“Imagine the largest ballroom in downtown LA filled to capacity with people engrossed in hearing the teachings of [Paramahansa] Yogananda — and then meditating together. This is the setting of the annual Self-Realization Fellowship Convocation. It’s the type of setting that demonstrates how people filling a place can create sacred space, even in what may seem like an unexpected location for the deep practices.” So wrote LAYoga editor, Felicia Tomasko, in a July issue of the eNewsletter edition of the magazine, after attending the Wednesday evening talk on “Achieving Your Spiritual and Material Goals.”
This year's event, held August 4–10 at the Westin Bonaventure, drew nearly 4,000 people, from 42 countries and all 50 states of the U.S. During the week, SRF monks and nuns led satsangas (informal talks), group meditations, kirtans (devotional chanting), Kriya Yoga ceremonies, and classes on the meditation techniques of Paramahansa Yogananda and his "How-to-Live" teachings.
The highlight of the week was a “surprise” informal talk by SRF President and sanghamata Sri Mrinalini Mata—one of Paramahansaji’s foremost disciples. Reminiscing about her years in the company of the great Guru, she encouraged the attendees to live in the consciousness of the omnipresent Divine Spirit. With deep insight and delightful humor, she counseled Convocation participants that the only way one can get away from the manifestations of negativity in the world is to look beyond “these circumstances to the vibratory love of God.”
“Achieving Your Spiritual and Material Goals” was the focus of a class presented by Brother Chidananda. It emphasized the great power of the science of yoga in enabling individuals to attain the universal goals of humanity—to reclaim our forgotten divine nature. In addition to the techniques of the Kriya Yoga science, maintaining a right attitude is paramount in this endeavor, as is the focus of our attention, according to Brother Chidananda. “We become what we concentrate on. It's impossible to overestimate the importance of this in achieving one’s goals.”
Brother Ishtananda, during a class entitled “Meditation: The Soul-Satisfying Journey to Spiritual Freedom,” spoke about bringing awareness of deep peace and happiness into daily life. “You are pure perfect awareness,” he said to Monday evening's audience. He conveyed that, through troubles and challenges, it is wise to remember that though “the consciousness is aware of the circumstances, it is not the circumstances.”
Brother Vishwananda opened the week’s classes with an introductory talk. On subsequent days, evening classes included (in addition to those mentioned above) “Allowing God to Be a More Meaningful and Personal Friend” by Brother Satyananda, and “The Guru: God’s Perfect Reflection” by Brother Sevananda. The closing class, “Spiritual Happiness: Tapping into the Soul’s Storehouse of Love, Peace, and Joy,” was given by Sister Preeti.
A special screening of a new film about our late beloved leader Sri Daya Mata's first trip to India —just several years after assuming the SRF presidency in the mid-1950s (a position she held until her passing in 2010)— was held on Wednesday evening. The film features Sri Daya Mata's year-long journey to sacred sites in Kolkata (Calcutta), Varanasi (Banaras), Dakshineswar, Ranchi, and other places of significance during Paramahansa Yogananda's early years, and her meetings with some of India’s great saints and yogis.
During the week, SRF Convocation participants joined pilgrimages to spiritual sanctuaries established by Paramahansa Yogananda in southern California, including (above, left to right): the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades; the international headquarters of Self-Realization Fellowship on Mt. Washington near downtown Los Angeles; the SRF Hollywood Temple; and the SRF Retreat and Hermitage in Encinitas, where Yoganandaji wrote much of his inspiring life story, Autobiography of a Yogi. Pilgrimages were also made to Paramahansaji’s crypt at Forest Lawn in Glendale.
We hope to see you at next year’s SRF World Convocation, which takes place August 3–9, 2014.