Once again we celebrated Master’s birthday in San Francisco, returning to the Palace of Fine Arts Theater for a gala evening event. Ananda House easily absorbed the dozens of people who came from the Village to help. An audience of five hundred people sat in rapt silence for more than two hours listening to Swamiji talk about his life with Master, and the Guru’s message for our times, which included a sober warning:
“History shows us that whenever life is ready to produce a new birth of consciousness, things first get really bad, until it looks like there is no hope. We are living in that kind of time. Always, though, the divine element comes in and shows us solutions we literally could not imagine before.
“Whenever there is an impulse toward the Light, there is also a wave of resistance to that Light. What we see now is a rising surge of energy, seeking to embrace a greater reality, coming into conflict with a powerful force clinging to old forms. Some people, feeling these conflicting waves of energy, are trying to gain control through their egos. Instead of cooperating with a greater reality, they are separating themselves from it, grappling for power in materialistic ways: fanaticism, drugs, sensuality, violence.
“Master spoke of a coming ‘terrible cataclysm,’ of financial disasters, war, and other disruptions. But there is no divine will saying it has to happen that way. Mankind generated that karma; if mankind changes its consciousness, then the karma can change, too.
“But I don’t think that is going to happen. We have come too far down the path of egotism, materialism, and selfishness not to reap at least some of the consequences. Master said that the world as we know it will be radically changed. But what comes after, he said, will be much better.
“In the meantime, what should we do? Passively surrender to our fate? Or is there some positive way to influence the outcome? God brought the universe into existence out of His own consciousness. All of creation is one ocean of Spirit expressing as many little waves. We are manifestations of the Infinite; there is no other reality. When we shrink our awareness down to the little ego, we suffer. When we expand our awareness to embrace a greater reality, we find fulfillment. It is as simple as that.
“The solution, then, is to live in the thought that God is with you. That He can and will take care of you if you attune yourself to Him. You will be protected, and you can draw that protection down to those whose lives you touch. The greatest boon you can give to your fellow beings is to live in tune with the Divine Light. The more people who live in this way, the more the darkness will be mitigated.
“Live in the Light. Live in Love. Live in the compassion of God. He loves you and wants to take care of you. Meditate. Sing His name. Serve your fellow man, and serve God in your fellow man.
“If the changes needed to usher in a new age can only come through suffering—so be it. But it doesn’t have to come that way. We don’t need to suffer if we have learned the lessons suffering has come to teach. Live in the Light and you will live in joy. God bless you.”
Developing Ocean Song was proving problematic. Even though the couple had invited us there to build a community, Swamiji knew it wouldn’t be easy for them to break their attachment to the land and to their way of doing things. That’s why he urged them to move to the Village, at least for a time. But instead of moving, they stayed on to supervise what we were doing. And they didn’t always approve.
“It has to be an Ananda community,” Swamiji said. “Otherwise we aren’t interested. But it wouldn’t be right to try to persuade them to give the land to us. It has to come happily, of their own free will, or I won’t take it.” Despite the difficulties, the Ananda people living at Ocean Song loved it there, and were thrilled by the possibilities. They asked for more time to see if it could work out.
Swamiji’s parents now lived in Menlo Park, thirty miles south of San Francisco. East West Bookshop, one of the best metaphysical bookstores in the country, was right around the corner from their home. Whenever Swamiji visited, he would drop into the store to chat with the owner and to see how his books were selling.
When he came by in January, the owner said to him, “I’m getting old and having trouble with my eyesight. I can’t keep running this store. But it is like my child; I don’t want to give it to just anyone. Would you buy it?”
Silently, Swamiji prayed, “Lord, what should we do?” We had no money, and no personnel to run it. “Yes,” he said. In the next few weeks, money came from an unexpected source, and several people from Ananda House and the Village agreed to move to Menlo Park to work at East West. At first, the employees lived in rooms above the store. Then they rented a large house where they could live together and also hold classes and Sunday services.
Swamiji planned to spend February at the Village, renewing his body with rest and his spirit with seclusion. But he had been away so long, many things in the community needed his attention. And some people had been waiting for months to see him. When he was finally free to start his seclusion, a telegram came from Italy.
A castle was for sale at a very good price. It could be ideal for a community but the devotees didn’t feel they could make such a big decision without Swamiji’s input. On February 20, he left for two weeks in Europe. About one hundred people gathered at the castle and raised $100,000 toward its purchase. When the owner saw American dollars, he kept doubling the price! In the end, Swamiji felt it wasn’t for us. But the Italian devotees were so sincere, Swamiji decided to send two people from the Village to live in Rome.
