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10th Jul 2004, World Parliament Of Religions, Barcelona, Spain

World Parliament of Religions, Barcelona
World Parliament of Religions, Barcelona

Ananda Marga gave 2 presentations. "There are many Religions but only one Spirit," was jointly presented. Didi Ananda Harimaya opened the program with an informative power point presentation, followed by Didi Ananda Prama's sharing the Sanskrit mantra Samgacchadhvam and explaining the meaning: We must move together along the path of spirituality. She offered the opportunity for the audience to share the feeling of the oneness of the spirit.

Dada Divyalokeshananda properly answered the question of a priest who wondered how we can avoid dogma, explaining that dogma has crept in as human beings deviate from the original message of their founders.

These words of P.R. Sarkar were shared with the group: "Spirituality knows no occupational barriers. It is universal. It is transcendental. It is not reserved for black people or white people or rich or poor. It is the divine gift of God to all of His children. Spirituality is all-embracing. It is the birthright of all people."

The other presentation was an inter religious roundtable discussion led by Didi Ananda Harimaya. The topic was "Spirituality and Social Compromise". The other presenters were a Jewish Rabbi, a Christian and a Tibetan Buddhist. Didi gave a slideshow presentation entitled "Morality Is The Base, Sadhana Is The Means And Life Divine Is The Goal". She explained about Dharma and the meaning of Ananda Marga: Self Realisation and Service to Humanity. She also presented Shrii Shrii Anandamurti's legacy to humanity and the 6 spokes of the social cycle, Neo-Humanism,and PROUT. She ended with a slideshow presentation of the service projects around the world done by Ananda Marga. The presenters agreed to keep contact and continue their dialogue and do some service for humanity.
- Didi Ananda Prama

10th Jul 2004, Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona
Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona

There is a beautiful line to a folk song that keeps playing in my mind "True love is gifted, True love is sacrifice". For me the lesson that is coming to me most strongly since I joined the Bus 4 days ago in Lyon France is sacrifice.

Reuniting again with all of these beautiful shining folks reawakens in me the inspiration to live not for myself but for the welfare of all. And I realize that the only joy I will ever find in this world of ours is the joy I receive from helping others.

I feel that every day of our lives we are blessed with the opportunity to do service. But since the focus of our Bus tour is Sadhana, Service and Sacrifice I am able to realize this grace more easily. I will share with you one small experience that I've had that has been a gift for me.

The other day when we were in Barcelona we were staying at camping ground outside of Barcelona. A group of us wanted to go and see a famous cathedral designed and constructed by the Spanish architect Gaudi. One sister named Chandrika was among one of the members of our group, Chandrika is a beautiful sister who is physically handicapped and has trouble walking, so she uses a wheelchair. And naturally this slows things down. I volunteered to help Chandrika, we soon realized that the Barcelona metro is definitely not designed with consideration of the handicapped.

We spent a lot of time travelling up and down stairs, back and forth trying to find elevators, ending up in the wrong place, everything became chaos to say the least, and I have to admit I came to a point where I thought to myself that things would be much easier if I were alone.

We continued on and something quite extraordinary happened the more we struggled the more a blissful feeling began to fill my heart, I was feeling Baba's presence so strongly with us. Every time Chandrika got out of her wheelchair to walk up another flight of stairs I imagined her as Baba walking with His cane. And my mind soared higher and higher until the end of the night my feet barely touched the ground. And after reflection I felt deeply that Baba was showing me the true fulfilment to be found in life, and this simple experience along with many others gives me such inspiration to do something concrete with my life to always be in the flow of Sadhana, Service and Sacrifice.
- Liilamaya

10th Jul 2004, Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona
RAWA street performance of music
RAWA street performance of a fire dance
Gaudi's Gardens, Barcelona

Wow! We actually made it to Spain on the scheduled day. France was a test and as Dada put it: if we get to Barcelona on our scheduled day we will have conquered it, and that we did! After a late night arrival, our next day was to be a relaxed. We all set out separately to the city that day and cosmically, all ended up sooner or later at the Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by the artist Gaudi. An amazing site that in English means the The Cathedral of the Sacred Family, a name that fits perfectly with the collective flow that we share on this tour. Our experience that day soon raised our spirits with sun, morning swims in the ocean and cultural experiences never to be forgotten. Getting us ready for the following day!

