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Chapter 28
Hidden Influences

As I reflect how I breasted the waves in towing Ananda to shore, I realize that those efforts were, in a sense, a repetition of what I had put into the “Delhi project” in my efforts to obtain the Indian government’s approval. There, too, I had faced obstacles that seemed, and that everyone agreed were, insurmountable. Those obstacles were overcome by determination, hard work, God’s grace, and my Guru’s help.

It would be interesting to ponder here the karmic patterns in both episodes. My own attitude in both was essentially the same: I did them to serve my Guru. In India, my hope was to make him better known. In America, I wanted to launch his “world brotherhood colony” idea. As far as my underlying purpose was concerned, there were no differences; each effort seemed to me appropriate to the existing need. As far as I could see, I was the same old fellow: determined, yes, to finish what I’d put my will to, but otherwise non-attached. I demonstrated non-attachment, to my own satisfaction at least (if not to Tara’s), by my instant willingness to abandon the project when I learned that the Directors were not in favor of it. (I regret, however, that I took so hard Tara’s judgment of my motives. The difficulty with having to satisfy one’s superiors is that it is easy to confuse their reactions with God’s inner smile of approval, or lack of it.)

My own view of things was the same. The only difference was that, in getting Ananda started, there was no one above me with other priorities. I was my own boss, my one-man “board of directors,” free to follow my inner guidance rather than wait and check every move against the judgment of others. Such freedom has both advantages and disadvantages, which can be judged best from the consequences. If my “Delhi Project” caused outrage at Mt. Washington, their reaction was nevertheless still subjective, and not necessarily related to what I was actually doing. General outrage might have told a different story. Had my efforts produced disharmony elsewhere, for example among the Indian government officials, matters might have been less favorable to me. However, they hadn’t. Even Prime Minister Nehru was pleased with the idea.

What raises these questions again for me now was a fact I learned only later: In 1968, while I faced those challenges of Ananda’s construction, Tara Mata suffered a massive stroke. Barely able to function, she lingered for two more years, and then left her body. An SRF monk, Brother Turiyananda, who was in charge at the SRF Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, told me that she had said, “I know this happened to me to teach me compassion.”

I was unfamiliar with her personal tragedy, and regretted it when I learned of it. For in spite of everything, I loved her as a friend, and still do. She deserved everyone’s sincere respect, for her deep spirituality. Worldly people have narrow ideas of what it means to be spiritual. They little realize how subtle, and how hard to avoid, are the snares of delusion.

It is easy to attribute to more than coincidence the fact that her stroke occurred the same year that I put up the first buildings at Ananda, and dedicated Ananda as a retreat and intentional community. Tara was no doubt furious to learn of these developments. She had been outspokenly determined to destroy me, at least as a disciple. She tried to encompass that end by one massive stroke. Was it so strange that she herself should suffer a massive stroke on receiving news of my rise?

In the 1950s Tara told me, “Master said I would live a long life.” I murmured sincere gratification. We were friends at that time. “Yep,” she continued happily, “I’ll have all the time I need to finish editing his books.”

It was known to all of us at Mt. Washington that Master liked and trusted her editing work. So many former editors had intruded their own ideas into his writings. There’s a saying in Italian, “Traduttore è traditore-to translate is to betray.” The same might be said of editors. Tara, however, had shown herself faithful to his thoughts and teachings.

He had given Mrinalini Mata-again, as we all knew-the job of editing his lessons. Had he given anything to me in this respect? Well, he had said, “I predict you will be a good editor someday, Walter.” He had also said, “Your work is writing and lecturing.” Anything else?

I believe, but cannot state with certainty, that he said my work would also be editing. My position as editor of his own works, however, is less clear. When he went to Twenty-Nine Palms in 1950 to work on his scripture commentaries, he took me with him, saying in front of the monks, “I asked Divine Mother whom I should take with me, and your face appeared, Walter. I asked Her twice more just to make sure, and each time your face appeared. That’s why I am taking you.” So I was there, somewhere, in the divine will with respect to editing, but he never explained to me just where, or how-or when.

