Today marks my fifty-sixth anniversary of meeting Swami Kriyananda in 1967. I knocked on his apartment door in San Francisco soon after reading Autobiography of a Yogi, and he welcomed me not only into his home, but also into his life. While the lessons I’ve learned along the way are too many to list, I’d like to share some of the most significant ones with you.

Jyotish and Swamiji at a Fourth of July celebration in 2008.

Jyotish and Swamiji at a Fourth of July celebration in 2008.

People are more important than things: After we introduced ourselves he said, “I’m working on a project. Would you like to help?” He needed assistance with a mailing and, naturally, I agreed. Over the years, I’ve often joked that I didn’t realize the project would still be going on more than a half-century later. However, I eventually realized that the project was never about the mailing, or even about helping with Ananda. The real project was me. Swamiji’s primary work was not writing, or lecturing, or building communities. It was the more difficult and subtle task of guiding me and countless others on the journey of self-transformation. The projects were just the wheel on which we honed our consciousness.

Say YES to Life: This was the title of Swamiji’s first album, and a major theme of his life. His ability to say “yes” was infectious and magical. I remember the day that he persuaded a small group of us to rent a forty-four-room mansion for an ashram in an upscale San Francisco neighborhood. As he described the possibilities, people gradually shifted from a state of shock at the mere idea, to grudging acceptance, and finally to an eager discussion of each room’s use. The prototype of city communities was born that day. Swami understood that acting with enthusiasm allows the power of the universe to amplify our self-effort.

Joy is the solution, not the reward: A common mistake is to fixate on the goal, believing that happiness is the prize for achievement. Swamiji, however, taught us to work with joy, to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Otherwise we become parched travelers trudging through a barren desert, thirsting for an oasis. Swamiji’s solution: carry a canteen filled with liquid joy along the way.

Divine friendship is God’s love in action: Swamiji rarely criticized anyone. Instead he showered us with kindness and support, helping us to overcome our limitations. He set the bar high enough to challenge us, but never so high that we couldn’t reach it. Paramhansa Yogananda said, “If you do one one-hundredth of what I ask, you will get there.”

The goal of life is to dissolve the ego: Swami reminded us that life is a quest for the Infinite. Attunement, service to the guru, and self-offering are ways of achieving this goal. He often said, “When I die, I want to be known simply as a good disciple.”

The end of the journey for you and me is that there is no you and me. In that vein, I’d like to share this lovely and appropriate poem by Khalil Gibran:


It is said that before entering the sea a river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled,
rom the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter there
seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.

As I reflect on my long, winding road, I am infinitely grateful that I had Swami Kriyananda walking by my side. And he is still there, ever guiding me to the ocean of Spirit.

In gratitude,

Nayaswami Jyotish

You might also enjoy Jyotish’s related story, Life Is a Pilgrimage

Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:25):


  1. Beautiful, a roadmap for this life I will carry with me. Thank you!

  2. Thanks Jyotish ji 🙏🙏
    A beautiful poem by Khalil Gibran.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful guide for life. As well as for your daily guidance. Let’s all join in this effort of making spirituality the ground of our life and then hope and pray for the materialisation of a true 21st Century Renaissance in Western Civilisation, serving the World and saving the Planet.

  4. Happy Re-Birthday, Dearest Jyotish! Thank you for sharing these life lessons so generously. Ever since Swamiji left the body, you have channelled him so powerfully to all of us in Ananda, and for that and your loving friendship, I remain ever blessed. I’ve laughed each time at the “project” story over the years, but this time I really cottoned on: You/ We/ I am The Project. 🙏

  5. Dear Jyotish ji,
    Thank you for carrying these beacon of principles and being there always to guide and help us !!

  6. Such kind and loving words. Spirit is shining through these words and touching our hearts. The poem is lovely. Thank you for sharing your heart with us today Jyotish.

  7. Very nice messages. You have rightly said that in our journey of life we should maintain positivity in our approach. The target of human life is to dissolve our ego. When a river enters the ocean after its journey through the land surface, it does not disappear but it unites with a vast identity,i.e., the ocean.
    Let us unite ultimately with godliness.

  8. Another , specially very nice and helpfull storie … Thank you for sharing .
    God bless you

  9. A very important distinction indeed not disappearring in the ocean but becoming the ocean

  10. Beautiful. Thank you Jyotish. Your story, realizations, and examples are blessings for all of us doing our best to walk the spiritual path.
    In loving friendship,

  11. Beautiful. Thank you, Jyotish, for continuing to lead on the Path forward. For us newbies who never met Swami in the body, your gifts of his wisdom and continued presence are invaluable.
    Nan Caporaso

  12. Tears roll down as I read the story and the poem. God bless all. Thankyou and Jai Guru

  13. mm

    Thank you Jyotish, not only for expressing these deeply profound truths, but also for the extraordinary example of your life. You and Devi are living the teachings so completely, and that magnetism is helping draw all of us closer to our own Higher Self. Thank you 🙏 and so much love!

  14. Thank you so much Swamiji ! Feel so blessed to get to read such deep , profound truths with such simple examples!! So grateful to you.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  15. mm

    Absolutely one your best. Thank you for being “the disciple of a great master,” as guided by Swamiji, and as you having been guiding us.

  16. This gave me inspiration to enjoy the journey of whatever we do! Thank you!

  17. Dear Jyotish, absorbing these lessons again, for eternity if needed, to walk with you and He. Thank you for sharing the Joy in the journey!

  18. mm

    Beautiful and deeply inspiring! Thanks so very much!

  19. mm

    I am forever grateful for Master leading me to Ananda. I did not meet Swami Kriyananda in this lifetime, but watching you, Devi and so many others at Ananda Village and really, all over the world thanks to online, I am more aware of exactly what your words to your story mean. I feel like I know Swamiji through you.

    Many blessings to all who hear this story, Swamiji’s story and Master’s sharing of life’s truth! 🙏

    I hope everyone will also check out your, Nayaswami Jyotish’s, related story – Life Is a Pilgrimage. It is a personal favorite of mine that I wish you would write a sequel to someday, maybe after your book on seva?

    Master’s love and joy, 🧡

  20. Thank you , Jyotish, for sharing your memories of Swami and this beautiful poem. As always, your words offer inspiration and important lessons for all of us.

    Blessings and Joy, Jane


    Thank you Jyotish — for this gift…. Just what I needed today.

    Marcela Ries

  22. Love the image of the liquid canteen of joy. Thank you 🌹

  23. Thank you, Jyotishji … very much the core of swami’s consciousness and teachings, beautifully exemplified further by yourself and many others.

  24. Que gusto leer tan bellas palabras!, emociona tanta dulzura y sentimiento. Namasté ✨🙏

  25. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for sharing such valuable lessons.
    And the poem was fitting and beautiful.


  26. …..and for you, my friend, a life well lived.

    It was your Dharma and your willingness and your choices that brought you to Swamiji. Good Karma and good thinking on your part.
    You are a great leader and a great disciple.
    So very nice to see you and Devi in Fort Collins. See you soon at SRW. The very best to you and Devi.,,,, Jeff and Kris

  27. Thank you for sharing….. And Beautiful poem. Amazing…..

  28. Thank you, my dear friend! Together we will become the ocean.

    It was great to finally meet you on March 18th

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