Ananda members talk, March & April, 1996: Part 8

I Came Here to Serve Master
J.T. Heater

March 22, 296 Dwapara [1996]

Dear Family,

Greetings! Since we have received letters from “old timers”, it may be appropriate to hear from someone who is new to Ananda. So I guess that someone is me!

Some of you know me fairly well, while some of you may not know me at all, so I will give you a little background. I moved to Ananda a year and a half ago after spending three and a half years with Ananda Dallas. I was first introduced to Master through the A.Y. in 1980 and subsequent SRF Lessons and books of Master’s. I felt an immediate affinity to Master and this path, and knew that I had found my way home. I had many opportunities over the years to become affiliated with SRF, but something intuitively always kept me from making that connection. As I look back, I know without a doubt that I was destined to come to Master’s work through the ray of Ananda, and to serve Master through Ananda. Everything I have done in my life, from working as a psychiatric aide in a mental health center to playing rock-n-roll for 20 years to developing skills in architecture, prepared me to serve God and Guru. I have now committed my life to God and am committing my energy to serving Master through this specific ray called Ananda.

Some people have questioned Master’s teachings coming through Swami— that they are not the “true” teachings. All I can relate to is my own experiences. All the instruction and guidance I have received from Ananda ministers in Dallas and at Ananda Village has come from a perspective of sharing Master’s love and message of Self-realization. When I first became involved with Ananda in Dallas I was wary that this man called “Swami” may be trying to steal Master’s thunder by putting his own spin on things—to place himself in the position of “guru”. I have never experienced Swami placing himself above the teachings or in front of Master. He has always expressed Master’s teachings as a disciple spreading the work, and has not taken credit for all the immense work he has produced. Whenever I have complimented Swami and thanked him for his music or writings, he has always answered me with “God is the doer”. What a humble servant! I am striving to follow his example of a true disciple.

What Swami represents to me is a devoted disciple keeping Master’s teachings alive. This is a legacy that will fall to us some day soon. In the next millennium, we will be called upon to keep Master’s love and teachings alive, not allowing him to become an interesting relic from the past. After Swami is no longer with us to show us the way, we will be on our own to keep the teachings fresh and alive. Swami has been an outstanding example of living the teachings and showing us how to bring them into our lives. We must continue to learn from him and live our lives like true disciples of Master. If we can do this, Master’s work through us and Ananda will flourish for years and years—if not, it will become stagnant, wither and die as a dogmatic institution similar to SRF. Have no doubt, Master’s will will be done. We must keep Master alive in our hearts, in our meditation and in our service. We have such an excellent teacher in Swami to prepare us for this task.

Swami has done much in this vein by working with the leadership (really, all of us) to prepare us for serving Master in the future. In all my years, I have never met a group of people more full of God’s light and joy. Not just the leadership, but the entire community. I came to Ananda looking for “goodness”, and I see it everywhere and in everyone here (even the detractors). Stand back and look at the caliber of people here. There are saints walking among us daily—and you are one of them! Wake up and realize your own true reality! We are blessed to be associated with each other. Being new to Ananda, it may be easier for me to see and feel this, but it is so tangible and real. Open your heart and bask in God and Guru’s love that is ever present here. Feel it emanating from each other! Yes, there are times I have my problems with people here, but that is what I’m here for—to work off my rough edges. I can’t imagine a better way to do it than with fellow devotees.

Yes, I have had to deal with the questions raised in the lawsuits, and as a neophyte, it was difficult. But in my heart I only feel love and expansiveness from Swami. Swami has only given me love and friendship. I can only give him that in return. Any mistakes of the past are to lead us into a future filled with God. Swami has exemplified that. I only pray I can fare as well with my mistakes and trials.

Since moving to Ananda, I have come to realize that this is my true family. As Master said, we don’t choose our family, but we do choose our spiritual family. I feel so blessed to be part of this family. Recently I looked through the phone list and realized I have deep and true feelings for well over a hundred people here—and that I would do anything for them. I know I would lay down my life for any of you and feel blessed to have the opportunity. I have never felt that way before. When thinking about Swami and the leadership, I feel that doubly so. I will follow you and fight with you anywhere you lead me. Know that I will always follow my heart and Master’s call to me, but at this time he is deeply guiding me to be here and to fight the good fight. As Swami said in his Sunday service talk at the Biltmore, we must stiffen our spines and be warriors. Now is the time! I can just picture all of us following Master as William the Conqueror, charging the enemy lines and laying down our lives for Him. What a glorious time we had! Again, it is time to go deep into our hearts and lay down our lives for Master, and express that outwardly as we each see fit.

Finally, while reading Swami’s letter of March 20, I was very touched by his call to look for the goodness. It is here in abundance along with Master’s love and guidance. Let’s be open to that grace and get on with our lives. I love you all

(or y’all, depending on your background!) Jai Guru!

Forever Your Brother in God & Guru,
J.T. Heater