People frequently ask us, “Why have you followed the spiritual path for your whole life?” There are many answers to that question, but a big one is: “It brings me inner freedom.” By this I mean, freedom to change negative patterns that have kept me in their clutches; freedom to respond with calmness and kindness even when others are angry or challenging; and, simply, freedom to enjoy whatever life brings.
There were only a few occasions when Swami Kriyananda corrected me strongly. At the time, I thought he was “upset” with me, but later I realized that wasn’t really true. It was rather that I needed something strong enough to break through any resistance I might have had. Here is a story about one of those times.
“This is all I was able to rescue from our house before the fire forced me out,” Jyotish said as he handed me a small cardboard container slightly larger than a shoebox. It was the end of a long day on June 28, 1976. The forest fire that had started that morning, and that burnt Ananda Village to the ground, was finally contained.
We visited Ananda’s Seattle community last week, where a friend, knowing of my love of mountains, gave me this poem of Hafiz:
Some years ago we were completing the work on Swami Kriyananda’s dome at Ananda Village, the initial building of what has evolved over time into Crystal Hermitage. Although the interior of the dome still needed work to transform it from a building site into a home, Swamiji was eager to move in.
As I travel around the world, one of the questions asked most often is, “How can I bring my life into balance?” People feel pressured and pushed, unable to get centered.
Paramhansa Yogananda described divine vision as being “center everywhere, circumference nowhere.”
A few days ago my son and I were walking in the beautiful Tahoe National Forest in Northern California. We were enjoying the peace and beauty of this magnificent environment: the trees, the wildflowers, and the little chipmunks scurrying around. We strolled along, talking about this and that with long periods of silence in between. Then the peace was broken by two rowdy, yelling people in a noisy ATV (all-terrain vehicle).
The two brown bears that lumbered past our cabin at Lake Tahoe, California, were larger than I’d ever imagined a bear to be. It was twilight, and a steady rain was falling. Jyotish quietly but emphatically said, “Look,” as he pointed out the window: There they were, walking slowly by, not more than fifty feet away. Then, before the bears got out of sight, one of them stopped and shook the rain from his fur like a huge dog. It was thrilling to see them.
Swami Kriyananda’s birthday was May 19—he would have been 90 this year. Often on his birthday a rainbow would appear, sometimes in a nearly clear sky, as if the heavens themselves wanted to celebrate his birth.