"Behind the Scenes"

A Place Called Ananda

The Trial by Fire that Forged One of the Most Successful Cooperative Communities in the World Today
by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)

It has been difficult for me to write about Ananda Village, Ananda Sangha, the Ananda Communities, etc., etc. Years ago, when we were negotiating to lease a house in the Pacific Heights section of San Francisco (we called it Ananda House), the lady negotiating the deal telephoned our bank in Nevada City for references. The bank's reaction took her aback at first.

"Oh, Ananda!" came the almost shocked reply.

"What do you mean? Is there something wrong with them?"

"No, nothing at all wrong. It's just that they're so—well, so complex!"

That has been the problem also with writing about Ananda. When I wrote The Path, I brought the story of Ananda only as far as the front door, so to speak. And when I wrote the book listed here, A Place Called Ananda, I couldn't bring it much farther than that. It's all so—well, so complex!

Ananda's very genesis goes far back—into, and perhaps beyond—my childhood. I began thinking seriously about the need for intentional communities when I was fifteen. Later, after meeting my Guru, I found he'd been thinking along these lines before I was born. The more I contemplate the subject, the more I realize it was simply an ancient idea whose time had come again.

I first wrote this book at a time when efforts were being made to destroy me and Ananda in the law courts. I felt a need in people to understand who and what we are, and who and what we are not. I had been reticent on the subject of my separation from SRF. I never hid behind self-justifications, nor said (as I think many people might have done), "I felt, for various reasons, that it was best to go off on my own." Instead I told the simple truth. What I said without hesitation was, "I was thrown out." It wasn't a pleasant truth, and my simple statement could not fail to make some of my hearers think, "Well, he must have done something terrible to warrant such a punishment!"

I had no desire to accuse anyone. Nor could I honestly feel that I'd been wrong in my actions, which had resulted in my expulsion. Thus, for years I made no attempt to defend myself, though I did ask friends for help in understanding what had happened to me. Out of a sense of loyalty to my Guru, moreover, I urged people to write to SRF, to subscribe for their lessons, and to visit their ashrams and centers.

I knew what the outcome would be: SRF's representatives would speak against me, in utter ignorance of the facts. My feeling was this: Those whom God wants to help through me will come to me; those whom He wants to help through them will stay with them. It is all the same to me what they do, for our Guru's mission is one and the same.

Some people did indeed turn away from me and Ananda. Others felt attracted to my way of teaching, or to me as an expression of my Guru's ray of the divine light. Others, unfortunately but inevitably, thought, "A plague on both your houses!" and turned away to other paths.

It would have been easy for me to do what SRF's president, Daya, herself wanted me to do: simply to say, "I resigned." When she requested this of me, however, I replied, "I can't say that. It isn't true, and you know it isn't true!"

In exasperation she exclaimed, "Well, you should have resigned!" Perhaps so. I didn't, however. Uninformed and often very personal attacks from my brother and sister disciples have become a sub-motif of my life.

In 1990, Daya and SRF launched a lawsuit against me and Ananda. Their effort to discredit me in public forced me to reply. This book was written in order to make clear, as charitably as I was able, the real story behind my separation from SRF.

This book too, however, hardly got past the front door in terms of Ananda's history. It ended shortly after our actual beginnings.

See Also: Contents  Intro  Sample Chapter  

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