This letter will be, for me, a very important one. I hope it will be important also for you. I believe you will find it interesting, full of (I hope) fascinating news, fun to read, but perhaps also a little shocking.
This Sunday, September 12, will be my 62nd spiritual anniversary. Sixty-two years ago, also on a Sunday, and also on the twelfth of September, 1948, I first met Paramhansa Yogananda, and was accepted by him as a disciple. I have followed him loyally with all my heart ever since then. I have also done my best to serve everyone else, too, in his name.
It seems hardly necessary today, after all the things I’ve done in this life, even to talk about them in this letter. I can, however, give you news of what has happened to and with me this past year. Such, then, will be the thrust of my present letter.
A year ago I met a psychic in Mountain View, California, who told me that I had not yet achieved the full success in my work that I deserved, but that from now on success would come to me.
This year, two days before I left India for Italy last May, I received a prophecy, similar to the Bhrigu Samhita of which many of you have heard.
This May prophecy was written by Agastya, an ancient Indian sage too, whom Paramhansa Yogananda mentioned in Autobiography of a Yogi. Agasthya is thought to be amar (deathless), like our first master Babaji, who still lives in the Himalayas.
The prophecy itself is believed to have been written five thousand years ago, and re-transcribed four hundred years ago into more “modern” Tamil. The copy I read was from archives that are mostly stored in the south of India, but also at a branch office in Gurgaon, near New Delhi.
I found there a palm leaf prophecy for me; it made fascinating reading. The story surrounding it — a violent storm that occurred during the reading, and other related details — I can send you if you are interested. But let me say, for now, that this reading endorsed what that psychic in Mountain View had told me.
In autumn of last year, I began a new community near Pune, in the south of India. There, I wrote two movie scripts, one of which is called, The Wayshower.
I suspect this script presents the only way Autobiography of a Yogi will ever be made into a film, if only because that book has no plot. In my script, many stories are added that do not appear in Yogananda’s autobiography. There are other stories which, I suspect, can be told by no one in the world but me.
I then wrote the script for a movie called, The Answer, which basically depicts the story of my own book, The New Path, regarding my search for truth, and my meeting of and acceptance as a disciple by Paramhansa Yogananda. It also relates many stories, different from those told in The Wayshower, which (again) I alone know, from my life with him.
One day, early this year, finding myself in an idle mood, I picked up The Wizard of Oz, purely for diversion. As I began reading it, and had gone hardly beyond its beginning and that part about the yellow brick road, the inspiration suddenly hit me to write a children’s story of my own. I started doing so immediately, and the words just flowed from my mind as if handed to me on a platter.
The title of this book is, The Time Tunnel. It is about two boys in Romania (in fact, myself and my younger brother) stumbling upon a ruined laboratory while walking through a forest in Transylvania.
They discovered there in a back room a time tunnel which takes them from time into timelessness. From timelessness, they go backwards and forwards in time. In the process I was able to give the reader many valid spiritual teachings in an easy-to-absorb manner, and interpretations of past events (for example, in Egypt and Atlantis), some of which are incapable of proof, but which strike me as not only possible, but probable.
Everyone who has read the book so far has loved it. Even children as young as seven have loved it. In two weeks’ time, I wrote the entire book: a hundred and eighty pages. We are printing this book virtually while you read this letter. About a hundred copies have been printed in advance for readers who would like to read it immediately.
I am currently rewriting this book as a movie script, and hope to finish the job very shortly.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, people have shown so much interest in Ananda that I’ve been encouraged to live down here for at least a few months, interrupting my still-intended return to India.
I have, indeed, been astonished to see how different the spiritual scene is here from what it was sixty years ago when I first arrived on it. A few days ago, I attended the premiere of a new movie, “Titans of Yoga,” in which I play a small part.
The thought of myself as a “titan” makes me smile a bit, but I have to say I was amazed and delighted to see what a difference these many years have made in the spirit of the people of Los Angeles, which I deduced from those who attended this premiere.
Even more particularly was I impressed by the yoga teachers I saw in the movie, many of whom I also met in person. They obviously had high ideals, were refreshingly respectful of one another, and were, as I could see also, deeply sincere in their beliefs and teachings. Yoga seems to be moving very rapidly beyond the old “this will slim your hips, girls” days.
