When Swamiji went to Los Angeles in 1973 to speak at a “New Age Fair” and give a few other lectures, about a dozen of us went with him to help. When the programs were over, we stayed an extra day to go to Disneyland. Nowadays, Disneyland includes many worldly aspects of popular culture. In those days, it was more simple and innocent. Swamiji loved the child-like spirit and the uncompromising way Walt Disney had carried out his vision.
” He never settled for ‘good enough,’ Swamiji said, “not even in little things. For example, look at the background characters in those elaborate rides. You see them for just a moment, but the expressions on their faces, their costumes, their antics are all perfect. Someone of lesser vision would have cut corners, but not Walt Disney. And the people who work at Disneyland are always smiling and helpful, true karma yogis.”
For his lectures, Swamiji wore his orange robes, and we also wore Indian clothes: sarees for the women, cotton “pyjama” style shirts and pants for the men. For some reason, we decided to wear these clothes to Disneyland.
Swamiji had a definite plan for the day. As soon as one ride ended, he made a beeline for the next. He chose the charming, beautiful, or amusing ones rather than those that were merely thrilling. This was before arthritis made walking difficult for him, and he could go far and fast. It took time for a dozen people to disembark, so it often happened that we were strung out behind him like a family of ducklings as we hurried to keep up. Sometimes we held hands so as not to get separated in the crowd. With our unusual garb we were quite a spectacle. We were having so much fun, however, that people smiled as we hurried past them.
One of the highlights of the day in Disneyland is the “Electric Parade,” which happens just after dark. Beautiful floats and costumed characters covered with twinkling lights march down “Main Street.” Because there were so many of us, we went an hour early, when the sidewalk was still empty, to stake out our place. We had an hour before the parade started, so we stood quietly watching the hundreds of people from many countries enjoying Disneyland that day.
“Imagine being every one of these people,” Swamiji said. “Not merely loving them, being them. That is God’s consciousness. And it is Master’s.”
Then he sat down on the sidewalk and began to meditate. We had been following him all day, so, naturally, we also sat to meditate. As the hour passed, our little group gradually became an island of meditating yogis surrounded by a sea of people gathered to watch the parade. Our inward mood was so deep, however, that we didn’t notice. Finally, when the parade was right in front of us, the mood shifted. We opened our eyes, stood up, and finished our happy day in Disneyland.
From Swami Kriyananda As We Have Known Him by Asha Praver
The greatness of a spiritual teacher is only partially revealed by the work of his own hands. The rest of the story is one he cannot tell for himself, the influence of his consciousness on those who come in contact with him.
In some two hundred stories spanning more than forty years, personal reminiscences and private moments with this beloved teacher become universal life lessons for us all.