This was the day we have been waiting on. One full day of fundraising with puppets, clowning, drums, fire spinning, devotional, music and of course kiirtan and meditation, all happening in the busy streets of Barcelona. Shaded by the Banc De Espana (The Bank Of Spain) across from Plaza de Cataluna, a popular city square, we set up our space. Unlike our French experience, Spain was to be much more hospitable. After asking permission to stay on the corner, the police said no problem but only keep it to 3 or 4 hours. We of course took advantage of this permission, and hung our 4 meter long Baba Nam Kevalam banner, set out mats and sheets to sit on, put display boards out, donation buckets, and broke out the guitars and drums!! It didn't stop until 8 hours later.

Our devotional songs, Asana performance and kiirtan attracted all kinds of people. I felt we were planting spiritual seeds to all who heard or felt our vibration. The Nagar Kiirtan (City Kirtan), which included 3 giant puppets, pounding drums, and Jyostna on guitar caught the curiosity of the masses who had no choice but to watch and listen. Most of whom were either smiling and dancing along, or whom were stopped in their tracks, curious and puzzled about our exhibition. Concluding with a beautiful concert by our RAWA artists, the audience and margiis were left with a sweet devotional feeling that kept people intrigued til the end, it finally ended with a surprise performance by Prema Sa'gar spinning fire to a drum thumping kiirtan. Possibly a first in the Ananda Marga history books.

Our last day concluded with a visit to Gaudi Gardens. This final day left me with a nice familial feeling in me, like I was a child again spending time on a family vacation. It was sweet. Barcelona is a wonderful place, full of art and culture. I think for all of us it was an enriching and inspiring time.

Thank you Barcelona !!
Thank you BABA!!
- Karmendra

8th Jul 2004, Barcelona, Spain

Shiveshvar on the beach opposite our campsite in Barcelona We arrived around 3 o'clock this morning, pretty exhausted after the day's events. After bashing tent pegs into the hard sun-baked ground of the campground, we went to sleep. The busy morning in Barcelona had to be moved aside for some much-needed rest.

The sun is hot. The ocean is about 80 metres away. A few people from the group are giving workshops as part of the events in the city relating to the International Forum and the Parliament of World Religions. And tomorrow there will be a concerts, street clowning and a kiirtan procession.
- Prema Sagar

7th Jul 2004, On The French Autoroute

The blown bus tyre being replaced
Singing songs while waiting for the bus to be repaired

Another eventful day!

Driving in the heat of the day, the straight and simple journey to Barcelona gets interesting as the bus starts to groan a little. We soon discover that one of the back wheels has blown. Right there, in the heat of the day, next to a cemetary, in the middle of nowhere in particular, on the French Autoroute.

For several hours, we wait while mechanics come to jack up the bus and change the tyre. But resourceful as ever, we use the opportunity to dry our rainsoaked clothes and tents under the now baking sun, meditate and improvise songs.

Back on the road...
- Prema Sagar

6th Jul 2004, Lyon, France (afternoon)

The beautiful Meditation Tent
The tent lifts off the ground and collapses
Liilamaya, soaked
Packing away the wet things

A day of drama like no other so far. I feel re-energised by all the clash. After an eventful morning that involved a park, a camera man, four police cars and 16 police men, we made it back to the campsite a little shaken but confident in the belief that through His drama we had spread a little more love to the furthest corners of the French bureaucracy.

