 46%, up from 44% last week. Case Fatality Rate – stable and high at 10.5%

India 5.4 million from 4.8 million total cases one week ago. Having 90K to 95K new cases per day. Recorded deaths is 88K but it’s hard to know. CPR is stable at 8.5%, recording about 1000 deaths per day.

More South American countries besides Brazil are having significant #’s.

Public Health Director and Community Health and Primary Care Physicians Update:

Locally, as of Friday there were 3 people in hospital. Contract tracing is showing the largest source of new cases – getting exposed in small group gatherings that include individuals from multiple households.

More new cases in care facilities – staff feel well, but are bringing virus from home. More frequent rapid testing is being done on staff. (mentioned at end – Our care homes in Vrindavan have now had some cases)

Upcoming Flu season – It starts November/December and peaks in January or February. The measures we are taking to prevent Covid 19 will probably help prevent influenza as well. Symptoms of “Flu” can look similar to Covid. People being vaccinated against Flu will help with diagnostics as well as health.

Military and Health Care Workers will probably be the first to receive any Covid 19 Vaccines, because of their risk factors, and to keep the military well.

Potential of Increase in Cases, in Next Couple of Weeks – from exposures during the Labor Day Holiday. Hospitalizations would follow 2 weeks after, deaths would be 2 weeks after this, so first week of November may show what happened.

Bad air quality might have mitigating affect because people have stayed indoors.

Placer County made a political decision to ignore state’s mandates about wearing PPE’s and is not enforcing precautions. Caused Placer Co. Public Health Director to quit. 10 counties have lost their PHD’s through quitting or other reasons since Covid 19 started. Good news is that no other counties followed suit.

Masks – good evidence that wearing them lowers the amount of viral load that is spread around, thus transmission rates. Lower viral load keeps others safe from those who are sick, and lower viral load will more likely create asymptomatic cases by those who get infected.

Companies Working on Vaccines – are reassuring “us” that they are not trying to rush testing. They are ramping up manufacturing capability to ensure they will be able to produce what is needed. Likely FDA will do an emergency approval, which gives it special status to release when appropriate.

If we don’t try to control the spread of Covid cases, and the virus spreads further, the risk of mutations in the virus showing up is more likely. This could undermine the vaccine process as the virus will change from the form the vaccine is being made for.

Getting closer to having the rapid testing capability at SFMC, our clinic near Ananda Village They will have the Abbott ID which gives results in about 20 minutes, from a nasal swab, and has a high rate of accuracy. Just weeks away.

Tiers of “Opening Up” – Nevada County is currently in Tier 2, in the 4 Tier system. Tier 1 is the most serious with greatest number of limitations for areas with high infection rate, whereas Tier 4 is more cautionary with more fewer limitations considered necessary to keep everyone save from infection.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Nevada County will be looked at for moving down to Tier 3, which includes more indoor flexibility.

Southwest Airlines – has policy of no more than 2 people in a row, separated by a seat. Other airlines are filling their planes.

Scientific Studies – what we know about Covid 19 and Sars2 Corona virus.

Study of how virus is affecting inflammation in testicles in men, or Orchitis. As an example, Mumps creates painful inflammation in men. Covid 19 is attacking the cells that create sperm, so we may find in the future that it will have an affect on fertility.

Also on the cells that create Testosterone, causing a decrease in the hormone. It poses the questions: Will this affect fertility, or sudden onset of low hormone levels, which is miserable and may require hormone supplementation. When testosterone is lost at a young age there is risk developing Osteoporosis, later in life. This is another aspect of Covid 19 that we will want to track.

Role of Vitamin D levels – Low levels, lower than 30 or even 20 = higher incidence of death and more severe cases of the virus. Those with chronic kidney disease are likely to have lower Vitamin D levels, as are dark skinned Hispanic, and Black people.

A study in Israel showed Muslim women are presenting with lower Vitamin D levels. Why? They are commonly covered more in daily dress so they get less sun exposure. With low Vitamin D levels, you are more likely to contract the illness, and more likely to do poorly with the virus. (He gives more very interesting information about how Vitamin D works with the virus when the system is “hijacked” by Sars2 Coronavirus)

Study done in Spain – hospitalized Covid patients are being given the equivalent of 30,000 units of Vitamin D for one week, then after discharge keeping them on 10,000 units, with very good outcomes. These patients were less likely to end up in ICU and less likely to die. Everyone ought to get 15 to 20 minutes of bright sun exposure each day. If you are having blood work done, ask for a Vitamin D level to be done to have the information about your own levels to see if you might want to take a supplement.

