“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”
At age 38 I left graduate school to participate in an illegal business venture. The details are truly not important. Suffice to say that I honestly believed that having a whole lot of money would make me happy forever. My illegal activities eventually led to my arrest and, after 2 & 1/2 years, to a sentence of 5 years & 8 months in state prison. I was a very unlikely convicted felon, having a university degree and having never been arrested for anything in my entire life.
While I was incarcerated I took a creative writing class and met an equally unlikely felon who had spent a total of 17 years living at Ananda Village. My new friend invited me to a weekly meditation group that met each Sunday. There I learned to do the energization exercises, yoga postures and hong sau. Ministers from Ananda even came to visit us twice. Quite simply, I was awakened from my waking sleep.
Among the tapes my friend shared with me was a tape of Swami Kriyananda. I was immediately “turned off” by the sound of his voice. He sounded arrogant to me (my problem, of course) and I was irritated at the idea of a westerner taking on an Indian name. I was not immediately drawn to Swami. Later, after my release from prison I read The Path and had a similar reaction. At that time I did not understand why he had written the book. It seemed presumptuous that Swami would mimic his guru’s efforts. (Again, my problem!)
Still, I had established a strong daily sadhana and my love for Master was growing stronger and stronger. I was released from prison early, in July, 1992. I went home somewhat reluctantly; my life in prison was so exceedingly rich and spiritually nurturing, that I dreaded the thought of having to deal with the mundane inconveniences of earning money, driving cars, shopping for food and the like. I did however take my daily practices with me. I did postures and meditated, set up an altar, read books, listened to tapes and, in the fall of 1993, I went to the Expanding Light for Kriya Preparation. I took discipleship while I was there and met many people who are now dear friends. It was to those people to whom I was drawn. To me, those people were Ananda. The light in their eyes and the feeling of upliftment I felt around them, those were the qualities to which I was drawn. It also became clear to me that these people were deeply devoted to their teacher, Swami Kriyananda. It did not take me long to begin to wonder, “If these people think so highly of Swami, and I think so highly of them, why am I so negative and so judgmental of the man?” If A = B & B = C then why is A not = to C?
Over the course of the past 5 years, my feelings for Swami have changed considerably. I will never have the kind of close personal relationship that many of my friends have had with him. But my feelings for him have grown and changed considerably. Without Swami Kriyananda, I would never have been able to meet my friend in prison. Without him, Ananda ministers would never have led satsang in that same prison. Without his willing discipleship and leadership, there would have been no Ananda for me to visit…no Expanding Light, no Yoga Teacher Training program, no Seclusion Retreat, no Kriya.
In the end, I view Swami through the lives of others. As Jesus says in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 7, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
I am deeply grateful to Swami Kriyananda and he has earned my unconditional respect, gratitude, friendship and love.
In Master’s Love,