On the negative side, I have had also to deal with some bad physical karma. Two weeks ago I fell and hurt my left hip. Because I am on coumadin, a blood thinner, the blow from this fall caused a deep bruise. The pain is perhaps ten times as intense as it would have been had I not been on coumadin.
A few days after the fall, I had to lecture at the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, to a capacity crowd of 1,200 people. Unfortunately, I had to speak from a wheelchair. By God’s grace, however, I received three standing ovations. The evening was a great success (see sidebar).
Since then, while the pain in my hip has been gradually lessening, another much greater pain has been growing in my spine just behind the heart. I’m seeing specialists in LA this week. Anyway, we’ll soon see.
The final news I’ll share with you is that, against this pain level, which has been reaching an intensity almost unbearable, I have written a hundred-page book called Rescuing Yogananda.
You may read it or not, as you choose, but I think you will find it worth the while to go through it. It is available now online. Very soon it will be available in a print format which can be preordered online immediately. It will reach the bookshops by March of next year.
I might add that this intense pain I have felt, even while I was deeply engrossed in writing this book, has required an almost fierce redirection of energy, which required what seemed like all my will power to do any work at all. The pain was also balanced by deep inner bliss.
Often of late I have felt this bliss, but now that the book is finished, the pain seems to be lessening, and the bliss is becoming so strong as to be, once more, almost unbearable! (What’s going on around here?)
The book will be a bombshell. I have heard too many stories of people who went to SRF and were so put off by the treatment they received there that they have turned away from Yogananda himself. I am here in Los Angeles primarily to help reestablish him in people’s eyes and hearts.
I seriously hope that you will devote time to at least trying to read Rescuing Yogananda. I actually feel the book may change your life. Even if you are not on the spiritual path and not a seeker of truth, the book will help you, each one in a different way, toward a better, more successful, and happy life.
I am sending you this book as a gift, to honor the day I met and was accepted by Paramhansa Yogananda as a disciple. I am sending it also as a gift of love to you, for being my friend and well-wisher.
With love, in divine friendship,
Dear Friends and well-wishers (also Dear ill-wishers, for you too are dear to me; I need you):
I sent you recently a book that was, for me, a difficult one to write. Perhaps it was as difficult for you to read, though the vast majority of you wrote letters thanking me for my courage in writing it. I can only say that it didn’t really take courage so much as commitment to doing what I sincerely felt (and feel) my Guru wanted of me. I am probably the only person living who could have written it — that is to say, who knew all the facts, and who was in a position to be able to state them. Naturally, no one wanted to hear what I said about Daya Mata. People always try to exculpate her, even when she herself has been the direct cause of whatever problem arose; this has always been an interesting aspect of her own karma. The spirit of an organization, however, always depends on the spirit of its leader.
Not long ago, in Italy, someone sued us. I and all of our leaders at Ananda Assisi were charged with teaching meditation, which the suit charged is a form of brainwashing; forcing people into slave labor in our program of karma yoga service; and tax evasion. The charges were, of course, preposterous, but the case dragged on for five years.
I was in India at the time, and couldn’t return to Italy. Whenever I did visit Italy, our suit was not being considered. Naturally, I was accused of being a “fugitive from justice.” Five years later (legal matters move slowly in Italy) I finally had a chance to stop by Italy on my way back to India at a time when the matter was coming up once more before the judge. I seized this opportunity to attend the session.
In court, I requested the judge to hear me out. I then said, “I have come by Italy purposely to say that, although I know we are guilty of no misdemeanor at all, if the court deems us so, then the entire blame belongs on my shoulders alone, and I insist on bearing personally whatever punishment you mete out to us.” On the strength of my statement, the judge dismissed the whole case as having no basis in fact whatsoever.
I singled Daya Mata out for special attention in my letter, not out of personal animosity or special feelings of any kind, but because she, as the head of SRF, must bear — not only part of the blame for what has happened to SRF’s spirit; for its lack of respect for others; for its general lack of kindness — but for all of it. That is a charge no leader can ever shoulder off onto others, though many try to do so. No country can flourish under a bad king. Under a good one, it will know, or at least move toward, peace. Under a weak one, others will impose their will on him, but weakness generally will be the hallmark of his reign. In Daya’s case, she has always projected an aura of helplessness which definitely does not suit her at all, but in so doing she makes everyone want to rally in her defense. In fact, of course, she is very strong in herself, and won’t brook opposition to her will in anything.
