Swami Kriyananda’s Courageous Honesty
One thing about Swami that has struck me over the years is his truthfulness. I have never known him to prevaricate. He has always told the truth, especially regarding himself—no matter what light the truth put him in. His customary self—honesty is one of the secrets of his inner clarity.
Swami has the habit of sharing intimacies with old friends and people he has just met—in gatherings of all sizes—that most people would hold back. Why? Because he isn’t afraid of what people might think. If his experience might be helpful to others, he relates it. Or, he might describe it aloud to clarify it in his own mind. Either way, Swami doesn’t hold himself in out of fear.
If you’ve never seen Swami enter a room, you’ve missed something. He stands with his chest out, as if he’s physically offering you his heart. He looks at whoever is there, and greets everyone with a bright smile. Even physiologically, Swami doesn’t hide from people.
One example of Swami’s honesty arose during a talk he gave one summer during Spiritual Renewal Week. (This week is special at Ananda: a time when the community gathers to focus on sharing, absorbing, and practicing spiritual ideals. The morning classes on topics essential to our path are very inspiring.) This morning Swami was in the middle of his talk, and I was doing what I often do during his lectures: meditating on what he was saying. (When Swami speaks, he fills the place with Master’s light and vibration, and I was going within to feel that.) Anyway, at one point Swami went off on a tangent, and started telling stories about a brother disciple in a jocular way.
Suddenly, something changed. Swami stopped speaking and the atmosphere shifted. The difference was so stark that I immediately opened my eyes and looked at Swami.
He (who so recently had been laughing and joking) was now sitting straighter than usual, with his head upturned slightly. He had a faraway look on his face, and I had the impression he was listening intently.
This interlude probably lasted less than a minute, though it seemed longer. I waited along with the rest of the audience. I didn’t know what was going on exactly, but I had a sense that something momentous was occurring.
Finally, and in a very quiet voice, Swami spoke. And I think what he had to say floored some people. He started with “well, this may surprise you,” and went on to explain that when he speaks he tries to channel Master, but sometimes he comes through instead. And that was what had just happened. He had said some inappropriate things, and asked us quite simply to “please just consider them unsaid.” And Swami proceeded with his talk.
This episode taught me something. When Swami realized he was wrong, he didn’t waste time dwelling on his fault or beating himself up about it. Instead, he admitted his error, fixed it, and smoothly went on. He had the courage to admit a mistake, and the humility to forget himself by quickly returning to Master’s grace through service to others.
Richard Salva is a writer, and a minister with Ananda.