Announcements

Following are the announcements we have sent since mid-March to our members and friends:

June 23, 2020

Additional comments and pictures wanted for our Bookroom bulletin board

Dear friends,

We have received a number of wonderful contributions that Rudelphina and Sara have posted on the bulletin board outside our Bookroom. We now need a few more to complete our visual display of Fellowship.

Please share how a devotee has helped you during the past few months, or how a drive past the Center has uplifted you, or how a silent deed done for someone dear has warmed your heart.

It gives such a joy to feel connected again, even in this small material way. We look forward to your inspirations. Six to eight lines would be perfect. Please send your contribution to Sara Dailey-Smith and Rudelphina Wilkinson at ssmith91362@gmail.com.

In Divine Friendship,

Escondido Center Managing Council

Email for bulletin board project: ssmith91362@gmail.com

 

June 10, 2020

Comments and pictures wanted for our Bookroom bulletin board

Dear friends,

Two of our members are decorating our Bookroom bulletin board with the theme of  “Fellowship”. We would like your input on how the Center has inspired, motivated, and supported you over the years, and especially during the recent months of sheltering at home.

Please share what you are doing to keep your sadhana positive and uplifting. Email your thoughts, with pictures if appropriate, to Sara Dailey-Smith and Rudelphina Wilkinson at ssmith91362@gmail.com. (Short messages please so they all fit on the board.) Sara and Rudelphina will compile your thoughts and pictures on the bulletin board during the summer.

We look forward to sharing your wisdom!

In Divine Friendship,

Escondido Center Managing Council

Email for bulletin board project: ssmith91362@gmail.com

 

June 2, 2020

Dear friends,

In the past two weeks we have received a number of inquiries regarding our plans to re-open Escondido Center. The calls and email messages from members have been prompted by news about the re-opening of businesses and places of worship in California and elsewhere.

Given the continuing threat posed by COVID-19, all six members of the Managing Council agree that we should not re-open at this time.

Mother Center has asked the councils of individual Centers and Groups to decide when and how we will reopen, so long as we are in accord with the guidance of our local governments and health authorities.

The health – and lives – of our members is the foremost consideration of the Managing Council. Federal, state, and local health authorities strongly advise against re-opening places of worship. Still, state and county guidelines DO allow re-opening, so long as they:

  • Post multiple signs regarding the need for masks and physical distancing.
  • Install hand-sanitizer dispensers at all entrances.
  • Screen congregants for virus symptoms, which involves taking their temperatures as they enter.
  • Ensure everyone is wearing masks.
  • Limit congregation to 25 percent of the chapel capacity (in our case, 23 individuals, including leader and ushers).
  • Avoid chanting or passing the donation basket.
  • Clean all surfaces frequently.
  • Strongly encourage individuals with compromised immune systems, underlying medical conditions, and those over 65 (i.e., many if not most of us) to stay home.
  • Keep services short to limit exposure.
  • Adjust parking to eliminate places where people might congregate closely outdoors.

The Managing Council will contact members about re-opening the Center when our services can be safely conducted in a reasonable semblance of their traditional forms. Meanwhile, we are monitoring virus trends and health advisories, and are consulting regularly with members who are healthcare professionals.

We also are looking at the various considerations involved with conducting limited services outdoors.

Because it may be some time before we re-open, we encourage all our members to remain connected with SRF through online opportunities such as inspirational talks by monastics and online meditations, many of which are led by monks and nuns. If you have not yet participated in an online meditation, visit https://srfonlinemeditation.org/.

Also, as you reach out to other members, please ask if they are receiving these messages. If they’re not, they can contact us at info@escondidosrf.org so we can add them to our mailing list. All the messages we have sent since mid-March are posted on our website at EscondidoSRF.org/Announcements.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at info@escondidosrf.org.

And now it’s time to pass our virtual (guaranteed virus-free!) basket. Some weeks ago we reported that our monthly expenses are exceeding income. This continues to be the case. If you would like to help defray the cost of ongoing maintenance, and electric, gas, and other bills, please consider mailing a check made out to SRF, with “Escondido Center” on the memo line. Our mailing address is PO Box 463092, Escondido CA 92046.

Thank you, as always, for your generous and continuing support and prayers!

