Friday, December 23, 2016

The True Story of Christmas

A White Christmas

As I write these words it is snowing thick, puffy flakes! While for the sake of many practical holiday matters, I hope it stays light and fluffy, for now it is a pleasure (on all levels) to behold. The shortest day of sunlight is now past and the only way is “up” towards greater Light.

At Ananda, throughout the world—even in India—we celebrate Christmas. We do so in two ways: the social form and the spiritual way of meditation. Included in my meaning of “social” are the celebrations with family and friends; gift exchanges; and, importantly, recognition and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as reported in the four gospels. The spiritual “way” is of course through meditation and especially in the tradition, happening even now as I type throughout the world, begun by Paramhansa Yogananda of an eight-hour, day of meditation upon the cosmic Christ universal.

But let’s view, first, the story of Christmas. We, in this new age of Dwapara Yuga (the electrical or atomic age), are very fond of facts but rather short on truth. Science has given up on finding a “theory of everything” and is content to make new discoveries, particularly ones that can be put to practical (meaning monetary) use. Facts have their place in daily life, for sure.

But truth is something lasting and of the spirit. Endless debate and research has surrounded things like, “How can a woman (mother of Jesus) become pregnant asexually?” “What about the star seen by the wise men? How is that possible, astronomically?”

For the sake of brevity and focus, I will leave aside these factual questions so dear to the historian (and, I suppose, to the doubter). The real story of Christmas involves, by contrast, its meaning to you, and me. We’ve lost the interest and habit of “story,” which is to say myth. Even the word “myth” connotes in our usage of it “that which is false.” I take issue with that but I don’t control our use of words in our language!

The story of Christmas is that “God so loved the world that He sent His ‘only-begotten’ Son.” Well, what does THIS mean? Certainly not the orthodox Christian interpretation! According to Paramhansa Yogananda and according to the Bhagavad Gita (India’s beloved ‘bible’), God sends redeemers or saviors time and time again into human history. Jesus is not the only such incarnation of divinity. Nor is he and the others mere puppets. For as the beloved disciple St. John wrote in the first chapter of his gospel, “And as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God.”

Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Yogananda and many others are no different than you or me. Rather, their level of awakening, of realization of their true soul-Self, has achieved perfection in union with God. Ours is yet struggling to emerge. They come to remind us of who we are AND to transmit the power of redemption. This doesn’t come through mere words or belief systems or rituals but through actual, but spiritual, power. “To RECEIVE HIM” means to take the savior’s life, teachings, and vibration (spirit) into your thoughts, feelings, and actions until He is in You, and You in Him.

What is “only begotten,” Yogananda taught, is that this universal, cosmic Christ-spirit resides at the still center of every atom of creation. It is the pure reflection of the Father-Spirit beyond and untouched by creation. It, and it alone, is Pure.

Second to this is the Word (In the beginning was the Word…..and the Word WAS God………and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us). The Word is the vibratory aspect of all creation. It is secondary because its very motion and movement is the underlying foundation and structure for creation. While it, too, is pure, it is halfway, as it were, between pure Spirit and the creation which completely hides Spirit.

Hence Jesus, as a person inhabiting a human body, with a concomitant personality, is not the sole and exclusively begotten son of God, but his consciousness is united with God: “I and my Father are One.” But Christians, Hindus and others confuse the appearance, the form, with the Spirit behind the form.

This is the story—the promise of our own mortality—that allows the Christmas story to endure, and, further, why we, at Ananda, as disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, and as practitioners of kriya yoga from India, ALSO celebrate Christmas in both its social and its spiritual aspects.

A blessed, happy, and Merry Christmas to you,

Swami Hrimananda

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Justice vs Mercy : Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 1

see my new blog dedicated to sharing inspiration from the classic story and new scripture of our age: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI.

Go there now:

Swami Hrimananda

Monday, December 12, 2016

A New Blog Has Been Born: Autobiography of a Yogi

Today I have written the first article taking the very first paragraph of the much beloved and 21st century scripture, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI.

This blog has its own address:

The first article is entitled: Concomitant : Making Truth Personal.


Swami Hrimananda

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why Celebrate Christmas?

The lament surrounding the commercialization and the meaningless social, decorative and gaudy aspects of Christmas is well known and hardly worth noting. Whether sincere Christians or weary atheists, Christmas could use a strong dose of relevance and meaning these days.

Our problem is not only that it has been bowdlerized of its original spirituality, but taken as strictly a Christian holiday, it would appear to be irrelevant to most of the rest of the world.

Can both of these be changed?

A reverent study of the life of Jesus shows many endearing and inspiring qualities of his life: some divinely attributed and others humanistic. That Jesus was a great man in the best sense of the term is not, to my knowledge, ever been seriously challenged. Some skeptics may say he never lived but for someone who never lived he somehow managed to change the course of history. I think, therefore, we can strike that fantasy from our list of objections.

Have you ever simply sat down and read the four gospels of Jesus' life? Why not do a little reading each night of December and see what you come up with? You don't need to get down on your knees. Make a cup of comfort tea, sit in a comfortable chair or sofa, and read until you know it's time for bed. Put aside preconceptions, expectations, dogma and encounter the person of Jesus.

Another objection I would propose to cross off your list goes like this: why dispute that sectarianism, error, ignorance and suffering has been inflicted upon others in Jesus' name? That doesn't mean it was his fault! You can do with what you want with the miracles testified to in the New Testament, including his resurrection, but his compassion, openness, his humanity, his love for all, his tenderness, his courage........are these not the stuff of greatness? Can you not, also, see the potential in yourself for such?

"Other sheep I have that are not of this fold!" I think that includes you and I. 

Perhaps you fear the overbearing image of Jesus as a person who, like Uncle Sam, WANTS YOU! Forget that image. Just tune into who he was....ok, maybe, IS. "IS" means NOW as you encounter him reading his life story. "IS" means in the feelings of your own heart. We of the rationalist culture imagine stories, to be true and relevant, must be factually true. Consider turning this on its head: the real stories are allegories of life. These are the true "stories" of you and me. Your heart knows what is true. Trust your own calm, receptive, and higher instincts, called "intuition." 

In the gospel of John, one of his most famous sayings is "And as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God." That is one of the most potent quotations of the entire New Testament. Consider what this really means. Yes, YOU! You are that, too. You are the Christ. All that is needed, simple but not easy, is to "receive" that Christ-hood in your own heart and find authentic ways to express it in thought, word and deed.

