Letters from Ananda members, Part 11

In Service to God & Guru
Diana Down

I’m Diana, a member of Ananda. I’m tired of reading all the distortions of truth posted on the web by bitter ex-Ananda members who refuse to move on with their lives. Instead of spending their time looking for ways to blame Swami Kriyananda and Ananda for their unhappiness, it might prove more productive for them to take responsibility for their lives, and find a way out of the hatred and anger that clearly binds them to darkness.

The way I see it, Swami Kriyananda is either of the dark—as Ananda’s critics seem to believe—or, he’s of the light. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” Let’s look at some of the fruits of Swami Kriyananda’s life:

Introduced thousands of disciples to Master and initiated them into Kriya Yoga over the past fifty-three years.

Made Yogananda’s vision of world brotherhood colonies a reality. There are now six (soon to be seven) such colonies where Master’s disciples selflessly serve His work and practice His guidelines of simple living and high thinking.

Founded seven Ananda Churches of Self-Realization, where ministers, trained by Kriyananda, spread Master’s teachings through Sunday services and weekday classes.

Created three public retreat centers in the US and Europe, where people from all walks of life learn the principles of Self-Realization, are introduced to our line of Masters, to meditation, yoga, healing affirmations, spiritual living, service to God – all Master’s teachings.

Wrote some 70 books – and still writing—that expand on numerous aspects of Masters’s teachings and mission.

Created schools (currently there are three) to teach children spiritual principles at a young age.

Wrote over 400 pieces of music that open hearts and evoke deep devotion to God. When hearts are open, people hear God’s call more clearly.

Given thousands of lectures and classes in US and Europe over the last fifty years with one goal in mind: spreading Master’s work and bringing souls to Master’s feet.

Opened two metaphysical bookstores where Master’s books are prominently displayed and sold, and where classes on Master’s teachings take place regularly.

During the time he was being publicly humiliated by the press and persecuted by disgruntled ex-members of Ananda in the courts, he wrote a book on Sanatan Dharma, distributed thousands of free copies of a book he wrote called Do It Now , recorded two albums, and created a project to help the homeless of a region in Italy devastated by earthquake.

Many, many more good deeds and acts of kindness that are far to numerous to be mentioned here.

Swami Kriyananda has dedicated his life to his guru’s mission: spreading the teachings of Self-Realization to the world.

Has he made mistakes? Yes, no human is perfect. Has he had consensual relationships with several women over the years? Yes. Has he maliciously or deviously seduced women? No way.

Anyone who knows Kriyananda well understands that allegations of devious seduction are ridiculous. Mutual attraction and consensual relationship are, however, understandable, and certainly forgivable. Swami admitted that he made some mistakes and has apologized to anyone who’s been hurt by his actions. Shall we not forgive those who hold up celibacy as an ideal, yet have not been 100% capable of achieving that ideal? Such ideals, to remain realistic in our day and age (with no monastery walls for protection,) can be looked at as directional.

I don’t care to delve into the Bertolucci courtroom drama: women’s victim consciousness that gets awakened fifteen to thirty years after the fact; the “cult” scare tactics used in the courtroom by Mike Flynn et.al.; the public’s suspicious perceptions of gurus and spiritual communities (enflamed further by lawyer Flynn); the the kangaroo court judge who didn’t allow Kriyananda to even cross-examine his accusers. We know that this was Divine Mother’s lila.

I’ve had many moments alone with Kriyananda, traveling and here at Ananda Village. I’ve been with him while he was partially undressed, while giving him a foot, shoulder or neck massage. Neither I, nor any other woman I know at Ananda, have ever felt the slightest hint of sexual energy from him, nor have we heard him utter one word of innuendo. He has always been a perfect gentleman and friend.

I work in our ministry (sangha) office running a product-of-the-month club called Treasures Along the Path. Not long after I arrived here at Ananda, Swami Kriyananda asked if I’d like to spearhead a new project. It involved monthly mailings of low-cost products that focused on Master’s teachings to our members. Though he had no prior experience of my competency level, Swami showed faith in me by asking me to start and manage a new program that was dear to his heart. He did this more out of kindness to me than out of concern for project. I was fresh from a worldly life in the city and I felt he wanted me to taste the joys of spiritual service right away. I didn’t need to earn an Ananda salary, and might not have chosen to work had I not been asked.

Kriyananda is one of the most expansive and generous people that I know.

A few months after we’d done our first mailings and were in the process of gathering new Treasures members, Swami suggested that we make our monthly products available to everyone who truly desired to receive them, regardless of their ability to pay for them. I reacted with some surprise at first, wondering how we’d stay afloat. We communicated this offer to the people on our mailing list, and enrolled many new members who took (and continue to take) advantage of this offer. To my joy we’ve always had enough paying members and contributors to keep this service going.

The following year, several Ananda ministers went to Assisi for a minister’s retreat with Swami. I sent him a birthday card along with them and included some birthday money inside. When the ministers returned two weeks later, they brought the money back with them. They told me that during a meeting with them one day, Swami had brought that exact amount of money out and asked them to bring it back and put it towards this project, Treasures Along the Path.

Ananda’s critics’ “independent and confidential” sources from SRF giving the reasons for Kriyananda’s expulsion from SRF is particularly interesting. For years, SRF claimed that Kriyananda had resigned. Then when Kriyananda went public with the fact that he was expelled, they claimed it was because he went against the wishes of the board while he was in India. Now, it seems, he was expelled because of a relationship he had with a woman. It is difficult to stay abreast with the changing versions. Kriyananda’s full account of why he was expelled from SRF is on Ananda’s website in the book, A Place Called Ananda.

Regarding our critics attacks on the way our leadership at Ananda works, I ask, what is discipleship if not to follow those more advanced on the spiritual path? I’ve been living at here for four years, and I am here to serve Master and Ananda in any way that I am asked. I gave up being a boss when I left my career in Silicon Valley to lead a life dedicated to God. I’m used to making decisions, but I don’t have to make every one of them. Other people are also competent! The leaders of Ananda are my friends and gurubhais. We all work together to make Ananda the brightest light it can be. If I’m asked for my input, I gladly give it. Am I offended if someone doesn’t always do it my way? Absolutely not.

Swami Kriyananda lives in Assisi now. He didn’t “flee” to Italy—we have a growing work there. Being Master’s only living disciple in Europe, he is a big draw for would-be disciples. Swami gives Sunday services and Saturday satsangs in Italian. He finds it easier to focus on his writing, with many fewer distractions there than in the US. Though he is ever our friend, spiritual teacher and guide, he no longer leads Ananda’s work on a day-to-day basis.

Ananda’s ministers and leaders are living examples of the “fruits” and further proof that Kriyananda and Ananda is of the light. It was two women ministers speaking at the Palo Alto, California church that first drew me to Master. Their sermons were deep and full of truth. The women were joyful and devotional, yet embodied profound inner strength and spiritual power. I immediately thought, “I want to be like them.” When I came to Ananda for the first time I was surprised to find most all the long time members displaying the same qualities. It’s not that they’re all made from the same mold, but it’s what they are doing with their lives. These folks are serving the light. But don’t take my word for it. Anyone can watch our leaders/ministers giving Sunday service on our website at www.ananda.org.

I am certain that Master is pleased with his disciple, Kriyananda. To me, there is no question of whether or not he serves the light. When any of us act as channels of the light, we become a part of that light. Kriyananda has served thousands of people around the world over the span of five decades by bringing them closer to God, and introducing them to Master. I’d say that qualifies him to be a big part of that light.

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