Swami Kriyananda on Art, Creativity, and Self-Offering

Swamiji during Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village, early 1990s; with Jeannie Tschantz, a longtime friend and original Ananda member whose life has been dedicated to sharing his music with the world.

(Part 11 in our ongoing series, Swami Kriyananda on Art & the Artist.)

In the summer, Swamiji gave classes and Sunday service almost every weekend. He bought high quality recording equipment and made a series of five-minute radio programs, Techniques for Joyful Living, that aired every Sunday morning on a Sacramento station. On tour, people kept asking for recordings of the music. Swamiji did a solo concert, including the sonata, and recorded it live—Music of Divine Joy.

His expansive efforts would put Ananda on a sound footing over the long term. Immediately, though, the financial crisis created by the fire continued unabated. The master plan had finally been approved, but we were still struggling to get back to where we were when the fire hit. To earn money, people went out in teams and planted trees for the Forestry Service. Another group spent two months working in a processing plant for the rice harvest. Everyone was doing their part, but the lion’s share of responsibility still rested on Swamiji. At the end of August, he went to Hawaii—alone.

“I came to a crisis point,” he said later. “I had been supporting the community for eleven years. I felt so hemmed in by the pressure I wanted to run off to a cave! I have no grand illusions about the importance of what I’m doing. I could leave at any time. But when I meditated on leaving, I felt no inspiration to do so.

“Some people serve Master through their meditations. What I have to offer is my creativity. Master often praised me for the creative way I served him. Perhaps I will live long enough also to have a life of meditation. Perhaps I won’t. When I was living with Master, he asked me to use my evenings to write magazine articles. ‘That will interfere with my meditation time,’ I said. Master responded, ‘Living for God is martyrdom.’

“Many people think of martyrdom as some kind of suffering. It isn’t. Master said the saints who were martyred didn’t even feel pain. All they felt was the joy of giving everything to God. Thinking of it this way, I felt deep inspiration, and it was not difficult to come back.” (1978, pp. 124-125)