I’ve always had the understanding that it’s God’s power, not our own, that makes possible anything we do in this world. This has certainly been true in the creation of Ananda.
Years ago when Paramhansa Yogananda first put me in charge of the monks at Mt. Washington, he didn’t sit down and say, “Now, Walter, this is how you should run things. Do this, but don’t do that.” He said nothing, but I found that by tuning into his consciousness, I immediately understood what needed to be done.
At Mt. Washington and later in the founding of Ananda, crises would often arise, but time and again I would understand what was needed by tuning in to Master’s consciousness. This is what Rajarsi meant when he said to me, “Master has a great work to do through you, Walter, and he will give you the strength to do it.”
Ananda is a state of consciousness
In today’s world where people are adrift in a sea without direction or spiritual values, God wants to use Ananda to show others a positive way to guide their lives. This is an age when people coming together in spiritual communities will bring new understanding, new perspectives, and a new power into the world.
Every book that I’ve ever read on utopias talks about the political or philosophical systems behind them, but no system will make a community. It’s people who make communities, and more than that, it’s people in tune with a divine state of consciousness. This state of consciousness is something given to us by God, and it’s this consciousness that makes Ananda what it is.
Last night we had a concert here at Ananda Village in honor of my birthday. How wonderful it was to hear the choir, all the different soloists, the musicians, and even the children playing so beautifully. Why was it so lovely? Because, as a community, we don’t emphasize personal glory.
In one of the pieces they played, “Life is a Quest for Joy,” there is a beautiful cello solo. Our music director, who plays the cello exquisitely, chose not to play it himself, but instead had a violinist play it to give her the chance to shine in the solo role. That was the kind of spirit that made the concert so beautiful.
Forget yourself, your talents and skills
The more we forget about pushing ourselves forward, but rather try to push forward the ideals we’re living for, the more we’ll find that Ananda becomes successful. But if we begin to think, “We’re pretty good,” that will be the moment we’ve peaked, and it will be down hill from then on.
Forget yourself, your talents or skills, and give all that you are to God. He has so much He can do through you if you let Him. On the other hand, don’t think, “Who am I? I can’t do anything.” Always have the attitude that says, “There’s nothing I can’t do if God does it through me.” You’ll be amazed at what begins to happen.
It’s important to understand that we’re a part of something much greater than ourselves. We’re here at Ananda under the umbrella of consciousness of great masters. They are here, and their presence is alive. Under the umbrella of their consciousness, we all thrive, but if we get out of tune with it, we’ll drift off and find other things to do.
By tuning in to this over-arching consciousness, we give it more resonance and power. The more there are of us doing this, the more that consciousness begins to swell like a wave until it can influence an entire culture, the entire world. In building communities like Ananda, we have a chance to do something extraordinary.
If you look at the movements that have taken place in history like the Italian Renaissance, you realize that they were started by a very small, but highly committed group of people. These people were willing to get themselves out of the way and express what God wanted to do through them.
We don’t want just to do things “our way.” What is “our way?” It doesn’t exist! Once somebody who wanted to write music said to me, “You write music yourself, so you understand how someone feels compelled to do it.” I said, “I could never write another note in my life, and it wouldn’t matter to me. I’m not doing it because I have to, but as an offering to God.”
Don’t define yourself by anything
Be free in what you do—don’t think it defines you, and don’t define yourself by anything. We’re all doing God’s will, and the less ego there is in what we do, the more we can accomplish. There’s a beautiful saying in India, “The road of life is too narrow for both God and the ego to walk it together.”
But the thought always arises, “What about me?” The more you can get rid of that thought, the more you find your sympathies, your understanding, and your love expanding. Don’t give the ego the power it demands, but try to think, “I’m nothing. You, God, are everything.” You’ll find so much freedom in that thought. It’s exhilarating!
Think of this example: When you look at the beautiful clouds at sunset, sometimes you can become so engrossed that you almost feel the symphony of life behind it. Then suddenly you say, “I think I could paint that just as well.” Suddenly you’ve forgotten the sunset, the beauty, the power, and the glory of it all, and you’re just thinking “me.” What a silly little thing to think about!
Get rid of the thought of “me”
How wonderful it is to enjoy something without this confining thought of “me.” This is what living in community does for us. None of us is important in our own right, but what we’re doing is important because it can help thousands of other people. It’s not you or me doing it, but God through us, because He has something to say to the world at this time about the need for communities.
This is an important aspect of the divine mission Master came to fulfill. In lecture after lecture I heard him depart from his chosen topic to talk about communities. He wanted to sow these thoughts in the ether. I don’t mean everyone has to leave everything and move here, but if you can, join us. If not, then be in tune spiritually, and come here when you can.
After all, our community is not just this little piece of land or the people who live here—our community is the world. But even more, Ananda is made of people who share our ideals. How wonderful it would be if when you go to the gas station, there would be a Kriyaban putting gas in your tank!
We need to break the barriers of our thoughts and realize that community means people loving God together. But the world needs a focus for this movement, and Ananda provides this focus. The more people join this community, either by living here or by being in tune wherever they live, the more we can make an impact in this world out of all proportion to the numbers involved. Most people today are just treading water in their lives. A few people who really decide they want to swim are the ones who can make the changes in the world.
What would Master do?
Let God’s power use you—then together we can bring this ray of God’s joy and light into the world. You can do it in many ways. You don’t have to write music or books; you don’t have to take photographs or even start communities. Just be a channel for God’s love. Remember this simple thought anytime you have a decision to make: What would Master do? It’s a very simple question, but it opens up horizons!
What would Master do? He wouldn’t want you to be selfish or mean. He wouldn’t want you to think only of yourself. The more you think in the ways he thought, and live in the ways he lived, the more you’ll find yourself expressing who he was—and that’s what he wants. He wants thousands of hands and feet to carry his teaching, his message, his vibration out into the world to everybody. Every one of you can be an instrument of the masters—it’s your choice.
But let me tell you what that choice means: if you choose this way, little by little your life will be completely drawn into God. I don’t say everybody should come this way, but if you feel in tune with it, then don’t be a coward. Dive in! Forget if the water’s cold—take the plunge! You’ll see that you’ll be protected, and everything will go well for you. I can say that with some experience, because I’ve lived my life this way and I know that it is true.