1986: Pilgrimage to Los Angeles

Crystal Hermitage Chapel, Ananda Village

In January, Swamiji wrote to Daya Mata. “It was a joy to be with you once again. If we can continue to meet on a spiritual, heart level, the differences of which we spoke between Ananda and SRF will slowly diminish of themselves. At the meeting I really didn’t want to talk about anything negative. And I know that you, too, wanted to forget the past. I think we were both a little sorry that the talk kept veering in that direction.

“I don’t suppose we’ll ever, in our lifetimes at least, achieve complete unity. There are differences, and probably Master even wants us to work separately for now, to refine what each of us has to offer the world. But to diminish these differences as much as possible—as an alternative to a growing division that could result in a major schism in decades or centuries to come—this, surely, is desirable.

“You said your impressions of Ananda and of Ananda’s attitude toward SRF are based on information received from ex-Ananda members. Many of those who leave make it their mission to excuse their own failure by telling the world how Ananda failed. Such, as you well know, is human nature. They justify themselves to ready ears: by talking against Ananda to SRF, they hope to proclaim their unchanged loyalty to Master. It is not easy for you to get the other side of the picture. To praise Ananda and me has always been a quick and easy way to be judged disloyal to SRF. Who would risk it?

“Why don’t you send SRF renunciates to Ananda to see and judge for themselves? Send them incognito if you like. But if you let us know they are coming, they will find everyone delighted to receive them, for Ananda hopes for some sort of reconciliation.”


Swamiji settled down to what he hoped would be a quiet winter of writing. He went back to the book he started, but didn’t finish, in 1982, Education for Life.

Swamiji related to children the same way he related to adults: individually, according to their karma. He didn’t define anyone by something so temporary as the age of their body. Age was important only insofar as it might influence a person’s understanding of the world. Rosanna, by contrast, adored children as children. Her attitude, and the many family-oriented events she supported, changed the whole mood of the community. Her presence also made Swamiji more approachable, more “fatherly,” as he described it.

Establishing the householder religious order further dignified family life. It was the perfect time to work on Education for Life, to apply superconscious insight to raising and educating children.

Rosanna’s sister and a cousin had also married Ananda men. Both couples now lived at the Village; her sister, next door to the Hermitage. Swamiji’s housekeeper, Karin, grew up speaking Italian. Rosanna was still learning English; the other women were more fluent. Having them nearby was a great help to her. Crystal Hermitage became known as Little Italy.

PEKI included a total of about thirty-five people; Ananda was several hundred. Before they were married, Rosanna and her sister lived with their parents in Sorrento. Another sibling, aunts, uncles, and cousins—most also part of PEKI—all lived nearly. She was used to a familial atmosphere, where people were together every day. Ananda was spread over hundreds of acres, even different cities and countries. If we wanted to be together, it didn’t just happen; it had to be arranged. Ananda was far more work-oriented than Rosanna was used to and more diverse in its focus. In Sorrento, life was simpler—family, friends, spiritual practice, and PEKI’s work with the Church.

Swamiji encouraged Rosanna’s involvement in anything that interested her and supported whatever she wanted to do. The staff at Crystal Hermitage began to meditate together in the morning, then come together again for lunch, the way her family did in Sorrento. Once a week, Swamiji and Rosanna led a meditation at the Hermitage for the whole community.

Swamiji still had his own work to do. For writing especially, he needed hours of uninterrupted solitude. If he was working on music, something visual, or a project for the community, he and Rosanna could work together. But there was little she could contribute when he was writing books in a language she barely knew.

Little by little, Rosanna found her way. Already she had many friends, and was much loved by the community. On her birthday in March, everyone came together to shower her with gifts and affection. Four men made up a barbershop quartet, changing the words of a traditional song to make it all about Rosanna. Later she said, “This was one of the happiest days of my life.”


After PEKI separated itself from Ananda, there was little hope for the Movement of Inner Communion in Europe. Perhaps, though, it could still find a foothold in America. Swamiji started being more Western in the way he presented himself. Already he was calling himself J. Donald Walters for the music. Now he started using that name for books unrelated to the teachings of India, like Education for Life.

Although the name Yoga Fellowship accurately described our work, Swamiji felt it was too limiting—first, because people think of yoga as foreign; and second, because in America they think of yoga as physical exercises. Few understand that yoga means union, especially union with God. The concept of communion, as an outer ritual, was well known. Inner communion would be a natural next step. So the Yoga Fellowship became the Fellowship of Inner Communion.


