Experiences with Swami Kriyananda: Part 29

I Prayed and the Answer Came

Mary Kretzmann

My husband, Tim, and I moved to Ananda in the summer of 1978. Our lives have been spiritually enriched beyond measure by that simple decision. I could share many stories about the blessings that have flowed to us from our connection with Swami Kriyananda specifically, but for the sake of brevity I will confine my remarks to the topics that directly refute some of the accusations and allegations made by the “Ananda Awareness” web-site.

Even though we had only known Swamiji a few years by the time of the events related below, we had already felt deep blessings and healing grace flow through his prayers for us during times of special need.

Tim and I were married in 1978 and had a baby girl in 1979. I stayed home with my daughter the first few years, so it was a memorable event when I would get to go out for the evening to do something of interest with adults. One activity that I enjoyed very much was the weekly healing prayer service. The evening in particular that I recall happened at the home of Kent White, who was the healing prayer minister at the time. The healing prayers were deep and inspiring. As I was leaving, I stopped in the driveway on my way to the car to say hello to a few women standing there. One was Kamala Willey. (I only mention her by name now because she came forward to testify in the trial against Swamiji. The judge, however, had made a bizarre ruling denying our constitutional rights to “confront one’s accusers” so she was left unchallenged.)

After a few words, I was stunned as the conversation quickly took a turn “south.” Kamala, in an enthusiastic voice (like a young teen retelling some devious adventure) boasted that she had tried to seduce Swami Kriyananda, but that he had soundly rebuffed her. She seemed disappointed, but not discouraged, and certainly not in the least bit remorseful or contrite about her actions.

I was too stunned to reply. My jaw must have been hanging to my chest. Never had I known a woman who wanted to seduce anyone, let alone take down a spiritual teacher. I couldn’t imagine her purpose in this. However, I gave it no further thought, since she said he had rebuffed her. I was young enough to hope that her spiritual qualities would someday (soon, hopefully) override this dark tendency. (I still feel that way about people, but I am much more respectful of the firm commitment needed to change the roots behind such a manipulative action as hers had been.)

This action of hers was directly the opposite of how I had been brought up. Growing up we had one parish priest who radiated an especially deep spiritual presence, and yet he was also very natural with people. This naturalness may have stemmed partially from the fact that prior to entering the priesthood he had been a dentist and had developed some skill at putting people at ease in his presence! He was very tall, fatherly and handsome and he had a dignified warmth and calmness about him.

I remember one evening when he had been invited to our home for dinner. Prior to his arrival, my mother asked me to change out of the moderate mini-skirt (4 or 5” above the knee) that I had worn to high school that day. When I challenged her on this, to the point of implying she was being hypocritical, she replied, “He is coming as a guest to our home, and he is a man who has taken a vow to be celibate. Since we have invited him as our guest, I want him to feel absolutely comfortable. I will not place him in the position of having to struggle against even the slightest thought about pretty young legs while he is in our home.”

Her reasoning won my respect, which was not an easy task given my rebellious nature at that age! And it was an eye-opener: I hadn’t realized until that moment that celibacy is not a static decision that is made once. It is a vow, a very solemn promise, and that intention needs to be supported in action by those who benefit from the spiritual efforts of the person. This attitude is taught to many young women in India, but in this country only some of the Catholic girls would be instructed in this because it is not an issue in other faiths.

By 1982, the Ananda cabinet shop, managed by my husband, had become one of the many casualties of the recession of that period, and we moved to town (Nevada City and Grass Valley) to find work. Tim had struggled long and hard to keep the business alive, but the business climate was extremely rough for anyone in the housing industry. Indeed, two thirds of the cabinet shops in Nevada County went out of business that year. Tim had given it his all, hoping to save the business for the community. He was worn out and he didn’t want to commute to town looking for work. He felt it was best to live in town, and
Ananda had a church in Nevada City at that time, so we still had a spiritual network.

During this time period I heard that Kamala Willey was now telling people that she had tried to seduce Swamiji, but now the story ran that she had succeeded in her deed. This was disturbing and I could only wonder which one was true? Were both stories true? The fact that she still seemed to be boasting revealed volumes about her character, or lack thereof. Perhaps she had tried several times and had finally succeeded? If so, my thought was that it was only a concern between those souls and God, for who knows what prayers and tears of remorse had since flowed to God’s ears on this matter?

One cannot always help overhearing gossip, but one can definitely control the spreading of it. I did not repeat this story to anyone, not even my husband, for the nature of our relationship is to hold each person in the highest light. The friendship between us is a very happy one and does not rely upon gossip (which, after all, is nothing but the discussion of unhappy misfortunes of others) for stimulation.

