Swami Kriyananda left his physical body on April 21, 2013. Several weeks ago, I was talking to him inwardly. I asked him how we should carry on, now that he is no longer among us.
Instantly I heard his clear voice. He said, “What makes you think I am not here?”
At the time of his passing, Swamiji was 86. It was inspiring to see how he dealt with the usual ailments of old age, of which he had many.
A relentless series of illnesses and accidents assailed him in his final years, as if maya, the power of delusion, was trying to prevent him from completing his mission, assigned to him by his great guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
Thankfully, none of those ailments were life-threatening, except for old age itself.
Swamiji would joke, “I keep telling people not to get old, but no one listens to me.”
(Photo: Nayaswami Asha with Swami Kriyananda, at Ananda Sangha, Palo Alto, California)
The way he dealt with the inconveniences of his aging body was simple: he transcended it completely. If you asked him about his health, he would say little. He neither complained, nor affirmed. He simply acknowledged that he had a body which was going about its business in its own way.
But if you asked, “How are you?” you would receive a very different response.
“Wonderful!” Swamiji would say, without a moment’s hesitation.
Wherever he was, whatever was happening around him, the expression in his eyes was always the same: calm, joyous, reflecting the bliss of the Infinite. Swamiji seemed to live, especially in his later years, in a continual state of God-remembrance.
We felt always that he was living in the eternal presence of his guru. Even though Yogananda left his body in 1952, more than 60 years ago, Swamiji always spoke of him in the present, as an eternally living friend.
Swamiji quoted Yogananda: “The company one keeps determines to a great extent whether his energy will move inward toward God, or outward toward the world. Good company is essential on the spiritual path.”
One time, a disciple asked Yogananda, “Sir – what if I am alone?”
Gazing deeply into the disciple’s eyes, the Master replied, “Am I not always with you?”
There is no doubting a master’s omnipresence. Yogananda once remarked to Swamiji, “I know every single thought you are thinking.” Swamiji gave many examples of how his Guru proved that it was true.
When I first heard Swamiji tell this story, I said, “Is it still true? Is Paramhansa Yogananda as much aware of us now as he was when he was in the body?”
Swamiji unhesitatingly replied, “Of course.”
The vital question the masters ask us is, “Are you always with me?”
Recent economic events have cast a cloud over our future, causing many of us feel anxious about what lies ahead. Paramhansa Yogananda predicted that the world will pass through severe trials. He promised that we will emerge victorious, but only after a period of great testing. When this time will come, and how long it will last, he did not say.
Swamiji, who heard Yogananda speak of these things, said that he spoke in a voice of thunder, making it seem as if the trials would begin the very next day!
Swamiji suggested that people store food, grow food, and band together in communities, as Ananda has done. The most important preparation, however, as he repeatedly told us, is to deepen our God-awareness. To deepen our spirituality as individuals, the Master said, is the reason this test is coming.
“Am I not always with you?” Let us answer with an unbroken, blissful “Yes!”