Inpirational Story Archives
Many years ago, Anna Coates, the matriarch of the Phoenix Temple, who helped Master with the beginning of his work in Phoenix, received an invitation from our beloved Sri Daya Mata for a personal visit. Anna told me about it --what to do, how to get there ... So I asked if it would be ok if I took one day off work and accompany her to LA. She joyfully accepted the offer. I then booked 2 flights and one rental car. And everything was set. Anna was so happy, and I am sure Ma looked forward to seeing her.
Everything went smoothly, we arrived on time at MC and were welcomed by two nuns that Anna knew. We were escorted into the main hall, where the sisters told me to have a seat here and wait for Anna until her interview was over. Then the nuns took Anna upstairs.
So here I sat, in the same building where Ma was, just a couple floors lower ... and I knew I was to wait here and no, Ma would not be able to greet me today. I vacillated between being an obedient, surrendering devotee, and yet harboring the desire – for just a moment, Ma, just to pronam to you, but no - I had to be grateful to at least be in her vicinity.
After about 45 minutes, Anna came walking down the stairs, holding a very large mango in her hands, and without hesitation she called to me loudly “Karen (and I changed the name to protect the innocent) – Karen, Daya Mata is sending you this mango!” She told me later that Ma had escorted her to the stairs, then stopped and said - “excuse me for a moment,” went back to her room and came back with this large mango, saying so sweetly “would you mind taking this to Karen?”
One of the nuns took a picture of the three of us, Anna, the Mango, and me.
I’m calling this story “The Day I Did Not See Daya Mata.” But what a treasury of memories! I ate that mango at home, and my faithful dog got a slice too .... And “Karen” attached a photo of the large seed from that mango, which she has kept to this day.
One of my favorite aspects of the Guru-disciple relationship is that of the guru as the divine friend. I have found over the years that the Guru has an amazing sense of humor, and that he loves to play with us. This short sweet experience is one of those dear moments with my divine friend.
This story takes place in the spring of 2016. I had been to the temple service that morning and the topic was, "The Guru's Omnipresence." Bramachari Lynn had given an inspiring talk about how the Guru is always near. My heart was singing with devotion.
Then as I got into my car to head home I remembered that I had promised myself that I would stop at the Desert Ridge shopping mall to buy some needed clothing. Ugh! I hate shopping I thought. But remembering the service I reminded myself of Guru's omnipresence. I had only to think him near.
But as I turned into the shopping mall I thought, Guru can't really be here in this materialistic environment. Surely he can't. Then, because I am somewhat of a rascal, I started talking to Gurudev in a teasing way. "Guruji, are you at Target? At Petsmart? At Office Max? At DSW Shoes?" Finally I arrived at my destination, Kohl's department store. I got out of my car, ready to face the dreaded materialistic mall. But what I heard next was truly a humbling surprise. I heard Master's voice!! No, I was not hallucinating. Someone was sitting in a parked car, and was listening, at a very high volume, to one of Master's CDs. It was a lovely spring day so the person had their windows rolled down. I almost fell to the asphalt parking lot in gales of laughter. "OK Master, I get it! You are omnipresent!"
Some may say, "What a random, odd coincidence." But I know in my heart that it was my beloved divine friend who knows our every thought and feeling, as he whispers, "Hello playmate, I am here." Jai Guru!
On Thursday evening, during Master's birthday commemoration service, you mentioned how Guruji protects all of us without our always knowing it. I had an interesting experience, a Master Moment or Master's Magic Moment, on that day before the Commemorative Service. I bought flowers on Sunday in advance for Thursday evening (since I was planning to stay home for most of the week because I was off work). On Thursday morning I looked at the flowers and I was not sure if they looked fresh enough to bring. I wrapped them in a ribbon and put them back in the water. Within about an hour, the flowers significantly drooped over so I knew I needed to go to the store - I decided to go to the store later in the day. Around 5:40pm, as I headed to the grocery store to buy fresh flowers, I saw the tire pressure light was lit on my dashboard. Since time was kind of tight, I thought maybe I could just wait until the next day to have my tires checked at Discount Tire. Upon further thought, I just "knew" I needed to go straight to Discount Tire which was only open for 20 more minutes.
When I got there, the worker told me I had a flat tire (2 screws were imbedded in one of the back tires) and there was only 6, instead of 30, pounds of pressure in it. I told the attendant that I almost didn't stop in and would have gone on the freeway with my car to go to the Temple. And he said that I would have had a blow out. So that is my story of how Master protected me on his birthday! What a wonderful present!
In the early 1990s, I was a student at the University of Toledo at Toledo Ohio. I had just started the SRF lessons and was every enthusiastic and excited to follow the teaching to the best of my ability. I sincerely read the lessons and attended meditations at the SRF center. The center was small and had 3 members including me. I had lot of questions for the Guru and about the teaching and the only way to communicate in those days with the Mother Center was by letters. Phone calls during work hours were expensive and as a student I could not afford making calls. Even though I developed close relationship with my Guru, I usually felt lonely on my spiritual path. With friends usually poking fun at me for being ‘weird’ and sometimes advising me not to get entangled into a cult, it was frustratingly difficult to follow the path.
One day, while I was researching some books at the 5-story University Library, I accidentally discovered, under Spirituality section, the library had large collection of SRF magazines. They were neatly bound in form of multiple small books. After that, I usually spent my afternoons hungrily devouring the articles from the SRF magazines instead of studying for my classes. Several of my early devotee questions were answered through Guru’s words in the SRF magazines. Those wonderful afternoons at the university library, is what I think, strengthened my nascent spiritual life and has kept me on this path for so long.
