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Path: One Man's Quest On the Only Path There Is
by J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda)
must keep this place a secret," Bernard warned me as we drove out to
Twenty-Nine Palms. "With the rapid growth of the work, Master needs
a place where he can go to concentrate on his writings. Otherwise it's telephone
calls and interviews all day long. He's even bought the property in his
family name, Ghosh, to safeguard his privacy."
This was the first time I'd ever seen a desert. The vast wasteland of sand, sagebrush, Joshua trees, and tumbleweed held a strange fascination for me. It seemed a different dimension, as though time here had slipped imperceptibly into timelessness. The sky, pastel hues of blue, pink, and orange-yellow in the waning afternoon sunlight, looked almost ethereal. I gazed about me in wonder.
Bernard noted my expression. "I see the desert's magic is working on you already!" He added, "Master says the light here resembles the astral light."
The monks' retreat, at which we arrived soon afterward, was a small cottage on some fifteen acres of land. It was without electricity. A tall windmill creaked and clanked complainingly with every breeze, as it pumped water up from a well. A grove of blue-green smoke trees hid the cottage from the seldom-traveled sand road. Even with the windmill, which seemed determined to go public with news of how hard it was made to work, this seemed a perfect spot for seclusion and meditation. Over the coming years I was to spend many months in these tranquil surroundings.
Master's place was five miles up the road. Located in a more developed area, it had city water, and electricity, which he needed since he did much of his writing at night. His property nestled near the base of a range of low hills which, because of their barrenness, looked almost like mountains. Master's house had pale stucco walls, in the Spanish style typical of southern California. Surrounding it were a profusion of plants and delicate Chinese elms. The entire property, enclosed by a low wire fence, was one or two acres in size.
My first visit to Twenty-Nine Palms was for a weekend. We visited Master at his place. My recollection of him on that occasion isn't so much of the things he said, as of what he didn't say. I didn't know it at the time, but he placed great importance on silence. Disciples working around him were permitted to speak only when necessary. "Silence," he told them, "is the altar of Spirit."
Master was seated out of doors by the garage; Bernard and I were standing nearby. Master asked Bernard to go into the house and fetch something. Suddenly, for the first time since my acceptance as a disciple, I found myself alone with my guru. It seemed an opportunity not to be missed: a chance to learn somethinganything! Master, evidently, didn't see it in the same light. He made no move to speak. Finally I decided I'd better "break the ice."
I had learned from Bernard how to commune inwardly with Aum, the Cosmic Sound, which manifests itself to the yogi in deep meditation. "Sir," I inquired, "what does Aum sound like?"
Master gave a prolonged "Mmmmmmmmmm." He then reverted comfortably to silence. To me, alas, his silence was anything but comfortable.
"How does one hear it?" I persisted, though I already knew the technique.
This time Master didn't even answer, but simply assumed the prescribed position. After holding it briefly, he returned his hands in silence to his lap.
Some months later I told him I was having trouble calming my breath in meditation. "That," he replied, "is because you used to talk a lot. The influence has carried over. Well," he added consolingly, "you were happy in that."
Silence is the altar of Spirit. As I grew into my new way of life I came to prize this maxim.
Soon after our first visit to Twenty-Nine Palms, Bernard drove Norman and me out there again. Master had devised a project for the two of us to work on, probably to give us an excuse to remain near him while he concentrated on his writings. He asked us to build him a small swimming pool behind the house, near his bedroom. It was not that he wanted a pool, particularly; in fact, once it was finished he never used it. But it did give Norman and me the opportunity to be with him for weeks at a time.
Soon we were busy shoveling out a deep hole in the sand. Master, taking an occasional break from his writing, would come out and work with us for fifteen minutes or so. Whenever he did so, I felt a deep blessing. But I hadn't yet adjusted to his habitual silence. One warm, sunny afternoon I noticed that he was panting slightly with the physical exertion, and remarked conversationally, "It's hot work, isn't it?"
"It is good work." Master gazed at me a moment sternly, then returned in silence to his digging.
Gradually, inspired by his example, I learned to speak less, and to listen more to God's soundless whispers in my soul.
