I went to work for Swami Kriyananda in 1968, and my first day was an absolute disaster! But, like many disasters, it makes for a good lesson and a good story.

I had been helping Swami with small tasks at his evening classes as a volunteer for many months. Then he asked me to quit my job as a social worker and become his assistant, and after a couple of weeks of indecision, I agreed. This is what happened on the first morning of the first day.

I arrived at Swami’s small apartment in San Francisco to find that an old friend of his was visiting him. Adano Ley had been a center leader from the days when Swamiji was in charge of the center department for Self-Realization Fellowship, and they had grown close.

After greeting them and chatting for a few minutes, I was ready to get to work. Also present, sitting at a small table in the living room, was a woman who occasionally helped Swami with various projects. Our job that morning was to send out a mailing announcing a new class series.

After greeting her, I asked, “Do we have a mailing list?” I was somewhat surprised to get an angry retort back: “None of your business!”

Being relatively young and foolish, I persisted. “Do we at least have a list of names?” Again, an angry answer was flung back at me: “That’s my job.”

By this time Swami and his friend, Adano, could see where this was heading. Being men of wisdom and discrimination, they quietly repaired to the kitchen to have a cup of tea—the kitchen being the only place they could go and close a door.

The explosion wasn’t long in coming. After a couple more questions from me and a couple more angry retorts from her, she shouted, “I can’t take this anymore. I quit!” and stomped out, taking care to slam the door as she left.

Well, you can imagine my chagrin and embarrassment. It had taken me less than an hour to completely destroy Swami’s office scene. I was sitting there, red from embarrassment, and dreading having to tell Swamiji what had happened. It turned out there was no need for fear. As soon as the coast was clear, Swamiji and Adano emerged from the kitchen and, to my amazement, they were both laughing so hard they could barely stay standing. Swami looked at me and said, “Thank you. I didn’t know how I was ever going to get rid of her.”

My career as his assistant had been quick to hit bottom, and from that point there was no way to go but up. Over the next months we worked together on his many projects: printing and distributing books, advertising and giving classes, correspondence, finances, and, soon, the beginnings of what would become Ananda.

Nayaswami Jyotish in 1971, the early days of Ananda Village.

Jyotish in 1971; the early years of Ananda Village.

One lesson here is that things are often not what they seem. God sees through different eyes, and what appears like a disaster to us is, if not cause for amusement, at least a part of His lesson plan. He is much more interested in our growth than in our comfort. As Swami Kriyananda occasionally put it, “God’s purpose is not to make our mud puddle of delusion more comfortable to play in. It is to get us out of the mud puddle altogether.”

Ultimately, whether we succeed gloriously or fail disastrously, we should feel that it is God playing His drama through us. The next time a minor humiliation occurs in your life, remember these wise words from Paramhansa Yogananda: “Father, teach me to perform all my work only to please Thee. Let me feel Thee as the electricity of life, moving the machinery of my bones, nerves, and muscles. In every heart-throb, every breath, every burst of vital activity, teach me to feel Thy power.”

In bemused surrender,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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  1. Dear Jyotishji

    Thank you. Nice points to remember. Well said “God sees through different eyes”, while we have different view point! I also liked, you signed “in bemused surrender”!


  2. Beautiful.. thank you dearest Ji. How inspiring to read about the lesson behind the incident and Master’s prayer guidance. Love love.

  3. Thank you Jyotish,

    I really love to hear stories from you of the early days with Swamiji. It connects me to him (and to you) so much!
    thank you

  4. Love this article! What freedom to remember and practice the ideas in this article. Thank you Jyotish and Devi for your inspiring articles.

  5. Dear Jyotish
    Your gift of sharing wisdom and spiritual lessons from your own life with Swamiji, couched in such mirthful lightness, ensures that – after we’ve had our long chuckle!- both the story and the message it carries stay with us for a long, long time.
    This is how Swamiji made us feel.
    In loving gratitude

  6. Thank you so much for this. I have been going through a similar situation at work for the past three years. I don’t say that it is all the other person’s fault, but it has been hard to find compassion. The job is too hard for this person, but they cover it with bravado and loudness that gets on my nerves, plus they do less and less everyday because it is so hard. It has been hard for me to work as a team player in this instance because I feel all the work is bring pushed on me and I hsve a hard time completing my own tasks. However, I have just decided to work a slower pace and not get upset at completing my tasks more slowly so I can help if needed. Whatever, your post helped me see that God helps us all. I pray for my coworkers happiness.

  7. mm

    Wonderful story of your first days with Swamiji. :)

  8. more timely than you would believe for me. Thanks so much, Jyotish!

  9. Hilarious story!! Thanks, Jyotish, for the great lesson and reminding me that God is more interested in our growth than our comfort.

  10. Humorous moments are among my favorite recollections of my experiences with Swami. Once I was with Swami and Rosanna (from Italy) and I forget what we were working on but I came out with “Mama mia, that’s-ah some spicy meat-ah ball!” and we shared laughter. (That was a line from some old TV commercial, I think it was for Chef Boyardee…oh, forgive me. I just checked and it was from a commerical for Alka Seltzer, LOL.) I hope I didn’t disturb the solemnity of this web page! But Jyotish, that was a delightfully funny story. Isn’t it kind of a mind-twister that one of the things God created was…humor?! Oh, no, God is too big for that. It must have come from someplace else!)

  11. Thank You very much!All your Post is for me,for my living : very valuabel!

    are for me SPIRIT-FOOD in this world with
    so many problems .Why are these problems?!
    Our poor planet!

    You give love in this world!
    Yourse thankfull Angela in Germany,
    Lüneburg near Hamburg

  12. Thanks for the beautiful blog Jyotish ji. I had such a hearty laugh!!

  13. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    What a lovely blog. Thank you for sharing this
    I enjoyed the story and the pearls of wisdom by Swamiji and Master!
    ’ He is much more interested in our growth than in our comfort’ Thank you very much for these lines…

    At His service

  14. Adano Ley has passed on but it was my pleasure to spend an evening with with this very advanced Yogi in 1986 when I lived at Ananda. He was passing through our community and gave a lecture on “Solar Nutrition” which was an eating plan based on the time of day. Later that night he went into a healing phase and then no one would leave and just all fell asleep all over the big room and he and I talked until dawn. He recounted that while living in Texas, he fell over 50 feet to the pavement and in a coma, Master came to him and gave him Kriya. Later he went to SRF and asked Master for Kriya and Yogananda quickly told him, ” I already gave it to you”. and Adano knew for sure then that his dream initiation was real. Adano never needed to sleep and that was another indication of his advanced state of being. He recounted chapter 26 on Kriya word by word for me while I was reading it aloud for him. He exuded a great love for Master and was a unique and saintly man….

  15. Thank you Jyotish for sharing this wonderful story and photos!
    What an incredible journey you have had with Swamiji! It is great to hear about the beginning of Swami’s work and to think of how those early days in a little apartment in San Francisco have turned into a world wide movement!
    Jai Guru!

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