My Experience at Ananda
I am a 46-year-old woman, mother of two children. One of them, an 18-year-old girl, has lived with me at Ananda Assisi for two and a half years. This means that I lived in the world until not long ago (I have been working for 15 years), and I know well what life is all about. I am a practical person, I am very realistic, in short, I keep my eyes wide open! These are all qualities that I consider essential to be able to offer a balanced service to God and to my beloved Guru, Yogananda, to whom I have been deeply devoted for about twenty years.
I have always been a seeker of the absolute Truth and I am therefore always ready to defend truth in every form. During the last few years, I have heard a series of accusations against Kriyananda and Ananda that I could have easily believed had I not been living at Ananda.
Since I feel deep gratitude to Kriyananda for the constant blessings he draws on all of us who love Yogananda, I feel the duty—and the pleasure—to give my small testimonial about who he is.
I meet Swami Kriyananda weekly—like all the people who wish to participate in the satsangs and Sunday Services here. Although he never places himself in the limelight, one can easily feel in his presence that he is a channel of divine energy. As such, even beyond what he says, he has the power to elevate the consciousness and energy level of those who are near him—many people in the audience take advantage of these meetings to meditate. I have never heard him utter words of resentment against anyone, not even those who have done everything to prove to be his enemies. Even behind his words—which, some may think, could be carefully studies in order to “charm”—I have never felt an energy of condemnation. Of pain, yes, but always loving. He often says: “I know the people in SRF, I lived with them: I assure you, they are good. They are making mistakes now, but they believe they are acting for the good.” Who has at least a little capacity to feel other people’s feelings, knows what I’m talking about.
The same can be said about his alleged “sensual attitude.” Like all women—I think—I can always instinctively feel in the energy or gaze of a man if he has sensual thoughts about me or other women. I have never seen nor felt in Kriyananda anything like that for anyone. And at Ananda live many women, some of which are very beautiful! (Do his SRF brothers remember that he had this type of attitude when he lived with them? One doesn’t suddenly “become” sensual at 50: one is born sensual).
I heard someone claim that there are many obstacles for women who want to have a “career” at Ananda. But what I see here at Ananda Assisi is that Ananda is, in fact, mainly managed by women! The director is Kirtani (a woman) and it is her who gives Kriya initiations when Kriyananda can’t.
I’ve also heard someone say that at Ananda we are more or less all zombies programmed by Kriyananda. This, for those who really know Ananda, is really the most comical accusation. In fact, sometimes—I must admit—I am a little discouraged by the freedom of decision that people have in carrying out their tasks. Sometimes we really risk making fools of ourselves because of someone’s absent-mindedness. But the great strength and wisdom behind this educational choice of Kriyananda is that in the end even the most irresponsible person becomes responsible. I have seen with my very eyes people undergoing amazing changes! I am told that many of the people who are now true “beams” of love, were light-headed hippies when they first got to Ananda America (although they obviously had a great spiritual potential). How was this change possible? By chance? All of them by chance?
When I was still living in Rome and didn’t know anything about these court-cases, I went to the SRF Church and I innocently said that I regularly visited Ananda. I saw people startle (they almost took out a crucifix…) and suddenly stiffen up. Some time later, at Ananda, one of the ministers encouraged us to go and meditate in the SRF centers in our cities. Which attitude, of the two, do you think really won my heart? My life choice speaks by itself.
I could go on writing many pages, but I prefer to ask all Ananda’s detractors this: If you mean well, why don’t you come to Ananda in incognito, to see by yourselves how things really are? Those who are searching for the truth are not afraid to change their opinions, if necessary.
Thank you, Yogananda, for introducing me to Kriyananda. Thank you, Kriyananda, for always being His coherent, loving, and selfless channel.
Clarita lives at Ananda in Assisi, Italy. She works in Inner Life Products, a mail order business run by the community there, and also leads the Healing Prayer Ministry.