Late one afternoon we were sitting with Master on a little porch outside the sitting room where he dictated his writings. After several minutes of silence, Master posed me an unexpected question.
"What keeps the earth from shooting out into space, away from the sun?"
Surprised, and not as yet familiar with the cryptic way he often taught us, I assumed he simply wanted information. "It's the sun's gravitational pull, Sir," I explained.
"Then what keeps the earth from being drawn back into the sun?"
"That's the earth's centrifugal force, pulling it constantly outward. If the sun's gravity weren't as strong as it is, we'd shoot off into space, out of the solar system altogether."
Master smiled significantly. Had he intended more than I realized? Some months later I recalled this conversation, and understood that he had been speaking metaphorically of God as the sun, drawing all things back to Himself, and of man as the earth, resisting with desires and petty self-interest the pull of divine love.
One hot day at noon Norman and I stood up from our digging and stretched, grateful that lunchtime had arrived. We enjoyed our work, but there was no denying that it was also tiring. Besides, we were famished. Briefly we surveyed the yawning pit at our feet.
"God, what a hole!" exclaimed Norman. We gazed out over the mounds of sand we'd deposited about the grounds with the wheelbarrow. The very sight of them, lumped there in mute testimony to our exertions, only reinforced our fatigue.
At that moment Master came out of doors.
"Those mounds don't look very attractive," he remarked. "I wonder if they couldn't be leveled out. Would one of you mind fetching a two-by-four?"
Armed with the board, we stood before him apprehensively and awaited further instructions.
"Each of you hold the two-by-four at one end," Master said. "Thenjust come over to this mound here. Pull the sand back toward you by pressing down hard on the board, and moving it slowly back and forth between you."
Probably even this meager description suffices to convey some idea of how difficult the job was. By the time we'd leveled one mound, Norman and I were panting heavily. Well, we reflected, at least we'd demonstrated that the job could be done. Master, now that his curiosity was satisfied, would no doubt tell us to go and have our lunch.
"Very good," he commented approvingly. "I thought that method would work. Now then, why don't we try it just once moreon that mound over there?"
Adjusting our expectations accordingly, we started in a second time.
"Very good!" Master commented once again. Evidently not wishing to place obstacles in the way of the momentum we'd built up, he said, "Let's do just one morethis one over here."
And after that: "One more."
And then again: "Just one more."
I don't know how many mounds we leveled, but Norman, strong as he was, was beginning to moan softly under his breath. "Just one more," Master said again.
Suddenly, getting the joke at last, I stood up and laughed. Master smiled back at me.
"I was playing with you! Nowgo and have your lunch."
Often, in his training of us, he would push our equanimity to the limit, to see which way we would break. If we rebelled, or if under the strain we grew upset, it meant we had failed the test. But if we responded with an extra spurt of energy, and affirmed a bright, positive attitude, we found his tests immeasurably strengthening.
In the foregoing test, Master helped Norman and me to learn to resist the thought of fatigue. Curiously, I found I was actually less tired after leveling those mounds than I had been beforehand. "The greater the will," as Master often said, "the greater the flow of energy."
One day Norman and I sat down to lunch, ravenous as usual. We reached for the tray that had been set before us, and gasped. It was practically empty! Two cups of tepid water, faintly flavored with chocolate, and a couple of dry sandwiches that someone had waved in the general proximity of a jar of peanut butterand that was all.
"What a banquet!" cried Norman in dismay. We paused a moment. Then suddenly we were laughing. "What comes of itself," Master often said, "let it come." One of the keys he gave us to unshakable inner peace was an ability to accept life as it is. Our meager fare that day gave us adequate food for meditation, if not for our bodies!
Shortly after the test of the two-by-four, Master began inviting us indoors after hours to listen to him while he dictated his writings. The truths I learned during those sessions were invaluable. So also were some of the lessons I received, sometimes less weightily, during periods of relaxation when he wasn't dictating.