At Twenty-Nine Palms he gave me the job of “editing” his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam commentaries, and also his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible. I have put “editing” in quotes, because, obviously, he didn’t really expect me to edit at that time. “Work like lightning,” he told me, “but don’t change a word.” Possibly this paradoxical instruction meant only, “Don’t change a single concept.” I’m disposed to think, however, that he really didn’t want me to make any changes at all-that is to say, to do serious editing. In any case, it didn’t matter. He was testing my spiritual attitude, primarily.

I was only twenty-three at the time; my skill with the pen had yet to be honed. Moreover, I was still relatively new to the teachings. He was happy to find in me a desire to tune into his wisdom, rather than intrude my own ideas. I think he was preparing me for the future, realizing that he himself had little time left to live. (Again and again he remarked in those days, “Work like lightning. There is no time to lose!”)

Tara had said to me in the mid-’fifties, “I’ll have all the time I need to finish editing his books.” Daya Mata was the new president then, and although Master had told her not to let Tara become involved with people, Tara herself, being Daya’s senior in years and in the work, and being in any case forceful by nature, intruded herself more and more into institutional decisions and management. In the process, she neglected more and more her own duty.

I am forced, here, to intrude my own perception of some of the facts. I want you, the reader, to be aware that I am doing so, that you may judge my perception for yourself and compare it to what are indeed, I assure you, facts. But please don’t let frankness on my part offend you, for though people think it unseemly “to speak ill of the dead,” Tara’s contribution to Yogananda’s work will become a significant part of history. It might be unseemly to say, for example, of someone in Napoleon’s army, “He was a bad soldier,” but it would be essential to say it of Napoleon, were it true. I bear Tara no ill will, but it is, I think, important to tell the truth as I see it, even while admitting to myself, above all, that, because I was a participant in those events, my understanding may be biased. I shall do my sincere best to be fair. And, I repeat, I have no personal grudge against her. I still like and respect Tara, and recognize the important role she played in my own service to Master.

Tara was highly advanced, spiritually. She had had deep experiences of God. It seems to me, however, that she permitted pride to influence her. For I’d noticed increasingly over the years a tendency on her part to correct not only Master’s words, but also the meaning of those words. This tendency is not unusual in disciples, some of whom may think, “I believe in the Master as a man of God, but in practical matters-well, he seems to me a little innocent, sometimes!”

Tara once said to me with a chuckle, “Even when he was William the Conqueror [who he told us he’d been in a former life] he never mastered the English language!” Thus to underscore his need for her editing seemed inappropriate, though it was not, in itself, highly significant. (Friends do sometimes like to “let their hair down” with one another, and don’t want to feel they must weigh every word before speaking. Sometimes they say even more than they really mean.) Of course, English didn’t exist as a language at the time of the Conquest. It was the conquest itself that led to what is known today as “Middle English,” by introducing French into the mixture of Saxon, Scandinavian, and indigenous languages.

A later statement of Tara’s to me, however, was significant: “Well, we are a sect.” Those words contradicted Master’s oft-reiterated statement in public, “We are not a sect.”

In my opinion, Tara developed the arrogance common to craftsmen in their field. She once told me, “I can make anyone react exactly as I want him to, simply by the clever manipulation of words.”

I remember Master speaking of a change she had made in just one word from Whispers from Eternity. It was in the poem, “God! God! God!” His complaint was, “Every time I write ‘I will drown their noises by loudly chanting …’ she changes noises to clamor.” I confess I myself liked “clamor” better, though I see now that, while it is more literary, it lacks the color-tone of “noises.” Now I prefer “noises” because it expresses Master’s “vibration” better.