As you read, try to imagine yourself there: in the dusty hills of Palestine; in the crowded, noisy markets of its cities and especially of Jerusalem. Imagine the oppressive presence of the Roman occupiers; feel the arrogance and holier-than-thou attitude of the temple's priests and scribes; hear the call to action on the part of John the Baptist: the crazy man crying in the wilderness: repent! Can't you see him here, now? (No, not the televangelists! But someone deep, sincere, empathetic, sympathetic, and.....real!) Isn't that what this blog article is about: repenting, meaning reconsider our view of Christmas! Let's re-discover our true Self as sacred, reverent, and holy.)

Jesus was born a "king" but born in a manger.  Like the prince who thought himself a pauper, we are that King, too, in our souls, at least. We cannot be made manifest, or born, except in the manger of natural humility and self-offering. It is only the ego with its pride and self-preoccupation that is asked to sacrifice itself on the cross of letting go that our consciousness might expand and know true joy. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Is this not the Christmas spirit, also?

Why? Because in giving we expand our heart's sympathy and feel the joy of that expansion. This Christmas season, share your material wealth with others in need; do so anonymously if you can; give to the spiritual work of the universal Christ in this world that the light may expand.

We cannot afford NOT to celebrate Christmas. Paramhansa Yogananda established the tradition of a day of meditation just a few days before December 25. He said we should seek in meditation the formless Christ of peace within our own hearts. With the blessings of that occasion, we can then celebrate the social aspects of Christmas with true, Christ-joy.

At Ananda in Bothell, we conduct our Christmas meditation retreat on Saturday, December 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We have chanting breaks throughout the day (contact us for the schedule) and a mid-day snack and comfort break. If you want to know who Jesus IS, come and seek Him in the Temple of Silence within.

In just a few days, this Saturday, December 10, 9:30 a.m., two of our teachers offer a class on "Jesus the Yogi Christ." Explore with us Yogananda's inspired revelation of the true nature, both divine and human, of Jesus Christ. Who were the three wise men? Where did Jesus disappear to for eighteen years? 

A blessed Christmas to you,

Swami Hrimananda

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Word "God" : a Problem for You?

Imagine how many people down through history have attempted to define this simple word: God! If "He" only knew what he started when he started it all. What a pain! So many troubles, sorrows, suffering and disappointment. "What was He thinking?"

Billions of galaxies? Parallel universes? When will it all end? Infinity? What's THAT, really? Everything, I suppose, eh? And there's some's that seez there "taint nothin' at all!" As in ZERO!

My, oh my. It's enough to make you want to go have a cup of coffee and drink cup after delicious cup to forget!

My guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, wrote in such devotional terms of God as his father-mother-friend-and beloved. Yogananda's poetic collection of "prayer-demands," published as "Whispers from Eternity," are thrilling. So, too, is the mystical literature of great men and women down through the ages. What, then, are we missing?

Such an outpouring of inspiration in literature, liturgy, music, architecture and humanitarian deeds has been offered to this invisible God-person-thing that it befuddles the modern, rational and scientific mind-set. But it also challenges the rational mind to play by its own rules: objectivity and impersonal inquiry! Raving atheists are more bedfellows with raving religious fanatics than with true and impartial inquiry. 

Can we really dismiss this enormous, and beautiful, outpouring to a confused jumble of hormones, genetics, impulse to survive and reproduce? I read in National Georgraphic years ago an article -- completely serious and unselfconscious -- that explored the subject of human love purely from the point of view of being motivated by the impulse to survive. 

Just because we can't isolate God in our test tubes doesn't logically mean he doesn't exist. Maybe we just haven't found him yet. Look how much we HAVE discovered in just 50 or 100 years!

And what about human impulses towards pure love, joy and perfection. If our scientists are willing to posit the possibility of multiple universes how far off from that (unproven) hypothesis is higher consciousness? Or, an overarching Consciousness? I propose that the latter is far more rationally likely than the former when you are willing to take into account the entire spectrum of human conduct and experience, or even just the vastness and complexity of the physical cosmos itself. 

And yet, who is not stirred by the contemplation of pure love, pure joy, and perfection unimaginable? From whence comes our secret desire for perfection? From a state, perhaps, of knowing? Memory? Is there a distant past -- a golden age -- that we can no longer consciously recall or archaeologically have found evidence of (yet)? [What if the very nature of such an age precludes any evidence of its existence for the simple fact that human population, being enlightened, was relative small; climate, benign; people lived out of doors; had no need to farm or make cell phones; and so on?]

Should we just shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, it's a paradox, so either we just put it aside or we live with it without trying to understand "it."" Is life really so engaging that we don't care? Don't wonder? Wherein comes our dreams? Imagination? Speculation?

The mystery and the challenge of the God-word-concept can be ignored but for those with the courage to confront it head on, "there's gold in them thar hills!"

The 20th century will go down in history as a time when humanity decided there was no meaning to life, so why not "get mine while I can." The mantra of the first 50 years was something like: "Survival of the fittest!" So off some groups went to prove that WE are fittest: the master race; the greatest country on earth; the richest or most powerful business tycoon; the most viciously competitive company; the most popular movie star; most talented, and on and on! 

Science, moreover, during this era revealed just how insignificant the human race is in terms of the vastness of time and space, and in the what appeared to be the random, chaotic, and meaningless motions of all particles, which are supposedly the basis of all life forms. Clearly survival and procreation were the only discernible motivations and impulses worth noting. Right? Hmmmm....

But towards the second half of the 20th century and into the present, the complexity and issues of modern life began to crowd in around us, urging us to take responsibility for the impact of our lives on one another, on other life, and on the planet as a whole. At first we ignored the human footprint; then we denied that we were significant enough to make a difference. But after time and hardship, and, oh yes, the findings of science, we were (will?) to eventually come to the conclusion that we had to take responsibility for the world in which we lived. 

So maybe we were insignificant in the cosmic scheme of the universe but here and now we'd better get off our 'arse and clean up the mess we made.

A good beginning, but a mere child's step. Just more of the survival motif.

The significance of our insignificance is that our significance lies in what we are behind our physical forms and trivial personalities. At the center of our being lies our significance; our meaning; our happiness. We are allowed to call that "God" inasmuch as we share this significance, which is life itself, with all life and with every atom. It isn't ours exclusively but it is very personal to us. It is us. 

