Showing posts with label East West Bookshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label East West Bookshop. Show all posts

Thursday, November 28, 2019

"Coop" Sharing - A New and Not New Paradigm

(I wrote this Thanksgiving evening before leaving on seclusion. I didn't post it anywhere beyond the blog. Ananda is a cooperative movement both in spiritual terms -- "cooperation with grace" --- and on the human scale of cooperative living, serving, and sharing, including cooperating with nature and all living things. Though one doesn't seem to hear much these days about the more formal structures of "coops," the attitudes of cooperation are part and parcel of American culture and in strong evidence everywhere in the world where people take the initiative in respect to issues, needs, and causes larger than their own. I feel to share what I hope is an upwelling of conscious cooperation, whether informal or formal. Linked to divine attunement, it, together with simplicity and a recognition of the need for inspired, supportive leadership, is the single most hopeful trend for a better world.

As tragic are milestone events in American history as 9-11-01 and hurricane Katrina, and more recently fires and intentional power outages in California, each of these has and is contributing to an awakening of the need for individuals to take the initiative to band together to find scalable solutions for problems larger than ourselves.)

Friends of ours from Ananda Village, Omprakash and Prem Shanti Rider, were here at Ananda Seattle this week for Thanksgiving.

Omprakash has been a lifelong supporter and organizer of food coops. An opportunity arose recently at Ananda Village to start a food coop when the former Master's Market (convenience store and cafe) in "downtown" Ananda Village was forced to close for financial reasons after many decades of operation. 

When it did, Omprakash waited to see if anyone younger or newer might leap into the breach of the opportunity which most residents were sure would be taken. But the market remained closed for three months until Omprakash felt inspired to re-open it, not as a community-owned retail business but as a food coop.

Coops--food, agriculture, buying, residential, etc.--have been around a long time in American history. They reflect well the American experience and "can-do-together" consciousness. 

In much of the twentieth century and into the current century, coops of all types have languished in the face of efficient, well-funded, highly profitable corporate enterprises. Worker-owned businesses are now nonexistent or few.

I think that is going to change. I think that HAS to change. Efficiency and profit are not the only criteria for success. Happiness, fulfilment and satisfaction are also important aspects of whatever service or product is made, grown, re-sold, marketed or built. 

Food coops are perhaps the most resilient and visible coops in America. Despite the big box grocery stores and the efficiency of agribusiness food growing, food coops continue to appeal to those who want a human face and human touch to their food. 

Ananda in Washington effectively operates coop models in its thrift store (Living Wisdom Thrift and Gift); at our farm (Ananda Farms), in the residential community (Ananda Community, Lynnwood), and even to some degree in the East-West Bookshop of Seattle. None of these are formal or legal coops but all of them, including Ananda Blue Lotus Temple and Institute of Living Wisdom, are dependent upon volunteers and donations even as each of them also earn their "keep" through the services and products they provide.

Recently, Zach and Hailey Abbey co-sponsored a meeting on Camano Island to ask like-minded friends whether and who might be interested in forming a food coop and buying club on or around Camano Island. It was standing room only!!

While nonprofits including churches might want to view themselves as cooperative undertakings, and largely this would be true insofar as they depend on donations and volunteers, many lack cooperative management or leadership. Nonetheless, all but the largest national or international organizations, or those dependent mostly upon government grants, have the elements of hands-on, locally sourced operations with a cooperative spirit. 

Virtually all large organizations (governmental, charitable, research, medical, political etc.) are increasingly viewed with suspicion or scepticism. Questions arise over whether they are self-serving or pandering to outside interests.

It seems obvious to me that idealistic, creative, bold, and energetic people gravitate to independent enterprises. 

The so-called "Share Economy" is a kind of coop model. We share cars; houses; information; advice; references; recommendations; tools; you name it. We homeschool our children and have homeschooling groups. 

The model of brick and mortar educational institutions are groaning under the weight of endless regulations and expectations of parents, teachers, administrators, and the public; there are safety issues; concerns about violence; there's an increasing awareness of special needs children; racial, ethnic, and cultural differences; there's the out of control cost of education under the traditional classroom and administration model. 

Coop education models can include homeschooling blended with shared group and virtual resources. These offer hope for expanding educational opportunities beyond those who can afford it or who are willing to borrow against their lifetime earnings.

The top-heavy energy industry is in serious question or decline, its costly infrastructure out of date or decaying. The need to generate energy locally is increasingly accepted and desired. To do so would require a cooperative enterprise of various stakeholders.

Food growing is one of the most fertile cooperative ventures with many options, a variety of evolving models, and blessed with rapid growth.

Co-housing has been slow to take off, mostly, I suppose because funding remains a speciality of certain lenders. Mortgage lending falls off the cliff once one departs from the traditional funding of single-family homes. There long has been, however, a small but established infrastructure for coop apartments in the eastern part of the United States.

