12. A Song of Gratitude, by Swami Kriyananda

 June 4, 298 Dwapara [1998]

My Dearest Ones:

I want to thank you from my heart for your many notes, gifts, and messages sent me for my birthday. I was deeply touched to receive so many assurances of love and support. All of these you know that you have also from me, in abundance.

I was thinking this morning how much we have to be grateful for. God has given us a wonderful way of life, and wonderful friends in one another and in countless others who live even far away from Ananda. More gratifyingly still, we have had the blessing of serving God in this life, of demonstrating the beauty of Master’s teachings, and of creating a practical model for community living that he so ardently recommended. Ananda has already inspired thousands of people throughout the world in an age filled with troubles, sadness, spiritual doubts, and disillusionment. How opposite Ananda is from the image Mike Flynn tried to project of us, as a dogmatic and socially exclusive “cult.” Our desire, always, has been to inspire people everywhere regardless of their spiritual affiliations, that they seek the happiness of their own eternal nature, as children of God, within themselves.

God has given us countless marks of His love for us. He has given us tests also, and for these we should be just as grateful. For only when we are shaken to our foundations can we know inner peace and love for Him as truly our own. By remaining unshaken during trials, it is ourselves we convince that God is truly our only Beloved, and the wellspring of our existence. Today more than ever we know that, apart from Him, nothing in life has any meaning or value.

On this earthly plane of existence, light and darkness are inextricably mixed. The basic hue of earth life is more or less muddy. The more light we invoke, the more the darkness pours down upon us also, as if the overall color had to remain dull to be suited to earthly consciousness. “It’s a dark world, dark with pain”—thus sings Deirdre in my new album, “Some of My Favorites.” The only real joy, outwardly speaking, lies in helping those who deeply long to escape this “ocean of suffering and misery” (as Sri Krishna describes it in the Bhagavad Gita).

And with this thought, I repeat, I am deeply grateful. I am grateful for what God has enabled me to do in this lifetime. I am grateful for you all, my dear friends, who have helped in this undertaking and who share in that divine blessing. Our faith has been tested many times, but never has God let us down. We’ve no reason to anticipate anything but a glorious ending to these present trials.

One thought that has come to me is that these troubles have been given to us to prepare us karmically for the great sufferings that the world is being readied to endure. But Sri Krishna reassured Arjuna when, speaking of tests, he said, “Know this for certain, Arjuna: My devotee is never lost!” (And that applies to everyone who loves God.)

I am grateful also to those who have tried to prevent me and Ananda from serving God, for they, in their own way, have served Him too, providing a needed counter-impulse to the pendulum’s swing. That swing would remain incomplete were there but movement in one direction. Nor can any direction of movement satisfy the heart fully until it is cancelled at last, brought to a state of perfect rest in the soul.

I am grateful, as I said, for you and for many others, who have served this cause in which I so deeply believe. But I am grateful also for those who have done their best to nullify our efforts to serve. Both roles are necessary; otherwise, the divine play would remain incomplete.

Mike Flynn screamed at me one day in the court room, “God save me from love like yours!” Listening to him, I found myself thinking, “Is it possible that this man knows anything of the love I feel in my heart? Is love even a language he can understand?” Of course, Flynn, too, is a child of God. Even hatred, and the passion to destroy others that he manifests, is only the fire of Divine Love smoldering, but not yet burst into flames.

I am grateful for the grace we’ve been given to love God, even in the face of the hatred a certain few have directed at us. No one can ever take that love away from us. Having that, moreover, what can be taken away? God’s love is our only wealth. My prayer is that this wealth—no other—forever increase. In all the universe, no other treasure is worth possessing.

These have been, as you know, intense years for me. It wasn’t so long ago that I finished editing Master’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Following the publication of that book, in 1994, I recorded it in its entirety. (Agni has prepared this recording on three CDs; they’ll be duplicated for sale when Ananda’s budget permits.) Next, I set myself to rewriting some of my own books, which I hadn’t had the time to polish previously.

I began these rewrite projects by working on How to Spiritualize Your Marriage, which was up for republication, and which I’d been forced, originally, to write under the pressure of an earlier deadline. This time, I made numerous changes, additions, and improvements. I also renamed the book, calling it Expansive Marriage so that people wouldn’t confuse it with the earlier version.

