What follows are comments made by Jonathan Mann (Corresponding Secretary) during the SRF Regional Retreat in October 2012. While these words lean on the theme of retreats, an accurate picture of Maui Meditation Circle’s evolution is equally presented.

of Self-Realization Fellowship
Retreats Conducted the First 30 Years

This is a very condensed version of the history of retreats held by Maui Meditation Circle and leading up to the first-ever Regional Retreat led by monks of Self-Realization Fellowship.

Betty and Jonathan Mann along with our six-year-old son, Matthew, moved to Maui in February, 1982. Prior to this, in the late ’70’s, we were living in the central Philippines where a friend who had a spiritual library introduced us to Self-Realization Fellowship. Betty and I each had our own bookmark in the Autobiography of A Yogi.

Still taking the Lessons upon our arrival on Maui, we were eager to join in group meditation practice. After contacting the Mother Center, we learned, to our disappointment, that no group existed here, but were given three names to call. We decided to form a group and two of the people we called agreed to meet at a home on a Sunday afternoon in January, 1983. The first thing the fellow said when we walked in the door at 1pm, along with our son, was that there was a slight problem. “What would that be?” I asked. “Well, it’s Super Bowl Sunday!” He was a fan of one of the teams playing. Thus, with the game on, we formed a base for the Circle’s humble beginnings.

Since then we have met in various far flung homes, in rooms both tiny and large, from Kula to Kapalua, and Kihei to Paia, but mostly in Pukalani and Makawao in the Mann household — especially since the mid ’90’s. Following Convocation in 1983 where five devotees met with Center Department monks, we were granted Maui Meditation Circle status in 1984.

Our first retreat was held in cabins at Polipoli State Park on the West side of Haleakala. This was in 1986 with six devotees, as far as I can recall. All of us observed silence. Oddly enough, it was over twenty years before another Circle retreat took place! In the Fall of 2006, Maui Meditation Circle had a visiting devotee couple from Oregon who had a “vision” of a retreat on Maui. They even had a name for it: The Aloha Silent Retreat! Well, Lynn and Morris Walker had to do some heavy persuading to convince enough members to be on a committee to have this retreat in February of 2007 – only four months hence! For mainlanders to escape winter, we firmly believed. The retreat was held in Haiku in what seemed like a modern castle and upwards of forty-five people attended, mostly from the West Coast. At that time Maui Meditation Circle had only about ten regularly attending devotees for services. Basking in renewed spiritual energy, another Aloha Silent Retreat was put together by the Circle in April, 2009 in Makawao. The kirtans were supremely sublime as several devotees who led or participated in kirtan groups on the mainland were in attendance.

I must mention that since MMC was formally recognized as a meditation Circle, in our annual reports to Center Department every two years we would enquire about “just a stopover” visit from monastics when traveling West to East or East to West. This was asked with high hopes that in being persistent, it would happen. The closest came in May of 2001 when Honolulu hosted a retreat. It only increased our longing. In Maui Meditation Circle’s report for 2011, submitted in February of 2011, the thought came to me to add just one statement to our plea, and it went like this, “Us devotees on Maui feel so isolated at times.” We were astonished when in May of 2011, an opportunity was offered to Maui Meditation Circle to host a Regional Retreat led by monastics! Of course, this was unanimously accepted.

It was wonderful to see how our individual sadhanas brought members together for the Maui Regional Retreat held at the Grand Wailea Resort from October 19 – 21, 2012. A simple yet profound statement to success in life as an individual is “Just Show Up.” Mahalo to the 150 people who showed up for the Retreat and helped make it such a resounding spiritually enhancing experience – one that all of us in Maui Meditation Circle trust has carried each of the retreatants in a subtle onward direction far beyond the memory of the weekend.

“When by persistence in meditation you realize God through communion with Him, your heart is prepared to embrace all humanity”
— Paramahansa Yogananda

Jonathan Mann
2012 Retreat Coordinator, Maui Meditation Circle