Condominiums have enjoyed more stable funding sources but condos are riddled with construction problems and uncooperative owners and tenants. Condos lack the cooperative spirit of co-housing.

Ananda has urban apartment communities but they are based on renting an apartment complex. Even if the owners are Ananda members, there remains a firewall of potentially conflicting interests between ownership and residency. This model puts financial results first but hopefully, this will evolve in time. 

Lastly, zoning and building codes remain a stumbling block to any creative residential enterprise.

Nonetheless, tiny homes and shared living arrangements are slowly blossoming owing mostly to economic pressures. 

Home-sharing finds its most robust expression in temporary vacation or travel lodging in VRBO or AirBnB. But this trend is also rife with controversy and doesn't address long-term residential needs.

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," is considered by Ananda members and Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda, the patron saint of communities. He predicted that someday they would "spread like wildfire."

While I hesitate to jump on the image of "wildfire spreading wildly" (especially in California), I do welcome the prediction and I believe it will, in fact, happen, though maybe not very soon.

But the watchword for the future survival of humanity and the rest of the planet's inhabitants is clearly and necessarily COOPERATION! Linked to cooperation is simplicity, lest cooperation becomes diluted by merely legalistic contracts.

Also linked to and even a necessary balance to cooperation is leadership. While Ananda was founded by Swami Kriyananda--a strong, clear and yet sensitively supportive leader--future communities and coops will necessarily be more level in order to fulfil the coop ideals. 

Swami Kriyananda's training of us in leadership went counter to what was, at that time, the consensus dogma of intentional communities.

Strict consensus has shown itself to be impractical. It paralyzes creative and inspired directions. There is no substitute for the skills and role of leadership. But what we learned from "Swamiji" is that leadership is a role just like, but not more important than, any number of other crucial roles. It should emphasize service to others and to the goal of the enterprise, and not service from others or special status.

A coop model does not have to insist on consensus decision making. The Ananda experience shows that cooperation in a supportive leadership environment can result in a version of consensus that might be called "energetic." At Ananda, we've evolved an approach we describe by asking "what's trying to happen here?" Leadership listens; asks; serves; and shows the flexibility that expresses respect for the process and everyone involved.

Given that the age we live in emphasizes personal liberties, selfishness can result unless there is a balancing emphasis upon cooperation. Cooperation with nature; with other people and nations; with God and with universal, human values. 

Rebelling against established authority may be necessary or the dharma of some, but those of creative goodwill, energy and courage can instead direct our efforts to work cooperatively with others to live in harmony with Spirit and Nature.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Swami Hrimananda







Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.



Monday, January 21, 7.30 p.m. Free – East West Bookshop, Seattle
[https://www.anandawashington.org/featured-events/]
This even will be LIVE on Facebook

To many of us, it seems that the principles upon which our country was founded are in short supply these days. What can we do about it? Unless, like Mahatma Gandhi or Dr King, you plan to start a national movement for peace justice and equality, you can at least stand up and be counted! And next Monday night you have an opportunity to do just that!

Next Monday night we honor the lives of M.K. Gandhi and Dr M.L. King in a public tribute that would be just the kind of occasion where people like you and I can come together. The tribute includes music, audio and video tracks, and readings from their speeches and writings.

Paramhansa Yogananda stated that America and India represent the twin ideals of material and spiritual harmony (and their concomitant social ideals, justice and equality) so needed in our rapidly changing and growing world. He did not mean that India and America have perfected these ideals. Instead, he meant that India and America have the karma to lead the way in demonstrating the importance of these ideals for the benefit, indeed survival, of all nations.

For this was our nation founded; for this was born the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Abraham Lincoln. For this, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King lived and died. Dr King said that one who had nothing for which he was willing to die was not fit to live. An extreme statement, no doubt, and obviously not the karmic destiny for most individuals. 

But certainly, next Monday night is an occasion for us but to be together. You will be energized and inspired by the experience. As the years go by, fewer and fewer people have lived through the turbulent years of the civil rights movement in America. The message of Gandhi and King is, more than ever, relevant to the challenges of our times. Come and show your support for social change through nonviolent means and inspired by universal, spiritual ideals.

Blessings to you,

Nayaswamis Hriman and Padma

Ananda Washington

P.S. Anyone wishing a copy of our script, please write to us at friends@anandaWA.org

Thursday, June 7, 2018

East Meets West -- A Celebratory Fest! July 14, 2018

(Note: Ananda and its affiliate, East West Bookshop of Seattle, are hosting a festive event on July 14, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., at nearby Bastyr University (a renowned international university for alternative healing). Let those of like-mind and open hearts affirm an alternative to today's global wave of "bi-polarism." There are other events too, see below)

One of our guest speakers on July 14 at Bastyr University is Phil Goldberg, author of the newly published book, “Life of Yogananda-the Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru.” Phil chronicles the struggle of the young man, Swami Yogananda (aka Mukunda Lal Ghosh) to establish himself in America having arrived at age 27 in 1920. Though penniless and friendless in the land of materialism, the young swami’s innate joy and wisdom soon drew to himself the friends and support he needed to begin his work of bringing together “the best of East and West.”