My roommate was also a student and he worked late shift at the University library usually cleaning and tidying it up after it was closed. Although he knew about my meditations, he knew nothing about SRF or Paramahansa Yogananda. We had never discussed. One night, while he was working at the library, he was asked to dump a large collection of library books that were in multiple garbage bags. Later he told me that it is typical for a library to get rid of unpopular and less used books to make room for newer books. Before he started dumping, he said he had the urge to open one of the garbage bags. As he flipped through one of the books in the bag, he saw the SRF logo on the magazine cover. He said he remembered seeing the same logo on one of the SRF poster on the wall next to my bed. All the bound SRF magazines were being withdrawn from the library that night along with multiple other books. So, he suspected that I might be interested in these books, and got me the entire collection - all magazines from the year 1974 to 1992. SRF magazines of 18 years that were neatly bound were all mine!!
Tears rolled down my eyes and I held those bound magazines. These were the books that kept me steadfast on the path and they were being discarded. It was as though my Guru said to the library management “If you want to discard these books because nobody reads them - fine, let me give them to one guy in Toledo who cherishes them”. The probability of my roommate finding them and getting it for me was nothing short of a miracle. Since then, the magazines have become my prized possession and I have guarded them like treasure. Even to this day, sometimes when I feel overwhelmed to take on life’s challenges all by myself, I relive this story as a proof that my Guru is not only looking after me, but He is also thinking of me.
My story starts a little over a decade ago. It was a hot summer morning when I was cleaning my pool. I tripped over my dog and hit my head on the corner of a concrete step. I was rendered in a semi-conscious state. I lay there for the next 20 hours periodically yelling for help but none came, except for my dog who would periodically lick my face and nervously walk around. I tried time and time again to get up but would fall, hitting my head on the concrete step.
When the next morning came I knew it was going to be my last. I would not survive another day without a miracle. It was then that my gardener showed up. In three years of working for me, he never showed up on the day he was supposed to.....except for that day. He even showed up earlier then scheduled.
The next four months I spent in the county burn unit with several life-threatening complications. I survived them and underwent so many surgeries that I don't even recall just how many. I did receive new skin on my legs and after a difficult period of rehabilitation I was discharged.
I was on many medications including morphine. Over the next five years I slowly lost control of my life, and was eventually taking almost 30 medications a day.
In 2011 I had a stroke impairing the movement on one side of my body. Then in 2013 I developed a disease called lymphedema. It is characterized by out-of-control swelling in different areas of the body. It was after I developed this condition that my overall status could be considered severely debilitated. I felt as though God had forsaken me. A very difficult concept for me since I've always been very spiritual. But I was angry at God. I couldn't even say his name so I made one up.
For three years I was functionally bedbound. I was unable to roll side to side. I could only walk about 10 feet and it would exhaust me totally. I had retained the employment of a live-in caregiver. During this three-year period she became abusive and took delight in tormenting me. I was isolated in my own home not having anyone to talk to. All I could do was lie in bed and cry and wonder why. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep......but I could meditate. So I went inside.
You see 26 years previously I first attended the Phoenix Temple of SRF. It was then I learned some of the effective techniques of meditation. But after a year of attending the temple regularly, I walked away for various reasons.
And suddenly 26 years later, I was meditating again. After about a month of regular, almost hourly meditation, things started to change.
At first I didn't even realize Master was visiting me. I had a pile of old books. As I was looking through these, I found a stained-glass lotus flower. It took me more than a month to realize where that lotus flower came from. I then found a cache of incense that I previously purchased at the Temple bookstore. Master kept giving me signs almost daily.
I retained the help of a counselor over the phone as I was too weak to go anywhere. It is from her that I realized I had two paths I could choose from—to continue with my life the way it was, or to change it. I intuitively knew the former would lead to suicide, so I chose the latter, a daunting task, to say the least. However having been a rehabilitative expert for over 30 years, I found myself up for that task.
So the meditations continued and I started to change—physically mentally and spiritually. In the last year I've gotten off of most of the medications. I'm currently only taking three a day. I've lost more than 140 pounds and I’ve started a proper rehabilitation program. This last summer I started getting around my community again. I was slowly coming back. I kicked all of the abusive people out of my life. I wanted to change and Master was helping me.
I have discovered that I am a poet and a budding graphic artist. I've written the first draft of my book which is composed of conceptual images reflecting a life struggle from being lost to finally being found. I just started work on developing a national webpage for lymphedema. I'm determined to help those that are homebound with this terrible disease to take an active stance in controlling it.
My life has indeed changed. I'm happier than I've ever been. I'm doing things I could only dare to dream about. I follow Master's guidance daily and I am so very happy to have found my home here at the Phoenix Temple of SRF.
How God, Guru, And The Phoenix Temple Have Changed Me
Financially: Abundant help from Master’s monks via email or counseling on job searches and getting plenty of homework. While I have less income than expenses, I really want to keep sharing, & living God’s laws.
Socially: Master has done some adorable things with insects, birds, plants, and people to remind me, I am right inside your heart and will know everything that you do, feel, and think....Reclusive for about seven years, I am now shifting from introvert toward sociability. Devotees share scriptural verses & unconditional love. First Day of Service resulted in astonishing encouraging effects which lasted for over a week. Few places on earth express more beauty.
Images of others’ discipleship appear daily. Magnetic souls who can reach pratyahara -- who seem to radiate better meditation habits – make dangerous company less attractive. I find an abiding yearning to be in sacred company. Less proselytizing and more acceptance.
It seems the Gurus and our Divine Parents can heal anything. Sri Yukteswar has helped me to recognize the why and how of healing, the bane of attachments, and errors in diet or behavior.
Intellectually and introspectively: More than once: just one glance from the Guru’s pictures or an SRF president has transformed at least one day thereafter in my life.
