With My Own Eyes
Fortunately, our scientific time has taught us to think for ourselves instead of believing any opinion or conviction that anyone may shout to the world. Today is a time that is asking each one of us for personal maturity, for developing our own understanding of values, directions and convictions. Interesting times, mama mia (as the Italians say)!
Some have found positive new ways of living and understanding their lives. Many others, however, seem to be quite lost in a misty fog in which they see no guideposts at all. I believe that in the long run, this unstable situation will bring wonderful benefits to our society. For example, whenever someone shouts to the world that someone or something is bad, the modern person will be likely to ask himself: “Is he right? Or is this person maybe having problems, projecting them onto the world around? Or is the truth somewhere in between? What is right? Let me find out!” And so, if he is interested enough, he will set out to investigate.
What a relief! Ananda has been, for example, so heavily accused that I just wonder what is happening. Here are the best people I know, genuinely friendly, with good hearts, not too stupid, I think, quite themselves—and still they are all declared to be all kinds of things that sound to me so far off from what I see with my own eyes and every day that I am almost left without words.
Then there is Swami Kriyananda, who developed Ananda and to whom I send my sincere and heartfelt gratitude. And then, for some reason, there are people who try to destroy everything with their highly negative descriptions. My life has been so blessed through Ananda. People who meet me back home in Germany tell me how much more loving and relaxed I’ve become (knowing me as a grim thinker and fighter for social justice).
It’s not that now I say “yes and Amen” to everything in order to have my heavenly peace-still I’m far from that. To tell you a personal story, some time back I got into a real bad fight with our spiritual director here, convinced that I was right! (as we all always are-the grimmer, the more convinced!)
Kriyananda was here and I received a note that he wanted to talk to me. I was sure I’d get “my head washed” (as we say in German), meaning that I was about to get a good scolding. Imagine my surprise when the first thing he said was “Boris, we don’t want ‘yesmen’ here.” He continued to explain that negativity can create its own momentum and can throw us from the path, as it did with one of his brother disciples at SRF.
I felt loved and accepted and quite relaxed after our talk. Anyway, my mind has always been very skeptical and is still convinced that it wants to remain independent. I wasn’t, for example, at all a person that could be easily convinced of someone’s genuineness and goodness. But as concerns Swami, what else can I say but that I am more deeply impressed and inspired by his example than by anyone else I know. I am so grateful for it.
Oh, I hear immediately certain readers thinking grimly: “Guru cult!” In that case, why don’t we talk a bit? Yogananda said we are all a little bit crazy but don’t find out about our own craziness because we mix all the time with people with the same sort of craziness. Only when we meet people differently crazy can we find out about our own craziness.
So let’s talk, then, but constructively, as Yogananda suggested. Otherwise, can I offer another thought? Maybe that the fruit will show the tree, as Jesus said. And it does! Maybe everyone should just come and see and taste the fruit for himself. It might be an amazingly beautiful experience for many. Ananda is simply the best place I know, after traveling for many years to all kinds of countries.
Yes, that would be the best: If you, the reader of these lines, are wondering about this Ananda, about which so many controversial things are being said-please come for a few days. Watch the people, talk to them, to the children, watch a few Kriyananda talks on video, hear words from his mouth, listen to a few lectures, watch how guests are doing, meditate a little yourself. There is no doubt, I think, about what your impression will be. My prayer, then, is just this: Divine Mother, please inspire all people to come and see for themselves before they begin to judge unknowingly.
(If you happen to come to Italy, I will be most happy to welcome you here, no matter what your opinions are! I think you’ll like it!)
Ananda Assisi is located about 30 minutes north of Assisi, Italy, and has a retreat center offering accommodations and spiritual training year-round. For more information:
Jayadev grew up near Munich, Germany. He now lives at Ananda Assisi in Italy where he helps with translation, teaches at the retreat, and helps out in the kitchen.