This is a small point beside the fact that she went ahead and re-edited the entire book. In that same poem Master had written, “I will whisper: God! God! God!” Tara changed it to “I whisper: God! God! God!” Evidently she reasoned that, since he always whispered to God, there was no need for him to affirm, “I will do so.” Her version didn’t take into account, however, that the poem was intended for the inspiration of spiritual seekers; it was not meant as a purely personal statement. The poem had been received by Master, while lecturing, from St. Francis of Assisi, whom he lovingly called his “patron saint.” Tara’s omission of that word, “will,” gives the line a peremptory sound, not sweet and encouraging.

This, still, is a minor matter compared to the changes she made throughout the book. She made them years after his passing. In its new format it had too much of her own peremptory vibration. And she actually had the audacity to write a preface to this new edition, thanking “the editor” in Yogananda’s name for her laborious work. Years before then, Tara had described to me a different “authorization” altogether. (Master told me himself, incidentally, that Whispers from Eternity was the only one of his books he’d edited personally. To me, this work has always seemed a literary jewel.) Tara, on the other hand, though skilled as an editor, was not a poet. She lacked the feeling for sound and “color” in words, and for how to insinuate colorful images into literal passages. When pronouncing Master’s boyhood name, Mukunda (pronounced “Mookoondo”), for example, she made “u,” and also “a,” sound like the u in “but,” thus: “Muhkuhntuh,” with also a hard “t” instead of a soft “d.” Perfectly normal, of course, for most Americans, but suggestive of something that she herself readily admitted: The sounds of words didn’t mean much to her. A poet needs to relish the music of words. To Tara, they were mere “beasts of burden” for her ideas.

“I told Master,” Tara said in this context, “that I’d like to try my hand at editing Whispers. ‘Oh, would you?’ he said.” Tara related this exchange to me after his passing. If the job of editing Whispers had already been done by the time of his death, permitting him to write the preface for that book, she would not have quoted that far more meager endorsement in justification of her plan to work on the book. Yogananda passed away in 1952. Tara’s version of “Whispers” came out in 1958. What can be said of that preface, except that Tara herself composed it, long after his death?

Hers was a complex nature, not easy to understand, and more difficult still to explain. On the one hand, I admired greatly her deep devotion to our Guru. She showed not the slightest consideration for anyone else, but where Master was concerned she was one-pointed in her loyalty. At the same time, she felt relaxed enough in that devotion to disagree with him openly when she felt the need, and that disagreement did not always seem to me impersonal. I appreciated her frankness, and took it as a sign of her sincerity. Still, it worried me sometimes when she disagreed with him on points that I knew were, to him, important.

One of these points was his enthusiasm for “world brotherhood colonies.” She laughed outright, once, in conversation with me at his “naiveté” concerning this concept. (She didn’t use the word, “naiveté,” but her tone of voice implied it). Once she said to me,“ You wouldn’t believe all the copies he had us type out of a community proposal for Henry Ford, hoping to interest him in the idea!” I have already mentioned how, when he first acquired Mt. Washington Estates, Tara’s comment to him was, “Now your troubles begin!”

The organization had meant nothing to her in those early days, except “trouble.” She once said to me, “I used to think Master had come to America to gather up a handful of disciples, after which we’d all go back to India with him and meditate in the Himalayas.” To her, serving others spiritually was meaningless. I don’t see this as a fault, necessarily. The hermit’s calling is a wonderful one. Master, in fact, sometimes described her as “my hermit.”

For her, however, granting this facet of her nature, to take on the unnatural responsibility of involving herself in organizational matters after his passing had to have, and did have, disastrous consequences. Even her attitude toward the books he wanted her to edit became, gradually over time, cavalier. She once told me, “What do they need with more books? They have all the books they need, to find God.” Master was distressed when I reported her comment to me, in 1950, “I can’t possibly get out his Gita commentaries by the end of this year.” Partly, I think, his distress was because he saw that more was involved than a delay of six months. Forty years passed before those commentaries appeared in book form! This was twenty years after Tara’s death. Meanwhile, she interfered with everything, even hinting to me that she felt Daya Mata had betrayed her by not implicitly obeying her “instructions” on organizational matters. In fact, as Tara told me, “People say that Daya and I run the organization. Well, it’s true. We do.” And she let slip once in a Christmas card to me, “To the first vice president of SRF/YSS from the second president.” I first thought she meant, “from the second vice president.” In time, however, I came to realize that, even if that were a mere “slip of the pen,” it expressed her real meaning. She was not given, moreover, to slips of that kind.