I often set Guruji’s prayers and affirmations to music. Compositions, now easier, echo all day long, and change me. Loving Sr. Gyanamata, I took one passage about her remaining desires and set that to music and it shattered my inertia to regularly come to temple.
My chanting times are much longer, largely because one day I’d like to become a Temple organist, and I daresay God and Guru accept my devotion. Being a soul who would like to imitate Ram Prasad, I’m learning to sing to God constantly.
Master said to schedule and systematize life. I now have 71 pages of goals, 262 vows, 190 rules and will put some of that into a system—something I’ve never accomplished.,,,Over the last three-and-a-half years I have sought to define yama-niyama with quotations from SRF, and I now have hundreds of pages of them. Also I’ve accumulated over 100 pages of introspection questions, so when I face them, a thorough assessment awaits
Spiritually: Mother Center’s Worldwide Prayer Council prayers make most difficult goals attainable. I find wisdom in communicating with the omnipresence of all the Gurus when I look intently at Their pictures. Practicing the Presence of God, or extending the devotional phase of meditation has become a little more natural. And sometimes when the Gurus respond to meditation I am awake all night without fatigue.
Thank you God, Guru, and the Phoenix Temple.
Yogananda Knew Me
My journey with Yogananda started when I went to LA for business. I met a friend who had just moved there, and the first place he took me was the beautiful Lake Shrine. I was blown away. I thought it was the most lovely and stunning botanical garden I had ever seen. I couldn’t figure out why there was a houseboat, windmill and lake in the middle of LA. I then went into the windmill chapel, and saw the altar. Yogananda knew me, but I didn’t see him. All I saw was a blue or purple guy or girl. When I turned away and looked back he or she was grey and then silver and then a light violet. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was captivated.
Two years later I was visiting a friend in the San Diego area, and she said: “On Sunday I am going to take you somewhere special.” She took me to the Encinitas SRF gardens. I thought this had to be the most beautiful botanical gardens overlooking the ocean that I have ever seen. Then we went into the large house. I thought to myself, this is a nice house, but why is it being guarded by what looked like a platoon of nuns? When I went in, Yogananda knew me and I saw his picture. When I left the house I saw the retreat building and asked what it was. The nun said: “It is a retreat center.” I asked: “What is a retreat?” Little did I know that I would stay there one day.
A few years later when I was talking a long walk on Sunset Blvd. along a sea of car dealers, hospitals and Scientology buildings, I walked past what looked like an oasis. I was drawn right to it. I looked through a closed gate at this beautiful landscaped area. It was like a miniature botanical garden. Yogananda knew I was looking in, but I didn’t see or know him. It was the Hollywood Temple.
A couple of years later I found a book about Yogananda that mentioned a temple in Phoenix. I looked it up, and that Sunday I walked into the Phoenix Temple for the first time. Yogananda knew me and I looked at him. The next week I went again, and it looked like he was gazing right into my eyes....and I saw him!
Now after having become a Lessons student, learning and practicing the meditation techniques and much more, when I go into the Temple and see Master, I know him and he knows me.....I am home.
I thank all the people who preceded me, who gave and sacrificed to build this temple for me and the many others who come each week. I feel blessed to give and sacrifice what I can for the new building and all the people who will come in the future. Many years from now I can see a parent picking up his child from Sunday school, in a building that hasn’t been constructed yet, telling another parent how they grew up in this building and how grateful they are that their children can do the same thanks to the sacrifice of all the people who preceded them. JAI GURU!
My First Convocation
I have sensed from an early age that I have had a guardian angel. So many near accidents....only divine intervention could explain it. It wasn't until my first convocation that my angel had a name ..... Paramahansa Yogananda.
I had wanted to go to convocation, but had some uncertainty about it. I did not like crowds, large cities or traveling by myself. Perhaps this desire was not such a good idea I reasoned. However an inner urging convinced me to go for it.
Upon arriving in LA all that I had feared started to manifest. It took two hours to get to the Biltmore from the airport. Upon seeing the long line to check in I knew I would never make the orientation class. I got a map from the front desk showing me the way to the Bonaventure. I still couldn't get my bearings looking at the map. I asked the gal to mark the route. She had....I had my sunglasses on so did not see the highlighting. Breathe, I tell myself.
Later that evening I catch the shuttle back to the hotel. But it is dark and all the hotels looked the same to me. I sat with a woman who said, "this is where you get off." I say, "are you sure this is the Biltmore?" She says, " I have been doing this for about 40 years. Move." One day down.
Next day..after attending the afternoon class....I leave feeling so blissful. When I finally come down from the clouds I look around and don't have a clue where I am. I stop several people on the street and ask where the Biltmore is. No one knew. I do an about face and go back to the Bonaventure and pay attention to where I am going.
That night I get on the shuttle again and say to this lady, "is it alright if I sit with you again?" She just stares. I say, "I didn't sit with you, did I?" She shakes her head no. I say, "well it was a great class, wasn't it?" She is still just staring. I say to myself look straight ahead....she thinks you are nuts. I can tell she is still staring at me. Oh My! I get off the shuttle and a voice behind me says, "I see you remembered where to get off tonight." I turn around and it is my friend from the night before. She says, "It was a great lecture, wasn't it?" Finally, someone was talking my language. We get on the elevator and she says, "you are on 9, right?" It is my turn to stare. This woman remembered what floor I was on. I hardly remembered my name. I say, "No they moved me to 7". She says, "that is the same floor I am on." As we are walking down the hall she stops and says, "what is your room number?" I tell her and she says, "you are right next to me." I am thinking...she probably thought I was following her to her room. I enter my room and offer a prayer to Master. "I know you wanted me to come, but I need a little help here." It was but a short time later the phone rang. It is the lady next door. She says, "Master said I was suppose to call and ask you to come with me to the Lake Shrine tomorrow. Do you want to go?' I couldn't say yes fast enough.