In the fall of 1994 I did a nationwide tour to promote the Warner edition of Secrets of Life. Toward the end of the tour (which I’d been dreading for the sake of my heart), my heart began racing at a 160 beats a minute, and simply wouldn’t return to normal. Its rhythm was extremely irregular—atrial fibrillation, this condition is called. Upon my return to Ananda in November, the cardiologist insisted that I be operated upon. A faulty valve had become even faultier. Otherwise, he said, I might easily die of sudden cardiac arrest.

If Divine Mother were disposed to treat me “with kid gloves”—when has She ever done so?!—She wouldn’t have chosen just this time to throw another test at me. It was at this particular juncture that Anne Marie’s lawyers filed her lawsuit. Her clear motivation in doing so was a desire to revenge herself on Danny, and on me also for not allowing her to remain at Ananda Village and break up his marriage. Two weeks after her papers were served on me, I entered the hospital for my heart operation. As things turned out, the valve was completely shot, and couldn’t be repaired; I was given an artificial one.

Well, you know, people enjoy talking about their operations! Nor is it always because they are masochists! Actually, there was so much to be grateful for in this episode, too, that it bears retelling if only for the inspiration that came in its wake.

This was my fourth major surgery, apart from a “lithotripsy” in which, under general anesthesia, I’d had a kidney stone removed—shattered by intense sound vibrations. The other three operations were for hip replacements, the first of which had to be repeated.

This final hip replacement came just during that period when, according to Anne Marie’s claim, I was promoting Danny’s involvement with her. I’d done everything I could to separate them. I tried to make certain that she stayed in Nevada City while Danny took his seclusion at the Seclusion Retreat. But this was just when I was going into the hospital. My main focus of attention had to be on my own impending operation, which ended with my spending at least two days in the Intensive Care Unit. Danny, according to Flynn’s carefully crafted statement, went with my conniving and “stayed at Anne Marie’s home.” (By “home,” a word he kept repeating, Flynn meant the seclusion retreat, not the house in which Anne Marie had been living. He wanted to give the jury a damaging impression of Danny, and also of me.) For my part, I knew nothing of what was taking place; I had my own drama to contend with. And this proved to be quite a drama—another cause, in fact, for gratitude.

It was June, 1993, a year before the Warner tour. Let me share with you, in case you haven’t heard the story, this little adventure. I’d asked for local anesthesia during the operation. Consciousness during the proceedings not only provided me with a certain “entertainment,” but incidentally was also responsible for saving my life.

The “entertainment” entailed the opportunity to listen to what sounded like a chain saw grinding its way through my hip bone. (I kept expecting the surgeon to cry out, “Timber!”) A salesman-technician was on the scene, as I was receiving a new kind of prosthesis. The next entertainment was listening to this man as he led the surgeon through the procedure: “All right, now, two turns to the right.” “Right,” muttered the surgeon. “Now then, half a turn to the left.” “Left,” repeated the surgeon. One likes to feel confident that his surgeon knows what he’s doing. Actually, of course, I knew there was no cause for alarm; it was more a question of enjoying the comedy of it all.

At a certain point, I looked up at the anesthesiologist and said, “You know, I’m suddenly not feeling all that well.” Glancing at the blood-pressure gauge, he exclaimed, “Oh, my God!” A “gusher,” as you might call it, had been tapped, and I was losing blood like water flowing out of a bathtub once the stopper’s removed. Before the flow could be stopped, I’d lost 50% of the blood in my body.

With that extra work of stopping the “gusher,” the operation took a little extra time. Toward the end of it, the sensation began returning to the numbed area. I didn’t want to say much, as I’d been told that general anesthesia would be needed if the local one began to wear off. We were nearing the end anyway. I only hinted, therefore, that I was beginning to feel “something.” Soon afterward, while I lay in the recovery room, the anesthesiologist asked me, “Can you wiggle your toes yet?” No problem: by now, I had full control over them. A moment later, he was seen leaning over a nearby bed, his expression one of shock. He understood clearly now that the anesthesia really had begun to wear off before the “final touches” of the operation.