As I've indicated earlier, the concept I had formed of a sage during my college years was of one to whom everything was a Serious Matter. I myself had laughed frequently, but it was more often at folly than in innocent joy. Like most college-trained intellectuals, my notion of wisdom tended to be rather dry. But until the intellect is softened by heart qualities, it is like earth without water: weighty, but unfertile. Master was anxious to wean me from this addiction to an arid mental diet, even as I myself was anxious to be weaned.
One evening Norman and I were sitting with him in the kitchen. Master summoned one of the sisters, whom he asked to fetch a brown paper bag with something in it from his bedroom. When she returned, he switched off the lights. I heard him remove something from the bag, then chuckle playfully. Suddenly there was a metallic buzzing sound as sparks came leaping out of a toy pistol. Laughing with childlike glee, Master turned the lights back on. Next, from another toy pistol out of the bag, he shot a tiny parachute into the air. We watched it gravely as it descended to the floor. I was utterly astonished.
Master glanced at me merrily, though with a covert gaze of calm understanding. "How do you like them, Walter?"
I laughed, trying earnestly to enter into the spirit of this occasion. "They're fine, Sir!" My comment was almost an affirmation.
Looking at me deeply now, but with love, he quoted the words of Jesus: "Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God."(33)
One of the most amazing things about Master was the utter freedom of his spirit. In the deepest matters he maintained the simplicity and light-hearted innocence of a child. In severe trials he could find cause for joy. Yet even when he laughed he retained the calm, devotional outlook of one who beheld only God everywhere. Often in the veriest trifles he saw illustrated some deep truth.
There was a dog at Twenty-Nine Palms named Bojo, who belonged to a neighbor. Bojo had decided, since Master's retreat remained untenanted much of the time, that it belonged within his rightful domain. On our first arrival Bojo objected fiercely to Norman and me, growling and barking at us continually as we worked on the pool. It was Norman finally who won him over, with a combination of roughhouse and love: Whenever Bojo barked, Norman would tumble him onto his back, then pat him and throw sticks for him to fetch. Soon our canine neighbor began visiting us as a friend.
One day Master joined us out of doors for lunch. Bojo smelled the food and approached, sniffing hopefully.
"Look at that dog," Master remarked chuckling. He gave Bojo a little food from his plate. "Do you see how his forehead is wrinkled up? Though his thought is only for the food, in his one-pointed concentration his mind is focused on the spiritual eye!"
During dictation one evening, Master touched on the subject of reincarnation.
"Sir," I inquired, "have I been a yogi before?"
"Many times," he replied. "You would have to have been, to be here."
At this time Master began also revising his printed lessons. He was never able to get very far with them unfortunately; the task proved simply too big considering the many new writings he had in mind. The first evening he worked on this project, Dorothy Taylor, his secretary, read to him from the old first lesson. She arrived at a passage where Master had said one can't get answers to scientific questions by merely praying for them; the appropriate experiments must be conducted also. Spiritual truths, similarly, the lesson stated, require verification in the "laboratory" of yoga practice and of direct, inner contact with God.
"M-mmm," Master interrupted her, shaking his head. "That's not completely true. If one prayed deeply enough he would get answers, even to intricate scientific questions." He pondered the problem awhile.
"No," he concluded, "the point here concerns the need for verification by appropriate methods. In this sense, what has been written is valid, since prayer is effective in such matters only for those who already have some contact with God. I think I'll let it stand the way it is."
In this way, paragraph by paragraph, he would analyze what had been written before, clarify certain portions, and deepen the import of others. The insights I received from him in this way were priceless. Impressive to me, also, was his manner of teaching. Universal in outlook, never self-assertive, conscious of the relationship of everything he was considering to the broadest realities, he was, I realized more and more, a true guide to the Infinite.
I was struck also by the sheer, dynamic courage with which he taught. Some people, I knew, would be tempted to tone down the power of his words, as if, in making them bland, to make them more popularly acceptable. But the hallmark of greatness is extraordinary energy. Such energy is always challenging. I was amused, some months later, by an example of the tendency to want to tone down that sort of energy. I have mentioned how, in his early years in America, Master sometimes actually ran out onto the lecture platform, challenging his audiences to rise to his own level of divine enthusiasm. Even now, long since those "campaign" days, he began every Sunday service with the joyous demand, "How is everybody?" joining his congregation in the vibrant response, "Awake and ready!" Dr. Lloyd Kennell, our alternate minister in San Diego, a sincere and good man, couldn't match Master's energetic spirit. "I like to keep things on a more moderate level," he explained to me before commencing a service one Sunday morning. He went out onto the stage. "Good morning," he began. "I trust that everyone present this morning is feeling awake and ready?"
