My parents came to Ananda 30 years ago with very little. They moved here, sight unseen, with just enough money to buy supplies to build a house. My Dad managed to find cheap lumber and built the house himself. As they began raising a family, it wasn’t always easy to make money. Years later, with the growing popularity of the internet, my Dad created a website to sell the meditation benches he had been wholesaling up to that point. It grew slowly at first and very organically; no large investment was available to get it going. I had worked in the wood shop as a child and teen, but a few years ago I started working for him again. To be honest it wasn’t really my first choice for a job. It seemed a little boring to just work in the wood shop. I felt ambitious and wanted to go make my way in the world. As time went by and different career options and opportunities arose, I realized that I didn’t want to go. Each of these options would have taken me away from Ananda, and I realized that a life without spiritual direction and support would not work for me. I then began making life decisions based first on the goal of staying here at Ananda. In a way I had to make the same choice my parents did 30 years ago. We chose our Guru and spiritual fellowship over a materially comfortable life.
Since that time, I have come to deeply appreciate the time I get to spend with my father in the wood shop. Though I only work for him 2 days a week, many times the income from him has made it work for me to stay here. Many times also it has been my parents’ strength and guidance as devotees, that has kept me steady on the path.
Building and selling meditation benches and supplies has now really become a family business. My sister Krishnabai works for our dad as well, doing upholstery on the benches and making various cushions that are also sold on the website. My younger brother David earns some money doing some assembly work in the shop.
It seems as if our life here is something from a different century. We are a strong close-knit family, living out in a little community in the country, and working in the family business. As I look at the problems that face people in society today and compare them to my life here, I realize how much is solved simply by living in community, specifically spiritual community. In our society in America, we have become largely disconnected from our fellow men. We are a people that are too fragmented and restless to make any real connections. While it is nice to be independent and have our own space, we are social creatures and need support and connections with other people. How much better is it then, if those people are devoted to the same path as we are and happen to be our dear friends and neighbors? I believe Ananda, and places like it, will be the blueprint for the future. It simply makes so much more sense than living any other way.