This year was the 100th anniversary of Master’s birth. “SRF will focus on the greatness of Master as a personality, and his importance as a historical figure,” Swamiji said. “So there is no need for us to emphasize that side of him. Let us concentrate on the principles he taught, and the ray of light that flows through him.”
First we called our celebration 100 Years of Expanding Light. Then, to emphasize the principle, Swamiji added 100 Years of Expanding the Light. The second theme would be Self-realization itself, as a new expression of timeless truth.
This year was also Ananda’s 25th anniversary. “If we put them together,” Swamiji said, “the focus will shift to Ananda as a specific expression of Master. We want to inspire everyone to be a channel for the light.” We decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary in July, and Master’s centennial in March and August.
In March, for Master’s Mahasamadhi, Swamiji would lead a pilgrimage to the Biltmore Hotel and the crypt. We had no interest in visiting SRF, nor would they have welcomed us. In August, Spiritual Renewal Week would be dedicated to the centennial. Harekrishna and Anjali Ghosh and Devi and Hassi Mukherjee were coming from India; and from America, three direct disciples: Bob Raymer, from Song of the Morning Ranch; Roy Eugene Davis, founder of Center for Spiritual Awareness; and Peggy Dietz, who, in accordance with Master’s specific instructions to her, was not part of any organization.
During the year, Swamiji would go to every colony to speak at their local celebration. In January, he came to Palo Alto. “Many disciples make the mistake of claiming that their Guru is the greatest. I don’t condone it, but I understand it. Meeting my Guru has been the greatest experience of my life! So if I seem sectarian, that is not my intention. Through loving Master, I have learned to love everyone. To see the Divine presence in all—that is what discipleship means to me.
“When I lecture, I feel every person in the audience is, in a sense, Master. It is my way of serving him. ‘Do you presume to teach your own Guru?’ people naturally ask. What I mean is that Master is the spark of Divinity in each person. A gold nugget buried under mud—sometimes lots of mud!—but still pure and untouched. Every heart has the same longing for peace, perfection, and love. To serve my Guru in all means to awaken that spark of aspiration, that longing for something more.
“Master said, ‘Don’t just give people your words; give them your vibration.’ As a disciple, though, it is not my vibration; it is Master’s. Through attunement with him, I can share him with you.
“If you stand near a harp and make a sound that resonates with any of its strings, those strings will vibrate. When I share Master with you, if your heart resonates with him, you will feel him as a vibration within yourself. Just as the harp string produces a sound in response to a harmonious vibration, so we become instruments of Master when we respond to his vibration within.
“We all have to be instruments of the Guru, to attune ourselves and share his vibration with the world. It is like a relay race, in which the baton is passed from hand to hand. It is not that I am the Guru or that you are the Guru. It is Master’s power passing through all of us, as living channels for his ray.
“All the beautiful things about Master’s life—his charity, compassion, humility, wisdom, the miracles he performed—these are only examples of what he was. They inspire us to follow him, but they are not him. He was the Light that was born into the world, as Saint John said of Jesus. Master transcended long ago any thought of separation from God. If we look to him as the power that comes through him, from God, then we will receive what he came to bring. As the Bible says, ‘To all who received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.’
“When I was living with Master, I saw that the deeper disciples, like Rajarshi and Sister Gyanamata, were usually quiet in his presence. Sometimes they didn’t even look at him. They felt Master inside. Let us follow their example. The Guru is the power of awakening within us—in our hearts, minds, and spirits.
“How wonderful that Master was born, that he came to the West, that he gave us these teachings. His birth is the birth of our own inner awakening. The time has come to reclaim our divinity. Master isn’t something that happened back in history; he is happening now.”
Swamiji had been writing about Dwapara Yuga primarily in terms of Master’s mission. Now he broadened the discussion with an essay, Religion in the New Age. He said, “Master said, ‘Self-realization has come to unite all religions.’ He called it the unifying principle behind all true faiths. The teachings of Christ and Buddha define large portions of the world, not just spiritually, but in all their values. Master had that kind of mission. Our country desperately needs a clear voice speaking for true spiritual values. A completely new approach is needed, a commonsense attitude toward religion.”
The essay was printed first as a pamphlet that went to the whole mailing list. Years later, a revised version was published again, along with several other essays, in a book with the same title.
