“I really didn’t want to come on this trip, because I like to be alone and not around a lot of people, but a friend convinced me to go, so here I am,” said the slightly embarrassed young man.
As Devi and I took our morning walk through the countryside near our rural Pune Ashram, we were met with a scene that has changed little in the last thousand years. Crops have just been harvested, and the farmers are plowing their small fields with wooden plows pulled by bullocks. They wave as we pass, and we somehow bridge the language barrier by shouting, “Happy Diwali.” In India this is the time of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which commemorates light driving out darkness, and is the Indian equivalent of Christmas.
The wheels of our bus were perilously close to the crumbling edge of the road as we drove up into the foothills of the Himalayas. The heavy monsoons earlier in the year had washed away sections of the road, or caused great pits to appear in the middle of it. Both of these obstacles had to be carefully negotiated to avoid tumbling into the valley below or sinking into the gaping holes.
We’re in India and recently had lunch with Indu Bhan, whom you may remember as the man who told us the fascinating story of how he and his companions found Babaji’s Cave. Indu is a font of amazing and inspiring stories, and he asked us if we would like to hear about the most memorable talk he had ever attended. Seeing the twinkle in his eye, we were eager to hear the tale.
Swami Kriyananda invited us over for tea one afternoon to discuss a change he had in mind for Ananda. When he asked our thoughts, I responded with some emotion, because I felt that a principle was at stake. Swamiji looked at me steadily and said, “You may be right, but when you speak so emotionally, it’s hard to accept what you’re saying.”
We have been helping give a Meditation Teacher Training course here in India, and, as part of the training, we talked about how to give magnetic classes. But the same principles apply to other areas of life: doing your job with magnetism, or having magnetic relationships, or developing the magnetism that draws God. Magnetism, you see, is produced whenever there is a flow of energy. It follows a basic law stated by Paramhansa Yogananda: “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy. And the greater the flow of energy, the greater the magnetism.” It is not too simplistic to say that this is also the law of success in any endeavor.
“We’ll never get all this work done by the end of the week,” I lamented to Jyotish. In 1982 Swami Kriyananda had asked us to lead Yoga Teachers Training, which was held at the Meditation Retreat. Because we’d need to be available for the students, we realized it was necessary to move to the Retreat—six miles away from our home at Ananda Village.
It was in the fall of 1966 that I found Autobiography of a Yogi, although in truth I think it found me. It was a time of great transition in my life. I had graduated from college and moved to San Francisco a few months earlier, and was just starting out as an independent adult. I was looking for a direction, having felt that my major in college, psychology, was simply not capable of answering the questions I had long been asking. I was interested in awareness, in the scope of human consciousness, and in happiness. More schooling was not going to give me what I was seeking. And yet, where was I to turn? I had long abandoned religion, at least the formalized “Churchianity” I was given in my youth.
“Doctor, please help me. I think that I’m really sick,” the worried patient said. “My body hurts all over: when I touch my arm, it hurts; when I touch my chest, it hurts; when I touch my head, it hurts.”
This morning Devi and I spoke with someone who was feeling overwhelmed and a little guilty because he couldn’t keep up with all the “should do’s” on the spiritual path. I doubt if there is a devotee alive who hasn’t had these same thoughts. On the one hand, there are hundreds of techniques, habits, and attitudes that could be helpful. On the other hand, we have to face the reality of living in this world with multiple responsibilities and limited time.