In today’s episode of Healing from Within, your host Sheryl Glick, author of The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love welcomes David Eby the musical director of Ananda village the subject of the film “Finding Happiness” and is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. This village is one of the world’s first and foremost conscious communities, others are located in Italy and India. This film, “Finding Happiness” shows us the path towards developing our physical and spiritual gifts. “Finding Happiness” shows an alternative life community with people who seek the resources, connections and a suitable place where they and their families can develop their highest level of human potential. The goal of Ananda is to seek the means to help people live in harmony and balance.
The storyline for this film which is part fictional and part documentary offers a real inside look at a spiritual community. Skeptical reporter Juliet (actress Elizabeth Rohm of American Hustle and Miss Congeniality) sets out to explore Ananda, sent by her editor at Profiles Magazine to investigate people having a real life experience in genuine unscripted interviews. During the course of the film, we find out about the founder of Ananda village, Swami Kriyananda, who is one of the foremost spiritual teachers of yoga principles in the world today. In 1948 at age 22, J. Donald Walters became a disciple of the Indian master of yoga Paramhansa Yogananda. For the next 63 years he was the most widely known of Yogananda’s disciples throughout the world. Kriyananda authored many books, composed many songs, and was a skillful poet, playwright, lecturer, photographer, linguist, television and radio broadcaster. In 1968 he published his most famous book, making him known as the “father of the spiritual community movement,” Cooperative Communities: How to Start Them and Why. That same year, he founded the first community, Ananda Village, which would be followed by seven others, including communities in the U.S., Italy, and India.
Kriyananda studied with Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the best-selling spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, India’s “spiritual ambassador to the West” who was the first great master of yoga to live and teach in the United States for most of his life and was even invited to the White House by President Calvin Coolidge. In 1925 he established an international headquarters atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, called Self- Realization Fellowship. It was there that he would inspire the young monk Donald Walters, known as Swami Kriyananda, to found the first “world brotherhood colony” at Ananda Village in 1968. Yogananda continued to lecture and write until his passing in 1952.
Some of the major teachings of these eastern gurus include the notion that the true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God. The last contribution brought by Yogananda to the West is the non-sectarian, universal spiritual path of Self-Realization. Yogananda gave this definition to the term Self-Realization: “Self-Realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.”As the means of attaining this exalted spiritual state, Yogananda initiated his followers into the ancient technique of Kriya Yoga, which he called the “jet-airplane route to God.” The path of Kriya Yoga, which combines the practice of advanced yogic techniques with spirituality in daily life, can be learned through the Ananda Kriya Sangha.
The title of the film is Finding Happiness and in searching for what constitutes happiness, we discover that there are seven principles which help us access happiness.
1. Let go of negativity
2. Serve and be kind to others
3. Live in the present
4. choose a healthy lifestyle
5. Take care of your spirit
6. Be inwardly free
7. Reconnect with nature
Ted Nicolaou the film maker/director was brought into the project Finding Happiness through his long association with Roberto Bessi, with whom he made many films. He started with Finding Happiness at the beginning of the development process, three years ago, collaborating on the script and conducting extensive interviews with Swami Kriyananda and members of the Ananda communities in the U.S. and Italy. He wanted to show a community driven by the motivation of love for one and all…where people are more important than things, and that being in such a place with a powerful enough message might even transform a skeptical person as it did the main character in the film Juliet.
As Juliet observes the dynamics of the community Ananda, she actually starts to feel what is missing in her own emotional makeup. Juliet begins to see an inspiring self-portrait of this dynamic loving community emerge offering her new insight into how to bring that into her own life. We meet a group of people who have made the personal journey from idealism to inner transformation, and who have developed practical solutions for a sustainable, harmonious, inwardly fulfilling way of life. In her interviews, especially those with Kriyananda, she finds answers for her personal quest. His gentle wisdom helps her discover eternal truths with the power to transform her life. Juliet discovers real people talking about their real life experiences in genuine unscripted interviews and she finds what she never expected to find: true happiness.
Many of us are now aware that our world is in a state of crisis. This film and its philosophy offers ways we may improve problems such as economic collapse, government gridlock, climate disasters, senseless violence, pervasive corruption, protests, anger, disillusionment and despair.
Juliet, as everyone who observes the interactions between the participants in the Ananda village begin to realize the way to improve the world and human condition is to see a commonality in the thinking and behavior patterns of each and every member of our community…this includes a respect for themselves and others, a willingness to offer help if asked, a quiet introspective way to observe and view every unfolding experience without judgment and without the need to force other people to change or adapt to your needs. In other words, there is personal responsibility assumed for every action and word uttered by the individual…RESPONSIBILITY FOR PERSONAL GROWTH is a must. In other words, it becomes clear heaven on earth cannot be realized until every member of the community is in synch with every other member of the community while following the basic principles that honor and respect each soul.
Some ways to start doing what will help you achieve your goals for becoming a happier, healthier, more radiant you, being with dreaming big and visualizing yourself, accomplishing each item on the list you have created for practical and possible additions into your everyday life and then focusing your energy on making it a reality. By focusing your energy, we mean to align your intentions, thoughts, words, and actions to a higher view of what would bring you the greatest health, joy, love, and how you then could give that out to the world.
If you are unaware on how to begin, write down a list of things that you want to start doing today that will help you achieve your goals for becoming a happier, healthier, more radiant you. Make your list action-oriented, practical, and possible. Be sure to include both those things that you think will be easy to incorporate into your life, as well as more challenging. Dream big and visualize yourself accomplishing each item on your list as you focus your energy on making it a reality. If you don’t know where to begin–talk to family and friends about what they want to start doing in order to live a happier life. Then inspire others to do the same. Continue to help motivate one another, challenge each other to make greater changes, and help each other to break through barriers, fears, limitations, and beliefs which no longer work in your best interest.
“Finding Happiness is a treasure— a beautiful film about how one man helped create heaven on earth. Very inspiring and so relevant.” This is a quote by Christiane Northrup, M.D.,Ob/Gyn physician, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. As many spiritual seekers who wish to interpret the expression, “heaven on earth” we know we must fully understand our spiritual nature, the energetic laws of the universe, and our human everyday daily living. it is all about allowing, accepting, and surrendering to our true nature as the energetic offshoots of universal energy or Source and to remember that we truly create our physical reality and world from the thoughts and actions that we exhibit in our everyday living. Our educational and technological goals must be aligned to the development of our children so they become healthy productive members of the community knowing they have the capacity, knowledge and wisdom to use the tools of technology and the resources of our planet in a mindful and respectful manner. Our children are the means to establishing heaven on earth…better parenting, more love, and a greater appreciation for life itself.
In watching the film Finding Happiness, which depicts a beautiful community with healthy and caring community members all bringing their talents to support all the residents and helping all of us to discover once again, the truth that it is possible to live a conscious awakened mindful existence when it comes from within each person’s soul or highest self. The goal over time should be that people can focus on creating this euphoric state of life anywhere in the world, whether it be in the country or in the city as it is not the outside world that creates our reality, but the universe that resides within each of us that creates our perceptions, our values, and the life we may build for ourselves and for those we interact with in our daily activities. Creating happiness like any other positive event in our life, is a choice and a practice that must be worked on consistently for the best results. Living a simple life in a community like Ananda does not mean that you will not have the resources to enjoy a good meal, nature, literature, shows and music; it means that the resources must sustain everyone in the community and people must share and contribute their energies, thoughts and actions, for the highest good of all.
Towards that goal, wherever we live, we must improve our communities with the old adage, “one for all and all for one”!