These things, too, are all causes for gratitude. Not only did the operation free me from intense pain, which I’d been experiencing in the hip, but it helped set the stage for one of Flynn’s most creative lies—that of my “bringing” Danny and Anne Marie together at her “home.” To produce a good drama, there must always be tension and contrasting opposites.

Six months later, at the end of a vacation I took in Hawaii, I was sitting to meditate prior to the drive to the airport. I was practicing Maha Mudra, when somehow I pulled the new hip out of its socket. You may be familiar with that story. More entertainment! And more to be grateful for. I managed with my hands and arms to haul myself across to the bed before the hip’s muscles froze up. I then phoned the management. Ten minutes later two men came, only to find that I’d fastened the chain on the door. Accepting at last that I couldn’t come and unfasten it, they spent a long time (at least, it seemed long, because of the pain) looking for an implement with which to cut the chain. After that, it took an hour for the ambulance to come, then another hour to get me to the island’s only hospital. (I had a pleasant talk in the ambulance with a paramedic about the meaning of life. And of course it made me feel most important, having that siren blare at the other vehicles to get out of our way!) Then, another long wait. Finally, the osteopath arrived and reset my hip.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I was allergic to the morphine he gave me to relax the muscles for resetting the hip. Soon after I left the hospital, in a taxi, I began to vomit. Back at the hotel later on, having no more food to vomit, I began hiccuping. This condition continued all night. At last (so it was discovered later), a sizeable gash was torn in my esophagus. The next day, I vomited again—blood, this time: literally half my body’s blood, for the second time in six months. Barely conscious by this time, I managed to summon help once more (no chain on the door, this time!). By the time I reached the hospital, another two or three hours later, I could barely respond to the doctor’s questions. For some reason, he kept asking me such questions as, “What’s a swami?” and, “How is a swami different from a yogi?” I’ve no idea how he knew of my involvement in these things. Because I simply wasn’t in the “mood” to discuss them with anybody, he concluded that maybe my brain had been damaged, and announced that I’d require a cat scan. In addition he kept insisting, “You’ve got to take your condition more seriously.” (I imagine I seemed a little prone to ignore it.) You could easily die from it!”

Fortunately, the tear healed of itself. After a few blood transfusions I was fine, and lucid enough to answer any number of questions. I decided I wouldn’t have that cat scan. The doctor insisted that I remain in the hospital anyway for two weeks. By the next day, however, I was feeling perfectly normal. Dr. Peter had come over from the mainland to be with me. Overruling this doctor’s objections, but with Peter’s approval, I decided to leave the next day. We—Peter and I; the doctor hadn’t accepted my invitation—went to a fancy Italian restaurant and had a really great dinner. The next day we flew back to the mainland. It was all just one more episode for which to be grateful—on the negative side of the ledger perhaps, but, as I say, both sides are needed in life. And I could, in fact, have checked out of more than my hotel room with that episode.

This was the beginning of 1994, the year that ended with my heart operation and Anne Marie’s lawsuit. Much else happened that year, including the Warner tour, but some of you may be glancing at your watches, snapping your fingers, and muttering, “Can’t he get on with it?” So let’s “fast-forward” to December 17th, 1994—the day I went into the hospital for heart surgery.
I’ll never forget our topic of conversation in the car that day. It concerned the mistakes surgeons sometimes make, leaving a glove in a sewn-up wound, for example, and removing healthy lungs instead of the diseased ones: things of that sort. I told the others, “Listen, if for any reason I die during this operation, it is my will that you not sue anyone, no matter who is at fault. Consider it my karma, and forget about it. Certainly the surgeon would have done his best for me.” (It’s strange, isn’t it—since this has always been our attitude toward lawsuits—that we should have been sued so relentlessly, and (including SRF’s lawsuit) for so many years!)
I told you recently, by voice mail, about the projects I’ve been involved in since that operation. I’ve remembered a few others since then. It might be interesting, if only for the record, to list them here in order as well as I can remember them. For there is much to be learned both from Anne Marie’s lawsuit and from the heart operation itself. These “contretemps” were the incentives that spurred me to what has been the most creative period of my life.

