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Swami Kriyananda's Birthday Message 2021

Swami Kriyananda's Birthday Message 2021 by Nayaswami Jyotish and Nayaswami Devi, recorded at Ananda Village.

Hello, we want to give you our deep greetings and blessings on Swami’s upcoming birthday.

And it's such a joy, as the years go by, when Swami left the body, his presence with us seems to grow stronger and stronger. So on the anniversary of his birthday, May 19th, it's a good time to really try to open our hearts and our minds and feel his blessings. You know, I just finished writing a blog on Swami's birthday and some of his wonderful qualities, kindness, divine friendship, expansiveness, and so on. There are so many, many aspects to Swami and facets to what he is and what he did in this lifetime. And we could talk about many, many of those, but I thought for this short little talk that Devi and I are giving for this year's birthday anniversary of Swamiji, to talk about how he dealt with adversity, because obviously right now the world is seeing a lot of adversity and we’ve been in connection with our sangha in India quite a lot lately.

Of course you know that the pandemic has really flared up there and then they just got hit with a cyclone and we're getting videos from our friends there of flooding going on. So I thought that it would be helpful to just touch on how Swami dealt with adversity and to reinforce the fact that Ananda, by extension, is doing exactly what he and Master (Paramhansa Yogananda) would like us to do. Honestly, I think he and Master are very, very proud or gratified with the way that Ananda people are behaving at this time. But let me come back to dealing with adversity. Swamij, of course, you know, dealt with tremendous adversity. Many outside forces trying to, I don't know, attack him or limit him and not only outside forces but he had almost all his adult life he had physical karma, diseases, and conditions that he was dealing with, you know, we feel that he was really taking on people's karma, at least karma for the work of Ananda that was being done. One time Devi and I, in starting our work in Italy, had a very, very difficult first winter there. When Swami visited, he didn't really commiserate with us, he just said, “No great work is done without someone's tapasya.” Well, Ananda is a great work. Master told Swamiji, “You have a great work to do.” And a great work is not done without someone's tapasya. Swami did a lot of tapasya on behalf of the world, but specifically on behalf of all us who are watching this little video.

So how did Swamiji deal with adversity? And how is it a model for us to deal with in these times of crisis? First of all, he absolutely refused to accept the fact that adversity was unfair. One time he was going through a health crisis and someone said half-jokingly to him. “Oh Divine Mother's just not fair to you Swami.” And he replied very seriously, “Never say that. Never ever say that. Divine Mother gives us exactly what we need and it's always given out of love.”

And he was very serious about that. So the first thing is to accept what comes, not as negative, but as the gift of love from Divine Mother. Now love can be expressed in many ways, and in this sense it's being expressed as difficulty to help free us from our karma but also to allow us to be channels of her compassion, of her light, of her desire to help people in the world, and so always accept whatever comes. That was the first thing that Swami modeled for us.

Secondly, never allow yourself, If possible, to put out negative energy. He always put out positive energy. There are many, many reasons to complain or reasons to blame someone else....What good is that? In many cases, it's an impersonal force for who are you going to blame for that. Well, you can blame governments—if you want to blame you can always find somebody, but he never went there. So instead of putting out negating energy, put out positive energy and ask not, Why did this happen? Or say, “Oh, poor me,” but instead ask, “What can I do?” And especially, “What can I do to help others?”

When we help others, our hearts expand and through that expanded heart, then Divine Mother’s qualities of love and friendship, compassion, and caring about people can flow. Divine Mother needs expanded hearts for those qualities to flow to others. Swamiji had a huge expanded heart, even physically you could see his erect posture and his heart energy leading like the prow of a ship as he went through life. So accept what's happening, put out positive energy.

Then the final quality is deep, deep, attunement with Master and with Divine Mother and the line of Masters of Self-realization. All of us, including Swamiji, struggled to a certain extent with adversity, that's the reason that adversity comes. But we are never ever alone in having to struggle with it. God is always on our side and Master is always there, helping us and guiding us if we only open ourselves to it. Discipleship and attunement are the way to do that. Swamiji just was such a beautiful example of both of those qualities. So as I said, there are many, many facets to Swamiji life and I don't want to seem as if this little concentration on this facet is unbalanced, because I could talk about many other things, but it seemed an apt subject or an apt way to pick up this little remembrance of Swami for this year. God bless you.

Hello friends. Well, it's a great joy to share with you today some reminiscences and thoughts about Swami Kriyananda.There's a very touching and moving shloka verse in the Bhagavad Gita, where Ajuna asks, “Who is the better yogi? He who worships God in unmanifest form or in form?”

Krishna's response is, “Very difficult is the way to worship God in the unmanifest. For the yogi, it's easier for him to direct the heart's natural feeling to a form.”

I'm paraphrasing but that's the essence of it, and that's what Swamiji gave to all of us. He really taught me the meaning of divine love and divine friendship, and he did it in such a beautiful way, watching him relate to not only us, but to everyone. You know, Swami always was very clear, “I'm not the guru. Master’s the Guru.” We can idealize him, we can sort of project things onto him. But it's again, it's a little bit like the unmet manifest, but Swami was God in action for us, the Divine within him, and he always did project this divine love and friendship.

