The first of three great waves of blessing for mankind began in 1861 in the Himalayas. It was then that the great avatar Babaji initiated his disciple, Lahiri Mahasaya, into the yogic science of Kriya Yoga. As he was about to return to his job and family, Lahiri pleaded to Babaji, “I pray that you permit me to communicate Kriya to all seekers, even though at first they cannot vow themselves to complete inner renunciation. The tormented men and women of the world, pursued by the threefold suffering, need special encouragement. They may never attempt the road to freedom if Kriya initiation be withheld from them.”
It was a bitterly cold winter, and the men were starving and ragged. Many of them were barefoot, and all of them without hope. The year was 1776, the low point for the Americans in the Revolutionary War against England, and General George Washington was struggling against overwhelming odds.
In 1974 I went on a trip around the world with Swami Kriyananda. Our small group started the journey by flying from San Francisco to Hawaii. While there, we had dinner at the ashram of Subramuniyaswami on the island of Kauai. The meeting between Swami Kriyananda and Subramuniyaswami was a delight to behold. They were like twin souls, both having founded spiritual works and ashrams based on the deep teachings of India.
People frequently ask us, “Why have you followed the spiritual path for your whole life?” There are many answers to that question, but a big one is: “It brings me inner freedom.” By this I mean, freedom to change negative patterns that have kept me in their clutches; freedom to respond with calmness and kindness even when others are angry or challenging; and, simply, freedom to enjoy whatever life brings.
There were only a few occasions when Swami Kriyananda corrected me strongly. At the time, I thought he was “upset” with me, but later I realized that wasn’t really true. It was rather that I needed something strong enough to break through any resistance I might have had. Here is a story about one of those times.
“This is all I was able to rescue from our house before the fire forced me out,” Jyotish said as he handed me a small cardboard container slightly larger than a shoebox. It was the end of a long day on June 28, 1976. The forest fire that had started that morning, and that burnt Ananda Village to the ground, was finally contained.
We visited Ananda’s Seattle community last week, where a friend, knowing of my love of mountains, gave me this poem of Hafiz:
Some years ago we were completing the work on Swami Kriyananda’s dome at Ananda Village, the initial building of what has evolved over time into Crystal Hermitage. Although the interior of the dome still needed work to transform it from a building site into a home, Swamiji was eager to move in.
As I travel around the world, one of the questions asked most often is, “How can I bring my life into balance?” People feel pressured and pushed, unable to get centered.