Letters from Ananda members, Part 31

A Family Affair
Gunther and Gabi Kautsch

“The Great Ones, like waves, bathe in the Eternal Sea, and become One with It. Disciples make all the trouble and differences. They begin to create narrowness.”
—Paramhansa Yogananda, East-West, 1930

We are a family living in the south of Germany and would like to present our point of view in the struggle for clarity about Ananda and Swami Kriyananda, presenting our experiences in these last 23 years.

We have been sad about the battle happening since many years in courts and hearts and now we finally want to express our concern for the people we love, especially after knowing about the new web-sites created by friends of SRF (at least this is the name of the site), presenting Swami Kriyananda in a most disgusting way. Even if you hate someone, this is an unbelievable un-dharmic way to act in our opinion. And this is attacking us, too, so we feel to respond and hope to be able to add some light.

We came to Ananda first in 1978 and were probably amongst the first people from Europe connecting. There was nothing in Europe then like the wonderful center in Assisi, Italy now.

Most important was that after coming to Ananda for the first time, having felt Master’s presence there very strong, we followed this and our path ever since and this has been the greatest blessing of our lives, and we are deeply grateful for it.

We have had many opportunities to experience the people there, the life there and also Swami Kriyananda and his influence on the community and on people. He never put himself on a pedestal, nor declared himself to be the next Guru, but was in every way devoted, felt like a friend and never tried to influence people in any way, except trying to give what he has, his life of service to Master.

We went for countless visits to Ananda and the centers, have lived in Ananda Village in California for 6 months and have seen Ananda from inside and outside for more than 2 decades. There are friends living there, who never showed the slightest symptom of being brainwashed, as it is suspected on the websites mentioned above.

In 1992, we thought we might move to Ananda Village. We stayed for six months, but it was too big a step for us to transition from one continent to another. When we made our decision to go, no one tried to force us to stay, or convince us that it would be a bad step spiritually to leave. Even long time members and leaders of the community supported us when we said it was best for our family life to go back to Germany—we had 2 small children.

At that time the court case with SRF had started not too long ago, and we remember the inspiring attitude with which people would ask for Master’s wish in this whole thing.

Our children, 13 and 16 years old now, have grown up with Ananda and the people there, and now have started to visit on their own, an amazing step for a teenager.

We meet and have met many many people who came for a short time, or stayed longer, who were new on the spiritual path or had been on it for years, and all of them—we actually cannot think of an exception—felt at home and welcomed in the spirit of Paramhansa Yogananda. There are people living there—and this is really inspiring and refreshing—who don’t accept every little outward expression of the life there. They have no problem to remain themselves, there is no brainwashing. This is true both at Ananda in California and Ananda in Assisi.

Some people might say that we have been in delusion for all this time, but we know we have moved towards clarity! And we are living in the world, always having the chance to step back and go inside at home and look at what has come out of being part of this spiritual family. No relative or friend has ever thought that we have become strange and nobody feels that it is something to worry about to see pictures of Master all around our house. No cult, no dogma, no pressure, but only love and inspiration.

We would like to add some words about Swami Kriyananda. He has been a wonderful teacher for us and rejects every credit for what he does and all the people he helps, but giving all credit to God and Guru. We have found him to be someone who really tries to live his life for his Guru.

We hope and believe that all trouble will be resolved at some point, and our wish to all the people reading this is, that they may feel inspired to find out for themselves about their truth and their path.

With love
Gunther & Gabi

Gunther and Gabi live with their two children in the south of Germany, in the Black Forest close to Switzerland, where they run a small arts and crafts business.