Sample Chapter

Cities of Light

What Communities Can Accomplish in the New Age
by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)

Imagine a city—a beautiful city, such as a City of Tomorrow ought to be.

Imagine small residential areas within the city, each surrounded by beautiful parkland for its residents’ enjoyment.

Imagine homes joyfully designed according to their residents’ needs, their outlook on life, their tastes, the way they relate to the land around them. Imagine each home, therefore, a conscious home.

Imagine beautiful, expansive vistas wherever you feast your eyes—distant hills and valleys, nearby meadows, trees, and flowers.

Imagine a city in which the residents really have a say in determining its shape, its growth, its overall philosophy, development, and design.

Imagine farm and dairy land not struggling for lonely, competitive survival, but ownership of them shared by all, and a vital part of the life of everyone.

Imagine shops where the keynote is friendship; where the salespeople think in terms of giving to the customers instead of taking from them.

Imagine shops where the salespeople are the owners, and have a vital interest in the shops’ success.

Imagine businesses where the workers’ personal needs outweigh the businesses’ quest for income: a place where people are more important than things.

Imagine a community of people who know how to cooperate joyfully together, with kindness in their hearts for one another, and for all those whom their lives touch.

Imagine a community where the leadership is supportive, not bossy; where the emphasis in leadership is on serving, not on ruling.

Imagine a city where, when someone needs help, everyone freely and lovingly joins in helping him.

Imagine a city where human values are given first importance, and where the desire for joy and harmony and love are looked upon as needs every bit as practical as material considerations.

Imagine a city that doesn’t place self-interest first, but that takes into account its impact on the well-being of society at large, and adjusts its expectations to that greater good.

Imagine a city that seeks no help from federal, state, or county government; a city whose inhabitants think, instead, how they might serve the good of the greater nation.

Imagine a city with schools that teach children the art of living, along with the standard offerings of academia; schools that teach them the meaning of success in human, and not in merely economic, terms; schools that teach them how to attract success, how to concentrate, how to overcome their negative moods, how to get along with others.

Imagine schools that seek, along with their formal curriculum, to teach students how to be happy!

Imagine a city ruled by a conscious quest for happiness and peace of mind, and not by economic greed; a city without crime; a city where good will and honesty are taken for granted.

Imagine a place where community meetings are always harmonious; where people view the good of all as more important than their own desires. Imagine community forums where everyone wants, and expects, the decisions to be based on truth, not on opinion; on what is right, not on what is merely desired (whether by one person, or by the whole community). Imagine people with different views deferring to one another, conceding points, cheerfully admitting errors—and in the end all agreeing harmoniously on a course of action.

Imagine a creative life, where people’s goal is to improve their understanding; a city whose residents offer one another help constructively, compassionately, and not by confrontation, in their efforts to improve themselves.

Imagine a place where self-improvement is not approached with tension or with an attitude of guilt, but joyfully, serenely, with the understanding that neither guilt nor tension ever helped a tree to grow.

Imagine a place where people live to find joy and inspiration, and where they want to share their inspiration with others; a place where “getting ahead in life” is understood in terms of inner, self-development.

Imagine a life based on a search for inner,Crystal Clarity of mind and heart—a place where people seek to express that clarity in their work, in their home environment, in the arts, in home building, in teaching, in their lives and their relationships.

Imagine a City of Light. Here, the light sought is not material, merely, but is sought first in terms of expanded understanding and awareness.

Imagine a place where people’s hearts are simple, without selfish motive; where the residents sincerely love truth and God, and strive to see God equally in all mankind.

“Such a place,” perhaps you’ll say, “may be imaginable. But is it possible?”

It is possible, for such a place exists! Its reality, moreover, suggests amazing possibilities for modern mankind. The experiment has been conducted long enough to have earned the right to make this very simple claim: It works!

The first land for the experiment was purchased in 1967. The initial buildings were completed in 1968. Slowly, through nearly twenty years, the experiment has developed, always testing the vision by the yardstick of proved reality.

Almost everything in the above description matches present reality. This is no affirmation, merely, but fact. The only part of the above description that remains to be realized—and it is sure to be fulfilled in time—is that of the parkland surrounding the clusters of homes. The homes are there—simple, lovely residences. The land around them is there also. This land, however, though parklike in its beauty, still lacks the gardener’s careful touch.

The other parts of the above description, however—the harmony, the compassion, the sharing character of the residents, the primary purpose for the businesses, the physical beauty of the land and of the homes, the all-pervasive sense of happiness—all that I’ve written, in fact, describes the place as it actually is, and not as the residents hope that it will become someday.

It is not a city. Even so, several hundred deeply involved residents is a noteworthy beginning. There is no reason, moreover, on the basis of developments to date, that cities could not spring up across America, inspired by this vision of light, and founded by people who feel, without rejection of their fellow man, that dark greed and self-centered competitiveness simply will not work.

The community now in existence is called Ananda World Brotherhood Village. It is a prototype, an offering to others who may feel inspired to build on this example in their own way.

“Large oaks from little acorns grow.” What has been accomplished so far is a reality. It remains a dream also, however, in the sense that, from these beginnings, others may create villages, towns, and Cities of Light across the land—communities based on cooperation and friendship, high ideals, simple living, truth, and love for God.

Ananda World Brotherhood Village is situated in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. It has several branch communities—in Palo Alto and Sacramento, California; in Portland, Oregon; in Seattle, Washington; near Assisi, Italy; and in Gurgaon, India. It also has many groups of friends who strive to live in Crystal Clarity according to the principles on which Ananda was founded.

The purpose of this book, however, is to interest the reader in a set of practical ideals, not in a mere physical location. Ananda will be referred to repeatedly as a living example of these ideals. The emphasis, however, will be on what others can do to create, partly on the strength of this example, more harmonious environments for themselves.

May the day come when people everywhere realize that it is possible for them to live in joy and harmony, and that the cities they construct verily can become Cities of Light!

See Also: Contents  Intro  Behind the Scenes  

Return to Cities of Light