For seven years, we had persevered in our efforts to make an Ananda community at Ocean Song. In many ways, it was flourishing. One of the long-time residents described it as the “most beautiful, and having the sweetest vibration” of any place she had ever lived. In addition to extensive gardens, we were running a successful guest program, and an elementary school. We had put up a few buildings, and remodeled many existing structures.

We came because the owner said he wanted to give the land to Ananda. But year after year passed and he found himself unable to relinquish either ownership or control. We tried to work out a long-term lease, but that effort, too, collapsed. The time had come for Ananda to withdraw. Some of the neighbors, reluctant to see us go, and especially sad to lose the school, suggested we should sue. But that was unthinkable. Everyone had done their best. It was time for us to go home.


When Daya Mata failed to respond to the note Swamiji sent in January, he decided that if SRF wouldn’t come to us, we would go to them. The Holy Land pilgrimage had been such a success, another was already being planned. And in October, JAPA would sponsor our first pilgrimage to India. We were traveling halfway around the world, when some of the most sacred sites to Master were just a few hundred miles away in Southern California. JAPA began to plan a pilgrimage to SRF that Swamiji and Rosanna would lead.

Two hundred people signed up. Master’s Mahasamadhi had happened at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles; his body is in a crypt at Forest Lawn cemetery. All the places where he lived, though, are owned by SRF. At specified times, they are open to the public; we could just show up. “But since we are such a large group,” the Ananda organizer said to the SRF monk he contacted, “perhaps it would be better if we worked together to arrange mutually convenient times.”

In early May, four chartered buses filled with Ananda devotees pulled up to the gates of Mount Washington. When everyone had disembarked, the guitarists asked Swamiji, “What shall we sing?” He replied, “Paramhansa Yogananda, Jai Guru Jai.” Tightly grouped behind Swamiji, we made our way from the gate, through the gardens, to the tennis court where Master often led the monks in Energization Exercises. Gazing up at the buildings, our voices rang out across the property, Paramhansa Yogananda, Jai Guru Jai. This was only the second time Swamiji had been back to Mount Washington since he was expelled in 1962, the first being when he met with Daya Mata a few months earlier.

Quietly Swamiji pointed out to those near him significant sites: the window of the room where Master lived, the room next to it where he gave interviews, the cottage where Swamiji stayed. These bits and pieces of information rippled back through the Ananda crowd. Swamiji had come home and brought all his children with him.

The monks and nuns assigned to be our hosts welcomed us and explained how the visit would work. We would be divided into several groups to tour the buildings and the grounds, to hear from them stories about Master’s life, and to enjoy light refreshments in an outdoor pavilion. It was apparent that our hosts had been instructed to be courteous to Swamiji, but to show no special interest or deference. He was just another devotee come to see Mount Washington.

Their careful reserve broke down only occasionally, when, after one or another told a story about Master, Swamiji added details, insights, or experiences of his own. Then, for a brief moment, they showed the natural interest any disciple would in meeting someone who had lived with Master.

Walking around the grounds with Swamiji, it was obvious that he was deeply moved. “I keep expecting to see Master coming out of the building or meditating in the garden.” Over the next two days, we visited other SRF shrines, exchanged pleasantries with our hosts, and everything went fine.

The only untoward incident was minor. Our hosts didn’t notice, and we chose to be amused, rather than offended. An Ananda member asked a monk, “When will SRF start the World Brotherhood Colonies that Master wanted?” The monk was surrounded by residents of just such a community; but, oblivious to the irony, he said, “It isn’t time yet for communities. When it is time, the Board of Directors will know and SRF will start them.”

We never saw Daya Mata or Mrinalini Mata, but at each of the sites some of the monastics Swamiji had known during his SRF years were there to meet him. They greeted him warmly and showed genuine interest in all the devotees from Ananda.

Everywhere, we felt Master’s inward presence—and his loving welcome. Outwardly, though, we were guests in someone else’s home, bound by customs that weren’t our own. We were allowed to sing, but only in designated places, mostly arranged in advance. We missed the joyful spontaneity that is the hallmark of Ananda.

Then we went to the crypt at Forest Lawn where Master’s body lies, in a narrow vault in a huge marble room, off an even larger marble hallway. Swamiji and Rosanna sat on one of the benches right in front of where Master’s body rests. The other two hundred of us crowded everywhere around them, spilling out into the hall.