Second Wave of Covid 19 in Spain – It’s unusual because there is an increase of cases, but not in #’s of deaths. We know how to care for it better.

Comparison of seasonal Influenza and Covid 19 – Season flu peaks in Jan & Feb.

  • Usually Influenza Case Fatality Rate is 0.1%. Covid 19 CFR is 3%

  • Children tolerate Covid 19 better, and the outcomes in children is more at the level of the seasonal Flu.

  • Transmission Rates (RO = “R naught”) for Influenza = 1.3 people will catch it from someone with active case of Flu. RO = for Covid 19 has been 3 – 6, but with our mitigations (masks, etc) we are driving that RO number down.

  • Serious complications in flu – 1% of those infected. Complications for those infected with Covid is around 20% (1 out of 5).

Comparison of 1918 Pandemic and Covid 19

Looking at NY – They thought it was a bacteria. that caused the illness. They knew what a virus was, but didn’t know influenza was a virus. We too, have had to work with Covid 19 for some time to figure out how to work with it.

We looked at:

  • March thru May 2020 – the death rate was 202 per 100K in NY.

  • Similar Time Frame for 1918 Influenza in NY, the death rate was 287 per 100K

  • In both cases hospitals were overwhelmed. They were large urban areas, not enough staff, not enough information on how to work with the illness.

What would the baseline normal death rate look like. In 1918 they noted that simply more people died.

During a Flu pandemic we would multiply base (normal) death rate by 3.

During Covid-19, the numbers meant we would multiply the base death rate by 4, so it’s more serious in view of excess deaths over what would be happening anyway.

Behavioral Health Problems are Increasing – In January there were 9% of all patients were reporting behavioral health problems, in August we are seeing 30% reporting the same – things such as depression, anxiety, substance use, and more.

Study at U. of Pittsburg – looking at new treatment – Neutralizing Antibody – which blocks function of Sars2 Coronavirus. This could be a potential treatment, which, if able to be offered humans, can be administered by inhalation or typical IM injection rather than infusion. You ,ay read about this, it’s called AB8.

Peter gave a really good explanation of the Concept of Cycle Threshold and what having a positive Covid 19 test can mean in relation to how much of the virus they identify in your test. It can help you know if you are contagious or not. Worth listening to.

Myocarditis – heart inflammation risk – 26 healthy young college athletes evaluated – 60% male, average age about 19. None got seriously ill. 1/3 had mild symptoms, 2/3 had no symptoms. After infection passed, they studied their hearts. 4 out of 26 showed inflammation of heart muscle, even though it functioned normally. Another 12 of the 26 showed more mild inflammation of the heart muscle. What will be their long term health be like? Long term inflammation has effects on health. Will they begin to have cardiac issues later in life. Another good reason to protect yourself and others from Covid 19.

Lifestyle Behaviors that put people at risk for getting Covid 19

During contact tracing all activities were looked at, over the previous 2 weeks – where did they go, what did they do.

It was found that those who reported dining inside a restaurant in the previous 2 weeks were 2 times more likely to get sick. Indoor dining is a high risk activity.

Outdoor dining is much better. Eat outside if you possibly can. Better is to pick up food and take it with you. You can’t wear mask while eating.

Interesting to look at Spain where the culture enjoys lengthy meals at restaurants with friends.

Jyotish and Devi – Dhyana reported that the first few cases of Covid 19 have shown up in the care homes for the widows in Vrindavan. The feeling is that the staff are bringing it in.

2 questions from Devi

Q: what was the good news about Placer Co. not following the state protective mandate?

A: Other counties did not follow suit, the CA Medical Association made a public statement against their decision and confirmed this is a bad idea.

Q: Mental health – We are noticing that people are talking more about being depressed, having nightmares, feeling anxious.

A: Peter commented, first keep your sadhana strong. If your usual mode of service has evaporated, find different ways to serve, and keep serving. Exercise regularly, If you are feeling that it’s becoming more significant consider seeing a traditional counselor. Most people come for 3 or 4 visits and it’s enough. Counselors can help you with a plan, and help identify the things that aren’t helping you. There is medication that can help people stay functional. Peter mentioned to Swami once, that someone in the community was resisting taking medication that could help them. Swami said, in response, “it’s better to take a pill than be a pill.”