Next morning bright and early I arrive at the Lake. I go to the retreat area, pull a book at random from the library shelf, and read some of Master's beautiful worlds. I could feel the tension leaving my body. I am totally at peace. Shortly thereafter a gentleman comes in and asks if I knew where he could find in the Gita the most important quality that a devotee should have. I assure him I did not know. Later I am in line at the house boat. The gentleman who had asked the question was several people in front of me. Upon seeing me he comes back and says he found the information he was looking for. Then shaking his finger at me says, "do YOU know what the most important quality a devotee should have?" "No", I say. He says, "FEARLESSNESS." It took my breath away, "Yes, that is an area in which I need to work." I knew immediately Who was shaking His finger at me. Guru has guided me in so many ways.
My dear friend who listened to Guru and basically picked me off the street is a sweet soul. We had an immediate connection and correspond regularly to this day. Jai Guru!
My Convocation Prayer Answered and the Master's Blessings
It was the year of the last Convocation at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. I was living in Jersey City and was an SRF Lessons student, just beginning to serve on a committee at the New York City Center in Manhattan. The friendly people I met at the center suggested I apply for Kriya. "You're ready to become a Kriyaban," they told me, "and you should request to have the initiation at the Mother Center in Los Angeles during the annual Convocation. How could I afford to even go to L.A. on my part-time salary? I decided to work on a budget and to save in anticipation, while praying to the Guru for help. I also used the Horn of Plenty bank that was displayed on the free literature shelf at the Center.
My application was accepted at Mother Center a few weeks later. I was thrilled. However, upon checking my savings account, I calculated that I would have airfare but not enough money for ground transportation or food, plus I would need a roommate to afford a room at the Biltmore. I prayed even harder.
After applying for several full-time positions, I received a letter requesting an interview. It was a month before Convocation. The interview went well. The following week, I received another letter from the prospective employer and prayed before opening it. It was a congratulatory letter giving the department and the date when I would report to work. But there was a "wrinkle." The report date was four days before Convocation. "Oh, Guru," I prayed, "I've got to go to Convocation."
When I reported to work on my first day, I explained to my new supervisor that I had already booked a flight at the end of the week and could not work the following week. He looked a little surprised, and then said that I still had the job but I would have to work without a vacation in order to accrue all the benefits. I was relieved. Still $100 short of my monetary goal, I trusted the Guru to help me.
The following day, I entered a Path station, the underground commuter train that travels between Jersey City, Hoboken and Manhattan. My jeans pocket contained the Path fare and a dollar. A smiling homeless man sat at the station entrance. "Can you spare a quarter?" he said. "Sorry," I replied, "I only have my train fare." He continued smiling and nodded. I heard a train coming and rushed to the stairs. The incoming train created a whirlwind effect that picked up bits of loose paper from the station's platform and blew them up the stairs. "Gotta make that train," I thought. Reaching for the railing I noticed a few dollar bills begin to fly in the wind towards me. I grabbed the bills. "Someone must have lost their money." Folding the bills, I hurried down the stairs as the train roared out of the station. Two or three people were still on the platform. "Did anyone drop anything?" I called out. They shook their heads "no." I turned and unfolded the bills. To my surprise they were not one dollar bills, but twenty dollar bills, and there were five of them--$100! I silently thanked God and Guru, then bounded up the stairs and gave the homeless man my extra dollar. "God bless you Miss," he said. Yes He just did was my thought.
Convocation was magical and unforgettable. Best of all, I knew without a doubt that these teachings worked!
My 1980 Convocation Sacrifice
It was summer 1980, my first Convocation. And the experience was more soul-stirring and life-transforming than anything I could have imagined. The highlight of the week was getting to see our beloved President, Sri Daya Mata give Satsanga in the Biltmore Bowl on Thursday evening. We had already begun to line up in the early afternoon, patiently waiting to receive darshan from our dear Ma. While talking with some of my friends on the line outside the Biltmore Bowl, two devotees, an older man and woman from the Phoenix Temple, arrived to catch the last two days of Convocation. It was their first Convocation experience as well. The woman had a ticket for the Biltmore Bowl; the man did not. They were trying to decide what to do, perhaps just sit together in the overflow room so they could experience Daya Ma's Satsanga side by side.
In that instance, without any hesitation, any forethought at all, I stood and handed my ticked to the man, smiled and began to slowly walk away from my group of dear friends to the overflow room, where I would catch Ma's Satsanga with an audio feed. I couldn't believe the sacrifice I had made. But it just seemed so perfect, so right. And Master smiled in my heart.
The moment finally arrived. Daya Ma stirred our souls with her divine wisdom, compassion, and love. We were all transfixed in the awe and wonder of those timeless moments. At the close of her talk, Ma paused, as if considering something, and then said: "I think I will now go downstairs to the overflow room, so that I can personally greet all of you who were unable to be here in the bowl with us." It was the first time she had ever done that.
My heart stopped! I couldn't believe it!! Master again seemed to smile from deep within, and the clear thought surfaced: "My dear child, in the end, even with your supreme sacrifice, you didn't miss out at all, did you? See how much I love you!?"
An Experience with Reverend Mother Sri Daya Ma
I arrived in Phoenix on March 9, 1979, to take up residence with my mother, who moved one year earlier from Florida. Being on the path since 1975, we both had a desire to live near a Self Realization Temple. It was a joy to establish ourselves as dedicated devotees of the beautiful spiritual community of the SRF Phoenix Temple.