In his talk in Palo Alto, Swamiji also spoke of Master’s Dwapara way of organizing. “It was commonly assumed, when I was in SRF, that when it came to organizing, Master wasn’t interested. Sister Gyanamata even said, ‘You’ll never be able to organize this work as long as he is alive.’
“But as I’ve meditated more deeply on it, I see that Master was a superb organizer; just not in the way we think of it. He didn’t want a corporate structure —an efficient, smooth running operation. His priorities were different.
“When he put me in charge of the monks—which had never been organized before I came—you would think he would have laid out what he wanted, then met with me often to make sure I was doing it. Not at all! Every now and then he would drop a hint or offer a few words. A few times when he saw me heading in the wrong direction, he suggested I do it a little differently.
“At the time, I didn’t understand; but now I see what he was doing. He was helping me develop intuition. If he had given me any specific advice, I would have focused on those points, and worked hard to implement them. But it would have come from the outside, rather than my finding it on my own. The less he explained, the more I had to attune myself.
“Energy has its own intelligence. When the flow is right, everything else follows as it should. If those in charge are too rigid, too controlling, or too focused on the details, it stops the flow of energy in everyone else. People then have to look outside themselves to know what to do—the exact opposite of Self-realization. ‘Don’t make too many rules,’ Master said, ‘it destroys the spirit.’
“Master’s organizing principle was ‘Center everywhere, circumference nowhere.’ Each one of us has the same potential for divine inspiration. Without ever formally organizing the work himself, he showed us how it should be done. It was a completely new, Dwapara way, based on the flow of energy. He tried to inspire this understanding in us, but it was so different from what we were used to. Only now, years later, can I say, ‘Oh that was what he was doing!’
“Some people have the impression that I’m against organizations. I’m not. Nature itself is a vast organization. Otherwise we’d have chaos! But it has to be the right kind of organization: not rigid like the past, but flowing and free, like this new age of energy.”
Later he said, “I see direction and meaning in Master’s actions that the SRF Board of Directors never even dreamed were there. They say I’ve gone off on my own, but in fact, I’m doing exactly what Master would want done, in the way that he would want me to do it.
“When I put people in positions of leadership, I don’t tell them what to do. Nor do I leave them all on their own. My consciousness is always with them, magnetizing them in a helpful direction, sometimes projecting ideas they might find useful. If they are attuned and an idea resonates with their own way of doing things, they will receive it. They’ll be inspired to act on what they’ve received, not because I sent it, but because the idea itself matches their own intuitive sense of what is trying to happen. Ideas develop naturally then, from within the person who is carrying them out, rather than having direction imposed from outside.”
In 1951, when Master finished writing his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, he announced that the book would be published that same year. Instead, forty years later, the manuscript still languished in the SRF vault, along with his unpublished commentaries on the Bible and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
“From the very beginning of my time with Master,” Swamiji told us, “Editing was ‘on the table.’ In our first meeting, when he asked me about his Autobiography, I mentioned the three split infinitives I noticed there!”
When Master went to his desert retreat to work on the Gita commentary, he took Swamiji with him. “I asked Divine Mother whom I should take,” Master said, “and your face appeared before me. I asked Her twice more, to make sure, and each time your face appeared.” Later, when they were working together editing the Gita manuscript, Master said, “I predict you will become a good editor.”
Swamiji felt commissioned by Master to edit his works, but after he was expelled from SRF, it wasn’t clear how that was going to happen.
Master wrote his commentaries over many years, publishing them as articles in the SRF magazine. All of the Rubaiyat, much of the Bible, and some of the Gita commentary appeared during his lifetime exactly as he wrote it. After his passing in 1952, the Bible and Gita commentaries continued, but now the articles were so highly edited, Swamiji didn’t feel he could use them as the basis for his own work. It was a moot point, because he didn’t have the legal right to use any of the articles—until the judge’s ruling, invalidating most of SRF’s copyrights on Master’s original writings.
Our lawyers, however, cautioned Swamiji not to move too fast. There was some ambiguity in the ruling and they needed to study it carefully, perhaps even confer with the judge, before they could say for sure which articles were in the public domain. Because SRF had renewed some copyrights on their magazines, and failed to renew others, the important date was not 1952, but 1943. It would take time to sort it out.
