What is Divine Friendship?

This extraordinary book of nearly 250 letters, written over a 30-year period by Swami Kriyananda, responds to practically any concern a spiritual seeker might have, such as:

  • Strengthening one’s faith
  • Acceleration of spiritual progress
  • Standing up for truth
  • Meditating more deeply
  • Responding to illness
  • Earning a living
  • Attracting a mate
  • Raising children
  • Overcoming negative self-judgments
  • Responding to world upheavals

Connecting all of these letters is the love, compassion, and wisdom of Swami Kriyananda, one of the leading spiritual figures of our times.

The letters describe in detail his efforts to fulfill his Guru’s commission to establish spiritual communities—”would brotherhood colonies”—and offer invaluable advice to leaders everywhere on how to avoid the temptations of materialism, selfishness, and pride. A spiritual treasure that speaks to spiritual seekers at all levels.

Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters), who left his body in 2013, was a direct disciple of the great master, Paramhansa Yogananda, and an internationally known author, lecturer, and composer. Widely recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on meditation and yoga, he taught these principles and techniques to hundreds of thousands of students around the world.

In 1968, Kriyananda founded Ananda Village in Nevada City, California, dedicated to spreading the spirit of friendship, service, and community around the globe. Ananda is recognized as one of the most successful intentional communities in the world; over 1,000 people reside in Ananda communities in the US, India, and Italy. The European retreat and community located in Assisi, Italy, also serves Ananda meditation groups in Europe and Russia.

Ananda Village is also home to The Expanding Light, a world-renowned guest retreat facility where thousands of visitors annually visit for renewal or instruction in many aspects of meditation, yoga, and the spiritual life. The nearby Ananda Meditation Retreat, located on Ananda's first property, functions both as a retreat and as the site for Ananda's Institute of Alternative Living.

An advocate of simple living and high thinking, Swami Kriyananda's more than 140 books cover a wide range of subjects emphasizing the need to live wisely by one's own experience of life, and not by abstract theories or dogmas.

A composer since 1964, Kriyananda wrote over 400 musical works. His music is inspiring, soothing, and uplifting. Many of his later albums are instrumental works with brief affirmations or visualizations. Chuck Dilberto, of Awareness Magazine wrote, "[His] words and music are full of his life and light. His sole intention is to heal, something we could all use during these chaotic times."

Through Crystal Clarity Publishers, his works have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and have been translated into over 25 languages.

More about Swami Kriyananda, including photos and videos, is available at the
official Swami Kriyananda website.

 

Further reading:

1. Love

2. Advice and Encouragement

3. Judgmental Attitudes

4. Thank You

5. Marriage and Renunciation

6. Strong Medicine

7. Yogic Techniques

8. Avatar

9. Writing

10. Swami Kriyananda’s Role

11. Ananda: Past, Present, and Future

12. Chanting

13. Insights and Commentary

14. Leadership

15. Yoga and Christianity

16. Self-Realization Fellowship

17. World Conditions

18. Suffering and Death

19. Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

This book of letters by Swami Kriyananda is entitled "In Divine Friendship." What is a divine friend?

Imagine someone who never judges, who loves you despite your faults, who sees you in terms of your highest spiritual potential, and is totally committed to helping you realize that potential. Imagine someone who gives you strength and understanding, seeking nothing in return, who offers, but never imposes, his views. Imagine someone who is always forgiving, respectful, and loving, even under the most adverse circumstances.

This begins to describe Swami Kriyananda, as seen through the letters in this book.

A newspaper reporter once asked Swami Kriyananda why so many people love him. Kriyananda’s answer was, "Perhaps it’s because I love them."
Love is the magnet that draws love, and love is the thread that connects the letters in this book, whether to students, friends, or total strangers.

Swami Kriyananda’s life of service began in 1948 when he became a disciple of the great Indian yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the
spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. Trained by Yogananda for a life of writing, editing, and lecturing, Kriyananda has given
thousands of lectures in many countries, written over 85 books, and composed over 400 pieces of uplifting music. He is the founder of
Ananda Sangha, a worldwide organization that disseminates Yogananda’s teachings.

On many occasions, Yogananda strongly encouraged the establishment of "world brotherhood colonies," places where people could live simply,
guided by spiritual ideals. Fulfilling his guru’s vision, in 1968 Kriyananda founded Ananda Cooperative Village, which has expanded to eight
communities and ashrams in the United States, Europe, and India. Letters covering the various stages in the development of the Ananda
communities are included in this book.

Swami Kriyananda once described Paramhansa Yogananda as "wearing his wisdom without the slightest affectation, like a comfortable old jacket
that one has been wearing for years."

The same can be said of Swami Kriyananda. Clearly and with deep insight, he explains in these letters how to live every aspect of
life in attunement with the Divine. Ultimately, it is divine attunement that enables Kriyananda to offer God’s love and friendship to all,
and that will also enable other truth seekers, inspired by his example, to do the same.

