Looking back now, thirty-four years (to the day, as it happens) after that meeting in New York, it is clear to me that everything that happened was for a divine purpose.
From SRF’s point of view, they weren’t ready to develop the work into a world mission of the magnitude Master had visualized. Tara was opposed to the whole idea. Daya saw her own role as putting into smooth working order whatever Master had already started, but not as developing his work to a further stage.
When I asked her once, in the 1950s, when we would begin to develop Master’s idea of world brotherhood colonies, her reply was, “Frankly, I’m not interested.”
In all these forty-four years since his physical death, SRF has spread very little beyond what Master started: a church in Fullerton to replace the former chapel in Long Beach; a church in Encinitas; a church in Pasadena; one in Richmond that the members had wanted already during Master’s time. And that’s about it. YSS has undergone even fewer changes.
So fixed was I in the consciousness of spreading the work, as Master had encouraged me, at least, to do, that I simply couldn’t imagine that this was not Daya’s goal also. I see now, however, that it never was her goal. It is pointless for me to ask, Why not? It was not to her that Master gave that responsibility. He did give it to me.
I suppose it would have been possible for her to accept that he had given me this job, and to let me simply go ahead with it. But had she done so, she would have felt the need to control what I did-and from a basic outlook altogether different from my own. Without Tara’s influence she might have been able to embrace both ideas. But it would have been like trying to mix oil and water. Tara was the catalyst for something that needed to happen. The full extent of the injustice done to me must be balanced against the full extent of what I have been able to accomplish since then, in Master’s name. I could never have accomplished any of it, had I remained in SRF.
Nor do I suppose for a minute that the suffering was mine alone. That Daya suffered deeply I don’t doubt for a moment. Tara, six years after our New York meeting-in 1968, the year I started Ananda-suffered a massive stroke. Indirectly I learned that she had told someone later, “I know this happened to me to teach me compassion.” She died two years after that. That the others suffered also can be inferred from an event that took place in a restaurant in Westwood or Beverly Hills (I forget which).
I had been staying with a second cousin of mine in Westwood. Daya Mata, who had offered to see me when she could, agreed to meet me for dinner. She arrived accompanied by Mrinalini Mata and Ananda Mata. This meeting, like the others, was cordial but strained. Daya said she would soon be traveling to San Francisco for reasons she didn’t explain.
“Good,” I said. “My parents’ home is in Atherton, south of San Francisco. Perhaps you can visit us.”
“If they’d allow me in the door,” she replied, doubtfully.
I fell suddenly silent. How could I reassure her? I was certain my parents would not make her welcome at all. There ensued a long, embarrassed pause.
Shortly thereafter they left. All three of them were weeping. I, too, was weeping. What could any of us say?
Trying earnestly to see matters from their point of view, I realize that I was the one out of step with their priorities. This doesn’t mean I was wrong. And it doesn’t condemn them in their priorities. Even Tara’s harshness to me, though in itself appalling, was necessary to get me off onto another track in my life. I was too loyal for less drastic treatment to have worked: I would always have been turning to them for guidance, direction, and advice.
Tara’s deliberate intention was to destroy my faith-in myself, primarily; in Master’s path, also, as my own path to God; and in thinking there was anything at all that I might do to serve him further. I was not a friend of hers any longer. I was an enemy-an arch enemy, for I was a threat to her guru’s mission as she herself understood it. Even today, SRF ministers have been heard to refer to me as the “anti-Christ.” She had a powerful will. I think most people, treated by her as she treated me, would have been pulverized.
There was one weakness, however, to Tara’s attempt at a knock-out with a single, massive blow. If it didn’t succeed, there would be nothing left for her to follow up with. She tried repeatedly to undermine me in other ways after my dismissal, but these attempts were feeble compared to what she had tried already. They never worked.
