Thank you for the opportunity you have presented to us to offer more light into the darkness. Any opportunity to do so should be seized and used with great joy.
I know I’ll come up with more Ananda stories as I meditate on this, but here is a simple offering to begin with.
My memories of Ananda village, Swami Kriyananda and all of the devotees I have met go back 18 years. Eighteen years is a long time to associate with anyone in this age of constant movement, change, broken marriages and short term commitments. But the feelings I have for Ananda and all it represents seem to go back much farther than a mere 18 years. It might be similar to the feeling one would have for a childhood home, a place of warmth, family, safety, light and love. It is a feeling of familiarity and kinship on a soul level that is deeper and truer than even a biological family can provide.
I have visited the village and retreat, and several of the communities. I have friends involved in every aspect of Ananda, the outreach ministry and the individual colonies and communities. I have belonged to the Portland Ananda church since its founding and have taught Sunday school there for six years.
What they offer me is support and guidance for my soul. Behind all the practical matters of maintaining mailing lists, teaching classes, and communicating with devotees worldwide, is the steady focus on God and Guru. Self-realization is between the individual soul and God, with the Divine light coming unfiltered through the Guru. Ananda is a source of light and energy that reminds me where my soul belongs, and longs to return. My home is with God, but Anandas vibration is so in tune with the Divine that my soul says YES, I am on my way home.
I am blessed with so many sweet memories of Swami Kriyananda, but one of may favorites is a very simple one.
Swami had come to Portland for a visit, and I was thrilled when Seva asked me if I would like to go to the airport with them, to put Swami on his return flight.
I was married with a young child, and I often missed the satsangs during Swamis visits. Seva was being very kind to offer me another opportunity to be with Swami in an informal way. While we waited for the flight, she suggested we get some ice cream. Swami was enthusiastic, and so we walked down to the ice cream vendor.
I rarely had any spare cash in those days, and this day was no exception. I didnt have a penny to spend, and I was too shy to mention it. I politely declined the offer of ice cream and told them I would be happy just to keep them company. Swami ordered a scoop of strawberry one of my favorites and joyfully took several bites. To my surprise, after those few bites he said it was enough and offered me the rest of the bowl. He said it shouldnt go to waste, it was so delicious. It was the most wonderful bowl of ice cream Ive ever tasted! Seva just looked at me and grinned. I always think of Swamis kindness when I have strawberry ice cream.