Last Thanksgiving, a friend and gurubhai of more than forty-five years suddenly left his body—going out as Master himself chose to do, of a heart attack. His passing brought us together in celebration of his life in God. From his first moment in Swami Kriyananda’s presence, in 1969, this one was on fire for God. His old life of gathering with friends to seek happiness in smoke-filled rooms was now transformed into a personal quest for God-realization, and into urging his erstwhile pleasure-seeking companions to join him on the spiritual path.
His life as a devotee was tumultuous, beset with trials and difficulties—backslidings, the breakup of family life, separation from his children, the descent finally into such deep despair that his mind gave out and no longer remembered even that he had a family. Somehow, even in the darkest times, his soul still clung to the feet of the Guru. Swamiji would sense his little one’s struggle, would dispatch a spiritual friend to seek him out, to help him deal with whatever was tormenting him—God’s constant watchfulness, succor, guidance as the devotee crashes often blindly through his karmic tests. Never was this troubled disciple out of the Guru’s aura.
The little bird in Kriyananda’s “Festival of Light,” rebelling against life’s true purpose, thinking it is acting by its own power and can do as it pleases, “entered a storm cloud, and soon found itself struggling for its life. Wind and rain lashed at its wings. The more it fought back, the weaker it became. ‘Give yourself into my hands!’ cried the wind. ‘To your strength I can then add my own.’ At last, the little bird heeded this counsel. Then, suddenly, it found itself soaring joyously, high above the clouds!” Battered by the storms of his own life, our friend, like the little bird, began to open to the Guru’s unceasing call to come Home: Vietnam vets, seeing one of their own homeless and desperate, brought him to a care home; a local church group drew him into their fellowship. As his soul more fully reawakened, he found Online with Ananda, and here he stayed for his last six years. The little bird, rededicating itself to God and Guru, again “soared joyously, high above the clouds.”
Watch the Festival of Light, done each week at Sunday Service:
The days were now filled with satsang at a distance: online meditations, phone conversations, a steady stream of emails to Ananda friends and especially to Swamiji, who encouraged the now-soaring little bird to write freely, that therein lay his way of attunement with Master. Even after I’m gone, Swami answered his question, you can keep writing to me. And so he did, every day for more than two years that elapsed between Swami’s passing and his own, pouring out the truth of his being in devotional self-offering.
Just a week before he left his body, our friend somehow managed to make his way from New Jersey to California to see, for the first time in decades, his two sons, and for the first time ever, his grandchildren. On the altar at the Astral Ascension service stood a photograph, taken during that visit, of grandfather, sons, and grandchildren, three generations reunited. How joyful and light our friend looked—his soul shining through his eyes.
The service was led by a devotee who had only recently received the medical diagnosis of a condition that might very soon bring her own earthly sojourn to an end. To the community she had sent a beautiful letter expressing her profound devotion to God and Guru, her gratitude for her life of discipleship, her divine friendship and love for all her fellow travelers on the path to final freedom in Spirit: “Through a life of great struggle, Master has shown me how to have compassion for others, how to forgive, and allow myself to be forgiven. God, through Divine Mother and our Swamiji, gave me absolute unconditional love. And my spiritual family—all of you—gave me this same unconditional love.”
Our divine friend, seeing so clearly and courageously that her own “little bubble may soon return to the ocean from which it came,” gave thanks for the soul so recently returned to the Ocean of God, and gave special thanks for that soul’s role in bringing her, forty years before, onto the spiritual path, to Ananda, and to Swami Kriyananda. In those early days, these friends in God would drive through the night to meditate near Kriyananda’s dome at the Meditation Retreat, there silently to absorb the spiritual vibrations of the one who held open for their souls the doorway to God and Guru.
Until only eight years before, she had herself been a storm-battered little bird, struggling with her own darkness and delusion. Surrendering to the divine wind, rising joyfully above the clouds again to immerse herself in the God-reminding aura of Ananda, she was able to be for her old friend what he had long before been for her: a mirror of life’s true purpose, and of the road to the sacred Goal, always awaiting us.
Thank you, dear divine friends, for sharing this life in God. Thank you, Master and Swamiji, for drawing these beautiful souls—for drawing us all—into your loving heart, and so offering us, your children, into the arms of the Infinite Lord.
In divine friendship,