Unfortunately for her, my way of fighting is very different. For one thing, I never fight against; I fight for what I believe in. For another, my way of fighting is not the sudden knock-out blow, but an application of steady pressure, and an unrelenting search for new angles from which to apply that pressure until victory is achieved. Our natures are different. She gambled on beating me by brute force. As often happens, however, what wins is not fire, though it destroy the forest, but earth, which, if its power is centered beneath the surface, calmly produces a new forest. Tara, in her involvement with astrology, might have done well to consider this difference between us: She was a fire sign; my sun, astrologically, is in an earth sign. She saw strength in my chart, which is why she said, “If we don’t get rid of him now, in another fifteen years he’ll be strong enough to divide the work.” She thought to win against me by striking while I was, as she believed, weak. What she didn’t understand was that I hadn’t the remotest wish to divide the work. I was, and am, loyal to it to my core. But she foresaw correctly that the track on which my own destiny would take me was a separate track from theirs. She could not imagine any separate track running parallel to their own. None of them have imagined such a possibility.
Fifteen years later, it is interesting to note, was the year my book, The Path, was published. This book, as you probably know, is an account of Master’s life from the point of view of a disciple. It describes at the end of it the founding of Ananda Village.
Sant Keshavdas, a spiritual teacher from India, exclaimed to me while visiting Ananda many years ago, “What a lot of tapasya [spiritual penance] you had to do to create this place!” How right he was! Good never comes easily, especially when it goes against established trends. Master demonstrated that truth in the difficulties he himself faced throughout his life.
What Tara didn’t know was that her very attack on me, and the untruths she told about me, were an essential element in giving me the spiritual power to succeed in this work. For the truth has to come out eventually. If it cannot come out in one way, it will find another way. The greater the lies told against a person, the stronger he has to grow in the truth. If in this life those lies succeed in destroying him, that power of truth will manifest in him in another life. Truth has to come out. That is the karmic law.
Tara didn’t succeed in destroying me. Instead, her attempt to do so was an underlying factor in Ananda’s eventual success.
Every time Ananda has been unjustly attacked, indeed, the very attacks have only increased our power to succeed. In the present attempts against us, we keep marveling to see how very much stronger we’ve become, simply by standing up for the truth as we know it and doing our best to continue with our work.
In the beginning, as I have said, Daya Mata was willing to see me outside Mt. Washington, as a friend. One day, Tara Mata, hearing that I’d been invited to give classes at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco, called Dr. Landrum, the head of the Academy, to persuade him to cancel my classes. Failing in this attempt, she telephoned me and launched into her usual diatribe against me. The talk lasted a long time, as her phone calls did. As usual, moreover, the conversation was one-sided. I particularly remember her telling me, “You ought to be grateful to me for talking to you like this. I don’t give many people the benefit of my wisdom.” She continued:
“You haven’t the character to be a teacher. You’re vengeful. You’re vindictive.” It went on and on.
Finally, unable to endure these denunciations any longer, I exclaimed in exasperation, “It isn’t everyone who thinks the way you do.”
“Who?” she demanded. “Who thinks otherwise?”
“Don’t ask me.”
“Who? I demand to know.”
“I’m sorry, you have no right to ask.”
“Is it Sahaja?” Sahaja was her “right-hand man” in the Editorial Department.
“Sahaja supports you in everything.”
“Can you tell me why such a high, spiritual soul as Sahaja has such utter, implicit faith in me?”
A line like this, I reflected, belonged in a Broadway comedy.
“Tell me,” she again insisted. “Who?”
I wouldn’t tell her. She surmised, however, that her “betrayer,” according to her somewhat unusual definition, was Daya Mata. In consequence, she demanded that Daya give up seeing me. Daya, to keep peace, decided she had no other choice.
Today, Daya characterizes my action as “foolish,” but I wonder how many people could have remained silent under such provocation. Perhaps my “foolishness” consisted in not simply hanging up on Tara-a rudeness of which my nature (unfortunately, in this case) was incapable.
Daya Mata told me after my dismissal, “Tara worked on me for months, ordering me every day to get rid of you. It reached the point where I saw she was quite capable of destroying the organization rather than not get her will. Even my presidency was being threatened.” (I could just imagine Tara as the new president!) “At last, losing my composure, I shouted at her, ‘All right!’ I wonder that everyone at Mt. Washington didn’t hear me.”
I had a meeting with Daya Mata in Pasadena in 1970, after Tara’s death. “Even on her death bed,” Daya told me, “she was bitter against me for what she considered my ‘betrayal.’ Shortly before she died, she actually cursed me.”