However, living in town made one an easy target for the negativity of anyone discontented with Ananda. By the spring of 1983 a close friend in town came to me with this same story, plus another, and said that “Ananda is not a true spiritual place, and if you really want to live in community with Master’s devotees then you have to move to Encinitas.” Because she had been a close friend, her visit was unsettling to me, so as soon as she left I went straight to my altar and prayed firmly and deeply: “Master, I will go anywhere for you. I’ll go to Siberia. I’ll go to Calcutta. I’ll even go to Encinitas!” (Moving to southern California did feel like the biggest sacrifice to me at the time…)

Many times in my life I have received an intuitive answer to life’s questions, but only rarely do I receive a specific audible answer to my prayers. This time I heard very clearly within my heart, “If you will go anywhere for Me, then go back to Ananda.” (Some answers from God are what I call “inwardly audible” vs. true “outwardly audible”. This answer was very clear and exact, and inwardly audible. At other, rare times in my life I have also been blessed with outwardly audible answers. I share this now for clarity and truth. Tim and I moved back to Ananda in May of 1983 and we have been greatly blessed by that choice, and have never looked back.

Interestingly, Tim also had a negative encounter during this same time period, probably the same day, for such is the nature of gossip in a small town, yet he only told it to me many years later. At that time he was a business partner with Steve Scott in a handyman business. They got along well; sometimes people mentioned that it was such a joy to see them heading off to their various tasks because they looked as happy as “two boys heading off to go fishing.” One day they were taking a break from re-coating the roof of a commercial building. At this point Don Price came by to share the same rumor and to use the opportunity to try and recruit Tim and Steve to come to the Nevada City SRF meditation group because it was so “uplifting.”

Tim’s attitude, once he realized the nature of the “visit”, was to ignore Don, hoping to starve out Don’s negative energy thrill that comes from sharing gossip. Steve however, became engrossed. Tim went back on the roof to finish the re-coating job while Steve and Don continued to talk in this negative vein. With each brush stroke Tim sent blessings to Swamiji, praying, “As you have blessed me, I now bless you. I bless you Swamiji. I bless you Swamiji. I bless you Swamiji….” This was a natural response for Tim because the heart that is true and pure recognizes the same in others. It was clear to him that whatever had or had not occurred was not the defining act of Swami’s life, character or of his soul nature. The many tangible blessings we ourselves had received, and that we had seen in the lives of many others spoke for themselves.

And so, I had my experience at the altar, receiving very clear guidance to move back to Ananda Village. But how could I mention this to Tim, since all of his work was now in town? But a funny thing happened in that people at Ananda started asking him to please do this wood working project, or that. The tools were still there, waiting… so Tim soon found himself commuting from town back to Ananda Village! After this had happened for a couple of months, I said, “Can we please move back to the Village? You’ve always said that you really hate to commute, and now you are commuting there!” He easily agreed to give up his business with Steve Scott and move back to the Village.

That conversation with Don had been a turning point for Steve and it was natural that the partnership would gradually end. It was a harmonious parting, and Steve even helped Tim to build an arbor on our home when we moved back to Ananda.

As I look back, I see how wonderfully and divinely orchestrated the whole thing was! All of this transpired and it never occurred to us to stoop to discuss the ugly gossip. I only knew Tim’s side of the story many years later. Some people may feel that is an odd sort of marriage, but hey, we are still quite playfully happy nearly all of the time, and it’s been almost 27 years since we met. Why waste time talking about ugly things when you could be spreading joy? I suppose if we had been silently suffering, that would be bad, for we do normally discuss things if there is some sort of problem But we both found inner peace so quickly on this matter that it just wasn’t an issue.

Many years later, as the same old stories about Swamiji again surfaced, I remembered the guidance and blessings I had felt in the story above, so I did not feel many doubts arise. However, in one phase there was so much upheaval around me that I could not help but question my stance again. These doubts grew strong in me for about thirty hours. The doubts of the present atmosphere thrashed against the memories, guidance and blessings of the past. It was a difficult time and I could not sleep a wink. In the morning I finally approached my altar again, and gave it all into Master’s hands saying, “Master, I don’t need to figure out anything in this; just help me to see Swami through Your eyes.”

As soon as that prayer left my lips, I was lifted into a beautiful, effortless, joyous, laughing grace that went on for three days. I was in divine joy. Who could ask for more? My heart felt completely free in the hands of God and Guru. To doubt again, after receiving such grace, felt like blasphemy against the Guru’s presence within me. I have not doubted since then, for He has answered me.

Many times I have felt the grace of God flow through me during times of healing prayers. I have seen the truth of His presence in the tangible blessings and healing that He has granted many souls during those prayers. I share this only to say that life has granted me enough outward verification of these spiritual states that I entirely trust the grace He has given me concerning Swamiji in the story related above. I place myself in loving, sacred trust of the Guru’s presence. This is what He has given me, and this is what I offer to all those who read this.

May the blessings of God, Christ, Guru bless and guide all truth thirsty souls, and all true spiritual works seeking to share the Divine Light, Love, Wisdom, Peace and Joy.

Mary lives at Ananda Village where she is the director of the Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry. Tim continues to run his woodshop. For more about Tim, http://www.meditationbench.com/