The Hermitage Monk
Ananda (Francis Ananda Love), founder of the Hermitage, and an independant, atypical monk, has experienced this universal teaching during his years of pilgrimage, cave sadhana and service in Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and USA. Although his practice and teachers mostly follow Buddhist and Hindu lines, his study and counsel come from the teachings of all religions...for surely, truth is one.
Visiting India and Sri Lanka almost every year since mid 1980's, usually remaining for 6 months to 2.5 years, India has become his second home. Known in India as Sadhu "Ananda Baba", his sadhana includes companionship and service to poor people as well as walking in the Himalayas; living on the banks of the Holy River Ganga; and visiting saints, yogis and sadhus (monks) at their camps, caves or ashrams. He has spent many weeks, months & years in various caves for meditation, in north and south India; and, those years of Cave Sadhana, as well as many Vipassana sittings with U.S.N. Goenka and Robert Hover, inspired his construction of the Samadhi Cave and the Samadhi Hermitage.
Previously a university
(with PhD), Francis Love was married and living "happily ever
His first visit to India, plus reading the book "Autobiography of
a Yogi" by Yogananda when he returned home, was enough to "leave
and everyone" and become "sadhu" (monk). Fortunately, the beloved wife
from had the same inspiration, and joined Yogananda's Ashram in Los Angeles. He finished reading the Autobiography on his return
airflight to India.
Nearly two years of cave sadhana ended with a world peace project entitled "World Citizens for World Peace". The project promoted an invitational concept (us and them) rather than the age-old confrontational approach (us or them), and "set a date" (October 24, 1983) for the "Beginning and First Day of World Peace". Over 6,000 unique peace letters went out in three languages to Heads of State, other politicians, various organizations and individuals throughout the world. Collecting over 8,000 signatures, the proposal was supported by Robert Muller, and received at the United Nations twice (prior to and on the 40th anniversary of the United Nations). Although it did not create everlasting world peace, it did participate significantly in the 1980's awakening of spiritual rather than confrontational peacemaking.
For many years, Ananda spend the
winter months in solitude and cave sadhana,
from December 1st thru the end of February, every year. The Samadhi
Hermitage and "Sadhu Ananda Baba" were featured as a cover article
the second quarter issue, 1995, of Yoga Vedanta Magazine.
"I remember my first few meetings with a great hindu saint in North India. Relating that I was totally disillusioned with Christianity, I was told 'if you don't get it together with Christ, you'll never get it together with God.' Blew my mind! I answered 'I cannot choose a particular form of God, leaving some aside and following only another'; and, was told … 'that's the most difficult path, but do it if you can.'
Later, I found out why it is the most difficult path. One day, I suddenly felt 'I don't have any guru, nor just one guru ('the' one) like everyone else'. I crashed feeling I had none. Then I remembered those words and understood why "acceptance of all" is the most difficult path … our ego makes that such a difficult path, because the ego wants to be right, it wants to be on the right path. Without having 'the one', or at least 'a one', how can the ego be on the "right" path, and therefore be correct? These are the fears of the ego. Only by accepting the oneness of all, does such a person become free. Of course, I came out of my slump, gladly accepting my sadhana and belief that 'Truth is One'. The greatness of India is that they uphold and support all true pathways to the divine, so I was never lacking in respect and support for this sadhana. Today, as we know, the great spiritual awakening in the world is embracing that truth quite nicely.
"I enjoy the English translation of the name (Ananda Baba) which is 'Bliss Baba'. My favorite conversations are in the areas of inspiring people to find and be in their bliss. Bliss is bliss, and it is available everywhere, even in those relationships where the "honeymoon is over" and people have forgotten to love each other the way they used to. Gratefulness is a necessary doorway to tears of bliss, as well as to the supreme place where the two are one. Sit and look into each others eyes, just feeling so much gratefulness and love for the other...until tears flow. THAT is dwelling in bliss! Yes, the extraordinary is available, and when tasted how can there be any less in our view of what we want in life.
