I came across Ananda around 7 years back. I wanted to learn meditation and I saw a small advertisement in a newspaper with Master’s (Paramhansa Yogananda) photo in it. At that time, I didn’t know anything about Swami Kriyananda, Ananda Sangha or Kriya Yoga, the only thing I knew was that the person’s name in the advertisement was Paramhansa Yogananda, and I didn’t know much about him either. However, his radiating face drew my attention, and I attended the first class that week itself.

In a few days, I could understand that this was the place I was searching for. It was non-commercial and it had the motto to help people to find their inner Self. One teaching which fascinated me a lot in my initial days in Ananda was “People are more important than things.” Later, I came to understand that Ananda, as an organization, functions based on this principle. A whole big philosophy is beautifully encapsulated in this small sentence.

I hadn’t heard any idea or philosophy like that from anywhere else. In fact, many a times I heard the exact opposite when it comes to an organization, political party, religion, or country. The list goes on and on. They say the organization is important and the people should be ready to sacrifice for it. People are ready to die for the religion but not ready to live as per the principles of the religion.

As we go for further classes, satsangs and other programs at Ananda, we gradually start practicing these principles in our daily lives. Consciously or unconsciously, this will influence our thought process and decision making. I personally believe that this principle has greatly influenced my daily interactions with family members, co-workers, and with absolute strangers. Respect for other individuals, and accepting people as they are,  is required to practice this idea. Whenever a conflict happens with a friend, this principle makes me realize that the other person and his opinion are just as important as I and my opinion. Multiple solutions will be validated against a common problem and the best one will be chosen.

Swami Kriyananda Greeting

I recently watched a video of Swami Kriyananda on YouTube in which he describes an incident in his life. There is a strict rule in the Ananda community against drinking alcohol. One night, one of the members came to Swamiji’s house and he was absolutely drunk. He was not naturally a drunkard, but at that time he was going through a sense of rebellion and he wanted to affirm his own will and so on. Swamiji didn’t say a single word. After he left, he was trying to find his way out, only to crash into the bushes a few minutes later. Swamiji had to guide him towards the path. Swamiji never said anything about it and he knew that person wouldn’t do it again. He believed that the person was more important than the rule.

Then Swamiji explained: if you want to help people, let them be themselves. Don’t be too rigid. It takes many hands to create a miracle; it takes many hands working together and they won’t always work in the same way, they won’t always have the same ideas. So, be broad enough to accept and steer them gradually in the direction of harmony. Swamiji tells that this is how Ananda has built its harmony. One important thing we have to remember here is that, during the time when Swamiji started the Ananda World Brotherhood Colony in California, many other people also were trying to start such communities; all of them failed to survive except Ananda.

This principle is very practical and can be implemented anywhere people are working together. An organization or a political party or a family where people respect one another, accept each other regardless of all their strengths and weaknesses, give more importance to fellow beings and work together toward a common goal can become really a harmonious place like Ananda.

Joy,
Anoop K.S.

5 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this. I am not very good at this. I am always policing people, in my job and in my personal life, wishing they did things properly and by the rules.
    When they do not, either because it’s too much effort, or because they do not agree with the rules, I struggle to accept that.
    In my head, things done properly and rules are what keep society safe and fair. I feel like by letting standards slip in order to be flexible to a person’s weakness results in consequences for others.
    Sometimes the odds of their behaviour negatively impacting others are low. But I cannot forget about it. It niggles me. Every little thing feels important to me. Things/ideas/rules survive longer than people. They are the expression of a whole community.
    I feel attracted to the idea that people are more important than things, but deep inside it does not sound true enough. Or not always.
    As a result, when I go about my job and my life, in my head I am being principled. Giving a good example.

    It feels that if standards slip, endless exceptions are made, individual whims are allowed… the rest of the community will end up picking up the pieces.
    It’s like compassion for one person and compassion for the community are not possible at the same time. It looks like I choose rules (things) above people, while in my heart I am choosing all people via the rules.

    How do I learn to feel compassion and respect for individuals who break the rules, while I feel very strongly that they shouldn’t?

    I can take a lot of time to explain the reasons behind rules. The consequences for others if rules are broken. But when the other person still decides to break the rule, I loose my respect for them.

    They are being selfish. Maybe even lazy. They feel I think that, and I loose their trust and the connection. And their behaviour does not change. Is it tough love I am showing them? Or is it not love?

    Sorry for talking so much. Putting things in writing helps me clarify to myselfmy feelings and thoughts. I realise I have a lot of work to do to.

    I will keep meditating about this article. Hopefully a bit more clarity will arise in me.

    Many thanks again for sharing.

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