In the middle of March, Swamiji was finally able to go into seclusion. He stayed six weeks, not even coming out for Easter—although for the early morning meditation, he slipped into the temple, sat in the last row, then silently returned home.
Making money and getting along with others are often challenging areas for people. Those topics weren’t specifically addressed in Superconscious Living, but they matched the intention of the course: using the teachings in everyday life. Swamiji now wrote two small books, The Art of Creative Leadership (later retitled The Art of Supportive Leadership) and How to Use Money for Your Own Highest Good (later retitled Money Magnetism).
To expand the repertoire for the Gandharvas, he wrote arrangements for nineteen more of his songs.
In Europe, Swamiji had spoken with several publishers, and was disappointed to find that few were willing to take on The Path—among other reasons, because it was so long: a big job to translate and expensive to print. During his seclusion, he created a condensed version, The Shortened Path. When he finished, he walked the quarter mile uphill to my trailer and silently handed me the manuscript. I knew he had been working on it, so no explanation was needed. He patted me on the head, as he often did, the way a father pats his child, and then walked back down the hill.
Having typed the full book repeatedly, I knew it well. I steadfastly put that out of my mind so I could read The Shortened Path on its own terms. I hadn’t favored the project, but to my surprise, I liked it, and wrote Swamiji accordingly. The return note from him was both pleased and dismayed. “Such a wealth of material was omitted, I was half expecting you to scream in protest, ‘Oh, no, you can’t leave out that, or that, or THAT!’ It is rather humbling to find that none of it is missed!”
We published The Shortened Path in the United States. It didn’t sell well, and no foreign publisher was ever interested, so we soon dropped it in favor of the full book.
Just after his birthday, Swamiji left for a month-long tour of Australia. He visited Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Cairns, giving retreats, lectures, and seminars. In the progression of Ananda around the world, Australia came between Europe and India. But Swamiji never imposed his ideas on a situation; rather, he would ask “What is trying to happen?”
Although some people in Australia were eager for Ananda to start a community, Swamiji felt there wasn’t enough receptivity in the country as a whole for it to succeed. When he returned to the Village in June, he wrote an open letter to Friends in Australia.
First he spoke of the coming hard times. “Australia is young enough, and her population small enough, to adjust relatively easily to the changes sweeping over the world. The purification process will be less painful for those countries, and those individuals, who cooperate with the new vibrations rather than cling doggedly to the old.”
Then he took up the subject of Australia’s spiritual future. “I was happy to see growth in the general spiritual awareness of Australians. I am particularly pleased by the tendency there to take personal responsibility for one’s own life. Years ago a student in one of my yoga classes asked, ‘Which is the most important yoga posture to practice?’ ‘That one,’ I replied, ‘which has you standing squarely on your own two feet!’
“Australians, I am happy to see, understand this. I would be even happier if I found more understanding of discipleship, which demands not a spirit of weak submissiveness, but of openness, of concentrated receptivity, and a focus on inner unfoldment.
“But if one must err between too much egoic independence and weak-willed submission, I prefer the former. For until one determines to make truth his own, it will forever elude him.
“Perhaps in future we shall be able to send a group of Ananda members to Australia to found a branch there. Meanwhile, God’s joy to you, dear friends. Thank you for your hospitality. May you prosper in your spiritual life.”
Swamiji spent the rest of the summer teaching at the Retreat. On the weekends, he gave Saturday morning classes, invited the guests to his house for afternoon tea, and led the Sunday service. He also gave seminars on Superconscious Living, held Kriya Initiations once a month, and during the week, taught classes for the month-long training programs. There were special events: a Fun Faire in town, an International Faire in the community, Spiritual Renewal Week in August. The same energy Swamiji had put into the Joy Tours, he now put into teaching at Ananda.
Since the second groundbreaking, work had progressed on the World Brotherhood Retreat. We held many small fundraisers, and gradually inched forward. In August, we started holding Sunday service there. We met in the dining room, which was just a shell; the large classroom we planned to use as a temple wasn’t even that far along. We always had lunch afterward, but the new kitchen, too, was just a shell. So we cooked at the old Retreat and brought the food down in the back of a pick-up truck, covered with a thick blanket to protect it from the dust.
In Los Angeles, Swamiji had met the well-known mystery writer, John Ball. His wife was interested in Ananda and invited Swamiji to their home. Somehow John became convinced that he was the one who could bring SRF and Ananda together.
“In the Hollywood scene with which John is associated,” Swamiji said, “much is promised that is never delivered. Still, he is a friend, and I don’t weigh our friendship on a scale of favors given and favors received.”