Although I was unable to afford attending the Convocation that year, I saved up to attend the Christmas Satsanga, held at the Biltmore on December 2, 1979, with my mother. I recall on several occasions how mother kept me in rapt attention whenever describing the experience of seeing Reverend Mother Sri Daya Mata when she attended the convocations from 1975 to the present. With much anticipation, I counted the weeks, days, hours, and minutes until that auspicious day arrived for me to receive darshan of this holy personage!
On that blessed day we arrived 4 hours before the doors opened and found ourselves still farther back from the door than anticipated because of the large contingent of devotees and newcomers that gathered perhaps hours before we even arrived.
When the doors opened we found ourselves seated many rows back from the stage, on the first floor, in the Biltmore Bowl Auditorium. As I looked around there were hundreds of people, on the first floor and the balcony, most of them glowing with anticipation. When Reverend Mother finally arrived and took her place in a chair, center stage, I focused my mind and heart on her from the beginning to the end of her sweet message to us all.
At the conclusion of her talk and closing prayer, Reverend Mother began to walk toward the left of the stage to exit.
At that very moment I became less conscious of the multitude of people in the audience and more attuned to her presence. I have no idea how it happened but I became so drawn to her that I practically ran passed hundreds of people to get to her before she left my sight. As she walked down the steps I bent forward and quickly proceeded to touch her feet. All of a sudden I felt a slap of a hand on my forehead and my eyes quickly locked up to the spiritual eye. Daya Ma then took hold of my hand. And Oh! What a charge of energy filled my body!! With my eyes still locked at the spiritual eye and Ma still holding my hand, I heard her tell the audience, "I love you, all." Ma did not say anything to me, particularly. She communicated through that loving vibration of energy that lasted for at least five minutes after she let go of my hand.
When I opened my eyes I saw her leave through an opening on the left side of the stage. I then walked slowly back to my mother with my heart full of love and a mind attempting to figure out what just happened. The other strange part of the experience was that mother did not make any comment about it. We walked out in silence, each feeling blessed to have been a part of this special gathering conducted by our Ma!
In the years that followed, I made a point to leave a note and a rose at the reception desk of Mount Washington whenever I came to Los Angeles on Pilgrimage. I would write her frequently and through the years was able to collect 12 letters from her and visit her twice with a group of devotees. Although I could not fully grasp the magnitude of her saintliness, I am convinced that Ma was an embodiment and Spirit of Divine Mother and of Master.
Miracle of Love
As a teen and young woman, I was a chronic alcoholic, a condition which stemmed from severe trauma I had experienced as an adolescent. Through the course of this addiction, I had been hospitalized twice due to intentional drug and alcohol overdoses. During one of these episodes I died, was resuscitated, and remained in a coma for days. After being raised in an upper middle class family, and while a student at a prestigious art school in NYC, I became homeless due to my alcoholism. In an effort to heal, and while attending AA meetings regularly, a friend arranged for me to reside at the Texas State Hospital for Alcoholism, for a 30 day treatment program, yet still, I wanted to drown my consciousness with alcohol.
I had reached the place, after nearly two years of effort, where I had tried everything I could to achieve sobriety, yet without lasting success. In Alcoholics Anonymous it is recommended one find a personal relationship with a God of their own understanding, their own religion or philosophy. I could not awaken to this because I ceased believing in God after I experienced the trauma which shattered my life as a pre-teen. I could, by then, accept an "Energy of the Universe", but one cannot address an "Energy" in a personal, Mother/child manner, thus, no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, the compulsion to drink, a constant, daily bane, remained with me, and I continued to regress into periodic drinking even while attending AA meetings.
I was at an AA club when I discovered Paramahansa Yogananda. I had just finished reading a book entitled Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins, a true account about his walk across North America and his discovery of Jesus during the journey. I loved the book, loved the story, and wished so deeply that I could find Jesus in the way that he had, but I could not, and I knew it.
Still, I wanted another story which could hold me as this one had. I returned the book to an honor system library shelf located in the AA club lounge. Standing there and studying the titles I pulled a book down entitled Autobiography of a Yogi. I stared at the face on the cover and heard a very clear interior masculine voice, on the right side of my brain, very bold. The voice said, in a commanding manner, "You need to read this book!" Being the rebellious alcoholic that I was, I replied out loud, saying, "Well why in the world would I want to read that?" and I promptly put the book back on the shelf. After a few seconds, I took the book back down, again looking at that face and into those eyes, and again the voice repeated, "You need to read this book." It was so clear that I once more answered aloud, this time saying, "Okay, I'll read the first few lines and if it holds me, I'll read it."
I read the first few lines and could not put it down. I lived in a small studio apartment in the biker district of a city in Texas. I stayed inside reading as much as I could, and found a door within myself opening, a recognition that God is, and that God is Love.
One night, perhaps two thirds of my way through the book, being aware that the compulsion to drink was still with me, I suddenly and without forethought, fell to my knees, sobbing and praying, "God, whoever and whatever you are, take this compulsion to drink away from me, I can't take it anymore!" and I stayed there crying and praying that same prayer over and over again. Then I fell asleep.
The next morning, the very second I opened my eyes, I knew, I would never have to drink again. When I stood up I could not feel the weight of my body, I felt very light, as if I could bounce, like men on the moon, I walked normally but felt differently. Everything was different. Everything was somehow beautiful, even in the biker district of a southwest town. For several days I felt pure, as if everything was pure and clean. I stilled smoked then, and attended smoky AA meetings, yet every breath I took, even while smoking, was crystalline pure, everything was pure, and the experience cannot really be put into words. It was as if I were two people, the person smoking, going to meetings, and carrying on in life, was like a dream, and the True Reality was this purity behind it.