In Divine Friendship,

Escondido Center Managing Council

May 10, 2020

Sri Yukteswar’s birthday and Mother’s Day

Dear Friends,

In wishing you a blessed commemoration of Sri Yukteswar’s birthday and celebration of Mother’s Day, we want to share these images of our altar, arranged for this doubly special occasion by members of our Flower Committee. (Note: click on either image to enlarge, then scroll down to see second image.)

May we all be immersed in Master’s peace, love and joy.

In Gurudev,
Escondido Center Managing Council

 

April 12, 2020

Dear friends,

A wonderful and joyous Easter to all of you! We want to share a photo of our Center’s altar, which was decorated for this holy day by members of our Flower Committee:

This morning many of you joined SRF members around the world to participate in the Easter talk and meditation led by our revered president, Bro. Chidananda. He noted that, on Easter Sunday exactly 95 years ago – April 12, 1925 – Guruji led the first sunrise service on the grounds of Mt. Washington.

We would like to reiterate Brother’s counsel for us all, that we use this time of social distancing to reduce our spiritual distancing. As Brother said, this is an excellent time to go deeper in the practice of meditation, deeper in the practice of our study of the teachings, of the Lessons.

Today’s Easter service is available for viewing at https://yogananda.org/blog/online-inspirational-service.

May all of us feel the presence of God and Gurus in an ever greater way, now and always.

Jai Guru,
Escondido Center Managing Council

April 4, 2020
Dear friends,

Several days ago we sent a message asking our members to share what you are doing to maintain spiritual attunement and physical wellbeing while sheltering in place. Here are the responses we received, followed by a letter sent by Bro. Balananda, Minister in Charge of Encinitas Temple, to their mailing list.

Mindful walking – this gets you out of the house, and into fresh air and sunshine while avoiding unintentional proximity to others.

My wife and I are taking to heart Master’s guidance in the old Lessons on health, to absorb the sun’s rays with a daily 30-minute sunbath. This is both therapeutic and exceptionally relaxing!

Five good things that have happened to me (since the shelter-in-place directive):
1. I’ve taken up writing again my grandmother’s biography.
2. I am getting creative with the workouts I do at home (BollyX, QiGong; yoga)
3. My husband and I are preparing delicious food that we cook together.
4. We spend time outside, starting again our veggie garden.
5. I am talking to so many dear friends in Italy, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, the US… and so forth. LIFE IS GOOD, when life gives you lemons… make the best lemonade.

It helps me to know we are connected in our efforts in daily meditation and our regular healing services, and the opportunity to have longer meditations on Sunday morning, knowing other fellow devotees are also meditating at this time.

I have made a table for a visual checklist, with my desired daily activities on the left, and  on the right one column for each day of the week. I simply make a mark whenever the action has been done. Everyone’s list will be a little different…I included spiritual practices as well as other self-care things uniquely important for me as part of the balanced living that is part of the Kriya as per the Kriya lessons.

I am spending a lot more time reading all of the SRF books & Lessons, practicing affirmations, and watching SRF dvds and talks available online.  I live in the mountains isolated from others, so I can hike to the waterfalls that form during rainy season while practicing the presence.

Read the Second Coming / Slow down… do less… choose one thing to do for a long time while thinking of God (weeding or washing the laundry by hand instead of going to the laundromat) / Watch the dawn / Look at the stars / Call one person each day and share your love with them.

I have been looking at the videos sent out by SRF of Bro. Bhumananda, Bro.Satayanda, and our president. They are wonderful. Also, I have been attending as many of the SRF online meditations as I can.

A friend and I agreed that instead of hiking on Thursdays we would work on the Center grounds (pulling weeds). I think it’s good to be outside while keeping the social distance recommended by the governor.

Some friends and I have been having a one-hour meditation each afternoon, via Zoom. We make it a point to perform the healing service. My daughter is a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, so I appreciate the opportunity to join the Prayer Council, praying for all those in need. We are very flexible with each other’s schedules, and plan each day accordingly. We really feel the benefit of connecting daily. During these trying times, it has really helped us all, to simply get grounded mid-day between our other meditations.

Besides practicing the presence while doing yard work and exercising outdoors, the online meditations have become our link to the SRF family of devotees. The opportunities are expanding to include SRF and YSS monastic-led meditations several times each week, which are priceless!  And don’t miss the weekly monastic-led inspirational service, which can be utilized as your Sunday service and can be accessed via the SRF website.

