A certain cynicism has taken root in the public mind about organizations in general, but perhaps even especially about spiritual organizations. So many of them have proved corrupt. But if organizations can be bad, it is equally possible for them to be good. Ego—whether institutional or individual—can go one of two directions: either toward self-interest or toward self-transcendence. Each direction has its consequences. To study the successes and failures of others is an important way of learning how to be better, oneself.
Two organizations that claim guidance from the same spiritual master have developed so differently from one another that now they hardly seem to represent the same teaching or teacher. Self-Realization Fellowship has followed the well-trodden path of spiritual authority: power in the hands of a few, obedience from all the rest; governance by rules, the first of which is, “In every situation, ask yourself first, ‘What is best for the organization?’”
Ananda has chosen “the road less traveled”: cooperation; decentralization; not taking oneself too seriously; and following two principles of which the first is, “People are more important than things,” and the second, “Where there is adherence to truth, there lie victory, happiness, and success of every kind” (“Yata dharma, sthata jaya” in the Sanskrit original).
This book serves two purposes: one, to restore to people a true and much-needed understanding of the real life and mission of Paramhansa Yogananda; and two, to give hope to people everywhere on earth that they need not compromise even one high ideal to accomplish all their objectives—even the most worldly.
Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda, has been a close, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda for more than sixty years. His life has been one of prodigious creativity—author, composer, photographer, screenwriter, dramatist, worldwide lecturer, counselor and teacher, and founder of more than eight spiritual communities, wherein altogether about a thousand people live. These things he has accomplished by the power he received from Yogananda, bestowed on him for his complete dedication to his guru’s service.