SRF was trying to get Judge Garcia to reconsider his decision on the copyrights. They weren’t likely to succeed, but we didn’t want accidentally to give them ammunition for that effort, or for the appeal to a higher court that would inevitably follow.
After Tara Mata died, Mrinalini Mata took over the job of editing Master’s works. Swamiji now wrote to her, suggesting that they work together. SRF could take all the credit; no one would ever know he was involved. He told her, “We are the only two disciples still living who are capable of doing this work.” He spoke of the need to make Master’s published words “sound and feel like him, capturing the rhythms of his speech and his unique way of putting things.” This was a weakness in Mrinalini’s editing he hoped to help her correct.
Later he told us that writing to Mrinalini was a way of testing the water of Master’s will, now that the court had opened the door for him to edit Master’s writing. “When, instead of responding, she gave my letter to the SRF lawyers, I felt it was right for me to go on alone.”
In March, Swamiji had a superconscious dream. He was with Master, not as it had been in life—the Guru and his young disciple—but as partners, two men working together, spreading Master’s teachings. In the dream, Master said, “Use my words.” It was clear he was pleased with what Swamiji had done so far.
Swamiji replied, “The doors are closed,” meaning SRF has the manuscripts and won’t release them. The judge had put them in the public domain, but he couldn’t order SRF to turn them over.
“Don’t overlook the possibility of a skylight,” Master said. Then he added, “A sense of adventure is needed.” Without words, he conveyed the thought, “Something is still lacking.” Swamiji knew it had to do with the heart, perhaps courage. It wasn’t clear whether this applied to him, or to all of Ananda.
When Master blessed Swamiji—touching him on the top of his head—he felt a powerful surge of energy into his heart. Later Swamiji thought, perhaps Master was healing him physically, or filling in that “something” that was lacking.
A few weeks after the dream, our lawyers told Swamiji that even though there was still some question about parts of the Bible and Gita commentaries published after 1943, all of The Rubaiyat was definitely in the public domain. He was free to edit and publish it whenever he wanted.
Most people think The Rubaiyat is a poem about human love. In fact, Omar Khayyam was a Self-realized master, and The Rubaiyat is a scripture. Omar practiced Sufism—a mystical teaching based on Zoroastrianism, an ancient form of Sanaatan Dharma. Over the centuries, though, Sufism was gradually absorbed into the surrounding Muslim culture, which condemned mystical experience. It wasn’t safe for Omar to be explicit; he had to hide his meaning behind layers of poetic symbolism.
“The Rubaiyat was important to me,” Swamiji said, “because it was the cause of my greatest test with Master.” In The Path he mentions the test, but doesn’t say it was about The Rubaiyat.
“There were five different translations,” Swamiji explained, “each one different from the others. How could Master even know which one was correct without reading it in the original language, which he wasn’t able to do? Many of his commentaries seemed so unlikely. Was he just reading things into it? Oddly, I didn’t doubt that Master was my Guru, I just doubted that he was wise. It was as if two forces were warring over me, and I was caught in the middle.
“In all these years, I haven’t suppressed the memory; I just haven’t known what to do with it.” Now, as a mature disciple, to tune into the profound wisdom of Master’s commentary would be, for Swamiji, a deep satisfaction.
The judge’s decision on the copyrights also put the original edition of Autobiography of a Yogi into the public domain. In the years since Master’s passing, accelerating after 1955 when Rajarshi died, SRF had made thousands of changes to the book. Not only did they add hundreds of lines of footnotes and publisher’s notes, they also added and deleted text, changing in major ways important spiritual concepts. From the first to the current edition, there had been a five hundred percent increase in the number of times Self-Realization Fellowship was mentioned. Some are footnotes, but many are in the text, as if Master himself wrote it that way.
In the first edition, Master says the sacred Kriya technique “must be learned from a Kriyaban or Kriya Yogi.” Later editions have Master saying that Kriya must be learned from “a Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga authorized Kriyaban.” As Swamiji pointed out: Would anyone, what to speak of Master, talk like that?