If self-aware, we experience our vital essence. The best and most consistent means of doing this is through the process, yea, the science, of meditation (and yoga). Relaxing the body; quieting the storm of restless thoughts and the personal, fleeting and all too often trivial emotions; resting in Being, in the Self. Like plastic that, as it approaches the temperature of absolute zero becomes a "super-conductive" material, we, approaching stillness, become super-conscious of our connection with all life, with Being.

In meditation, we can go from movement to stillness; from doing to being; from an insignificant wave in the great ocean of atoms and molecules to the essential consciousness and intelligence and feeling that animates and guides all things, like a drop of the great ocean of consciousness. Our definition of it is a matter of taste, but we are part of it and can experience it. Modern clinical science has proven, moreover, that it is very healthful and beneficial to do so! Our existence in time and space is as unique as our perception of Being is both personal and impersonal.

Yes, call that God. Why not? And yet, this God-thing is small; oh, but it is also large; it has form (yours, at least) and yet no form. It exists independent of our awareness of it and doesn't depend on our acknowledgement. And yet this Silence calls to us. If we express a sincere desire to "know," It will gently guide us into It's arms!

You are not the first to encounter this "God." But you are all you have. While that is true, it is also true that others have gone before you, to this "land beyond our dreams." Others have realized this power, this presence, this love in ways far greater, presumably, than yourself. Be humble, therefore. Listen more; speak less. Remember as a personality you are insignificant. Accept that in favor of the unconditional Infinity which is your true Self. Letting go of ego is, in fact, one of the preconditions for your awakening to your own, ironic, significance. 

Yes, there are those souls who come to tell us of their Beloved, who beguiles them endlessly in inner beauty, playfulness, creativity, joy and love without end. Honor these souls; seek them out; heed their counsel. The experience of this state can be actually humanly transmitted from such people to those who are "in tune" with them. Silence is a medium of exchange just as a cell phone signal, though invisible, is a medium of communication provided you have the right channel and equipment! 

This realization, called Self-realization is the pearl of great price. It is not purchased with bank notes; or beauty; or talent; or position. It is born in a manger though it be a king. It is born in a palace though it rules over no one.

God resides at the zero point of stillness, in the hidden recesses where time and space unite, at the center of all motion, beyond all definitions, all change. This zero point has no form but it has feeling. Consider this concept: consciousness cannot exist without feeling. (Try it.) It is bliss: immortal (ever-existing); self-aware (ever-conscious); ever-new (without end, self existent, self content) bliss. "Satchidanandam." One without a second. Omnipresent, yes.

Get over it: God is good; "good" is God with one more letter, for "good" and "bad" exist in this relative world while God is beyond and untouched by it, even while at the heart of it.

There is no god but God; there is no good but God; there is no thing but God. God alone, God here and now; God for ever and ever until the end of time. "Good God, man, let it (ego) go!" And, go for It with heart, mind and soul even as you realize it in every one else. Simple, yes. Easy, well, hmmmm, yes, and, no.

Christmas celebrates this "Christ" in Jesus and in you, and in all creation! A blessed and true Christ-mass celebration to you,

Swami Hrimananda

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Need for Religion : Religion of the Future

Here is a link to one of the most inspired talks given by Swami Kriyananda, Ananda's founder and direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, on the subject of religion.

There are far too many points for me to attempt to substitute my words for his wisdom but just so you know "where you are going" here's a few points he hits in his awesome talk:

  1. Why "being spiritual but not religious" is not enough. It can even be a cop-out for most!
  2. The reason and need for religion of the past era to have become institutionalized.
  3. Why not to be judgmental towards those who need to be dogmatic.
  4. How science has inadvertently guided spirituality in a new direction.
  5. Why it is necessary to find one's path and be loyal to it as a precursor and prerequisite to accepting all faiths.
Well, these are teasers enough. Enjoy, be inspired, then take action!

Joy to ya'll,

In gratitude for the gift of wisdom, the power of grace, and the opportunity to serve!

Swami Hrimananda

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Autobiography of a Yogi : A Life Changing & World Changing Classic

Some 70 years ago -- December 1, 1946, a new scripture for a new and atomic age was born: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI. How many millions have read this book? Difficult to say but millions of copies have been sold and this classic story likes to travel! But let others attest to the facts of its sales and readership. 

[For your own free digital audiobook copy, go to BEFORE December 1st.]

I join those countless souls around the world whose lives have been changed for the better by this now famous and beloved classic of spiritual literature. It is also a scripture, for during this worldwide celebration of its publication you will read countless stories of men and women who, in times of need, simply open its pages at random for inspiration and guidance. I am, in fact, one of them.

Its author, Paramhansa (Swami) Yogananda, born in India in 1893, was only 53 years old when he wrote it. Having arrived in 1920 to the shores of America, he returned to India only once, in no small part to gather the material needed to write this book. Otherwise he came to America to stay. The completion of his autobiography was to mark the beginning of the last few years of his life. (He left this earth in 1952, only six years later.)

The "AY" as many of its devotees lovingly refer to it, seamlessly blends charming and inspiring stories with deep, spiritual teachings drawn from ancient India and offered with the immediacy of a flash of revelation. 

My own personal search for truth took me to India in 1975-76. I traveled the length and breadth of India "In search of Secret India" (the book that inspired me, by Paul Brunton). Alas, like Dorothy and Toto (her little dog) in the famous movie, "The Wizard of Oz," I did not find what I sought there, in India, but, instead, the "AY" was handed to me upon my return home to the U.S. Years later I was forced to conclude that "when the disciple is ready, the guru appears" applied to me as well! Naturally I don't for one moment regret that life changing adventure to India.

How many readers have commented on the perspicacity of that great work. I say, "perspicacity," because I include the frequency with which unfamiliar, even obscure words are employed amongst its pages. Even apart from its spiritual subject matter, the AY is a marvelous work of literature which will remain in the annals of literature for centuries to come. It deserves to be read, whenever possible, in its "native" language: English.

Its first sentence encapsulates its intention in these memorable words, at once both personal and cosmic: 

"The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship."

As Genesis of the Old Testament begins Chapter 1 with cosmology and descends with lighting speed to the personal story of Adam and Eve (meaning your story and mind) in Chapter 2, so also does the AY rotate between the precepts of India's universal and ancient revelations, Sanaatan Dharma (the eternal truth revelation) and their application to the individual lives of Mukunda Lal Ghosh (later Paramhansa Yogananda), his family, friends, and spiritual teachers.

