3. The Bertolucci Case: Its Meaning — Letter #1, by Swami Kriyananda

September 23, 295 Dwapara [1995]

Dear Ones:

As you can imagine, these days of depositions (six so far) have been stressful for me. We are faced with a determined effort to destroy me and Ananda. In the past, Divine Mother has always protected us. I have asked Her why She is now allowing me to be subjected to such a heavy barrage of harassment and humiliation. I don’t in any way ask to be treated differently. Whatever She gives me, I accept with willing surrender to Her will. It is not pleasant, certainly, but She knows what She is doing, and I don’t complain.

My anguish has been the question: Is Master displeased with me? For my only desire has been, and ever will be, to serve him to the best of my ability. If I cannot please him, I don’t want even to live. But the truth is, I don’t at all feel his displeasure in my heart. Rather, I feel he is with me. So then, what is he trying to tell me, in ways that I couldn’t learn more pleasantly?

I’ve tried to consider the matter apart from my feelings of inward reassurance, which might be purely subjective. Approaching the subject from a standpoint of objective reason, I’ve asked myself: Is there any objective evidence that he might be displeased?

There have been many miracles at Ananda and in my own life that would, I think, have been impossible had divine grace not been there. Is it possible that only now, after nearly thirty years, Master would pull aside the veil to announce, “I don’t like what you’ve done, and have decided to destroy it”?

What about the thousands of people who have been brought to Master’s teachings, and changed for the better, by their contact with Ananda? What about all of you who have had your lives changed for the better by living here? What about the things I’ve done in my life that, many have told me, inspired them? What about . . . well, the list is too long to enumerate further. Let’s pass on to the negative considerations.

I’ve looked next at who our attackers are. They fall into three categories:

1) Anne-Marie, who lied repeatedly in her complaint, and whose own testimony has supplied us with over ninety percent of our defense against her.

2) A small but vocal handful of people who have, as nearly as I can tell, accomplished nothing in their lives; whose actions seem to be centered solely in the desire to belittle, to mock, and to destroy. These are all, as nearly as we can tell, SRF members, and seem to be driven by encouragement from that organization.

3) SRF, whose motivation in this case is a last-ditch attempt to prove that Ananda is morally degraded, in order to demonstrate that we are unworthy to share with them the name Self-Realization.

Here is a strange irony: In all my years as founder and spiritual director of Ananda, I have only twice, to the best of my recollection, actually ordered anyone to do anything. The more recent of these instances was when I told Anne-Marie that I would not allow her to remain at Ananda Village that she might continue trying to wreck Danny and Karin’s marriage, as she had assured me she fully intended to do. I told her she would simply have to live elsewhere in the Ananda communities. Her response has been this vengeful lawsuit. Well, even today my decision would be the same. To me, she showed her true nature in her reaction to Devi’s announcement asking people to pray for Karin, who had been diagnosed as having terminal cancer. Anne-Marie was merely enraged. “How dare they!” she said, or words to that effect. The implication was that she had been treated badly, and that it was an outrage that prayers were now being asked for Karin, not for her.

Assuming that Master really was displeased with us, and wanted to destroy Ananda, would he employ such instruments?

Anne-Marie’s legal team numbers five people: a lawyer from Boston, one from Southern California, another from Marin County, and two paralegals from Southern California. Where is the money coming from to pay for all this? Certainly these people are not donating their labors free of charge. The cost of the depositions must be up to ten thousand dollars a day. Only SRF has that kind of money. Again, SRF has shown an obsession, since their own lawsuit began, with winning against us at all costs. The three Bertolucci lawyers have shown themselves determined to mock goodness, to twist any statement to suit their own ends, and to put any statement in the mouths of their opponents. They are, as nearly as we can tell, the closest thing to embodiments of evil as we are likely to meet in this lifetime: men of low consciousness and vicious conduct.

Again, where is their money coming from? I cannot see any source for it but SRF. It is members of the local SRF group who are ranged so vocally against us in this lawsuit, as they have been in the SRF lawsuit. They are obviously receiving from Bertolucci and her lawyers facts, or misstatements of fact, that could not have been obtained by any other means. For these and for several other cogent reasons, it is obvious that the source of that money and of their encouragement is SRF.

