I moved to Ananda Village without the necessary funds to pay for the membership training programs that are a prerequisite for living here. I had already spent much time working and saving and I just couldn’t wait any longer.
I felt I was following God’s will in this, so I said to Him, “I’ve done my best. You’ll just have to figure it out.”
I made it through the Karma Yoga Program, which is essentially room and board in exchange for service. Then through Experience Ananda, to explore the community and get a feel for how things worked.
The final course is called Living Discipleship. I was down to $50 and the cost was $1600.
I had spent every spare hour doing outside jobs, but there weren’t enough spare hours to count for very much.
“Master, you are going to have to figure this out,” I prayed. “I’ve done everything I can do.”
I was working in the goat dairy at this point and happened to mention to the devotee who runs it, what I was up against. A few days later during our lunch, she announced, “I think I know how we can help you.” Virani is a dear person, with a loving heart, and I knew she meant well…but when she described her plan, it was far from pleasing.
“If you can reduce your expenses to nothing,” Virani explained, “then you can quickly save up the $1600.” Her solution was for me to work seven days a week in the goat dairy and live in the milk house.
The milk house is a small, cement floored shed with an upper loft. It is 10 feet by 10, with a refrigerator and sink for processing the milk. The loft is where I would live. There was no bathroom and no heater. Ananda Village gets pretty cold in the winter. I could add a space heater, but it would still be rugged.
I had prayed to Master and this was what he brought me. So I accepted, but my heart was deeply disturbed at the thought of living there.
After our lunch meeting, it was my turn to vacuum the temple at the Expanding Light Retreat. As I pushed the vacuum listlessly around the room I never took my eyes off the photos of the masters on the altar. I desperately inquired, “Is this really my next step?!”
The absolute dedication and devotion to God that I saw reflected in their eyes conveyed to me that if I wanted to live at Ananda Village I had to rise joyfully to meet whatever challenges came along, including this one. As Yogananda says, “Living for God is martyrdom!”
I dropped the vacuum and knelt before the altar. With all my willpower I said, “Master, I will do anything for you!” As I said those words, the tension vanished. I felt free and happy.
I finished vacuuming and walked out of the Temple with a completely new attitude. I was going to live in the milk house! I was actually looking forward to it now!
Then I noticed that Lisa, the woman in charge of the Living Discipleship program, was standing a few yards away apparently waiting for me.
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” she said slowly, hiding a smile. “But there has been an anonymous donation made for you that covers full cost of the program.”
I remember being in a state of shock that literally altered my consciousness.
I was walking in a daze down a hallway when I reflected on the events of the last hour. From now on, I vowed inwardly, my mantra will be, “Master, I will do anything for you.”
I never found out who gave the donation. To me it was a gift directly from Divine Mother.
My question to this day is, “If I had not changed my attitude, would Lisa still have been waiting there with that wonderful news?”
Of course we all know that God brings us challenges in order to help us grow…and when that growth has really taken place, the need for that challenge is no longer there and so it quickly dissipates. But really, how does Divine Mother plan things like this?! If I had kept an attitude of self-pity and coldly rejected what life was giving me, would that donation have vanished into the ether?
I tell ya, there’s something very suspicious going on here!