What You Can Do During the Spread of the Coronavirus — A Letter from Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi

A Letter to Ananda Sangha

Dear Friends,

We send our loving thoughts and prayers that you are finding strength and inner guidance to deal with the challenges that are facing us now with the spread of the coronavirus. In times like these, the greatest gifts from our Masters are the inner peace of meditation, their guidance about right attitudes, and their grace to protect us.

Yoganandaji said: “The world will always have turmoil and trouble. What are you worried about? Go where the Masters have gone, to the shelter of God, whence they are watching and helping the world. You shall have safety forever, not only for yourself, but for all those loved ones who have been entrusted to your care by our Lord and Father.”

We also want to let you know about all the things Ananda Worldwide is doing both to serve and protect our members.

What Ananda Is Doing

1. All of our temples, teaching centers, and meditation groups in the United States are now closed, as are The Expanding Light Retreat and the Ananda Meditation Retreat.

2. This is also true in Assisi, Italy, and in most of our centers in India.

3. We are offering all scheduled events such as Sunday services and classes online. We are also adding many new satsangs and offerings daily to support you and sharing a comprehensive list of events from around the world. Please check Ananda.org or the website in your local area.

4. We will be opening up a new online community, free of charge, to anyone interested in joining. Here you will be able to find daily inspirational and practical tips from our members around the world. Look for more information soon in your email or on Ananda.org.

5. On Thursday, March 26, Ananda will launch a worldwide campaign for global healing called “Be a Warrior for the Light.” Each Thursday from then on at 8:00 a.m. PDT, 4:00 p.m. in Italy, and 8:30 p.m. in India, there will be a shared 20-minute broadcast that includes an opening prayer, brief discourse, meditation, group affirmation, visualization, and closing prayer. It will be led by Ananda leaders from around the world.

6. Through our Virtual Community, we will be posting a selection of chants you can listen to during this time.

What You Can Do

1. Be informed about the nature of the spread of this virus, and take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones. We encourage you to watch a video with Dr. Peter Van Houten , in which he gives a thorough explanation of these points. He recommends such things as social distancing, “sheltering in place” if you are 65 or older, wearing gloves and masks in public if you have them, and canceling all nonessential local trips or travel. This disease is very easily spread, and the countries who have put strong sequestering in place have contained it.

2. Keep your meditation practice strong and keep to a regular schedule if possible.

3. Reach out remotely to support others in need, through phone calls, Skypes, etc. Swami Kriyananda once said, “The best thing to do in troubled times is to learn to love heroically.”

4. Join Ananda’s Healing Prayer Council and pray for others daily.

5. Pray for the world to find healing and unity.

6. Join us for our weekly worldwide prayer sessions mentioned above on Thursdays starting March 26. Here is the prayer/affirmation we will be using together. Practice it on your own as well:

  • God’s light is within me and around me. With the sword of faith in my hand, with the love of God in my heart, I am a warrior of light. I join my brothers and sisters everywhere to overcome fear with faith, hatred with love, and disease with health. Let us fill the world with God’s light.

7. Finally, deepen your connection with God and Guru. They are the source of our strength, and it is through their grace that humanity will go forward into a time of peace, harmony, well-being, and higher consciousness.

Many blessings to you in this challenging time. Our prayers are with you.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi

From Surendra and Ananda; How We Are Moving Ahead In This Time Of Change

Dear Gurubhais and Friends…

We want you to know how we, as a community and sangha, are addressing the coronavirus and its spectrum of issues and precautions. Included in this letter are the policies we are adhering to, services we are offering, and where you can access daily updates and information regarding this entire situation.

Two very helpful resources come from Ananda Village with Jyotish and Devi and Dr Peter Van Houten, M.D.:

Dr Peter video about the Corona Virus:  https://www.ananda.org/video/informative-talk-on-covid-19-with-dr-peter-van-houten/

Warriors of Light Video with Jyotish and Devi and Peter Van Houten, M.D.:https://www.ananda.org/video/facing-world-challenges-as-warriors-of-light/  

Online socializing – via cell phone, Skype, Zoom, Facetime or Google Hangouts – is what we are recommending for “getting together” in the days ahead. As you have probably heard by now, all group gatherings within the community have been cancelled until further notice, most likely for at least the next few weeks, and this includes community meals, group meditations, kirtans, and direct socializing other than with live-in family, caregivers, or other essential people in your life.

Likewise, the Ananda Portland Temple and Living Wisdom School are closed to all activity and classes. Sunday Service has been, and will continue to be, conducted via webcam and video-recording, available on the Ananda Portland website, YouTube, and in our sangha-wide enewsletter, which is sent to you via email every Monday morning. Please open this each week for other possible updates too.