In the same chapter on Kriya Yoga, in the original edition, Babaji, the deathless Himalayan master, tells his disciple Lahiri to give Kriya “freely to all who humbly ask for help.” In later editions, the reader is directed to thirty-two lines of Publisher’s Notes, which explain, step-by-step, how those simple instructions have evolved into Kriya being available only through SRF, and its president the only one authorized to give it. Others within SRF who initiate are not authorized as individuals, but only to stand in for the president.
Early editions of Autobiography of a Yogi include a Publisher’s Note saying, “Yoganandaji told his students of East and West that after his passing from this earth he would continue to watch over the spiritual progress of all Kriya Yogis.” In later editions, the Guru’s promise is limited to those who are students of the SRF lessons and receive initiation from SRF or YSS in India.
Naturally the reader assumes these are Master’s own conditions. SRF strays far from dharma in making a change like that. Master’s blessing is a sacred trust between Guru and disciple. No one, least of all an organization, has the right to condition that blessing.
Self-Realization Fellowship justifies every change as being part of the “blueprint” Master left for his work; but a side-by-side comparison of the original Autobiography of a Yogi with subsequent SRF editions, makes that claim difficult to accept. Furthermore, Swamiji was at the center of SRF when many of those changes were made. Regretfully he admits he even suggested one or two himself. There was never even a pretense that “Master himself authorized those changes,” as SRF now claims.
Swamiji came to Master after reading the first edition of Autobiography of a Yogi. Whenever he traveled, he took the book with him; he never read any other version. First editions had become rare and expensive, so years earlier, we had borrowed his, made copies, and sold them at cost to members of the community. Now we could have an actual book!
Still, Swamiji hesitated. He took the question to all the ministers, asking us to meditate on it. “Until now,” he said, “we haven’t competed with SRF. Always we have tried to complement what they are doing. In the lawsuit, we have defended ourselves, but this would be an act of aggression, a public declaration that on a matter as fundamental as Autobiography of a Yogi, we are at odds with SRF. It isn’t my decision alone; we have to make it together.”
News of the lawsuit was leaking out. The book was in the public domain; anyone could publish it. We already knew of one press that wanted to.
“The day will come when Master’s teachings are the guiding force behind politics, sociology, psychology,” Swamiji said. “If a professor somewhere wants to use Autobiography of a Yogi as his text, that is all to the good, even though there is bound to be some dilution, even distortion, of Master’s essential message. It can’t be helped, nor is there any reason to try to prevent it.
“The solution is to keep the teachings strong and pure at the center. Then anyone who is sincere can trace it back to the source. For that reason, the book should be published by those who understand and can share it on a deeper level.”
It was a convincing argument. We decided to publish the book in time for the centennial celebration in August. To avoid any possible challenge from SRF that ours wasn’t the original, and therefore not in the public domain, we issued an exact copy—typos, misspellings and all.
For the pilgrimage to Southern California in March, two hundred people came from around the country. We took over a hotel in Redondo Beach, convenient for visiting both the crypt and the Biltmore. In a conference room, which we turned into a temple, Swamiji led meditation in the morning, and satsang in the evening.
This was our third pilgrimage; the crypt, especially, felt like home. When we arrived there, Swamiji took his place on the bench in front of the vault where Master’s body rests. Then, while we sang, and sang, and sang some more, we took turns going to the vault, standing for a moment with Master’s body in front, and Swamiji meditating behind.
Back at the hotel that evening, the satsang included a slide show of photographs of Master. We meditated, chanted, and Swamiji told stories of life with his Guru. The next morning, we had a Sunday service, including the Purification Ceremony and A Festival of Light. Then it was off to the Biltmore Hotel, where a large ballroom became our temple.
On March 7, 1952, Master was an honored guest at a banquet to welcome India’s newly appointed ambassador to America. India had been independent for only four years. To have the country of his birth represented by one of its native citizens was a great occasion. At the end of his speech, Master recited his poem, My India.
Swamiji was there with another disciple, Dick Haymes. He was writing down Master’s words, as he always did, so his eyes were on his notebook. In The Path, Swamiji says, “Master came to the last lines in the poem:
Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves and men dream God.
I am hallowed; my body touched that sod!
“‘Sod’ became a long-drawn sigh. Suddenly from all sides of the room there was a shriek. I looked up.
“‘What is it?’ I demanded of Dick, seated beside me.
“‘Master fainted,’ he replied.