The flurry of creativity began the very day after the operation. My book, Expansive Marriage, was already at the printer and was waiting only for the Foreword. This, Susan Campbell had generously contributed, but hadn’t had the time to polish. It needed polishing, but I hadn’t realized how much until just before going into the hospital. I did part of the editing the first day there, but I couldn’t finish it then, and had to finish it the day after the operation. This necessity proved a good excuse for not giving in to the mental vagueness that follows these events.

After the operation, the surgeon told me I would never again come out of atrial fibrillation. In fact, I came out of it the very next day. The cardiologist later announced to me, solemnly, “I have to tell you, your chances of ever coming out of atrial fibrillation again were zero!” I’d also been told that my heart would always remain enlarged. One month later, the x-ray showed it to have shrunk back almost to normal size. Six months later, it was completely normal, and pumping as efficiently as a young man’s.

The doctors insisted that I had to take complete rest for one year. I’d have loved to do so. But Divine Mother didn’t seem to think it necessary. Apart from the saber-rattling of Anne Marie’s lawyers, the noisy chatter of the media, and the expressions of contempt I received from her friends who leapt into the fray with anonymous letters telling me what a monster I was, January, 1995, was the deadline for preparing the 1996 edition of the Workman “Secrets of Life” calendar.

About a year and a half before that, I’d written the book, Do It Now!—similar to the “Secrets” series, but with a saying for every day of the year instead of for every day of the month. I’d had to use quite a few of those sayings for this final Workman calendar. Now I realized that if I didn’t go ahead and complete this book, too, it would be difficult to remember, later on, which ones I’d worked on for the calendar. The sayings were now fresh in my mind, so I spent the month of February completing this book. So happy was I with the results, and so eager for everybody to read it, that I spent most of my Christmas money giving away 5,000 copies, free.

That March—unless memory betrays me—I was committed to giving a series of lectures in southern California. I didn’t realize that the heart surgery had caused a trauma not only to my body, which by now felt relatively strong, but to my psyche as well. There was a feeling of constant nervous tension in the heart region. In fact, this problem persists to this day, though it seems to be slowly improving.

I read a novel recently by Morris West. (He is the author, I believe, of that famous book, The Shoes of the Fisherman.) In this other book, the pope—a man just my age—undergoes open-heart surgery for a heart by-pass. I was struck, while reading, by the many warnings he received from physicians and psychologists concerning the emotional trauma he would certainly undergo. “You’ll experience great mood swings,” they told him—”times of depression and deep sadness. You won’t be able to control your emotions. Nor, for many months to come, will you be able to make the responsible kinds of decisions normally demanded of you in your position.” “Everyone’s” reactions to a heart operation, they assured him, are similar.

This seemed to me a bit of fictional exaggeration, and Dr. Peter, whom I asked about it, agreed with me. Recently, however, a psychiatrist who lives near us at Assisi, and who has had several cardiac arrests himself and is well “up” on such problems, told me, “Well, the nervous tension you’re experiencing is completely normal, especially considering that you meditate and are used to feeling calmness in the heart region. Any heart operation, and especially yours, which included a valve replacement and therefore meant going right into the heart itself, cuts all the nerves in that most sensitive region of the body. Because the heart is our center of feeling, naturally the upset to your feelings would have been very great.” (I must say, if the subject ever comes up of my needing another heart operation, I think I’ll probably opt for the alternative.)

Anyway, back to 1995, March, and my commitment to giving lectures in southern California: I still hadn’t started writing Meditation for Starters, which I’d contracted to do for Warner Books, but I’d finished doing the tape for it the previous summer, and now needed only to expand on the notes I’d written for Side One of that tape. This was something I thought I could do as if with my left hand tied behind my back. I was ready to roll up the other sleeve and get down to it, when I learned to my horror that Crystal Clarity was on the verge of bankruptcy. Was my entire life-work, I wondered, going up in smoke?