By now you are surely familiar with the basics of proper hygiene to combat the spread of this virus, but beyond the basics are subtleties that are equally important to know about and implement. Once again, we want to emphasize the importance of listening to Dr. Peter’s daily updates.

With love and concern, we ask for your full cooperation in meeting the protective necessities that will keep this virus at bay. Reach out to us as you need to. Tune in to the countless postings of inspiration on Ananda.org and the websites of all Ananda colonies. Meditate. Pray. And above all, let this be a time of inward joy and gratitude for the countless blessings we share.

Affirmation for health:
“Heavenly Father, Thou art present in every atom, every cell, every corpuscle, every particle of nerve, brain, and tissue. I am well, for Thou art in all my body parts.”
—Paramhansa Yogananda

In divine friendship,

Surendra, Pavani, Vajra, Lorna, Rose, Hanuman, Mari, and Madhavi

Facing World Challenges as Warriors of Light

Watch this inspiring message by Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi, the spiritual directors of Ananda, and Dr. Peter Van Houten, MD, the medical director of Sierra Medical Family Clinic near Nevada City since 40 years, as they share the best practical and spiritual practices during the corona virus pandemic. Practice this powerful affirmation by Yogananda with Nayaswami Devi (from his book “Scientific Healing Affirmations”):

Ananda Portland and COVID-19

Dear friends,

In Autobiography of a Yogi it is said, “God is simple, everything else is complex.” The complexities of these times are certainly challenging! The reality of  COVID-19 is affecting every part of our lives and we must deal with it while also clinging to the deeper reality of God’s eternal presence.

It is our hope that we can slow the progress of this virus by following the guidelines being put forth by experts and limiting social contact and supporting efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible. Dr Peter Van Houten, along with the leadership team of Ananda Village and the leaders of all the Ananda colonies worldwide are taking steps to minimize interaction and continue serving their sanghas by utilizing online venues. Ananda Portland will do the same.

Ananda Portland Temple is closed to group events until it is clear that it is appropriate to resume a normal schedule.

All yoga classes, meditation classes, drop-in meditations and events are cancelled for the near future.

9 am Fire Ceremony and Purification will not be done until further notice.

10 am Sunday Services will be offered in abbreviated form via recording or live stream with no live audience in the temple.

Sunday, March 15 – service will be recorded and posted on our website and YouTube the Monday after as usual.
Sunday, March 22 and beyond – we hope to offer a live stream of service at 10 am so you can enjoy the inspiration from home.

Surendra and Lorna will continue to be available to answer questions and to support our spiritual family here in Portland in any way we can. Please feel free to call us at 503-626-3403. Our ministry team will be working together on a daily basis to keep you informed and we will be in daily contact with Ananda Village and the leaders of Ananda around the world. 

We encourage you to keep in touch with Ananda as your source of inspiration. Use the tremendous online resources that are found on Ananda.org and all of the colony websites, as well as the Ananda apps that are available, Radio Ananda and the books and materials you have at home.

Two things we would like to share:

A Corona Virus Update #1 article by Peter Van Houten, M.D.

A  Corona Virus Update #2 article by Peter Van Houten, M.D.   https://anandaportland.org/corona-virus-update-2-peter-van-houten-m-d/

In divine friendship and joy,
Surendra and Lorna for Ananda Portland


“I accept with calm impartiality whatever comes my way. Free in my heart, I am not conditioned by any outward circumstance.”

Read All About It

By now it’s likely that you have heard or read at least something about the new virus, COVID 19, making its way around the world. There is certainly plenty of talk out there. And, if you’re like most of us, you realize it’s very important to have trustworthy sources to guide your decision-making in matters of, well, everything!

Particularly in matters of health and healing, Ananda is blessed with two esteemed members, both ministers at Ananda Village, who have dedicated their lives to bringing the teachings of Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda into their vocations. This week we feature two articles to help us understand the science and use our teachings to be most effective during this challenging time. The first is Coronavirus Update by Peter Van Houten, M.D., founder and Medical Director of the acclaimed Sierra Family Medical Clinic. Following that is Prayers for Healing the World of a Viral Crisis by Mary Kretzmann, Director of the Ananda Sangha Worldwide Healing Prayer Ministry.

In addition to the articles, however, we’ve got plenty more to share with you. First up is a new affirmation for our wonderful Living Wisdom School. There’s a beautiful new building that is yet to be completed, and many more young souls to be given a start at life that we “oldsters” could only dream of. Help us manifest the expansion of the school, and of Education for Life in the next generation.

