We have just finished an uplifting “Inner Renewal Week,” which we do annually in February at Ananda Village. In preparing for these classes, a formula for success clarified for me. These are not so much new ideas as they are a clear and simple presentation of them.
While we were in India, we enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Indu Bhan. Although elderly now, in his youth Indu was a key assistant and good friend to Swami Kriyananda. Indu’s mother, Rani Bhan, was a remarkable person and a great help to Swamiji during that time. She was a powerful spiritual magnet, her house constantly visited by the great saints of that period. If you’ve heard the name of a saint from Northern India, such as Anandamayi Ma, Neem Karoli Baba, or Swami Narayan, they probably visited or stayed with Rani. She passed away in 2005, but Indu is still in touch with her through dreams and occasional visions.
There’s a story about a young boy whose spirituality was so deep that he left his family to enter his guru’s ashram at the age of seven. After some months had passed, his guru told him to go back to his village for a short visit to see his family and friends.
It happened again one evening a couple of weeks ago, while we were relaxing and chatting with some dear friends. My wife, Devi, who periodically over the years has asked, begged, or cajoled me to tell the story of the mouse family, prevailed successfully upon me once again. People always seem to enjoy this story, so I thought you might, too.
The boy’s father was a harsh man. Constantly criticizing and belittling others, he was feared by everyone who knew him—but not by his son, who had a wisdom beyond his years.
Devi and I just finished a week of seclusion at a private retreat house atop Abbott Mount, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Ever-present in the distance is Nanda Devi, a mountain that many in India believe to be a living goddess. In this rarefied air, one feels the blessing of God and the Masters to be palpable.
I sat in a lab at the University of California in the early 1970s, electrodes attached to my head and body. As an Ananda member I had been invited to participate in an early attempt to study what meditation does to the brain. Ever since then I’ve had an interest in these kinds of scientific studies.
Right now in India people everywhere are beginning the festivities for Diwali—a holiday celebrating the reappearance of light in the world. Diwali commemorates the return of the avatar, Rama, and his wife, Sita, to their kingdom of Ayodhya after winning the war against the evil king, Ravana, and his forces of darkness.
We were staying at a little hotel near Rome. It fronted on a popular beach where hundreds of Italians came with their families: some swam or lounged on the warm sand, others jogged or walked along the promenade, and still others were there to see and be seen. It was a charming little slice of life. But early each morning when the beach was abandoned, a different scene caught my eye. Around 7:00 a.m. a car would pull into one of the parking slots, and an old woman would get out. Then she would reach into the back for a bag and trudge slowly toward the sand.