 

Friends of Swami Kriyananda

 

The nearly 250 letters in this book were taken from Swami Kriyananda’s paper and computer files dating from the mid 1970s to the present,
and are essentially as he wrote them, edited primarily to delete identifying information, digressions, and other non-essential material.
Before publication, Kriyananda carefully reviewed each letter, and made only a few minor, clarifying changes.

Crystal Clarity Publishers

Chapter 1: LOVE

God’s love will never change
April 5, 1995

Dear ———:

If we feel God’s love in someone’s love for us, then that is right and good. I remember once in India telling the woman saint, Anandamoyi Ma, how much I and others in America loved her. Her reply was, “There is no love except God’s love.”

The worldly ego might take her reply as a put-down, but I understood it as a reminder that we can truly love others only to the degree that we do so consciously as instruments of God’s love.

It is easy to feel love for those who are kind and good, and easier still if they love us. But the test of godly love is to be able to feel it also for those who hate us. And especially for those who are determined to destroy us. God says to us, “They are My children, too.” In other words, “If you love Me, you must love them also, for they too are Mine.” We must love not only them, but all the tests that God sends us.

Ultimately, the only important thing you can do in life is love God. The only fact that truly matters in life is that God loves you.

It is a simple fact that the more we try to do good, the more enemies we will have—along with those who sincerely love, appreciate, and support us. But even were everyone to turn against us, the supremely important fact of God’s love will never change. The tests we face, therefore, are always blessings. If nothing else, they inspire us to keep that one divine priority fixed ever before our gaze. Everything else passes. Our relationship with God is eternal. He is our own, as no one else ever will or ever can be. The solution to our worries is love, and more love—divine love, not egoic love (the ego’s love is rooted in likes and dislikes). As the Bible says, “Perfect love casteth out fear.”

“Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God.” When your love for Him is effortless and complete, you will have Him.

In divine friendship,


Opening oneself to God’s love
April 4, 1995

Dear ———:

I understand you’re on a retreat. That’s wonderful! We all need to retreat now and then, not for recreation, but to re-create ourselves.

In thinking about love, it’s important not to emphasize someone’s personal love for you, or yourself as the receiver. What’s important on retreat is to understand as deeply as possible God’s love for you, and yours for God. He loves you far more than any human being ever could—far more than you could ever love yourself, except in Him. So don’t be afraid to open yourself to that love completely, inviting it into all the dusty corners of your heart, and sweeping them clean.

On retreat, one thinks of God’s love and of other eternal verities. But it is important also to translate that love onto this practical plane of existence. Here are two sayings from a new book of mine called, Do It NOW! That you might enjoy, for we all get our feelings hurt occasionally:

Don’t close your heart, when your feelings have been hurt. For contraction causes its own pain. How others behave toward you is like the weather: not under your control. But how you behave, and what your feelings are, need be determined by no one but yourself. To accept a hurt from anyone is to suffer twice. Be not afraid to love. Even if your love is unrequited, you will be the richer for having loved. Water that doesn’t flow grows stagnant.

The more you feel God’s love in your heart, the more important it is to channel that love to everyone. As I’ve written in Do It NOW!

Wish the best for everybody, and, in the very act of blessing them, you yourself will be blessed. A stained-glass window, when the sunlight pours through it, is brighter and more beautiful itself than the light with which it graces a church.

God bless you,


Inner stillness of heart
April 4, 1995

Dear ———:

Retreats generally are supposed to be times of self-examination. The important points to remember on retreat are these: There is only one true goal in life: to please God; to come closer to Him; to love Him; to unite our souls to Him.

The way to know God is by inner stillness of heart. This stillness is attained by loving more fully, more calmly, more wholeheartedly, never by deadening the emotions or hardening our hearts against those who would harm us.

Nothing and no one truly belongs to us; we are His alone. Joy is ours when we accept fully that we are God’s, that God’s nature is joy, and that His nature is our nature, in our souls.

I’ve always loved a statement of St. Jean Vianney’s: “If you knew how much God loves you, you would die for joy!”

In divine friendship,


Trust whatever comes
Circa 1989

Dear ———:

Know that my love and blessings are with you.

It is difficult sometimes to understand what is happening when we look at life only from a “human” perspective. We can only trust that whatever comes is from Divine Mother. The more we love Her, the sweeter Her ways become—whatever they may be!

Do keep in touch. Let us know how you are doing and what your plans are.

In divine friendship,


Take a single step
December 5, 1990

Dear ———:

A letter like this one from your mother cannot, in charity, be ignored. You must respond to her with love. You yourself have, as you’ve admitted, much anger to work out. Love is the way to expiate that anger, and her letter gives you that opportunity. Be grateful for the chance.

Your parents made a mistake, and seem to be admitting it. While remaining strong in yourself, you must give them, too, the opportunity to correct the error—at their own pace, and according to their own understanding.

They brought you into this life, and gave you what love they could. For your part, you also chose this family. If they want now to prove themselves good parents to you, you must be to them a good daughter. The important thing only is not to allow them to impose their desires on your own chosen path to fulfillment. But they seem to have recognized this point.

Take this single step, ————. Don’t expect to run the whole course in a day.

In divine friendship,