Tara was enough opposed to Master’s community idea to remove it, in the late 1950s, from his official “aims and ideals.” The explanation for this change, and for many others that have been introduced into his books and organization since his passing, is, “He changed his mind toward the end of his life.” I know for a fact that he did not change his mind on those communitarian ideas, though I was given this as the reason why I should not have started Ananda. My natural reaction, then, was to think, “Even if he had changed his mind, the fact that he always spoke so strongly in favor of it has to mean, at the very least, that we cannot consider communities a bad idea.” SRF’s directors were not interested in starting communities, but why were they so anxious to prevent me from starting one?

Tara’s character was amazingly decisive and forthright. In practical matters, however, she sometimes reminded me of a cartoon by George Price years ago in the New Yorker: A plane rising from the runway; in the foreground, an austere, dowager-type lady posed sternly at the top of the embarkation staircase, her forefinger pointed upward commandingly to the sky, while a team of airport personnel push the staircase frantically toward the already-departed plane. Tara was like that woman.

Her bold declaration, for example, that Disneyland had to fail because it had been opened on the dying moon, was something she told me when Disneyland was already one of history’s outstanding success stories. She, however, having made that declaration years earlier, stuck by it resolutely. “What a pity!” she said. “All that money they poured into that project!” Disneyland remains today, after more than forty years, an outstanding success.

Daya Mata said to me after Tara’s death in 1970, “Master told Tara to give up her involvement with astrology. She disobeyed him. That’s why she fell.”

That’s why she fell. It is possible for even highly advanced souls to fall. Master once warned me, “Remember, you will not be safe until you reach nirbikalpa samadhi.” Tara was advanced, certainly, but I do think she fell. On the other hand, I don’t think it was a major fall. As I see it, she has yet to develop a quality she herself said she lacked: compassion.

Many of Tara’s statements were drastic. As opinions they might be refreshing, but as policies they were often devastating. She never thought of spiritual work in terms of giving service to spiritually hungry souls. To her, all that mattered where people were concerned was to keep them from diluting the teachings. She saw our Guru’s work in terms of the control it exerted over others, not of the hope, comfort, and understanding it brought them. Thus, she imposed on SRF the dictum, “In every situation, ask yourselves always, first, ‘What is best for the work?’” This, she said, must be the guiding principle. And so it became.

How was it possible for one person to exert so much power? By being powerful, herself. No one could gainsay her, if only because she wouldn’t allow anyone to. I myself was always aware that, much as I liked her, we would someday come to loggerheads. Our perception of Master’s mission was, on certain issues, far apart. When the crisis arose between us, I was helpless: 12,000 miles away in India. Tara engineered my dismissal, and persuaded the other directors to accept her will, placing Daya in a position where Daya finally screamed, as she herself told me, “All right!” Tara then insisted that the two of them meet me in New York-a safe 3,000 miles away from Los Angeles-and hand me my “walking papers.” No one came to my support. I can’t imagine anyone daring to do so. I was given no opportunity to speak in my own defense.

Tara lambasted me for my supposedly “atrocious personality.” I never could understand her meaning, for I’ve always been popular with both strangers and people I’ve known for many years. The explanation is ordinary and quite simple: I like people. Tara must have projected onto me her own personality, for she herself bullied others. It was natural that she should consider me a bully. According to her, I’d bullied the officials in India and forced them to relent. Of course, they held all the cards; I couldn’t have forced them if I’d tried. Tara, however, thought nothing of bending others to her will. As I said, no one could stand up to her. In fact, few people could even stand her! If I myself found her forthrightness refreshing, it was because I knew she loved Master and was completely dedicated to him. Her inconsiderate way of treating people, however, was demonstrated on many occasions.

