Chapter Nine: “Kindness’ Among the Disciples

Master urged us to be kind. His words to us monks were, “I want you all to respect one another, as you respect me.” Respect in SRF seems to be reserved and expected only for persons in authority. As for kindness, this quality seems to be virtually ignored—in the name, I suppose, of “non-attachment.” Indeed, I’ve deliberately put the word “kindness” in quotation marks in the title of this chapter.

Tara’s statement to me says it all: “In an organization, no one except the members of the Board of Directors has a right even to think!”

a)  Dan Hart, a younger disciple than I, and one who came after Master had left his body, was a friend of mine though sometimes he opposed me on minor issues.

After I was elected to the Board of Directors, there was an occasion when Dan said something that sounded to me like a challenge (I’ve forgotten what it was). I mentioned the matter casually to Daya Mata during a conversation with her.

“Well,” she said brusquely, “he’ll have to go!”

I was horrified. To me, there was no justification at all for even disciplining the poor fellow. What made her reply even worse in my eyes was that I knew she’d made it only to please me. How could she possibly have thought I’d be pleased by her offer? I wanted to help Dan, not to destroy him! I’m sure she wouldn’t have actually dismissed him for so flimsy a reason, but even to make such an offer—just to flatter me! All I can say is, some compliment!

b) Daya once related to me this story about herself and two other Directors: Tara and Dr. Lewis.

Tara tended to be somewhat absentminded. Once the three of them (and probably also Daya’s sister, Ananda Mata, who usually did the driving), traveled by car. They came to a red traffic light, and stopped. Tara saw a bookstore nearby, got out, and blithely entered the store to glance over a few books. When they’d resumed motion again, Dr. Lewis teased her in a friendly manner. Tara, instead of reacting in any way (a friendly chuckle would have sufficed), gazed ahead stonily as if Doctor had not spoken a word.

To continue the story in Daya’s own words: “I said to Tara a few days later, ‘I was amazed at how calmly you took his words to you.’

“Tara replied, ‘As if it mattered to me what anyone so insignificant as Dr. Lewis said!’” Concluding the account, Daya laughed delightedly. Why? Was it so funny, that a senior disciple should consider an even-more senior disciple “insignificant?”

I remember Daya saying approvingly of Tara once, “She doesn’t care!” This was with regard to some other situation. But indifference is not the same thing as non-attachment. Daya saw the two as essentially the same thing. She explained Master’s statement to her, “only love can take my place,” as meaning love for God alone.

c)  There was another close disciple whom Daya didn’t like: Durga Mata (Florina Darling). Durga was senior to Daya, and, from what I could gather, had been left in charge at Mt. Washington during the year Master spent in India from 1935–36. I rather think Daya had resented Durga’s treatment of her then. Whatever the facts of the matter, Daya once told me with a smile of satisfaction, “Tara [who, against her own Guru’s expressed wishes, practiced astrology] says Durga’s horoscope is at present too powerful; nothing can be done about her. But in another five years her planetary positions will change. Then she’ll get a shock from which she’ll never recover!”

Daya related this story—the “resolution of the problem with Durga”—with a smirk.

Years after my dismissal from SRF, I spoke with Durga Mata on the telephone. She told me then, “Tara came charging up the stairs to my apartment one day, determined to force a confrontation with me. I knew intuitively the reason for her visit, and as she entered the room I glared at her so fiercely, inspired by Master’s power, that she began to shake all over. She turned abruptly, then fled back downstairs again. Since that day, she has never dared to speak to me again!” (Tara had a different version of what happened, but of course she would need to have had.)

d) Durga Mata left her papers to a close friend and supporter of hers, Joan Wight. After Durga’s death, SRF (presumably under Daya Mata’s instructions) made a concerted effort to obtain those papers. Daya’s motive may have been simply to ensure that only her own wishes be generally known as the wishes of Master. Quite possibly too, however, she was concerned lest a book on Durga’s life with Master appear in print. She wanted only her own version of him to be known—“as he really was.” And Daya herself (to the best of my knowledge) never wrote such a book.

As I mentioned earlier, Daya had not wanted Kamala’s book, The Flawless Mirror, to be published. It takes very little stretch of the imagination to guess that what Daya wanted most in getting hold of Durga’s papers was to suppress her book also. The book did finally appear, under Durga’s name. It is titled, A Paramhansa Yogananda Trilogy of Divine Love. Joan Wight turned to Ananda for help in protecting her against SRF. It took considerable effort on our part to get SRF to back off from its threatened lawsuit. This beautiful book, filled with stories of Master and Rajarshi Janakananda, is now available to the world.

e)  Let us ask ourselves: How can deeply spiritual people, among whom one must certainly count Daya and Tara, possess such glaring defects? A possible explanation comes to mind: A stained-glass window, before sunrise, looks uniformly grey. After dawn, and once the sun’s rays pour fully through the panes, each color becomes radiant. If a pane is smudged or muddy, or if it contains any less-than-luminescent colors, those defects become clearly visible.

Similarly, most people in this world, being animated from within by only dim energy, may be described as grey and colorless. Even murderers have been described as mild by their neighbors. (“But he seemed so harmless!”) It is only as people develop their inner potential that their traits—faults as well as virtues—become evident, in some cases painfully so. Seeing a defect in oneself makes it easier, certainly, to correct it.

Spiritual energy also, however—in this case, less fortunately—can make one indifferent to the feelings of others, shouldering dimmer colors out of the way like a sun-illuminated, but conscious, stained-glass window!

The Law of Karma is not cheated, of course. It forces one, sooner or later, to deal with all his misdeeds. Daya and Tara will certainly have to pay for their mistakes, as do we all for our own. Their very clear spiritual sincerity will surely aid them greatly, in the end, to win through to victory.

In fact, apart from the above explanation (the kindest I can suggest) there is also the truth that, when rules are given primary importance in an organization, charity is almost always the first quality to suffer. And when the organization itself is given importance over its potential for serving others, any ideals it upholds will become compromised and, in all too many cases, betrayed.

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