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Financial Exploitation

My association with Ananda began in the Spring of 1983, when a couple from Ananda came down to San Diego to teach Hatha Yoga and the philosophy of Yoga.

That summer I made my first visit to Ananda, staying at what was then called the Old Retreat, a simple sylvan camp.

At the time I was financially well off and I had always been attracted to the idea of community and felt myself to be in sync with the teachings of Yogananda, whose spiritual values I was being told were also those followed and promoted by Ananda. I soon made my first gift in support of the outreach of this (I thought then) wonderful work, and our common ideals.

When I asked what I could substantially do to promote Ananda's outreach, I was told that A&D (Ananda "ministers") needed a motorhome, which was going to cost $40,000, so they could travel more conveniently without the expense of transportation and motels. My first gift was for $10,000, as I recall. It went toward purchase of that motor home, which went around trying to sell Swami's books and tapes to bookstores.

Between that summer and early 1993, I gave something in the neighborhood of $220,000 to Ananda. Except for that first motor home, and my final gift of $31,000 in December of 1992, I have no idea how the money was spent. I don't know why I didn't ask questions, except that I felt my gifts were to God, and I also felt intimidated by these people whom I felt to be God's servants, who had sacrificed everything for God's work.

On one occasion, I gave $1500 for the specific purpose to create a safe play place for the children after school. It was another 6 years before the space was created and there was never any explanation of where the money I contributed had been used.

From time to time, there would be special promotions for which Walters acted as sponsor, and, that being the case, of course the entire community wanted to have "some of that." One that I was present at (and seemed particularly outlandish) was a seminar given in Italian by a man from Turin, named Manfredi. He had perfected principles discovered in the 19th century. He was offering cylinders filed with a specially zapped powder that protected the energy field against atmospheric pollutants and in particular from electrical emissions such as those from power lines. The price tags were from $120 to $1200. Walters kicked off the weekends with his own exhortations to buy.

In 1988, I offered my home in La Jolla as an ashram for Ananda to use for the purpose of trying to start a church in San Diego. Eight people moved into my home with me. I thought the ministers deserved my bedroom. I moved into the garage apartment.

Unfortunately, they could not or would not keep their junk cars out of the driveway, in this neighborhood of million dollar homes. My neighbors turned me in to the zoning department and that was the end of the ashram. The inhabitants moved to another rental in Del Mar, and I was left with a bill for $13,000 to demolish my garage apartment, which had not been legal under the building codes.

Those who caused this situation never so much as apologized for the results. D & V (two community leaders) came to visit to ask me if I was "all right with the situation." Good little devotee that I was (coward would be a better word), I said I was. Similarly, Walters himself called. Although the situation wasn't mentioned on the phone, I assumed that was why he called and his call alone would be enough to make the situation "all right."

In 1990, I briefly moved to Colorado. In Autumn of 1992, I sold my land and home in Colorado. I gave $31,000 of the profit to provide salary for a new outreach ministry program. It was to be carried on by a minister named R and his wife D. R thanked me personally for this which led me to assume that the money really went to him. I was pleased by this as I had heard that he and D were so strapped for money that the community had taken up a collection to buy R running shoes.

By winter of 1993, I again went through the Prospective Member's Program. When it was published in the community newsletter that * (a former CEO), now the Ananda development director would be willing to help anyone who needed financial advice, I took him up on the offer. It was then he became aware that I no longer had the large assets I once had. No longer "community milkable" assets. I did not even have sufficient equity in my home at ---- to leave in a will to Ananda. At that point, I became a non-person at Ananda. The inner circle had no further use for me.

This was my great fortune as it turned out as the inner workings of Ananda had now become more clear to me. It provided me the opportunity to feel how the moneyless at Ananda are treated in contrast to the way the moneyed are treated. The former are mercilessly used and exploited while the later are treated like totally privileged beings, free to do exactly as they please. It must be difficult for the wealthy members to even imagine how the rest of the community is treated. It was difficult for me, making visits over the years to Idyllic Ananda, to now see how the other half lived.

For awhile, I went to group meetings with about 18 people who had the courage to attend some communications workshops outside of Ananda. The aim was to get in touch with feelings. People were getting together to speak honestly and openly. At a couple of these meetings one of the young husbands flew into a rage. He could not bring himself to talk about what it what was
bothering him. All he would say was that it was something about Swami. I heard from other channels that this man's marriage was in trouble. Naturally, this degree of emerging honesty was highly explosive and the Ananda members were called on the carpet and chastised by the inner circle. That was the end to open honest discussion at Ananda.

By then I had moved into Nevada City where I attended the "in town" Ananda group until the false notes became too uncomfortable for me. Several years ago, I asked C in writing for an accounting of my donations to Ananda which I wanted to compare to my records. Combining the two, I have come up with the figure of about $220,000 that I have given over approximately 10 years. Money I would never had donated if I had known the secret side of Kriyananda's life.

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