Gangaji, a renowned spiritual leader and author, will return to Unity in the Gold Country Spiritual Center Wednesday evening to further guide those wishing to find spiritual truth within themselves.
This is Gangaji’s second visit to the spiritual center.
She first visited just under a year ago and held an open meeting to a sold out-group of more than 300 guests.
Born Antoinette Roberson Varner, Gangaji spent decades searching for the path to lasting happiness, immersing herself in relationships, motherhood, political activism, and various spiritual practices.
In 1990, she traveled to India where she met Sri H.W.L. Poonja (also known as Papaji) on the banks of the River Ganga.
She was awakened with the ability to deeply inquire into herself and discovered silent awake consciousness. Papaji gave Varner the name Gangaji and became her spiritual teacher and guide.
Today Gangaji travels the world speaking to people from all walks of life, sharing her direct experience of the essential message she received from Papaji. Known for her directness and simplicity, Gangaji speaks about her personal life, her history and experiences with Papaji.
According to her website, her message is to “shift your allegiance from the activities of your mind to eternal presence of your being.”
The open meeting format consists of Gangaji speaking for about 15 to 20 minutes before inviting people to come up on stage.
She then asks questions about their personal experiences, creating a dialog with the individual, as well as the audience.
Deborah Van Buren has followed Gangaji for 12 years and sees her message as one of self-inquiry – recognizing that there is a deeper awareness in each of us that is unchanging.
“There’s a simplicity to her message, but it’s complex, because our minds are so complex,” she said.
Van Buren has been integral in bringing Gangaji back to Grass Valley, specifically to Unity in the Gold Country Spiritual Center, where she attends.
Unity in the Gold Country hosts approximately 10 to 12 workshops and speakers each year, with topics ranging from the new thought movement and the metaphysical to high spirituality.
Unity in the Gold Country changed its name about two years ago to be recognized as a spiritual center, as opposed to a church.
“When people hear ‘church’ they think of one religion, and you get put in that specific box,” said Patricia Haller, a ministry assistant at the center.
“But we didn’t want to be put in a box, because we’re so inclusive of others.”
Haller emphasizes that the center welcomes everyone who believes in God. Their congregation averages about 125 people who actively attend Sunday services and is comprised of people from many different religions. That number nearly doubles when activities and events are considered.
“There’s one God in many ways, so it’s about bringing people to that state of consciousness that we are all one. Under God, we are all one,” Haller said.
Van Buren, describes Unity in the Gold Country as “a spiritual center, with a metaphysical interpretation of the scripture,” which may explain the draw of Gangaji, who’s message, according to Van Buren, is likened to a higher power or divine wisdom.
Through her life and words, she strives to articulate how it’s possible to discover the truth of who you are and how to be true to that discovery.
Gangaji’s books include “Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story,” “The Diamond in Your Pocket: Discovering Your True Radiance,” and “Just Like You.”
The open meeting will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday. General seating tickets are available at the BriarPatch Co-Op and at the door for $20. The event is likely to sell out. Unity in the Gold Country Spiritual Center is located at 180 Cambridge Court in Grass Valley.
For more information, visit www.gangaji.org or call 831-262-8302.
Katrina Paz is a freelance writer in dGrass Valley.