That was in 1988 and I have never had a compulsion to drink since then, though I have faced much during the course of my sobriety. The miracle did not make me a saint, rather it prepared me to face all which I had avoided by drinking, my karma, my shortcomings, that journey is ongoing, but I can say that from the moment of that miracle, to this day, I have never felt that I was alone, without God or Guru, there is always a Presence, guiding through the shadows and light of life, and I have always known from this experience that God IS and that God is Love, not judgement, Love.
An Experience In Divine Stillness
It happened a few weeks ago. I was late for the Sunday 10 o'clock lecture.
As I walked passed the side of the temple I could hear chanting already taking
place, so I almost ran to the temple sanctuary to avoid having to wait.
As I took my place in the sanctuary I pronamed to the Gurus, sat down, closed
my eyes and focused on the spiritual eye. I was expecting the usual several
minutes of heaving breath before my mind and body slowed and calmed down.
Instead what I experienced was beautiful and unique to my personal experience.
Instantly I became aware that, not only was I calm in breath and mind, but I
found that I was barely breathing, and furthermore I felt like I didn't WANT
to breathe. I felt such a feeling of Stillness that I have never felt before,
especially considering I wasn't in meditation, it was a lecture I was attending,
and I wasn't at all calm when entering the temple.
As I sat there marveling on this beautiful experience of Stillness I became
aware that I was conscious of everything going on in the temple--Brahmachari
Lynn speaking, the congregation around me, etc., but I felt like I was engulfed
by a Bubble of Divine Peace. I felt like I never wanted to move again and didn't
want to take another breath. This experience lasted throughout the entire
service. As we were being called upon to chant our second chant, I was still
in that profound Stillness and found myself not wanting to speak or chant, so
I chanted silently. When it came time to do the healing service, I felt no
need to stand, but I did, so as not to attract any attention. But I still did
not speak or chant Om, as words or movement had no meaning compared to this
intense feeling of Stillness. As the service ended, I stood, then immediately
sat down again, intuitively feeling that once I started speaking and moving
around this beautiful feeling of Peace would subside. I sat until the sanctuary
was almost empty, and then began to socialize with my friends. As I suspected,
this feeling of immense Stillness slowly faded.
When I shared this experience with Brother, he suggested that I share my story
at the upcoming Fellowship Night. I remembered a story about Durga Ma having
been lifted into a similar Stillness by Master, who then said to her, "God is
Stillness." As I reflected on how my story related to the theme of Love that
night, I realized how utterly Safe and Still I felt during this experience.
And after all, how does a Mother's love manifest to her child? Among other
things, a feeling of safety and belonging is conveyed. If a human mother's
love can provide a feeling of safety to her human child, how much safer and
peaceful can our Divine Mother want us to feel while engulfed in her Loving
I was raised in a difficult environment. I was physically and emotionally abused by both of my parents; I have many scars and broken bones that remind me of how unhappy my childhood was. Both of my parents were unfit; my father was an abusive alcoholic, and my mother was mentally ill. Neither of them really knew how to be good parents.
Fortunately I read "The Autobiography" when I was in college. After I read that book, and for perhaps the first time in my life, I discovered real happiness. I felt magnetically drawn to Master from the first time I saw his picture on the cover of "The Autobiography"; I joined SRF immediately after I finished reading the book. That was about forty years ago. My upbringing left me with many emotional problems, but Kriya Yoga and the blessings of Yogananda have helped me overcome so much. I now feel like a totally different person.
Kriya Yoga really works; my life proves that it does. Master was able to give me the love I never received from my birth parents. He has healed many of my physical problems (the list is long and quite impressive). He has taught me how to be emotionally healthy; I now feel that each day is a new and wonderful experience.
Most importantly, Master showed me how to forgive my parents. If I allowed my past to control my life, I would probably be a hopeless mess. Now I feel like life is a lovely adventure. I see challenges as opportunities for growth; I welcome change.
I cannot imagine my life without this path. I thank God and Gurus for the wonderful opportunity that was given to me many years ago.
I have been going to the SRF Los Angeles Convocation for decades. It is always a beautiful and deeply blessed experience for me, and I try to attend as often as possible. Recently, however, Master showed me how far he is willing to go to help make me a better person.
I don't always attend the "Kriya Review for New Kriyabans" class. I have been a Kriyaban for a long time, and I thought the class was for new devotees. Instead of attending the review class at a recent Convocation, I decided to take a walk in downtown Los Angeles. While strolling through a very familiar and pleasant area of downtown, I decided to enter a building I hadn't explored before. I discovered a few new cafes and stores, and then left the indoor mall to continue my walk.
Once I left the building and stepped back out into the open plaza, however, I realized that I had no idea where I was. Everything looked unfamiliar. I turned around several times, and really didn't know which way to go. I was in an area that I was intimately familiar with, yet I was suddenly and inexplicably lost.
After a few rather perplexing moments I decided that one direction seemed slightly familiar to me. I started walking in that direction and realized I was going right back to the Bonaventure Hotel. So, it seemed that Master wanted me to go back to the Bonaventure.I attended the Kriya Review class that Sister Parvati gave, after all. She commented that this class had many more attendees than normal, and this surprised her. It surprised me to, since I had no intention of even attending the class.
I have no idea why Master requested my presence at this class, but know better than to question his infinitely perfect guidance. It is always worth following, even though it doesn't always make sense (right away, anyway).
This story took place during the 1999 Convocation. I had wanted very much to attend the convocation that year. However, I was anemic at the time due to a medical problem with a blood count that was half normal. One of the side effects of this problem was an addiction to eating ice. Sometimes people with low blood counts eat ice (or as children, dirt). This is known as pica. So, my reluctance to attend convocation centered on my ice addiction, which had grown to almost 10 pounds per day. I just didn't know how I would be able to supply my ice habit while at the Bonaventure for a week! In addition, I had a preference for "good ice" i.e. soft but tasty. And, I knew that would be even more problematic during the convocation.
