As a young man I always wanted to know the “truth” about things, which I tended to seek by examining all the hard cold facts I could find. I applied this interest to myself, too, and I attended many encounter groups, some of which employed the “direct confrontation” approach to self-knowledge. Though not easy, I found these experiences to be generally helpful and invigorating.
I remember a day, perhaps in 1975, when I visited the Whole Earth Fair in Davis, California, where Ananda had a booth. I had enjoyed some Ananda programs, and I thought I’d stop in. There I ran into Swami Kriyananda, whom I had met briefly once or twice before.
He was cheerful and engaging, and though I’m usually a bit shy around persons who are well known, he put me at ease in the most natural way, and soon we were having an interesting discussion about the assertions of a current economic theorist. We didn’t talk about anything overtly “spiritual.” I remember reflecting that a man of God might be expected to work at least a few references to the Divine into any conversation. But I now think that a person who lives in God’s presence vibrates an uplifting influence naturally, without needing to make it obvious. After a time we bade each other good day, and I went on to look at other booths and displays.
It wasn’t long, however, before I began to feel unsettled, so found a bench to rest for a while. I spent probably 15 minutes or half an hour reflecting there, before I continued my visit to the fair.
It’s hard to describe the feeling I had, but I thought later that it was as if I were embarking on a new life (subsequent events proved this to be true) which would demand an entirely new perspective—a different way of understanding and referencing my life’s experiences and guiding principles. I imagined that these and all the qualities, ambitions (and hard facts too!) within me were like the bricks in an inner edifice I had carefully built up over time, but whose architecture was now more a hindrance than a help to me.
It seemed to me that my “inner building” had come tumbling down while in the vibration of someone who had already transformed his own. But the individual bricks were still perfectly good and were ready for me to rebuild in a new and much more beautiful way.
I don’t claim that this was necessarily a “miracle” or a “life-transforming experience,” though it may have had power that I am still not fully aware of. I am content to let this remain an open question.
What I do know, however, is that my life has been transformed— many times over, in fact—through my study and practice of Yogananda’s writings and techniques over the years. I sometimes look back over diary entries and realize, with some measure of awe and no little trembling, that I simply wouldn’t be concerned in that way about those sorts of things anymore because of the ways my consciousness has changed.
Considering my personal history, I know also that this transformation would not have happened without the daily labor of Swami Kriyananda, first to attune himself to higher consciousness, but then also to express it in ever new ways, never resting but always striving to say it from yet one new perspective so that perhaps one more person might say, “Aha! Now I see!” I’m afraid that I’ve been a hard-headed one. And I am eternally grateful to Swami Kriyananda that he kept on trying with me and many others until at last we too finally made some part at least of the light he so carefully offered, our own.
Sudarshan is a builder and long-time minister.