In my experience at Ananda I felt that Kriyananda exercised his power and authority in four key ways:
1. Attunement to him and the leaders of the church
2. His status as a "saint"
3. Creating fear of the world and a dependency on Ananda
4. Making you feel less than him
1. Attunement to Kriyananda and the Leaders of the Church:
The primary way Kriyananda exercises his power and authority is through the fundamental teaching
and requirement of Ananda: you have to be attuned to Kriyananda and the leaders of the church. At Ananda, the leaders of the church represent Kriyananda. They are his eyes, ears and mouth.
Kriyananda stays behind the curtain, his leaders run the community, but in actuality, Kriyananda makes all the decisions. Being in tune with the leaders mean you're in tune with Kriyananda.
This translates to: you have to agree with everything Kriyananda and the leaders say and do. If you don't you're falling from the spiritual path which really means you're falling away from God.
For about 1 1/2 years, I was managing the retreat kitchen. I would normally work about 8-10 hours a day. At one point, I decided I wanted to spend more time alone- after work hours. The manager of
the retreat, wanted me to play the role of social director. In the evening, after I put in a full day of work, he wanted me to spend my evenings entertaining the retreatants. When I told him I was
already working hard and needed time to myself, he said: "You're getting out of tune. The light is leaving your eyes." This was a very serious statement. It meant that I was in serious spiritual trouble if
I didn't obey.
2.) Kriyananda's Status as a Saint:
Kriyananda is believed to be a saint: a person who is so pure that he is a representative for God's
will. Because of this direct link with God, he has enormous power.
I began praying to Kriyananda for spiritual and emotional blessings and help. I wanted to give my life
to him and do whatever he said. At Ananda, a piece of Kriyananda's hair or clothing is considered sacred. I had these articles on my altar and would place them to my skin because I believed I would
be blessed. I learned to do this from others in the community who in acted in this way.
3.) Creating Fear of the World and Dependency on Ananda:
Kriyananda wrote a book called The Road Ahead where he predicted almost the total collapse of society. Kriyananda uses world cataclysm, painting a grim picture of no food, water, or money;
people becoming desperate. He said the only safe place was a community like Ananda. He created programs at Ananda to prepare for this event.
I became scared. I didn't trust the world and became more dependent on Ananda. I was afraid to leave Ananda. When I did finally leave, I was afraid to buy a home in the city because of these teachings.
4.) Making You Feel Less than Him:
At Ananda you can't criticize Kriyananda. If you do, you're made to feel stupid. After Kriyananda
got married and was still using the title "Swami," I wrote him a letter telling why I felt this was wrong.
Writing this letter to Kriyananda was a big thing for me. In the past, I would never tell him I thought he might be wrong. In fact I would never think he was wrong. But I was beginning to change at this
point. His response to me was (in his exact words): "Who are you to talk about the importance of the Swami Order!"
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