One respondent to my letter accused me of lying about her. I will not try to justify myself. If that is anyone’s opinion, then I have nothing to say in reply. Truth is truth, and always wins in the end.
My only feelings on the whole issue are a wish to see my Guru properly honored. Otherwise, I have nothing against anyone. I am their friend, and would help all, not hurt them.
When I was cast out of SRF, my main thought was, “This could not have happened, had Master not willed it. Have I, somehow, disappointed him?” I could not believe I’d done so, for I had tried to serve him conscientiously in India. “Is he rejecting me, and my love for him?” I then asked. But he had given me verbally his unconditional love, as I had given him mine. I then decided, “Even if he rejects me, I will not reject him! He is stuck with me as his disciple, whether he wants me or not.”
It took some years to regain a measure of faith in myself. At last, however, I realized that Master had only dismissed me, through my seniors, to free me for the work he himself had commissioned me to do. Within the organization, I had always been blocked from doing that work. For example, he had told me to write, but I was never given a chance to devote myself to such “off-the-wall” activity; and had I written anything serious, it would never have appeared in print. I was bound, in time, to be labeled disobedient to my superiors in my earnest efforts to be obedient to him. Of what importance the specific way they treated me? For my own spiritual growth, everything they did to me proved a great blessing. No, I did not resent it. What I wrote in my recent letter was something I never even talked about, until forced to do so by their lawsuit against us in 1990.
No, everything I wrote in that letter was impersonal, written from a desire to help the maximum number of people possible. It was to rescue my own Guru’s name and character from serious misrepresentation.
Anyway, it remained for all that a difficult book — both to read and to write.
With love in Master,
This new postlude was just added by Swami Kriyananda to his recent book, Rescuing Yogananda, which has since been discontinued.
I had a dream last night in which a saint, not from our line of gurus, said to me in reference to this book, “It is not your place to judge.” He didn’t need to tell me to what he was referring. I knew it was to this book.
I replied, “But it says important things, things that need to be brought out.”
He replied, “All right, I agree. But now, drop it. Your job is not to judge anyone, but to see God everywhere, and in everyone. Let this book be a one-time-only statement. You be a child of God. Judgement is of the ego; divine acceptance is of the soul. So forget the book now, and think only of Him.”
He was severe, but also very sweet. I was deeply grateful to him. And I agree with him completely. My feeling from this dream was one of deep bliss. From now on I drop the subject altogether. It is no longer something about which I care to initiate any further discussion.
January 14, 2011
When I first had this dream, I thought the saint had approved of my getting out one edition of the second, improved version. But a nagging thought wouldn’t leave me: “Why even publish this edition? I’ve already presented my key thoughts. Whatever good they might do has been done. Enough said.” Finally I decided it was my conscience talking to me! So I wrote our publishing house and asked them to stop the print run. It has meant some loss of money, but better that than an offense to my conscience.]]>
I want to take this opportunity to wish you a happy and successful new year — the happiest and most successful ever.
This year, unfortunately, does promise difficulties, but if you have the right attitude, you’ll come sailing through. What is that right attitude? The realization that when you place your life in His hands, nothing can go wrong in the end. As Divine Mother said to Master, “I am your stocks and bonds. What more dost thou need than Me?” You can be an inspiration and example to many people if, during difficulties, you hold a cheerful outlook, faith, devotion, and complete surrender to God’s will.
I wish I could offer you buoyant expectations for the new year, but I can offer you thoughts that will give you peace of mind, courage, and security in your hearts. Keep a smile and you’ll find yourself always happy and secure.
I’m giving a course of six lessons on this very subject in January and February of this year. If you can take this course you will understand more deeply what I am saying here.
My love, blessings, and prayers for your constant happiness are always with you.
I wish I could bless each and every one of you with a happy Easter. Easter is a time symbolizing the eventual resurrection of our little, individual selves into the one, Infinite Self. I suggest at this time particularly that you study and meditate on the photograph of Master titled The Last Smile. And consider this amazing fact: He knew that in just a few moments he would be leaving his physical body forever! There is no thought of self in his eyes, of personal regret, of sorrow.
