Ananda Marga Spiritual Conference was held at Ananda Kanan from July 2 – 7, 2017 with increased participation from last year. The weather very good with sun alternating with rain showers that cooled and added freshness to the air.
The first two days of the retreat were dedicated to Ananda Marga seminar. Ac. Rudrananda Avt. was Central Representative and Trainer and gave seminar classes on “The Intuitional Science of the Vedas – 2” and “Intuitional Practice and Its Necessity.” He explained vividly the history of the Vedas and went further into the topics, relating the philosophy to our spiritual life. The classes ended with Question and Answer session where the Margiis used the chance to ask many deep questions about spirituality and spiritual practice. Ac. Savitananda Avt. (SG SDM) gave a class on Decentralized Economy, clearly giving insights how PROUT can give solutions to all our economic and social problems we are facing.
On the second day of the seminar, we had departmental meetings followed by organizational class and a presentation of the work done by the Margiis for last six months and how they plan to render service to the society in the coming months.
On 4th of July we joined the parade in Willow Springs and in the afternoon Ac. Muktatmananda Avt. and Ac. Shiilabhadrananda Avt. (PRS HK Sector) gave classes and in the evening there was a very nice Katha Kiirtana where the devotees shared their stories.
Ananda Mela was a fun morning program with games and fun for everybody including canoe racing, basketball, volleyball and egg racing (that for vegetarians has been re-framed as ping pong ball racing), traditional tug of war, and a kaosiiki competition. Young and elderly joined together in the programs.
On the afternoon of July 5 we had presentation of the projects and good news of the Sector. Ac. Pashupati presented the AMURT work in Haiti, Jiivanmukta presented recent fruit and nut tree plantation in Ananda Arpana Master Unit and Margiis, Dadas and Didis presented their projects and pracar for the last six months.
The RAWA evening program was very successful with beautiful Swedish song by Shonalii, and a Russian song by sister Lyubov, a dance performance by sister Lorena, poetry, Prabhata Samgiita songs, and spontaneous portrait drawing by Jyudhisthira.
On the last day evening during the closing ceremony, awards were given for the excellent contributions of Margiis and Acaryas for service and the development of the Sector last six months.
Roman & Lyubov participated for the first time to the retreat in Ananda Kanan. Here are their impressions:
“We believe that we are very lucky, because we had a priceless opportunity to attend the retreat in Ananda Kanan. And this are not just beautiful words, because we had chance not only to meet beautiful acharyas from Ananda Marga, but to learn from them, to practice together spiritual practices, which became much more powerful and more deep because of their spiritual profoundness. Each of them is extremely interesting person with a good sense of humor, and at the same time they are very simple and gladly can help you in any way.
Besides that we lived in a very beautiful place in the forest by the lake, where you can hear only nature’s sounds and breath the air which feels so thick of the forest’s tasty smells that it seems like you can chew it.
We met a lot of new friends and we had a lot of fun together. It is so important for us to communicate with like-minded people and with the same goals in the life. Besides the intensive spiritual practices together, we also had sport competitions, that brought us more together.
Also the real discovery for us was a river Missouri. That crystal clear warm and calm water with the fish of different kinds and colors… the rock-ribbed brink is very high and full of caves that we were exploring curiously and discovering the springs of different sizes… and their waters are incredible tasty and sweet and full of sattvik energies…
So our common opinion is that we stayed in a place with a high concentration of a Light energy and the only regret we have that retreat didn’t last any longer.”
Kavita Dabu came from Houston. Here is her impressions:
“Aside from being one of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve seen in a while. I received a tranquil mind, the type of peace that will carry on with you. I didn’t know many people there but somehow Baba put the right ones in front of me during my stay there. The food was always so delightful, you could taste the culture in each dish that we received which were made by different chefs everyday. The outdoor activities were great for both adults and children of all ages, that unity really brought a lot of good memories. Even though leaving that wonderful place was sad, I would love to go again next year because it got me closer to Baba like when I was a kid.”
Nandana and Iishvara came from Boston:
“Namaskar, my son and I want to thank Ananda Marga for the wonderful time we had here and how welcoming everyone was. We were surprised at how beautiful this place was, and how delicious the vegetarian food was. We enjoyed spiritual practices, riding boats on the lake and swimming in the river, dancing competitions, talent shows, sports competitions, meeting hummingbirds, and rabbits everywhere. Everything is clean and peaceful. During the retreat, we met a lot of likeminded people from other states and even countries. We made new spiritual friends and cannot wait to be here again. We thank Dada Diiptimanananda for kindly inviting us to visit, we are also grateful to all the Dadas and Didis for their great effort to run this retreat and giving yogis the opportunity to practice together, meet each other, and deepen practices. We highly recommend that spiritual seekers ad yogis visit this garden of bliss.”
