More letters from Ananda members, Part 57

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

Does Ananda Financially Exploit its Members?
By Greg Dyal
“In the twelve years I have been ‘gainfully employed’ I have been approached twice privately about donating or loaning money to specific Ananda projects. In the time prior to my education and gainful employment, I can remember being approached once privately about donating to Ananda. So I guess if you want to put the worst-case spin on this, Ananda has doubled its efforts to take my money since I’ve been making a living wage!”

A Family Affair
Gunther and Gabi Kautsch
“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.”

Swami Kriyananda
My Friend and Guide on the Spiritual Path

Parvati Hansen
“In the summer of 1972 I moved to Ananda Village permanently and have remained a part of Ananda ever since. What I felt at Ananda from the beginning that so attracted me was a sense of inner freedom and joy. I felt that the potential for spiritual growth there was indeed very great. “

Ananda’s Real Motives—An Insider’s personal perspective
David Steinmetz
“While I am a volunteer minister for the Ananda Church of Self-realization, and have been deeply involved with Ananda since 1973, I have not been part of the decision-making, policy-setting leadership of the organization, but have observed this process closely over my nearly 30 years of experience with Ananda.”

A Beacon of Light in Times of Trial
Janakidevi Steinmetz
“It is not up to us as individuals to hate and punish and try to destroy someone who we think has done something wrong. It is up to us, as devotees, to take care of our own thoughts, words, and deeds so that they are in tune with divine harmony.”

Secret of Happiness
Kathleen Gardiser
“After studying Swami Kriyananda’s teachings, I no longer saw my situation as a punishment or bad luck. I saw it as an opportunity for spiritual growth.”

My Closest Friend After Master
Kristy Fassler-Hecht
“Swami Kriyananda has helped me be a much better disciple to Master than I could ever have been without his loving guidance and example.”

The Making of a Wedding
Marilyn Holm and Joe Begley
“Our hearts overflow with love and gratitude for Swamiji, who taught all of us how to be good devotees, to come together, in Community, to create something as blessed as these wedding celebrations have been. Our hearts overflow with love and gratitude for all of you, who have learned these lessons so well.”

Kriya Is the Key
Matt Stickney
“The only way you can get more into it at SRF is to be a monk. SRF simply does not offer any opportunity for married couples to dive deeper into the teachings as a way of life. Ananda is a community for householders, something Yogananda really wanted.”

Truth Is One and Eternal
Phil Hoffert
“I was raised Catholic for 59 years. Seven years ago I went to a Meditation I class at Ananda to help me relax. I wanted to go somewhere that was spiritual and not just a stress reduction class.”

Finally My Heart Could Breathe
Hanna Spengler
“I understood that the discipline and strictness I was missing when I first came to Ananda can only lie within you and cannot be instructed to you from outside. What I found here is a joyful discipline, a joyful service and sharing and the silently shining example of Swami Kriyananda without whom all this would not exist in this form.”

Disagreement Welcome
Sadhana Devi Helin
“Kriyananda felt that women’s energy and perspective needed to be recognized and promoted. Masculine energy drives a project, but feminine energy inspires it. He has made many women ministers and has put them in roles of responsibility. In fact, a few women are ministers although their husbands are not.”

Graciousness, Kindness, Humility
Deborah Golub-Gregorelli
“I noticed one other small thing that afternoon. It being summer, there were many flies around, something I personally found extremely aggravating and often got quite angry about. I was amazed to watch Kriyananda’s response to their persistent attentions. He simply gently waved them away with not a hint of irritation. A small thing indeed, but to my way of thinking at that time, significant. I perceived intuitively that this attitude of acceptance and of not letting outward things disturb his inner peace was an innate part of his character, and was something I, myself very much wanted to learn.”

Joy Is The Surest Sign
Sharon Brooks
“I’m a relative newcomer to Ananda, having only started taking meditation classes in May of 1998. I particularly recall when one of the larger weekly Bay Area papers did a big article about the Bertolucci charges, featuring on the front page a cartoon caricature of Swami Kriyananda surrounded by voluptuous young women. Reading all the negative things in the article gave me pause. Could they possibly be true?”

An Example of What I Might Become
By Lalita Motyka
“Swamiji has been—and continues to be—the greatest example of kindness, divine love, spiritual friendship, and discipleship I could have ever imagined. It has been and is a great blessing to be in his presence and feel my heart and mind uplifted into God’s love. For a devotee, this is an invaluable spiritual opportunity.”

The Best Moments of My Life
Susan Hoffert
“Many of these people, whom I do know personally, and respect so much, have known and worked with Kriyananda for years. And they respect him greatly. Many of them are women. Many of these women are leaders in Ananda. When you add it all up, there is just no way that the charges brought in the Bertolucci lawsuit could be true. That lawsuit says women at Ananda are oppressed. It’s ridiculous.”

I Prayed Deeply to Yogananda
Zoe Matthews
“We were all new to Ananda and were curious about who Kriyananda was and what he had done. On the one hand, I thought, the allegations could be true, but on the other hand, I had felt a very sweet connection with Swami Kriyananda when I read his book, and when I saw his photo I felt that there was already a friendship there. I felt that Yogananda was guiding me to Him through Swami.”

My Experience with Swami Kriyananda
Bent Hansen
“I was already wary of authority figures and felt an aversion to “following” someone. At the same time I also realized that to deepen my attunement to my spiritual path I needed some help and guidance of some sort. What I began to notice right away was that Swami displayed no signs of being interested in adulation or in being perceived in the role of a “guru”. He simply had no tendency to draw people to himself but rather he always directed others towards Paramhansa Yogananda and Divine Mother.”

On Hero Worship
Richard Salva
“When I first moved to Ananda Village I was eighteen. Everyone was older, even my closest friends. I was surrounded by inspiring elders, beginning with Swami Kriyananda and other dedicated members of the community. Needless to say, I had many heroes back then. It is my joy to report that I have just as many heroes now.”

A Personal Perspective on Ananda
James Conti
“When I was a boy, and even as a younger man, I could never understand the frame of mind that condemned and crucified Jesus. Suddenly the people whose sins he came to absolve, whose faith he committed himself to restore, turned against him as a devil in their midst. But now I see, as history demonstrates repeatedly, that people will often lower themselves, even to terrible deeds, if they think their control over someone, or over something they dearly want to possess, is slipping away.”