So, I went anyway! Much to my surprise, from the very first day of the convocation set-up, there were ample buckets of ice posted outside the California Ballroom. And, they never went empty! The even more amazing fact was that this was the best quality, best tasting ice that I had ever had. I marveled at the fact that my small need had been met in such a perfect way. On the final Saturday, as things were pretty much finished and all evidence of convocation had been taken down, I returned to the California Ballroom out of curiosity just to see if the ice cornucopia still existed. Indeed there was enough for one more very large cup of ice.
In subsequent years at convocation, I have looked for similar buckets of ice (even though I no longer have that need or desire) and curiously there has not been another year since then that there has been any ice available at the California Ballroom or elsewhere at Convocation! It is ever and always inspiring to recall and appreciate the countless ways that God and Guru care for each of us.
Years ago, when I was a young mother in Boston, and newly immersed in our Guru's teachings, our small family--my daughter (a toddler), an aunt, my husband, and I were leaving to travel cross-country to the Midwest....a visit with relatives there. This would be my first real experience driving a car on open highways, having recently received my driver's license.
Now behind the wheel....My turn to drive....So new at this....A bit unsettled, but keenly attentive to the rules of the road. I had been driving for a time, when I found myself following behind a large Semi, with no clear view of the road ahead. After checking several times for an opportunity to pass, I committed to a window of opportunity, pulled out left, and accelerated to pass. I had been unaware, however, that the 4-lane highway we had been traveling on, had merged and become just 2-lanes--ours and the other one with oncoming traffic.
Realizing my predicament, I immediately looked right to correct my course and fall back in line with the flow of traffic. The Semi, with its slower speed, now solidly blocked my merging to the right. Anxiously turning my attention ahead of me, I saw, bearing down on us, a most unsettling sight! Directly ahead, moving at high speed, was a large, wide, flat-bed truck carrying a house. Totally blocked from merging to the right, and with nowhere to go, a collision seemed immanent and unavoidable. A dreadful stillness ensued. We resigned ourselves....Our time had come!
I recall a short gasp for breath. No time to glance at my little girl on the back seat. My husband cried out.....and that is all that I have ever remembered....
My next awareness: Me....still behind the wheel....driving....not sure for how long....For some time anyhow, because the landscape had changed....the road seemed different. There was no conversation....only silence in the car. I dared to glance at my husband in the passenger seat....Almost whispering, I ventured: "Where are we?....Are we alive?" Impulsively he gasped: "You mean you didn't see what happened!? You don't know where you are?" I murmured softly: "No." He carefully directed me to pull off the road. Then he took the driver's seat to complete our trip. Little to nothing was said for the rest of the trip.
We arrived. Settled in with family. No reference to the incident that I can recall. Later on, when the household had settled down for the evening, my husband quietly took me aside and said: "You know that I have not been one to believe in God. But something incredibly powerful has happened. I now KNOW that there IS A GOD! I witnessed it myself....With my own eyes....WE PASSED THROUGH AN OPENING....WHERE THERE WAS NO ROOM....THERE JUST WAS NO ROOM."
What Master & The Phoenix Temple Have Done For Me
Master has transformed my life! He has taken away my:
- Shyness & inferiority complex and replaced it with self confidence,
- Fear with faith and surrender,
- Jealousy and envy with contentment,
- Hurt and judgement with forgiveness, compassion and understanding,
- Despair with hope.
- He has taken away my abstract concept of God and has made God more real and attainable.
- Taken away thoughts of limitations and filled me with conviction that I can do anything and that everything is possible.
- He has given me the secret to understand people and get along with them.
- Taught me to introspect and analyze my own feelings, emotions, tendencies and gives me the intuitive guidance to deal with it rightly.
- Taught me to serve selflessly and to find my own happiness in making others happy.
- Taught me how to pray and have faith that my prayers are being heard and will be answered in God's own time and in the way that's best for me.
I always craved friendship in my childhood and he has give me a vast extended family of beautiful souls at the Phoenix Temple. The inspiring services on Sundays recharge me and sustain me throughout the week.
Through the services, books, talks, lessons and observing lives of others and through my own life's experiences & lessons, I have changed so much that I do not recognize myself from when I first started on the path. And He is continuing to change me, it is remarkable!
I know that He is with me though all my sorrows and troubles and is giving me so many insights and forcing me to change my erroneous ways of thinking, pushing me beyond my limitations. I always wondered what love was, and now I'm being taught unconditional love.
Lately, it seems like daily new problems are surfacing. And I am reminded of Sri Daya Ma's words that when she is going through a difficult time, she says, "Lord, I'm progressing!". And in Brother Anandamoy's CD on devotion he says, "Where is the sculpture when he is chiseling? Right near the block, isn't he?" So, I hold on to those words of encouragement. But I have found in my own life, and I'm sure others have seen this in their own lives, that our challenges have given us so much strength, understanding and growth, which we would not otherwise get.
I am so grateful for these teachings as they give me the encouragement that I need to face and deal with my experiences in life. I don't know what I would do or where I would be if I didn't have Master and these wonderful teachings!
So, as I look back at my life, Guruji had a lot of work to do, and is still continuing to work on me......Thank you, Master, for not giving up on me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I had been searching for a spiritual path for several years, ever since my faith in the church of my childhood had evaporated, although I made great efforts to retain it. Eventually I knew this was not IT, and I kept calling into the inner darkness with the universal plea - "Lord, IF you exist, you've gotta do something. Ball is in your court!"