In two Sundays (March 15), we look forward to the annual visit from Nayaswamis Pranaba and Jyoti, along with Mai Lee and Anna Preston, who will share all that Ananda is doing globally to uplift souls and consciousness on nearly every continent. Be prepared to be inspired and energized!

Keep reading and you’ll learn about our next Learn to Meditate class series beginning tomorrow, and the choir’s visit to our sister sangha in Seattle at the end of the month to sing Swami’s Christ Lives Oratorio. There will be some non-choristers traveling there also—the more the merrier! And don’t forget our video of Sunday’s service featuring guest ministers – and former Portlanders – Dambara and Manisha.

Wishing you a blessed week.

Home Improvement

Laugh if you must: my spiritual “aha” this week came from an online house-for-sale posting in my neighborhood. No, I’m not in the real estate market; the post caught my eye because something about the house looked vaguely familiar. Then, as I read the address, it hit me: I used to live there.

But oh, what a few changes can do to the look and feel of a place! Thanks to the numerous photos included in the post, I could see that the house had received extensive renovations since I had, for a short time, called it home. Clearly it had changed ownership, perhaps multiple times. Over the years, the owners had installed new roofing, siding, and yard treatments– and that was just the exterior. The inside had also been completely updated, from floor to ceiling and throughout every room. The transformation that had taken place at this address was nothing short of miraculous.

Yet, what really changed here? The consciousness. Someone had made the decision to invest time, thought, money, and talent to improve this residence, bringing in more light, making it structurally more sound and visually more appealing, and ultimately, making it more valuable in market terms.

I thought about the process involved. This was more than just a few coats of paint and new kitchen counters; it was a complete overhaul. It most likely didn’t happen all at once, but in stages. It probably included some “oops” moments along the way, maybe even had some moments of the owner thinking, “I had something different in mind.” It probably required more time, talent and money than originally planned. And, the finished product — nice as it is — likely will require further maintenance and repairs over time in order to remain functional, comfortable, appealing, and valuable.

Perhaps we too are like this house. Maybe our “owner” (guess Who?) created the blueprint for our lives in such a way that to make true progress on our spiritual journey would require paying attention to what needed an overhaul and becoming willing to make the investment of our resources to achieve that transformation. Our journeys are incremental, and probably involve a lot more effort than we’d expected (as well as numerous stumbles along the way). Even the finished product – our life — may look different than what we’d originally planned– and it’s not really even the finished product. Still, if we have been diligent, sincere, and willing, the improvements we have made will have resulted in more soundness of character, more appealing (magnetic) energy, and more joy expressed in the world.

Unlike the house, however, our market value is infinite.




Come to Me!

“Master, come to me…”

Recently, these words from a song I first heard 30 years ago were running through my mind as I began to prepare for my morning meditation. As with many of us, it is always comforting to imagine myself in the presence of my Guru. I have a favorite image of Yogananda on my altar that I like to gaze upon frequently, and often I carry on conversations with him, whether through writing or prayer. Especially when I’m struggling with some aspect of life (and there always seems to be something to challenge me), calling upon his loving-kindness allows me to relax.

What happened this particular morning, however, was a bit different than expected. As I sang, “Master, come to me,” I clearly heard him reply, with loving authority, “Come to me!

Immediately, the image of myself as a toddler came to mind, and I reflected on this crucial stage of human development. As a baby moves from simply crawling to learning to take steps, at first she wobbles a lot, falls frequently, maybe even cries in frustration. Often her parent is cheering her on, holding arms outstretched, ready to receive her. It takes her repeated effort — fortified by concentration, determination, motivation, and encouragement — to achieve the sought-after goal—walking! Baby’s first steps: it’s a joyous occasion in families around the world. Then, soon enough, all that effort becomes second nature to the youngster, and walking becomes running, jumping, and all the other motions that define us as bipeds.

Like that toddler of long ago, I too am learning to take steps—just of a different sort. These steps are the ones toward Self-realization; yet the same qualities of concentration, determination, motivation, and encouragement are still key to my efforts. Our gurus promise that the more – and more intently — we practice, the more the steps will become second nature and the closer the goal will become. In the meantime, I look to Master’s symbolically open arms to catch me when I falter, pick me up when I fall, and embrace me when I succeed. He has never let me down.

Ananda Portland Update

Dear Friends…

It’s time for another update. And a thank you.

