More letters from Ananda members, Part 56

More letters:
Ananda members talk about Swami Kriyananda, life at Ananda, and the charges of abuse and misconduct

What Is a Devotee?
Dave Bingham
“Does a devotee have to be perfect and never make mistakes? If a devotee had to be perfect, virtually all of us adorning this planet would never qualify. I don’t think God so much minds our mistakes as much as what we become through them.”

What happened on March 7, 1952?
By Nitai Deranja
“One perspective is that Master died that day, ending his spiritual mission. All that remains to be done is to keep everything just as it was, and to worship his life and teachings as a sacred, if immutable trust. An alternative perspective is that Master’s work only shifted focus on that day, from his physical body to a broader, subtler communion of attuned souls. The work, from this vantage point requires an ongoing series of new insights and applications to meet the ever-changing demands of life.”

What I Learned From Bertolucci’s Lawyers
Asha Praver
“What we felt, was we had ceased to be ourselves. We were no longer ‘Sheila’ and ‘Asha.’ We were just ‘members of the cult.’ We had no feelings, no needs of our own, no shared humanity. We were just symbols to them of what they had vowed to destroy. In order to justify what they were doing, in order to stifle the voice of conscience that exists within the hearts of all, they had to make us less than themselves.”

In Service to God & Guru
Diana Down
“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.”

Naturally Spiritual
Sharon Clark
“I was spooked by churches, and the idea of sitting in a church for my inspiration was repulsive to me. I had never been at home in highly structured and organized environments. What drew me to Ananda initially was the relaxed and natural atmosphere. Everyone was welcoming and very much themselves. No one made any attempt to portray themselves as spiritual.”

My Experience at Ananda
By Clarita Poselli
“I’ve also heard someone say that at Ananda we are more or less all zombies programmed by Kriyananda. This, for those who really know Ananda, is really the most comical accusation. In fact, sometimes— I must admit— I am a little discouraged by the freedom of decision that people have in carrying out their tasks. Sometimes we really risk making fools of ourselves because of someone’s absent-mindedness. But the great strength and wisdom behind this educational choice of Kriyananda is that in the end even the most irresponsible person becomes responsible. I have seen with my very eyes people undergoing amazing changes!”

A Treasure I Hold In My Heart
Savitri Simpson
“I see Swamiji very seldom these days, but when I do he always greets me and looks into my eyes with a look that says to me, ‘I see you, Savitri, but not the little you with all your struggles and faults. I see the Divine within you.’ In that look there is a blessing that far surpasses any human love or friendship I have ever known. And that is the treasure I hold in my heart given to me so freely from a man I still don’t truly know well or could even begin to understand on every level.”

The Freedom to Grow
By Jan Lotichius
“When I started teaching meditation, the Ananda ministers never tried to control me for what I was doing. On the contrary they put great trust in me, knowing that when a man relies on his own ego rather than on inner, divine guidance, his initiatives won’t last anyway. This is exactly what Kriyananda said about his own work at the dedication of the Temple of Light in Assisi, Italy: ’Whenever something went wrong, it was because of me, whenever things flourished, it was because of God.’ A very good example of self honesty indeed!”

Only Love
Richard Salva
“As a long-time Ananda devotee, I thought I would write a few words in response to the charges made against Swamiji and our community and church by those who list their writings under the Ananda Awareness Network, and now, the Friends of SRF.”

Swami Kriyananda: A Loyal Disciple
Greg Dyal
“I strongly disagree with the recent posting on the Ananda Awareness web site stating that Ananda members, particularly Mr. Walters (Swami Kriyananda), was the driving force behind the Los Angeles New Times article, in which it was alleged Yogananda sired a son. In a manner typical of these few former members, Mr. Walters’ letter to the New Times author was grossly misrepresented.”

Many Ways to Enjoy a Garden
Cheryl Sargent
“All the counsel I have gotten is about trusting myself, following my own way, not worrying about doing things the same way everybody else does. It just doesn’t fit the picture of a cult.”

Ananda Helps Me Help Others
David Kessler
“It wasn’t that Kriyananda felt I was right. In fact, I wasn’t right. But he knew my feelings had been hurt, and he was showing total support and respect for me as a sincere devotee on the path.”

I am the Fruit of the Fruit
Patty McCarley
“It was the affirmations that Swami Kriyananda has written to accompany the classic yoga poses that truly changed my life. Those positive little phrases snuck into my brain when I wasn’t looking, under the screen of my intellectual defenses. Slowly, subtly, my self talk began to change.”

Trust the Heart
Elizabeth Mason McConner
“Haunted by the words from the court case, confronted by the ardent appreciation of Swami Kriyananda by those who walked such a high road, I was forced to keep an open mind. It was nearly two years before I would meet Swami Kriyananda.”

The Gift of Attunement
By Dianna Smith
“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.”

A Greater Power at Work
Gary Wojciechowski
“He lent me Swami Kriyananda’s autobiography, The Path. It was an early edition, and the Swami on the cover had long, long hair and a big smile. I thought, ‘I’m not interested in reading about the life of a hippie cult leader!’ But then I thought, ‘Well, it might be interesting to find out what makes a cult leader’s mind tick.’”

A Noble & High-Minded Man
Nirmala Schuppe
“Swami has never claimed to be a saint, to be celibate, to be infallible, or to be a fully realized being. He has humbly offered his friendship, and asked us to consider him our brother on the path. He is sincere in his devotion to God, and has handled the trials in his life with faith. He has inspired thousands of people to grow in their devotion to God—who among his detractors can say they have achieved as much?”