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How I Found My Guru
March 23, 2014

In the fall of 2000, after seriously evaluating my life options, I was at a loss. None of the directions I could think of taking seemed all that satisfying. A spiritual interest had grown in me, starting in high school, fanned by the movie Ghandi and books by Ram Dass such as Be Here Now.…

Opportunities
January 16, 2014

“There are no obstacles; there are only opportunities!” —Paramhansa Yogananda There were a lot of opportunities today. I don’t mean that as we sometimes do, using “opportunities” as a euphemism for “problems”; or at least I don’t mean only that. Today was one of the most hectic days I’ve had in a long time, but…

Steve Jobs and the Autobiography of a Yogi
October 5, 2013

A short time after Steve Jobs passed away, a friend of mine received a phone call. “We’d like to place an order for 500 copies of Autobiography of a Yogi. Do you have that many?” It turned out that those books — eventually purchased from Self-Realization Fellowship, who had enough in stock — were needed…

My First Prayer Was About a Cat
September 2, 2013

My “first prayer,” as I’ve come to think of it, was made when I about 22 years old. I had just begun meditating and was beginning to look at life from a spiritual point of view. I’m sure that I had prayed when I was a child, but in high school I had been an…

An Open Letter to Myself Before My Move to Ananda Village
August 7, 2012

This is addressed to my past self of December, 2004, just after I decided to move to Ananda Village.

Day by Day
May 18, 2011

These are thoughts of daily life are from over a year ago — I’m just now sharing them! This is an experiment, and I’d be glad to know what you think of this format in the comments. February 3, The Joyful Arts Center Right now I’m standing in the auditorium of the Joyful Arts Center,…

The Prayer of Discipleship
March 20, 2011

Yogananda was a very playful soul at a young age. There’s a story of the time he used yogic techniques to play dead, fooling his entire family and household, and there are many others — but one stands out as a fascinating example of the relationship between the Guru and the disciple. The Guru is…

It's Never Too Late
December 31, 2010

Wherever we are, no matter how bad our life might look, we can take a step forward. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, what we forgot to do, or what other people think of us — our choice is basically the same: to go forward. At a Sunday Service several years ago I heard a…

"I Will" - A Tribute to Nayaswami Maria
December 8, 2010

A shining light has passed out of this world, and into another. It’s joyful and sad at the same time. Maria and I worked together for the last five years, I supporting her role as the webmaster for Ananda.org and other Ananda Worldwide sites. What little I can share in words to tell you what…

Behind the Scenes of the "Rescuing Yogananda" Website
October 26, 2010

Several days before the release of Rescuing Yogananda, a friend emailed me a copy. I read the book through that same evening.

It was… well, the book was not like any other book that Swami Kriyananda has written. I didn’t know what to make of it. Initially, I felt uneasy.

The Trip to Los Angeles
September 10, 2010

This blog is a semi-live account of the Ananda Village monks’ trip to Los Angeles three weeks ago, on August 22nd, to hear Swami Kriyananda talk at a packed Ford Amphitheater.

It’s “semi-live” because I wrote the first half at about 2:30 pm. After that, I was writing more or less as-it-happens.

I hope you enjoy it.

Are We Ready for This?
June 23, 2010

Yesterday was an interesting day. The morning at work began fine, outwardly, but my heart and mind were not in the right place. This showed up in a lack of kindness to some of my co-workers. In the afternoon, this lack of harmony, as if reflecting itself in the world around me, began to express…

My First Three Months of Meditation
June 21, 2010

Seven years ago, unexpectedly, I woke up one morning with a strong desire to meditate. I’d thought meditation was a good idea for some time — but meditation was something that other people did. I’d tried it and it hadn’t worked out. But, here was this new feeling: “I must find God!” I struggled on…

Much More is Needed
February 16, 2010

After Yogananda told Nayaswami Kriyananda that his life’s work was “writing, editing, and lecturing,” Kriyananda asked, “But Sir, haven’t you already written everything that is necessary?” Yogananda looked shocked. “Don’t say that,” he replied. “Much more is needed.” Since then, Nayaswami Kriyananda has gone on to write almost 100 books. And even so, I doubt…

The Joy of Renunciation - What I'm Telling My Family About My Lifetime Monastic Vows
January 19, 2010

Last weekend I wrote an email to my family, sharing with them about the lifetime monastic vow that I took on Christmas Eve at Ananda Village.