Most of you have been tithing a portion of your income to Ananda Portland for a number of years, and we are deeply grateful for your support. As you know, it is your donations that enable us to exist. Officially, we are a 501(c)3 religious nonprofit. Thus, whatever income we receive is applied to our operating expenses and the development of programs and services.

Last year, as part of that development, we launched a number of new programs, which have shown increasing appeal: our popular Sage Series, which brings visiting ministers from Ananda worldwide to offer workshops, satsangs, and Sunday talks; more yoga classes; more group meditation hours, more public outreach – and just more in general.

This year we will also be celebrating Yogananda’s 100th anniversary of coming to America. A full weekend of festivities, featuring Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi, is planned for July 17-19. We are ramping up for that now.

One thing we have dropped is the policy that was formerly in place of asking for money every time a special event is held. We believe that when people are inspired to give, they will. And that has been the case. Last year our tithes and added donations were up by $8,000.

The tithing packets we handed out last month included an annual pledge form. If you have not done so, please return the pledge form you received. Even if the amount of your pledge is unchanged, and especially if you need to update your method of contribution or if you are new to tithing altogether, we need these forms for our files.

The greater reason for this, however, is spiritual. Tithing is an act of faith, based on the recognition that everything belongs to God, and that what we have been blessed to receive is an expression of His generosity. While we cannot directly tithe to God as a gesture of our thanks, we can help to further His work in this world. That is what we of Ananda Portland are dedicated to doing, and we hope you feel inspired to join us in this commitment.

When we tithe part of our income, we find that, far from depriving ourselves, our abundance actually increases. There is only one way to test this experience, and that is to make an ongoing pledge of support. If giving brings more joy and abundance in return, what would you be costing yourself by waiting or holding back?

We ask only that you consider what Ananda Portland means to you. What does it feel like to share this path with so many like-minded friends, and to realize how blessed we all are to have the guidance of great, Self-realized gurus, who have no other mission than getting us to God? What is that worth? Is anything worth more?

Thank you, and God bless you, for your generosity and your divine friendship.


On behalf of co-director Lorna and the entire Portland ministry

P.S… In the interest of financial transparency, we are also prepared to share with you a breakdown of our 2019 profit and loss accounting. On the whole the numbers were positive, but we did have four loans to the school that had to be repaid, which tipped the balance in the other direction. Let me know if you wish to see the report, and we can arrange a meeting.

A Glimpse of India

During my recent visit to California, a delightful opportunity presented itself—a family “field trip” to see a Hindu temple located just half an hour from home. Did I want to go see it? Of course! Not having been to India (thus far), or to any Hindu venues, I was more than curious.

What little I know of Indian culture and the Hindu faith has come primarily through Ananda. Our Ananda temples evoke the spirit of India in their architecture; we employ ancient Sanskrit symbols, words and chants in our services and personal meditation practices; we study and follow the teachings of Indian yogis; and in many cases our homes include devotional altars, Indian furnishings and art. Ananda’s Raja Yoga course, descriptions of others’ experiences in India, and my own limited interactions with Indian practitioners of Hinduism have also contributed to my appreciation for this ancient way of life. Now I had a chance to experience it.

And so I did. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills is the centerpiece of a huge complex that also includes a visitor center, an exhibition hall, a store and café, community and youth centers, and extensive landscaped grounds. It’s built from Indian pink sandstone and Italian marble, each stone piece entirely covered in intricately hand-carved figures, both inside and out. The interior columns and domed ceilings (also covered in carvings), the marble inlay flooring, and statuary throughout the mandir are awe-inspiring in their scope, precision and beauty. The visitor pamphlet indicates that over a million volunteer hours were given to the creation of this wondrous edifice.

It was the palpable presence of devotion, however, that truly inspired me that day, and still does. As I reflected on the dedication required to bring this living monument to Hindu spirituality and culture into being, I realized: This is Love in action. And, I realized, this is the vibration our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, was born into and brought to us in America. This is the context of Ananda, of our particular culture, faith, and way of life. Of course, I had known it intellectually; now I knew it intuitively. This is what we are about. We are more than our buildings, more than our books and practices: we are about putting Love into action in all that we do.

Like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch — whose heart expanded at the sight of the residents of Whoville singing joyfully despite all their Christmas decorations and gifts having been stolen (by him) – my own heart felt expanded just being in the presence of so much devotion. I realized, too, that being led to Ananda, to Yogananda and to the hard yet joy-filled work toward Self-realization has been the greatest gift I could receive.

Throughout the BAPS mandir is a quote by its founder: “In the joy of others, lies our own.” May our own love, joy, and devotion help lift all whom we meet.