Convocation - How to Afford It
Convocation is one time when the total is vastly more than the sum of the individual parts - talks, kirtans, group meditations, meeting old and making new friends (once more to be), counseling opportunities, pilgrimages to sacred places...
Convocation is a time when bona fide miracles happen. Daya Mata once said she saw a broad shaft of light pouring over midtown Los Angeles, and knew that's where the Convocation takes place.
Master is working overtime during Convocation. He meets, greets, teaches, enlightens, scolds his devotees, he plays tricks on them, he wraps them in his comforting love when things are difficult. Suddenly something you have heard many times sinks deep into your consciousness, and you know on the deepest level of your soul a truth that has always been there.
Never been to a Convocation? want to attend? let's talk about how to plan for it.
Costs have risen in all areas, here’s an update based on 2016 rates, with travel from Phoenix-Los Angeles. Next year’s prices may be different!
Registration: $350 for Adults; $310 for Seniors & Students. Devotees who have served at temples or centers and attended Convocations before may consider to volunteer. Service for 30 hours at Convocation may mean that the fees could be waived or reduced. Bus Pilgrimages to local sites: $65.00 (lunch included); to Encinitas: $80. Single Event Tickets: $35.00.
Hotel: The Bonaventure Hotel is most convenient but costs are high — $113.50 per night per person, double occupancy, which includes all taxes. (Hint: We leave $5 tips daily which assures extraordinary room service!) Other hotels are less expensive, and there are free shuttle buses at night after the last class. If you know someone you can stay with, that's another option. Hint: The Westin hotel chain offers “Starwood Points” for staying at their hotels; registration is free. This year, we saved $60 each for our hotel charges.
Travel from Phoenix: Southwest Airlines to Burbank or LAX is usually cheapest, with frequent sales. This year it was $44.00 each way. Burbank is easier to access than LAX. Several devotees used Uber between airport and hotel, and had good experiences.
Car pooling: 5 persons per van comes to about $60 per person, round trip PHX-LAX. Hotel parking is expensive but safe. If you have a friend in the LA area, maybe you can park your car there.
Food: There are many low-cost eateries in the hotel. They know and expect us; all offer at least some vegetarian foods for $7-9 for lunch/dinner, two served breakfast for $5 incl. tax. Nearby business buildings also have options. $25 per day should do it if you are on a budget. All Bonaventure rooms have a refrigerator and coffee maker with coffee and tea provided, and you can bring your own food. Cooking is not permitted (no hotplates, microwaves, etc.)
Pilgrimages: Pilgrimages are being offered to various sacred sites (e.g. Hollywood Temple, Lake Shrine, etc) and include a fine Indian lunch. This year, the charge was $65 locally and $80 for the trip to Encinitas. All prices are subject to change next year.
Now - how to raise about $1500 pp. for the one week in heaven? One good thing is, it doesn't come all at once. SRF registration is in February. Airline reservations should be made whenever there's a sale, so these two chunks of expenses are out of the way. The hotel charge comes about a month after Convocation. Between Convocations, we have 50 weeks, that means about $30 per week. Can we set that aside? How to raise extra money?
Feed your Horn of Plenty Bank daily! Even loose change adds up. And don't forget to say the prayer affirmation printed on the bank while setting the intention for Convocation. Daily. Several times, if you remember. Connecting with the Infinite Source is more important than anything else.
Sell something! Look around your home, garage, closets, kitchen and see if there aren't many items that are no longer used, needed, or wanted. Take them to consignment stores; some specialize in furniture, some in apparel - there are many in the Phoenix area. Check them out to see what type of goods they carry.
Kitchen items: Kitchen items can go to Classy Kitchen at 7th Street/Glendale Avenue. They do an amazing business! All give store credit or cash when your item sells.
Electronic Sales: Sell on eBay, Amazon (fees) or Craigslist (no fee). It's not difficult! Or - have a garage sale!
Credit Cards: Nowadays almost every CCard offers points, redeemable in cash. Use one of those all year long (but keep paying down the charges!) and save that cash for Convocation.
Occasions: Between now and next Convo, each of us will have a birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's or Father's Day, maybe Anniversary. Simplify life for your family and friends when the question arises - what to give? A contribution to Convocation.
It is important to set these funds aside or they will easily get spent for other reasons. Be sure to have an envelope marked for that purpose alone and don't borrow from it; or set up a savings account.
Hope to see you next year - JAI GURU!
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