When stepping outside first thing in the morning to do my EEs, I take a few minutes to look at the beautiful buds forming on the trees and listen to the music of the birds.

This idea comes from Sr. Subrata: Throughout the day or as you are leaving your house, just touch one of Master’s books, such as the Spiritual Diary.  My favorite is Metaphysical Meditations.

And this letter from Bro. Balananda, sent recently to Encinitas Temple members:

Dear Smile Billionaires of Encinitas Temple,

Thinking of all the challenges everyone is facing during this Coronavirus pandemic, I find myself reflecting on Guruji’s unique response to the trials and problems devotees would bring before him.

Whenever the monks or nuns came to Master, with any kind of problem (either physical, mental emotional, financial–it didn’t matter), he would always tell them one of two things–either “Sit down and meditate” or “Just love God more.”  That’s it–just those two remedies.  Remember when Daya Mata came to him with a host of financial problems, creditors to be seen, bills to be paid, food to be bought, and so on.  And Guruji’s reaction was simply:  “Just sit down and meditate.”  And then Ma’s mental response to Guruji:  “How can he say that?  Meditation is for the morning and evenings.  Now it’s time to keep this growing ashram running and to keep the creditors away from our door.”  But being the obedient disciple she was, she would invariably sit down at Guruji’s feet and meditate.  And Ma related to us that every time she came out of one of those meditations, all of her problems would just melt away–they would seem so insignificant.

And how about Guruji’s other remedy:  to just love God more.  Daya Ma, who had many major physical problems in the early days, would come to Master and tell him all about the physical suffering she was going through.  And instead of sympathizing with her, saying: “That’s all right my child, you go on a retreat or you take the afternoon off,” he would only say:  “Just love God more.”  “Just love God more.”  And she learned to do just that–loving him from moment to moment, even in the midst of all her pain, duties and responsibilities.  And then what happened?  All her physical problems just disappeared.

So what is Master saying?  That it all boils down to law and love.  We can solve all of our problems with either meditation or practicing the Presence–just sitting down and meditating or just loving God more.  When we do either of these, we invariably find that our even mindedness, which we lost, comes back.  So, what caused us to lose our even mindedness in the first place?  Not meditating enough or not practicing the Presence of God enough.

And it doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it?  When we meditate, when we practice the Presence, we are in tune with God:  everything is just fine; and when we don’t meditate or practice the Presence enough, we are in tune with Maya: everything is everything but fine.  Everything is a nest of troubles, as Master puts it.

How wise Master is! And how receptive was his dear Daya Ma. May we all learn to have that same kind of receptivity, that same kind of attunement.

Know you are all in my deepest prayers, and heart.

In divine friendship and love,
Bro. Balananda

April 1, 2020
Dear friends,

Recently some members have sent messages telling us what they’re doing to stay connected to Master and other SRF members while sheltering in place. For example, one person practices the presence while taking daily brisk walks. So, we thought we would reach out and ask what YOU are doing that provides a sense of calmness and peace.

Let us know, and later this week we will send a list of ideas for maintaining spiritual attunement and physical wellbeing. Please send your messages to info@escondidosrf.org.

Meanwhile, we also want to let you know that members of our Housekeeping Committee are periodically going to the Center to ensure that the chapel is clean and always ready to be reopened. And, a number of our members have been taking some time to pull the weeds that are popping up across the grounds. We do have a bumper crop this year!

As always, many thanks to all of you for your support for Master’s little Center.

In Divine Friendship,
Escondido Center Managing Council

March 28, 2020
Dear members and friends,

Mother Center is providing us tremendous support during this time of uncertainty. Given the spiritual gifts we are receiving, many of us are looking for ways to serve others while we remain at home.

Our local hospital, Palomar Medical Center, needs thousands of masks to protect staff serving in non-patient areas. Palomar Health Foundation is asking members of the community who have sewing skills to make simple masks of tightly woven cloth. For more information, please visit https://escondidosrf.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2c0612c5974499be47c81c940&id=90669eecce&e=0ce1d31619 .

One of our members, Margaret Mertens, is a point of contact for this project. If you have questions, please contact Margaret at 442-281-4074 or Margaret.Mertens@palomarhealth.org.

Thank you, as always, for your kind and generous spiritual and material support.