Dance rehearsals started at 5 pm. We were choreographing a dance for the Prabhat Samgiita, 'summer song' (English Translation). I'm convinced it must have been some kind of rain dance because from the moment we started the clouds began looming overhead. By the time we were two thirds through the sky was rumbling with growing rage.

There was another group in the Meditation Tent preparing a collage of the tour to present to the public so as the rain began to gently patter we collected our things and retreated to the dryness of the tent to help with another type of creative expression. This is after all a tour of Art for Service.

As I sat there innocently the wind began to pick up. The thought crossed my mind that we ought to secure the tent as much as possible, however I was in no way prepared for the events which followed in rapid succession.

As I was pulling myself up a wind with hurricane like verocity came out of nowhere and whipped through the tent pulling two walls down in one fell swoop. I must have blanked out for a second because all I remember is one minute being completely dry and the next moment being drenched from head to foot. The whole tent came tumbling down around us. My first reaction was to lunge over as much of the artwork as I could in a feeble attempt to save it from being completely destroyed.

As I realised this was fruitless I gabbed as much as I could reach and began running blindly in the direction of the bus. The rain was coming down in sheets and all I could see was a vague outline where I remembered the Bus had been parked. As I reached it I looked up to see Josh's camera lense in my face. The whole episode was caught on camera. Including Dada's comment about why I was in such a hurry.

The next 10 minutes were spent running back and forth in an attempt to salvage as much of the wreckage as we could. We worked well as a team and managed to save some things. It helped that most people were laughing in disbelief as we ran soaking across the camp ground. It felt revitalising to witness so sharply Mother Nature at work.
- Supriya

6th Jul 2004, Lyon, France (morning)

Stop Press: Band of meditating yogis cause havoc in Lyon!

Kiirtan procession through the park in Lyon
Police stop the kiirtan
Meditation by the river
Police question cameraman Josh about footage he may of taken of the police stopping the kiirtan
Police arrive in force

Our tour stop in Lyon took us to the Tete d'Or Park where Baba had walked with his disciples. As we set off into the park with our instruments and singing voices we had no idea the drama that was to ensue. Singing celebratory kiirtan we were suddenly confronted by a pair Of policewomen who sternly told us that this type of spiritual gathering was strictly forbidden in such a public place.

As the most competent French speaker I acted as spokesperson for our group. I told the police officers that we wanted to sit for meditation in the park but she said that too was against the rules. I found it hard to believe that by sitting in meditation we were breaking the law. Some of their colleagues arrived and told us that it was OK, but we should be "discreet".

We settled for a wooden deck by a small river and started our collective meditation. Before long I heard a car pull up and listened as a conversation stated between our cameraman Josh and the police officers who had returned to try and confiscate the video footage he had taken of the policewomen telling us we couldn't meditate in the park.

Again I was asked to communicate with the officers who were now arriving by the car load. Two of the officers in particular were questioning me about the nature of our group and our activities. They were suspicious of the fact that we had children with us and that we might be carrying drugs. I explained that we were peace loving vegetarians here to celebrate the visit of a philosopher 25 years ago. The way they were questioning me it was as though they wanted to dig up some dirt on us to prove that we were some kind of dangerous, sinister sect.

Three teams of officers gathered while the rest of the Bliss Bus group sat quietly enjoying their meditation. It was totally farcical that this calm group of devotees had attracted the concern of so many police who were trying to provoke some kind of reaction from us.

We awaited the arrival of their superior who could determine the fate of Josh's videotape. When he finally arrived he watched as Josh (supposedly) erased all the footage of the police intervention.

The rabble of police officers finally dispersed and we walked back to our bus, talking over the incident. We boarded the bus and rolled out of the park singing kiirtan that was the most powerful of the tour so far.
- Roshnii


The world is out of balance. The police harass the spiritualists and disallow any expression of religion freedom while crime is rampant in the streets. A happy ending came as the police left in their van waving an orange pillow out the window and one policeman asked where he could learn meditation. Back on the bus we head to Spain.
- Didi Anandaprama

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