Master, more than any other teacher I have ever met, was able to stir people, to shake them with the unexpected, to charm them with a sudden funny story, or startle them into alertness with some novel piece of information. Like Jesus, he spoke with the ring of truth. Even newcomers found his conviction irresistible.
No one else would have dared it, but for his very first lesson Master dictated a passage in support of his claim that a close karmic bond exists between our own direct line of gurus and the great master Jesus.
"Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar," he announced, "were the three wise men who came to visit the Christ child in the manger. When Jesus was a grown man he returned their visit. The account of his trip to India was removed from the New Testament centuries later by sectarian followers, who feared its inclusion might lessen his stature in the eyes of the world."(34)
Master often talked to us of our line of gurus and of their special mission in this age. For he was the last in a line of direct spiritual succession. What he taught represented no radical new theory, no Eastern counterpart to our own interminable "scientific breakthroughs" in the West, but the purest, highest, and indeed oldest spiritual tradition in the world.
Babaji is the first in this direct line of gurus. A master of great age, he still lives in the Badrinarayan section of the Himalayas, where he remains accessible to a few highly advanced souls. In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, Babaji, feeling that in the present scientific age mankind was better prepared to receive higher knowledge, directed his disciple, Shyama Charan Lahiri, to reintroduce to the world the long-hidden, highest science of yoga. Lahiri Mahasaya, as his disciples called him, named this exalted science Kriya Yoga, the meaning of which is, simply, "divine union through a certain technique, or spiritual act." Other techniques bear the same name, but, according to our own line of gurus, the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya is the most ancient and basic of all yoga techniques. Babaji explained that it was to this technique that Lord Krishna, India's greatest ancient prophet, was referring in the Bhagavad Gita when he said, "I related this imperishable yoga to Bibaswat; Bibaswat taught it to Manu [the ancient Hindu law-giver]; Manu gave it to Ikshvaku [the renowned founder of the Solar dynasty]. In this way it was handed down in orderly succession to great sages until, after long stretches of time, knowledge of that yoga deteriorated in the world [because the generality of mankind lost touch with spiritual realities]."
Lahiri Mahasaya, like Babaji, was a great master of yogaa "yogavatar," Master called him, or "incarnation of yoga"though also a householder with worldly responsibilities. Of the many disciples that he initiated, the chief was Swami Sri Yukteswarmodern India's gyanavatar, (35) or "incarnation of wisdom," as Yogananda designated him. Thus it was, through Sri Yukteswar, that Paramhansa Yogananda was sent to America with the high technique which, our gurus said, would give wise direction to the hitherto scattered, and potentially dangerous, development of modern Western civilization.
"In the divine plan," Yogananda stated on another occasion, "Jesus Christ was responsible for the evolution of the West, and Krishna (later, Babaji), for that of the East. It was intended that the West specialize in developing objectively, through logic and reason, and that the East specialize in inner, intuitive development. But in the cosmic plan the time has come to combine these two lines into one. East and West must unite."
During these evening dictations Master reviewed also the lessons on Kriya Yoga, and made certain changes in the way he had taught them previously. "This doesn't alter the technique itself," he explained, "but it will make it easier to understand."
I was avidly absorbing Master's every word: I hadn't yet been initiated into Kriya Yoga! Master paused suddenly.
"SayWalter!" he exclaimed, "you haven't had Kriya initiation!"
"No, Sir." I was smiling smugly. He had already dictated enough for me to understand the technique.
"Well, in that case I shall have to initiate you right now." Interrupting his dictation, Master told us all to sit upright in meditative posture. "I am sending the divine light through your brain, baptizing you," he said from where he sat across the room. I felt immediately blessed; a divine current radiated through my brain from the Christ center. He went on to guide me in the practice of the technique.
