We’re in the midst of a glorious weeklong celebration of Ananda’s fiftieth anniversary. To make this rejoicing even more wonderful, nine hundred friends from all over the world have joined us. It’s hard to describe the feeling of upliftment and joy: Many people have told us, “It feels like we’re in the astral world here!” Most of the activities are being live-streamed as well as recorded, so do watch them when you can.
On Monday, Jyotish and I gave a class entitled “Fifty Years of Manifesting the Vision of the Masters,” and I want to share with you what I talked about: “How We Did It.”
Receiving the Vision
Before we could manifest the vision, we first had to receive it from Yoganandaji and Swami Kriyananda. And what was that vision? Simply put, it was finding God and building spiritual communities. Through Master’s inner guidance and Swamiji’s example, their vision became our vision.
Accepting the Tapaysa
When Master came to America in 1920, he began thirty years of tapasya (sacrifice or austerity) to fulfill the sacred charge given to him to spread Kriya Yoga in the West. Tirelessly he traveled back and forth across the country to teach people this liberating science.
Similarly, Swami Kriyananda labored unceasingly to create Ananda: traveling, teaching, and writing. Seeing his example, we understood that an all-out effort was needed, both to find God and to create communities. Their tapasya inspired our own.
When we encountered many challenges in starting Ananda’s work in Italy, Swamiji said to the small group of us who were there, “Nothing good was ever created without someone’s tapasya.”
No matter what obstacles came our way in building Ananda, Swamiji showed us how to always remain positive and solution-oriented. After the forest fire burned the community to the ground in 1976, he went on a nationwide tour to spread the message of “world brotherhood colonies” and to draw new members. The tour was a great success in both of these respects.
He gave us another example of superconscious living when we were driving up to Lake Tahoe with him one day for a weekend of skiing. As we approached a mountain pass, snow began falling thick and fast. Swamiji was driving, and when he hit the brakes, the car went into a tailspin. Our dizzying ride ended when we crashed into a bus parked on the side of the road. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but our car was totaled.
Swamiji got out of the car, looked up at the bus, and happily exclaimed, “Look, the bus is going to the ski lodge where we’ll be staying.” We unloaded our bags from the car, boarded the bus, and had a great weekend. The moral of the story for your life is: “When you crash into a bus, look to see if it’s going in your direction.”
Summoning the Endurance to Finish the Race
As the years passed, Swamiji didn’t slacken his pace, even though he faced many health challenges. We watched him continue to write, travel, and teach around the world.
In 2003, as he entered his seventy-eighth year, he received a letter from an American couple living in India. They said that Yogananda’s teachings were not being spread in a dynamic way in Master’s homeland, and asked if he could help. Within hours of reading that letter, Swamiji summoned a small but energetic group of us to help start what has now become a thriving, expansive work in that great country.
We need the dedication of a long-distance runner if we would cross the finish line in our search for God.
Supporting One Another
Over the years we have been there for our spiritual family through the joys of life: new marriages, children born, accomplishments, and successes. We have also been there to support one another in times of sorrow: illnesses, setbacks, loss, and death. We have learned in building spiritual communities that everyone is our friend and that no one need stand outside the circle of God’s love.
In our spiritual search, too, without the support of our gurubhais, it would be nearly impossible to keep going — as every one of us who has been at Ananda for very long can testify.
Receiving the Grace of God and Guru
The miracles which have made Ananda possible for fifty years are too numerous to be told here. Throughout all the personal and community tests that we’ve faced, there was always an underlying, calm knowing that through God’s grace everything would turn out right in the end.
So Ananda’s story begins and ends with receiving: “Receiving the Vision” and “Receiving the Grace.” It is the story of individual souls finding God and of groups of souls creating communities to uplift society.
With a heart full of gratitude for these fifty years,