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The Way of Ananda Sanghis

Dear friend,
We invite you to join our worldwide family of like-minded souls. Below you can read “The Way of Ananda Sanghis” statement, which outlines our spiritual principles. The membership in Ananda Sangha Worldwide is free. We ask from you no outward commitment, but an inward dedication to helping us bring a new concisousness into the world.

The Way of Ananda Sanghis

“May the Divine Light awaken and purify my heart, and bring enlightenment to all beings.”

We believe in a single, blissful, eternal consciousness, Satchidanandam, which pervades the entire universe, unifying it and all creatures in a bond of mutual service. This blissful consciousness is the underlying reality of all existence; it precedes the very manifestation of the universe.

We believe that man’s highest duty is to realize himself as an expression of all-pervading Satchidanandam.

a) We embrace the way to this Self-realization through the inner silence, above all, of daily communion with the infinite Self.

b) We embrace, for ourselves, the need to embody this realization in our own lives by daily performing at least one specific, conscious, personally selected act of service to our fellow beings.

c) We embrace—again, for ourselves, since we seek not to impose our understanding on others—the need to honor all, whether friends or self-named foes, as manifestations of the eternal Satchidanandam, and to see them as our brothers and sisters in that Supreme Consciousness which is variously called God, Ishwara, Allah, or Jehovah. We recognize all names for that Supreme Being as designating our one, common Progenitor.

d) We embrace the need to give back to our Supreme Source by offering up every ego-attachment and self-limiting identity in daily acts of service to others.

e) We seek as our primary goal in life the state of actual, conscious union with Satchidanandam.

f ) We aspire to make our own lives works of art, whether through music, through the visual arts, or through the simple deeds of our daily existence, with a view to expressing the bliss that is latent in our deeper selves.

g) We seek to make our every thought and action a radiation outward from the center of our being, and not to allow ourselves to become superficial reflections of the thoughts and actions of others.

3. We seek never to convert anyone to our specific cause except, in love, to inspire all with the desire to reclaim the bliss of their own being.

4. We seek fellowship with others willing to join hands with us in this loving labor for universal upliftment. Thus, by our united efforts, our hope is to share inspiration with ever-increasing effectiveness.

5. We recognize that, whether or not others join us consciously in this labor, all human beings, each one individually, serve the Eternal Purpose, doing so by the simple act of seeking, whether ignorantly or wisely, the bliss of their own being. We condemn no one, therefore, for ideas he may hold that are different from our own, but embrace all as fellow seekers of Ultimate Bliss.

6. We recognize that the way of Ananda Sangha is primarily inward, not outward; that it leads one by the universal pathway of the spine to the high state of communion with God at that point in the forehead which lies between the eyebrows. We follow this path by the daily practice, after receiving it, of the non-sectarian science of Kriya Yoga, as it was named by its reviver in the nineteenth century, Yogavatar Lahiri Mahasaya of Varanasi. The aim of Kriya Yoga is to withdraw one’s energy and consciousness from the senses to the spine, and to lift the awareness to conscious union with the Supreme Reality: Satchidanandam. Those who practice this sacred science are known as Kriyabans. The Kriyabans of Ananda Sangha offer special respect, honor, and reverence to those who inspired the promulgation of Kriya Yoga in modern times: Jesus Christ, Mahavatar Babaji (who was, as he has informed his close disciples, Bhagavan Krishna in a former incarnation), Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda, ambassador of Kriya Yoga to the West and promoter of the underlying oneness of Hinduism, Christianity, and, consequently, of all the great religions of the world. Kriyabans revere the great saints of all religions, but give special reverence and obedience to the line of gurus on whose lives and teachings we pattern our own lives.

Renunciation

Because God must be realized, in time, as the soul’s only Friend and Companion-indeed, as the only Reality—those who seek the Divine Companion above all, if they are free from family ties, would do well to consider the path of outward renunciation.

All Sanghis must realize that human relationships, since they are outward, pertain to the realm of duality. For those Sanghis, therefore, who are able to remain unattached, even solitary, in their search for God the spiritual gains are potentially great. As Paramhansa Yogananda often stated, “Seclusion is the price of greatness.” One is therefore “on the safe side,” as a saint once put it to him when he was young, if he seeks God without a partner.

This is not to say that, to find God, it is mandatory that one be single. Great saints are to be found in both the single and the married states. Those devotees, however, who are free to make God their only Companion must ever recognize that in Him lies all the fulfillment their souls crave. No lesser love can ever fill that deepest craving.

Outward renunciation is an aid, therefore, in the spiritual search. One cannot “have his cake and eat it, too.” Ultimately, the choice one faces is absolute. To find God, the life of outer, as well as inner, renunciation is safer than involvement in family. For the spiritual path is, at best, supremely difficult. If formal renunciation is an option, therefore, it would be wise to consider embracing it. At the same time, it should be remembered that Lahiri Mahasaya was slow to give disciples his permission to embrace this state, for it too presents difficulties and challenges.