"Don't practice it yet, however," he concluded. "I shall be giving a formal initiation at Christmas time. Wait until then."
Gradually, as weeks passed, I found my heart opening like a flower under the sunrays of Master's love. More and more I found myself able to appreciate what a blessing it was to be with him. During his dictation one evening he explained a method for attuning oneself to the Guru's subtle spiritual vibrations.
"Visualize the Guru," he said, "at the point between the eyebrows, the Christ center. This is the 'broadcasting station' in the body. Call to him deeply at this point. Then try to feel his response in your heartthe body's 'receiving set.' Intuitively you will feel his response here. When you do so, pray to him deeply, 'Introduce me to God.'"
Sometimes also I visualized Master seated in diminutive form on the top of my head. Either way, as I meditated on him, I often felt a wave of peace or love descend over me, suffusing my entire being. Sometimes answers to questions came, and a clearer understanding of qualities that I was trying to develop, or to overcome. Sometimes, in a single meditation on Master, I would find myself freed of some delusion that had plagued me for months, perhaps even for years. On one such occasion, as I approached him afterward and knelt for his blessing, he commented softly, "Very good!"
Master occasionally came over to the monks' retreat at Twenty-Nine Palms. At such times he would walk about the grounds with us, or sit and talk. Sometimes we meditated together. After one such meditation I recorded his words:
"This is the kingdom of Aum. Listen! It is not enough just to hear it. You must merge yourself in that sound. Aum is the Divine Mother." He paused a few minutes. "Om Kali, Om Kali, Om Kali. Listen. . . ." He paused again. "Oh, how beautiful it is! Om Kali, Om Kali, Om Kali!"(36)
On another occasion I was sleeping at the monks' retreat. It was late at night. Suddenly I was awakened by the feeling that a divine presence was in the room. It was overwhelming, almost as though God Himself were there, blessing me. I sat up to meditate. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of Master walking outside in the moonlight. Inexpressibly grateful to him, I went outdoors and silently touched his feet.
Master had the amazing gift of universal friendship. Each of us felt in some way uniquely loved by him. At the same time, it was a completely impersonal relationship, one in which outward favors counted for little. Such always, as I have come to understand, is divine friendship. Yet I have been in ashrams where human personalities were so much the focus of attention that, almost within minutes of one's arrival, one knew who the important disciples were, what they did, what the Guru said about them. By contrast, during my first few months as a monk in SRF I doubt whether I would have recognized more than one or two names in a "Who's Who" of Master's closest disciples. We received simply no encouragement to be curious about them.
Thus it was that, when word came that fall that Faye Wright (now Daya Mata, the third president of Self-Realization Fellowship) had been taken seriously ill, her name, though high on the list of Master's close disciples, meant nothing to me. I learned of her illness itself only as the explanation for why Master had suddenly departed Twenty-Nine Palms for Los Angeles.
"It would be a serious loss to the work if she died," Bernard assured me gravely.
"She was already gone," Master announced on his return from Los Angeles. "Just see how karma works. The doctor, though summoned in plenty of time, diagnosed her case wrongly. When he discovered his mistake, it was too late. She would certainly have died. But God wanted her life spared for the work."
Master counseled us not to be preoccupied over matters that didn't directly concern us. "Always remain in the Self," he advised me once. "Come down only to eat or talk a little bit, if it's necessary. Then withdraw into the Self again." I didn't meet, or even see, Daya Mata until I had been with Master almost a year.
My immediate concern at Twenty-Nine Palms was our job. We'd dug the hole for the swimming pool. Other monks then came out to help construct the wood forms. Bernard informed us that the pouring of the concrete would have to be done continuously, to prevent seaming. We did the whole job by hand, mixing and pouring with the aid of a small cement mixer. I shoveled the sand; someone else added the gravel; others maneuvered wheelbarrows to the pouring sites. Twenty-three hours we labored, pausing only occasionally to refresh ourselves with sandwiches and hot drinks. But we chanted constantly to God as we worked, and the hours passed joyously. At the end of it all I think we actually had more energy than at the day's start. We were all smiling happily.
