“If I entered the hermitage in a worried or indifferent frame of mind, my attitude imperceptibly changed. A healing calm descended at mere sight of my guru. Every day with him was a new experience in joy, peace, and wisdom.” So Paramhansa Yogananda describes the years he spent in the ashram of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar.

There is so much that we can learn from these few, simple words. The power of the guru to uplift and change our consciousness is not limited to his words or actions. The mere sight of Sri Yukteswar had a transforming effect on his young disciple.

The guru’s consciousness is a catalyst for our spiritual unfoldment. As disciples, our part is to strive to be more in tune and to deepen our efforts to know God. When we’re “worried or indifferent,” or experiencing any number of wrong attitudes, we have the ability to transcend them by tuning in to the guru’s consciousness, which can free us from the mental shackles that keep us bound.

“But,” you may be thinking, “I haven’t had the blessing of living in my guru’s ashram. I live here in a big city surrounded by materialistic consciousness. What hope is there for me to experience these divine gifts?” I’d like to share two stories of people we know who have “lived” in their guru’s ashram, despite extremely challenging outward circumstances.

jairam and jyotish and devi who is kriya yoga devotee in jail and needs to be free joe huntThe first is of our friend Joe Hunt or Jairam, who has spent the last forty years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. About thirty years ago, Jairam’s mother sent him a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, which he read eagerly from cover to cover.

Shortly afterwards, he contacted Ananda to see if it was possible for someone to visit him in prison to teach him how to meditate. Some members were able to do this, and Jairam began meditating every morning and evening on his bunk in his prison cell. After a few years, the prison officials allowed Jairam the use of a small closet as an office for some work he was doing, and it was there that Jyotish initiated him into Kriya Yoga.

One can imagine that a prison environment is not ideal for the regular practice of Kriya. But through the pandemic and lockdowns, through illness and isolation, Jairam has spent hours daily meditating and doing his Kriyas. When we’ve visited him over the years, we could feel that he has “lived” in his guru’s ashram despite all the outer challenges.

The second story is about an advanced direct disciple of Yoganandaji, Kamala Silva, who spent many years with her guru, and wrote the book The Flawless Mirror. Later in her life, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Having no family to care for her and needing constant supervision, she was moved to an assisted living home. Members from Ananda visited her regularly, and though they expected her to be unhappy living there, they were greatly reassured to see her unwavering joy.

One day a woman from Ananda went to see her, and was shocked to see that Kamala was now sharing a room with another woman whose face had been horribly disfigured by burns from a fire. Our friend thought, “What a pity that Kamala has to look at that damaged face every day.” Kamala, however, remarked, “Have you seen my roommate? Isn’t she beautiful?”

kamala silva disciple of yogananda from oakland who wrote flawless mirror stories of disciple with yoganandaThat was how Kamala saw her—as a reflection of God’s radiant light. She, too, was “living” in her guru’s ashram, there in that small room.

I hope these stories will help you to realize that the doors to this sacred realm are always open. The choice is ours whether we want to dwell there. Living in our guru’s ashram is a state of mind, and much more: It is constantly reaching out for union with God, until we realize that the guru’s ashram has always resided in our own heart.

I’ll close with these words of Master: “O Spirit, make my soul Thy temple, but make my heart Thy beloved home where Thou wouldst dwell with me in ease and everlasting understanding.”

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to Devi as she first reads the blog, then expands on its meaning and messages for readers with behind-the-blog commentary. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:47):

29 Comments

  1. Thank for this post I understand that being positive is the answer to see GOD more because GOD is light he is kind and everything good and beautiful, when I keep my mind pure and on GOD my soul is happiest ! Blessings to U all !