In the email, I wrote, …

Why Be Grateful? — Thoughts from Thanksgiving
November 26, 2009

There was a time in my life, which ended relatively recently, when I simply couldn’t appreciate why people thought gratitude was so important. At least, I didn’t resonate with the way most people expressed it. When I came onto the spiritual path, however, I found that there are actually different kinds of gratitude. The normal…

Writing Swami Kriyananda’s Website
September 10, 2009

In 2005 I was asked to create the Swami Kriyananda website as part of my work with Ananda’s outreach ministry. It will probably remain one of the best writing projects I’ll ever work on, though I continue to write for 60 years or more. Particularly amusing — and also indicative of Ananda’s good character in…

No Regrets
August 30, 2009

When I was in high school, a friend of mine said to our class, “My goal for this year is that I want to have no regrets.” “That isn’t something you can achieve through your actions,” I thought, in an unusually insightful moment. “Who can act perfectly? Having no regrets has to be a consequence…

What Makes Something a Success? (The Story of an Ananda-Style Photo Shoot)
April 29, 2009

Two young women

What do you think makes for success? Is it an end result? Or is it the way we do something?

This blog post is simple: it’s the story of a photo shoot done by a group of young adults living at Ananda Village. There’s a burgeoning youth movement within Ananda now…

Daily Inspiration
February 17, 2009

Have you ever clicked on “Daily Inspiration,” near the top of any page on www.ananda.org? If you have, you’ll have seen a saying taken from the book Do It Now!, probably with a related talk by Swami Kriyananda. The sayings are short, inspiring, and extremely practical.

I suppose there’s some cosmic law at work here, …

The Job of the Guru
December 10, 2008

Tuesday night was for me the last night of a several-day seclusion—one that is ending more or less as I write this blog post. (The time-honored practice of seclusion is one of silence and of being alone with God.) During this seclusion, I spent some time outdoors, some time meditating (of course!), some time sleeping…

Ananda's Future
September 8, 2008

On August 31st I was honored to be a part of something wonderful and new at Ananda: the start of a dynamic youth movement. Over 20 young people from Ananda centers around the world hosted a lunch-and-concert fundraiser at Ananda’s Institute of Alternative Living and Meditation Retreat. It marked the first time that a large…

Dramatic Improvisation for Fun and Spiritual Upliftment
August 3, 2008

I played the part of a Self-realized master last Thursday.

A small group of us at Ananda Village had gathered to do theater improv “for fun and spiritual upliftment.” One improvisation game we played went like this: 4 people got on stage, each inventing a character with a specific level of consciousness. …

Smoke, Clouds; Moods, Depression; and Freedom
July 17, 2008

Smoke in the air at Ananda Village, 2 weeks agoI was sitting outside, feeling sorry for myself.

“Nabha, you’ve got to drive away the smoke.”

Huh? I looked up.

“Nabha, you’ve got to drive away the smoke!”

A friend at Ananda Village was saying this to me. With fires all over Northern California, even though …

How Living in Spiritual Community is Changing the Way I See the World
April 20, 2008

Ananda Village’s main temple, with residents gathered outside During his lifetime, Paramhansa Yogananda exhorted his students to create spiritual communities, places that would support their spiritual lives. As he put it, “Environment is stronger than will power.”

I moved to Ananda Village 3 years ago, and rarely leave it.…

The Deer of Ananda Village
December 21, 2007

Deer grazing above office buildingsA visual tour, with commentary, on the deer of Ananda Village. Includes cute baby deer!

My Parents Visit Ananda Village
November 19, 2007

My Mother gave my Father a copy of Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, in 1978 – almost 20 years later, they come to visit me at Ananda Village.

Why I Became a Monk
October 23, 2007

Shortly after I found Ananda, Swami Kriyananda wrote a small pamphlet called “The Way of Ananda Sanghis.”

The original edition stated:

“If formal renunciation is an option… it would be wise to consider embracing it.”

This was in the middle of text which made it clear that, to find God, it is not necessary to become a monk or a nun (i.e. a formal renunciate)…

Every Kriya Can Take Us To God
September 22, 2007

Paramhansa Yogananda said that Kriya Yoga was the most effective route to God. Usually a kriya yogi does up to 108 in a single meditation, and counts them on a mala, or string of beads.

But Yogananda once told an advanced disciple that he only had to do one kriya in each meditation. This made me think of an idea for a gift…

Tea with Swami Kriyananda
August 12, 2007

Swami Kriyananda was a gracious host. He shared his words, but much more than that, he shared his kindness and friendship.

