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Harvesting the Nectar II

An Interview with Swami Lalitananda

April 16, 2010 by Lightwaves

As editor of Swami Radhananda’s upcoming Timeless release, Swami Lalitananda shares with Lighwaves her experience as witness to a profound relationship between guru and disciple. Here is part-two of the the interview with Swami Lalitananda, focused on how Swami Radhananda faced challenges and developed her strength as a woman on her way to becoming spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram Cierra Dahlquist visits Lightwaves as guest editor and shares her experience on the spiritual path and her gratitude for this lineage of yogic Teachings.

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Cierra Dahlquist: When I was a teenager, I had an unusual and unexplained experience of GuanYin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion. I was immersed in a vision of GuanYin with a thousand arms beckoning to me, radiating streams of liquid light that bathed everything in radiance and peace. This experience was one of the main catalysts that led to my studying Chinese religious art history and spending over half my twenties in China. Still, I feel closest to the Goddess at Yasodhara Ashram, where guests are greeted by GuanYin herself, in the form of a beautiful stained-glass window and an exquisite bronze statue in Mandala House.

GuanYin (or Kuan Yin), stained glass window, Mandala House, Yasodhara Ashram

Swami Lalitananda, introduced me to the teachings of Swami Radha when I lived in Vancouver for a year and a half between China stints, and this introduction brought me to the Ashram. I am beyond grateful that the vision I experienced over a decade ago was not the extent of the Goddess’ involvement in my life. Thanks to Swami Lalitananda and Radha Yoga, I found Yasodhara Ashram. GuanYin is as present here as she is in the holy Buddhist mountains of China. She and all forms of the Goddess are served by women and men who honor the Divine Feminine in them and in each other.  It is also here that the spiritual director is herself an embodiment of Divine Mother’s special qualities.  Om GuanYin


Swami Lalitananda: A big part of Swami Radhananda’s commitment is keeping the Ashram a safe place for women, founded on the Divine Mother principle. She both supports and challenges women because she was challenged to come into her own strength.  At the beginning of her spiritual life, she was working through her marriage. At one point she thought the teachings were something separate from her life and that she had to be a swami to practice. Then she realized, it actually means bringing them into her life right now. So she used the teachings to work through her marriage. Again it’s an example to use the teachings wherever you are in your life.

She was very committed to her marriage and she went a long way in trying to make it work. Then she developed clarity and realized at one point that there was nothing more she could. She could not save this person. She knew then that people’s spiritual evolution is his or her own choice, and her commitment was to the Divine.

Can you say something more about Swami Radhananda being a woman and a spiritual leader, especially in a world where the feminine is not valued?

It’s still surprising to me that women are undervalued in the world. Swami Radhananda’s first course at the Ashram was ‘Women and Spiritual Life.’  It was the ground on which she started, where the embodiment of the Divine feminine is the spiritual path. The practice became intense when she became president of the Ashram because she was in a different position and even at the Ashram, men were used to listening to other men and not to a woman. They listened to Swami Radha to an extent but she had trouble with this too.  Swami Radhananda is naturally kind, soft and receptive and she had to become strong enough to be able to take a stand, to say no and have clear boundaries.  She had to develop all the different aspects of the goddess, the firm and the fierce as well as the loving and kind, and there were lots of opportunities to practice this at the Ashram.

Men have received more training to come forward, to make decisions and to act.  It’s often hard to draw that strength out in women but Swami Radhananda is committed to supporting women and many women do come to the ashram. For the men it’s also about bringing forward and respecting the feminine. The Ashram offers opportunities for everyone to develop sensitivity through devotion, to practice listening and understanding, and to work together in a different way. Swami Radhananda is an example of a woman who has integrated a fierce clarity with an open receptiveness. Her whole purpose is to be a handmaiden to Divine Mother, and in that she is a great example.



“You are a human flower. You can open up to the Divine Light, you can open up to your own wisdom, you can open up to the honey above the Light and sustain yourself in that way. You can create, you have the power, you have the energy to be who you are and to sustain the wisdom and the brilliance that you have.”

Swami Radhananda

Polishing the Diamond is a 5-day retreat with Swami Radhananda. Experience the power of the Light to still and focus the mind, to offer perspective and to reveal possibilities.  Relax and renew in the Ashram’s pristine, natural environment. Each day has a balance of time in the group and also time for solitude to explore your practices and learning, walk in the forest and by the lake, and be held in the stillness and quiet.

Yasodhara Ashram will be hosting Polishing the Diamond, April 26-May 1/ 2010. For more information you may call 1 800 661 8711, view our online course catalogue, or email email@yasodhara.org. To join the event on Facebook, click here. For printable posters, click here

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