Even the remote possibility of a closer alliance with SRF caused Swamiji to consider the terms on which Ananda could participate with integrity.
“The word that’s come back to me, probably reliable, is that SRF would insist on a price should I be readmitted to the fold,” Swamiji said. “That price would include such absurdities as our sending all our publications to Mount Washington for editing; that I no longer give Kriya, and everyone who has ever gotten it from me be initiated officially by SRF; my giving up the title Swami and being called either ‘Brother’—which is the SRF equivalent—or more likely just ‘Kriyananda.’ All these possibilities rather dampen my interest in working with them until they decide to work with us, rather than over us.”
Whatever the likelihood of success, Swamiji felt that if John was even going to try, he should have the full picture of why the separation occurred in the first place. And so should the people of Ananda; we were all equally involved. The result was a twenty-five-page document called My Separation from Self-Realization Fellowship.
“People have often asked me the reason for my separation,” Swamiji wrote. “In reply I have been moved by two considerations: first, the fact that the issue remains, even after so many years, controversial, and in fairness ought not to be presented only from my side; and second that, being controversial, it presents my Guru’s work misleadingly—in other words, in a political context, rather than in its true, spiritual light. Besides, even if both sides were heard, once you have two hands clapping all you get is noise anyway. Ideally, then, the way to handle this subject would be to remain silent about it.”
That’s how Swamiji dealt with it in the The Path. “Because the separation caused pain not only to me, but also to others, I prefer not to dwell on the attending circumstances…. I know now Master wanted me out of the work…. There were things he had for me to do that I could not have done had I not been on my own.”
But now, four years later, Swamiji wrote, “I have learned that in this matter, as in the science laboratory, ‘Nature abhors a vacuum.’ For lack of a satisfactory explanation, people have invented explanations of their own. And the rumors they’ve spread have done more harm than the true story ever could. Moreover, there are times when I’ve had to tell this story, though when doing so I’ve always tried to present it fairly. And I’ve found that, far from turning people against Master or SRF, the explanation has removed what had long been a hurt in their hearts, and has actually strengthened them in their loyalty.
“Now it seems to me that the time has come to put this account into writing—not for the general public, but primarily for the sake of Ananda members, potential members, and friends. These people have, after all, a certain right to know what happened between me and SRF in the early 1960s, and why—particularly since those events led to the founding of Ananda.”
He tells the story in terms of the tension between a creative individual and the organization he serves. “All my life, I have schooled myself to draw a step back from every new situation, in order to understand it for myself, and in itself, without reference to what others thought, or to how similar situations may have been handled by others. I have always included in my perception the testimony of others’ experience, in case that experience was greater than mine, but I have had to reach the point where I could honestly say, ‘Yes, I understand.’
“Being that type of person myself, I appreciate eccentricity in others, and attract people of that type.” When he finds creative, energetic people who are yet unable, or unwilling, to conform, “I do everything possible to foster their talents, encouraging them to work on special projects, where creativity, rather than teamwork, is needed.”
Speaking from SRF’s point of view, “I can sympathize with the dilemma of one who isn’t constituted as I am, and who sees the eccentric subordinate as more of a trial than a blessing. It would be natural for one in charge of such a subordinate to explain his eccentricity away as mere ‘stubbornness and egotism.’ Which sometimes it is. (One way I differentiate between creativity and ego is to see whether the person is presenting positive solutions of his own, or is merely trying to block others from effective work.)”
The protagonists in the story of his separation were himself and another SRF Director named Tara Mata. “Tara was much senior to me in the work—senior, in fact, to everyone at Mount Washington—and a woman of strong personality. I loved and admired Tara. But I always knew we would clash someday. We stood for completely different, and incompatible, views of the work: I for reaching out to people, and she for protecting the work from their diluting influence.”
He described his efforts in India in 1961 to obtain for SRF a piece of property in the heart of New Delhi on which to build a temple and an ashram. Because of the unique political situation of India at that time, he was told he needed personal permission from Prime Minister Nehru to get the land he wanted. “It was like one of those impossible tasks appointed to the hapless prince in a fairy tale.” But the miracle happened, and permission was granted. “All my thoughts were directed at the Indian government. It never occurred to me that our own directors would negate the idea.”
Led by Tara Mata, the directors vehemently rejected the project and imputed to Swamiji the worst of all possible motives. Daya Mata knew what Swamiji was doing and had given her approval, but now she made it seem as if he had acted entirely on his own. “Daya has a great weakness as a leader. In private, she will support you. But if others disagree, she won’t stand by you, but will instead try to placate them.”