  2. I liked the first story very much. It was the second story when the visitor thought how unfortunate to look at the disfigured face that I was thrown. Would not that be the words of an unenlightened person. Who would think such a thing.
    I wish I could find a guru and find myself reading and rereading Paramhansa Yogananda on a daily basis. But it seems impossible in a world that fixates on the physical. I wish Yogananda could send us more writings and stories through the either.
    🌺

    1. I love these stories and have followed Paramhansaji closely for decades but l also have the need for a living guru, it is an incomparable blessing. Indeed it was because of my Master that l could intuitively recognise Yogananda, Kabir, Rumi, Nanak and so many more as true self realised Masters and Saints of the past. There is always the need for a Living Master and that doesn’t mean you have to lose your relationship with, devotion for and ongoing interaction with a Master who is no longer in the body. Keep searching and you will find. Perhaps a visit to this site might help timelesstoday.tv. 🙏

  3. I enjoyed this very much. I live in a big city. I work in what I call the marts of men.Lol. As I prefer to meditate outside in the very early morning hours, my meditation spots are a city park complete with view of a concrete picnic table & trash can & on work days a city parking lot with a view of a Macdonalds! I have meditated & practiced Kriya in these 2 places for years. It makes no difference because of course you are right, God is within. I have experienced joy & understanding in these 2 spots. Thank you for your beautiful words.

  4. Finally i realize that the Guru resides in the temple of our heart..where our attention goes the energy will flow..we only need to connect to the Guru and his energy will immediately flow to us.

  5. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring blog. To be put in to practice and follow
    The words of Master are so beautiful :-)

    Joy,
    Prem

  6. mm

    Beautiful examples of “living in the guru’s ashram.” Thank for the re-inspiration these stories invite.

  7. Inspiring stories that will help others. With permission I’d like to use them in my circle.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing these stories. So beautiful! I started to cry as I read about Jairam, and continued as I read about Kamala. And thank you for sharing their photographs.

  9. mm

    Thank you Devi, for this powerful reminder that the “doors of this sacred realm are always open.” It’s our choice to turn toward that or away.

  10. A powerful reminder that our heart is our Guru’s ashram. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and the spirit of God dwelleth in you.” 1 Corinthians 3:16.

  11. Dear Nayswami Devi, It is a blessing to receive your words of wisdom Today, I will keep the doors of the inner temple open. And tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…….
    Joy and Gratitude, Mary Jo

  12. Hello dear friend. I feel very Blessed to be reminded of my Guru’s unwavering presence in my life. Whether I face strong challenges or sweet and simple reminders that he is always with me, it gives me strength to face the challenges and appreciate his sweet presence. This week has been, or at least seemed to be, abounding with challenges. As Devalila so beautifully shared, there is always a choice to accept Guru’s Grace or turn away. Why turn away? Sometimes I am aware of why and sometimes not so much. However, in my heart I have come to know Guru is ever present and loving as no other can be. Thank you for the examples of Jairam (wow) and Kamala. My heart, all hearts need these stirring reminders of our connection to Divine Mother through Guru. Namaste

    1. I had to read your comments twice because of their beauty in outright clarity. THANK YOU STEVE N.
      God has blessed you and it shows through your honesty and ability to express your love openly.

      I am in my 5th year of reading and learning from Ananda’s books. I’m 87 and was saved when I was 25? or so. For the last 44 years I lived closer to God due to my wife’s love of God. We live in a small town on the coast of Oregon (Florence) for the last 24 years.

      Would love to strike up a friendship with you if possible. Our phone number is 541 902 2593 and my email address is waterpowerishealth@gmail.com.

      I would love to make your acquaintance, even if it is a short one, George H.

  13. What a beautiful and inspiring message! We are all living in our Guru’s ashram, all the time. “To whomever thinks me near, I will be near.” Jai Guru!

  14. More than beautiful and more than inspiring .

    Thank you very much ,

  15. Thank you Devi-ji,

    Beautiful – “O Spirit, make my soul Thy temple, but make my heart Thy beloved home where Thou wouldst dwell with me in ease and everlasting understanding.”

  16. Thank you Devi for sharing such poignant stories. Our difficulties pale in comparison. Aum

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