At that time I was in Grad School at ASU, and also working full time as Agency Counselor in a government program addressing the needs of job preparation and training for impoverished young people in South Phoenix. We worked with applicants for 3 month in an intense, multi-pronged approach - teaching how to apply for jobs, doing mock interviews, training, providing health care, and counseling. The majority of the students were from minority segments of the general population.
This way I met Jim, one of the students who had excellent language skills and was an avid reader. He was also a dreamer, a philosopher, an optimist, and I very much enjoyed our counseling sessions which were unusual within this program. After he finished the course, he came to say good bye and brought me a gift. A paperback for $1.25 with the picture of a long-haired man against an orange background.... He said he was sure I would enjoy it. Then he moved to Los Angeles.
Jim and I met again a year later when I attended my first Convocation, and he was already a Kriyaban. Roles were reversed, although he was half my age, he became my first mentor on the spiritual path.
And half a year later it was he who met me at the LA airport when I came for my Kriya Initiation at Mother Center. He even rented a car that day, arranged for me an overnight stay with an elderly devotee woman, and drove me up to Mount Washington.
A stranger pair you have never seen - a 6 ft 4, 300-pounds African-American young man with a heart to match - and an Anglo middle-aged woman of barely 5 ft. Both of us so happy you could light a city!
Jim has already progressed from life to greater life, but my gratitude for his gift, and for the light that came into my life, our Guru, will be forever.
I was playing for the meditation tonight, and on my way driving there, my car got bashed in the back, as I was sitting at a red light. When the light turned green, the car behind me jumped forward, and forgot to notice I was in the way! It made a huge noise, and I was so disappointed at yet another time of being hit.
Background: I have had many, many hours of pain, and PT, and other physical work, from having multiple car accidents, 3 in 5 years, and none of them "my fault". One therapist told me that I should get more insurance, because it would take me twice as long to recover if I had another accident.
I have been listening to a lecture by Bro. Anilananda on loving God, and forgiveness, and keeping the mind at the spiritual eye. He said "the Guru lives in the spiritual eye of the devotee," focus there, and stay in tune with the Guru.
So, I was thinking all these things, and also, "Oh no, another accident, another accident report, more therapy, another blot on my car......but, wait, I do not have to do this! I can forgive that person, and then keep my mind at the spiritual eye..... He said everything in the body changes when you keep your mind at the spiritual eye"
So, this young woman comes up to me, asks me if I am ok, and says "wow, that made a really big noise, but both our cars are ok"! I could not believe it! I got out, and it was true, there was barely a scratch on either bumper.
I decided to not even take her name, we hugged there on the busy street, and went on our merry way..... As I sat for the meditation, and did the playing, I worked to relax, and focus at the spiritual eye, and ask the Great Ones to help me overcome this possible injury to an already injured-many-times body temple.....
So, the evening was fine, I played, I felt a bit buzzy in my neck and back, but I really feel like keeping my mind and eyes up, helped heal me. I just felt warm like when a parent is caressing a hurt child...... to comfort them.
:) I am so grateful and happy for this example of my loving Father, Mother God.... always caring about us in everything that happens to us!
Sometime during my first year of taking the Lessons, I received an invitation from Mother Center to attend a Meditation Group meeting nearby. I thought, "Oh no, I can't possibly do this." I was surprised that I was scared to go; a wave a fear actually swept over my body. Perhaps the ego reacted in this manner, knowing on some level that group meditations greatly aid spiritual efforts. Anyway, I didn't go but kept up my struggles with restlessness and attempts to practice the techniques on a regular basis. Some months later, I received another invitation and decided that this time I would give it a try.
As it turned out, there was nothing to fear. I arrived at the Group meeting a little early and sat in the front room of the coordinator's home looking at the pictures of the Masters on the fireplace mantel. The strong thought came into my mind: "Now, you really have to clean up your act." The meditation began with a prayer. I thought: "Oh, so that's how to pronounce the Gurus' names." During the chant, an indescribable JOY came over me a joy that was felt in every cell of the body; at the same time I saw a dark dome around my head that was speckled with myriad points of light. For the next hour I was aware of nothing except JOY in every cell, and points of light in a dark dome. Just before the closing chant, the JOY faded but came back for the duration of the chant, then faded again.
Since then, I have heard Brother Anandamoy use a phrase, "candy for the baby" when referring to spiritual gifts from Gurudeva to newcomers. Well, that night, many years ago, I felt as though I was awarded the whole candy store franchise! That gift not only showed me what is possible through meditation but embedded in my mind the determination to continue coming to and serving in Meditation Groups and now the Phoenix Temple. Oh yes, I am still working on behaving, "cleaning up my act", but with the help of the Guru, all things are possible. That experience brings to mind a phrase from the chant "Light the Lamp of Thy Love" in Master's book, Cosmic Chants: "Touch me but once and I will change all my clay into Thy gold."
I am one of the lucky sheep who have been brought into the fold by the release of the excellent documentary, "Awake" in 2014. Last Thanksgiving, I was shopping in a health food store when I was stunned to see Paramahaniji's face on a poster. It literally stopped me in my tracks. I had read "Autobiograpy of a Yogi" back in the early 70's, and as much as it had affected me at that time, growing up and life had taken over. Now here was his face all glowing - I look at the poster now and realize his gaze is upward, but in my memory, his piercing eyes are looking right into mine, and he is saying, "Where have you been for so long?" I took my cell phone out and photographed the poster, went and saw the film twice, re-read the book, found out there was a temple in Phoenix (!) and now here I am, well into the first lessons, meditation, exercises, and drunk with his love. In those passing years, I had attended a church regularly, even teaching Sunday School for 15 years, but had dropped out because I felt a sense of vacuousness and dissatisfaction. Now my life is rich because Guru has given a systematic way to make God a real part of real life. My bliss is overflowing. Jai Guru!