The directors became convinced “that there was no way to ‘manage’ me. The blame for the entire ‘problem of Kriyananda’ was placed on Kriyananda. Once it was accepted that it was my fault for being ‘unmanageable,’ it naturally followed that I must always have been motivated by a whole series of personality traits quite different from the dedication that at first seemed to explain all my creative energy—‘duplicity, megalomania, insincerity, unscrupulousness, treachery,’ and many more such denunciations, all delivered with absolute conviction by Tara.”
In July 1962, he was summoned to New York City for a private meeting with Daya and Tara where he was dismissed without the opportunity to answer the charges, or to do penance.
The members were never told that he was dismissed. Mostly SRF refused to comment, but when they did, they said he had resigned. Swamiji did sign a letter of resignation from the Board of Directors, to confirm his willingness to serve in any capacity, no matter how humble. But he did not, and never would have, resigned from SRF itself.
“Many are the rumors that I’ve heard purporting to give the true story of my leaving. Some say I was kicked out for embezzling money. Others say I was having affairs with Indian women. Still others say I tried to get Daya Mata to let me create a cooperative community, and when she wouldn’t agree I left SRF in a huff. No one, so far as I know, except a few directors, knows the true story, and even they know it primarily through Tara’s eyes; they certainly don’t know my side.”
Master had predicted that Tara would live a long life. But in 1968 — the same year Swamiji started Ananda — she had a massive stroke, which left her greatly debilitated. Four years later she died. “It is my belief,” Swamiji said, “that she paid with her life for the way she treated me — not, indeed, in payment for my pain, but for the disharmony she created in herself by the way she treated me. After her stroke, she herself made the statement, that she knew it had happened ‘to teach me compassion.’
“What made this test so difficult for me was not only the fact that SRF was my entire life, but that the people who had thrown me out, and who had nothing whatever good left to say about me, were those in the world to whom I most looked up.
“The devotee learns to accept whatever comes to him as coming from God. I accept the trauma of my dismissal in this light. I am even grateful that He considered me worthy to receive so great a test. And I am perfectly willing to serve Him again with SRF, should that be His wish. In my heart, indeed, I have never left SRF. Rather, I decided long ago that it takes two to make a divorce, and that I simply would not accept my side of this split, but would go on as if it had never happened.
“I have never allowed the way people treat me to intrude on my opinion of them. I hold all the directors in the highest regard. I am perfectly convinced they acted for what they conceived as the best.”
My Separation from Self-Realization Fellowship was not published even as a pamphlet until years later. But a manuscript version was made available for Ananda members to read. If visitors expressed interest, they were shown a copy. If we received a serious inquiry, a copy might be mailed, but mostly it wasn’t distributed, even within the community. It was kept at Pubble and you had to come there to read it. It was for the benefit of Ananda, not yet to be shared with the world.
John tried to arrange for Daya Mata to visit Ananda. When that proved impossible, he tried to bring the Gandharvas to Mount Washington to sing for her. When that didn’t work—SRF has a rule against singers performing there—he tried to set up a meeting at his home in Los Angeles, which never had a chance.
An anomaly at the Farm was a forty-acre parcel that extended into the middle of our community but was owned by someone else. Finally it came on the market and we managed to buy it. But when we tried to add it to our master plan, our neighbors vehemently objected. We were used to their opposition; it began right after Swamiji bought the Retreat and had never abated.
Although we had some values in common, we differed from our neighbors in our fundamental attitude toward the land. We felt it was there to be used respectfully, in harmony with Nature, to serve human values. Many of our neighbors felt that the highest value was the land itself; man was, by definition, an intruder. One of our neighbors calculated appropriate maximum usage by how much dead-fall an acre of forest produced compared to how much wood was required to heat one household—population limits far below what we felt was appropriate.
What we did on our land had virtually no impact on our neighbors. So it wasn’t what we were actually doing, or even what we proposed to do, that upset them; it was what they feared we might do without their constant vigilance to prevent it.
Many of our neighbors were anti-authority on principle. In that rural area, there was no authority to oppose—except “Ananda and its ‘resident dictator,’ Kriyananda.” Few had even met Swamiji. They just assumed that being a strong leader meant he was an abusive leader. Any effort to explain was taken as further proof that we’d been brainwashed!
Another complicating factor was that Nevada County was a premier area for growing marijuana—completely illegal at that time. The San Juan Ridge where we lived was the center of the industry. Walk a mile down the road from Swamiji’s house and you’d come to a closed gate with a sign, No Trespassing Without an Invite or a Warrant. Most of our neighbors wanted to drop out from society. We invited the whole world to come and visit. They feared Ananda’s high profile would eventually cause them trouble.