I too laughed one moment and cried tears of joy or sadness the next. I too could NOT put the story down. Even the footnotes wear the robe of wisdom, connecting the dots between modern science and the hoary Vedas.

The reader is carried to India, to the feet of its timeless tradition and through the veils of its otherwise impenetrable mysteries. Having just returned from India myself in 1976, from its villages, cities, temples, plains, seas, and mountains which I visited on the eve of its explosion into the 21st century, I embraced this book and its author as my very own and have never looked back: not once. 

Like millions of its readers I closed its pages wondering "What on earth do I do now? How will I ever be the same again? Will I forget and revert to striving to fulfill the American dream (and thus falling back to sleep, spiritually)? Never!" came the silent reply.

With my introduction to the AV in 1976 came two other life-changing gifts: my future wife, and her introduction of me to Swami Kriyananda and to the Ananda Village community near Nevada City, CA which he founded. I was blessed with an immediate pathway for my inspiration. 

Swami Kriyananda (1926 to 2013) was a direct disciple of Yogananda's. He came to Yogananda less than two years after the publication of the AY. After reading it, he immediately took a bus from New York City to Los Angeles! This pattern of "read and act" has been repeated so often by readers of the AY that it is all but a "standard issue" discipleship tale! 

I recognize, however, that for countless readers of the AY no immediate pathway for action seems evident. In fact, the most common refrain I hear from students coming to Ananda goes something like this: when asked if they'd ever heard or read the AY, the stock reply is, "Oh, yeah, I read it twenty years ago......" I no longer ask the obvious question, "Well, what happened?" because life's compelling needs, desires, and activities take over in most cases. Thus I count my blessings with those who, like me, found an immediate pathway for our inspiration.

Strangely enough, Paramhansa Yogananda's compelling life story hides from most readers his own spiritual greatness. He appears on the stage of his story as mere seeker, blessed with opportunities to meet modern saints and sages of India. The "story behind the story" is that the saints he met recognized him, the boy Mukunda, to be a great saint. 

As the world teacher he became, Yogananda brings reconciliation and understanding to the core issues that have long separated the religious traditions that we have inherited. And yet, in the AY and in his public teachings, his insights are so natural and so self-evident that few grasp the revolutionary insights he has offered to the world. 

Some of those issues include monotheism vs. polytheism; monism vs. dualism; God as personal or impersonal; the dual nature of Jesus Christ and of other world teachers and avatars; is an avatar a special creation, indeed, God "himself," or a fully God-realized soul like you and I? 

Does heaven and hell really exist? Do we go there for an eternity or? Is our soul absolutely and forever separate from God? Or, does the ego get obliterated in cosmic consciousness? Is the creation an illusion and a mere dream and, if so, therefore are we not responsible for our actions? What is free will? 

Does reincarnation exist and, if so, is it arbitrary and whimsical? Did Jesus believe in reincarnation? Has creation always existed or did it have a beginning? He even answered the question of "What comes first, the chicken or the egg (A: the chicken). 

In the AY Yogananda demonstrates by example the true nature of the disciple-guru relationship as one of divine friendship, not one of master and obedient slave. It is one in which both guru and disciple help one another and fulfill the divinely guided destiny of one another. 

He also explains the inner workings of so-called miraculous powers and their relationship to the findings of modern science. Death is shown for what it is: a change, merely, and an opportunity for most to simply rest before continuing the adventure of Self-awakening. 

Yogananda affirmed the life, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He shows that other avatars have demonstrated similar power of life and death. 

The AY is truly and clearly a scripture for a new age and a new consciousness. It will remain so for centuries to come, though the impact of its revelations has only begun, its influence will continue to grow exponentially. The AY is the herald of the world-changing meditation technique of Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is spreading throughout the planet and will steadily become available for sincere seekers of every race and nation, and every faith tradition as well. 

Jai Guru!

In joy and with deep gratitude at Thy feet,

Swami Hrimananda

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump trumps All!

Dear Friends,

There's no point glossing over with platitudes the material and spiritual implications of Trumps "victory". If we pray or increase our prayers, let it not be, however, in and with fear. As disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda (or disciples of truth, peace & harmony) committed to the work of Ananda (or to other, similar endeavors) whose roots lie in our own hearts, bolstered by prayer, meditation and selfless service, we are doing our part as divine soldiers under the guidance of an exalted line of masters to bring light into the world. No one ever said this would be either welcomed by others or without self-sacrifice. 

"Trumpism" is in fact happening all over the world and in countries once the most accepting and liberal nations on earth. Fear is spreading tentacles of prejudice and selfishness like a dark cloud of poisonous gas throughout the world. It has always existed, yes, but now the nations of the world are networked together, rising or falling together: the time has come to disperse its power with light and energy.

We forget that our post WW II American generations have lived in a bubble of freedom, health, security and prosperity (however relative such things necessarily always are). Most nations and people down through the ages experience generational, or bi-generational wars, famines, catastrophes or economic upheavals on a cyclical basis. I suspect our turn is fast on its way to us. Someday it will be clear but only in retrospect how we got to this place step-by-step, whether materially, politically or spiritually.

Not fear but courage and commitment is what this turn in our country's affairs should remind us to affirm. Given who we are and what we represent, then, the form of that commitment is primarily spiritual. At the moment, our material commitment has taken only limited forms such as natural farming, educating children in a balanced, holistic way, and sharing truth teachings of many traditions (through East West). But just days ago our first homeless person appeared at the Ananda Temple in Bothell, WA late Saturday night after the evening meditation. No doubt, therefore, other avenues of serving will open up by necessity and circumstance.

Our beloved Swamiji, founder of Ananda and direct disciple of Yogananda, gave his life to serve his guru. By normal standards of merit and service, he had earned a comfortable retirement many years ago. Against the dictates of his body and health, he soldiered on, as he always said he would, to the end of his life "with my boots (of service) on." All his teaching days he never failed to remind us of Paramhansa Yogananda’s predictions, notably those of a "depression far worse than the 1930's" and of (natural) calamities we cannot imagine. (And, yes, of wars to come.)

