Swami Kriyananda has written a visionary book called, Hope for a Better World! The Small Communities Solution. In it he shows how the materialistic attitudes of society today have brought us to the present state of worldwide tension and suffering. He also describes how global peace and happiness can be achieved through the spread of spiritual communities.

“Is it realistic,” he writes, “to hope for peace and harmony in this world? Yes, of course it is, if one’s hopes are kept realistic. Peace and harmony must be sought first on a small scale, not in grandiose schemes of world betterment. The important thing, always, is that people be allowed to develop as individuals.”

Though Swamiji shows how communities are the solution for the social ills that plague us today, we know that not everyone has the opportunity or desire to live in them. People everywhere, however, can practice the underlying attitudes that have been at the heart of Ananda’s success for more than fifty years. This success can be measured in terms both of the upliftment it has brought to the world as a whole and of the true happiness of those individuals who live by these basic principles. Here are some of them that we all can apply in our daily lives.

Working with Energy and Fluidity

The hallmark of the new age in which we live—Dwapara Yuga—is a vision of the world as consisting not of fixed, separate forms but of fluid, unifying energy. In creating Ananda Swamiji put out tremendous power, but with the understanding that energy has its own intelligence. To succeed in any project, he didn’t ask, “How have others done this before?” or even, “How have I done this before?” He tried to think in new ways as guided by the dynamic energy now awakening in the world.

Much of the conflict we find around us is between the forces of change and the fear of losing the status quo. By attuning with this flow of universal energy, you’ll be amazed at the new, creative solutions that emerge to guide you forward in any situation.

Seeing the Unity in Diversity

Behind the diversity of nations, cultures, and religions there is one divine consciousness: God. The more we see past the superficial differences that divide us, the more we perceive people’s underlying unity. Yoganandaji therefore called his intentional communities “world brotherhood colonies.”

One of the greatest gifts of living in a community is to accept and respect others whose perspectives may be very different from your own—and to cooperate with them. This can be done by trying to see the common thread in seemingly opposing points of view.

When people cooperate in this way, each individual gains an expanded perspective that shows a higher purpose to even mundane activities. Much of Swamiji’s success came because he supported the ideas and growth of everyone.

Living in Simplicity

Another of Yoganandaji’s main tenets for community life was “plain living and high thinking.” When we begin to break the dependency on material things for our happiness, we find inner freedom and Self-sufficiency.

You may know the story of our experience of living through the forest fire in 1976 that destroyed most of the homes and structures at Ananda Village. Our son was ten days old when we lost our home and all of our possessions.

At first, I must admit, I was in a state of shock, but the maternal instinct then quickly asserted itself. I realized that the sense of home and security that I wanted for our child was not dependent on outer things, but had to spring first from my own heart. No loss of possessions could diminish the love and nurturing that I would give to our son. This was an incredibly freeing and life-transforming experience—it has shaped my life ever since.

Developing Strength AND Flexibility

Everyone’s life has its share of challenges. In watching Swami Kriyananda build Ananda, I saw that he had perhaps more than his fair share. Strength is needed to deal with one’s difficulties, but not the rigid type that we see in weight lifters who move about like stiff robots.

Strength needs to be balanced with flexibility, of the kind we see in hatha yogis. A number of times over the years, Swami Kriyananda would put out tremendous effort to accomplish some goal in building Ananda. But if he came to feel that this was no longer the right course, he would turn on a dime and redirect his efforts towards a different end. He adapted to what was needed at any given time, and wasn’t afraid to look foolish for changing his mind.

Faith and Self-Offering

God is ultimately in charge of everything we do and everything that befalls us. By trusting in His loving presence, communities and individuals can weather many a storm. The more your faith is tested and validated, the more you can offer yourself unreservedly to God and Guru.

Yoganandaji has a beautiful prayer-demand: “O Spirit, teach me to pray and worship incessantly, with deepest concentration. O Spirit, balance my meditation with devotion, and purify my devotion with all-surrendering love unto Thee.”

Meditation, devotion, self-offering—these ultimately are the bedrock upon which communities are built, and upon which we can build our lives in God.

Joining hands and heart with you in this great adventure,

Nayaswami Devi

Receive gifts when you preorder the newest release in the Touch of Light series, Touch of Peace: Living the Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. This includes a special behind-the-book interview with Jyotish and Devi. 

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  1. Dear Devi,

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring thought. Especially in this time it is important to continue to trust on the loving presence of God.
    Blessing for you and Jotish


  2. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. Very useful guidelines connecting with real-life examples.
    Enjoyed reading the blog and the prayer demand


  3. Mataji, pranam. It is just 06.09 a.m. as per Indian time and believe me, going through such magnificent message in the morning, I am really overwhelmed. Actually, man can’t do anything, anytime by his own. We have to realize that life is
    God, love is God and more we believe, more we will be nearer to Him. This seems to be ethos of life.
    Thank you mataji.

  4. Thank you for another fine,wisdom filled writing concerning
    the spiritual path,and this time also about communities and
    the inspiration and help they can give and bring to others and
    to the world in this new age of energy. It may also be helpful to
    bring more awareness to or remembrance of what the great
    sage Patanjali has written in regard to plain living and the high
    thinking that is needed,especially in these times,for having a
    peaceful,productive,happy and successful life,the dos and donts
    and other proper steps and attitudes,remembering the goal is
    finding God within and communion,eventual oneness with the
    immortal soul. Thank you again for all you are doing.

  5. Thank you for this Devi. So needed always but perhaps especially right now.
    You are a blessing to us all.

  6. Dear Deviji.
    Thank you for this inspiration. Pranam.

  7. Thank you Devi for your words and wisdom. Also, I look forward to receiving your new book as I treasure all you and Jyotish have to say. Many blessings to you both.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring blog 🙏

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