All of us, that is, but one. This man, after an hour or two of half-hearted labor, had grumbled, "I didn't come here to shovel cement!" Sitting down, he watched us for the remainder of the day, reminding us occasionally that this wasn't what the spiritual path was all about. Interestingly, at the end of that long day it was he alone who felt exhausted.
The subject of this particular disciple's unwillingness came up a few months later, in a discussion with Master. "He told me," I remarked, "that he can't obey you implicitly, Sir, because he feels he must develop his own free will."
"But his will is not free!" Master replied wonderingly. "How can it be free, so long as he is bound by moods and desires? I don't ask anyone to follow me, but those who have done so have found true freedom.
"Sister," he continued, using the name by which he always referred to Sister Gyanamata, the elderly disciple whom I'd met on my first visit to Encinitas"Sister used to run up and down all the time doing my bidding. One day a few of the others said to her, 'Why are you always doing what he says? You have your own will!' She answered, 'Well, but don't you think it's too late to change? And I must say, I have never been so happy in my life as I have been since coming here.'"
Master chuckled. "They never bothered her again!"
Already I, in my own little way, could endorse Sister Gyanamata's reply to those reluctant disciples. For the more I tuned my will to Master's, the happier I found I became.
"My will," Master often said, "is only to do God's will." The proof of his statement lay in the fact that the more perfectly we followed his will, the freer we ourselves felt, in God.
As Christmas approached, my heart was singing with a happiness I had never before dreamed possible. Christmas was an important holiday at Mt. Washington, the most sacred in our entire year. Master divided it into its two basic aspects: "spiritual Christmas," which we celebrated on Christmas Eve, and "social Christmas," celebrated the following day with traditional present-opening and a banquet. (Master later agreed to shift our "spiritual Christmas" back to the twenty-third, so that devotees wouldn't have to stay up all night afterwards, preparing food for the large Christmas Day banquet.)
On the 24th we gathered in the chapel at ten in the morning for an all-day meditation, to invite the infinite Christ to be born anew in the "mangers" of our hearts. I don't know how many have approached their first experience of this long meditation without trepidation. Few, I suspect, and among them certainly not I.
We took our seats, Master at the front of the room facing us. The doors were closed. From that moment on, save for a short break in the middle, no one was supposed to enter or leave the room except in case of emergency.
We began with a prayer to Jesus Christ and the other masters to bless us on this holy occasion. There followed some fifteen or twenty minutes of chanting.
Paramhansa Yogananda's "Cosmic Chants" consist of simple sentences repeated over and over again, each time with deeper concentration and devotion. I had been raised on the intricacies of Western classical music. It had taken me some time, as Master's disciple, to adjust fully to this rather stark form of musical expression. But by now I loved the chants. In their very simplicity I found beauty, and a power that surpassed that of most music I had ever heard. For these were "spiritualized" chants: Master had infused subtle blessings into them by singing each one until it elicited a divine response. As buildings and places develop vibrations according to the consciousness of the people frequenting them, so music also develops vibrations beyond those of actual sound. Chants that have been spiritualized, particularly by great saints, have a heightened power to inspire whoever sings them.
One chant we sang that day was "Cloud-colored Christ, come! O my Christ, O my Christ, Jesus Christ, come!" I found it marvelously effective for taking me deep into meditation. Periods of chanting alternated with increasingly longer periods of meditation. Sometimes, to alleviate any physical tension we might be feeling, Master asked us to stand as we chanted; for some of the more rhythmic chants he had us clap our hands. A couple of times he requested Jane Brush to play devotionally inspiring pieces on the organ.
At some time during that afternoon Master had a vision of the Divine Mother. In an ecstatic state he related Her wishes to many of those present. Some he told to give themselves unreservedly to God. Others he informed that the Cosmic Mother had blessed them specially. And then he spoke to Her directly, out loud so that we might hear one side, at least, of this blissful communion.
"Oh, You are so beautiful!" he repeated over and over. "Don't go!" he cried at last. "You say the material desires of these people are driving you away? Oh, come back! Please don't go!"