First of all, from the very moment I met him, without exception for the many decades I was with him, there was never a moment when he projected to me a feeling of diminished self-worth about myself. It was always relating to the God in me, relating to the highest in me. And it wasn't that I always came up to the mark, there were times when he needed to correct me. When he gave me my spiritual named, Devi, he looked at me very sternly, one might almost say, “I'm going to give you the name Devi, and it means Divine Mother and you'd better live up to it.” He was projecting to me, “You can do this.” It wasn't like it was a scolding, but he projected to me in that moment the vibration, saying, “Hold on to this. Live it, and you will become it.” That's what he did in so many ways.

I remember when he first asked Jyotish and me to speak at a big public venue in San Francisco, he was giving a big lecture series at a big auditorium, The Palace of Fine Arts, for those of you who know it. The night before (he gave these lectures all weekend), he was going to be leading the Sunday Satsang or Sunday Service, he said to Jyotish and I the night before, “I want you to give part of the talk.” I had never spoken in public before, maybe to little groups, but I was scared to death. And we were sitting in the front row and he said, “I'll call you up at the right moment.” As I could tell he was wrapping up his speech, I admit with great shame that the mantra in my mind going on was, “I can't do this. I can't do this. There's no way I can do this.” And then it was the moment for me to go up and speak and I literally felt Swami’s energy reaching out to my heart and mind, uplifting me, bringing me up onto the stage and I spoke and it went easily. I don't know how well it went, but at least it went easily for me, and that formed the direction of my life. But again, it was like you can do this, and not in a personal way, not “Oh, you're my little sweet friend, or you're my special darling,” not at all. But it was that power of the impersonal through the personal friendship and love of Swami Kriyananda that made me believe in my own spiritual value, and that's the greatest gift he could give to us.

You’ve often heard us quote this: He'd walk into a room of people, in the beginning, we were just novices on the spiritual path, and he'd walk in and with complete sincerity, with power and affirmation, he would say, “Good morning all you great souls.” And at first, you know, we would kind of look around to see who he was speaking to, but then we came to realize he was speaking to us, he was affirming our own spiritual self-worth and value, that we were not in and of ourselves, because we were so smart, or so eloquent, or whatever, but that we were children of God and that was our value and that was the best part of us, the highest. We saw him doing this with people all over the world. Whenever I saw someone in his presence, even if it was a casual encounter with a store clerk or somebody waiting in the airport, I felt he uplifted their energy. He made them feel something about themselves, that maybe he hadn't ever done before.

Okay, so now, Swami left the body in 2013, but we can, by listening to his voice lecturing, by listening to his music singing, and the way he chanted and the way he talked about and wrote about Master, we can feel his vibration and take it as his way of uplifting you. He often said, if you've listened to his talks, he said, “I don't want to convert you to anything but your own highest Self.”

Your own higher Self. That's what he was doing with all of us, converting us to our own higher Self, and we can still work with him in that spirit of divine love and friendship, and try to discover within ourselves, see us the way Swami saw us, the way he sees us, the way he sees you, even if you never met him, he sees you from his place and Masters bosom, as a child of God, and all the rest of it, is just dust on the surface that can easily be wiped away. So thank you Swamiji, we honor your birthday. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for continuing to believe in every soul that comes to Master’s ray, with an open and sincere heart. We are grateful to you beyond any words of expression.



In 1948 at the age of twenty-two, Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) became a disciple of the Indian yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda. At Yogananda’s request, Swami Kriyananda devoted his life to lecturing and writing, helping others to experience the living presence of God within. He taught on four continents in seven languages over the course of 65 years. His talks, his music, and his many books have touched the lives of millions. An advocate of simple living and high thinking, his more than 150 books emphasize the need to live wisely by one’s own experience of life, and not by abstract theories or dogmas. A composer since 1964, Walters has written over 400 musical works. His music is inspiring, soothing, and uplifting. His books and teachings on spiritualizing nearly every field of human endeavor include business life, leadership, education, the arts, community, and science. He wrote extensive commentaries on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita, both based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

He is known as the “father of the intentional communities movement,” which began in the United States in the late 1960s, fulfilling Yogananda's dream. He founded the first of what are now 10 Ananda communities worldwide in 1967 near Nevada City, California. Other Ananda communities have developed over the years to include Ananda Palo Alto, Ananda Sacramento, Ananda Portland, Ananda Seattle, Ananda Los Angeles, Ananda Assisi in Italy, and Ananda India near Delhi and Pune. Each community has a spiritual focus (a teaching center and temple) and a community (homes where members live). More than 1,000 people live in these intentional spiritual communities.

Swami Kriyananda’s example of inspired leadership was the reason for Ananda’s success. He uplifted and encouraged people through personal example, spiritual counseling, writing, lecturing, music, and prayer. He trained the current Ananda leaders in much the same way: free from egoic motivation, always placing the spiritual needs of others foremost in all decisions. He was a patient and sensitive teacher, allowing people to learn by experience, and never placing institutional needs ahead of the needs of an individual. “People are more important than things” is one of the foremost guiding principles of Ananda. And “Where there is adherence to dharma [right action], there is victory,” is another.

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