Community Update

(updated 4/04/20)

Let us meditate upon Higher Truth and let That inspire our thoughts and actions.
—Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian 

Dear CSE Community,

I’m writing with greetings of love and peace, and to share important updates. As Yogacharya O’Brian and I have continued to closely track new developments around COVID-19, and following the Santa Clara County Public Health updated guidelines to close public facilities and extend the stay at home order, we have decided to close the CSE Meditation Gardens and extend postponement of all in-person programs and services at the Center until June 1st.

Effective until June 1, 2020 the CSE Meditation Gardens are closed, and there will be no in-person programs, worship services, or events at the Center.

Our Center staff is in full force and following the County guidelines as we continue to work diligently to support you in the highest way with extensive online programs and services in place, and more coming.

As Executive Director, I continue to follow leads on grants and federal funding so we are able to continue paying our staff during this time. And, of course, we are grateful for your generous support.

We continue to offer Sunday Satsang with Yogacharya O'Brian weekly, and we've recently added new web pages with videos from Yogacharya.

- Sunday Satsang with Yogacharya (10am weekly)
- Messages from Yogacharya
- Guided Meditation with Yogacharya

Starting April 15th we will begin offering Online Morning Puja & Meditation with Yogacharya and CSE Leaders, daily at 6:30am.

In the weeks ahead we will move toward offering even more programs and services online. Visit our Online Programs web page for the most current list of programs.

Please do continue to follow the guidelines set forth by SCC Health Department that were outlined in our previous communications. Wishing you continued well-being, peace, and spiritual strength.

Thank you,
Rev. Sundari Jensen
CSE Executive Minister



(updated 3/13/20)
Letter from Yogacharya O'Brian

Wisdom is the greatest cleanser. 
—Swami Sri Yukteswar

Beloved Friend,

By now, you should have received the updated news that we are closing the Center’s onsite programs until May 1st and increasing the capacity and breadth of online offerings.

No one can argue that we are living in an extraordinary time—a time that raises the critically important imperative for individual and planetary awakening. At the Center, we have been reflecting on several questions: How do we rise to meet the need of this time? How do we respond to the growing health concerns in the larger community while remaining true to our core spiritual beliefs? These questions are relevant to us all.

I have no doubt that the enlightened spiritual masters in our Kriya Yoga tradition would offer this sage advice for us: keep it simple. Keep it simple and stay anchored in the awareness of your essential Self. Yoga—conscious union with the divine Self—is skill in action. That skill supports living from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. It is the ability to be guided by wisdom rather than by the stress and sway of external conditions.

At the Center, keeping it simple and acting skillfully means choosing to meet growing needs for inspiration and spiritual support by building on our online capacity to make all our programs more widely accessible. In this time of “social distancing,” we will strengthen “spiritual connecting.” I am so grateful we can do this. We have all we need to move forward with wisdom, courage, tenacity, and an abundance of grace.

May we all focus on keeping it simple by doing what we can to reduce stress and enhance spiritual awareness. I look forward to being with you online in the days ahead.

With infinite love and blessings,
Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian




(updated 3/12/20) 
Letter from Rev. Sundari Jensen

Dear CSE Community,

I greet you with love and peace, especially in this time of uncertainty regarding the spread of COVID-19. I’m writing with an important update about how we are addressing the call to slow the spread, reduce the number of people infected, and, especially, protect those who are most vulnerable.

Yogacharya O’Brian and I have continued to closely track new developments around COVID-19 with updates from the State and County departments of public health. Following the Santa Clara County Public Health guidelines to cancel all nonessential events, and Yogacharya’s guidance to “keep it simple” at this time in order to remove the stress of reevaluating day by day, we have decided to postpone all in-person programs and services at the Center.

Effective March 13 until May 1, 2020 there will be no in-person programs, worship services, or events at the Center.

Our Center staff is working diligently to support you in the highest way. We will use this time as a precious opportunity to expand our online service capacities. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be coming up to speed in several areas, watch for updates.

The following programs and services will be offered online immediately.
- Sunday Services
- Silent Meditation Retreat
- Mid-week classes
- Vedic Counseling & Spiritual Direction

In the weeks ahead we will move toward offering more programs and services online. Visit our CSE COVID-19 Updates webpage for the most current status of our programs, services, and links with more information about how to stay connected in community.

Please do continue to follow the guidelines set forth by SCC Health Department that were outlined in our previous communication. Wishing you continued well-being, peace, and spiritual strength.

Thank you,
Rev. Sundari Jensen
CSE Executive Minister



(updated 3/10/20)
Letter from Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian

Life is always unsafe and unstable, like a drop of water on a lotus leaf.
The company of a divine personage, even for a moment, can save and redeem us.

