In the last many weeks and at various gatherings and online we have made reference to Swamiji Kriyananda’s purpose in relocating (temporarily) to Los Angeles. He best explains his reasons in a book and cover letter which he is asking us to read. (Swami Kriyananda is one of the few yet living direct disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda. He is the founder of the worldwide spiritual and communitarian work of Ananda.)
None of us, his friends and members of Ananda, nor yet especially himself, relish engaging our fellow gurubhais at Self-Realization Fellowship (headquartered in Los Angeles) in debate and accusations. But Swamiji feels that at this late date in his life (at age 84) and with the responsibility of his role as steward for Yogananda’s work, something must be done. Kriyananda’s life has been both heroic and courageous and this is no exception. For he assumes the risk of seeming to be diminished in stature and credibility in the public’s eye by launching a campaign which might, on its face, appear to be based on a desire for personal revenge. (Kriyananda, though vice-president and member of the S.R.F. Board of Directors, was dismissed without a hearing in 1961. This fact, so hurtful and shocking to him at the time, made the founding of Ananda in 1968 and Kriyananda’s life of public service possible.) Continue reading
Over fifty Ananda members from the Seattle Sangha have just returned from our journey to Ananda Village, CA for the annual week of Spiritual Renewal with Swami Kriyananda. It was a week of fellowship, inspiration, meditation, sunshine, cooling breezes, delicious meals, starlit skies and so much more. On Saturday, Cliff and Willow Kushler invited us to visit and to bless their new home, having just moved from Lynnwood only two weeks before.
Swami Kriyananda and a teaching and support staff are moving this week in preparation for events this next weekend including a public talk at the Ford Theatre (across the street from the Hollywood Bowl) Sunday night. (See anandala.org for more details). Swamiji has announced that he will reside in Los Angeles in order to teach and share in the city where his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, had taken up residence and his worldwide headquarters so many decades ago. Continue reading
Dozens of people from the Seattle area traveled to Ananda Village in California last week for Spiritual Renewal Week, an annual event at Ananda Village.
This year’s event was attended by about 500 people from all over the world. There were inspirational talks every morning, classes in the afternoons, and special events in the evenings. Folks from Ananda Seattle also met with residents of Ananda Village who are building a permaculture food forest. We got lots of ideas for our residential community here in Lynnwood!
This was a blessed week. It helped us all remember why we’re here – on this planet and at Ananda. You can share in the blessings, yourself! Videos of all the morning talks from Spiritual Renewal Week, as well as photos and blogs, are available free at www.ananda.org.
You can also see more photos of local Ananda members at SRW on our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/AnandaSeattle. Scroll down to the photo albums near the bottom of the page, left-hand side.
And you can read on for more blog posts from those who attended.
I feel right at home at Ananda Village. At the orientation for Spiritual Renewal Week, Devi Novak (co-spiritual director with her husband, Jyotish) told about a little girl who described how she felt at home in one person’s home, but a guest in others. That’s what I felt: at home! Then Devi explained that the devotees who live there do not own Ananda Village but that they are caretakers and that we should all feel “at home” there. That was a great start to the week!
I loved learning of one man who had been coming to Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village for 28 straight years, while another man had just heard about the Expanding Light Retreat center at Ananda and just came on a whim for the first time.
I enjoyed spending time with with my fellow disciples from Ananda Seattle. We would have breakfast in silence after a long morning group meditation—something that doesn’t happen for me in Seattle! It has put me back on the right track of getting up early enough to have a longer meditation to look forward to the group meditations during the week.
I love to sing in the choir but don’t always have the time at home in Seattle. David Eby, musical director at Ananda Village, is most amazing in being able to guide the choir into attunement with the highest. Singing for Swami Kriyananda is such a joy and blessing.
I finally personally met and was blessed by Swamiji. It was the night of the wonderful play, The Peace Treaty (written by Swami Kriyananda). I went right up to him and he welcomed me with open arms and sweet acceptance of the fact that I was just so awestruck that I did not have much to say. What joy to be in his presence so often last week. He spoke of the yugas [cycles of consciousness down through the ages] and deep topics such as the existence and influence of the satanic force and he gave advice on how to keep our energy up. His singing was amazing and touched me deeply. I was trying to imagine what it must have been like to have him “be the show” in the early years of Ananda, when he did all the talks and music! He was just so strong, vibrant and radiant. He even posed for photos with devotees from all the Ananda communities on the night of the Indian banquet. What memories we have with him.
My favorite talk was Jyotish Novak’s and his story of his first kriya initiation. It touched and brought tears to so many that Saturday morning. He described how he had brought flowers to the ceremony as part of his offering and had taken a lot of time selecting them because the occasion was to be one of the most moving and important commitments of his life. But someone else, having forgotten to bring his own flowers, took Jyotish’s and placed them on the altar as his own offering! Jyotish felt very sad that he wasn’t able to offer those flowers himself. But days later, Swamiji called him and asked him if those yellow flowers had been his offering, and commented with some amazement that they were still alive and still so beautiful. Jyotish was filled with deep feeling and could hardly relate the story.
Daiva’s story [Daiva Glazzard, from Ananda in Portland] was fun and allowed me to relate to my own thoughts of wanting to be like others in Ananda. Daiva explained that when he first came to Ananda Village he wanted to be just like this person, and then another person, and another……. until gradually he realized that what he sought was something we could all be. That is why we spend time with people within Ananda to keep our vibrations high and to aspire to be like our elder gurubhais that have been meditating for so many years and are devoted to God.
Swami Kriyananda emphasized the importance of the company we keep and the influence others and other places can have on us when we are in a receiving mode (for example, at a restaurant while eating) in public. For Paramhansa Yogananda often said that, “Environment is stronger than will.”
I always love hearing Dave Warner speak on kriya. I am guessing that the reason he is the director of kriya yoga at Ananda is because he is so good at relaying the message of kriya what Master and Lahiri Mahasaya wants us to know and do with kriya.
One last thing that I would like to say is that I was surrounded by such caring souls and felt so loved and nurtured when I had my ankle swollen for days, due to some spider bites. I am not used to having people looking after me like that! It was a lesson in receiving and how community comes together to help when needed. If I hadn’t been convinced of living in a community by then, I would be now! I made so many new friends and strengthened some old ones. I look forward to fostering all of these new relationships with these bright souls!
I came to Spiritual Renewal Week for Kriya initiation, which was certainly one of the highest moments, but so many blessings throughout the week. Everywhere I went and everyone on staff radiated joy and enthusiasm and helpfulness. Connecting with one another on that level was so wonderful I had to remark that my experience of love for this extended Ananda family was an ever-present joy: a freedom to be able to love so freely frequently brought me to tears
Every time Swamiji began speaking I was filled with that divine energy anew. Again, there is no doubt that Swamiji carries the Light of the Masters. I am always inspired by his wisdom, his example, his graciousness and humility. Being able to play veena for him, and to receive his blessing several times was a beautiful fulfillment. But that Light and humility and wisdom was expressed by SO MANY of the people I met, including so many young adults. I got to experience more of the village and am amazed, again, at the remarkable success of this endeavor, begun by Swamiji from an idea of Master’s so long ago.
There were so many amazing connections with individuals that I cannot recount them all.
I was most grateful to have my spiritual brothers and sisters from our Temple there with me, reflecting with one another, and especially those who took their Kriya initiation with me. One experience worth telling: I’ve been experiencing singing problems for several years now and inquired about it. Swamiji gave some advice: Sing from the heart, project it upwards and leave the throat out of it. Knowing this alone did not make it so. However, during the singing after initiation, the voice came out amazingly strong and clear and on pitch. Jai Guru!