In Divine Friendship,
Escondido Center Managing Council

March 22, 2020
Dear friends,

Though our Center is closed for the time being, we want everyone to know that we are with you in spirit, and praying that you are in good health. While right now we are not meeting physically for group meditations and other services, we encourage you to take advantage of online meditations by visiting https://escondidosrf.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2c0612c5974499be47c81c940&id=1469645ca1&e=0ce1d31619  and signing up to participate in online meditations.

Another wonderful resource is the SRF blog (https://escondidosrf.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2c0612c5974499be47c81c940&id=9762a10b25&e=0ce1d31619), which includes video talks by Bro. Chidananda, along with other information from Mother Center. And, beginning this past week, SRF is adding inspirational talks by other monastics to the blog page. A new talk will be posted each week.

Those of you who are receiving the new Lessons may want to review Lesson 13, Divine Laws of Health and Healing.

Given that we are asked to remain at home, please consider taking some time to reach out by telephone to friends and acquaintances who may be feeling isolated. Consider using Zoom, Skype or Facetime to add video to your communications.

On a bright note, we are delighted to announce that Escondido Center has been awarded $144,700 in security grant funding from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The funds will be used to upgrade our center’s security with perimeter fencing, a motorized rolling gate, security cameras, motion detectors with signage, and training to respond to an active shooter.

We feel very blessed by Master for this opportunity, and for the award of the full amount we requested.

CAL OES will reimburse us monthly as we submit receipts and other documentation. The various costs will be covered upfront through our building fund.

Apart from the training element, all the security components are in our building plan, so this puts us that much further ahead!

As Lahiri Mahasaya would say; “Banat, banat, banjai!” “Doing, doing, done!”  Let’s keep our faith in Master’s protection, guidance, and our spiritual success.

And now it’s time to pass the basket. Despite the cancellation of services and other activities, our Center does have ongoing costs, primarily for maintenance and utilities. If you would like to help defray some of these expenses, you may send a check (no cash, please) to Escondido Center, PO Box 463092, Escondido CA 92046. We do thank you for your continuing support!

Again, we encourage you to maintain the connection with Master by taking advantage of the many resources available through the SRF website and at-home SRF Lessons.

In Divine Friendship,
Escondido Center Managing Council

March 13, 2020
Dear members and friends of Escondido Center,

All services and fellowship activities at Escondido Center have been cancelled until further notice. This includes informal gatherings for personal meditations in the chapel or other rooms in the chapel building. We are following the guidance of Mother Center, which issued the following letter on March 12:

Dear Friend,
We have been closely monitoring the evolving situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus), and
are aware of the uncertainty felt by so many worldwide. After much prayerful consideration
about what the right course of action should be, we have made the decision to cancel all
SRF meditation and inspirational services at our temples, centers, and groups in the U.S.
and in other countries where the government has suggested we do so. We will be
contacting our meditation groups separately with guidance. We have also cancelled all
retreat programs until further notice.

Those of you who regularly participate in group meditations and spiritual fellowship know
the value and positive influence of seeking God together. We encourage you to continue
participation in group meditations via our SRF Online Meditation Center services by
visiting.

We are also looking into offering additional online inspirational events soon, and
encourage you to check our website for updates on this.

The decision to cancel our services and retreats has been made in compliance with the
request of the governor of California and the California Department of Public Health that
nonessential gatherings across the state of California should be limited to no more than
250 people, and that smaller events than this should implement social distancing of six
feet per person. These cautionary measures are also being requested and implemented in
many other states and countries.

We recommend that you continue to follow universal health guidelines with regards to the
coronavirus, which can be found on the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and
the World Health Organization

Paramahansa Yogananda expected us to use practical outer means and commonsense
methods to prevent illness, but he also urged us to have a positive attitude and faith in
God’s love and protection. That inner attunement felt in meditation and prayer will allow us
to reach into the infinite reservoir of God’s healing power to help ourselves and all those
who are in need.

In closing, let us keep in mind these words of our Gurudeva: “Whatever it is that you fear,
take your mind away from it and leave it to God. Have faith in Him….Every night, before
you sleep, affirm: ‘The Heavenly Father is with me; I am protected.’ Mentally surround
yourself with Spirit and His cosmic energy.”

May God and the Great Ones deeply bless and watch over you and your loved ones.

In divine friendship,
Self-Realization Fellowship

 

A PDF version of this letter is available at https://escondidosrf.org/wp-content/images/coronavirus-message3.pdf.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

In Divine Friendship,
Escondido Center Managing Council

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