Listed below are some details for the various services as well as additional information on the Houston Center.
Silence: Before and after service in the chapel devotees may be meditating. For this reason and to show respect for the sanctuary, we ask that silence be maintained in the sanctuary. Although talking is permitted in the foyer, please do so in a low voice.
Pranam: Once you reach your seat in the chapel, it is customary to show respect by pranamming (fold the hands in front of the heart) the altar and the picture of Paramahansa Yogananda before sitting. A pranam is also used as a greeting between devotees. It symbolizes bowing to God that dwells in the person you are greeting.
If you arrive late for Sunday service: Please do not enter the chapel during a prayer, the affirmation, or a meditation. Wait in the foyer until the usher indicates you may enter. Once you enter the chapel, please sit near the back.
Chanting: Devotional chanting is a part of every SRF service. Chant books are in the holder on the back of the chair in front of you. There are two books — a blue and a pink. The blue book contains the chants normally used during a reading service. The pink book contains additional chants and bhajans that may be used during services as well. The book and page number are announced before a chant.
The Houston Center holds a number of Meditation services. All are welcome to attend. Most of the meditations are open, which means you may enter and leave quietly at any time. Some meditation services have restrictions on entering.
Sunday Meditation Service (10 – 10:45 AM): In order to maintain an atmosphere of stillness, the chapel will be closed for entry after the opening chant (around 10:10 AM). If you arrive after the opening chant, you are welcome to meditate in the foyer.
Thursday Night Meditation (7:30 – 9:30 PM, 7-10 PM the first Thursday of the month): The meditation is open. You may enter or leave quietly at any time.
Saturday All-day Meditation (9 AM – 4 PM on the fourth Saturday of the month): There are guided and unguided meditations. The unguided meditations are open. The guided meditations are not — you may enter or leave only during chants or readings. The quarterly newsletter will indicate if the meditation is guided or unguided.
Saturday Afternoon Meditation (Noon – 3 PM on Saturdays when the chapel is not in use. Generally all but the first and fourth Saturdays of the month): The meditation is open. You may enter or leave quietly at any time.
Commemorative Service Meditation (7 – 7:50 PM): The meditation is open. You may enter or leave quietly at any time.
New Year’s Eve Meditation (6 – 8 PM): The meditation is open. You may enter or leave quietly at any time.
Good Friday Meditation (6 – 8 PM): The meditation is open. You may enter or leave quietly at any time.
Special Meditations: The dates for the all-day meditations for Christmas and Yogananda’s birthday vary from year to year. They also have specials rules concerning entry. The dates are announced well in advance and are in the newsletter. A sheet listing the procedures for each is available at the chapel several weeks before the meditation.
Attire: For long meditations it is recommended to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes. Please avoid clothes that might make noise when you move, such as a nylon jacket.
Perfume: Self-Realization Fellowship discourages the use of perfumes or other strong scents during services, especially long meditations. Some people have an allergic reaction, which would affect their ability to concentrate.
If you have a cold: Self-Realization Fellowship asks that you do not attend a meditation service if you have a cold. Please tune into the service by meditating at home.
Coughing: If you feel you are going to cough or do cough during a meditation service, please leave the sanctuary as soon and as quietly as possible.
Kriya: If you have the Kriya technique, please remember to practice it quietly. Ideally Kriya is practiced so that you can hear it, but the person sitting next to you cannot.
Mahamudra: If you have the Kriya technique and wish to practice the mahamudra exercise before a group meditation, please do so in private. Generally the Sunday school building will be open, where you will be able to find a suitable place to practice the exercise.
Flowers: Attendees are asked to bring a flower or flowers for use in the ceremony. If there is any wrapping or ribbons on the flowers, please remove them. Also do not place the flowers on the floor nor smell them, “stealing” the fragrance to be offered to the master.
Donations: If you are financially able, bring a donation in an envelope. These donations are sent directly to Mother Center (the international headquarters in Los Angeles, CA). Make checks payable to Self-Realization Fellowship. The donation and the flowers are given during the ceremony. You will be directed when to offer them.
Occasionally we hold a memorial service for one who has made the transition to another plane. The service is held immediately following the Sunday reading service. Everyone is encouraged to attend, even if you do not know the person in question. The vibrations of peace and love will be guided by God and Guru to the departed. We urge everyone to attend.
Master: You often hear devotees refer to Paramahansa Yogananda, or one of our other gurus, as Master. This is not used in the sense of “master” and “subordinate.” Rather it is a title of respect bestowed on one who has mastered him or herself and is therefore able to lead others to the state of self-mastery.
The Suffix “-ji”: The suffix –ji (pronounced jee) is sometimes appended to a name or title to show respect. Yogananda may be referred to as Yoganandaji or Guruji. A monastic may be addressed as brotherji or sisterji, etc.
Jai Guru: Literally means “hail Guru.” It is sometimes used as a salutation or exclamation by devotees.
Self-Realization Fellowship has separate monastic orders for men and women. They reside in ashrams located at Mother Center and certain temples. The monastics take vows dedicating their lives to the service of God and Guru.
Monks: There are three levels of monks. Those who have recently joined the ashram are referred to as postulants and dress in blue. Next are brahmacharis who dress in yellow. And finally there are brothers who wear ochre (golden) robes.
Nuns: There are parallel levels for women — postulants, brahmacharinis, and sisters. They wear blue, yellow, or ochre as well.