Letters from Ananda members, Part 2

It Would be Laughable If It Weren’t So Cruelly Directed
Ananta McSweeney

I have known Swami Kriyananda since 1975 when I wrote him a letter thanking him for a book he wrote. He wrote back and invited me to visit Ananda Village, which I did, and moved there the next year.

There is one aspect of the recent attacks on Kriyananda’s past that really bothers me. It concerns the events in 1981 when Kriyananda renounced his monastic vows and married Parameshwari (Kimberly Moore); and the period of time after that relationship broke up, while Swami was not a Swami, but a single member of Ananda Village. What I find especially irksome is the rewriting of history that has been perpetrated by Parameshwari in her declaration and by two other ladies who had romantic relationships with Kriyananda at that time. Having lived at Ananda Village at that time, I remember how open Kriyananda was about what he was doing in renouncing his vow of celibacy, and why he was doing it. Parameshwari’s telling of the story implies a clandestine affair that has her as an innocent victim. She goes so far to say she didn’t even think they were married.

I was present at a public satsang, at what is now the Expanding Light Temple, with all Ananda members invited (and most attending), in which she told us how honored she was to be Kriyananda’s wife and how exciting it was for her to be part of our family. Kriyananda was the perfect host, and made sure she was introduced to everyone. She had tours of the community, to meet the members at work. At the time, I worked in the garden by Master’s Market. I met her and welcomed her; and she expressed how welcome she felt.

Kriyananda told me in the hearing of many members, that whenever he was with her, he felt the spiritual energy (kundalini) move up his spine. We went to his dome, (now Crystal Hermitage) for satsang, and Parameshwari was living there. We had satsangs and I remember Kriyananda making sure she came in from the outdoor deck to join the discussion of the teachings and our way of life in the community. I am incredulous that she could say she didn’t know they were married or felt he imposed himself on her, when she had traveled from Hawaii to be with us. We openly welcomed her in every way, and though it didn’t work out, the implication that Kriyananda was underhanded or she was deceived or misled is totally indefensible.

Similarly, two other ladies that had a romantic involvement, leading to physical contact with Kriyananda after Parameshwari left, are now portrayed as “young nuns” implying they were innocent in romantic matters. I worked with both Kamala and Denise because the garden and dairy , where they worked, were adjacent and I can state clearly, their energy was not that of monastic nuns. Kamala had tremendously flirtatious energy which had Seva, the head of the nuns at wits end. She was not in any way the model of a “young innocent nun”, but rather very outgoing with the young men. I remember the monks trying to keep away from her because they felt she was making advances. Denise was not, in my experience, flirtatious; but she is the one who has declared repeatedly that the entire relationship with Kriyananda was consensual.

It is extremely vexing to me, having known Kriyananda for 26 years, to hear and read implications that he is not respectful in every way to women. His behavior toward Parameshwari was exemplary, dignified, loving and kind. He was totally open about what he was feeling and thinking, both at the time it was happening and later in the Bertolucci lawsuit. I can’t stand to see the events of that time being rewritten to paint a kind, loving man as an evil predator. I was there and I know what happened. Kriyananda is an open book, he was as refined and considerate in 1981 as he is now. If he made errors in judgment, we all learn from them, as does he. What bothers me is the charge that he was evil or cruelly insensitive at that time. It just isn’t true.

I am deeply honored to be Kriyananda’s friend. If he behaved badly, then or now, I would feel it my duty to point it out to him. Though I was there, I never had to point anything out to him. The idea that Ananda members would condone the abuse of women or anyone in our community is another aggravating story that flutters around the Bertolucci lawsuit and its aftermath. I personally find it insulting for anyone to think that I wouldn’t or couldn’t protest anything in Ananda that I felt was unjust, let alone abusive. For one thing, I’m Irish and we’ve made a history of protesting anything and everything we feel needs protesting (and much that doesn’t). The idea that I, or any Ananda member would tolerate women being abused, taken advantage of or treated without the ultimate respect would be laughable, if it wasn’t so cruelly directed.

Kriyananda is the most open, respectful, kind and dignified man I have ever met. All the rewriting in the world can’t change that.

Ananta and his wife Maria serve as spiritual directors for Ananda Sacramento.