Given Trump's ideologies and vaunted policies, the former (economic troubles) is easy enough to predict, as economic isolationism will no doubt trigger wholesale disruptions in trade. But, as history has shown and Swamiji has indicated, economic troubles often lead to competition and war. As to the other (catastrophes), are we not also urging one another to be prepared? A friend sent me an article just days ago with the Washington state government's conclusions based on their massive preparedness exercise (last summer/) extending their recommendations for individual and household preparedness from 3 days to two weeks. Well, enough on that; just read the news every week from around the world!

History will view the post war significant events in American history along the lines of such things as the three assassinations in the '60's (rejection of inspired and moral leadership), the debacle of the Vietnam War and the resignation of President Nixon (revealing our greed and cynicism), September 11 (when the rest of the world's woes came to our shores), Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans (when we first learned that we are likely to be on our own in times of need), and now this: the (temporary) victory of hate over love; competition over cooperation, abuse over respect, and prejudice over acceptance. 

My note sounds ominous because words in print exaggerate the intention but, in fact, this is the almost invisible beginning of "our time." Ananda and people like us all over the world are both the present and the future. As I have been saying for the last year in my Sunday Service talks, the time to make a choice has come. Sitting comfortably on the sidelines "minding my own business" has ended. 

Just think what it was like the day Hitler was elected. All sorts of rationalizations to remain calm and hopeful were given. Yet step by step he demolished the political and legal safeguards while everyone simply watched in amazement, sitting on the sidelines, minding their own business. I doubt history will repeat itself quite so literally and America in the 21st century is not Germany in 1930 but a bully is a bully, anywhere and everywhere. 

Ironically I am hopeful. Because the time for America's purification in order to re-establish our role and moral leadership in the world, together with that of India (not politically, but spiritually and energetically) has come. The spread of small communities where simplicity of living with high ideals is destined to appear: if not in the lifetime of some of us, surely as a result of the sacrifices and efforts we make here today, and elsewhere throughout the world. 

I am hopeful because more Americans (and others) will wake up and will make choices and commitments toward service, cooperation, simplicity and high ideals. Most people don't change lifestyle until forced; when forced, they will, at first, be angry, bitter and resentful. But enough people in this great nation and elsewhere will stand up for what is good, right and just. Of that I have no doubt, As to the details, who can say?

So, yes, let us pray but let us also affirm our commitment to these ideals of cooperation, service, devotion, meditation, and attunement to the guidance of our blessed line of gurus in harmony with the greater work of Ananda worldwide.

There is nothing to fear, only an opportunity to walk our talk with greater enthusiasm and faith. Death, troubles, and illness come to all. Never mind these things for we are a soul having a human experience for the time. Divine attunement does, in fact, bring protection in ways we cannot know in advance except through faith. 

So let's not pretend that nothing will change. Everything will change. But let us remain unchanged in our hearts and in our soul's march toward Self-realization sharing of the divine blessings we have been privileged to receive.

"Yato dharma, tato jaya" - "Where there is dharma, there is victory."

May Master's light and joy shine upon us and guide our way to freedom,

Swami Hrimananda

Monday, October 31, 2016

"Autobiography of a Yogi" Trumps Politics

On December 1 this year (2016), the beloved and world renowned classic, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramhansa Yogananda, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its first publication. Crystal Clarity Publishers is offering a free online digital copy on that day, Thursday, December 1. To sign up for your free copy go to

No one really knows how many millions have read this modern scripture but we know it has changed the lives of many thousands. I am one of those people! There’s an expression I hear every week that goes like this: “Truth is one and eternal.” "Eternal" also means timely, as well as timeless. Timeless truths are as fresh and applicable today as thousands of years ago ....  or thousands of years to come.

2016 is probably the strangest election campaign for president that America has experienced in, well, who knows how many decades, perhaps well over a century. Crass, insulting, a blatant disregard of truth and facts….the list of bottom-feeding characteristics goes on and on. A sad state of affairs that, to those of us who seek to find the cup of life half-full, gives rise to the hope that the sorry experience will be a wake-up call to the majority of Americans who are of goodwill, compassion, high ideals and wisdom.

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the “A.Y.” (as the “Autobiography” is often and lovingly referred to), came to America to live in 1920. As a person of color, he experienced prejudice and discrimination. But ever ebullient, upbeat, energetic, and accepting of all, he won friends wherever he went. He predicted that the time was coming when America and India would “lead the world.” By this he meant that America and India would come to symbolize and epitomize the twin ideals of material efficiency and nonsectarian spirituality. He said that meditation would someday become the unifying practice and ideal of all religions, regardless of dogma, ritual and tradition.

Yogananda came to see that just as science has taught us to experiment and to achieve useful results, so too those of high ideals and spiritual goals would seek to experiment and find practical ways to achieve states of spiritual consciousness rather than just theorize about them, embrace mere belief, or practice only rituals or good deeds. Direct, intuitive experience of God or one the divine states such as peace, love, or joy would someday, he predicted, become the goal of religionists in the future.

The 2016 presidential campaign starkly symbolizes the contrast between “materialism” (as a false "religion") and “consciousness” (as the essence of reality). Materialism pretends to be practical in its “earthiness.” It upholds for its devotees the "supreme" value of possessions, prestige, wealth, pleasure and superiority. It disdains those it deems inferior whether in intelligence, status, race or gender. Donald Trump, a proponent of this false religion, is more in tune with the likes of Vladimir Putin than with Pope Francis or Mother Teresa, what to say, Paramhansa Yogananda! Trump symbolizes a corollary version of ISIS: dogmatic, racist, disdainful of higher values, rude, and generally ignorant of more refined values.

"Consciousness" values intention, the golden rule, and divine states of transcendence. It is expressed by kindness, cooperation, and moderation; by sensitivity to the realities of others, as well as fearlessness in the defense of the defenseless and righteousness in the struggle for justice.

We see in the teachings of India, as demonstrated in India’s classic and epic tale, the “Mahabharata,” and in that chapter of the Mahabharata that constitutes India’s most beloved scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, the very same struggle, indeed a war, between higher values and materialistic (ego-affirming) ones. The message of Lord Krishna in that great scripture is a call to “arms.” We must, he teaches, fight the “battle of life.” We must raise our consciousness above the petty demands of the ego with its countless cousins in the form of myriad personal desires. 

The history of America, too, contrasts grasping for natural and human resources in pursuit of power and wealth versus the high ideals of freedom and justice upon which our nation was founded.