When he had been talking with the Indians for a while, some of them set their food aside, probably out of respect or because they had experienced an inner stillness.

Then Kriyananda stopped in mid-sentence and said to one of them…

Life is Precious
July 4, 2007

A friend of mine died two weeks ago. He was my closest friend during high school, and was planning to visit me at Ananda Village today.

Paintings from the Joyful Arts Festival
June 21, 2007

A cosmic swirl of reds, yellows, and blues, radiating out from a small circle in the center Art is one way to help Divine truths become more dynamic to our minds.

You may have experienced this: you are reading a spiritual book, or talking with a person who has a lot of wisdom. You think, […]

Prayer Vigil for Swami Kriyananda
May 31, 2007

Votive candle in flower-like glass On May 29th, a prayer vigil began at Ananda Village, inspired by the two that were recently held at Ananda Assisi.

How to Build a Monastery
May 24, 2007

Ingredients:

  • 3 monks
  • 2 high school boys
  • 1 foreman, the only one who really knows what he is doing
  • Lots of tools
  • Styrofoam, wood, electric wires, and a lot of other supplies
  • Divine grace

The Easiest Way to God
May 14, 2007

Vanamali Devi chants during puja “Divine Mother,” Vanamali Devi said during the retreat last weekend, “is the easiest way to God. As any child knows, you can make demands of the Mother than you can’t make of the Father. It is the same with Divine Mother. So, this way of worshipping God has become very popular in India.”

Traveling Within in India, Part 2: Our Visit to Vanamali Devi
April 24, 2007

Our tour group had a short audience with Vanamali Devi. One of the first questions we asked was if she would talk about devotion. She replied, “That is one of the hardest things to talk about!”

So she took a charming approach to the subject: why wisdom is a necessary prerequisite for deep devotion. Wisdom, she said, is the knowledge of what we would be devoted to, and without it, we become dogmatic and fanatical, focusing our energy not on our perception of God, but on our conception of Him: on mere belief or superstition. […]

Traveling Within in India: Our Pilgrimage to Rishikesh, Part 1
March 25, 2007

An excerpt:

“As the story goes, Swami Purushottamananda walled off the vast majority of the cave to stop people from disturbing the siddhas (realized or perfected souls) who were, and perhaps still are, sitting back there in their astral (energy-based) bodies, meditating.

“Is this true? I certainly can’t say for sure. However: this cave is the one place I would make sure to go if I ever returned to Rishikesh. It was intense.”

How to Start Meditating Daily
March 14, 2007

In celebration of making a commitment to deepen my own meditations, I want to share something to help people get started with a solid daily sadhana (spiritual practice).

I started meditating daily nearly four years ago, and in that time I have grown more spiritually than I would have in forty years of not meditating. It’s that profound.

Sweetness, Sincerity, and Swami Kriyananda
March 12, 2007

Like Dave, I’ve enjoyed and felt blessed by my time here in India. One of the things that struck me immediately was how natural it felt to be here. This pattern repeated itself several times in the first couple of days: I see someone (an Indian) while I’m walking down the street. They are probably…

Meditating in India
March 3, 2007

We arrived in Delhi four days ago after fourteen hours of flying and four hours of driving – Zack, one of the monks at Ananda India, picked us up. Once we were on our way to the Ananda center in Gurgaon, he said, “Well, I don’t know if you guys are up for it, seeing as how you just got in, but in five minutes we’re starting a six hour meditation…”

What is Ananda?
February 23, 2007

This website is called “A Place Called Ananda,” but what and where is that place? A dream I once had offers some explanation, as does my first Christmas meditation.

In the dream, a friend was telling me that Ananda is like a lake of consciousness, filled with joy and reflecting all the colors of the rainbow. I only very rarely share spiritual dreams, but this one illustrates so well […]

Thanksgiving blessings, and a way to develop gratitude
November 24, 2006

Today we had a sweet (sweet in Spirit! though there was also pumpkin pie) dinner at the Meditation Retreat. This was my second year here for it, and both years what I have enjoyed most is serving together with spiritual family.

Tibetan Buddhists visit the Ananda Meditation Retreat
November 13, 2006

This weekend at the meditation retreat we had around 50 Tibetan Buddhists as guests. It was an inspiring experience to see other truth-seekers advancing in their chosen path.