The Future Kriya Yoga Community Residents Retreat began on Friday afternoon.
The guests arrived first at Seva House . . .
and soon began walking up the hill toward their accommodations.
Though Ashis' daughter Neha found our "guard dog" Pietro too precious to leave right away.
And Dr. Kamal Chaudhry pitched in right away, without waiting for formalities, helping Dr. Aditya in the garden.
The others took their things up the trail past Swamiji's home . . .
to the little kutirs . . .
where it didn't take long to feel right at home . . .
and truly appreciate the expansive vista.
The gardens were all in bloom, both in front of the kutirs . . .
and around the front of Swamiji's home.
Chai time was next on the agenda . . .
but soon Chitra, Asavari and Dr. Kamal decided to lend a hand preparing the evening meal.
Then Shurjo and the monks led us in evening sadhana . . .
in the company of all the Masters in Swamiji's satsang room.
Singing the blessing for dinner followed . . .
and then an opening circle to orient the group about what to expect for the rest of the retreat weekend.
Early morning brought us to Swamiji's piazza for the group practice of energization, led by Jaidhara . . .
which both enlivened and calmed us at the same time.
After breakfast, we took a quick tour of the land, leading us to look briefly at the improvements the monks have done to the renewable electrical system for their monastery.
Dr. Kamal visited the place on the land where the first Bhoomi Pujan had taken place in 2009, the future site of the Ananda Dhyana Mandir.
Next we walked downhill from the monastery to see the sites of the future residents' new homes. Here Jemal shows Manjunath where he, Laxmi and their two girls will reside.
And here Biraj points out the upstairs spot where Asavari and her husband will have their little studio.
Ashis claimed this part of the hillside for his family . . .
and Archana and Neha seemed happy with where their flat would be.
Dr. Kamal saw the location that had been chosen for his family's flat, but then convinced us that we could just as easily move his and Asavari's wing of buildings up hill somewhat to an even nicer location. So we did!
Here is where everyone else on the ground floor will be living . . .
and here is where the first floor families will be. North is straight up on both maps, and the view of the valley floor is off to the left, or west.
Mealtimes were do-it-yourself buffet.
And led to many intriguing conversations among the future neighbors, here among Chitra, Ramani, and Shivani.
Devendra was one of those who came out from the city ashram to join Dr. Kamal and the future residents at the Kriya Yoga Community.
Nayaswami Ramani shared her joy, and especially her enthusiasm for growing food on the land, like Yogananda had urged that we do.
Jaidhara made sure that mealtimes were times to remember. And "Madre" kept our retreat facility safe all weekend.
Here is that event when the problem-solving meeting spilled beyond the intended Saturday Satsang time right over into chai and espressos up at the Nayaswami Nirmala's home.
While there we studied the newest sketches of the overall layout of buildings planned for the 30 acres.
We looked at the one bedrooms . . .
the two bedrooms . . .
and the three bedroom flats being started on site now.
Even more uniquely, small groups of residents debated many aspects of the future community, and came up with many interesting and provocative suggestions for how to make things better.
One thing that everybody seemed to find particularly intriguing was to see how much money had flowed in to our overall project the past two years, from which sources it had come, and all the things on which it had actually been spent.
Here are the sources from which our funds have come (about Rs 5 Cr) . . .
And here is where it has all gone so far.
Sunday morning we all, including Manjunath, Asavari, Ashis, and Shivani, went out together to bless the new building site.
Here Dr. Kamal prepared the altar we used as we stood inside the courtyard where our new homes will be.
We prayed . . .
we sang . . .
and we clapped.
And we cheered as Yogacharya Dharmadas broke the traditional coconut in the center of our new courtyard.
Then we enjoyed the shade of the biggest mango tree in the courtyard . . .
and shared final impressions of what all we had gained from the weekend experience together.
Then it was time, reluctantly, to head back home . . . until the day (coming up before too long) when this land WILL be home to us all.
It was great to spend the weekend with people who seem like they are going to make very fun neighbors.
Thank you, Master!