The Importance of Community in the Spiritual Life, by Swami Kriyananda

In his lectures and writings, my great Guru Paramhansa Yogananda emphasized repeatedly the importance for devotees of living together in community, sharing their spiritual aspirations.

It is no small thing to develop new ways of thinking, feeling, and living in a materialistic world. It is all the more difficult now, because people’s focus today is so strongly on materialism.

Sunday service at Ananda Sangha, Palo Alto.

India is trying to regain its balance in the face of the inundation of western values, which work very well, on their own level. Many Indians, however, realize that the quest for material comfort and security is empty without inner peace.

What is the solution? How wonderful it would be if those who seek God, few in number though they have always been, could gather in places where job, school, church, and one’s whole life could be in one place.

I was at a garden party in 1949, in Beverly Hills, California, when my Guru addressed hundreds of people on this subject. It was the most powerful speech I have ever heard. He urged us: “Thousands of youth must go north, south, east, and west, to show that living together for God is the way to true freedom and happiness!”

I vowed to do whatever I could to bring this ideal to fruition. I must have been the only person present who responded to his plea. With Guru’s and God’s grace, I succeeded in founding several communities in America and one in Italy. About 1000 people now live in these communities. My dream now is to launch this concept in India.

I see the Ananda communities as the way to forge a new pattern of living in which people will help one another to grow in spiritual values. This pattern exists in the communities I have founded, which have thrived and brought harmony to thousands, not only the residents but countless others around the world who have been inspired by what they’ve seen and experienced at Ananda.


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