“Oh, no, Master! You wouldn’t faint. You’ve left us. You’ve left us! The forgotten playwright in me cried silently, This is too perfect a way for you to go for it to mean anything else! I hastened to where Master lay. A look of bliss was on his face.”
In the years since, the Biltmore Hotel has been remodeled. What was the banquet hall is now the lobby. The picture of Master known as the Last Smile was taken when he was sitting at the banquet table, shortly before his Mahasamadhi. Distinctive design features on the wall behind him make it possible to identify the exact spot where he was sitting, and then where he was standing when his heart stopped and he left his body.
Those features are part of a beautiful, carved fountain that was formally declared an artistic treasure and therefore had to be preserved, despite the remodeling. It was God’s way of keeping this sacred site intact. The hotel staff has grown accustomed to the parade of devotees who come into the lobby, pronam to the fountain, then sit to meditate in front of the registration desk.
We all knew the story of Master’s passing from reading it in The Path. But it was entirely different to be in the place where it had happened, with one who was there, and hear the story directly from him.
Swamiji then led a discipleship initiation. We repeated our vow, offered rose petals to Master’s picture on the altar, and received a blessing from Swamiji. We then gave him a crystal box filled with rose petals we had all blessed—the smallest token of our immeasurable gratitude for his presence in our lives.
The Master for the World campaign to fund the ever-escalating costs of the lawsuit went on continuously. We got occasional donations from the outer circles of membership, but most of the money came from several hundred community residents. Somehow, as the need increased, so did our commitment and our ability to manifest everything that was needed.
Impossible as it seemed—even to us at the time—this was also a period of unprecedented expansion for Ananda as a whole. In addition to Master for the World, the Annual Appeal had to raise an ever-increasing amount of money to support all that was happening worldwide. Their fundraising letter said, “The foundation of this ministry is you and me. The more we offer ourselves, the more God sends to us hungry, seeking souls, longing to experience true joy. It may not seem like a big way of doing things, but ‘soul touching soul’ is how the most enduring and important changes happen in the world.”
Years earlier, when Seva was in charge of the finances, she said, “Sometimes you write down all the numbers, but you don’t add or subtract. If you did, you would see that it can’t work! Whenever I saw that coming, I would just close the account book with Divine Mother inside, and leave it to Her to work out—which She always did.”
For the last eighteen months, Swamiji’s health had been precarious, and so was our position in the lawsuit. Now his body was stronger and key decisions had all gone in our favor. He decided to make a short trip to Italy. The devotees assumed he would need time to rest, so they rented a small house for him a little distance from the center of community activity. Swamiji had a different plan. “I didn’t come here to take it easy. I came to serve.”
When the news went out across Europe that Swamiji was there, the retreat was filled to overflowing. The dining room was so crowded, the staff had to eat in the kitchen. In addition to classes and informal satsangs with residents, he gave both first and higher Kriya Initiations. He spoke in Italian and was simultaneously translated into German, Portuguese, English, and Croatian.
He authorized Kirtani Stickney, the spiritual director of Ananda Assisi, to initiate others into Kriya. Devotees would no longer have to wait months, or even years, for Swamiji to come. Freer access to Kriya would change our whole work in Europe.
“From the first to the last day of his visit,” a grateful resident said afterward, “Swamiji gave and gave from the depthless wellspring of his attunement to Master. He was here six weeks, but it passed like six days, and he gave us six years worth of unceasing love!”
He returned to the Village in time for his birthday. The evening program was A Tribute to Swami Kriyananda. About sixty people, including many children, created fifteen different presentations of music, song, dance, and readings, all drawn from what he had created. When it ended and the applause finally died down, Swamiji thanked the community for “your sweetness, your love, and above all, for the harmony and friendship expressed in all that was done.”
Later he said, “I don’t feel like I have done anything. It has all been done by Master through me. I can’t think of myself anymore. Rather, it is meaningless for me to think of myself. I can’t tell where I end and Master begins. There is no separation.”
On June 18, Judge Garcia rejected SRF’s motion for reconsideration of his ruling that Self-realization was generic. Generic terms cannot be the exclusive property of any one organization, so he dissolved the injunction against our using the term in our name. He also nullified the trademark SRF had registered on Paramhansa Yogananda, because they had failed to prove it had unique meaning. It was, simply, the name of the founder, and could not be trademarked.