—Adi Shankaracharya

Beloved Friends,

The above quote from Shankaracharya is poignantly positioned as the final words offered by Swami Sri Yukteswar in his seminal text, The Holy Science. Throughout that concise and profound book, my spiritual great-grandfather draws the reader into the heart of spiritual truth like a divine compass. Whether we approach the divine One from the East or the West, that unchanging, ever-supportive Reality is always right where we are. The blessing of the divine ones—the spiritual teachers in our life—is that they reveal this truth to us. In their company, we realize it and we are never the same. We are equipped to walk through the world of changing conditions without losing our balance.

Paramahansa Yogananda famously said, “A yogi stands firm amidst bursting worlds.” I remember my guru chuckling a little as he recounted that, noting Yoganandaji had a gift for powerful communication. How meaningful those words are to us today as we grapple with our response to a global pandemic and its many implications. In such a time, life can surely feel unsafe and unstable. Yet, our spiritual tradition reminds us that we can anchor our awareness in the divine truth of our being. We have been gifted with many ways to do that.

Amid ever-evolving travel advisories, I decided to return to the US last week. It became necessary to cancel programs in two cities in Italy and to forgo attending the dharma conference in India. I am well, but because I had been in Italy, I have been undergoing a cautionary self-imposed home quarantine. I have another week to go, and then I expect to return to scheduled programs at the Center. I’m grateful for the ongoing diligence of our Center staff for all the health protocols they have implemented.

Thanks to technology, I am meeting daily with Rev. Sundari Jensen, CSE’s Executive Director, to guide and determine the Center’s next steps in response to unfolding developments in the greater community. Our mission is to be an oasis of peace in service of individual and planetary awakening, always. We will continue to hold that as our guiding light as we discern how to best serve during this time. We will keep you informed and updated on a regular basis.

Just as we turn to the news daily for the latest developments in our community and world, we must also turn within through prayer and meditation to stay anchored in the divine. There is much we do not know right now about external conditions. Yet, there is much we do know about how to stay actively calm in times of stress and uncertainty. We know we can anchor our attention in the peace of the soul. We know we can redirect our thoughts. We know that fear contracts the body and mind, closes us down, and negatively impacts well-being. We know that love expands us and shows us possibilities. We know that every challenge holds a healing promise, and this time surely does.

Sri Yukteswar prefaced his inclusion of the quote from Shankaracharya by saying: This little volume is therefore concluded with an earnest exhortation to the reader never to forget the great goal of life.

May we each anchor our awareness in spiritual truth, return to love and let it lead.

Anchored in the divine,
Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian
CSE Founder & Spiritual Director


(updated 3/05/20)
Update from Rev. Sundari Jensen

If thoughts of worry, fear, or frustration arise in your mind, practice taking a “prayer moment” of remembrance. Recall that divine grace is already at work in your life. 

—Yogacharya O'Brian 

Dear CSE Community,

I greet you with love and peace, especially in this time of heightened concern over the recent spread of Covid19. I thought you’d like to know what we are doing here at CSE support a healthy environment for attendance at our programs.

We have been closely tracking new developments around COVID-19 and following updates from the State and County departments of public health.

We are assessing the situation daily, and are prepared to make changes should the situation evolve. In the meantime, we have taken several extra measures to help everyone stay healthy and minimize the spread of transmissible diseases:

  • We have asked our staff and leaders to disinfect door knobs, light switches and other surfaces daily.
  • We will further amplify incorporating good hygiene practices into our youth education programs.
  • Last Sunday our youth minister, Rev. Fritchle, offered a teaching on the koshas and taught the youth how to care for the body and included a practice of how to wash hands for 20 seconds.
    We have increased access to sanitizers in all buildings.
  • We will be posting proper hand washing signage — as well as handwashing reminders — and reminders for good hygiene practices in general.
  • We are offering coffee and tea during fellowship time, and not offering finger foods.
  • We are sanitizing all of our shared hatha yoga equipment.

As a reminder, it is very important that we all:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are sick, especially if you have experienced a fever or flu-like symptoms.
  • Make use of hand sanitizer.
  • Throw used tissues into a bin immediately after use.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Try to avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth.

We are a very welcoming community. For the time being however, we encourage you to refrain from physical greetings, such as hand shakes and hugging.

Part of our mission is to keep our community healthy. Please help us by following these best practices.

If you do need to stay home you can join our CSE online community for live streaming of worship service each Sunday at 10am by clicking here.

Thank you,  
Rev. Sundari Jensen
CSE Executive Minister 



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