Swamiji with Ananda pilgrims in Los Angeles (click photos for larger view)

The marble walls and floor made a perfect acoustic shell. When we chanted, and then sang the Oratorio, we sounded like a chorus of angels. In fact, I think a heavenly host crowded in too, adding their voices to ours. For many of us, it was the most thrilling musical experience ever. Finally, we were free to be ourselves, to express our devotion in our own way. I felt Master was pleased with us for coming to SRF, for standing up to their disapproval, for declaring by our presence—without rancor, but with appropriate pride: “We are Master’s children through Swami Kriyananda.

We then visited the SRF hermitage at Encinitas. The house where Master lived, where he wrote Autobiography of a Yogi, is perched on a cliff above the ocean, surrounded by green lawn and a small garden. All our hosts there were nuns. They had arranged a circular route through house and grounds, ushering us carefully through the rooms of the hermitage, making sure we kept moving in the right direction and didn’t veer off on our own.

Swamiji strolled around outside, pointing out places dear to him in his life with Master, but he wouldn’t go inside the building. “I can’t bear to have those nuns escorting me like a stranger through my own spiritual home.”

We were staying in a hotel by the ocean, and the next morning we gathered in a large conference room. It was designed for a group half our size, but using every inch of floor space we crowded in. Swamiji himself conducted a renewal of our discipleship vow to Master. The musicians sat in the center, and for almost two hours led chants and songs while Swamiji individually blessed us. Usually he maintains an impersonal silence when blessing in this way. This time, to many of us he whispered words of spiritual encouragement or advice.

We had thought the crypt the highlight of the pilgrimage; but the initiation with Swamiji moved us to a still deeper level of devotion.

Then, on the final day: Disneyland! In the past, Swamiji would have been the leader of the pack, with us scrambling along behind him, barely able to keep up. Now the arthritis in his hips had advanced to the point where he spent most of the day sitting quietly on a shady porch on Main Street. It was rare for him to allow the pain to inhibit his activities, but the strain of returning to SRF had depleted his reserves. “Just because I take things calmly,” he said, “doesn’t mean I am not affected.”

When groups of Ananda devotees, passing from one ride to another, saw him sitting there, they would stop to greet him and often to thank him for the many blessings they had received on the pilgrimage. Swamiji’s response was humbly to lift his right hand to his forehead, fingers pointing upward, to indicate that all blessings come from God.

The pilgrimage was a huge success in terms of inspiration and our ability to remain calm, cheerful, and open-hearted toward SRF. But it failed in Swamiji’s fondest hope that meeting us would change SRF’s opinion of Ananda. To our astonishment and dismay, we gradually learned that it had the opposite effect: the size of the group, our energy and dedication, even our devotion, convinced SRF that the threat Ananda posed to “the purity of Master’s teachings” was even greater than they had imagined.


When Swamiji finished writing Education for Life, his next book was a complete change of pace, The Story of Crystal Hermitage (later retitled Space, Light, and Harmony). What was now many beautiful rooms and gardens had started as a single dome perched on the edge of a hillside in the middle of the woods. It was built by a carpenter friend who was living in New York City when Master appeared to him in a dream. “Go to California and build a house for Kriyananda,” the Guru said. The total cost, including the furnishings, such as they were, was $5000. Swamiji thought the evolution from such humble beginnings would make an interesting story.

As always, there was more to the idea than just entertainment. Every duty imposed on us by life can contribute to our Self-realization, if carried out with conscious awareness. Acquiring, remodeling, decorating, or designing and building a house, is central to the life of most couples and families. The very word householder shows its importance. Architecture is one of the most influential art forms, because so public and enduring. Yet, when designing a home, few people think beyond their own preferences. Into a rather lighthearted tale, Swamiji wove many pearls of superconscious insight.

In keeping with Rosanna’s desire to bring the community to Crystal Hermitage as often as possible, Swamiji resumed his weekly programs of stories, music, and slides. From his time in India, he had far more photographs than he could show in one evening. He began a series called Following in the Footsteps of Master.

Since the Oratorio, we had been leaning toward the Western side of our spiritual tradition. Swamiji’s stories and slides brought us back to the East. Most of us had never been to India, although that was about to change with the first pilgrimage in October. Only a few of us would participate, but our spiritual connection was so strong, the experience of a few would affect us all. Swamiji was not leading the tour, but planned to join for the last week, perhaps staying in India afterwards for a long seclusion.

