Letters from Ananda members, Part 27

The Gift of Attunement
Dianna Smith

Swami Kriyananda has been my spiritual teacher and friend for over twenty years. When I came to Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings I was first associated with Self-Realization Fellowship. A few years later I learned about Ananda and felt inwardly drawn to visit the community. I was excited about the possibility of living in a community of Yogananda disciples and practicing the teachings on a daily basis. When I met Swami for the first time he gave me a warm welcome. I remember him saying, “Are you considering living here? You are welcome!”

Since that first visit in 1977 it’s been the greatest blessing of my life to be associated with Swami Kriyananda and Ananda. I remember feeling after I moved to Ananda Village, “Ah, this is what I’ve been looking for—people like me who want to offer their lives completely to God and Guru.” Since then I have received more than my heart could hold of blessings, love and guidance from Swamiji. Here are some of the experiences I have had over the years—some very dear to my heart—some that I haven’t shared with many people—that have shown me his wonderful leadership, selflessness, compassion, and greatness as a channel for God and Guru.

Attunement with the Guru

When I first moved to Ananda I wondered about Swami’s role in relation to Master and the line of gurus. Since then I’ve heard Swami say many times, “Tune in to Yogananda,” or “Pray to Master. He’s the guru.” Swami has always guided people to attune to Master—to feel his blessings and guidance in their lives. Swami describes his role as that of our divine friend—someone who helps and guides us along the path and offers us loving friendship in God.

I came to understand in time what it meant to have Swami as our divine friend. Yes, he encouraged people to tune in to Master as the guru. At the same time, he made it clear that direct disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda and other highly advanced disciples are active living links to the guru. By attuning myself to Swami I found myself more in tune with Master.

There was a time when we were celebrating Swami’s 40th year of discipleship to Yogananda. Ananda teachers spoke about Swamiji’s life and work of building communities, developing an education system, and about the many books and music he had written. Swamiji wasn’t present at the class, but later at the keynote talk he spoke about how unimportant his accomplishments were. With tears streaming down his face he said that all he wanted to be in life was a good disciple. Nothing else mattered to him except to be in tune with his guru.

More than anything else I feel the greatest gifts Swamiji has given us are his attunement to Master and his guidance on how we can develop our own inner attunement to find Master’s guidance within ourselves.

In 1984, when my husband and I and two other Ananda ministers were helping to get Ananda’s work started in Italy, I was still fairly new to Ananda and had no experience in starting a center. In the beginning, Swami Kriyananda was in Italy with us and gave many talks which attracted large crowds. When Swami was about to return to Ananda Village, I asked him if he had any advice on developing our work. I was looking for concrete answers and a step-by-step plan. Instead Swami said, “Tune in to Master and Divine Mother, and you will know what to do.”

At first I didn’t understand what this meant, but as I tried to follow his advice and “tune in,” I began to feel the flow of ideas, inspiration, and inner guidance. I could also feel Swami’s prayers and silent support. Even though he called us frequently and offered advice, it was clear that he wanted us to gain our own strength, and to make decisions from inner attunement to Master.

In the early years of our Italy retreat, we were working with a charismatic Catholic group from Southern Italy whose focus was on inner mystical experience. The group was very receptive to Yogananda’s teachings, and many of them had taken Kriya Yoga initiation. However, our association with them often resulted in our doing things differently: we sang their chants, participated in their prayer sessions, and meditated less than we normally would. One time all of us were singing and skipping through the grounds hand in hand. Swamiji saw us and asked—when he could finally get our attention—what we were singing. I remember shouting the name of the song out to him without even stopping! He watched us but said nothing.

I don’t believe Swami approved of what we were doing, but Swami follows the principle that inner guidance is clarified through action. Swami was patiently assessing things and trying to determine what Master wanted. Did Master want us to affiliate with this group? Swami was also giving all of us time to tune into Master’s will. Although our association with this group brought about much good for our work in Italy, many of their practices were not in tune with Master, and there eventually came a parting of the ways.

Having read Autobiography of a Yogi and The Path many times, it’s very clear that Swami uses the same approach in training us that Master used. He places us in situations where we can learn the lessons we need to grow spiritually. He doesn’t allow us to become dependent on him. It has been a great gift to have his leadership and guidance.

Generosity

Another wonderful quality in Swamiji is his generosity. I have never met such a generous, selfless person, or a truer example of non-attachment. I remember a time when my husband and I were invited to go out in a small group with Swami and others for a special lunch, and we didn’t have enough money to go. Swami gave us the money we needed.

In the early years of our work in Europe, Swami would go out at Christmas time and buy all of the staff (at least twelve of us) beautiful Christmas presents. Another time in Capri, Italy, a small group of us went into a well-known artist’s gallery. The artist’s paintings were very beautiful. My husband and I picked one that we liked (the smallest one we could find because that was all we could afford). Swami said: “If you see a larger one that you like, I will help you buy it.”

There was another time in Rome when Swami, my husband and I were taking a walk and saw some African men (who were obviously very poor) selling watches and other items along the street. Being black myself, I felt somewhat embarrassed and uncomfortable with their situation and wanted to hurry past them. Swamiji’s response was totally different—he went over and bought a watch. Swami already had a very nice watch, and the watch he bought was much inferior. It was obvious that he bought the watch to help those two Africans and also to help me with my sensitivity about race.

I once had a dream of Master in which many Ananda members were present. We had come to the end of a long lifetime of seeking God together through many ups and downs. Swami Kriyananda was present in the dream too. Master was so pleased with what Swamiji had done in helping us along the path. From the look he gave Swamiji, Master was saying, “You have been a very good disciple!”

Dianna lives at Ananda Village with her husband Ram. She coordinates the Kriya Ministry for Ananda worldwide.