"Monks are of many types, although those most commonly known, are the celibate folks seen in robes. So often this conveys to the world that the lovemaking (sexual) aspects of life, and thus bonded relationships, are a 'notch' or two down from true spirituality; and are, therefore, a block to ultimate spiritual development, growth, achievement, liberation, enlightenment, etc. This is a great sadness, and not true; for 'monk' does not just mean color of the robes, and nature of celibacy. To the contrary I believe the real 'monk' is the nature of the heart and soul, for one who is truly dedicated to discover their true (god) self, sharing this gift with others, living a life of truth and love rather than selfishness, greed and anger … this is the real monk. Such people live single as well as in relationships. In India, so many people joyfully agree when I comment that 'monk' is not in the color of ones robes, but in the heart.
"The mis-understanding of
versus spirituality comes muchly from a definite truth that yes, in a
relationship, it is usually much more difficult to pursue a spiritual
path...especially when compared to how fully absorbed and concentrated
be when single and in a monk style of life, free from the various
and turmoil of family life. However, that too comments on
ordinary. At the extraordinary level of relating, two people can
definitely enhance each other's spiritual journey; and the aspect of
can be such a powerful purification, kundalini awakening, and an
extraordinary samadhi that
resultant genuine divine bliss easily stands equal to the dry path of
so many monks
not yet found such peace, joy and bliss in
celibate path. That's okay … everyone's sadhana is perfect in any given point in
time; none is better than any other … only different, sort of.
"Lastly, on this subject … no one should think the bliss of spiritual love in a relationship is any less than that of an ecstatic monk. Love is love, bliss is bliss; and in the case of both paths, one more double-feature is exactly the same … "the object of one's love (partner, or an abandoned child) is none less than God; and the experience of godliness, is nothing less than pure unconditional love! Whether god is formless or manifested in human form it makes no difference; for when the heart is pure, and when the tears of blissful gratefulness and love flow...it is surely all the same! Whether the 'object of one's love' (and thus path) is God without form, or in the form of Guru, or via manifestation in the form of one's soulmate, it is surely all the same...pure unmitigated bliss just is! Love is love, truth is truth, bliss is bliss. Jai Maa!"
spake the "Bliss Baba".
(Bliss also means to maintain a good sense of humor!)
Oh, I almost forgot...one great source of bliss for me are the people we support in India, especially our adopted families whom you can visit via these pages … Glimpses from the Past - 1994-2002 … and … The Roy Family, in West Bengal.
Ananda with Sarubai Family (left) and Mishra Family (Right)
|Samadhi Hermitage, Madrid, New Mexico, USA|
|Advaita Ananda Samadhi Ashram - Ellora, Maharastra, INDIA|
|Advaita Ananda Samadhi Ashram
Ananda's Ashram and Residence,
Samadhi Hermitage Crystal
|Construction Days - 2009-2014|
Six years, on and off,
constructing our India Ashram.
Stone walls, construction folks, etc.
|Glimpses from the Past - 1994-2002
Collages and Stories of two Indian families.
Still we are with two children from each!
Jyoti & Sagar in Mishra family;
Sita & Sagar in Tambe family.
Hearts and Faces in Stone
India Ashram Stone masonry fun!
"Miles of Smiles"
Families & friends… in bliss!
Hermitage - India Trust
We are officially non-profit in India.
Kids and families
at her Ashram in Amar Kantak, headwaters of the Narmada Ganga.
The Roy Family, in West Bengal
A true Gandhian family totally dedicated to village service and uplift.
Sarubai Tambe Family Residence.
|Would you like to help with Social Work in India?
$10-20/month is NOT a hardship for most of us; yet it can do wonders in 3rd world countries!
For assistance to poor folks in any 3rd world country, no amount is too small.
Click here … for a visit to "Social Work in India"
Trekking and Touring Himalayas of India
We highly recommend Amit Bajaj for any India travel help you may need;
especially in the Himalayas.