The Path: One Man's Quest On the Only Path There Is
by Swami Kriyananda
(J. Donald Walters)
Direct Disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda
Purchase a copy of 'The Path'
January 5, 1996
Nearly twenty years have passed since I wrote those last lines. Twenty years is a significant portion of anyone's life. I myself, nearing as I am the Biblical age of threescore and ten,(93) can look back on countless blessings over these two decades. Much has transpiredtoo much for me to enumerate in an afterword. My primary purpose has been to describe what it was like to live with a great man of God.
Yet Paramhansa Yogananda's full life story encompasses far more than his visible accomplishments. His was a world mission, in many ways not definable in terms of any sort of outward structure. A new phase of that mission began the day he relinquished his physical body.
Over the years since then I have understood with increasing clarity that his work had always embraced more than his words and deeds, more than the organization he founded, more than any one group of followers. For these are but manifestations of his mission.
His mission was the spiritual upliftment of all aspects of society; it was not only the salvation of a few. His message was directed toward truth seekers of every persuasion, and not only toward those who studied his actual teachings. It was not and never could be circumscribed. The message he brought was catholic in the fullest and truest sense of the word: universal. Nor was it even so much a message, really, as a special ray of God's consciousnessa "new dispensation," to use a Biblical expression that he himself applied to the mission God had entrusted to him.
I now have a better understanding of that statement he made to me at Twenty-Nine Palms in 1950: " Much yet remains to be written." His teachings were both qualitative (for the salvation of his students and disciples) and quantitative (for the upliftment of mankind generally). From his statement to me, "Much remains to be written," and from other statements he made to me for my personal guidance, I see now that his plan was for me to serve his work outside of his own organization. Thus, as subsequent events have made clear, I would be able to reach people in many walks of life and, from a central point of attunement with him, show the relevance of his message to their special needs.
In keeping with that plan I have so far written over sixty books, developing seed thoughts that were already expressed in his teachings, and demonstrating their applicability to a wide variety of human needs. I have composed over 300 pieces of music with the hope of awakening in people the soul-aspiration to which his teachings called all humanity.
Increasingly, his reality has become for me primarily the consciousness of his liberating presence within. I think of him only secondarily in terms of his outer words and actions. Thus, while writing a book or composing a piece of music, I seek guidance first from my inner awareness of attunement with him. Once I feel that inner guidance, examples arise spontaneously in my mind of things he said or did that endorse that guidance. I then search my memory for words or episodes that might contradict that presumptive insight.
Thus, I can say truthfully that none of my writings or compositions are really mine at all: They are my Guru'sfiltered, admittedly, through the imperfect instrument of my human brain and understanding.
Part III of this book ended with a brief description of Ananda Village, the first "world brotherhood colony" to be founded on the ideals of Paramhansa Yogananda. Ananda, at the time I finished this book, was metaphorically speaking still a child. It was not even eight years old. Since then the child has grown and matured. Following the Biblical commandment to "be fruitful and multiply," Ananda has also produced spiritual offspring. Branch Ananda communities flourish in several places. In California there is an Ananda community and church in Sacramento, and another in Palo Alto. In Oregon Ananda has a church in Beaverton and a community on the outskirts of Portland. In the state of Washington there is an Ananda church in Seattle and a community in Lynnwood. There is an Ananda church, but not yet a community, in Dallas, Texas. And in Italy, finally, we have a community and retreat center near Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis.
Ananda's total resident membership today stands at about 800 adults and children, natives of countries around the world. Our far-flung spiritual family includes congregation members and friends numbering many thousands. And our two retreat facilities, The Expanding Light at Ananda Village, and Centro della Gioia near Assisi, attract thousands of visitors every year from points as far away as Japan and China, Australasia, India, China, Russia, Africa, and Europe, as well as from all parts of North and South America.
Ananda Village, where I live, has grown from Spartan beginnings to become a place of man-made as well as natural beauty. Simple but charming homes, school buildings, offices, and places of business express in architecture the twin principles Yogananda recommended: "plain living and God-thinking."
My own home, which I gave the name Crystal Hermitage, is the spiritual center of Ananda Village. Its graceful gardens open up from a succession of flowered terraces onto an expansive view of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Above the house stands a small stone chapel that was inspired by the Porziuncola of Saint Francis in Santa Maria degli Angeli. Further terraces above that stands a little museum, housing relics of our gurus and of other great saints of Self-realization.
Sant Keshavdas, a well-known spiritual teacher from India, once remarked to me, "What a lot of tapasya [spiritual austerities] you had to perform to make this place possible!" Indeed, is anything worthwhile ever accomplished without arduous effort? There are countless opposing currents to be struggled against for every single-minded effort in this world. Every major development in Ananda's history has been preceded by periods of testing.
If, after reading this account, you should desire further information, please write to us at Ananda Village, 14618 Tyler-Foote Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959. Better still, we'd love to have you visit us. The Expanding Light, our retreat facility, is open to you the year around.
(93) Psalms 90:10.
Back in context.
Copyright 1996 J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda), Trustee