The meditation that day was so deep that the customary ten-minute recess halfway through it was omitted. The apprehension I had felt at the outset proved a delusion. "The soul loves to meditate," Master told us. It is the ego, in its attachment to body-consciousness, that resists entering the vastness within.
On Christmas Day we exchanged gifts in the traditional manner. Included with a more serious present that I gave Master was a "Slinky" toy, in memory of that incident of the toy pistols at Twenty-Nine Palms. In return, I received from him a four-color pencil"To split infinitives with!" he told me, smiling.
This day had, for its main feature, an afternoon banquet at which Master presided. I helped to serve the curry dinner. Afterwards Master addressed us. The sweetness of his speech so charmed me that I felt as though I were living in heaven. Never had I thought such divine inspiration possible on this, our prosaic earth.
The following day Master gave Kriya Yoga initiationprimarily, if not entirely, to the renunciates. As I approached him for his blessing, I prayed mentally for his help in developing divine love. After he'd touched me at the Christ center, I opened my eyes to find him smiling at me blissfully.
Toward the end of the initiation ceremony, Master said, "Lots of angels have passed through this room today." And then these thrilling words of promise: "Of those present, there will be a few siddhas, and quite a few jivan muktas."(37)
On New Year's Eve we gathered for a midnight meditation, again led by Master, in the main chapel. At one point during the proceedings he softly beat a large gong, then gradually increased and decreased the volume, in waves. "Imagine this as the sound of Aum," he told us, "spreading outward to infinity."
At the same time, one hundred miles away in Encinitas, another group of disciples was meditating in the main room of the hermitage. They, too, heard the gong that Master was striking. One of the monks later told me, "It was as though someone were beating it in the hallway just outside the room."
The meditation that followed at Mt. Washington was enthralling.
Midnight came. Suddenly, waves of noise swept upward from the city below, and inward from the surrounding neighborhood: factory whistles, car horns, shouts. Countless celebrants were ushering in the New Year. A neighbor's door opened, and a voice screamed desperately into the night: "Happy New Year!"
How pathetic those festive tones, compared to the soul-joy we were experiencing in our little chapel! And how blessed, I reflected, how wonderfully happy I was to be in this holy placeat the feet of my divine guru! I prayed that the New Year would bring me an ever deepening awareness of God's love.
The fact that the Bible says nothing at all about those missing eighteen
years offers the strongest possible evidence that the account of them
was later deleted. For it simply is not credible that all four of the
apostles would have omitted every mention of so large a segment of their
Master's brief life on earth. Even granting the possibility, which seems
doubtful, that those eighteen years were too uneventful to record, any
conscientious biographernot to mention a disciplewould not
on any account have left them out altogether At the very least he'd have
said something like, "And Jesus grew up, and worked in his father's
shop." The fact that nothing whatever is said suggests the later
work of priests, whose religious convictions inspired them to delete,
but prevented them from being brazen enough to add words of their own.
Gyana (wisdom) in books is often spelled Jnana. Master once commented
to me on the problems of transliteration from Sanskrit to Roman characters.
He was going over some of his writings with me at Twenty-Nine Palms, after
I'd been with him about a year, when we came upon this word, gyana. "Jnana
is how scholars like to spell it," Master scoffed. "It isn't
pronounced J-nana. And how else are you going to pronounce it if you find
it spelled that way? This is just an example of scholars' pedantry. Gyana
is the correct pronunciation. The g-y in English doesn't show it exactly,
but at least it's much closer to the right way of saying it.
Om is a common transliteration for Aum. I have written it thus here to
indicate how it should sound when chanted. Technically, Aum is the more
correct spelling. The three letters indicate the three distinct vibrations
of cosmic manifestation: creation, preservation, and destruction. But
for pronunciation this spelling is misleading, as the a is not pronounced
long, as in car, but short. The resulting diphthong sounds rather like
the letter o in English.
A jivan mukta is one who has become freed of delusion, but who still has
past karma to overcome. A siddha has become freed of all traces of past
karma as well.