Since Master’s time, gender-specific words had become less popular. Though Swamiji would never bow to a mere fad, he eventually agreed that World Brotherhood Retreat could give the wrong impression. He suggested the name, The Expanding Light—A Place of Awakening. World Brotherhood Retreat had been reduced in most conversations to WBR. Master called Self- Realization Fellowship, SRF, so there was nothing inherently wrong about using initials. Still, with The Expanding Light, Swamiji urged us to make the effort each time to say all five syllables.

One more building had been added to Crystal Hermitage: a small stone chapel, modeled after the Portiuncula in Assisi, a little church that Saint Francis had rebuilt with his own hands. The chapel included six stained glass windows, representing the Nature Channels. It was uphill from the Hermitage, near the entry gate.

Crystal Hermitage Chapel, modeled after the Porziuncola built by St. Francis in Assisi

When it was finished, Swamiji and Rosanna often meditated there, alone or with others. Because of his work and travel, Swamiji wasn’t always available to the community. Sometimes the Hermitage was closed to visitors, but the chapel would always be open. It could be a spiritual link between Swamiji and the community. Visitors were encouraged to stop there for a few minutes of silent meditation before proceeding down the hill. This would give power to the chapel and also bring to the Hermitage a spirit of God-remembrance.


In August, when Education for Life was published, Swamiji held a series of meetings with the Ananda school teachers to discuss the ideas in the book. In 1982, he had held a similar series, but then he was just formulating the principles. Now they were clearly articulated. He, Rosanna, and some of the teachers planned a lecture tour in September, to introduce Education for Life to a wider audience.

“In the field of education people are going in circles now and getting nowhere,” Swamiji said. “We have fresh ideas and new inspiration. The results of our methods speak for themselves. If we can bring up a whole generation of children in this way, then art, music, politics, business, religion—every field of human endeavor will be transformed. It could change the course of history. Education for Life may be the most important contribution Ananda has to make, but it won’t happen unless people commit themselves to making it happen.

Unfortunately though, in September, when it was time for the lecture tour, Rosanna’s father was unwell. Swamiji felt they should go to Italy so she could be with him, so the tour was cancelled.

While they were in Europe, all the Ananda leaders gathered in Lugano, Switzerland, just over the border from Lake Como, for the first official meeting of Ananda Europa. After months of searching, they had finally found a place to rent in Assisi—San Fortunato, a small monastery with its own chapel. The lease was only for six months, but it would be easier from there to find a permanent home. They had hoped to move before Swamiji arrived, but the place wasn’t available until November, so his weekends at the villa would be the last before it closed.

I was one of the tour leaders for the pilgrimage to India. Swamiji planned to meet up with us in the middle of October, but a few days before his scheduled arrival, he sent a fax: “When I left for Europe, I was very tired from so many months— years, perhaps—of having to rise to meet an unceasing sequence of challenges. I thought Italy would give me the rest I needed to fortify me for India, but it hasn’t done so. My schedule has been extraordinarily demanding, and my energy reserves are lower than I thought.

“I’ve waited almost to the last day to cancel, to see if my heart felt stronger. But I have to conclude that a long trip at this time would be madness. I am very sorry not to be there and share your tour. Instead of coming to India, I’m going to have a long seclusion in a small house they’ve rented for me in Assisi. Rosanna is needed by her family in Sorrento, as her father’s health, unfortunately, is not good.”

Later he said, “The weakness in my heart was Divine Mother’s way of telling me, ‘This isn’t the time for you to go to India.’ First we have to build in Europe.”


Privately, Swamiji shared more about his meeting with Daya Mata. He tried to stay optimistic, but clearly the partnership he envisioned with SRF was not going to happen very soon; perhaps not ever.

He told us, “Daya asked me, ‘Why have you allowed others to give Kriya Initiation?’ In fact, Jyotish was the only one I had authorized, but even that concerned her. As an alternative, I suggested that SRF monks could come to Ananda to give Kriya. Daya replied, ‘Master didn’t want Kriya given anywhere except at Mount Washington.’

“Her reply shocked me. It was a blatant lie! When I was in SRF, I gave Kriya Initiation in many places—other cities, even other countries. Daya was fully aware of this. When I saw she was willing to lie to cut the ground out from under our working together, I saw no reason to hold back on Kriya. I meditated on who else should give it, and soon authorized several others.

“Daya asked me, ‘Why did you publish the recordings of Master?’ referring to the tapes I brought back from Europe. I responded, ‘At least it got you to start sharing what you have!’” Immediately after our recordings came out, SRF released several of their own. They had a whole archive to choose from, but decided to issue the same talks we did!

