Icon Show: Interviews

Shaanti Aanand

Shaanti Aanand

Photo by Raj Kamal

Biography

Shanti Aananda, was originally from Montreal, but had spent some time in New York, where he completed his Fine Arts Degree from Pratt University. Ron became a award winning film and animation artist and musician; first with the NFB and then through free-lancing. As a creative artist, he turned down a million dollar contract with Hollywood to maintain his independence and integrity. Ron had begun his spiritual quest with Buddhist philosophies and meditation. Still searching, Ron was fortunate to meet Swami Shyam in 1971, and was initiated into Shyam meditation. He was completely delighted. Ron was later instrumental in creating the first Shyam Meditation Center in Montreal. Later, Ron had the honour of travelling alone with Swami Shyam back to India. He has been living in Kullu full-time for many years.

Written by Gisele Beaupre

I have left the original text as is. 

Interview

Gisele: So Shaanti Aanand, you met Swamiji in 1971 during his first trip to Montreal?

Shanti Aanand: Yes he had just arrived and was staying at a house downtown. I think I met him the second day he was in Montreal. I don't know what got a hold of me. I didn't know what a Swami was. I remember going up the stairs and not wanting to go in at first, then seeing a bunch of people sitting on the floor. Swamiji came down the stairs and gave a fifteen minute talk, about 'exactly' what I had thought about all of my life, and I thought, "Nobody talks like this! He talks like me, he thinks like me. I was just delighted".

He showed us how to meditate, but he didn't give us the mantra at this time. He just told us to watch the breath, and he guided us right into the space. He told us that we were the space, and to watch the space, that the mind and thoughts are there, and the mind merges into the space. Then he was silent for a time. I just felt a nice peaceful sense of well being, almost a tingling in the chest and the heart space. Occasionally thoughts would come into my head, then his voice came. I think we only meditated for 10-15 minutes. Then he said "Get ready to open your eyes."When I opened my eyes; I realized that I was in room full of strangers. I had totally forgotten that I was in somebody else's house. I was just there with him and his voice with only a distant idea that others were there. I realized that I had transcended, or whatever you want to call it. Something had happened, even though it didn't feel very remarkable or unusual at the time, and I couldn't explain it either. Then he wound up his talk and left. I wanted to meet him again and again after that. I went to see him that night and every evening after. The mantra he gave us was Adhuram Madhuram.

Gisele: When did you go to Kullu?

Shanti Aanand: Well, I was just ready to go to Kullu a couple of years later, when I got a telephone call from Swamiji, who was in Arizona. He invited me to meet him there before going to India. I jumped at the chance. He really gave me a lot of energy, then he went back to Montreal for a few weeks and gave talks at the new center. The place was packed around the clock. He said, "If you like we could travel together." I said, "Sure." We went to the airport and many people had come to see Swamiji off. Then I realized that it was just me and him going all the way to India. It was a very blissful trip.

Transcribed by Gisele Beaupre

Top of the page

side menu