Yogananda spoke of the twin contributions of America’s material efficiency and the spiritual effectiveness of yoga from India to uplift the human race from the prison of racism, nationalism, wars and exploitation. In Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, The Ballad of East and West, he begins with the famous line “Oh East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…..but there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!”

Those two “strong men” are the virtues and strengths, respectively, of East and West. Outer strength and knowledge united to inner virtue and self-control dissolve the apparent differences to form the perfect and balanced human, an incarnation of the divine Mind.

The upcoming event at Bastyr University, EAST MEETS WEST FEST, is a celebration and affirmation of humanity’s need to find the balance of inner and outer strengths and virtues. This “Fest” serves to bring together those who seek to live in this world in both inner and outer harmony.

Yoga-meditation has been brought from the darkness of secrecy and indifference into the blessed light of both inspiration and analysis. Yoga is perfectly designed to unite heart, mind and body and as such to radiate outward into the daily life of its “devotee” its harmonious blessings of calmness, creativity, efficiency, health, and joy. Yoga-meditation is by nature nonsectarian and universally accessible to all regardless of affiliation, beliefs or culture. This is because it is also by nature experiential, methodical and therefore scientific in its own way.

Our presenters represent the spectrum of east and west: Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi represent the Self-realization teachings taught since ancient times in India by great rishis and in modern times by Paramhansa Yogananda; Imam Jamal Rahman, the Sufi teachings of mystical Islam; Reverend Michael Ingersoll, the new thought teachings of modern times, and Rabbi Ted Falcon, the mystical and meditative traditions of the Jewish faith.

Teachers of hatha and raja yoga for adults and children will present offerings in addition to our guest speakers. Phil Goldberg will share the adventure of Yogananda’s life from Phil’s latest book. Others will share insights into parenting and education, energy healing, nature awareness, and sustainable agriculture.

An artistic, inspirational, and informative demonstration of Ananda Yoga will begin the evening program at 6 p.m. in the Bastyr Chapel.

The Fest includes more, even, than Saturday’s celebration at Bastyr: 

* The night before, which is Friday, July 13, a free musical concert comprised of next generation Ananda members from its west coast communities will be held at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell (7 p.m.). 

* On Sunday, our guests, Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi, will conduct the weekly Service (10 a.m.). 

* That afternoon (Sunday), Ananda Farms invites us to lunch and “satsang” with Jyotish & Devi wherein they will share Yogananda’s ideals for sustainable, community lifestyles into the modern age. (Prepaid registration needed for the lunch.) 

* Finally, Monday night at the East West Bookshop, Phil Goldberg will give a talk and booksigning on his newest book, “The Life of Yogananda.”


Let the Fest in celebration of the Best (of East and West) begin!


Nayaswamis Hriman & Padma


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Law of Success


For a tree to grow strong and bear good fruit, it needs sunlight, water, and good soil. No success is ever achieved in a vacuum. While success can mean achieving any goal one has chosen, true success is that which brings lasting satisfaction of body, mind, and soul. To achieve name and fame or wealth at the expense of others by greed, lies, or exploitation is a one-sided and a fragile kind of success. It is not true success and whatever satisfaction it may bring is hollow.

Success requires a sensitive balance and dance between self-will and harmonious cooperation with other people, environment and circumstances. The sapling tree can be killed by too much water or not enough water; too intense of sunlight or insufficient sunlight. Scientists opine that the chemical and other combinations of ingredients that makes planet Earth habitable for humans is both complex and very delicate. We’ve yet to find another planet such as ours.

Success comes by creating friendships. When Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi) came to America in 1920, he made friends everywhere he went because he was friendly. He addressed people’s needs, from cooking a meal for them to giving them wisdom and practical teachings. He never used people but saw others equally as God manifesting in specific forms. He thus served God in others and did not think of himself.

Success also requires concentration upon the goal and the means to the goal, sometimes to the exclusion of all else but always by keeping one’s priorities clearly in view. Meditation serves one superbly to open the floodgates to a flow of intuition onto a field of calm sensitive awareness guiding that rive-like flow, laser-like, in the direction of one’s goal.

