The 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 offered an opportunity to focus on the power of prayer and meditation for healing and fostering world harmony and peace. Self-Realization Fellowship commemorated the anniversary through participation in local and national peace events, and by organizing special programs and meditations at SRF temples during the month of September, including praying for all those who have been affected by the events of 9/11, and for world peace and healing.
Self-Realization Fellowship was invited to participate in the recent OneLight interfaith ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday, September 10, which focused on the power of faith traditions united in respect and friendship to counter the hatred and divisiveness that led to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Brother Vishwananda and Brahmachari Shekhar represented Paramahansa Yogananda’s worldwide society.
Celebrating the religious diversity of Los Angeles, the event was organized by the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders and featured participation from the city's prominent civic leaders, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Eric Garcetti, and nearly 1,000 representatives of more than 200 different Los Angeles–area congregations—including those of Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu faiths.
Culminating in a special candle-lighting ceremony, all participants received lanterns to take back to their respective places of worship as symbols of peace and unity. The memorial candles received by SRF representatives were relit on September 11 at our temples in Hollywood and at the Lake Shrine, as well as at the SRF International Headquarters.
Self-Realization Fellowship minister Brother Anilananda was one of the featured speakers during PeaceWeek 2011, an international telesummit held September 15–21 comprised of experts in the fields of religion, science, government, and the arts who led sessions on peace-building. (See separate report here.)
The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine dedicated a week to world peace starting with its Sunday morning service on September 11 and culminating on Saturday, September 17 with the annual anniversary celebration of the dedication of the SRF Lake Shrine/Gandhi World Peace Memorial, which Paramahansa Yogananda established in 1950.
The Lake Shrine Dedication celebration on Saturday, September 17, included a special two-hour meditation in which attendees practiced Paramahansaji’s techniques to cultivate peace within and then consciously radiate that peace to all.
SRF Hollywood Temple devoted the entire weekend of September 9–11 to peace and harmony. Events included three-hour meditations on Friday and Saturday, a Sunday morning meditation followed by a special talk on World Peace, spiritual fellowship during a special luncheon, and ending with a Sunday evening three-hour meditation.
In pointing out the power generated by each individual’s spiritual efforts and praying for others, Brother Anilananda, minister-in-charge at Hollywood Temple, shared Paramahansaji’s words: “The goodness of one soul may effectively neutralize the mass karmic vibrations of millions. He who has reformed himself has reformed thousands, for what one sows in the ether, by the vibrations of his thoughts and character, others will surely reap.”
Immediately following the terrorist attack in New York City in 2001, Brother Bhumananda was one of the Self-Realization Fellowship ministers sent by Sri Daya Mata to support and counsel members of the SRF New York City Center. Now serving as minister-in-charge at the SRF Encinitas Temple, he gave a service on the tenth anniversary of the tragedy in which he recounted some of the spiritual lessons shared with him by members in New York City whose lives had been affected by that event.
“When there is a great trauma,” he explained, “the veils of separation are swept away and we really do feel a divine kinship with others. In the days following the tragedy, those devotees were able to sense a deep love for one another. They said that throughout the city there was an openness and kindness and gentleness.”
He cited these experiences to encourage this type of behavior at all times: “Try to cultivate those feelings of love and compassion every day. We do not need wait for great disasters to practice this. As devotees, part of our path is to truly respect, honor, and appreciate that divine bond we have with our fellow men and women, and all life.”
Brother Nakulananda led members of the SRF Glendale Temple in a two-hour meditation dedicated to peace on Sunday evening, September 11. This was followed by an outdoor peace procession in which congregants carried candles and chanted Paramahansaji's “O God Beautiful” to the accompaniment of kirtan instruments. The procession ended at the front of the temple with a prayer service, in which vibrations of healing, peace, and harmony were sent to all nations and all peoples of the earth.
Our beloved late president, Sri Daya Mata, spoke frequently about the power of prayer and the importance of praying for others. She deeply encouraged members and friends to regularly take part in SRF’s Worldwide Prayer Circle, which augments the prayers of the SRF Prayer Council of monks and nuns who pray daily for all those in need of physical, mental, or spiritual healing.
She said, “Thought is a force; it has immense power. That is why I believe so deeply in the Worldwide Prayer Circle that Guruji began. I hope you are all involved in it. When people send forth concentrated, positive thoughts of peace, love, goodwill, forgiveness, as in the healing technique used by the Worldwide Prayer Circle, this generates a great power. If the masses were to do this, it would set up a vibration of goodness that would be powerful enough to change the world.”