“I had announced that the tapes came from Europe. Daya knew there was only one possible source: Renata Arlini, the SRF center leader in Rome. Renata got them from Helen Erba-Tissot, formerly the overall SRF leader in Europe, who had received them from Dr. Lewis. Renata knew Daya would see her giving them to me as an act of ultimate betrayal, but she did it anyway, for the sake of having them published. She made me promise, though, not to mention her name.

“But Daya was determined that I tell her. ‘Who gave you those tapes?’ she asked. When I replied, ‘I promised not to tell,’ Daya insisted.

“Earlier I had told Daya that, in spite of everything, I was still loyal to her. That was when I spoke of putting Ananda, not under SRF as an organization, but under her, as the president. Now Daya reminded me, ‘You said you were loyal to me.’ She made it clear that answering her question was a test of my loyalty.

“I felt backed into a corner, so I named Helen Erba-Tissot, which led right to Renata. It was obvious Daya already knew. I was wrong to give in to her, but she was even more wrong to use her authority to make me break a promise.”

Very sadly, Swamiji said, “My love for Daya is unchanged. But the way she misuses her position takes away my respect for her as president of SRF.”


For years Swamiji had refrained from developing certain aspects of Ananda, in order to complement, rather than duplicate, what SRF was doing, keeping the door open for future reconciliation. Since the meeting with Daya Mata, he had begun to change. First, he authorized more people to give Kriya. Then he asked eight core leaders from the Village to move to branch centers: Ananta and Maria McSweeney to Sacramento; Uma Macfarlane, Krishnadas LoCicero, Parvati and Pranaba Hansen to Seattle; David and me to Palo Alto.

Up until now, these had been small teaching centers, perhaps with an ashram house to support it. Now Swamiji broadened the assignment: to replicate as much as possible everything we had at the Village. “Home, job, and church in one place,” as Master put it. Rather than centers, Swamiji suggested we call them branch communities. And that we think of ourselves as a church—the Ananda Fellowship of Inner Communion.

In seclusion in Assisi, Swamiji meditated deeply on Ananda’s future directions.

When Master came to the West, he adopted the American custom of Sunday morning worship. His message was different: meditation was a new addition, and he read scripture from both East and West—the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. Instead of hymns, there was chanting, but it still followed the familiar format: prayer, music, scripture, and a sermon. At the Village and in our centers as we opened them, we did the service in the same way. Swamiji had ordained about two dozen men and women as ministers, and it was they who presided; but it was all very informal. There was no special clergy garb, no prescribed ritual, no set readings. Even the weekly sermon topics were a suggestion only. Services varied widely depending on who was leading.

At the Village, most people who came to Sunday service either lived in the community, or were visiting for more than a day. Whatever message came on Sunday was filled out by other experiences. In our urban centers, Sunday was often the primary, sometimes the only contact a person might have with Ananda.

“We apply the teachings to every aspect of life,” Swamiji said, “so sermon topics could range from raising children to success in business, from harmony with nature to getting along with your spouse. A newcomer might think one topic was our whole message. We could correct that by reading a statement of beliefs, but that wouldn’t involve people and would quickly be forgotten.

“For a long time I had felt the need to put our central message into a ceremony that could be repeated week after week without becoming tiresome—something that had inherent power, so the impact of the service wouldn’t depend so much on the speaking ability of the minister. Whenever I thought to do it, though, the inward answer was always, ‘Not yet.’

 “This time, when I prayed to Master, A Festival of Light came in a flash of inspiration. I didn’t write the Festival; I received it.”

Sometimes the inspiration surprised him. “When the words came—for example: ‘A fledgling bird flew out into the world…’—I paused and inwardly said, ‘Divine Mother—a fledgling bird?!’ But when something comes in this way, I don’t alter it. I followed the inspiration, and a beautiful allegory was revealed. At the point where a song was needed, these jazzy chords came that didn’t seem to fit the deep mood I was in. But as I tuned in deeper, I saw it was just right. AUM is a vibration, and the song The Thunder of AUM expresses that vibration more than a staid melody would.”

In Lugano it had been decided to call our work in Europe Fratelanza della Gioia, the Fellowship of Joy. It was exactly the right name for a work centered in Assisi, the home of Saint Francis. Now we needed music to go with it. In seclusion, many new songs came to Swamiji, with lyrics in Italian. He also translated or wrote new words for many of the existing songs and chants.


