Letters from Ananda members, Part 44

Disagreement Welcome
Sadhana Devi Helin

There have been several times that I’ve found myself in disagreement with Kriyananda. He holds strong views on many subjects, and I’ve sometimes held equally strong but opposing views. In each case when I have discussed it with him, he has treated my views with respect and reflection, and on several occasions has changed his view as a result. Since he is so strong in his opinions it’s easy to think that he can’t be swayed, but I have found that he responds, as most people do, to a well-thought-out argument, presented reasonably and unemotionally. On several occasions he has also asked my opinion before making a decision.

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In the late 60’s the women’s movement was just beginning to get up some steam. Many of us had read the first books about expanding beyond the wife and mother roles. There weren’t many role models out there for us, however, and we weren’t quite sure how to go about expanding our awareness in this way. It took only two years for me to hit the glass ceiling at my work, and I decided to come to Ananda, in part to experience some very different ways of living.

Since Ananda’s inception, there have been women in roles of responsibility. Our first community manager was a woman, as were the owners or managers of some of the first businesses. Kriyananda once said “I would like to see more women’s energy here.” He felt that, while we needed a lot of masculine energy to build buildings and plow fields at the beginning, feminine energy had not been emphasized enough.

He gave us the example of a monastery he had visited as a young man. He noticed that the altar cloth was upside down, and thought to himself “That would never happen in a convent!” He has often said that women are the inspirers, perhaps a variation on the adage “Behind every successful man there’s a woman.” He felt that women’s energy and perspective needed to be recognized and promoted. Masculine energy drives a project, but feminine energy inspires it. To that end, perhaps, he has made many women ministers and has put them in roles of responsibility. Perhaps half of our ministers are women. In fact, a few women are ministers although their husbands are not.

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Many Ananda members work outside the community, not only in our centers, but also in Nevada County. The reasons they choose are probably as varied as the people themselves, but a common thread seems to be the desire to serve the general public in new ways. To name just a few in this area, we have an engineer working at Beale Air Force Base, another engineer at Tektronix in Grass Valley, several nurses working in home health care, a number of builders working in the area and in Sacramento, and an office manager for the local volunteer fire department. Most of us have been at our jobs for several years and find it very rewarding to have the opportunity to share the vibrations of the masters with people who might otherwise never have any contact with them.

Sadhana Devi is a founding member of Ananda Village where she lives still with her husband Jaya. Over the years she has worked in many different areas area of the community, while also raising a daughter.