Time Magazine once published an article about Master. She took exception to something in it, and wrote the editors a stern letter taking them to task. Then she fairly dumped onto them the entire set of Master’s books. I can imagine the editors thinking, “Oh, dear, does she really want us to sit down and pore over all that material, and then ask ourselves, ‘Now, where did we go wrong?’” She could have taken lessons from Dale Carnegie in “how to win friends and influence people”! For it never occurred to her even to think how others might react.

When she decided to get Autobiography of a Yogi out from under the control of Philosophical Library, its first publisher, she waged a campaign of the sort she must have imagined I waged against the Indian government. I never got all the details of this campaign, but from what she told me later she did everything to coerce those publishers into doing what they definitely did not want to do.

What I’ve always done, by contrast, is try to find ways in which others will benefit from my proposal. Tara, with her “direct onslaught” mentality, considered this duplicitous, but in fact I really do have others’ interests at heart. If I see that any proposal of mine might not be of mutual benefit, I drop it immediately.

So, to return to the question of karma: In India, my methods had been directed with the same energy that I put into starting Ananda in America. I didn’t coerce anyone. On the other hand, I didn’t let anybody coerce me. Despite considerable opposition (not the least of it from my fellow disciples), I stood firm. As Mother put it years later, “You stuck to your guns.” I didn’t try to persuade anyone, whether with “slick” or with any other sort of logic; if people attacked me, I simply tried all the harder, to embrace them in the good that I was trying to accomplish. It has never been my way to attack; I simply stand up for what I believe. Even as a child, the occasional bully was discomfited to discover that, though he was stronger than I was, he couldn’t subdue my spirit. Nor did I ever begin those fights.

Very well, then, but what about the question of karma? Was it my karma to lose in the matter of that “Delhi Project”? Interestingly, it may actually have been my karma to win. Neemkaroli Baba was a well-known saint in India, who became famous in the West after Ram Dass’s book, Be Here Now, was published. Neemkaroli actually spoke to a friend of mine in New Delhi about my Delhi ashram, and predicted, “It will come up.” This is the Indian way of saying, “It will happen.” His word was generally considered infallible.

Again, I had actually been given a prediction in The Book of Bhrigu, about which I published a short report in 1967. That prediction had been specific, and fairly elaborate: “His father will name him James.” (My full name is James Donald, but no one in India knew my first name.) “He will be born in Romania, and will live in America. He will meet his guru Yogananda at the age of twenty-two, and will receive the name, Kriyananda.” Of my work in India, the prediction said, “He will build an ashram in the city of D-, on the banks of the river Jamuna. Its fame will be glorious, and will thrill his heart.” It seemed to me that, as they say, “All systems were GO.” Even Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru had walked the property, and had given the project his approval.

Why, then, the disaster that followed?

The ways of karma are endlessly fascinating. God’s will can alter any karmic dictate, within its own established parameters. And the masters, working in harmony with the divine will, can change karmic directions for their disciples, concerned as they are with their spiritual development.

Consider the “Delhi Project” and its resulting dispute between Tara and me. On the one hand, Master had told her she would live long enough to finish editing all of his books. She suffered that massive stroke, however, at the age of sixty-eight, and died before, or soon after, she turned seventy. Hers was not a long life. I think it was cut short because she disobeyed his will-not only, as Daya told me, by continuing to practice astrology, but for the qualities which that practice brought out in her. Specifically, it increased her tendency to see people as “types,” rather than as souls struggling to reach the light. She told me, for example, “You are the lone wolf type.” A nonsensical assessment! Lone? Well, I’ve always needed to see things honestly, instead of accepting others’ opinions just because they were “politically correct.” But, again: lone? When I was a young man on vacation, within a week of my arrival in any new town I already knew half the population as friends. Wolf, then? This too didn’t make sense. I made a point of never even asking for favors.