This election will soon be a faded and jaded memory but the struggle between light and dark continues. The “A.Y.” however will stand tall and long in the history of the centuries to come as a beacon of light from the east. Praising the practicality of the West while teaching the scientific methods of God realization from the East, Paramhansa Yogananda symbolizes the best of east and west in what humanity must aspire to become if we are to survive our long history of tribalism, genocide, warfare, and prejudice.

In his life story, Yogananda visits both saints of east and west, and, scientists of east and west. He renders unto each of them the honor and respect for their accomplishments and for the example each offers of how to live nobly and productively in the modern world.

The “A.Y.” offers to humanity hope for a better world even as it paints its charming stories in colors drawn from the waning years of what is now, for us, a bygone era. Yogananda and those whose lives he upholds for us are as ambassadors from a gentler and nobler race. These men and women of science and of Spirit model for us a lifestyle and values, which, while timeless, are urgently timely for the survival, prosperity, and happiness of humanity in the ages to come.

To participate in the celebration of the “A.Y.’s” 70th anniversary visit

Joy to you,
Swami Hrimananda

Monday, October 24, 2016

What and Who is God? What is Spirituality?

The NEW PATH, by Swami Kriyananda
(Editor’s note: I am currently listening to the audio file of Swami Kriyananda reading his own life story, The New Path and feel to share this except. Sold by Ananda's publishing house, Crystal Clarity, you can find many of Swami's books read "on tape" by him. Listening is a thrilling and dynamic experience: one that exceeds mere reading of words on a page.)
CHAPTER 12 – Who Am I – What is God?
Civilized man prides himself on how far advanced his present state is from that of the primitive savage. We look condescendingly on his tribal way of endowing trees, wind, rain, and heavenly bodies with human personalities. Now that science has explained everything in prosaic terms, modern man considers himself wiser for having lost his sense of awe. But I’m not so sure that he deserves congratulation. It strikes me rather that, dazzled by his own technology, he has only developed a new kind of superstition, one infinitely less interesting. Too pragmatic, now, to worship, he has forgotten how to commune. Instead of relating sensitively to Nature around him, he shuts it out of his life with concrete ‘jungles,’ air conditioning, and ‘muzak’; with self-promotion and noisy entertainments. He is obsessed with problems that are real to him only because he gives them reality. He is like a violin string without the wood for a sounding board. Life, when cut off from its broader realities, becomes weak, thin, and meaningless.
Modern technology alienates us from the universe and from one another. Worst of all, it alienates us from ourselves. It directs all our energies toward the mere manipulation of things, until we ourselves assume qualities that are almost thing-like. In how many modern plays and novels are men idealized for their ability to act with the precision and unfeeling efficiency of a machine! We are taught to behave in this world like uncivilized guests, rudely consuming our host’s plenty without offering him a single word of thanks in return. Such is our approach to nature, to God, to life itself. We make ourselves petty, then imagine that the universe is petty also. We rob our own lives of meaning, then call life itself meaningless. Self-satisfied in our unknowing, we make a dogma of ignorance. And when, in ‘civilized’ smugness, we approach the question of religion, we address God Himself as though He had better watch His manners if He wants a place in our hearts.


My probing thoughts led me one by one, however, to a dead end. How much, after all, can the theater [art, music, literature, science, politics, technology] really accomplish for people, spiritually speaking? Did even Shakespeare, great as he was, effect any deep-seated changes in the lives of individuals? None, surely, at any rate compared to the changes religion has inspired. I shuddered at this comparison, for I loved Shakespeare, and found little to attract me in the churches. But the conclusion, whether I liked it or not, was inescapable: Religion, for all its fashionable mediocrity, its sham, its devotion to the things of this world, remains the most powerfully beneficial influence in the history of mankind. Not art, not music, not literature, not science, politics, conquest, or technology: The one truly uplifting power in history, always, has been religion.
How was this possible? Puzzled, I decided to probe beneath the surface and discover what deep-seated element religion contained that was vital and true.
Avoiding what I considered to be the trap of institutionalized religion, of ‘churchianity,’ I took to walking or sitting for hours together by the ocean, pondering its immensity. I watched little fingers of water as they rushed in among the rocks and pebbles on the shore. Did the vastness of God find personal expression, similarly, in our own lives?


The question returned to me with increasing urgency: What IS God?
One evening, taking a long walk into the gathering night, I deeply pondered this question. I dismissed as absurd, to start with, the popular notion of a venerable figure with flowing white beard, piercing eyes, and a terrible brow striking fear into all those who disobey Him. Science has shown us an expansive vastness comprising countless galaxies, each one blazing with innumerable stars. How could any anthropomorphic figure have been responsible for creating all that?
What, then, about fuzzy alternatives that had been proposed to suit the abstract tastes of intellectuals? A ‘Cosmic Ground of Being,’ for example: What a sterile evasion! What a non-concept! Such formulas I considered a ‘cop-out,’ for they gave one nothing to work with.
No, I thought, God has to be, if nothing else, a conscious Being. I had read alternate claims that He is a dynamic force. Well, He had to be that, too, of course. But could it be a blind force, like electricity? If so, whence came human intelligence? Materialists claim that man’s consciousness is produced by ‘a movement of energy through a pattern of nerve circuits.’ Well! But intelligence, I realized, is not central to the issue anyway. Intelligence implies reasoning, and reasoning is only one aspect of consciousness; it might almost be called a mechanical aspect, inasmuch as it is conceivable for something electronic to be devised that will do much of his reasoning for him.
Rene Descartes’ famous formula: ‘I think, therefore I am,’ is superficial, and false. One can be fully conscious without thinking at all. Consciousness obviously exists apart from ratiocination, and is a precondition for any kind of thoughtful awareness.
What about our sense of I-ness: our egos? We don’t have to ponder the question objectively. We simply know that we exist. This knowledge, I have come to understand, is intuitive. Even a newborn baby making its first cry doesn’t become self-aware because of that cry. It requires self-awareness for it to suffer! Even a worm demonstrates self-awareness: prick it with a pin, and it will try to wriggle away.
Obviously, then, consciousness is at least latent everywhere, and in everything. God Himself must be conscious, and, having created everything, must also have produced it out of consciousness: not out of His consciousness, for consciousness cannot be something He possesses: He is consciousness: Essential Consciousness.
What about self-awareness? This, too, must be inherent not only in all life, but in everything. We are not merely His creations: We manifest Him! We exist, because He exists.
To ‘cut to the chase’: all of us, as His manifestations, have the capacity to manifest Him more or less perfectly. Surely, then, what we need is to deepen our awareness of Him at the center of our being.
What a staggering concept!
I recalled the days I had spent watching the ocean surf break into long, restless fingers among the rocks and pebbles on the shore. The width of each opening, I reflected, determined the size of the flow. Similarly, if our deepest reality is God, might it not be possible for us to chip away at our granite resistance to Him, and thereby widen our channels of receptivity? And would not every aspect of His infinite consciousness flow into us, then, like the ocean, abundantly?
If this was true, then obviously our highest duty is to seek attunement with Him. And the way to do so is to develop that aspect of our nature which we can open to Him. The way to do that, obviously, is to lift our hearts up to Him, and to seek His guidance in every thought and deed. In so doing He must since we are a part of His consciousness assist us in our efforts to broaden our mental channels.
I realized, now, that true religion is no mere system of beliefs, and is a great deal more than any formalized attempt to wheedle a little pity out of the Lord by offering up pleading, propitiatory rites and prayers. If our link with Him consists in the fact that we are already a part of Him, then it is up to us to receive Him more completely, and express Him more fully. [“But as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12] This, then, is what true religion is all about!
What I had seen thus far of religious practices, and eschewed in disappointment, was not true religion, but the merest first, toddling steps up a stairway to infinity! One might, I reflected, devote his entire life to this true religion, and never stagnate. What a thrilling prospect!
This, then, would be my calling in life: I would seek God!