Meanwhile (“back at the ranch,” so to speak), the letters kept coming in, most of them unsigned, denouncing me as vicious, self-centered, and unprincipled. Considering how hard I’ve always tried never to hurt anyone, it wasn’t easy to realize that some of these people were, or at least claimed to be, my friends. I haven’t any particular opinion of myself, whether good or bad, but certainly my deepest desire has been to be of spiritual assistance to others. So these charges didn’t weigh heavily on me; I knew they were untrue. When the news came, however, of how things stood at Crystal Clarity, this was, at any rate, a fact. I felt I simply must get away for a time; the situation at Crystal Clarity was one I had no power to control. So I went to Kauai for a month. It was there that Janice Moreno, by telephone, cast in her lot heatedly with Anne Marie and her lot. Janice had always seemed a dear friend, though privately I’d never considered her reliable. I hoped at least that I’d regain the strength on Kauai to work on Meditation for Starters.

This was when Warner announced they wanted another book from me altogether. Superconsciousness was the title they proposed. Well, really! You can’t just plaster a new title onto a book. The change meant rethinking the entire project. It was late to be shifting gears, mentally. They’d wanted the book by the end of April. Fortunately, I was able to persuade them to let me have until the end of June to finish it. Even so, to write a book with such a title should have taken me two years. The very least I could imagine taking, for an even half-way decent job, was one year. Instead, I’d been given two months. And I was committed, in addition, to spending two weeks of that time on a lecture tour—to Chicago and Colorado. For the rest of this time, I simply unplugged the phone, refused to see anyone, and plunged “superconsciously” into the task! I actually did manage to get the book finished by June 29th. The manuscript got off to New York that same day, and was received June 30th. With divine grace, I’d met what had seemed to me an impossible deadline.

So then, now would I at last be able to rest? Hardly! Derek Bell was scheduled to come in August to record the Mystic Harp, for which I had yet to write the music. In July, also, I had promised a couple of weeks of lectures at our Portland and Seattle centers. There were three days before that trip began. Still in the focused state of mind I’d needed to write the book, I plunged into writing melodies for the Mystic Harp. Finishing them in two days, I had one day left for packing.

On my return from that tour up north, I wrote lyrics for certain of the melodies, to give Derek an idea of the mood I’d wanted to invoke. After his arrival, I spent time with him and David working on that album. Somewhere during this period there was, of course, Spiritual Renewal Week.

September saw the beginning of a series of eighteen all-day depositions with Mike Flynn and Ford Green for the Bertolucci lawsuit. Somewhere toward the middle of them I took a trip to India, and there spent two weeks in seclusion (relatively speaking) in Rishikesh. After my return to America, and at the conclusion of the series of all-day depositions, I wrote the melody, which all of you know, for the album, “I, Omar.”

Late in November (or was it early in December?), 1995, I began writing the book I’d already planned to write for Warner: Meditation for Starters.

So much, then, for my “year of rest”!
In 1996—January or February—I completed Meditation for Starters. Next, I recorded six months of radio programs, five days a week, which, so I’d been told, were urgently needed. In March I went on a tour of southern California with Derek Bell as a promotion for the Mystic Harp. Sometime during the spring, also, I wrote “Raga Omar Khayyam” for Agni.

It was probably in May that I recorded “Mantra of Eternity,” and recorded selections also of the Rubaiyat with “I, Omar” in the background. This project has yet to be released, when the budget permits. At various times also, though I don’t recall exactly when, I did video recordings on Creativity, Music and the Mystical Experience, Kriya Yoga, and the Evolution of World Religions.
In June, 1996, I went on another lecture tour to Chicago and Colorado. (Was the yoga conference in Aspen this month, rather than the year before? My memory of the matter has become a bit fuzzy.)

In July I went to Yosemite for a needed seclusion. During this month, in meditative calmness, I did the audio recording of selections from Autobiography of a Yogi, and wrote my new book, A Place Called Ananda, Part I.

The next month, August, and before going to Italy, I recorded the remaining six months of five-days-weekly radio programs. This, time obliged me to do in only one week! Spiritual Renewal Week was looming, and then a trip to Italy for the inauguration of our new “Temple of Light,” to Germany and a lecture at Mutter Erde, and back to Italy for more lectures. In October, I traveled with Jyotish, Devi, Arjuna, and Shivani to India. Soon after my return to Italy, I received a desperate letter from Asha, pleading with me almost tearfully to rewrite Rays of the Same Light and shorten it to make it more suitable for Sunday Service readings! I therefore wrote Rays of the One Light, hoping it would also make a nice Christmas present for everyone.

