1. Leadership. In an era of egalitarianism, especially in the annals of intentional communities, a strong leader is to be avoided. Instead, consensus decision making is considered best and safest. There are good reasons for this on paper but the "jury" is out as to whether consensus actually works. There are reasons to suppose it does not!
Swamiji showed us that leadership could be both inspired (meaning strong in a positive way) AND supportive. Leadership is simply a role like all the other roles necessary for a group to succeed in its goals. If supportiveness is the tenor of the group's dynamics and begins with leadership, far more can be accomplished creatively and harmoniously. A supportive leader doesn't intend to make all the decisions. Rather it means that the leader takes responsibility to guide the group towards good decisions, whether or not the ideas originate from him or from others.
2. Discipleship. Swamiji stated that there are plenty of "wannabe" gurus, but far too few good disciples. His goal in life, so to speak, was to be a good disciple. As to others who looked to him for guidance and counsel, he saw himself primarily as their friend. I would add that it is easier for most of us to talk and state our views but too few of us at least as eager to listen (outwardly and inwardly).
3. Creativity. In the life of a disciple, creativity has its place. Self-denial, too, has its place, certainly, but far more powerful for most people is finding a way to channel our energy creatively and with attunement and harmony to fulfil our dharma and release us from karma. Swamiji demonstrated in his life, and, indeed at great personal cost to his acceptance by others, that true discipleship should indeed be creative while also attuned to the divine will.
4. Dharma. Paramhansa Yogananda told Swamiji repeatedly, "You have a great work to do." Several times, Yogananda told Swamiji that he intended to take him to India. It didn't happen then, but from then on Swamiji felt his guru wanted him to serve and to reinvigorate the work in India. In the early years of Ananda, he foresaw the expansion of Ananda's work from the west coast, to the east coast, to Europe and finally to India. Even toward the end of Swamiji's life, when suddenly he felt his guru calling him at long last to begin a work in India (at age 77), he dropped everything and moved to India.
5. Condemnation and Critique. Throughout his life of discipleship, Swami Kriyananda encountered intense resistance, critique and persecution from those who he deeply respected and from others. How he handled opprobium--with calm acceptance and creative resistance (when principles or the work of his guru was at stake)--is a lesson to all of us. Returning love for hate is an eternal lesson and a path of transformation modelled to humanity by great saints down through the ages.
6. Soul Affirmation. No matter what changes his body, age, activity, or circumstances brought to him, Swamiji always affirmed the unchangeable reality of his soul. Never did accept for himself or from others a self-definition less than that of the eternal, ever-blissful Atman as his "soul" reality.
How many of us owe our spiritual awakening in this lifetime to Swami Kriyananda? Surely the number is beyond counting or measurement of any kind. Gratitude, love, respect, and honor goes to one who, in the name of God and gurus, ignites the flame of divine love in the human heart!
Happy birthday, Swamiji!