So-was my personality really so “atrocious”? Or, perhaps, was it my karma to be judged so harshly by her?

If we think in terms of Master’s work, and not of personalities, a clearer picture emerges. What did his mission pressingly need? An organization, only? Some of the SRF monks have said, “Master was sent to America to start a monastery.” Is this a realistic summation of his great mission?

In Ranchi, when he was young, he started a school for boys. In America also, in 1925, he tried to start a school at Mt. Washington, but dropped the idea when he couldn’t find enough parents responsive to his educational ideas. Throughout his years in the West he also kept urging people to found communities-“world brotherhood colonies” as he called them. In addition, he wrote a booklet of practical guidance on a purely mundane subject, The Law of Success. He wrote another one, Scientific Healing Affirmations, to offer help on another mundane matter: physical and mental well-being.

Most of his chief disciples, contrary to the claim that he was sent to found a monastery, were married or had been married at one time. A few names spring to mind: Rajarsi Janakananda, Yogacharya Oliver Black, Señor Cuaron, Sister Gyanamata, Dr. Lewis, Kamala Silva, Sister Meera, Durga Mata-and, indeed, Tara Mata herself. Yogananda’s param guru (guru’s guru), the great Lahiri Mahasaya, was a householder. Yogananda’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, had been married before he became a swami, and had a daughter. That Master wanted to establish a monastic order in America goes without saying, but his mission went far beyond that concept.

The school he started in India, and the one he tried to get going in America, are indications, surely, that he had other hopes for the work. The community he tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to found, about which he spoke every time he got a chance, is surely another indication of his non-monastic hopes for the future. His booklet, The Law of Success, is not a mystical treatise designed for the edification of renunciates, but was written-based of course on spiritual principles-for anyone who aspired to succeed. His Scientific Healing Affirmations is for everybody, and not directed specifically toward monks and nuns. Another book of his, The Science of Religion, is intended also to help everyone; it presents a fundamental law of existence to inspire people everywhere to shun lesser fulfillments and seek their highest fulfillment in God. All of these books are spiritual in the broad sense that they help everyone to live a better life. They were not designed specifically for people dedicated to the monastic calling. Yogananda spoke publicly, besides, on many other “mundane” topics, such as how to succeed in business, how to be a good marriage partner, how to develop common sense, how governments can achieve truer, spiritual ends.

In short, his mission was universal. He spoke of the underlying oneness of all religions. He spoke of incorporating spirituality into daily life. He described the ideal government of the future. He spoke a great deal, in fact, about the future, explaining how this new age of energy would affect everyone, and urging people everywhere to work toward world harmony, in keeping with the needs of this age. In his last speech at the Biltmore Hotel (at which I was present), on the evening he left his body, he pleaded with governments to pool the best of their countries’ accomplishments and not to be deluded by false patriotism and selfish national ambition. He spoke of oneness, cooperation, universal love, good will and kindness to all.

In short, I would say that Paramhansa Yogananda was a prophet for the New Age. Monasteries? yes, but far more than that. To me, he spoke of the renunciates as unencumbered workers in his greater cause. He wanted everyone to strive toward unity with God, but his mission was to raise the consciousness of the human race, not only that of a few monastics. Indeed, he also decried monastic arrogance, which sometimes tends to view non-renunciates as “second-class” human beings. We see today that monasteries everywhere are empty. A new way of life is needed. Until there is a return in the home to spiritual principles, there will be no widespread spiritual renaissance anywhere.

These are the fundamental needs of our times: not the withdrawal of a few spiritual seekers from society at large, but the reformation of society itself.

