Letters from Ananda members, Part 19

The Credit goes to Yogananda
Maitri Jones

I was 18 years old when I first met Swami Kriyananda in 1973. I recognize that meeting as the most significant event in my otherwise ordinary life. I came to Ananda High School in search of a more meaningful education. What I found was a teaching and a teacher who inspired me to reach for the highest of life’s goals and the practical skills to guide my steps in reaching those goals. The teachings are from Paramhansa Yogananda, the teacher is Swami Kriyananda who has dedicated his life to expressing those great truths through an amazing variety of avenues. He has created books on a myriad of subjects, lectures, music, plays, communities, all to find a starting point that resonates with different individuals as a means of drawing them to the central teaching of God communion.

My Ananda High School experience started with attending Spiritual Renewal Week. During this week Kriyananda held classes outside in the “Temple of Leaves” which always started with music he had written that touched our hearts leaving us open to better receive his lecture on more than an intellectual level. For there was always more than just the words, there was a wonderful vibration in his presence that made each class a transforming experience. I had read Autobiography of a Yogi and had taken some lessons from Self Realization Fellowship. But hearing Kriyananda weave stories of Yogananda’s life and his own experiences as a disciple into the fabric of yogic teachings that apply to every aspect of human existence left me in awe of his genius. Yet greeting him after the class I found him to be very approachable and humble, always giving credit for any of his accomplishments to his guru, Yogananda.

I spent the rest of that year surrounded by people like me who wanted to make their spiritual life something more than attending church on Sundays. I experienced the joy of living, working, playing and learning with other devotees, all of us trying to make our lives a more perfect expression of our true higher Selves. I recognized Yogananda as my guru and Ananda as a group of souls who are my spiritual family with Kriyananda as our spiritual guide. Since that time I have lived at Ananda Village for a total of over 10 years broken up by a number of years spent near Seattle going to school and starting a family but staying connected to my spiritual family through the Ananda colony in Seattle. Now that I have children of my own I am even more grateful for the teachings that Kriyananda has brought me that can be applied into my everyday life to raise wise and happy daughters.

During the more than 28 years I have known Swami Kriyananda he has always been the most respectful, generous teacher and friend I have ever known. I was greatly blessed to accompany him and a number of other Ananda members on two cross-country lecture tours in the seventies. I asked Kriyananda if I could come on these trips and in spite of my awkward, shy nature and tendency for sad moods he granted my request. He never concentrated on my faults but focused on showing me my own highest potential. Looking back on the experience, I know I was not the ideal representative for an Ananda Joy tour but I did my best by helping with cooking, singing, playing my flute and selling books. I was supposed to be serving others but it was I who benefited the most. I watched how Kriyananda reached out to people of so many different backgrounds, met them and accepted them wherever they were coming from and tried to draw them to their next step in spiritual evolution. I was privileged to listen to him give countless classes. In each one he gave his all with fresh enthusiasm and joy. I started taking notes because although many classes were similar and I heard some of the same stories repeated, each class left me with some new insight. He tunes into each individual audience and they draw something different from him in each class. He obviously cares about people very deeply and his generous nature demands that he do whatever he can to serve them.

So how can Self Realization Fellowship and its supposed friends justify spreading slanderous and false inflammatory claims about such a noble and caring man? In one breath they justly censure the author of an article that makes false accusations about Paramhansa Yogananda (which Kriyananda and Ananda have made clear they do not endorse) and with the next breath they themselves make outlandishly inaccurate statements about Kriyananda. There is consistent referral to the results of a lawsuit brought against Kriyananda as proof of his unworthy intentions. But anyone who has any experience with our legal system knows that the system can be unfairly manipulated by those who have plenty of money and cleverly deceitful attorneys. (Just consider the O.J. Simpson trial.) This is clearly what happened in the judgment against Kriyananda. And somehow the same attorney that unethically prosecuted the case against Kriyananda is now involved in the 11 year attempt by SRF to overwhelm Ananda with legal persecution. Absent from these unjust claims and outright lies about Kriyananda is any mention of the result of his years of dedicated service to his guru. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Look at the all of people who have been helped by Swami Kriyananda’s books, lectures, tapes, music, plays and communities. There are thousands of lives like my own that have been changed for the better by these teachings. Kriyananda has been a powerful instrument for Yogananda’s ray of light in the world.

In this time of worldwide tension and fear, people that are trying to bring peace and God consciousness to humanity need to work together. There is room for both SRF and Ananda’s way of providing Yogananda’s light amidst the darkness. Let us support each other in our efforts and stop wasting precious time and energy attacking each other. The world needs us too much.

In hope for world peace,

Maitri Jones

The photo shows Maitri, Scott, Chelsea 14 years old and Kristen 12 years old, in their home at Ananda village. Maitri is a nurse working at Sierra Family Medical Clinic, Scott is a psychiatric nurse working at Sutter-Yuba Mental Health, Chelsea attends High School at Nevada Union and Kristen is attending Ananda Jr. High.