Today is the fourth anniversary of Swami Kriyananda’s leaving his body. Ananda Worldwide celebrates this occasion with what we call “Moksha Day,” a day dedicated to Self-realization, or spiritual freedom. We start the day with a six-hour meditation at the Moksha Mandir, where Swami Kriyananda’s body is enshrined. This is an especially beautiful time of year at Ananda Village, with Swami’s beloved gardens filled by more than fifteen thousand tulips and thousands of visitors. It’s almost as if he thought, “If people are going to gather to honor this day, let them be surrounded by beauty.”
This past Sunday, Easter, was also an important time for me personally. My first meeting with Swamiji, an event that set the course of my life, took place on Easter Sunday fifty years ago, March 26, 1967. I was 23 years old. I had read Autobiography of a Yogi a few months earlier, and a friend had recently learned Swami Kriyananda’s address in San Francisco. We shyly knocked on his apartment door a little after noon. After he had greeted us, he said, “I am working on a project, would you like to help?” As I eagerly agreed, I had no idea that the project he was working on would be me and my salvation and that of countless others.
Later we went to Golden Gate Park for a picnic lunch. He sang a few songs and told stories about his time with Paramhansa Yogananda. He wove in a few simple teachings; I remember him telling us about the qualities of the fruit we were eating—cherries were for joy, bananas for humility. I was utterly charmed.
I signed up for his next series of six classes on hatha yoga and meditation, and soon I was attending every event I could. Within a year I became his assistant, and we moved together to Ananda Community two years later. A year became a decade and then a lifetime, serving together.
Woven, like a golden thread, through the years was a precious friendship, love, and soul connection. We both knew that this was not the first life to find us together. I had been his son, physically or spiritually, in other lives, and our meeting on that long-ago Easter was not by chance, as it first seemed. Over the course of our time together, my life was shaped by him and by the incredible grace and blessing of Paramhansa Yogananda, whose light flowed through him so powerfully.
Here are a few of the ways our relationship has molded me:
I found out, once again, that the only true purpose of life is to find God.
The most important self-definition, the only one that counts, is to be a disciple.
I learned not only the techniques of meditation, but more importantly the attitudes that lead to success, among which are deep devotion, regularity, persistence, self-offering, and many others.
A life of service and caring about others leads to joyful freedom from petty concerns.
And finally, most importantly, I learned that gratitude opens the heart and soul so that God’s light can enter and drive away the shadows that hide in the dark nooks and crannies of ego.
Words can never express the depth of my appreciation for a life with this great soul. Fifty years, even fifty lives, is too short of a time to share together.
In deep gratitude,
Download or listen to this week’s podcast episode of the blog here.