In November, on the same day Swamiji came out of seclusion, the Ananda group from Lake Como moved to San Fortunato, and the four tour leaders, Durga, Vidura, David, and I, arrived from India. Usually Swamiji shares his writing as he goes along. It helps keep us in tune with his flow of inspiration, and the feedback is sometimes helpful. A Festival of Light, though, he kept entirely secret until we were all together. “I have something to share with you,” he said. He wanted us to experience it, not merely read the words on paper.

He gave the musicians the new songs to learn, then asked us all to gather the next afternoon in the chapel of San Fortunato. It was an old monastery; the chapel was just a bare stone room. We’d all just arrived, so the altar was only a table with the pictures of the masters set up in a line. The air was damp and cold, the lighting dim. We were gathered as disciples of Master, but the reality of time and space was suspended. The rough stones of the chapel easily became the walls of the catacombs, and us, early disciples of Christ. Or, a Himalayan cave, and us, yogis living with Babaji.

When everyone was in place, Swamiji began to read, calmly and slowly, in a warm, but impersonal tone, in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion. This moment would define Master’s work for generations to come.

When I listen now to a recording of that occasion, I am surprised by how much of the Festival was unpolished—more literal than poetic. In memory I hear it as heavenly music, perfect in every way. Swamiji had counseled us that when reading aloud, we should imbue each word, not only with intellectual meaning, but with the vibration of AUM behind it. That afternoon, words had little meaning in themselves; they were just a vehicle for the direct transmission of consciousness.

Standing before the makeshift altar, reverently raising a lit candle in devotion to the Gurus, Swamiji became the words he spoke: “We offer up the little light that is in us into Thy blazing light of Infinity.” After the arati—the candle offeringhe invited us “to come up to the altar and receive the touch of light from the masters.” As we stood before him, he passed his hand over the flame, then touched each of us at the spiritual eye. Just as the Festival promised, Swamiji was not acting alone: it was the grace of the masters through him.

In early December, Swamiji and Rosanna returned to America, spending a few days at Ananda House in San Francisco before driving to the Village. For A Festival of Light, Swamiji felt we needed another category of minister. Because of its mystical connotations, Swamiji preferred the word priest over minister, but it never caught on. He suggested those authorized to do the Festival be called Lightbearers, because they would give “the touch of light from the masters.” From the list of ministers he selected the Lightbearers.

“The Festival benefits not only those who hear it, but also those who perform it,” he said. “It reminds the Lightbearer that the most important service he can offer is not the sermons he delivers, but the inner vibration he transmits. Not everyone is a gifted speaker, but through this ceremony, everyone can attune inwardly and give to the congregation something deep and uplifting.”

When it was time to teach the musicians the new songs, he said about The Thunder of AUM, “You have to play and sing it with power. But it can’t be physical strength or restless energy. It is AUM. The power has to come from inside.


During the all-day Christmas meditation, Swamiji spoke to us on behalf of Divine Mother:

“She has asked me to convey these words to you: ‘I am very pleased with all of you. I am very pleased with what you are doing. But don’t live in littleness, in petty things, little thoughts, little worries, little ambitions.

“‘Live for Me. Live for My love. I am your Mother through all Eternity. Nothing else matters. You were born to commune with Me. For no other reason were you born. Live in My consciousness. Everything else is dust.

“‘I know all of your thoughts. Your devotion is very pleasing to Me. You are My children. You are all very dear to Me. Live more in Me. Live in My love. Yes, build a community, but in the sense of communion with Me.

“‘My children, I am always with you. I am just behind your thoughts, just behind your feelings. I am with you every second. Let no other thought come between Me and thee.’”

The next day, at midnight on Christmas Eve, Swamiji performed A Festival of Light in the chapel at Crystal Hermitage. The room was small, so it was by invitation only, mostly the newly appointed Lightbearers, which included David and me. “The touch of light from the masters,” through Swamiji, would be our ordination—and for the two of us, a farewell blessing. A few days later we were leaving the Village for our new assignment in Palo Alto. My mind was filled with countless details and endless possibilities for the days and years ahead.

When Swamiji began to read the Festival, everything else disappeared. When he touched me at the spiritual eye, a divine simplicity descended. My life and ministry assumed a single focus: to hold in my heart the experience of God that Swamiji gave to me that Christmas Eve. And, insofar as I am able, to serve as God’s instrument of blessing to all.

In Master’s own words: May Thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts.


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