There are many possible gradations of formal renunciation—from partial or conditional to complete. Happiest is that one who can declare firmly, “Away with these carefully drawn distinctions! I want God alone.” In Ananda Sangha, for those who are not fettered by family ties, two stages of formal renunciation are available: Brahmacharya, and Sannyas.

It should be kept in mind that all Ananda Sanghis are renunciates in the deeper sense that we try to sublimate our ego-identity by expanding it to identity with the universal Self. Our means of purifying every desire and attachment is, above all, to offer these up in meditation for consummation by the Infinite Bliss.

Ananda Sanghis who devote themselves wholly to these ideals, and particularly if they live and serve with others in community, are called Sevakas. More formal paths of renunciation are available also, but are not intended to be seen as qualitatively better. For true renunciation is inward, primarily. No institution can determine a person’s progress on the path to perfection, for this is determined by God alone, and consists in personal self-offering to the Creator. Ananda Sangha, therefore, does not presume to gauge the actual quality of anyone’s renunciation.

Sanghis who are free from family ties may affirm their inner resolution by assuming outwardly the garb of renunciation as a constant reminder to themselves of their desire to be free from all further ego-involvement. Such persons, already unencumbered in an outward sense, may more fully affirm their inner renunciation by formally embracing the stages of brahmacharya and (later on) of sannyas.

These stages are not intended to confer greater respect or authority on anyone, for the only qualifications worthy of these are humility, and an absence of self-interest. Where renunciation is at issue, honor in God’s work is due not to the individual renunciate, but only to the principle of renunciation itself.

Brahmacharya

Brahmacharis of Ananda Sangha are free, as previously indicated, of family ties and obligations. In obedience to the directives of their spiritual guide or counselor, they should endeavor always to direct their energy inward toward the bliss of their own being. To enter the stage of brahmacharya, no novitiate period is needed. A brahmachari (or brahmacharini) is entitled, with the approval of his guide or counsellor, to wear a yellow robe indicating his, or her, undivided commitment to self-transcendence and to the other ideals of Ananda Sangha.

Sannyas: One may be considered a Sannyasin, or Swami, of the Ananda Sangha Order who, having, for an acceptable period of time, demonstrated his commitment to the principles that govern the life of a brahmachari, has shown himself to be centered in the divine Self to the point of being guided primarily from that center. A swami is obligated to view all human beings as his own brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and friends. He may not accept personal family ties for himself. A swami is entitled to wear the color orange, symbolic of the fire of inner renunciation which, he prays, will burn away every egoic attachment. As an Ananda Sanghi he should also, in token of this affiliation, wear in some form the color yellow—whether in a belt, a shawl, a cap, or some other article of clothing.

History

Ananda Sangha began with the founding of Ananda Village in 1968, near Nevada City, California, USA, by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters), a direct disciple since 1948 of Paramhansa Yogananda of Bengal, India. Ananda Village has, since its founding, given birth to six other communities: five of them in the United States of America and the sixth in Italy. An eighth Ananda community is being planned at this time in India.

Residing in these communities there are a total of about one thousand sevakas. Most of the children of these residents attend Ananda’s own schools, but are not considered members until they themselves reach the age of discernment and make the decision to join.

Swami Kriyananda, in addition to founding these communities, has written and published seventy-nine books and composed over 400 pieces of music. Many of his songs have been sung in countries around the world. His books and recordings, which have appeared in twenty-seven foreign translations, have sold some three million copies to date.

Ananda Sangha, with the blessings of God and Gurus, is dedicated to the spiritual upliftment of our planet, Earth.

Membership in the Ananda Sangha

Ananda Sangha is primarily a fellowship of souls, not of purses and pocketbooks. Donations are welcome, of course, for it takes money to run an organization. All that Ananda Sangha asks of its members is their heartfelt commitment to the basic principles stated on this page, and a striving to share with others, in spiritual partnership with us, in the dissemination of these ideals.

Should you desire to join us in that spirit, we invite you to enroll as a member. Simply fill in and submit the membership form. In return you will be inscribed as a member, and will be sent a card declaring your participation in Ananda Sangha. Membership confers no rights, and no obligations; it is simply a declaration of solidarity with the spiritual ideals propounded by Paramhansa Yogananda, and of your own desire to reinforce the efforts of others toward these ends by your active good will, prayers, and loving support.

Membership includes no requirement that one resign from any other organization. Except in cases of extraordinary abuse, membership may be terminated only by the member himself. The first 1,000 members in every country will be assigned a number, and will be inscribed as charter members of Ananda Sangha in that country.