The first time I came in contact with Swami Kriyananda was 1990, when I went to Spiritual Renewal Week, my first experience at Ananda. This was the year he conducted all of the talks on “The Essence of Self-Realization” — the title of his book of sayings of Yogananda which was being published at the time.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t yet fully aware of what Kriyananda meant to so many people, or of how infrequently he led entire weeks of activities at The Expanding Light. So my contact with him was minimal. I did learn at Spiritual Renewal Week that this was my path. A week of soaking up Ananda’s vibrations, the energy of the people, the obvious light and inner freedom shining from their eyes, and a kirtan with 300 people certainly helped. But more than that, the vibration I’d felt whenever I went to Encinitas or Lake Shrine, or any other place where Master’s energy permeated the grounds, was magnified through the people at Ananda. My lifelong search for my spiritual path had been realized.

I went to Ananda many times after that, but I didn’t see Kriyananda again for four years. Believe me, I thought many times about how I could’ve talked with him twenty during Spiritual Renewal Week 1990, but never did.

When I came in 1994, it was to get the higher Kriya initiation and to interview him for a magazine article. My partner at the time and I spent three hours with Swamiji at Crystal Hermitage. Needless to say, the conversation was half-interview, half-path. I was struck by his gentleness and his ability to offer perspectives that went far beyond the tip of his nose. But the experience went beyond that: his eyes and his words permeated my heart and soul, and I could feel, without question, that exact same energy that had drawn me to Yogananda’s ashrams for many years when I lived in Southern California. He hugged us goodbye, and that was the end of it — until the next morning, when I awoke feeling a clarity of mind and body that was indescribable.

I’ve since connected with Swami briefly on a few other occasions, but never like the one-on-one interview in the summer of ’94. My comment to any critics of Swami Kriyananda is: try to equal what he has done for others – sharing a great path of light, love, bliss, and oneness with God to perhaps a million souls so far. Experience all that he has experienced, and then judge him.

My experience is that Swami Kriyananda expands one’s inner and outer freedom with his perceptions and his energy. He sincerely cares about the spiritual disposition and growth of everyone he meets. To me, Kriyananda is one of the best teachers, if not the best, I’ve ever come across in my life. His books, tapes, music, words, and personal company are guideposts for me. And as we begin the process of establishing Ananda activities in Florida, it’s great to know that we’re fortunate to have a teacher like him, and a body of resources like his, especially with his direct connection to Yogananda and the Masters of this path.

—Bob Yehling

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