The following are excerpts from the "Ananda Rules of Conduct for Members", the whole of which has been entered as evidence in the sexual harassment lawsuit. Written by J. Donald Walters.
"These rules of conduct have evolved through many years of practical experience, both in the
development of Ananda World Brotherhood
Village since its birthing period, 1967-1969, and in my own earlier spiritual life as a direct disciple of the great master, Paramhansa Yogananda. The rules presented here are based on the present realities
of life at Ananda.
For many years, these rules were defined not as rules, specifically, but rather as a growing body of
traditional observances. This was entirely as it should have been. For who
would be so foolish as to fit a person to a new suit of clothes, rather than fit the new suit to the person! "The sabbath," Jesus Christ said, "was made for man, and not man for the
sabbath." Astonishingly, systems are often built on preconceived theories alone, with no practical reference to the human realities they are meant to affect. The purpose of these rules, then, is
primarily to explain and clarify a way of life that is already in existence, and thereby to guide the members of Ananda further in their efforts to grow toward perfection.
Ananda World Brotherhood
Village is, essentially, not only a spiritual, but also a monastic, community. It is monastic in the dictionary-accepted sense of a community that renounces worldly interests that are centered in
ego-gratification and in the quest for personal gain; and that is wholly dedicated to living for God alone, to serving Him, and to becoming united with Him, eventually, in spirit.
May these Rules of
Conduct help to point the way to perfection for those who have accepted the ray of the divine light that was brought to the West by Paramhansa Yogananda, and that is expressed through Ananda World
It is not necessarily a sign of loyalty, on the other hand, merely to agree--if, for example, one's agreement is with what he inwardly perceives as an error. It is
a sign of loyalty, however, to support one's spiritual family regardless of one's disagreement with some of its directions, provided those directions constitute no major threat to what should always be the
member's highest loyalty: his commitment to God.
It is not loyal, in the name of "fairness" and "objectivity," to withhold support from community
decisions, once these decisions have been agreed upon. Nor is it loyal, in the name of
"open-mindedness," to hold oneself aloof in such matters as if claiming to represent some higher
wisdom that is not being accepted. Perfection cannot be achieved here on earth. Is it not wrong,
then, to make such minor imperfections as one may find, or imagine one has found, in his chosen
spiritual family his excuse for withholding mental support! Does one, for instance, for the
imperfections that he may observe in his own mother, hold himself aloof from her! She is his mother,
all, her human shortcomings notwithstanding. When there is love, a person's deepest awareness will always be of the causes for unity, not for disunity.
Members, wherever they may go, should see
themselves as channels of God and of the ray of divine light that is expressed through Ananda. They should behave themselves accordingly-joyfuliy, of course, but never with abandon, and always with God-
remembrance. They ought to strive consciously to project their inner light, so that that light--which is to say, God's light, through them--may touch, on some level, everyone they meet.
Article 13 Membership Vows
Vows of membership should be defined first in terms of final commitment, and then adjusted to varying degrees of commitment up to that highest level. The final vows, then,
are four: simplicity, self-control, service, and cooperative obedience. Simplicity, at Ananda, is not defined as poverty. It is defined, rather, as reducing one's wants so that material things do not intrude
on one's inner freedom, but rather, in the context of whatever needs to be done, facilitate that freedom. Self control means always to hold one's physical sense-pleasures in rein, and to strive to direct
one's energy from the senses to soul-consciousness, rather than the reverse. Service means less the actual activity of serving than the love one channels while serving. Indeed, for the devotee, all life
should be viewed in terms of the opportunities it gives him to serve God in all. Cooperative obedience, finally, means intelligent, creative participation in whatever one is asked to do, as opposed to that
kind of obedience which asks, and is allowed to ask, no questions. The final vows of Life-Membership in the Ananda monastic order read as follows: "Heavenly Father, Divine Mother, Friend, Beloved God;
Great masters: Jesus Christ, Babaji-Krishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda; great saints of all religions: I bow to you all. "I offer my life, my service, and
my devotion unconditionally to God, to you my line of gurus, and to the ray of the divine light that you represent. "I promise to live my life always in openness and surrender to God's will. I will
abide by the monastic principles of simplicity and self-control as they have been defined in the Ananda Rules of Conduct for Members. Henceforth I relinquish all sense of'I' and 'mine' in my life. I offer
all that I own and all that I am at Thy feet of Infinity. "I dedicate myself to finding Thee, my God, and to serving Thee in a spirit of love through my fellowman. "As a means of attaining
Self-realization, I pledge my cooperative obedience and loyalty to Ananda, to those members who are responsible for guiding the community in its various aspects, and, above all, to the living representative
