The words of the song from Swami Kriyananda’s oratorio, “Thy will, Thy will alone,” beautifully sum up Kriyananda’s life: He led his life completely aligned with the will of God, and in particular, as the will of God was expressed to him through his Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
Kriyananda came into this life with an unusually high level of spiritual realization and a very clear sense of his duty to God and Guru. He had been Yogananda’s disciple many times before and also his physical son. He came into this life with two very strong desires. One was to know God. And the second was to help others know God.
At his first meeting with Yogananda he uttered the pivotal words of his entire incarnation: “I want to be your disciple.” The rest of Kriyananda’s life was one continuous, amazing expression of his discipleship.
The many books he wrote were not, in a sense, his books. They were Yogananda’s books, written by Kriyananda. Kriyananda said that many years before he had prayed that Yogananda guide his every thought. But he realized later that wasn’t enough. He wanted every feeling, everything he said, and everything he did to be guided by Yogananda. There came a time, some years later, when he said very casually, “I don’t know where Kriyananda ends and Yogananda begins. It all seems one.” Sometimes he would say, “Kriyananda is an event for which I am responsible, but it’s Divine Mother’s life; it’s Master’s life.”
In a sense, Kriyananda’s mission ended toward the end of 2012 when he completed his commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He’d already written commentaries on the three other scriptures: The Bible; the Bhagavad Gita; and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, making them clear and accessible to the reader. When we last saw him in India in February 2013, he was wondering what his next step would be; his life was so completely defined by his service and discipleship to his Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
In his later years the intellectual part of his mission began to wane. His talks transcended concepts. They became a vibrational carrier wave for his deep love for God and Guru, and for his deep love, caring and compassion for everyone who crossed his path, including the merest stranger.
The last email we received from him, a few days before his passing, asked if we could help someone who had a spiritual connection with him though not with Ananda. To the very last ounce of his strength, he served as a channel of divine love and friendship.
Last year when we were in Los Angeles, an interviewer asked Swami Kriyananda, “What do you think your legacy will be?” At first Kriyananda answered humbly and said, “I don’t know that I have a legacy.” Then he continued, “My legacy would be the truths that I’ve expressed in my books; the spiritual communities that I’ve begun; living always with kindness and compassion for others; working cooperatively; and sharing without a sense of competition.” After a pause, he added, “And I think I’ve brought a new way of thinking.”
What is this new way of thinking? Kriyananda showed the way to the future, and I suspect that he’s done this in many lifetimes. In the times we live in, where there is such cynicism and materialism, he showed us where true values can be found – within ourselves. His book, Crises in Modern Thought, later re-named Out of the Labyrinth, counters the cynicism of our age by showing people that there is something to believe in. After reading this book, a few months after I came to Ananda, I realized that the effect of my college education had been to undermine a sense of faith and values.
The most important way in which Kriyananda was a way-shower is that he saw no separation between anything or anyone. He was able to look into the soul of each person and see that unique spark of the Divine. It was as though he shone a light on the divinity within us so that we ourselves could recognize it. And once we recognized it, we were inspired to dedicate the rest of our lives to finding that divinity more completely, and to expressing it in everything we did.
One of Kriyananda’s theme songs for Ananda is Many Hands Make a Miracle. But it’s not the hands themselves that make the miracle; it’s the divine love that inspires those hands. When I look around at the many beautiful things in the Ananda communities, I realize that things become beautiful when they are inspired from within and offered in service to God. That’s why so many of the things that Kriyananda created are filled with light. And that’s why so many of those whose lives he touched are also filled with light.
So with gratitude that I cannot even begin to express, I am grateful for the gift that God gave us of such a soul as Kriyananda. Like all divine gifts, we think that they are ours to keep forever, but then God takes the form away. We now have to find the divinity of his consciousness within ourselves, and to love and serve that until we, too, like Kriyananda, become one with God.