And then I went on a tour of northern Germany and Holland. In Holland I helped to lead a weekend retreat, during which I learned from Agni that he was planning to do the Oratorio for the Christmas season. He’d sent me a tape, and asked if this was how I wanted it to sound. For the first time ever, I listened to the Oratorio critically, especially to the blend of music and spoken words. I’d never been comfortable with that blend, but had had no time to analyze what it was I didn’t like about it. Now, in this spirit of rewriting old works, I suddenly realized that after each of the spoken sections the listener needed to get back into the mood of the music. These two mediums are simply incompatible, at least in the present context.

The readings had been from the Bible, as is traditional. They hadn’t been sung, because most Bible passages are simply unsuitable to render as melodies. Even Bach’s oratorios have this problem: The listener endures the “recitatives,” but waits patiently for the arias and choral pieces, which come like a breath of fresh air descending from the mountains. Worse still, in the case of my oratorio, someone had tried to reduce the length of it by beginning many of the musical pieces while the scripture was still being read, resulting in preventing the listener from concentrating on either the music or the words. It was time, I decided, to write words that could be sung, and that would also be more in keeping with Master’s interpretation of the Bible. So, during the time that I wasn’t teaching, I wrote the words for recitatives. I then tried writing the music for them, but found this part difficult, as I had no keyboard (except for the last day of my stay in Holland, when one was provided me.)

I wrote the rest of the music on my return to Assisi. In all, it meant twenty-two new numbers. Poor Agni! He had all of these to rehearse in time for the concert later that month. I faxed the last number to him, in fact, the day of the concert itself; he’d already gone to the hall. Fortunately, our soloists are musical, and could learn quickly. I’d given the choir time to rehearse the one piece I’d written for them. My quartet, “Three Wise Men Came,” the piece I’d worked on the hardest, was fortunately within the musical capacity of our talented soloists.

This seemed to be a time, as I’ve mentioned, for polishing old works. I now set to work immediately on polishing Education for Life, which Cathy had said had to be reissued as soon as possible. For some time I’d been uncomfortable with this book—not so much for what I’d said as for what I’d have liked to add. In fact, it turned out to require major re-writing. I finished this book sometime in February, 1997.

Since all this rewriting was going on, there was another book that I’d never been really contented with: The Artist as a Channel. It was one I’d written when I hadn’t had enough time to think it through to the extent that I’d have liked. Now, I began working on it again, and found that it needed even more work than I’d imagined. In fact, this became even more a major rewrite. In April I was scheduled to go to Australia, but every free minute there, even, I continued working on this book, finishing it only after my return to California in May. I renamed it, Art as a Hidden Message. These two books (education, and the arts) are, I feel gratefully, among the very best that I have done.

Even while I was working on Art as a Hidden Message, however, I’d had to take a break in March to write melodies for “Secrets of Love.” These new melodies included “Love Is a Magician.” Also, during my free time that month, I’d had to buy all the furniture and furnishings for the new home in Italy.

In June, back at Ananda Village, as I was working to finish Art as a Hidden Message, David Miller began hinting nervously that I still needed to write the melodies for Mystic Harp II. Derek Bell was scheduled to come in August to record this new album, and I hadn’t even thought about the music for it. Finally, having finished the book on art, I threw myself into writing these melodies. It was at this time that I wrote the melody, with which you are now familiar, for Robert Burns’s famous poem, “John Anderson, My Jo.” I gave several evening concerts at Crystal Hermitage, lectured in various places, then returned to Italy for the high guest season. Here, in addition to lecturing weekends, I began work on The Hindu Way of Awakening.

September saw the beginning of the Bertolucci trial, and also the devastating earthquakes near Ananda Assisi. During this period I had to make several trips back to Italy, to honor lecture commitments and to do my bit in helping the Italians’ morale. At Ananda Village, between court appearances, I recorded a video of “Meditation for Starters,” and three audio tapes as well: “An Evening in Italy” (in Italian it’s called Cosi Canta Il Mio Cuore), “Kriyananda Sings Yogananda,” and “Some of My Favorites.” Because of the earthquakes in Italy (their epicenter was very near Ananda Assisi), I launched the project, “Hope and Homes for Italy,” for the homeless victims in the nearby town of Nocera Umbra, and gave a fund-raising concert in Palo Alto, the final results of which were a little over twenty-one million Lire (roughly $15,000) which we donated to that town. This concert, given together with Ram, Nirmala, and David Miller, was recorded live in the hope of directing more money toward the “Hope and Homes” project.

