Every year the first weekend in May, Ananda village residents and devotees gather together and beautify the community in remembrance and dedication to the life of Rajarsi Janakananda, Yogananda’s foremost disciple. We work on projects suitable for every age and talent, such as landscaping, land clearing, deep cleaning temples, fixing roofs of common buildings, preparing a delicious lunch, delivering refreshments to workers, removing tamas, etc, etc. It is always a great blessing to participate on this day, as everyone joins their energy to the group energy and as we lift the community up to its next level of beauty, we also get uplifted in the process.
During the opening circle, Peter Goering (our community manager), reminded us of the exemplary life and discipleship of Rajarsi Janakananda (James Jesse Lynn) who was born to a poor farmer family in Louisiana but through hard work he had become a self-made millionaire. His four rules of success were:
1. Work hard.
2. Be honest.
3. Whatever you do, do well.
4. Prepare yourself for the future.
However, material success didn’t bring him happiness. Before he met his Guru, he had short temper and nervous problems. His life changed after he attended a series of classes given by Paramhansa Yogananda in January 1932. In later years, Rajarsi would say of his relationship with Yogananda:
One of the blessings I have received in my friendship with Paramhansa Yogananda has been permanent relief from a state of nervousness, a state of strain, an inward state of uncertainty. I have gained calmness, peace, joy, and a sense of security that cannot come to anyone until he has found the true security of the soul.
After becoming a disciple, he was able to balance his material success and hard work with his spiritual life, where he dedicated himself more and more fully to God and his Guru. In a way, the life of Rajarsi Janakananda provides many of us a blueprint for our own lives: balancing hard work (including serving others) with spiritual quest. This is not much different than what Yogananda had said to Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda: “Your life is one of intense activity, and meditation.”