Ananda members talk, March & April, 1996: Part 17

An “Old Timer” Talks about the Early Days
Seva

March 20, 1996

Dear Family,

Someone suggested I write to express my impressions of the current letters being an “old-time” member. Another suggested that many of us writing would help to clarify the complex issues before us.

When Master’s ray (expressed through Swami) had reached me, I was just turning away from an empty life with a somewhat sordid background of over-indulgences. I knew what living in that kind of vibration was like, and I wanted to change. Swami helped me. His message was clear and exactly what I had been looking for all my life. I became dedicated to Swami and Ananda, a little later, as my understanding grew, to Master, who is my guru.

Swami was different in those days, at least in my eyes. He was more visible and available to everyone. I realize, too, he was always as he is now – wise, kind, enthusiastic, clear and caring for all his friends. He is also more clear now than ever of Master’s love for him. It is a great joy to see him so strong in Master’s love.

The difference in early Ananda was the air of innocence that pervaded Swami, his actions and thoughts. I found through him Ananda had a wonderful purity about it. There were no sexual energies, no feelings of differences in the sexes that were needed to be expressed. It was a very relaxing atmosphere for one who was releasing this from her own consciousness. The accusations by the lawyers and declarants of the atmosphere at Ananda was not possible.

For about 10 years I worked very closely with Swami, Asha, Devi, Jyotish and many others. Throughout this time I continued to perceive this vibration of purity. But as Asha expressed in her letters, changes needed to be made in how Ananda was run.

In the early days only one person put a dampening note on this Ananda screen. Eric Estep instead of diving in to help make the community viable, sat back and judged all that was being done. He made me nervous when I saw how he treated his wives with scorn, sarcasm, and superiority; attitudes that weren’t expressed by others.

In the later years of the monastery, a great change did come over the community, and depending on how you wanted to look at it, it could have been bad or good. One girl came at that time and brought with her a very aggressive, uncaring attitude which eventually helped to undermine the stability of the monastery. Kamala (one of the declarants) and her friend, Denice Petersen (another declarant) would go into the monks area to meditate with them and talk long into the night. The monks were just young men themselves and easily drawn in to what they were putting out. The unspoken rule at that time— out of respect for the monks— was not to mix with them. But it had to be spoken to Kamala (the leader of the two) many times. She continued to follow her own desires. This also included invading Swami’s privacy whenever she felt like it, bringing Denice along. Kamala caused him a great deal of stress in her aggressive actions. She was definitely not the shy unknowing, unsuspecting flower type.

These women’s statements now are definitely distorted. Kimberly (another declarant) has misconstrued the facts. She saw Swami as a friend and lover, not as a spiritual teacher. She was never under his “sway.” Kimberly came to Ananda confused by her separation. I believe her relationship with her husband had been very difficult. She was looking for a change and Swami came into her life. She never indicated in anyway at that time that Swami was abusive to her. When she gained in strength again, she left.

Things in the community changed when Swami married— first Kimberly in a mutual, private ceremony, and later, Rosanna. Swami has said to all of us that he wasn’t 100% celibate. So no surprise here. What man could have been, considering he had a life of teaching and constantly mixing with people? The energy and magnetism he generated was for building Ananda, and he didn’t use it to harm anyone. He was incapable of that.

Frankly, the one who was harmed and suffered the most was Swami, in my opinion. And he still will not point the finger at anyone or say anything negative about the situations he faced.

He has shown us the way out of delusion in this, by going ahead with life in the best possible way, by being positive, calling to Master for guidance and help, and by being open and loving to all who come, not by pointing the finger of blame at others for their actions.

I cannot judge any of you or say you must think this or that. Somehow that, for me, went out with my own struggles on the spiritual path. We all must do what we must do— but watch your actions. We cannot ignore the consequences of them. I know that the struggles that came to me were my very own. I caused them. Even when trying to blame others, I knew they were mine. I had to face this or continue to be very unhappy, very bitter, living in contempt and hatred. When I awoke from that mad dream, I realized the dream was mine alone, that the others I wanted to accuse were not at all actually involved.

Many times in Ananda’s history people have become discontented with Ananda’s own reality, the new ways it was going, and would become angry and blame the “core” group or Swami. But really, it was the need of their soul to go in a different way. It was their own struggle, one to face and conquer, not spread out to blame another. It is possible to overcome obstacles or karma, but it takes knowing that this is yours to face, it’s yours alone. It takes strength and courage to face it. There are times a “side track” comes along or a major test that cannot be faced head on, but come anyway and affect your life. Make your changes with honor, respect, and love to all— and most of all to yourself. The “side-track” will then turn into the blessing you hoped for.

The age of innocence has gone from Ananda. Ananda, however, has remained and grows in strength and wisdom, love and devotion to God and Guru. It and Swami continue to be a beacon of light to all who want to find God in their lives. Ananda cannot be destroyed nor can it change its direction away from the goal it started with, that of spreading the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda to all who want them.

Be in Master’s light, call to Him always, and He will answer you.

Joy to you,
Seva