In three years of litigation, the only thing SRF had won was their right to defame Swamiji—protected by the constitution as freedom of speech and religion. Every other key decision supported Master for the World.
In his book, The Holy Science, Sri Yukteswar protested against the system used for dating earthly events. Time should be measured, he said, in longer rhythms, based on universal realities, like the yuga cycle. Dwapara Yuga first began in 1700 AD and we should mark time accordingly. Swamiji had long considered following Sri Yukteswar’s suggestion.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Master’s birth, in the year 293 Dwapara, we became the Ananda Church of Self-Realization. We weren’t required to use the name Ananda, but we decided it was appropriate to do so.
For months, Swamiji had been having increasing pain in one hip. At first he thought it was an infection, then a pulled muscle. Finally it was discovered that the prosthesis had come apart. The only solution was surgery. The diagnosis came just before the annual Kriya Retreat at the end of June, one of the most sacred occasions of the year. Surgery would have to wait until after the weekend.
“The hip seems to know it only has one more week,” Swamiji said. “In the short time left, it wants to get in all the pain it can.” Then he caught a terrible cold. He couldn’t speak and he could hardly stand—until the first class started. Then the cold disappeared and so did the pain in his hip. When the retreat was over, the pain returned. The next day he had surgery.
As before, Swamiji remained fully conscious, anesthetized from the waist down. Halfway through the surgery, he said to the doctor, “I’m not feeling well. A bit nauseous.” The doctor glanced at the blood pressure gauge and saw that it was plummeting. Somehow they had “hit a gusher,” as Swamiji put it. It happened so fast, he was bleeding out before the surgeon noticed. If Swamiji hadn’t been awake and able to alert the doctor, he could easily have died. He lost fifty percent of his blood and had to spend several days in the intensive care unit.
Another complication was that the anesthesia wore off before the operation was over.
“I could feel them sewing me up,” Swamiji said afterward. “It wasn’t pleasant, but I’ve had worse in the dentist’s chair.” Swamiji avoided Novocaine, too, even for the most invasive dental procedures. “If I had told the surgeon, his only alternative would have been to knock me out. That seemed less convenient than just enduring the pain.” Not only did he have to endure, he had to do so without flinching, breathing hard, or in any way letting the surgeon know.
Spinal anesthesia wears off slowly, starting with the feet. In the recovery room, when the doctor came to check his progress, he asked Swamiji to wiggle his toes. Swamiji easily moved his whole foot. The doctor turned pale, then leaned against the wall for support, when he realized the anesthesia had worn off during surgery.
“This was the second time in less than two years I’ve come near death,” Swamiji said. “Both were after lawsuit-related events. The first was reading the K File in Florence. This time, it was the judge’s final ruling about Self-realization and Master’s name. I feel SRF’s negativity as an actual force, intensified by the court decisions.”
Given his recent brush with death, Swamiji said to me, “If Daya Mata dies, SRF may stop the lawsuit. If I die, I want you to see this through. I wouldn’t want you to use my death as a reason not to finish what we’ve started. It would open us to more persecution later. Much needs to be clarified before Master’s work is secure.”
In between all of his other activities, Swamiji worked on The Rubaiyat. “Guerrilla editing,” he called it, darting in to write a few pages whenever he saw an opening in his schedule. After the operation, he was able to spend several weeks alone in Carmel, where he could work without interruption. His rented quarters didn’t have a desk, only a coffee table. Long hours spent leaning over to write, caused a tear in the still-mending tissues in his hip. Fortunately, it healed on its own.
Swamiji said, “I noticed the pain, but I couldn’t be bothered. What was a little discomfort compared with the responsibility—no, the sheer joy!—of working on this glorious book?”
People naturally asked, “Why would Master’s writing need editing?”
Swamiji explained, “People often confuse wisdom with intellectual learning, or with the pleasure some deep thinkers find in making clearly reasoned explanations. True wisdom, however, is intuitive; it is an arrow that flies straight to its mark, while the intellect lumbers with labored breathing far behind.
“Where most people think in words, true sages, much of the time, are not thinking at all: They are perceiving. I don’t mean to say they are incapable of normal reasoning, even of brilliant reasoning. In fact, I have found them to be much clearer in this respect than most people. But the slow processes of ratiocination represents for them, rather, a step away from clarity into the torturous labyrinth of pros and cons.