Monday, October 17, 2016

What is free will?

How much choice do we have in life? How conscious are we when we act?

Let's start with the simple fact that despite good intentions, we make mistakes; we have accidents; we cause suffering, intentionally or unintentionally, whether to ourselves or others. People hurt us; things hurt us; we don't know why or what, if anything, we might have done to deserve it. "Stuff happens," in other words.

There's a lot about our world and our lives that is much, much, much bigger than we. Long before we commit a consciously and an intentionally selfish or hurtful act, there are lots of other, less conscious and less intentional acts, that cause suffering.

Read any classic novel or myth or modern drama and we see life is filled with strange twists and turns of so-called fate.

This world, we must conclude, is not of our own doing. Whoever we are and wherever we have come from or go to, the world around us imposes and impinges upon us in ways that we must simply deal with. Then there are the actions we take and initiate into the little tiny world of our lives that, to some degree, imposes and impinges upon others, or, helps and serves others or improves our own lives.

But consider how little is our impact on the world around us and, by contrast, how big the impact the world and the circumstances into which we find ourselves has upon us! It seems a bit out of proportion.

True there are giants of will power and dominion and influence who create for themselves an entire world view and reality. Yet the more self-centered are these "giants" the more their influence is soon washed away by time and opposing forces. Think of all the politicians, actors, artists that have come and gone. Few, only a few, withstand the eroding effects of time. Those whose impact is lasting are those whose imprint was far bigger than self-interest.

Like the narrow bandwidth of atmosphere that surrounds our tiny planet whirling through space, we operate in a very narrow bandwidth of freedom of choice. Most of what we do, say, like or dislike we cannot really account for logically unless it's universal like fearing death or illness or criticism or liking praise, pleasure or money. Why do you like red sports cars, or I, pistachio ice cream? Who can say?

And yet.....and yet......without human commitment to the precept that we can change our life for the better and that we are accountable for our actions, life would become unbearable. Within this narrow bandwidth of freedom, therefore, is our life, small as it may be and separate as we may view it to be from that great big, sometimes threatening world, around us.

We are confronted by the conditions in which we live, including our bodies, their age, gender, health and abilities, and we must face the conditions we ourselves have created. Complex stuff, eh and, in the the big picture, we must admit that our choices in life have been very narrow. And yet, how impactful upon our lives are those choices: who we marry; what career choices we make or accept; what addictions we fall into; what habits, good or bad. A narrow but potent bandwidth. Does not happiness, itself, exist inside a narrow bandwidth of attitude where the cup is either half empty or half full?

Consciousness itself exists in a very narrow bandwidth of self-awareness. How close to existence of non-existence do we live? My friend who was "randomly" struck by a car that jumped the curb as he was walking along the sidewalk? How many cars whiz past us......the margin of life is indeed narrow.

More than one saint has stated that the only freedom we possess is whether to turn toward God or away from God. All else is more or less the function of our past actions (aka karma). Ananda Moi Ma, the now famous woman saint of 20th century India, described our free will as the equivalent of being on a speeding train and having the choice to walk up or back inside the passenger cars while yet remaining on the speeding train.

But what does it mean to turn TOWARD or AWAY from God? "God" is a pretty BIG idea if you consider "God" deeply and if you can get past the baggage that the "poor fellow" has to carry.

Instead, let's start with something more useful. Let say that our choice is whether to respond positively, or to respond negatively, to life's circumstances.

Ok, then, what does "positive" mean? Or, "negative?" What does it mean to respond "positively" to the fact that you are born into a wealthy family? Or with excellent health? Talent? Beauty? "Positively" means expansively....unselfishly......with non-attachment....with a desire to help others.......

Let's say you are indeed born into a wealthy home, or at least one with comfort and advantages and therefore choices like education, hobbies, health, security, and also into a loving family. Do you recall the phrase (seemingly out of date), noblesse oblige? It recalls the implicit obligation that those of privilege bear to help others. (Yes, that's not really so old fashioned is it?) To see your life as a privilege and an opportunity to do something meaningful would be a good example of a positive response. A negative one would be the all too familiar one of feeling entitlement and becoming lazy, mean, or selfish as a result of your otherwise favorable birth.

Thus "toward" God can begin with the concept of expanding one's awareness to include the needs of others. Call this, therefore, an expansive response. A selfish response would be contractive, meaning ego-centric, selfish, or self-absorbed.

Faced with disease or illness, a positive response would be to be calm; to have faith in the ultimate goodness and value of the inherent lessons of one's challenges; to think even first of others, than of yourself; to affirm your love for God.

[It should be pointed out also, as I have in other articles, that acting or responding positively is not sufficient for those seeking eternal freedom in God. The latter is a far bigger subject and is one derived from faith and intuition (or, more commonly, starts at least from belief). "Virtue may be its own reward" but in the teachings of "Sanaatan Dharma" good karma that derives from the sense of personal doership (ego) is insufficient to win freedom for the soul. For that, "yagya," or personal self-offering with devotion to God (inter alia) is necessary.] 

