In the last two months we have seen two great souls depart this world. Nayaswami Seva passed away on November 14, and we just held an Astral Ascension Ceremony for Nayaswami Anandi, who passed away five days ago. Anandi had been a member of Ananda and our dear friend for more than fifty years. The talk given at the ceremony by her lifelong husband, Bharat, was particularly touching.
Yet, as all of us must do, these friends have moved on to the astral world. What remains? What is permanent? Memories may stay alive for a time, but only God’s eternal qualities stand unchanged by the crashing waves of maya. I would like to look past her personality and touch on a few of those qualities that Anandi manifested, in ways particularly inspiring to me:
Everything was God-centered. Anandi was very clear that the purpose of this life was to find spiritual liberation, and she shaped her life around that goal. She was always listening for God’s whispers drawing us back to the bliss of our true Self. Though she held many different jobs and roles and gave countless classes and talks, she never identified herself with what she did.
We spent a lot of time working together with her, walking together, and connecting about little things the way true friends do. She never judged people, nor had any tendency to get into negativity or gossip. I remember one walk where the conversation started to drift toward some problems and negative qualities of one of the guests. Anandi quickly said, “Let’s talk about something more uplifting.”
A lesson from Anandi: Mold your life around your search for God.
Selflessness expressed by serving others. There were hundreds of people who had their lives uplifted and changed by talking with her. She spent a lot of time talking with visitors, and never considered it as anything special. But they did! Her husband, Bharat, said that they had gotten over a thousand notes of appreciation after her passing. She was extremely humble in the true sense of the word: not thinking about herself. Because of that, she was able to allow the space for people to feel safe and open up the deeper parts of themselves.
A lesson from Anandi: Dissolve your ego through humbly serving others.
Persistence. When Anandi took up a task, you knew that she would see it through to the end no matter what it took. As an example, she created the wonderful eight-book series, Wisdom of Yogananda, compilations of Master’s teachings on various topics. Just think of the countless hours it must have taken to study, extract, and categorize those wonderful quotes.
A lesson from Anandi: Stick with the job until it is done. And, your main job is yourself.
Joy and good humor. The name, Anandi, that Swami Kriyananda gave her means “joy.” And there was a stream of joy and good humor that flowed beneath the surface, always ready to well up in a laugh, a quick, amused comment, or a smile. Of all the things of value that Anandi shared with me, I think that her joy was the most important. It is the very essence of who she was, who we all are.
A lesson from Anandi: Live joyfully.
These are just a few of the many eternal qualities of God that Anandi manifested. And, while her body and personality may be gone, the examples from her life are forever woven into the fabric of Ananda. Soon we will have a memorial service where friends from around the world can share more stories. It is sure to be filled with God’s light and joy. That is to say, it will be filled with Anandi.
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