With Divine Mother’s Help

[Listen to Asha read this story]

In the summer of 1980, Swamiji spent most of his time in San Francisco helping to establish an Ananda Center there. Even with him spearheading the energy, it was hard going. The San Francisco Bay area, however, is the population hub of northern California. Swamiji felt we must establish some presence there, for the sake of the work we were doing.

One evening, Swamiji drove an hour north of the city to give what he thought was a free introductory lecture for an upcoming class series.  When he arrived he found there was no introductory lecture; it was the first class of the paid series and only three people had come.

“I raised the money to build Ananda by giving classes,” Swamiji said to those responsible for the mistake. “One thing I learned is always to give a free introductory lecture.”

Trying to put a positive spin on the whole experience, someone said, “Maybe Divine Mother wanted just these three people to be here.”

“Please,” Swamiji said, “don’t blame Divine Mother. Leave a little room for human error.”

A few weeks later, another devotee was feeling discouraged and said to Swamiji, “Perhaps Divine Mother doesn’t want us to be here.”

“If Divine Mother didn’t want this work to happen,” Swamiji said, “She would make it impossible for us to go on. We could happily go home, then, knowing it was Her will. Instead, Divine Mother makes it barely possible. So we can’t give up; we have to go on.”

Not long afterward, an opportunity came to rent a 45-room house in one of the nicest areas of the city. As soon as Swamiji stepped over the threshold, he said, “This place feels like ours.”

It was ten times as large, and ten times as costly, as the place we were currently renting. Swamiji felt Divine Mother wanted us to have it, however. He called a meeting of everyone in the city who might be interested, and in an hour raised the thousands of dollars needed to move in.

It was the turning point. It wasn’t easy, but for the next decade, Divine Mother made it barely possible for “Ananda House” to survive as an urban ashram.

Eventually, Divine Mother made it clear that San Francisco was not to be Ananda’s permanent urban home. The house was sold and the new owner didn’t want to lease it to us anymore.

The timing was perfect, however. The Ananda community in Palo Alto, on the peninsula south of San Francisco, was just getting underway. It soon replaced San Francisco as the center of Ananda’s work in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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