It does not seem to me possible that Master would use such forces to destroy us. It simply cannot be his way to pit adharma against dharma. We have tried very scrupulously throughout these five-and-a-half years of litigation to act dharmically, believing strongly in the dictum “Where there is dharma, there is victory.” SRF’s unswerving policy, on the other hand, seems to have been “The end justifies the means.” Even if Master wanted to destroy us, would he employ such instruments? Some might ask in reply, “Why wouldn’t he use SRF?” Fair enough, but would he inspire them to resort to lies, distortions, slander, and other adharmic means to accomplish such an end? I hardly think so!

So then, if—as seems an inescapable conclusion—he isn’t trying to destroy us, what is he trying to do? He hasn’t spared me any of this ordeal so far. Rather, our opponents want more and more blood out of me. A special plea here: Don’t feel sorry for me. I want what God wants, no matter what it is. I’ve been calm and cheerful throughout. It isn’t pleasant—far from it! But nor is a visit to the dentist pleasant. A dental visit may result in having a tooth pulled. And a karmic “visit” may result in the lifting of a karmic burden. The end result of both is beneficial. If, however, I were asked to choose between these two kinds of “visits,” I would unhesitatingly choose the lifting of a karmic burden. I only want to learn what God wants for me, and for all of us, that we may harmonize ourselves with the divine will. Speaking for myself, I want His will. My only, indeed my entire, dilemma centers in the question: What is that will? Whatever it may be, I am open to it, and have no desire except to surrender myself to it completely and with joy.

This is not to say that these depositions have been easy. They have been traumatic. I cannot laugh them off as trivial and unimportant. This episode in my life is too great not to be karmic; it is too great not to indicate the presence of God’s will behind it, even in the actions of enemies who haven’t the slightest interest in serving His will. Our enemies have to have been acting as instruments of the divine. If our destruction is not God’s will for us, then something else most certainly is His will expressing itself through this experience. I cannot doubt that Master has some very important message to convey to us. The question, then, is: What is that message?

Is he trying to make me stronger in myself, and all of us stronger in ourselves?—stronger in our service to him through Ananda?—stronger in our faith?—stronger in dedication to him? All of these, yes, he must be. But why in such a manner? For the manner itself is specific; therefore the answers to the questions raised must be specific also.

Again, the attacks have been quite obviously directed against me, personally. Therefore, the answers must relate not only to his will for Ananda generally, but, more particularly, for me.

These are the lines my thinking has been following in response to the trauma of these depositions. I have depended primarily, as is my wont, on what I can understand of intuitive guidance from within, and secondarily on as impartial and honest a use of reason as I am capable of. And I have come to several conclusions, again using intuition not only as my first guide, but also at the end, as a final check on the process of reasoning that I’ve followed.

My first conclusion is that Master must want us to become stronger, not weaker, in our commitment to him. What I believe is that he wants us to become warriors for the light, and not merely to live in the self-image of many people here: that of sweet devotees.

My second conclusion is that Master must want us to be stronger in our self-existence, apart from SRF. This we have always striven to be. What I feel we must do more clearly is define in our own minds that Master’s “work” is not the organization he founded, but the message he brought to the West. For many years I have defended SRF as his “work.” I think, for reasons that I’ll go into in detail later, that we must realize that only those people are promoting his “work” who promote his true spirit and teaching.

My third conclusion is that, inasmuch as the attack seems virtually to have bypassed the issues at stake in the Bertolucci case, while focusing on me and on my own relation to Master’s work, it is obvious that I must consider what Master is asking of me, personally, and how his will affects the work we are all doing in his name.

This is only the first of three letters. Its purpose has been to show the reasoning and intuitive process I have followed in arriving at these conclusions. The second letter will serve as a personal statement, concluding with a statement of what I feel Master wants as an important future direction for us all at Ananda. The third letter will address the reasons why I feel that a new definition of Master’s “work” is mandatory at this time in our history, and also in the history of the yoga movement in America.

May God and Master bless you always,

Swami Kriyananda