of the Ananda line of gurus: the Spiritual Director of Ananda Church of Self- Realization." (The Spiritual Director of Ananda is J. Donald Walters)
Article 6 Marriage
ponder the fact that marriage is not only a private and personal affair, but also a social state. In a spiritually close community, especially, like Ananda, a disharmonious marriage cannot but affect in some
way the harmony of everyone, whereas a harmonious marriage gives joy to all. No two members wishing to get married should feel that the matter is their concern alone. Grave mistakes in marriage might be
prevented if the advice of others--spiritual well-wishers, especially, uninfluenced by personal desire--were consulted. A committee should be appointed by the community to consult with couples wishing to be
married. To develop guidelines of true, spiritual compatibility, as opposed to merely romantic attraction, should be the long-range goal of this committee. The immediate function of the marriage committee,
however, will be to give the community's consent to a marriage. This approval should be sought by every couple before committing themselves to getting married. The committee's approval, moreover, should not
be given lightly, but weighed carefully. The couple's relationship together should be studied conscientiously, with regard primarily to their highest welfare, but also with regard to the welfare of the
community. The true meaning of marriage should be explored with the prospective couple at a series of sessions. Couples ought to wait at least one year from the time they first announce their desire to
marry, before actually getting married. Couples who are Ananda members should accept to be married by an Ananda minister, and according to the Ananda Wedding Ceremony. The essence of the meaning of this
ceremony, as distinct from many other wedding ceremonies, might be expressed thus: Traditionally, the bride comes to the wedding dressed in white, as if to declare, "Until today, my body has been kept
pure for marriage." At Ananda, however, if the bride wears white it is to declare, "My husband and I want always to live together in purity." If any couple, influenced by personal desire,
decide to marry in opposition to the community's decision and advice, they may not be married by an Ananda minister. Let them, instead, be married outside the community, and not burden their spiritual
family, who have their highest welfare sincerely at heart, with the request that it go against it's own conscience in the matter.
Article 7 Children
Children are not possessions: They
are sacred charges. A couple's responsibility to their children is a responsibility in God, and must be discharged in truth, love, and divine respect. They must seek ever to touch the children at their
highest level of reality.. The couple have a duty also to the community in raising their children, if only because their children's behavior can affect other children in the community. Couples haven't the
right to insist, as couples often do in the world, "This child is
ours to raise as we feel to do." The community's feelings in such matters should be considered
also, and its involvement actively soughthildren in the community ought, moreover, in avery real
sense to be seen as the children of the community. The members, in other words, in the love and
concern they show the children, should treat all of them as their own.
Article 8 Work Is Service
Ananda members should view whatever gainful employment they seek as a service, never merely as
work. The mere thought of hard work, indeed, often drains a person's energies, whereas joyful, willing service opens inner floodgates to a boundless supply of energy. Expansive service, moreover, in God's
name, is much more spiritually regenerating than that constricted service, motivated by human feelings, which people commonly offer to the few whom they consider their own. Even those closest to them should
be served, rather, with the thought that, through them, one is serving God. The employment sought by members should be in keeping with Ananda's ideals; it should not be selected from financial motives alone.
Above all, it should be approached in the light of the opportunities it affords for serving others in a divine way. Ananda members are free both to create their own businesses and to import businesses from
outside the community. They are free, as well, to pursue their own personal careers. No gainful activity should be admitted into Ananda, however, until it has been passed on by a business council. The main
focus of this business council should be on the compatibility of the proposed activity with Ananda's ideals. The emphasis in this case should be positive; in other words, the council should be open to
accepting almost any new activity, provided the activity doesn't contradict Ananda's ideals. For in truth, virtually any business can have a spiritual influence, if the people who serve in it do so in the
consciousness of God.
Members who want to change their jobs should first consult the community, or appointed
representatives of the community, lest the change they propose cause inconvenience to any aspect
of the community's life and activities, and also for reassurance from their spiritual family that the
change will be for their own highest, spiritual good. Members should feel that Ananda as a whole,
and not the building in which they happen to live at Ananda, is their home. Thus, should their
services ever be required elsewhere, it will be easier for them to view this need as an opportunity
for their spiritual growth, and to accept it willingly, with non-attachment.