I’ve often wondered what the nature of that “curse” might have been. Certainly Tara couldn’t have done anything so ridiculous as swear at her. Nor do I imagine she said anything like, “Because of what you did to me, you’ll come back for three incarnations as a Tithiri bird.” (I offer this as a gem I discovered in a south Indian temple. It was the threatened penalty for spitting in the temple precincts.)
What Tara said must have been something more like, “Because you didn’t cooperate with me in my endeavor to destroy Kriyananda, you will see that he will succeed in his endeavors.” I imagine she carried this thought further, since Daya said it had been a curse, but I prefer not to speculate further. Only this, or some very similar, statement could account for Daya’s determination in SRF’s present attacks to complete my destruction. Daya Mata views Ananda, and me especially, as a threat to Master’s very mission.
At that same meeting in 1970, however, Daya told me, “I’ve never accepted the things Tara said against you.”
Did Tara fall from the realization she’d attained? It is difficult to imagine that she retained that state. At the same time, I believe she cannot have fallen very far. Her lack of charity-of compassion, as she is reported to have put it-would be a flaw, spiritually, one for which she would have to seek atonement. I doubt that her words to me, “I’ve never said an unkind word in my life,” could have been uttered by her at the end of her life. Therefore, I feel, she must have fallen somewhat. But, knowing her as I do, I cannot believe that that flaw wasn’t balanced out to a large extent by her devotion and faith, and by her life of deeply sincere sacrifice in service to God.
Daya Mata told me in 1970, “Master told her not to practice astrology, but she kept up her practice. That’s why she fell.” (The italics are mine.) In other words, Daya, too, believes she fell.
There were other reasons, besides, for thinking so. For one thing, Master had told Daya, “Keep her away from people.” It wasn’t only Daya’s fault that Tara wouldn’t let her obey this advice. I cannot but think that Tara’s involvement with people proved at least as harmful to her as it did to those people.
I had noticed, moreover, a growing pride in Tara. It seemed clearly evident in her statement to me that whoever was against her was against God. My own thought in this matter is that her work of editing, in which it was her business to correct Master’s words, awakened in her the delusion that it was her business also to correct his ideas. It began, I imagine, with a deprecation of his command over English. I remember her saying to me once with a throaty chuckle, “Even as William he never mastered the English language.” This thought grew to the point where she could simply declare, in defiance of his statement that SRF is not a sect, “Well, we are a sect.”
Whatever it was, an aberration like this would be more like a superficial wave in her consciousness than a profound flaw. Was it a spiritual fall? I am certain it deserves to be called only a slip. Her wrath, after all, was motivated by a desire to protect her guru’s work, however mistaken her perception of the need. It was not motivated by a desire to harm me except incidentally toward that end.
A strange episode occurred several years ago that may or may not shed some light on this whole situation.
A man flew to Ananda all the way from New York City with the sole purpose of seeing me. After our visit, he flew straight back to New York.
He’d had a vision, he told me, and had been instructed to share it with me.
“I saw you with Master in a monastery two or more thousand years ago. He had put you in charge over the monks. Tara was your younger brother in that life. You were very magnetic, and commanded a following. Unfortunately, your prominence went to your head. You turned against Master, and, drawing many students away from Master, created your own following. Tara remained loyal to Master, and was adamantly opposed to what you had done.
”In this life, she was still influenced by her anger against you at that time. But in this lifetime, so I was shown, your motives are completely pure; there is none of that old rivalry against Master left in your heart. Tara was living out a dead scene.
“When she died, she realized what a great mistake she had made, and longed to ask for your forgiveness. She wants to beg you for it through me.” At this point, the man stood up and asked if he could embrace me on her behalf, and if, with the embrace, I would give her my forgiveness. I did so readily, marveling all the while at the strangeness of this encounter.
Could there be any truth to his story? Certainly, one passes through many lives, and many errors, before finding the Eternal Truth. Master himself told me, about my past lives, “You were eaten up with doubts.” Doubt was my greatest flaw.
I can only thank God that that flaw lies in the past. Perhaps it is because of my desire to expiate that mistake that I have such a deep longing, in this lifetime, to help others to pass through the white waters of spiritual doubt and to sail out onto the calm ocean of divine faith.