“Master was a sage of intuitive wisdom who disciplined his mind, out of compassion for people of slower understanding, to accept the plodding processes of common sense, and to trudge the twisting byways of ordinary human reasoning. His consciousness soared more naturally, however, in skies of divine ecstasy.
“His preferred way of expressing himself was to touch lightly on a point, inviting others to meet him on his own level. It was to us, his disciples, usually, that he left the task of expanding on, or explaining, the truths he presented in condensed form in his writings.”
Those who are already in tune with Master, especially those who lived with him, Swamiji said, can get the meaning by intuition, whether or not the words are clear. For those who come after, it is different. Lack of clarity decreases the magnetism. “If his writings are going to reach millions, as Master predicted, they need proper editing.”
Swamiji finished The Rubaiyat just before the centennial in August. He was jubilant. “This has given me great insight into how intuition works,” he said. “Master pulled things out of that poem that were not at all evident—until he expressed them. Then they were obvious. I think I am the only one who could have done this work, who has both the writing skill and the knowledge of Master needed to edit according to his vibration. It flowed so easily. I would read over a passage, and immediately see what needed to be done. It is all his ideas. I just made them clear and accurate. I feel Master is very pleased with me.”
A month before the release date of our original Autobiography of a Yogi, we got a cease and desist letter from SRF’s lawyers, boldly declaring that they held the copyright. When we didn’t immediately agree, they filed an emergency motion with Judge Garcia, asking him to block publication—a motion we had to answer, and then defend in court. The judge turned them down flat. It was his ruling; he knew SRF didn’t have a leg to stand on!
Then SRF took out a big ad in Publishers’ Weekly, the professional journal for the book trade. Without mentioning any other version, they described their Autobiography of a Yogi as “the only complete edition.”
“How dare they!” was the response from some at Ananda.
“I would have done the same thing,” Swamiji said. “Given their position, it was exactly right. What concerns me, is not what SRF has done, but the indignation expressed by some of you. Have we become so committed to our point of view, that we can’t even see the logic of theirs? Such attitudes, I fear, will lead to a permanent schism.”
He called a meeting of community leaders. “I have been awake much of the night,” he said, “concerned that we are hardening our hearts toward SRF. Is there a way to talk about them that will heal the breach, rather than widening it?”
It was the official position of SRF that Daya Mata was Self-realized and therefore infallible. “I was with Master; I know what he wants” was how she justified every decision. Any challenge to SRF was seen as a direct attack on her.
“Quite apart from whether Daya is, or Daya is not Self-realized,” Swamiji said, “even to be infallible doesn’t mean your first pronouncement has to be your last! It is possible to see the same situation from a new perspective. Master readily changed his mind when presented with new information.”
We explored the question from every angle, but in the end, Swamiji concluded, “We have to tell the truth.”
The centennial gathering was glorious. Our guests sat together with Swamiji on the speakers’ platform, taking turns sharing their experiences of Master with an audience of five hundred, rapt listeners. From time to time, the direct disciples would turn to one another for confirmation about some aspect of Master’s character, or simply to bask in the joy of their shared experience.
Peggy Dietz spoke in a sweet, almost childlike way. Most people have trouble getting out of their bodies in meditation, she said; her problem was to stay in it! Master made her his driver—and asked her to drive fast!—to keep her attention on this plane of consciousness.
Harekrishna was gracious, dignified, humble. He was fifteen years old in 1935 when Master came back to India. In soft, sweet tones, he told the story of sitting next to his artist father, Sananda, as Master guided him in drawing the picture of Babaji that now adorns our altars. He also spoke for his wife Anjali, who was too shy to speak for herself. Covering her mouth with her hand, she would whisper words to Harekrishna that he would then repeat aloud. Anjali never met Master, but living in his childhood home, she’d had many visions and experiences, especially in his attic meditation room, which they kept as a shrine.
Bob Raymer was unpretentious, almost folksy. He talked about staying up all night at Mount Washington talking with Master, and how Master, with his own hand, fed him delicious morsels of food.