Manujit describes his experience:
“We had an excellent group. We felt like a group of friends enjoying the natural field of Missouri with lots of positive energy. We were well taken care of – the dadas and didis, the food, the blend of travel and time to just enjoy were all perfect.”
Ananda Mela has been a blast! A day full of games and fun for everybody on July 4 during the Ananda Marga Spiritual Conference brought everybody to participate joyfully in several competitions. From canoe racing to basketball and volley ball. From egg racing (that for vegetarians has been re-framed as ping pong ball racing) to traditional tug of war the whole Ananda Kanan saw young and elderly all together. Four Teams confronted and after a day of games the first price was shared by two teams . Here is a video of the tug of war.
The visit of Acarya Rudrananda Avadhuta to new York Sector propitiated a series of new activity including the participation to the UNO Conference in New York on occasion of the International Yoga Day.
Acarya Pashupati presented the latest developments of AMURT Haiti during the Project Presentation Session in Ananda Kanan.
The programs include Innoved, run by Sarita, to dramatically increase the Neo-Humanistic education modalities in Haiti public and private schools. Here you see Dharma meeting with the staff.
Also Dharma is creating the salt flats to reclaim ocean salt and iodinating it in a cooperative endeavor with all the locals who, after the Hurricane Mitch destroyed their own basins, have joined in collaboration to use AMURT’s newer modern and more efficient methods with solar-powered pumps and multiple sequential basins. There are regular retreats, and 20 LFT’s are in training.
The AMURTEL ladies have had convocations with 200-300 women in self-help groups, “The Women Who Won’t Sit Down,” who are developing their economic self-sufficiency along with their freedom from abuse.
Indubhusan has purchased a Master Unit in Southern Haiti near the hospital that he directs, and it now has a jagrti built on it, with multiple tree plantations. Pashupati did relief work for Haitian refugees from the Dominican Republic, which ousted them without recourse.
Didi Ananda Kalyanmitra presented the developments of Ananda Dhiira Master Unit during the Projects Presentation Session at Ananda Kanan Spiritual Conference.
Ananda Dhiira Master Unit, Penn Valley, CA
Ananda Dhiira sits on 20 acres of beautiful oak tree forest with a running creek; we have 2 houses, vegetable garden and rose garden. In the vicinity of the Master Unit (10 minutes walking distance) there is a tourist attraction, the Bridgeport covered Bridge, built at the time of the gold rush. It is the longest single-span wooden bridge in USA and it sits in the midst of the South Yuba River State park. The park attracts many hikers and bird watchers from all around the country due to its unique variety of birds.
Time to time I get special help from volunteers that come from all over the world to spend the summer in this beautiful natural environment and learn about Ananda Marga Yoga and Meditation life style.
In the month of June 2017, a couple of volunteers from Canada (Stephen and Susie) came to help in the Master Unit. We had different tasks to accomplish on the property: rebuild the damaged fence and gate after a visit of a hungry bear ; cutting several fallen trees after the heavy rain during winter; splitting and piling wood for winter, preparing the vegetable garden for summer, and so on. Stephen is an expert carpenter, so with his help and with the supervision of Didi Ananda Aparajiita (who came to replace me while I was away), we managed to fix the broken gate in the vegetable garden, cut several fallen trees, pile them for winter, replace the wobbling fence of the rose garden in front of the house, weed the whole vegetable garden and plant tomatoes, zucchini, squashes, peppers, watermelons, melons, cucumbers, etc, and finish the pergola in front of one of the houses. Stephen also built from scratch a beautiful wooden door for the rose garden, carved by hand.
I had 2 margii sisters visiting from Taiwan, Iira’ma’ and Saraswatii. Iira’ma’ is my initiate, and stayed 2 weeks.
At the same time, a margii brother (Sucharit) invited me to test my brain waves while meditating for a study conducted at UC Davis (University of California Davis) in Sacramento. Sucharit is conducting various experiments to analyze the different responses that the brain has during meditation (Iishvara pranidhana, Dhyana, etc), and during other stimulating exercises as well as guided meditation and relaxation. The study had 2 groups of participants: one group had experienced meditators and the other had complete beginners. I was very interested in taking part in this kind of study and help him in his research.
Sucharit is now in India and soon he will move to Europe to continue in his studies.
I would like to invite you all to come and visit the Master Unit. You can contact me at email@example.com or call at
For money donation, please use PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would LOVE to see you here!!
In His Love,
Avadhutika Ananda Kalyanmitra Acarya
At Ananda Kanan during the Project Presentation Session brother Jiivamukta presented the advancements at Ananda Arpana Master Unit. The entire process of planting trees require a specialized work which is better suitable for professionals . At the beginning the traces are drawn where eventually a tractor will plow and finally the new trees will be lined up. In the photographs it is possible to recognize the different phases of this important work for the development of any Master Unit.
Workers Relief Camp (WRC) is a special event organized periodically by Ananda Marga Seva Dal.