Clearly visible in his eyes and in his facial expression is his unconditional love for all mankind; his readiness to return “again and again,” as he put it, as long as one stray brother sits weeping by the wayside. Such love, for ego-centered humanity, is not even conceivable. And this was the love Jesus, too, felt for all humanity.
People weep for him and his suffering on the cross. His suffering was only for humanity, that blindly rejects God’s love and substitutes for it vengefulness and hatred!
If we must resurrect our souls, let it be from the delusion that anything in this cosmic dream holds some worthwhile reality for us. We are children of God: That is our sole reality!
I have seen many young people fixed in their ideas. In old age, they will be what Master called “psychological antiques.” But I see, in my own life, that I was more dogmatic as a young man than I am today. I am open to all novelties, weigh them freely in the balance and decide whether they are true. In technology, I must add, I am somewhat befuddled, but such things don’t really interest me, for they don’t touch on what is true; they are merely factual.
Old people become boxed in by their ideas. I find myself increasingly free inside.
The joy of youth is an expression of youthful energy, but my joy is a calm, increasing inner bliss,
The understanding of youth is restless. Mine has become calm.
The desires of youth are turbulent. For myself, I have always wanted only one thing: I have wanted everyone to find happiness. At first, that desire was a passion; now it has become simply a calm wish to share my bliss with all. Although I still work, I don’t feel a need to reach out to anyone.
If my body suffers, I don’t suffer at all, because I know I am not my body.
If others disagree with me, I feel no need to convince them otherwise. I give everyone the freedom simply to be himself.
I used to be troubled by sexual desire. Now, those desires have simply evaporated. They are meaningless to me.
There used to be a little cynicism in my humor. Now, it is completely kindly. I wish everyone well, even when I find the things I and others do amusing.
Though I still work, I feel no need to work.
I am always happy, always grateful.
Has it all been worthwhile? I have experienced many difficulties in this life, but to me it has seemed easy simply because I have found it all to be so very worthwhile.]]>
The hermit paused, then lifted a finger portentously and declared, “Life, my son, is a rainbow.”
The other sprang to his feet and cried, “I’ve come all this way, and braved all these hardships, only to discover that life is nothing but a stupid rainbow!”
The hermit, looking at him anxiously, replied, “You mean — it isn’t a rainbow?”
That’s just a silly joke, of course. This morning, however, a thought occurred to me that may at first glance sound just as silly, but it is serious. I realized that life is a funnel!
The narrow opening of the funnel is the ego. In most people, the flow is downward, into the ego. Everything they know is funneled down to, and into, their little egos.
As one becomes enlightened, however, the flow turns around. It is upward and outward: from the little ego to infinity.
Usually, when people pray, they say, “Come to me; help me; take pity on me.” Great inspiration and inner freedom, however, come when one can bring himself to think and pray, “In whatever way I visualize You, You are behind that, beyond that! I, personally, don’t even exist. My own reality is infinite.” The more you can direct your mental flow outward and upward, the more blissful you will become — that is to say, you’ll become fullof bliss!]]>
Today is my sixty-fourth birthday—spiritual, that is. September 12, 1948, I was accepted as a disciple by Paramhansa Yogananda. How well I remember that day! How well I remember the years of seeking that had brought me to him! And I thank God for all the blessings He has showered upon me in this life. There has been suffering, yes, but as the Sufi saint Rabi’a said, “He is not worthy of God who does not forget all his sufferings in contemplation of the Beloved.” I am grateful for everything; for my tests, perhaps, especially, since all of them have brought me closer to my Cosmic Beloved.
All my life has been dedicated to finding truth. I remember the time, many years ago when I was still a child. My Mother and we three boys crossed the Canadian border into the United States. The customs official asked Mother if she had anything to declare, and Mother said, “No.”
All three of us boys put our hands over our mouths in shock, and cried, “Oh, Mother!” Grimly the official demanded that she open the trunk. And there he found three little birchbark canoes—total value, certainly less than ten dollars. I think all three of us have always been incapable of telling a lie.
