Space, Light, and Harmony—containing 70 beautiful color photographs—is an adventure in design, building, and living. It is the true story of the evolution of a home—from initial planning to interior decorating—that serves as a powerful metaphor for personal development.

Years ago, Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) withdrew to the woods in a personal search for clarity. In designing his home, he felt that it must reflect this inner search. In the process of building, the author explores practical topics such as what a home should express, architectural choices, interior design, and how to select art for your home. He also discusses deeper principles behind these choices, such as the importance of myth, the meaning of friendship, and the need to find balance in our lives. Full-color photographs throughout, presented in a gift-book format.

Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters, 1926–2013) was a direct disciple of the great spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi), a bestselling author, and an internationally known 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, and more than 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 home to The Expanding Light, a world-renowned guest retreat facility where thousands visit annually 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 more than 25 languages.

To learn more, visit the Swami Kriyananda website.

It seems hardly fair to write all about a place, but then say nothing about how to get there. We have an address. It is Crystal Hermitage, 14618 Tyler Foote Rd., Nevada City, California 95959. Also, where for many years I had no telephone, now there are twelve phones and five telephone lines! One of these numbers is: (530) 478-7587. We have a website as well:

Sometime, if you happen to be in our “neck” of the woods, perhaps you’d like to pay us a visit?

Chapter 1

Everyone, I imagine, has dreamed of having a hidden spot to which he can withdraw at times, to escape the pressures he feels at that tiny vortex of energy which he is pleased to call his “world.” His dream may be of some distant tropical island, or of an idyllic, wall-enfolded garden somewhere close to home: in any case a healing place—open to close friends, but protected from invasion by unwanted news and insensitive outsiders.

For some, the dream is purely escapist, and as such, of course, can never be fulfilled. For the single constant, if mostly unrecognized, factor in every escapist dream is the wish to flee that too-persistent companion: one’s own self.

For others, the dream is of a vacation spot—some sandy haven, perhaps, with tall, sinuous coconut palms and slow-breathing, turquoise deeps; long, idle curls of silvery surf, and the lulling whisper of waves as they stroke the beach. For such people, the dream is a place less of healing than of respite.

But there is a third, more serious, class of dreamer: one whose dream goes beyond escapism or mere respite; whose need is for inner clarity, strength, and guidance. He may long to understand deeply something that life has been trying to tell him, but find himself too much submerged in the roil of daily activity ever to pause awhile and heed the message.

To this third category I once belonged. For years I, too, dreamed of a place to which I might someday hide—not to “get away from it all,” but to find something that might make that “all” worthwhile.

Out of many hundreds of dreamers, I have been fortunate: I have realized my dream.

Indeed, I have realized more than my dream. For everything I thought I wanted, at first, was a quiet place for meditation and introspection. Almost any plot of land, remote and inexpensive, would have suited me. Life recently had dealt a little harshly with me, and I needed the clarity to be able to trust providence once again. But having once found a place both remote and inexpensive, a new thought began growing within me: “Why not express physically in the home I build here the inner clarity I hope to achieve?”

What, more specifically, was I seeking? Clarity, yes. But how to translate this concept into something visible and concrete? What was it came to my mind’s eye when I thought of clarity?

Well, for one thing, harmony. Again, inner light. And yet again, spaciousness, expansion—an expanding awareness above all.

Harmony. . . . Light. . . . Space: From these three ideals gradually evolved the plan for what has since become an actual place on earth, and the ensuing concept of this book: The story of Crystal Hermitage.

A best seller in the 1920s had been The Story of San Michele by Axtel Munthe. It gave a simple account of the building of his home on the island of Capri, on Naples Bay off the coast of Italy. His book had been translated into some twenty-eight languages. I fantasized that perhaps a book about the building of my own home, Crystal Hermitage, might be popular also. The thought was premature, because new plants had only just been newly planted on the property. Today, however, the home and grounds are—I think—the loveliest I have ever seen anywhere.

The way it all happened was after my parents died I came into an inheritance. My father had, unfortunately, never given a dime to Ananda. It seemed to me therefore that his soul would suffer if I gave my whole inheritance to Ananda. On the other hand, I would suffer if I didn’t. In fact, I have never wanted to own anything. The inspiration came to me one day to use my inheritance to create a beautiful spiritual center for our community, which would also be my home.

As things turned out, I ran out of money before I could get around to building my own home. The community then announced to me, "You’ve spent all your inheritance creating a beautiful place for all of us. We’d like now to build a place where you can live." And so Crystal Hermitage was completed.

The Story of Crystal Hermitage is, I think, a fairly good book. Having little money for publication, however, the book was poorly typeset, and was illustrated only by line drawings. Years passed, in fact, before the garden was beautiful enough to be worthy of being photographed. A new edition of this book will be coming out soon, slightly revised and with beautiful color photographs. Visually, now, it will be a treasure.

Pause for Reflection:

Most of my serious writing began with the founding of Crystal Clarity Publishers. I’d been too busy until then with founding Ananda Village and Sangha, and hadn’t had the freedom to devote the time necessary to writing books.

Now that I’d founded a new Publishing house, it became important for me to support it with new books. I didn’t want to strip Ananda Publications of the books it already had, even though they were my own books. To write many new ones, therefore, was the only logical solution.

Publisher’s note: This book was released in October 2005 with 70 color photographs showing the beauty of Crystal Hermitage. The new title is "Space, Light, and Harmony: The Story of Crystal Hermitage"