On June 26 to 28 2017 around 20 dedicated volunteers of Ananda Marga Seva Dal participated to the Workers Relief Camp in the beautiful setting of Ananda Kanan Ozark Retreat Center.
Three days full of sports and discipline oriented activities prepared the volunteers for the difficult task of serving humanity at the time of need.
The Day starts with the raising of the flag of Dharma by singing a spiritual song symbolizing the complete dedication the the cause of serving humanity without any distinction.
When at the end of the day the flag is lowered the activity are over but the discipline and vigilance in the Camp continues through out the night giving the opportunity to the participants to experience the state of alertness and composure required in any real life situation, particularly when in emergency life matters most.
At the same time the atmosphere of a camp is always very festive and at Ananda Kanan all enjoyed the good food and the opportunity to perform service by preparing the retreat center for the coming Spiritual Conference.
The WRC was organized by Acarya Anudhyanananda Avadhuta in quality of Chief Secretary of Ananda Marga Seva Dal . We look forward for more Camps and opportunity to join the Ananda Marga Seva Dal activities in North and Central America.
(The image on the front is not from the WRC Camp in Ananda Kanan. It is from a medical Camp held in India some times ago.)
Some of the most promising advances in cancer research in recent years involve treatments known as immunotherapy. These advances are spurring billions of dollars in investment by drug companies, and are leading to hundreds of clinical trials. Here are answers to some basic questions about this complex and rapidly evolving field.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy refers to any treatment that uses the immune system to fight diseases, including cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells, immunotherapy acts on the cells of the immune system, to help them attack the cancer.
What are the types of immunotherapy?
Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors are the most widely used form of immunotherapy for cancer. They block a mechanism that cancer cells use to shut down the immune system. This frees killer T-cells — a critically important part of the immune system — to attack the tumor. Four checkpoint inhibitors have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are on the market. They are given intravenously.
Another form of immunotherapy, called cell therapy, involves removing immune cells from the patient, altering them genetically to help them fight cancer, then multiplying them in the laboratory and dripping them, like a transfusion, back into the patient. This type of treatment is manufactured individually for each patient, and is still experimental.
Bispecific antibodies are an alternative to cell therapy, one that does not require individualizing treatment for each patient. These antibodies are proteins that can attach to both a cancer cell and a T-cell, that way bringing them close together so the T-cell can attack the cancer. One such drug, called Blincyto, has been approved to treat a rare type of leukemia.
Vaccines, another form of immunotherapy, have had considerably less success than the others. Unlike childhood vaccines, which are aimed at preventing diseases like measles and mumps, cancer vaccines are aimed at treating the disease once the person has it. The idea is to prompt the immune system to attack the cancer by presenting it with some piece of the cancer.
The only vaccine approved specifically to treat cancer in the United States is Provenge, for prostate cancer. Another vaccine, BCG, which was developed to prevent tuberculosis, has long been used to treat bladder cancer. As a weakened TBbacterium, BCG appears to provoke a general immune system reaction that then works against the cancer. Researchers hope that other vaccines may yet be made to work by combining them with checkpoint inhibitors.
Which types of cancer are treated with immunotherapy?
Checkpoint inhibitors have been approved to treat advanced melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cancers of the lung, kidney, bladder and head and neck. The drugs are being tested in many other types of cancer.
So far, cell therapy has been used mostly for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.
Which cancer drugs are checkpoint inhibitors?
The four on the market are: Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab), made by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Keytruda (pembrolizumab), by Merck; and Tecentriq (atezolizumab), by Genentech.
How well does immunotherapy work?
Though immunotherapy has been stunningly successful in some cases, it still works in only a minority of patients. Generally, 20 percent to 40 percent of patients are helped by checkpoint inhibitors — although the rate can be higher among those with melanoma. Some patients with advanced disease have had remissions that have lasted for years. In some cases, combining two checkpoint inhibitors increases the effectiveness. But for some people the drugs do not work at all, or they help just temporarily.
Cell therapy can produce complete remissions in 25 percent to 90 percent of patients with lymphoma or leukemia, depending on the type of cancer. In some cases the remissions can last for years, but in others relapses occur within a year.
What are the side effects?
Checkpoint inhibitors can cause severe problems that are, essentially, autoimmune illnesses, in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue as well as cancer. One result is inflammation. In the lungs it can cause breathing trouble; in the intestine it can cause diarrhea. Joint and muscle pain, and rheumatoid arthritis can also occur, and the immune system can also attack vital glands like the thyroid and pituitary. In rare cases, the immune system can attack the heart, especially when patients take two checkpoint inhibitors at the same time. These reactions are dangerous, but can often be controlled with steroid medicines like prednisone and other immune-suppressing drugs.
Cell therapy can also lead to severe and potentially fatal reactions resulting from the overstimulation of the immune system. The reactions can usually be controlled, but patients may need to be treated in an intensive care unit.