Roy Davis, a well-known teacher in his own right, was an impressive figure, over six feet tall, with a booming, preacher-like voice. He told us about meeting Master and coming to live at Mount Washington when he was only eighteen years old, then meditating hours every day in a determined quest for samadhi.
Devi Mukherjee spoke for himself and his wife Hassi. She wasn’t confident enough in English to talk on her own. Neither had met Master, but her father, Tulsi Bose, was his boyhood friend. When Master returned to India, he stayed with Tulsi. Hassi was in her mother’s womb. Master cut up an apple and handed it to her mother saying, “This is for the child.” Devi shared stories Tulsi had told them about that year, and many from Master’s early life.
The whole event was filmed. At the end, Swamiji said simply, “Master came to bring a message to each one of you, individually. His life is about you, and your relationship with God.”
When Swamiji was in Italy, one of the community leaders, Narya Tossetto, introduced him to a scientist/inventor/healer named Manuel Manfredi. Manfredi had devoted his life to studying electromagnetic energy, its effect on human beings, and how the negative effects could be mitigated by certain devices of his own invention. Although brilliant in his field, few people were willing to listen to him; his ideas were too far from the norm. He had become deeply discouraged and was thinking of quitting altogether. Swamiji was impressed by the man and his work, and was eager to keep him from spiraling down into disillusionment. He offered to bring Manfredi to America, and arrange public programs for him in all our communities.
It was an esoteric subject and Manfredi was entirely unknown. The only way to get an audience was for Swamiji also to speak. After the centennial, Manfredi arrived for a three-week tour. His discoveries were fascinating, but difficult even for other scientists to understand. It didn’t help that he had to speak through a translator. His part of the program was only a moderate success, but because of Swamji’s presence, attendance was high. Swamiji paid all Manfredi’s expenses and gave him all the proceeds, almost $80,000. Whether the experience rescued Manfredi’s career, we never found out.
A visitor asked Swamiji, “What are the criteria for becoming an Ananda minister?” He expected to hear about years of study and training.
“Their spirituality is proved in the fire of testing,” Swamiji said.
“You mean, can they endure?”
“Endurance is not enough,” Swamiji said. “What qualifies a person to be a minister is the ability, even in the midst of one’s own difficulties, to think first of the welfare of others.”
With all that Swamiji was facing—the SRF lawsuit, and the enormous financial burden it imposed; his health; the end of his marriage—still, “in the midst of his own difficulties,” he thought, “How can I help Manuel Manfredi?”
The Secrets books—we now had a dozen for adults, and six for children—were doing very well. In five months, more than 200,000 copies were sold. This impressive record brought us to the attention of one of the largest publishers in the country, Warner Books.
When the president of Warner met Swamiji at the booksellers’ convention, he felt an immediate rapport. A partnership could benefit both sides. Swamiji could become better known; Warner could break into the spiritual and new-age market. He made Swamiji an offer: his company would put all our existing titles into their much larger distribution system; they would publish all twelve Secrets books in one volume called Secrets of Life; and they would give Swamiji a generous advance to write a book on meditation for beginners.
Swamiji agreed, but cautioned, “I’ve never been in tune with this age. I am the kind of writer who becomes famous only after I am dead.” Meaning, when the world catches up to what he has to say.
In December, Swamiji wrote to the worldwide Ananda membership. “In the letters and papers I’ve written to you during the course of this lawsuit—now in its fourth year!—my purpose was to explain certain principles that my conscience tells me are of fundamental importance to the spread of Master’s mission. Even though I’ve addressed many of my remarks to SRF’s leaders, I did not write with the expectation that they would change their minds about anything.
“My hope is that, someday, those letters will have an influence in steering Master’s mission in a truly expansive direction, and toward considering the spiritual needs of individual seekers rather than the exigencies of any organization.
“We have so much to be grateful for. For one thing, the lawsuit has helped Ananda to define itself, and its particular role in Master’s work. In the process, Ananda has developed considerable strength and self-assurance, both as a group and as individuals. The community is more dedicated than ever to Master, and more deeply in tune with him than ever before.
“Outwardly, too, Ananda has grown by ‘leaps and bounds.’ But I don’t want to enumerate all those benefits. Far more important is the inner plane. Inwardly, the community members are thriving, peaceful, happy, and in love with God.
“May God and our great line of Gurus bless you all.”