But when I was thirteen, my quest for truth became increasingly urgent. I didn’t want money; I didn’t want fame; I didn’t want worldly comfort. All I wanted was to know why we’ve been put on this planet; what the purpose of life is; has it a higher purpose?
I sought it through reason. Had I sought it through love, I might have come onto the spiritual path much sooner. But God, to me, was an abstraction. I therefore sought truth through science; through social systems; through the kind of inspiration I hoped would be found in artistic inspiration. But I was deeply in earnest.
I hoped through playwriting to share truth with others, but I couldn’t do so superficially. Finally I decided, “I myself don’t know truth. It would be a ridiculous presumption, then, to share my ignorance with others.” My singing teacher, and old woman in Philadelphia, had told me, “I’m living for only one thing, now: to see you become a GREAT singer!” This she had said holding both hands in the air. But success at anything was meaningless to me, without truth. If I found that truth, I wanted to share it with everyone!
After realizing that I couldn’t be a playwright (though a number of people had predicted a great future for me in that field), I started to become desperate. How was I ever to find truth?
I remember the turning point in my life. It came one evening in Charleston, S.C. I had begun to realize that the only people in this world who had really helped humanity were all spiritual figures: Jesus Christ; Buddha; and the like. Any good done by anyone else had been only bubbles in the surf. I had never seriously considered God, because I had imagined God, if He existed, to be unknowable. This evening, however, I took a long walk into the deepening darkness and asked myself very sincerely, “If there’s a God, what must He be?” He can’t be just a judge, waiting for us to err so He can clap us into prison (hell) for eternity.
After pondering the matter for some time, the thought came to me: “I am asking this question consciously. I could not have been artificially programed to ask such a question. That means I, myself, am independently conscious. God, therefore, must beconsciousness!” I realized, then, that this meant I must be a small part of that consciousness. “My job in life, then,” I realized, “must be to open myself more to that consciousness! I must, and shall, devote my whole life to trying to make myself more perfectly open to that consciousness! What He does with my life, then, is up to Him.”
I came back to my apartment that evening overwhelmed by the grandeur of this awareness. My four roommates all laughed at my seriousness, but I simply withdrew to my room. I would devote my life to seeking God!
At first, I wondered if I was not going crazy! I did not know that anyone had ever sought God before. I knew nothing of the lives of saints. But I finally concluded, “Even if I go crazy, this is the only possible path for me.” I didn’t know how to seek Him. I thought of becoming a hermit—perhaps in a Brazilian jungle.
Someone in Charleston mentioned to me the Bhagavad Gita. “What’s that?” I asked. “It’s a Hindu scripture,” he replied. And then the question, “Hindu? What’s that?” I know nothing whatever about any other spiritual traditions, and although I did know something of my own (the Christian), it was too closely associated in my mind with the ordinary life I knew most Christians lead. (It has only been since understanding the life of Jesus in its own context that I’ve come to understand that he, too, had all the answers I sought.)
I am so grateful that God heard my prayers, and led me to Yogananda, and that Yogananda accepted me as a disciple. But at that time, I must admit, I wasn’t seeking a guru. The very thought of becoming any man’s disciple was, to me—well, unthinkable! I had never met anyone that I considered wise enough to follow. But I did know I needed help; I needed guidance. I was struggling and stumbling in a desert wasteland.
And then, as I said, God led me to Yogananda. I found his autobiography in a New York book store. In fact, I found it the very day I had just put Mother on the ship to go join Dad in Egypt! This was what I had been seekiing so desperately. It was my answer! I was free. I had no obligations to anyone. I took the next bus across the country to meet Yogananda. And the day I met him, he accepted me! I think mine was the most “whirlwind” courtship he ever had!
I didn’t expect the path to God to be easy, which is fortunate because it hasn’t been! My body, for one thing, has given me trouble all my life. Still, here I am at 86, still energetically serving God. Mentally I have had my hardships, but I’m grateful for all of them. As Master said, “Living for God is martyrdom.” I am indifferent to whatever punishes my ego. Indeed, I’m grateful for it. For ego is the one thing we must overcome, if we would know God.
I am grateful also, however, for all the many true friends God has given me, in you all. You are a wealth beyond compare. Thank you. And thank you for helping me to reach this day of supreme gladness in my life.
In God’s love,