In pursuit of universal upliftment he even spoke, in private conversation with me, of certain inventions he had inspired, or in one case discovered among practices in India and elsewhere. One invention he told me about was to place the gear shift of a car on the steering shaft, instead of in the floor. He mentioned how he and two students had driven into Chicago (or Detroit) with this new gadget. He even said he’d introduced the concept of covers on toilet seats. And he taught people how to extract gluten from wheat by washing it. Gluten, he said, could make a good-tasting meat substitute. Thus, we see that his enthusiasm for improving life at every level was boundless.

Let us consider a still broader picture. There was a need for books on countless subjects that will inspire and guide people everywhere. Did he want everybody to live in a monastery? Was he resigned, on the other hand, to the imperfectability of worldly people? Certainly not! Books were needed on subjects that offered a new and practical, but at the same time spiritual, point of view: books on business, the arts, education, friendship, marriage, human love, success, psychology, self-acceptance, leadership, prosperity, raising children, bringing harmony to life and to relationships, overcoming harmful emotions, freeing the mind of subconscious “complexes,” and countless other topics. He had told me to write books. “Much more is needed!” he’d said when I asked him whether everything hadn’t been written already that needed writing. Many more books were needed. Schools were needed. Communities were needed, where householders and sincere seekers at all stages of life could live in harmony together, seeking God. A whole new approach to living was needed. Openness to new, better ways of thinking was needed to bridge old ways to new ones. Yogananda had seen that I, with my creative energy, was just the kind of person to entrust with this aspect of his message, especially because of my faith in the high potential of his teachings. My peers scorned me for my very expansiveness. Master never did so.

What would have happened, had I remained in SRF? For myself, I’d probably have died of ulcers brought on by lingering frustration. For Master’s work, these things would have had to be explored in the future by others who never knew him, and who came to his work with an already-formed mind-set of their own-people who weren’t in tune with him as disciples, let alone knowing much about him as a man. Anything contributed by such persons would almost certainly dilute his original impact and message. Yogananda’s mission needed a Kriyananda. Had the “Delhi Project” been accorded the joyful approval it merited by SRF’s directors, I’d have happily worked under them. I’d have worked there happily anyway, because I was living for God, but I doubt that I’d have accomplished much. And I’d surely have felt I wasn’t giving of my best. It was they, not I, who forced my dismissal. Their mind-set, however, was not expansive. Had they approved my ideas-and increasingly, over the years, I’d seen they rejected them – they’d have done so for no better reason than to “pacify” me. Whatever I accomplished would have been hardly a tithe of what I knew in my heart Master wanted of me. In short, for the sake of Master’s greater mission, my dismissal was necessary.

What, then, about such predictions as Neem Karoli Baba’s, that the “Delhi Project” would “come up”? It didn’t happen at that time, but is this to say it never will? Who can tell? That story hasn’t yet happened, but….

I came to Master near the end of his life. It was then, especially, that new ideas were needed. Other disciples had come, long before me, to support him in his mission. My job, and also my nature, impelled me to look ahead: to serve him not so much directly-though it thrilled me to do that, too, when I could-as through service to others. This was what he himself wanted of me. It was what I, too, felt inwardly guided to do. That he approved of my attitude signaled his own broad-mindedness. He hadn’t come on earth to complete, but to initiate. He said I had “a great work to do” because he saw not only my desire to push his work forward after his lifetime, into the new age of energy, but to do so in close attunement with him.

Everything I have done has been as his disciple. I have prayed earnestly to be guided in his footsteps. I have taken no major decision without first asking, “What would you do in this circumstance?” I have meditated on the episodes in his life; on his words, actions, and reactions; on his very facial expressions and tone of voice-trying always to understand, “What would you do in this circumstance?” I have also tried to remember things he said and did that might contradict the guidance I felt. For my sincere desire has been not to let myself be fooled by desires or personal inclinations. His will, and his will alone, has been the polestar of my life.

Could I have done all this in the atmosphere of doubt and disputation that had attended my efforts when I was in SRF? Answer that question for yourself. For me, I am satisfied that it is answered.

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Chapter 29: Community Beginnings

 

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