We tried for years to work with our neighbors, but there was no end to their negativity. To them, their fears were facts and they behaved accordingly.
Worst of all, many ex-Ananda members, who still lived in the area, were now part of SRF and felt it was their holy duty to oppose Swami Kriyananda as the enemy of Master’s work.
One of the loudest voices against us was Jim, the one who had tried to take over the Farm. He lived in Nevada City, worked as a Realtor, and was the leader of the local SRF group. Jim was also the seller’s agent on the forty-acre parcel and worked hard to make sure Ananda could buy it. Now he warned against “Kriyananda’s megalomania, trying to take over the San Juan Ridge!”
Because we lived in an unincorporated area, land use was governed by the county Board of Supervisors. By law, public opposition had to be taken into account in any decision they made. It might not be the deciding factor, but at the very least, strong opposition could trigger a plethora of expensive studies and limiting conditions. A municipality, however, could control its own land use. An attorney, Dallas Atkins, had recently joined the community. Swamiji asked her to look into the possibility of Ananda becoming a California city.
After careful research, Dallas concluded that even though Ananda Village didn’t look like a city, under California law we qualified. After much discussion, and many community meetings, we decided to go ahead. Swamiji asked Dallas to set the wheels in motion.
In Kali Yuga, the Age of Matter, to live a dedicated spiritual life you had to separate yourself from the world, in a cloistered monastery, desert hermitage, or isolated cave. In Dwapara Yuga, the Age of Energy, it is easier to be in the world, but not of it. The lifestyle of the future, Master said, would be small, spiritual communities where not only monks and nuns, but also householders, could dedicate their lives to God. He called them World Brotherhood Colonies.
In the first edition of Autobiography of a Yogi, Master says, “A project I have long considered is beginning to take definite form. In these beautiful surroundings [Encinitas] I have started a miniature world colony. Brotherhood is an ideal better understood by example than precept! A small harmonious group here may inspire other ideal communities over the earth.”
Unfortunately, the colony did not flourish. “Encinitas is gone!” Master lamented at the end of his life. The monastery was still there, but the colony had failed. “It was too soon after the depression,” Swamiji said. “Most householders couldn’t think beyond ‘us four and no more,’ as Master put it.”
Ananda was the first world brotherhood colony to succeed. But the development of the householder side lagged behind that of the monastery. One-third of the community was monastic: sixty monks and nuns. They set an essential example of selfless dedication to God. Their freedom to serve was the foundation of Ananda’s success. But their very zeal undermined the confidence of the householders, who had responsibilities for marriage and family life, and couldn’t serve in the same way. Many householders began to feel less worthy in the eyes of God.
“People were embarrassed to be married, and ashamed to have children,” Swamiji said. He was deeply concerned. “It is not enough for Ananda to succeed as a monastery. To fulfill Master’s ideal, it must also succeed as a spiritual village, where householders live happily and harmoniously together, their lives guided by spiritual principles.” In an effort to give more dignity to the householder life, and a deeper understanding of its divine potential, Swamiji began writing a book, Spiritualizing Your Marriage.
In a community meeting he said, “There are two basic aspects to the community. One is to reach out to people everywhere; the other is to nurture the community as a family. For the last few years, I’ve been working on the outreach.
“It was never my intention, though, to build an empire. My purpose was to insure that Ananda would be broad enough to provide an open channel of service for everyone. I think we’ve done that. Now let’s make what we have vibrant with God’s presence.”
When some people thought this meant lowering our goals for Ananda, Swamiji issued a corrective. “It is not how much we work, but how we work that I would like to see changed. More devotion, more surrender to God, more joy in the doing, more detachment from the fruits.”
In September, Swamiji did seminars on Superconscious Living in Sacramento and San Francisco. In November, he went to Europe for three weeks of classes and lectures. By the time he returned to Ananda Village, his blood pressure was dangerously high.
“You must rest!” the doctor told him. “Not seclusion—rest. A cruise would be ideal.” Swamiji agreed. He would have to go alone—if friends were there they would just talk about Ananda. And without his typewriter—if he had it, he would work. “It will be so boring,” he said, “I’ll have no choice but to rest!” Generous friends made the trip possible.
It was boring, and he did rest, which brought his blood pressure down, but not enough. He spent December in seclusion, and when he emerged on New Year’s Day, declared that he was on sabbatical with no plans for the coming year.