These are excerpts from a 77-page article by Bhasbuto, a young man who visited Ananda Village in the summer of 2008. For the sake of privacy, his online name is used here. Bhasbuto was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. At the age of 15 he received a gift from his father: Autobiography of a Yogi. His family later moved to Canada, where he lives now. Bhasbuto was 21, and a student of computer science in Quebec at the time of writing.
Community! Reality has probably made most people degrade their definition of a “community” to a place were a bunch of people live together. Where, after all, can you find a true community in a deeper sense? A place where like-minded people live and work together in harmony and friendship toward the achieving of a specific goal or set of goals? The words “harmony” and “friendship” make it impossible for someone accustomed to the modern world to imagine such a place… yet, I witnessed first-hand the answer to that question: Ananda Village, that is where!
“Hello, great souls!”: that is how Swami Kriyananda greeted the community. It says it all.
I have already given hints here and there about what people is like in Ananda Village. However, a book wouldn’t be enough to describe it all: all of them are characteristically themselves; yet, that’s what they have in common: they are great souls.
People who live at Ananda Village (and many who visit it) share two common goals: to find God and to help others find Him. However, as I’ve remarked, they are all characteristically themselves: the variety is great, and it shows more because they are (again) great souls. People of the community live in harmony and joy, follow a spiritual discipline and revere all saints, in particular the direct Ananda line of gurus: Jesus Christ, Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda.
Nothing could have prepared me for what followed. The inner garden of Crystal Hermitage was just the most wonderful and beautiful place, even more so than the view I had contemplated a few moments ago; partly because of its real beauty, partly because of the wonderfully “beautiful” vibrations. Lakshman’s remark, “you can feel the angels roaming through the place” says it all, you actually can! The garden, the moon-shaped pool; all of it was indescribably beautiful: like a piece of an astral heaven brought to Earth.
After the purification ceremony of the Sunday Service, we started to chant and sing. I cannot describe the difference between these chants and those I had endured at the Catholic mass I had attended to! Here, everybody sang with such devotion that the power of the chants became almost palpable! My heart was so thrilled that my voice got shaky with emotion quite a few times, and an occasional tear managed to make its way down my cheek, those rebel tears I hurriedly hid!
Amanda then took me by the wrist and led me through the tables, until I saw a table longer than the rest and, sitting in the middle, wearing a blue t-shirt, Swami Kriyananda himself! As soon as I saw him, I froze where I stood: it was as though I had been stopped by an invisible force field that now was holding all of my members still! Amanda, apparently not noticing this, went up to him to get his attention. I advanced a few steps hurriedly to get into earshot of him, and then he looked to me, waved his hand and greeted me with his deep, kind, joyful voice: “Hi!”
That evening I called Lakshman, Swami Kriyananda’s secretary, and asked him for news about my appointment with Swamiji.
“I asked Swami about it this afternoon,” he said, “and it didn’t work for him to see you either today or tomorrow; he often leaves these things to the last available day.” My heart jumped a little: I had only two days left already!
“He remembers you, though,” Lakshman went on, “he remembers greeting you at the lunch. He also told me he would like to talk to you. So, I’m sure you’ll get the appointment. It will have to be on Thursday or Friday, but it will happen. I will ask him again tomorrow and let you know.”
That being said, I thanked him and hung the phone, relieved greatly by his reassurance, but still somewhat nervous. A little worried, I headed to the Healing Prayers class.
Lakshman then led me into the house and through that little door with the “private” sign which I had looked at so avidly four days before! He guided me through the private quarters (a veritable maze if I ever saw one) to a large room of which I couldn’t see much (I was still in a corridor) and said: “Swamiji, here is Hezequiel.” I approached the door and saw the dear figure of Swamiji sitting there, looking at me and smiling. Lakshman then retired.
That’s how, the 4th September of 2008, I finally achieved my goal of meeting Swami Kriyananda, thanks to the help of Divine Mother and many dear friends.
The first question I asked Swami Kriyananda was, “I want to know… what is God’s will for me?”
After a brief pause, he said: “God’s will is that you find Him. But as for what to do right now; tell me, what is what you want to do in life?”
“What I want to do in life? What does that mean exactly?”
“What is your goal in life?”
I chuckled and looked away. “Well, this may sound repetitive but it’s true…” I looked at him again and said, with all my heart: “I want to find God and to help others find Him.”
Opening his arms in a warm, inviting gesture, he responded, “Then why don’t you come to live among people who share your goals?”
As Nabha took me to the Sacramento Airport, he said to me: “It was a really big blessing that you could spend so much time with Swami in such a short stay.” What else could I do? I agreed wholeheartedly!
Now, a week and a half after I landed in Montréal, I can see from a perspective the blessing that this visit to Ananda Village was for me. Most of all, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness: gratefulness to my Divine Mother who, always mindful of Her children, took the time to grant my prayer to the letter: “Let me take the most advantage of this week,” I prayed to her. Lovingly, she gave me all I asked, and more!