I have lived in an Ananda Community for over thirty-five years and have seen the power that comes from the combination of high ideals, practicality, and “the many hands that can a miracle.” Unless you happen to be an Albert Einstein, most of us would do well to understand that success comes when we work with and through and for others. At your workplace, be helpful. Think of the needs of your co-workers, your supervisor, and the legitimate goals of the company or organization. Do your best with excellence, creativity, and enthusiasm.

After a forest fire destroyed most of the first Ananda Community (Ananda Village, near Nevada City, CA), we banded together (eschewing the opportunity to sue the local county — a faulty spark arrestor on a county vehicle caused the fire) to find new ways to raise the money we needed to rebuild. Yes, some donations came in but most of it came through old fashioned hard work. But we were relatively inexperienced and without financial resources. We studied business methods, financing, and marketing, and we encouraged one another and our businesses to tithe and to use affirmations and prayers. We started a health food store, a cafĂ©, a print shop, a gift shop and a clothing store. Each of the these enterprises struggled greatly but bit by bit they came up and our member-employees found viable, if simple, means of support.

In time, the Community rose from the ashes and today when one visits you see a beautiful Village nestled in the hills, forests, and meadows of the Sierra Mountains. Homes of many types, shapes and sizes house families, monks, and singles in a charming and harmonious life of creativity, service, and devotion. A retreat center, office complex, grocery store, farm, dairy and community center serve the needs of both residents and neighbors alike.

Our local East West Bookshop in Seattle, too, is a testimony to the efforts of many individuals serving high ideals and attracting the grace to be successful. While the independent bookstore industry has been decimated this store has survived and flourished. It is the largest and most successful bookstore of its kind in Washington State. It is a resource center for new thought truth seekers and offers classes, books, gifts and, perhaps most of all, an uplifted environment staffed with devotees who see customers as their friends.

Here in the Seattle area we are engaged in purchasing a rural area farm. Some twenty individuals have pooled their resources. Small scale, organic farming is a tricky and risky business if seen from the standpoint of profits. But with the many hands and resources of a committed group of people which includes the talent and skills of a few who can guide the fledgling farm, we can create a success because we understand success is sharing and serving. In our case we are committed to principles and practices of sustainability and stewardship, serving God through our fellow man and in harmony with the earth and all creatures.

So it takes the initiative, courage and faith of individuals combined with the cooperation and support of others of like mind — God helping God — to achieve true success. This is an unbeatable combination, not only to achieve success but to achieve the success of weathering and resurrecting from in the inevitable setbacks, failures, and disasters which life can dish out.

The key, spiritually, is to offer the self to the Self of all. “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will and activity to the right step in all that I do.”

In the life of Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, now age 86, but still outpacing his staff and members in the worldwide network of Ananda Communities in the unceasing flow of writings, lectures, radio and TV shows, guidance, and inspiration, we see in real life the power of grace that comes from discipleship to life and to truth. “What’s trying to happen here” is the question he has taught us to ask in all things. Yet for all of his creativity, intelligence and talent, it is now primarily the outpouring of divine Bliss that one experiences in his presence. For a lifetime of living for God has brought to him the peace and lasting fulfillment that the soul was created to re-discover.

Initially the effort to view oneself as part of a greater reality and to cooperate with grace is an effort of will. As I have seen in recent Facebook postings, “Life begins outside your comfort zone!” But in time and as seen in Swami Kriyananda, that dance of Spirit and Nature becomes a powerful flow of Light and Joy.
When I first came to live at Ananda Village (just after the 1976 forest fire), it was definitely outside my comfort zone. But just having returned from over a year of travel in Europe, near East and India, I understood the value of stepping outside that zone to find the truth that “could make me free.” I never hesitated though I could not then know where it would lead.

In a more cosmic or Vedantic sense, rishis (both ancient and modern, like Paramhansa Yogananda) have taught that this universe is a manifestation of God. God is dreaming this material world and we, as sparks of His intelligence and joy, are co-creators. Yogananda used the analogy of the movies. You sit in the theatre and become engrossed in the movie, laughing and crying. You forget that the whole movie is a projection of light from the booth behind you (unseen). A beam of white light, merely, projecting the true-to- life sound and sight pictures of the movie. We need only turn our heads to the back (turn within, that is), and follow the beam of light to its source in Oneness if we would awaken from the movie-dream of life.

The other day, puttering in the kitchen at home, I suddenly had this intense feeling-experience of that flow of cosmic energy oscillating and vibrating all the objects around and I felt on the precipice of having it all disappear, just as would happen if the electricity in the movie theatre were suddenly to go out. It was both unnerving and thrilling at the same time. It was also brief!

The more we see ourselves as energy, and behind that energy, the Bliss of God oscillating all the forms and actions of life, the less we need to be always thinking about ourselves and the more we enter that flow that brings to us the true happiness (Bliss) that we seek. This, ultimately, is success and the law of success.

Bliss-ings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman