Travels with the Mystic
True Tales of a Tantra-Yogi
Comments about Travels with the Mystic Master:
This book is full of delightful and educative stories. I enjoyed it so much that I read most of it in a single night.
ó Robert Bly, winner of the National Book Award (USA) for poetry, author of bestseller Iron John: A Book About Men
An authentic, inspiring and humorous chronicle of modern-day mysticism ... explores the usually unexpressed 'nitty-gritty' of spiritual development. -- New Renaissance magazine
One cannot help being moved by the enchanting simplicity of the authorís straightforward yet lyrical prose, often set in rich humor ... Seekers of truth will be drawn by his description of what it takes to advance in the world of spiritual consciousness. Perhaps, however, the greatest achievement of the book is the introduction of the awesome Tantric culture through firsthand experience, with intricate detail about the methods of a real master.
ó Global Times
Dharmavedananda begins his journey from the episteme of Indian
Tantra, but his profundity touches the deeper dimensions of other cultures, and ends in universalism. Mysterious and provocative, without
acceding to New Ageism. ó Journal of Future Studies
This adventure, told by a man who gave up everything in life, only to find he could not then contain all that was offered him, is a wonderful work. Read it and discover how the often difficult path of true spiritual enlightenment can be surprisingly fun, especially when attempting to follow the hallowed footsteps of Dadaís unpredictable master. ó Bob Trask, founder/president of the ARAS Foundation (Acceptance, Respect, Affection, Support), author of several books including Godís Phone Number and Romancing The Soul: A Journey To Enlightenment
The book teaches on multi-levels through a natural and frank interlacing of the personal lives of the author and his master, through
inner journeys, and through lessons gained from the master ó with philosophical reflections as footnotes. Itís a document of human courage and spiritual dedication no matter how little one has to eat or
how sick one gets. It gave me numerous insights, also emotional re-lease and practical guidance, especially about several issues which had been troubling me for years.
ó Dr Paul Wildman, Co-chairman of the United Nations Universities Millennnium Project, Brisbane
Describes in depth the authorís relationship with Shrii Anandamurtiji, who was surely one of the greatest spiritual masters of all time. I found the book contains an ocean of knowledge and wisdom.
ó Dr Ravi Batra, author of five international bestsellers about economics, professor of economics Southern Methodist University in
A great read! Being a westerner and complete novice to all things Tantric, Dadaís writings opened my eyes to this fascinating culture. His experiences are almost unimaginable to most Americans and can restore our faith that miracles can and do happen!
ó Sheila Casserly, President of Celebrity Focus: a celebrity talent consultancy agency, Chicago
A rare book ó sparkling with a living spirituality. Readers will greatly benefit.
ó Zhong Ti, Chinese Buddhist teacher & monk, Thailand
Fascinating! ...especially because of the overwhelming practical
knowledge contained in the experiences of a man seeking genuine spirituality. Its adventure-novel-like style made it difficult for me to put it
down. ...embodies more meaning than most philosophy books. Yet, nothing is hidden of the hardships and doubts one is bound to encounter while walking such a path.
ó Jairo R. Braganca, Director of Jaybee Institute of Languages, Petropolis, Brazil
An extraordinary book by a remarkable man. The spiritual equivalent of rugged mountain climbing; fast moving and no holds barred. ó Steve Gunther, Director of Northern Rivers Gestalt Institute, New South Wales
Dharmavedanandaís passionate writings are a spiritual juggernaut, compelling us to share the tears, laughter and inspiration of the journey to self-knowledge. The greatest gift the author offers is the knowledge that in victory and defeat the Mystic Master always remains in
the recesses of our hearts and minds.
ó Dr Sid Jordan, Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina
Travels with the
True Tales of a Tantra-Yogi
Dada DharmavedanandaCopyright ©1998 by the author
All rights reserved by the author. ISBN 981-04-0864-1
First edition published 1995 in Taiwan under the title, ìWhoís Afraid of the Tantric Guru?î
Second edition November 1998
Editorial assistance: Devashish Donald Acosta Cover: Shakti Graphics, Manila, Philippines Illustrations: Dada Vishnudevananda Layout: Dada Nityashubhananda Published by:
Ananda Marga Publications Singapore 27 Wilkinson Road
Singapore 436686 Tel: (65)344-6519 Fax: (65)345-2404
Ananda Marga Publications Maharlika 46 Maamo Street, Sikatuna Village Quezon City 1101, Metro Manila Philippines Tel/Fax: (63)2-924-6068, (63)2-434-4578 Email contact: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org 5
To those who go on singing and dancing to please God
even when they don't feel like it. For when this feeling is absent there's nothing to do
but recapture it.
And when this feeling is present there's nothing to do
but expand it.
ïIntroduction ... 8
ïBrief Biography of Shri Shri Anandamurti ... 14
1 Hope ... 23
2 What a Fool Iíve Been ... 29
3 Just Love Me ... 34
4 You Have to Work for Your Realization ... 46
5 Home ... 61
6 The Master of Testing, Caring and Hocus-Pocus ... 89
8 Personal Contact ...130
9 Kapalika Meditation ...161
10 Empowered ...173
11 Eye of the Hurricane ...181
12 As Per System ...204
13 Visaless Travel ...227
14 Become an Ideal Person ...242
15 Lord Shiva Never Did It ...254
16 You also Have to Play ...274
17 Forgetting and Remembering ...288
18 Even for the Poorest of the Poor ...306
19 Working 24 Hours a Day ...324
20 He Sends Out a Clarion Call ...348
ïAppendices: ... 382
I. Technical Talks by Baba or with Baba ... 383
II. Introduction to the Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout) ... 397
III. Tantra, Veda and Yoga ... 401
8 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
1 For a more detailed definition of the words Tantra and yoga please see both the glossary
and the appendix entitled Tantra, Veda and Yoga.
For many years I considered writing a book to help people under stand the path of Tantra (which, in a phrase, may be defined as ìthe all-round struggle for self-realizationî).1 But I shied away from
the task, sure that a suitable book must already exist. However, though there are libraries of books about meditation or occult power or yoga,
I was never able to find a book that explains the modern Tantric experience. Todayís Tantrics can no longer enjoy solitary life in the jungles
or caves. In the past yogis were free to work solely on the psychic level but today social conditions are so grave that they have to assist on every level, physical as well as psychic. Confronted by the global ecological crisis, they understand its cause: a technological society which
is destroying itself by its greed for money and power. They also recognize that an age of spiritual awareness is coming, and that this crisis is
like the darkness that comes before the dawn, a darkness which is increasingly compelling mankind to wake up from its long sleep.
Most people believe that yoga and Tantra are, at best, self-centered practices for procuring oneís own personal peace, and, at worst, sects concerned with achieving occult powers or indulging in animalistic orgies. Nothing could be further from the truth, but no one can blame
the public for having these misconceptions because these are the most publicized images of yoga and Tantra.
When I started writing this book my aim was to reveal the lesser known but truer Tantra, that Tantra whose real concern is welfare of the entire creation. It began as a work of fiction based on my personal experiences. I thought that this would protect the book from criticism by those who might think I was trying to publicize the organization to which I belong. But when I began getting feedback on my rough drafts, nearly everyone encouraged me to simply tell the facts as they actually took place rather than cloak them in a fictional guise.
I turned to straight autobiography, basing it on many years of personal diaries. And I did not avoid mention of my organization which
is called Ananda Marga, or its founder and master, Shri Shri Anandamurti, who is informally called Baba. I must admit to a hidden
vation: I wanted as many people as possible to know about Baba, and the vast work for which he sacrificed every drop of his energy. I have staked my own life on His teachings because I am convinced they are vital for achieving global cooperation between good people, good ideas and good organizations so that we may overcome the present crisis and usher in a new socio-spiritual era.
Throughout Babaís life (he physically died in 1990), only those who were practicing his meditation were able to get some sort of picture of him. Though his life was dedicated to serving the world, he kept himself completely away from the public. He never appeared on television nor did he allow any reporter to talk to him. During the last twenty years of his life he preferred not even to meet anyone who was not practicing meditation. Once, after repeated requests for Him to write
his autobiography, he handed a piece of paper to his disciples and said, ìHere is my autobiography.î The paper read: ìI was a mystery. I am a mystery. I will always remain a mystery.î Though I cannot hope to solve that mystery, I feel impelled to do my best to expose to you, the reader, something of the Baba that I knew and know. (Along with my personal perspective of Baba, Iíve included a short chronological explanation of His life. It immediately follows this Introduction.)
Here, then, are my own experiences with Baba, with his work and with his disciples. Much of it I have never mentioned to anyone. Though my life has been extraordinary, it is not unusual. Rather, the extraordinary is the norm among dedicated spiritualists. I know hundreds of
Tantrics who could write a book like this and, in fact, one of the motivations behind this book is to inspire those Tantrics to write their
As you read, youíll see that I donít restrain myself from including the harsher or more confusing sides of the path. I think the reader deserves a complete picture rather than the popular misconceptions that the path is only ìbeautifulî, or that the spiritual master is only ìsweetî. I have gone so far as to portray the extremes of Babaís anger, the occasional severe stinging of his speech, even his use of a stick to fiercely beat his disciples. I also describe major controversies about the Ananda Marga organization.
10 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
Many of the stories about Baba are not exceptionalórather they are typical. It is for this very reason that they are includedóto give you a general idea of Babaís lifestyle and way of speaking, and to suggest, at least in some way, the immeasurable extent of His knowledge. For example, some stories allude to the fact that he understood and spoke
every language and every dialect of the world. Others include examples of the occult demonstrations and cures he sometimes performed for his disciples. All in all, I selected only a fraction of the many incidents I witnessed.
My diaries, which start at the age of eighteen, contain no reference to my origins or earlier life as a youth. A few lines here should suffice. I was brought up in a middle-class suburb north of Chicago. My father was a trial lawyer, and my mother was a housewife-cum-oil-painter. Both were active in the civil rights and anti-war movements. My only sibling was a sister who achieved a fair degree of international fame as a cellist in a top-notch classical trio. The most extraordinary member of our family was our dog, Judy, whom I once calculated knew one hundred and fifteen words, responding appropriately to each of them even
when they were spoken in a monotone. For example, at the faintest mention of the word bath, she would raise her ears and then dive to safety behind the sofa. Judy once indicated to me that the best place for meditation was actually right there, behind the sofa, where no one could disturb her, though I believe she was joking.
I was an above-average student, leading a normal extra-curricular and social life. This included experimenting with most of the usual vices and indulging in mild forms of revolutionary expression. While studying, I also tried many jobs, each for a few months, including working
as a lawyerís investigator, a postman, a construction worker, a supermarket clerk, and many varied jobs on a golf course. Throughout all
my early experiences I was keenly aware that none of them were fully
satisfying. An insatiable appetite for new tastes and new knowledge continually drove me from one thing to another. While attending high
school, I once wrote in an essay: ìIf I had to summarize my personal philosophy in two sentences I would sayó1) Maximally utilize every moment, and then pass on to the next. 2) Savor every last baked bean.î The book also makes short work of explaining the socio-spiritual
disciplines and groups that I joined before finally entering Ananda
Marga. Most of the people who read my drafts expressed interest in reading about those experiences but the fact is they were mostly not so important, and so I abbreviated that section.
I also do not include many incidents concerned with my social work, though that work takes up about half of my time. I prefer to relate only those experiences which are colorful, profound, exciting, or give some insight into Babaís personality. To fill this gap, I occasionally mention the beginnings of certain new projects, or describe experiences that take place during this work.
Another missing element is the absence of any explanation about
our socioeconomic concept, Proutówhich is an acronym for the Progressive Utilization Theory. To get a minimal understanding of Ananda
Marga, some exposure to the meaning of Prout is needed. For this purpose a brief introduction to Prout is contained in the appendices.
A few entries have somewhat technical content, e.g., regarding agriculture, economy and languages. The reader may or may not be interested
in these topics, so they have also been placed in the appendices. For many years I have worked in non-English speaking countries. As a result my writing is sometimes unorthodox in the sense of having assimilated some features of the many non-American, non-British strains of English spoken throughout the world. Some sections are detailed, while others sketchy. In some places I offer philosophical explanations, and elsewhere I leave you in the dark. I have made no effort to clean up these irregularities because, in the final analysis, I feel that such things really donít matter.
All incidents were personally witnessed by me, unless I mention otherwise. As to Babaís quoted speech, in many instances I was quick enough to exactly record His words. At other times, I was forced to write them down afterward according to memory.
Regarding Sanskrit terms, I use only those few which are most common and, thus, valuable to know. Throughout the text these words are
italicized, except when they appear with great frequency. The first time any such term appears it is usually defined in parentheses or in a footnote. At the end of the text is a glossary of the Sanskrit words which
appear in more than one diary entry. This glossary also includes other special English terminology and abbreviations.
12 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
There is one additional point that I feel is important. In my original diaries I capitalized the pronoun ìHeî wherever it referred to Baba. I have maintained this practice throughout the book. This may appear to be either a blasphemy or the expression of a blind belief. But this is a principle and even a practice of Tantra, to give the highest regard
to the spiritual master or guru. Without the readiness to do anything and everything he tells us to do, one cannot progress rapidly on the path. If a small child doubts everything his teacher tells him, it will be not only absurd, but highly unproductive.
Imagine you are a passenger, and the guru is driver of the car. As long as you hesitate to get in the car, the driver is handicapped, even if you momentarily sit down. If you stay in the car, but keep the door
open, ready to leap out if the going gets dangerous, there, also, the driver cannot go ahead except at a very slow pace. Only if you close the door and lock it firmly, will the driver be ready to take you forward at the proper speed. You may be frightened by the speed but the driver knows what heís doing.
By capitalizing the pronoun, the guru is equated to God. The ancient Vedas (which, though not infallible, do contain a wealth of knowledge) ask a question: If God and guru are standing before the disciple,
whose feet should the disciple touch first? The answer is that the disciple should touch the guruís feet first. The explanation is that the guru
is the way to God, without which it would be impossible to ever meet God. The disciple treats the guru not as an ordinary teacher, but as the spiritual path itself. Why? If we learn a mantra or other meditation technique from the guru, and practice it with full concentration, are we not, in effect, surrendering to the guru? The good or bad value of the mantra depends on the guru. The practice is subtle and powerful, and is designed, after all, to alter the mind itself. If, then, we do the practice but doubt its source, it is both hypocritical and useless. The best attitude for the spiritual aspirant is ìI know nothing.î I cannot know for certain whether anything is right or wrong, what to speak of judging my spiritual teacher. If there is a God, He knows this incompleteness in me even better than I know it. Yet, He created in my life conditions which demand judgment and decisive determination, without which I am not even able to rise from my bed in the
We fool ourselves if we think we do not judge. In many ways, every day, we judge. And yet we do not know for sure if our judgments are correct. Those who say, ìI keep my mind completely open; I neither judge anyone nor believe in anythingîósay one thing and do another. Tantra understands that we may doubt our judgments, but, nevertheless, we should proceed ahead as if there is no doubt. We should
implement our decisions with full commitment. To reap the real benefit from the guru, the disciple must treat him as the Way to Godóthe Word of God. If you say, ìBut thatís very risky!î the fact is not changed that we are compelled to judge every moment without understanding in the deepest sense that which we judge. The fact also remains that to achieve anything great, a great risk is required. There is no greater risk than that of the spiritual path. Yet the risk is only an apparent one, because God cannot expect more from us than our best. As far as He is concerned, our best is perfect.
I speak of my guru as ìHe,î confident that God appreciates the thought behind it. Because God is the thought behind it. INTRODUCTION
A Brief Biography of Shri Shri AnandamurtijiShri Shri Anandamurtiji was born in Jamalpur, Bihar, India, at
dawn on the full-moon day in the Bengali month of Vaeshakh (May) in 1921, the same day that Buddha was born about 2500 years earlier. Because the sun was rising at the moment of His birth, the baby
was named Arun, which means ìcrimson dawnî. Later His name was changed to Prabhat Ranjan, meaning ìthat which colors the dawn.î His full name was Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar.
Some days after the babyís birth, a ceremony was performed at which many of the family members were present. A cotton wick was dipped into a silver pot of milk and then held over the babyís mouth so that the milk could drip in. At that moment, however, Arun lurched forward, grabbed the wick and started to drink from it directly. Everyone
was shocked, especially the grandmother who exclaimed, ìHe is not a baby, rather he is a grown-up boy! He is Burho!î From that moment, Burho, which means ìthe ancient one,î became His nickname. Later on it was shortened to Bubu. Many years later, when Baba was asked about this incident, He said it was at that time that He realized it would be better for Him to act like a normal child.
15 A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF SHRII SHRII ANANDAMURTI
When He was only an infant, He narrated strange experiences to His mother, telling her how all the animals of the universe would enter in one of His ears, and go out the other. Many of the descriptions fit animals which He had never seen or which were extinct. He also narrated how all the planets and galaxies were floating through Him. His family members all remember seeing Prabhat Ranjan, even from a very young age, frequently sitting on His bed in the middle of the night performing meditation.
When He was five years old, Prabhat Ranjan accompanied His parents to a Shiva temple. In the presence of the temple priest, the child
gracefully recited a lengthy Sanskrit hymn to Shiva with perfect accent and intonation. The priest was shocked. How could a small, uneducated boy without any prior exposure to Sanskrit perform such a feat?
His parents were also awe-struck by their own child.
When admitted to the Jamalpur primary school, Prabhat Ranjan caught everyoneís interest by His astonishing memory and grasp of countless scientific phenomena and geographic facts that were obviously beyond the capacity of a human mind, what to speak of a childís
mind. He also surprised many people by His daily habit of visiting the old unkempt Kali Hill Temple, a thoroughly frightening place which
everyone else avoided. When asked why He went there, the child replied, ìI go there to think.î One day while walking home from school,
He came upon a group of other students standing on the road. A large bull was blocking the path of the children, and they were afraid to push it aside. Prabhat Ranjan stepped forward and held His palm in front of the bullís forehead; immediately the bull sat down.
During every vacation period Prabhat Ranjan was sent to the familyís peaceful ancestral home at Bamunpara in Burdwan, West Bengal. Because He spent much of His time lying in bed, His sister one day complained that He was a lazy boy, neither studying nor playing like other
children. She said she believed He did not even know how to write His name. He asked her to bring a pen and paper. Then He wrote His name
in five scripts: Bengali, Arabic, Roman, Devanagrii and Tamil. From
that moment she stopped pestering Him. Many years later Baba mentioned that at the age of seven, while spending long hours lying in His
bed in Bamunpara, He chalked out His blueprint for the future Ananda Marga.
16 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
This habit of remaining lengthy periods in His bed changed apparently when He finished His plan. From that point on, Prabhat Ranjan
became a student leader. During classes He sat very still, listening carefully, and absorbing every detail. But once out of class he would change
completely. He loved gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, football, track and field events and other sports. He also enjoyed playing the flute, and writing poetry and short-stories. Eventually He composed articles concerned with public welfare which he published in commercial magazines.
His father died at the age of forty-five, and the family was beset by
financial hardship. Nevertheless, His mother made the necessary sacrifices so that Prabhat Ranjan could attend college. In 1939 her son
was admitted to the faculty of science in Vidyasagar College in Calcutta where He developed a reputation for assisting students troubled by poverty. He took private tutoring jobs in order to help others. Students
also flocked to Him for help in their studiesóeven senior students. He also began attracting many people with His unusual talentsópalm reading, fortune-telling, and manifesting various supra-psychic phenomena.
Every evening He used to walk along the bank of the Ganges River, where He would also sit for meditation. Throughout His life, He never had any spiritual teacher or guru. One night, however, He began His own work as a guru. It was a full-moon night, and He was meditating in a cremation ground on the bank of the Ganges. Suddenly He heard a rough voice demanding, ìGive me your money, or Iíll kill you immediately!î He turned and found Himself facing a tall robust criminal. Unafraid, He said, ìKalicharan, I promise to give you all the money I have. But first tell me whether you rob people out of necessity or out of habit.î The dreaded thief was electrified by the composure of the slight lad, and amazed that he had been addressed by name. In a flash he understood the youth was a saint. Kalicharan said, ìAll my life I wanted to be a good person, but was never given the chance.î Moments later he entered the river to purify himself of his sins, then sat before Prabhat Ranjan and said, ìKhoka, teach me as you want.î Khoka means little boy. Prabhat Ranjan corrected him. ìCall me Baba.î Then He initiated
Kalicharan, who, while doing meditation, entered the super-consciousness state. Afterward, Baba compelled a weeping Kalicharan to accept
the few coins He had in His pocket. From that day, the rectified thief became a great spiritualist and his name was changed to Kalikananda.
During His time in Calcutta, Baba stayed at the house of His maternal uncle, Sarat Chandra Basu. Sarat Chandraís cousin was the famous social activist Subhash Chandra Bose. Though the name of
Subhash Chandra Bose is not so familiar throughout the non-Indian world, in India his memory is commonly given equal or greater respect than that of Mahatma Gandhi. These two figures were the greatest leaders of the movement to gain independence from England.
Another renowned personality with whom Baba had a close relationship was the revolutionary sociologist M.N. Roy. Over a period of several
years, both Subhash Chandra Bose and M.N. Roy frequently visited Baba to imbibe sociological concepts and solutions from Him. Subhash Chandra also benefited from Babaís knowledge of Tantra. After completing His intermediate studies in science in 1941, the dire financial condition of the family forced Baba to give up His further studies. He returned home and joined the accounts department of the railway workshop in Jamalpur. At that time Jamalpur was home
to the biggest such workshop in all of Asia, with thousands of employees. Two years later, during the second World War, He entered the
Territorial Army. After completing His military service, Baba returned to the railway workshop, and continued working there for more than twenty years. He was esteemed by the staff for His perfect efficiency and loving nature. Moreover, He became renowned as a palmist and fortune-teller. Many people came to Him to find out the whereabouts of their lost children and articles, and also to be healed from chronic or incurable ailments.
One day, while India was still a British colony, Prabhat Ranjan was approached by an English gentleman who told Him that his wife was suffering in a London hospital. She had sent a telegram saying that the doctors found it difficult to diagnose the disease, but had decided to remove one of her kidneys. The man was depressed because he could not go to England to comfort his wife due to the war. Baba closed His
eyes, then told him to send a cable requesting the doctors to make another medical check-up. Baba said, ìDo not worry. A simple operation
will suffice. Your wife will be cured and soon return to you.î After a few days, news came that his wife was healed and on her way to India. When she arrived, Baba was invited to their house. When He entered, the wife was astonished. She took her husband into the side room and asked, ìWho is this gentleman?î The husband said, ìIt is Shri Prabhat A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF SHRII SHRII ANANDAMURTI
18 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
Ranjan Sarkar, my sole friend when I was in distress about your illness.î She became panicky and replied, ìIt is impossible, because he is the same Indian doctor who prevailed on the other doctors not to remove my
kidney but to prefer a minor operation! When the operation was performed, he remained all the time next to me, keeping his hand on my
head. It made me feel completely calm.î The husband was stunned. Baba, however, evaded their questions, and quickly left the house.
In those days, Baba kept a special mirror in His bedroom. Occasionally when people expressed anxiety to Him about their far-away
relatives, He would allow them to look into the mirror and see their relative. From this experience they derived great relief. Each time that He did this, however, He became sick for some time. A woman was once desperately weeping about the fact that she had been unable to meet her mother just before the old ladyís death. Baba showed her the mirror in which she saw her mother calmly sitting in a rowboat on a lake. The woman was very satisfied. After this He became very sick and remained so for one month. During that time, Babaís mother came in the room and broke the mirror.
Until 1954, Baba led a life of spiritual camouflage. He initiated a
large number of people without letting one another know that they were the disciples of one and the same guru. Most of His co-workers and even His family did not know about His spiritual work. On November
7th, 1954, He called His disciples together for the first time and delivered His first spiritual address. On January 9th, 1955, Ananda Marga
Pracaraka Samgha was formally founded. He explained that the organization aimed at a two-fold ideal: liberation of self, and service to the
world. Then, for the first time in a collective meeting, Baba gave His now-famous special gesture of blessing. Everyone in the congregation entered into various states of spiritual awakening.
In the late 1950ís Baba married, and a few years later, a baby boy was born. Thus Baba demonstrated that a family was no impediment to a life of supreme dedication.
From 1955 Baba began training spiritual teaches or acharyas and empowering them to teach the meditation lessons. In the first years, all of these men and women were well-educated, respected family people. They eventually numbered several hundred. In these first years of Ananda Marga, Baba also wrote much of the basic spiritual and social philosophy. He saturated His disciples in blissful experiences,
and gave almost no guidance regarding any social work except for the propagation of spiritual and yoga practices. Baba frequently demonstrated extraordinary psycho-spiritual phenomena. He induced different
states of superconsciousness in His disciples, caused individuals
to die and then brought them back to life, and created special circumstances in which they would hear the divine sounds.
This purely spiritual phase ended in 1962 when Baba began the
order of monks and nuns. The speed of Ananda Margaís growth accelerated greatly, and began to spread throughout India. Though His demonstrations continued, Baba now began organizing massive social service
programs. In 1963, the Education, Relief and Welfare Section was
started. Workers and Margis (members of Ananda Marga) threw themselves into opening schools and welfare homes, and into catastrophe
relief work. Yet it was only at the end of 1966, when the organization had grown to immense proportions, that Baba agreed to give up His job at the railway office. By maintaining His employment throughout the foundation years of the organization, he demonstrated that busy family people are capable of both spiritual achievement and service to society. He accepted His workersí request to give up His job only when they promised to keep up with His speed. He told them their activities would increase ten times. Baba moved to Ananda Nagar, our global master unit, located in an impoverished tribal area. The organizationís speed became something unimaginable.
Throughout the same period, the public was exposed to Babaís socio-economic concept called Progressive Utilization Theory (or Prout), which He had first given in 1959. Because of Proutís intrinsic threat to vested interests, opposition to Ananda Marga developed among corrupt politicians and other shady public figures. That opposition began expressing itself in a sinister way in 1967 when an attack was organized against Ananda Nagar by members of the Communist Party
(Marxist). Five monks were murdered. Several politicians and hoodlums were eventually arrested and convicted for the murders.
Other serious incidents occurred over the following years, including one more murder by the Communists in 1969.2
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF SHRII SHRII ANANDAMURTI
in India. Today they hold the power in West Bengal, the state in which Ananda Nagar and Calcutta are both located. Our central office is in Calcutta.
20 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
By that time, Ananda Margaís influence had grown considerably. Half the police commissioners of Bihar state were Margis as well as many other public officials. Margis gained a reputation as scrupulously honest people who refused to accept bribes or in any way compromise their morality. Baba had always spoken out against all forms of corruption, and Margis in public positions began exposing the corruption
rampant in the administration at that time. In 1969, in light of these developments, the federal government passed a ban order, forbidding civil servants and other government employees from joining Ananda Marga. The order claimed that Ananda Marga was actually a political organization. Ananda Marga then filed a challenge in the Supreme Court and won the case, causing the ban to be withdrawn.
Desperate to stop Ananda Marga, the government, in complicity with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), resorted to drastic measures. They concocted murder conspiracy charges against Baba, and He was arrested in December 1971. The victimsí bodies were mutilated and unidentifiable. Though there was no solid evidence,
the case dragged on for nearly seven years, while Baba tolerated difficult jail conditions. In 1973, when it appeared we might soon win
the case, Baba suffered an attempt to kill Him by poison. He lost His eyesight and underwent intense pain for many days. When the government refused to investigate the poisoning, Baba began a protest fast consuming liquids only ó which He continued for more than
five years. He stopped the fast when He was proven innocent, honorably acquitted and released from jail in August 1978.
During the time of His fasting, several Members of Parliament came to visit Baba. This was one of the few known times when He permitted non-Margis to meet and talk to Him. Normally it was always His policy to remain inaccessible to the general public. The visiting officials begged Baba to break His fast, arguing that His life was vital for the success of His mission. But Baba replied, ìMy ideas are more precious than my life.î On the other hand, when He was later asked how it was possible that He sustained His body despite prolonged fasting, He answered, ìThere is nothing unnatural about it. The only difference is that while other people take energy assimilated in their edibles, I have to derive energy directly from sunlight.î
Before Baba was imprisoned, Ananda Marga was active in only five countries. By the time He came out, it had spread to eighty, and had
21 A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF SHRII SHRII ANANDAMURTI
become the worldís largest traditional yoga movement. As Tantric principles would suggest, the struggles undergone by the workers and Margis
had only helped in strengthening them.
Such difficulties, however, were far from finished. On May 1st, 1982, seventeen Dadas and Didis were killed in a barbarous manner by the Communists in Calcutta. Later, Dada Ajitananda was beaten to death in Siliguri jail because he refused to support a false case filed by the Communists.
In 1981 Baba conducted an extraordinary three-month program in which He used His subtle perception to analyze the conduct and health of thousands of Margis, one by one. It was a unique activity never before
done by any spiritual master. This was the only time in Babaís life that He clearly exposed His occult power to such a large number of people over many days continuously.
From 1985 a massive development program of Ananda Nagar was undertaken. More than one hundred small and large buildings were constructed, farms were started, various development training programs for the neighboring villagers were begun, ecological energy systems
were established, womenís welfare activities were undertaken, agricultural research stations were created, and the network of roads and rivers
was greatly expanded. A hospital was built, which now serves hundreds of people every week. The kindergarten, primary school, high
school and university have a total enrollment of over one thousand students, many of whom live in hostels and childrenís homes. There is a bakery and several different kinds of small industries.
The Communists, intimidated by such progressive activities in the center of a belt of poor, illiterate tribal people, began striking directly at Ananda Nagar. Almost every day thugs attempted to destroy buildings or crops, or to attack our workers. Ananda Margaís leading agricultural scientist, Dada Asiimananda, was murdered along with four
other workers. Later, one worker was killed and four Margis severely injured when they were trying to protest police mistreatment of a number of overseas Margis. All of these disturbances continued until October 21st, 1990, the day that Baba left His physical body. After that
the attacks greatly diminished.
Baba left behind a vast legacy. He wrote over 200 books on diverse subjects. An incomplete list of those subjects follows:
22 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
ïspiritual philosophy and practice, yoga and Tantra ïpsychic development
ïthe cycle of creation and reincarnation
ïsocial philosophy, norms, ceremonies and systems
ïBengali dictionary of over 6000 difficult words, with derivations ïBengali encyclopedia of over 6000 pages
ïEnglish, Sanskrit and Bengali grammar books ïlanguage, script and philology
ïmicrovita (most minuscule and mysterious life form)
ïNeo-humanism (overcoming dogma, creating universalism by devotion) ïagriculture
ïhealth habits and medical treatment ïeconomics
ïjustice and womenís rights
ïthe judicial system and criminality ïculture, literature and fine arts
ïindustrial policy, cooperatives and commerce ïecology, population growth and decentralization
ïpolitics, government, democracy, communism and progressive socialism ïhistory and civilization: socially, economically, culturally and spiritually ïanalysis of spiritual scriptures and mythological writings
ïanalysis of major religious schools and historically-related figures ïmorality
ïthe social roles of the major professions ïanimals
ïshort stories ïchildrenís stories ïdramas
In addition to these writings, Baba composed 5018 songs in eight languages, collectively called Prabhat Sangiit. The songs were written during the last eight years of His life.
From darkness to light
Chicago, 1969. Perfect weather this morning. A vibrant green park complete with swings, merry-go-round, beach balls, a picnic-lunch, and Mark, Richard, Peggy, Laurie and Lynn for company. Ditching school made it so much more spicy. No one there but us. Everybody else stuck at their jobs or in school. Too bad.
Laughing and laughing, jumping on and off the swings and the jungle-gym, tossing the balls, rolling on the groundówe were beyond the freedom of children.
Sitting opposite Peggy on the teeter-totter, Richard was singing: Donít need no dirty wine
Weíve got pure sunshine. Do what you like!
Do what you like! do, do
Do what you like! do, do...
He grabbed Peggy, gave her a quick kiss, then darted a few steps away. For some reason I asked Mark for the time. He turned a big grin
toward me, ìTime? Youíre nuts. Thereís no time here, brother. Weíre in heaven, didnít you notice?î Then he took off his watch and threw it nonchalantly over his shoulder into the deep grass.
A hot blast of confusion suddenly hit me. What was going on? What were we doing? What was the purpose of it all? Everybody I knew, absolutely everybody, was struggling to get the so-called freedom we HOPE
24 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
had that morning. But it was meaningless as far as I could see. Nowhere. If this was heaven then something was seriously wrong.
Mark looked at me curiously and started laughing. ìHey, old pal,
why so grim? Looks like you caught a bug in your pants. Tell me, whatíre you doingóphilosophizing or something?î
I had to get out of there. Without thinking, I turned around and started walking toward the car.
ìHey, hey, hey! Bill!î the girls yelled at me, laughing. ìStop! You canít leave our movie!î
ìBummer! He is going to leave,î Mark said. ìAnd itís his car.î They all ran after me. I opened the driverís door, got in, and they tumbled in after.
ìWhatís this caper?î ìYou got whammied or what?î ìWhereíre you going?î
ìIíve got to get out of hereî ìBut we want to stay!î ìSuit yourselves.î
ìWow, youíre spoiling everything! Whatís going on?î
ìSorry, but this is all going nowhere. None of it makes sense to me any more... I just donít understand.î
ìUnderstand what, pal?î asked Mark.
ìAnything! What difference does it all make? What are we all aiming for? Where are we going? The whole world seems to be running toward nothing and weíre no different.î
ìYeah, thatís cool, Bill,î Richard answered, ìbut whatever happened
to ëKick out the jamsí and ëWonít somebody please throw me a cheeseburgerí? I mean youíre forgetting some of the superlative elements of
ìLook,î I said, more to myself than to them. ìHere comes a truck. What difference would it make if I just turned the wheel and drove into that truck?î I wasnít just joking either. I wanted to figure it out while the truck was still in front of us.
ìAh, yeah, Bill,î Mark said quickly. ìNo difference at all. And it
also wonít make any difference if you pull the car over to the side of the road and let me drive, pal.î
Right. It didnít make any difference, and I didnít care. But since he seemed to care, I mindlessly slowed the car down and stopped on the
roadside. As I got out of the driverís seat, they all sighed. ìMan, that was close!î
By the time I got home, I was even more confused. All I could see was a dark question mark. No purpose in sight. And no one I knew who could offer an answer. The only thing that occurred to me was to drop out of school and go search for someone, anyone, who could help me make a bit of sense out of the world.
I explained to Mom as best I could what I was going through, and
informed her that I was going upstairs to pack so I could go find ìsomeone who knows something.î
ìWhat are you talking about, Bill? Have you gone crazy?î
Maybe I had. But there was no reason to go on hanging around
there, caught in meaningless circles, playing useless games twenty-four hours a day.
ìLook... You canít just do this,î she said. ìNo... Your life will fall apart... And what about school? And...î
ìIím not going to stand here talking about stupid things with you, Mom. Whatís the purpose of going to school if I donít know where Iím going, or for that matter why I should even continue to exist? No, thereís no reason to delay and please donít try to stop me.î
ìGod, this is too much for me!î She was struggling to find the right words. ìOkay, I wonít try to stop you. But canít you at least wait for Dad to get home? Itís not fair just to run away like this without first talking to him.î
She had a point. I agreed to wait until Dad got home which was still two or three hours away. As I waited, my confusion deepened. When he arrived I started to tell him about my condition and my
plan. He hardly paid attention. Instead he asked me if I wanted to take a walk.
At the sound of the word walk, Judy bounded into the room, her
tongue hanging a mile out. She ran to the door and repeatedly jumped on it.
We took a walk in the nearby botanical gardens with Judy running in large circles around us, barking in her short staccato. The gardens were beautiful as always but I hardly noticed. Again I tried to explain to Dad what I was going through but he couldnít seem to understand. We walked to the top of a hill and sat down. Over and over again, Father threw a stick down the hill for Judy to run after and fetch. HOPE
26 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
I became absorbed in my own thoughts: Maybe the idea of ìmeaningî is just a human creation... Maybe lifeís just a dream... Maybe nothing matters... What to speak of ìGodî... I guess... I guess thereís no God... People say so many things, but it proves nothing... And how can one ever know anyway? We understand good according to bad, high in relation to low, bright in relation to dark, everything in relation to something else... Nothing has any meaning in itself... The differences are all just apparent, just relative... There is no answer, and
never will be... Thatís why everybody remains blindly busy doing whatever they feel like... Of course theyíre all afraid of death... But if I were
to die now, what difference would it make... No difference to the world... No difference if I live or die....
The dark thoughts rolled on and on, seemingly endless.
Was it at the nadir point of my confusion that I noticed something new creeping into the picture? Itís hard to remember. It was so subtle, almost imperceptible. I couldnít identify it. As if a cloud covering my thoughts began to thin out and disappear.
I was looking at Judy running down the hill and jumping into the pond to fetch the stick Dad threw. She was laughing, or so it seemed to me. Sheís thoroughly enjoying life, I thought. I looked around me: the grass, so green, so bright; the leaves of the trees, swaying in the wind; the water rippling. Everything sparkling, everything moving, togetheróTogether!
Without my realizing it the dark thoughts had vanished. I found
myself sliding into a state of mind that I had never experienced before. How can I describe it?
The independent existence of each plant, the dirt, the air, the water, their separateness, disappeared as everything seemed to fuse together, the color of each object merging into that of the one next to it.
All colors and forms within one single picture, one single Entity. Even my own body became simply another element within the Whole. I could see my thoughts passing like birds or the shining ripples of water. Each object was as valid, as vitally important to the Whole as any other. Which was ìalive?î which ìinanimate?î These distinctions no longer made sense. Instead, everything appeared alive. Everything joyous, conscious. Like the colors of a dream in which every dream-form was
a part of the consciousness of the dreamer. Every stone, every speck of dirt or dried branch on that hill was infused with the same vitality as the grass, or the dog, or even my thoughts. Distance and time seemed
to disintegrate while I looked out into an Entity which could only be described as ever-changing and infinite.
Could this be God?
Whatever it was it had banished the darkness I had been feeling as surely as if it had never been there. Hope! There was more to existence than I had ever imagined.
Ecstatic, I turned to Father who was still busy tossing the stick for Judy to fetch: ìDad, Iíve ... got something, something real. I donít know how to say it. Itís ... fantastic.î
ìYeah, sure. Very good.î
He didnít understand. How could he? I had no words to describe what I was feeling.
We walked back in silence. I breathed as deeply as I could. The air had never before tasted so beautiful.
Writing this, I am filled with wonder. A decision
Tonight was starless, moonless, dark. In a silence covered by wind, Dad, I and Judy took a walk along the empty side streets, our path shrouded by whispering trees, heavy with leaves. Even Judy seemed sunk in contemplationóquiet except for the velvet rhythm of her foot pads shuffling over the concrete.
ìSo what are you thinking to do with your life, my boy?î Father asked me, his voice blending with the wind.
I looked at him to make sure he wasnít joking. No, surely not. He was staring straight ahead, noticeably anxious about what I might say. Our pace slowed.
ìWell ... Iíve read a lot about spirituality, yoga, religion and
self-realization ... I want to put it into practice. Itís been just books until now. I want ... I want ... to find the truth, you know.î
He turned and leaned towards me until his face was all that I could see. Then he lifted his eyebrows and said loudly, dramatically, ìYou mean GOD?î
For a brief moment I lost my stride.
ìWell ... yeah ... I guess you might as well say I want to find God.î HOPE
28 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
Seconds passed. The dogís leash tinkled against her tags. I wondered if he thought me immature, arrogant, foolish or what.
When he answered, his voice sounded muffled as if it were coming from behind a wall. ìGood.î
I was surprised.
ìWhat? You think itís good? Then why havenít you done it? Why didnít you try?î
His voice suddenly sounded older than I had ever heard it. ìI donít have the guts.î
I am sure Father didnít realize how strong a sense of determination his honest answer would create in me.
What a Fool Iíve Been
(In September 1969, I entered Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, a school with a reputation for attracting students who were somehow
ëdifferentí: progressive, alternative, individualistic, anarchistic.) Shifting gears
Portland. This evening, a friend invited me to attend a lecture by Richard Albert, otherwise known as Baba Ram Das. He had been a professor at Harvard who was kicked out for experimenting with LSD and other psychedelics, then went to India and became a yogi. It didnít especially interest me so I declined the invitation.
I began the evening with some other friends. As we were walking across the campus we saw a large crowd gathered in the dining hall. Curious, we wandered in the backdoor. About 200 students sat in chairs facing a makeshift stage at the front of the hall. On the stage was a man dressed completely in white and sitting cross-legged. Except for his voice, the room was absolutely silent.
His voice captivated me. I walked forward and leaned against a pillar watching him. My mind became quiet; nothing remained except his voice. I was astonished at this sudden shift in my consciousness. His lecture was full of stories about centering oneself upon the present instead of worrying about the past or future. Only when he mentioned his guru in India did I realize that he was Baba Ram Das.
I slowly moved forward, experiencing an irresistible attraction. The pull was so strong that I eventually found myself on the stage, sitting next to him. Rather than objecting to my impudence, he seemed to welcome me. Soon I forgot about the audience. It was only he and I WHAT A FOOL IíVE BEEN
30 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
sitting there. As he continued to talk, I gradually became completely calm, calmer than I have ever been.
The time passed without my noticing it. He stood up. The program was finished. He began walking. Still entranced, and hardly noticing the other students, I walked with Ram Das out the door, and up to a car. He turned, smiled at me, and drove away. At that moment I had a queer feeling that my life was changed forever.
I walked back into the hall in a daze. On the stage one of the students was making an announcement, ìThis talk was recorded and we
will refer to it for making a book. Those who are interested should fill in one of these cards, and you will receive a free copy.î I filled in a card.3
Since the experience I had two weeks ago, Iíve felt a continuous desire to find a spiritual master, and learn meditation. I have not yet found a master, but at least today I had my chance to learn meditation. Instructors from a renowned spiritual school came for the first time to Reed College. They offered to teach meditation for a steep price. I thought it improper that they charge money for spiritual food, and I convinced them to teach me for free. The technique was essentially
the repetition of a mantraóa Sanskrit word used as an object for concentration. I asked them the meaning of my mantra and was told there
was none. ...
Two months later. 1970. Iíve had no special or even interesting experience with my meditation. So Iíve stopped it.4
I didnít feel inspired with meditation, Iíve started again. I shall continue until I can find a superior teacher or system.
3 Later this book, entitled Be Here Now, became famous among spiritual seekers. It
continues to sell well even today, twenty-five years later.
4 Much later I understood this technique to be a relaxation technique. It was meditation
in name only. Proper meditation not only calms the mind, but also contemplates the infinite.
A forest in northern California. Geographically, I hardly know
where I am. It doesnít matter. Setting up my tent in a densely forested valley bordered on all sides by mountains, I have not come here to enjoy the nature (though it is enjoyable), to relax or to escape. My sole purpose is to spend a few days concentrating with undivided attention on attaining at least an ounce of spiritual revelation.
I passed all my time today meditating, except for a few short breaks to read the biography of an Indian yogi, some light food, and a little walking.
Two days later. When I awoke this morning my mood was already exalted. I bathed in the cold water of the river that runs through this valley, then sat on mey blanket for meditation. The sun, still behind
the mountains, reflected a soft red light off the leaves of the trees surrounding me. I closed my eyes.
Ever so slowly my mind dipped into a dimension I never knew before. I felt like I was falling continuously from a great height. Every
few moments I found myself uncontrollably sucking in a strong breathó as if I was shocked again and again by something suddenly appearing without warning.
After thirty minutes or an hour it stopped. I became very calm.
When I opened my eyes, the world was somehow different. It was the same forest, but it was much closer to me. I felt like I was touching every object within sight. Something was happening. Intent not to lose the chance, I stared at this scene, not moving a muscle.
A few thoughts fluttered by. A bird chirped intermittently. The leaves glittered. The grass swayed. I was alone, and yet not alone. Someone was there. Who was it?
My breath slowed, lengthened. I watched and listened. Was it God or what? Or was I going loony? I didnít care. Someone was definitely here or coming. I had to pierce this mystery.
Suddenly I knew. My eyes widened in astonishment. My mouth fell open. Of course! Why had I never seen it before? It was me! On all sidesóme. The trees were me. The mountains were me. The ìbirdî chirped when I wanted because that sound was my own thought. The WHAT A FOOL IíVE BEEN
32 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
blades of grass waved slowly back and forth exactly according to my desire because the whole scene was inside my mind. It was my movie. I looked down. Even my body was just another part of the picture. Just like a dream. But this time I was intensely awake.
Think of it! All my life Iíve been worried about the people in this
world, never realizing they were nothing other than my own mind. Absolutely nothing here except my mindómy own colorful, vibrant thoughts
What a fool Iíve been, worrying and fretting. There was nothing to harm me and nowhere to run to. Every single minutest part is me. Iíve made up this tense drama. There are no separate people, no separate houses, no teachers, no enemies, no problems. Theyíre all my own creation. The whole universe is laughing.
The whole universe? I had thought it so vast, unmeasurable. Yet
itís only a thought: changing its colors and shapes and sounds and feelings precisely as I want.
Thatís it! As I want. That which causes this scene to change is my desire. There are three things: my consciousness, my desire and the expression of my desire. Nothing else.
No. It isnít even that complex. Whatever I see is my desire itself;
there is no internal or external. Whatever I desire, I immediately experience because my desire is my thought which is my world. So only
two things: my consciousness and its momentary ever-changing whim or form.
How curious! How funny!
A desire arises: I must never come down from this state. I write about my realization in a notebook.
But wait. Again Iím playing the fool. How quickly I forget. There is nothing outside of me so how could I ìeverî ìcomeî ìdown?î There is no down or up except in my imagination. Happy or sadówhat the hell? Just me, everywhere I look, sometimes sparkling, sometimes laughing.
Another thought comes: This is what the yogis called bliss. The oneness. The truth. What has always been and always will be. Always, because time is also my creation. Past, futureówhat a scam. What a clever trick Iíve played on myself. Just one entity and nothing else. No way
to go outside of it. I cannot die because ìIî was never born. Iíve always just been changing form.
How can I explain this to anyone else? To my friends or my family or my teachers in Portland? You moron! They were all just my thoughts. Even the skyscrapers and the tense exams and the baseball I dropped and the car from which I fell when I was four years old and China and the President and the TV. What a joke! Perfect, absolute, without a loophole.
And ìGod.î That thought, too, is my own creation. Not a bad
thought, that one. Because God is all thisóthis game. Yes, I am God. But not only this little body or these passing thoughts. No no. Everything is me, is God. ìGodî, ìGuruîóI made them up just to suit my
Ah, nothing to worry about and nowhere to go. Ah ... ahh ... ahhhhh... ...
Later. Very little light left to write by. The sun is setting now. Iím shocked: so much ìtimeî has passed! Insects are humming but they donít sound so friendly anymore. Itís getting cold, very cold. Well, yes, itís all me, but no need to antagonize myself.
I start to shake nervously. Pulling myself together, I arrange my
blanket in the tent as cold air pushes against my neck and up my shirt sleeves and pant-legs.
Yes, itís all me but itís cold. And Iím not feeling so great. Well, it doesnít matter. Iíll tolerate it and go on untilóuntil what? Hmm. Itís
all me alright, but where am I going? I still havenít answered that. And what, by God! what will I do now?
Itís getting so cold so fast that I wonder if I will be able to sleep at all.
WHAT A FOOL IíVE BEEN
34 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
Just Love Me
Portland. 1971. Today I wrote some doggerel, trying to catch the nitty gritty of my experience over the last two years during which I passed through seven teachers and groups.5
I met a religious group
hitch-hiking through the state of Unease (Which group matters littleó
pick any one, reader, as you please.) Their perfect scripture
preached love of God and man, and unswerving devotion to its holy Plan.
Although their Hero was long dead, they tried to live by what Heíd said: ìBe saved, follow my words.
Sinner or thief,
ye shall go to Heaven. Just hold My belief.î I liked
their service programs for the sick and hungry,
5 After the experience I had in 1969, I could not help but feel more and more the
presence of an infinite Being. I didnít like the word ìGodî because of the hundreds of connotations and dogmas it inferred. But there was no way past the limitation of words. The development of my feeling for God was too gradual to describe, so please excuse the gap in my explanation.
their will to suffer, and their monastery. But
The goal of heaven
was finally just an escape. The poor first must pray, or donít get even a grape. Superiority to other groups made no real sense.
Before words of criticism they built a fence.
Moving on. I experienced
group after group nonstop. Probing, searching,
not just to window-shop.
Though the teachings turned progressively better, each one contained some dogmatic fetter.
You must excuse me if I was wrong, I had no choice but to move along. The second group
taught concentrated calm. They said no need
of any other balm.
The third aimed to kill desire,
strengthening harmony and will-fire. Meditating on Nothingís power, they forgot the Devotional Flower. The fourth was joyous,
full of life and mystical. But too much ritual and doctrine: theistical. JUST LOVE ME
36 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
The fifth was potent
for oneís mind and physique. Though Divine love and selfless service were weak. The sixth seemed devotional in dance, work, prayer and food. But as the goal was paradise, the teaching itself was crude.
The seventh was healthy and loving. They spoke without prejudice.
Their meditation was subtle, yet I felt something amiss. Within my heart I spoke to Him, ìGod, I donít know where to swim. Though Iím not content
(yes, somethingís absent), if You show no other road, the seventh will be my abode.î In humility I took this stand.
At last perhaps Heíll give His hand. Spiritual communes
Iíve just completed one month visiting several spiritual communes in Canada and the USA, and Iíve decided that the best place for me will be the one in California. Honestly, Iím not completely satisfied with my present technique but there seems to be no better alternative. Itís up to God. If He doesnít give me anything better itís not my fault. Anyhow, the place in California should be OK. Iíll be able to manage my finances through a little farming and house-keeping. And there will be plenty of time to meditate. So, tomorrow itís on to California.
Last on the list
Before leaving Portland, I attended the public lecture of an Indian monk of the spiritual movement Ananda Marga. He was called Dada6.
6 Ananda is Sanskrit for bliss, and Marga means path. So Ananda Marga means ìthe
path of bliss.î The meditation teachers who are men are called Dada, and the ladies are
Because it was his first time out of India, his accent was so thick that I hardly understood a full sentence of his speech. Furthermore, I was not impressed with the Margis, so I wasnít attracted to join the group. Nevertheless, I wanted to meet this saint, just to tell him my plan. Unfortunately, my name was put at the bottom of the waiting list because I had no interest to learn meditation, only to talk. Seventy people signed up to learn, so probably Iíll have to wait one or two days.
Initiation: clash and cohesion
This morning, at last, I walked into Dadaís little room in the yoga house. He prepared to teach me.
ìExcuse me, Dadaji,î I said. ìI did not come for initiation.î ìThen what do you want?î he said.
ìI only want your opinion regarding my plan.î I took a couple of
minutes to explain about my spiritual search and decision to go to the California commune.
ìSo what do you think?î I asked. ìItís okay,î he said.
I sat quietly, waiting, but he added nothing more. Had I killed my time waiting to meet this man?
ìAh ... I donít know how to say this, Dadaji, but you see I waited two days to meet you. Is it possible that you could add something more?î ìAre you sure you want me to speak more?î he said. ìYou may not like what I have to say.î
ìPlease, please, go ahead.î
He then gave me a ten minute lecture about the difficulty of performing meditation twenty-four hours a day, that I was living in this
world and enjoying the benefits of othersí labor, but I was not thinking to contribute anything to the society, except for some vague hope that my meditation itself would add to the worldís positivity. Why didnít I consider doing social work during the hours when I would not be doing meditation? Couldnít I see that commune life escaped the urgent needs of the real world?
called Didi. Dada means elder brother, and Didi means elder sister. Except for some elderly Dadas and Didis who are family-people, all are renunciate monks and nuns. Besides teaching meditation, they remain busy organizing social service programs. Later I came to know that this particular monkís full name was Dada Yatiishvarananda.î
JUST LOVE ME
38 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
When he finished, I said, ìNow let me see if I got you straight. In
short are you saying that I should leave my present practice and, instead, join Ananda Marga?î
ìWow, thatís not what I expected! I have to go and think about it for a while.î
I left him, and went to the meditation room. I sat down, determined to get an answer to his proposal.
I did deep and long meditation as best as I knew, but no answer came. I asked God, but no answer came.
I asked my present guru, then I asked the guru of Ananda Marga for an answeróbut nothing.
Several hours passed. Due to my regard for social work, I leaned toward entering Ananda Marga, but otherwise nothing was clear. At last, still uncertain, I stood up.
lunch time had come and gone. I walked onto the lawn, where Dadaji was sitting with a large group of new people.
ìIn the future, it will be you, the young people of today, who will
be the leaders. You carry an awesome responsibility because our world needs dramatic changes if it is to survive. Who knows, maybe he will be the future American president.î As he said this last sentence, he pointed at me.
In that moment my mind flew out of control; I no longer knew
what I was thinking. My ears pounded, and my head swam. Dadaji continued to speak, but I understood nothing more.
After some time, when my head cleared, I had taken a decisionóI must not be selfish. I should not only perform meditation, but also do social work. I should join Ananda Marga.
Within an hour I was again sitting with Dadaji, taking the initiation. I then performed my new meditation and felt very pleased.
A friend of mine, Chris, had also learned the meditation. Now it was time for him to leave Portland, and return to his university in Eugene. As I stood outside waiting for him, my brief euphoria abruptly ended, and turned into a confused depression.
When he saw my dark face, he asked, ìWhatís the matter? Only moments ago you were the happiest guy in the world.î
ìWhat have I done?î I said. ìFor years now Iíve been switching
from path to path, and guru to guru. Iím like a leaf floating wherever the wind blows. Will this never finish? Why did I do this? Am I really following Godís will, or just my own ego? Iím so mixed up I canít stand it.î I started weeping.
He put his arm around my shoulders, and together we walked toward the bus station. I went on speaking in such a pitiful manner, that Chris also began crying. When we reached the bus I said to him, ìOh, what am I going to do? Iím lost, lost.î
ìI donít know,î he said. ìI donít know anything.î
As the bus drove away, he waved from the window. Our two faces were bathed in tears.
Under the early evening darkness, I slowly walked toward the yoga house. I had left all my gear there, having no other place to stay and no idea where else to go. A drizzle was falling, adding to my sorrow. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, my mind lit up with a thought: ìGod has no interest to trick anyone.î
ìOf course! Why am I worried?î I thought. Though the sun was gone, it seemed like daytime. ìThe reason I entered Ananda Marga was to sacrifice myself in helping others. What more can He expect from me? Nothing. Surely if I do my best, it is earthly perfection in Godís eyes.î One moment I had been in hell and the next moment I was flying
back up to some blissful heaven. I have no explanation for it but I knew, somewhere deep inside, that the changes I had just gone through were destined to affect my thinking and my outlook for the rest of my life. All I could do was my best. The rest was up to Him.
My step was light, as I headed toward the yoga house full of a new hope.
From the moment I again walked into the house, I began working full-time for Ananda Marga.
Subconsciously, Iíve still been feeling slightly troubled about having left my previous guru for the Ananda Marga guru: Shri Shri
Anandamurti, also known as Baba.7 Last night I had a dream:
7 In India, many holy men are called Baba, meaning beloved one or loving father.
Baba had also one more name: P.R. Sarkar, which was His legal name. It was in this
JUST LOVE ME
40 TRAVELS WITH THE MYSTIC MASTER
I was looking down a stairway but I could see only two or three
steps. The rest were covered by mist. I hesitated, afraid to walk down into that cloud, but then went ahead. Nothing was visible on either side. After taking a few steps, I saw a book on the stairway. It was a book Iíd never seen before of the group which Iíd left to join Ananda Marga. Opening it, I saw a photo of their guru. On the next page was a photo of the guruís guru. Turning the pages, I saw photos of their ancient tradition of gurus.
Further downstairs another book appeared. I walked down and picked it up. It was the book of Ananda Margaís guru.
ìFor the first time Iíll see Babaís photo!î I thought. I opened the book full of curiosity. But instead of seeing a manís image, my eyes were dazzled by a brilliant golden light streaming out of the page. ìHeís greater than any other,î I thought.
Then I woke up, feeling blissful.
The last vestige of uneasy feeling about having left my previous guru was gone.
Freedom through giving
Tonight, during a meeting of the yoga houseís residents, the finance secretary said, ìThe rent is due tomorrow, and we are $180 short. Does anyone have an idea what to do?î
Since I had exactly that amount in my Portland account, it seemed a cosmic sign, and a small test for me.
Before I could think twice, I quickly said, ìTo the penny thereís precisely $180 in my account. Iíll give it to you tomorrow.î
Everyone cheered, and the finance secretary said, ìBaba solves our problems every single time. I always worry, but He always does it.î Though I had more money back in Chicago, this donation made fully according to capacity left me totally free.
Today I completed my first week in Ananda Marga. At first, Iíd had a little difficulty adjusting to the new meditation technique. My concentration was poor. A few days ago, however, a fresh seed germilegal name that He wrote books about social and economic philosophy. Only spiritual
philosophy came under the name Shri Shri Anandamurti.
nated. I learned a spiritual chant and dance called kiirtan, which makes it easy to concentrate on God.8
I see that until now my purpose in being on the spiritual pathóto realize Truth or Godóhas really been for the sake of myself. Plainly speaking, it has been selfish.
Kiirtan is a way out of that selfishness. Itís a dance of surrender to God, a dance of giving Him myself. Singing of Him, dancing for Himó nothing for me.
During my first kiirtans I was sometimes self-conscious, thinking, ìAm I doing it right? What will others think of me doing this dance?î