After she had blown out the few candles on her cake, Gloria said, “I’m glad they didn’t put all 90 on it. I’m not sure I could have managed that.”

ananda member gloria 90 birthday party with spiritualize your family life with teachings of yoganandaWe were gathered, over a hundred of Gloria’s friends, at Crystal Hermitage (Swami Kriyananda’s home at Ananda Village) to celebrate her 90th birthday. She has lived at Ananda for nearly thirty years. Her daughter had moved here many years earlier; when Gloria visited her, she fell in love with the people, the peace, and the place. Still, she wondered whether this was the right place for her.

She had read Autobiography of a Yogi, and had an interest in this path, but was not yet firmly committed to such a demanding way of life as we live at Ananda. So, she did what so many of us do when in a quandary: She prayed to Yogananda. Then, she had a vision of him standing before her, with his arms out in welcoming. She moved here as soon as she could, and her life at Ananda has been one of quiet service, love, and friendship, very much in line with the mother that she is.

While at the party, we were shown a photo of our youngest member, born only a few hours earlier to one of the young couples in our Assisi, Italy, community. This got me thinking about birthdays, and the span of life. We know our youngest member is only a few days old, but who is our oldest member? It would be interesting for you, our faithful readers, to let us know the age of the oldest Ananda member you know.
Our son, Mark, also has a birthday in a week, and that got me thinking about families and raising children. He was born here at Ananda in our dome that I had built. Eleven days later a raging forest fire destroyed the dome as well as almost all the other buildings, and suddenly he had no house. But he did still have a home. It is not wood and shingles that make a home, but love and caring. And these he had in abundance, not only from us, his parents, but from everyone in our small community.

We never tried to push our ways on him and, at this point, he has not chosen our spiritual path. But he is a beautiful, dharmic, giving soul, and has taught Devi and me some of our most important lessons. Now, as a wonderful father, his three children are giving him his own education. Here are a few things that Devi and I have learned along the way:

Unconditional love. This was a fairly easy lesson, which came naturally for us. After all, it is what God gives us and the essence of our spiritual path. That is not to say that our patience and faith weren’t tested. Divine Mother gave us a very strong-willed child with ideas that, let us say, were not always in sync with our own. Still, our love never faltered.

Acceptance of differences. As he grew, and began to exert his individuality, his choices in clothing, music, and friends were very different from ours. One time we were driving one of his colorfully haired, punk-rock-loving friends home, and mentioned to him that we liked all of Mark’s friends. The rather outrageous-looking young man taught us a good lesson when he replied, “I’m not just Mark’s friend. I’m your friend too.” Everyone, especially those closest to us, needs to feel accepted at the core of their being.

Support others’ enthusiasms. When our son became captivated by rock music and started playing the guitar, we gave him our full support. We were able to see past the form to the benefits of the endless hours of practice and positive energy that it took to play lead guitar in a band. When we went to our first concert (not exactly a kirtan), he stopped after one of the songs and said, “I want to thank my parents for all the love and support they gave me.”

Young or old, devotee or not, God gives us, each and every one, His love, acceptance, and support. If we try to do the same, we will help create a better, gentler world.

In unconditional love,
Nayaswami Jyotish

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18 Comments

  1. Thank you, Jyotish for this timely post. My birthday was last Sunday and I’ve been thinking about my mom and dad a lot – and sister too. They have all passed on but I’m grateful for the love we shared and even for the challenges, which were many.

  2. I couldn’t help laughing at some of the points in here, but it was a deep lesson too. It shows how we must always embrace life and people, and not just shrink back crying for Master (which is what I usually tend to do). Thank you Jyotish ji 🙏

  3. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for this wonderful messages through this blog.
    Particularly these lines moved me “Young or old, devotee or not, God gives us, each and every one, His love, acceptance, and support. If we try to do the same, we will help create a better, gentler world”
    Joy
    Prem

  4. Thank you. My son too is a strong willed individual . He is a qualified engineer but is following his passion of music. He too is unconventional. Though I support his choice yet my insecurities about the struggles in this industry rubs off on him. Through your article I have got strength in supporting him whole heartedly. May the Almighty help him succeed n bless me in giving him whole heartedly support for he is a pure n beautiful soul.

  5. What a wonderful story about your son and family. Thanks so much, Jyotish!

  6. Dear Ones,
    Thank you for sharing my birthday story, I hope it will be of help to others. What a blessing it was for me. I also loved your stories about being a parent and what we need to do for our children. We know that we were given these children for a reason, not only for us but for them. Narani and I have always been teacher and student, often changing places, but always close. With Tandy it has been the same,, although the lessons have been harder for both of us. I think we have at last reached the graduation point of just loving.
    In His love and joy,
    Gloria

  7. Thank you Jyotish, for these touching, lovely and inspiring stories. Sending love.

  8. 1) Unconditional love
    2) Acceptance of differences
    3) Support of others’ enthusiasms
    Thank you so much for the gift of your life in God — and the many lessons you share with all of us.

  9. Blessings and gratitude for your unconditional loving example of God and Guru’s love for us all. Namaste

  10. Beautiful & touching, Jyotish. Thanks for your heartful & timely sharing!

  11. Dearest Jyotish, I am always learning from your beautiful humble nature 💙

  12. Just wondering if anyone has heard of Breatharianism at Ananda? Jasmuheen’s book Pranic Nourishment quotes from Yogananda’s autobiography about an Indian woman, Giri Bala, and Therese Newman, who both lived without conventional food but instead on light and the holy sacrament, respectively, receiving their food from God.
    I feel called to deepen my meditation by going to a seminar given by Ray Maor in Phoenix this September, hopefully to become free of food and drink, at least, to some extent. I think the whole planet earth will eventually move to become the spiritual beings we really are and live without gross material food.
    Forgive me for not commenting directly on this wonderful birthday story. This is probably the wrong place to post a comment like this.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. Yes I have really learned that unconditional love is very important in work with
    people in AA. I have a dear friend now that is such a wonderful person but cannot give up drinking. She only has few months or
    weeks to live but just says she cannot stop. I know the person she is when not drinking. She is wonderful. It is so sad but my AA Book
    tells me “God could and would if he were sought” It should say Only God can if sought” Her name is Denise perhaps you send her a
    prayer.
    Many blessings to you both and your son, Yvonne

  14. What a lovely story! We parents – and grandparents – need to hear this about once a month! Thank you for sharing this!
    With love,
    Ute Tellini
    Ananda Maine-New Hampshire

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