It is now 1998. In April I finished The Hindu Way of Awakening. (It came to nearly 350 pages.) With the completion of this book, which I feel is my best so far, I feel at last as though I had nothing more to give, for now. Rather, after such a long period of intense creativity, I find myself in a mood suddenly to do nothing at all! My heart is actually very tired. Maybe all those dire warnings the pope received in Morris West’s novel have caught up with me at last. At any rate, there has now come to me a deep sense of disappointment over the inexplicable way the Bertolucci trial turned out.

And yet, as I said at the outset of this letter, I am deeply grateful for God’s countless blessings—to me, and to all of us. This present drama has yet to play itself out to its conclusion, but Divine Mother has always given us such an abundance of blessings, even out of the tests we’ve received, that I can’t imagine the end of this one won’t be cause for deep gratitude also.

Needless to say, I’ve given much thought to the trial, and to what it means for me and for all of us. Too many things went unreasonably, in fact impossibly, against us for this not to have been a divine play of some sort. There’s no point in blaming anyone for it. The seven or eight recent deaths we’ve sustained at and near Ananda, too, seem an extension of that drama. Against all negative-seeming indications there has been great beauty, and great joy in our hearts. These are indications of divine blessing, not disfavor. Even the work that I’ve done these past few years has included many of my best works.

Had I known how things would turn out, back when Anne Marie first expressed her determination to marry Danny (“I would make a good mother to Elise,” she insisted to me), I would have had no choice but to let the drama play itself out as it did. My alternative would have been to tell her: “All right, Anne Marie, have it your way.” I knew intuitively that by resisting her I would be facing a major test in my life. I also felt intuitively that Divine Mother was testing my integrity.

Flynn made my insistence on Anne Marie’s moving to another Ananda colony his “proof” of my dictatorial authority, which he claimed I exert over everyone. This was his central theme. “Power’s the name of the game here!” he shouted repeatedly.

You know what I think? I think that, had I not faced these major tests—the heart operation, with its aftermath; the accusations; the slander in the media; the strain of the trial; the disaster of a total miscarriage of justice—I would never have been able to do the work I have done these past years. Even the physical discomfort I’ve had since the heart operation has been partly responsible for all this work—perhaps in compensation for it. Without these tests, my work would have come less from a superconscious level, and more from my rational mind. Ananda too, and you all, would not have risen to the heights of grace that I see you’ve achieved. These tests were necessary for all of us, really, for they gave us the strength and the inspiration we needed to rise to the level God wanted of us in our service and devotion to Him.

The thought has come to me recently of those missions into the outer solar system. In order to reach Saturn, they had first to draw power from Jupiter’s gravitational field. In similar fashion, we’ve needed the gravity of these tests to give us the power to reach up higher in our own inner growth, and in our outer service.

The very disappointment I’ve felt in the thought, Why has Divine Mother let me suffer twice in this incarnation in virtually the same way? has given way to joy. I never complained to Her, but I asked—I admit, desperately—for understanding. What I’ve just written is, I know, at least part of Her answer to me. More understanding will come, no doubt, with time.

These tests were quite necessary. They’ve helped open us to the grace we’ll need during the times of great trial that, I believe, await not only us but all of mankind. We are here on earth to do what we can to serve God, and our fellowman. As Master told me, very forcefully, “Living for God is martyrdom!” In three dreams lately—you’ll be amused to hear this—I’ve been attacked by a snake, by a pack of wolves (I think it was that), and by a tiger. I felt no fear, though I was concerned. But the point is, I woke up from each dream to find that that’s all it was: a dream. And that’s all this life is, too! Whatever happens to us in this life, it is God’s dream. If we live steadfastly for Him alone, whatever trials we are put through will generate in us the power to rise ever higher in divine consciousness, until we achieve our hearts’ only lasting desire: oneness with Him.

With love always, in Master,

Swami Kriyananda