A four-hour ride took us to the south of the Netherlands. The name of the province was Limburg. Provinces of the same name can be found in Belgium and Germany: the ancient fiefdom is divided by the current state borders.

Dutch Limburg is the geographical region Swami Kriyananda indicated as a possible place for an Ananda community in western Europe. Attempts were made in the past, apparently without success. Real estate was found, near the so-called “three countries spot” where Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany can be seen from the top of a hill. But there were not enough people willing to make the big decision to change their lifestyle and live there.

I said “apparently,” for as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: no spiritual effort is ever made in vain. Over the past six years, quite a few devotees have qualified as Raja Yoga teachers, who are also trained to prepare disciples for Kriya initiation. More and more spiritual seekers discover the power and efficacy of Yogananda’s teachings and the desirability of community building. Who knows, in a few years there may be enough people interested to start seeking real estate in the region that Swami had indicated.

Our visit started in José’s lovely bed & breakfast in a cute little village. Only the organizers of the events were present. Jacqueline, Peter’s wife, cooked a delicious Asian meal for all of us, we had wonderful satsang with Asha and ended with a powerful kirtan. The next day we all drove to Groesbeek, southeast of Nijmegen, where the retreat was to take place: a center built for spiritual events, with many rooms and conference halls, and excellent vegetarian cuisine.

This was a true Kriya retreat. Asha and I gave the initiation together, and I experienced the joy of explaining the sacred technique in my own mother tongue. In her inspirational talk, Asha highlighted the uniqueness of this occasion. How many incarnations have prepared us for this moment! And now the “mystic keys of awakening,” as it says in the Festival of Light, at last have been given to us. And the soul rejoices.

I also had the privilege of giving the higher initiations to a few more advanced devotees. Those hours, spent with them in an informal setting, were pure “spiritual quality time” for all those present!

And so much satsang with Asha! One thing that came up almost everywhere, was that questions are often the result of a wrong premise. The image she uses is that of a mountain climber, who looks at some spot very near the top of the mountain and says: “I should be there.” The best strategy is first to accept and assess where you are, attune your discipline to what is possible for you given where you are, and then see what the next step is.

The joy in the air was palpable. Ananda Netherlands is definitely ready for a next step!

At the end of this retreat, as with previous ones, we sang Swami’s “goodbye for now” song, slightly adjusted by Asha with approval of the composer. I felt deep gratitude for the organizers, Daya, Durgadas, Ellen, Gyandevi, José, Mirthe, Peter and his lovely wife Jacqueline, Santoshi and Saraswati as I sang, along with them:

Hearts unite in joyful blessings
Though we part, our love will stay
May God’s Light expand within you
May we be one with that Light some day.

My tour with Asha, Ananda’s ambassador to the world, and with Dambara, a musician as wonderful as he is humble, was almost over. I took my friends to Amsterdam, where there was time for sightseeing, walks and expansive conversations. Then the next day, we went to Schiphol Airport, from which they proceeded to the last events of their tour with Ananda UK and Ireland.