The line between passive acceptance and a dynamic outpouring of energy to confront challenging circumstances may seem obvious but it's ultimately a matter of expansive or contractive. Acceptance can be expansive if it's calm, joyful and even-minded, and, willing to do what is needed; it is contractive if submissive and fatalistic. Dynamic energy can be contractive if ego-active and ego-protective but expansive if joyful, enthusiastic, creative and without rancor or pride.

Our real choice is remain "in the Self," untouched by outer circumstances. This, more correctly, defines a saint but it is a goal brought steadily into manifestation by the practice of meditation, the company of others of like mind, and the spiritual power of grace born of our attunement with a true "son of God."

"The only way out is IN." This is our real choice, for "tat twam asi," -- "Thou art THAT (Spirit)."

Swami Hrimananda

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Intolerance Born of Life Experience & "Mature" Years: Future of Ananda Communities

The very first Ananda community (near Nevada City, CA) is approaching fifty years of existence. Those of us who came in their twenties are, well, do the math.......yes, in their seventies (more or less). But with the power of yoga and divine grace, we're still kicking and going strong!

Think back, my friends, to the craziness some of us brought to Ananda Village in those years. Skinny dipping, gardening in the nude, serial relationships, food and fasting fads, infatuation with passing spiritual teachers, and on and on. "Lord knows" what else our founder, friend and spiritual guide, Swami Kriyananda put up with. 

He looked through us to our souls' potential. No doubt he saw that for some they would stay a short while while others have been part of Ananda ever since. Yet I suspect many surprised him whether they left or stayed! We've all seen friends, good people, come, and go.

Are we finding, now, that we look askance at the attire (or lack of it), the chatter and the talk, the self-righteous opinions, and the goofiness of some of the young ones who arrive at our communities now? Do we see justification for our coolness in the fact that some do not stay very long? Is that fact perhaps due to our coolness toward them? 

Do we wonder to ourselves whether we should offer the "advice" that life is stern, work hard, stay in line, listen to me? Worse yet, do we actually say it? (Why, are WE bitter for having sacrificed "so much?") In so doing, are we simply manifesting the generational disconnect that has existed since time immemorial?

In case you are on the edge of your seat (still), yes I think we are repeating that same intolerance born of life experience. From whence does this sternness come? 

Still on the edge of your seat, no doubt? Let me tell you, then:

When you've seen people come with high ideals and leave discouraged, not understanding that they didn't or couldn't give it their all, or couldn't find self-acceptance, or couldn't see that their criticism and complaining was hurting them more than the issues they claimed were at can't help but want to warn new ones about how difficult the spiritual life is and how precarious is our divine attunement and right attitudes. 

It is natural to want to remind newer ones that sometimes falling off the spiritual path can cost (as Yogananda once mentioned in respect to at least one of his disciples who left the path) many lifetimes before the former spiritual zeal returns that one has left slip so nonchalantly from one's grasp.

We cannot help but see how thin a line it is between the magnetism of playing with the fire of desire versus the fire of devotion and self-offering: the same energy but a different direction.

So, sure, we have our reasons and they are good ones, too, except for one important fact: finger wagging doesn't work. It wouldn't have worked with us, either. We were fortunate that Swami Kriyananda was a wise, spiritual father. He looked toward eternity and saw the perfection of our souls.

And another thing: we don't want to see destroyed by ignorance or lack of awareness or loyalty all that we have worked for most of our lives in establishing these spiritual communities. We don't want to simply hand them over to neophytes who have yet to deepen their commitment through the fires of trials and tribulations (as we have had to do).

So, sure, we have our reasons and they are good ones, too, except for one important fact: it doesn't work! (Am I repeating myself already?)

The solution is to abandon the false perception that comes with the age of physical body and the accumulated experiences of one's present life. Dividing the community into camps of "old" and "young," "leaders" and "followers" is to put a pall of spiritual death upon the very life we all aspire to lead and to share. 

Learning from one another; openness and receptivity; serving, praying, meditating, and playing together. Creating bonds of heartfelt appreciation and respect through listening and calm sharing.

A new member has to go through the "dues paying" of listening, paying attention, learning, struggling and growing; of holding at bay his or her opinions in a state of readiness to learn from the wisdom of experience; the older member has to stay present, awake, listening, avoiding the know-it-all tendency, staying conscious and respecting the ideas and insights, questions, needs and realities of the newer member.

Swami Kriyananda left for us these guidelines for our personal and organizational lives:

  1. "People are more important than things." This is the main one that applies here. The "things" at stake are our view, as leaders and the older generation, of what constitutes spiritual attunement from outer appearances. The people part is the wisdom to give others the time to mature and grow in grace and wisdom. Not to judge others by outer appearances or by lessons yet to be learned or by lessons which are theirs, but not ours, to learn. Compassion and wisdom!
  2. "Where there is dharma, there is victory." We will only be "successful" if we honor what it is right and true, no matter at what cost to ourselves personally (well, within reason!). "What's trying to happen here" is the question Swamiji taught us to ask ourselves when change, or pressures to change, show themselves.
We need to be people-centric not form-centric. All organizations, including intentional communities, churches, and yoga centers, are subject to change in their outer forms and expressions: whether in growth or in shrinking; in material success or acceptance; or, rejection. 

All organizations -- like all organisms -- have an innate impulse to thrive and grow. There's nothing wrong with that if the intention is to serve, share, and grow spiritually in the process (rather than for money or public acceptance and acclaim).

We need to "err" (if indeed "err" it be) on the side of acceptance, tolerance, and growth. Our only measure can truly be our personal spiritual growth in the process, and, the spiritual growth of those whom we serve and accept as community residents or center members.

Swamiji would say, from time to time, "It's not the WHAT, but the HOW!" If we make a group decision that runs the risk of diluting our spiritual attunement but we do it with the intention to serve, welcome, and be open to share with others, we will likely find that Divine Mother will see to it our efforts and errors will be mitigated. As Krishna promises us, "To those in tune, I will make good your deficiencies and render permanent your (spiritual) gains."

When I think of all the craziness Swami Kriyananda tolerated, or all the risky ventures and projects that he, himself, undertook in the name of serving our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, I am inspired and hope that those who lead this great and good work will carry on in his spirit and in his name.

Joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda