“One moment in the company of a saint can be your raft over the ocean of delusion.” This statement from the Indian scriptures is often quoted, but not always fully understood. The deeper meaning is to seek the company of saints not only on an outer level, but more importantly, on an inner one.

There’s a true story about a devotee from Switzerland who had read Autobiography of a Yogi shortly after Master left his body. Deeply inspired though he was by the book, he still sought a living spiritual guide to instruct him.

One evening he saw that a revered saint from India, Swami Ramdas, was speaking in a nearby city. Eagerly the man went to the lecture, hoping that Ramdas would prove to be the guru he was seeking. After the satsang he approached the swami and said, “Sir, I want to be your disciple.”

Being a true saint, Ramdas could see the seeker’s path to God, and he replied, “I am not your guru. Yogananda is your guru.”

“But,” the man protested, “Yogananda’s dead.”

“No,” Ramdas said emphatically, “Yogananda is alive. It is you who are dead.” Fortunately for him, this man followed Ramdas’s advice and became a dedicated disciple of Yogananda; his life was one of high spiritual attainment.

How do we keep the inner company of saints, so that they can help us cross the ocean of delusion?

First, try to keep your thoughts and feelings ever focused on the guru: his eyes, his face, his words, his voice, his vibration. Try to align your thoughts and actions with him.

Inwardly chant to the guru, or to another aspect of God, throughout the day. One of my favorite chants by Yoganandaji is “Deliver Us from Delusion.” It begins with these lines: “Think ye in thy heart, lotus feet of thy guru, If you want to cross the ocean of delusion.” Chanting these words silently will awaken devotion in your heart, and draw a divine response.

Share your daily experiences with your guru. You might think to him, “Oh, how beautifully the sunlight is playing on the leaves,” or, “I’m sorry that I spoke harshly to that person. Please help me to do better.”

Look for ways to serve as his channel to help others. Even a kind smile to a downcast-looking stranger can bring the guru’s presence near.

Finally, feel your guru’s presence daily in meditation. When the mind is still and the heart is calm, call to him repeatedly, “Reveal Thyself.” Be keenly aware of the response you feel, and hold onto that feeling throughout the day.

The saints tell us that they are always present just behind our thoughts and feelings. I’ll share something beautiful that happened to me recently in this regard. When Swami Kriyananda was in residence at Ananda Village, in the late afternoon he would often invite Jyotish and me to his home to have a cup of tea with him and walk around the Crystal Hermitage garden.

Along the path that we usually took, there were many wild strawberry plants. Swamiji loved the little strawberries, because they reminded him of the wild berries that he and his brothers as little boys would pick in the forests of Romania, where he grew up.

swami ram das and the story of yogananda being guru and story of swami kriyananda and devi with strawberriesJyotish, or others who were present, would walk beside Swamiji, while I would run ahead to collect the bright-red berries for his enjoyment. It became a game with us, and he would eat each little fruit with exaggerated delight. After Swamiji’s passing in 2013, I noticed with some sadness that the strawberry plants no longer bore any fruit.

A few weeks ago we had a community workday at Ananda Village. My job that morning was to weed and clean up the flower beds at the Crystal Hermitage gardens. As I worked, I kept thinking about Swamiji, recalling many beautiful memories of time spent there in his company.

After several hours of weeding and pulling up dead plants, I glanced up. At the far end of the area where I’d been working, I spied two small wild strawberry plants I’d never seen before, and . . . they were covered with bright-red strawberries!

As I picked the berries and silently offered them to Swamiji before eating them, I could feel his smile in my heart. In such moments the saints help us to cross the ocean of delusion and touch down on the eternal shores of divine love and joy where they dwell.

With gratitude,

Nayaswami Devi

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33 Comments

  1. thank you for this beautiful story Devi, such miracles happend . and help us to remember that the Guru is always with us.

  2. What a wonderful story of your communion with Swamiji in nature. It reminded me of Paramahansaji and his experience with strawberries.

  3. Lovely story! I will think of Divine Love every time I enjoy a strawberry!
    Thank you for the sweetness

    Sharada

  4. Deviji – Your heartfelt story reflects a reality of the deeper meaningful relationships within the greater oneness of guru and God.

  5. So Beautiful & True…..seekers often make this mistake of understanding Guru as a mere body, where as He is ever present Consciousness…..Nearest of the near & Dearest of the Dear…..Aum Guru Aum!!

  6. A beautiful story, Devi. I feel the bittersweet feelings of love, joy and also sadness in recalling beautiful experiences with loved ones who have passed. It’s always comforting and joyful when we sense their presence through such a beautiful experience as you had.

  7. An inspiring message especially at a time when I’m learning to meditate. The path is defined by each moment we focus on our Guru.

  8. Such a wonderful powerful read. Right away my heart pulls towards your writing, especially when you give snippets if chant.
    Thank you

  9. I am so delighted to read this! Thank you for this post! Thinking of offering strawberries with so much love feels so good! :)

  10. Perhaps readers will be inspired by my memories of the young man from Switzerland who told me the story in person. One Sunday I visited the little church at the SRF Lake Shrine. After the service, Brother Turiyananda kindly took time to talk with me. “You should come here and meditate with us,” he said. “We have meditations every Thursday night.” I demurred. “But I’m meditating in the Redondo Beach church, and I feel loyal to them.”
    Turiyananda replied, “I’m very careful what I say, because I don’t want to lose what I have.” After moving to Ananda, I wondered if I had made a big mistake by not listening to Turiyananda. Rigid young devotee! I would later learn that Turiyananda had remained loyal to Swami Kriyananda even after SRF dismissed him. If I had had more contact with Turiyananda, perhaps he might have guided me to Ananda. “When Kriyananda was here,” Turiyananda told Daya Mata, “laughter rang in the halls. Now it’s like a tomb.” In our conversation, Turiyananda told me how he came on the spiritual path. While still living in his native Switzerland, he attended a talk by Swami Ramdas, the author of several inspiring books about his travels as a wandering monk in India. Turiyananda said, “After the talk I went to see Swami Ramdas, and when I entered the room I could see instantly what he was, and I threw myself at his feet. Tears were streaming down my face, from my eyes and nose. He told me, ‘I am not your guru. He will come soon.’” Soon after that meeting Turiyananda joined SRF. Actually, it was Swami Kriyananda who got Turiyananda accepted, even though he was older than the allowable age. Turiyananda was forever grateful to Swamiji for helping him to enter the monastic life.

  11. With every reading of yours and Jyotish I am blessed with some new insight into my travels with Yoga.
    Thank you for sharing your lovely experiences.
    I was thrilled at the story I read yesterday about the GUNAS. Read the article twice and will read it more until I understand it fully.
    Thanks so much for your leadership and I’m sure there is plenty of laughter and joy with your leadership of Ananda.

    1. Such a tender and touching story, Deviji! A “luscious” way to read sound, practical and welcome spiritual advice.

  12. Wow what a beautiful and touching blog. Thank you so much Devi!

  13. Thank You Devi for the lovely post and reminder.

  14. This is so beautiful and deeply inspiring. Thank you.
    with love,
    Devalila

  15. I love your strawberry story, and the whole article. Thank you, as always, dear Devi!

  16. Thank you for this most heart felt story…And for reminding me the gift of the saints presence… Thank you 🙏🏽

  17. I have had a total of five visitations in dreams from four Gurus since contacting my brother and sister-in-law from my most recent past life in 2016 and my wife from that life in 2018., whom I’ve been aware of since age six.
    The second individual who I had met in a dream after experiencing the brief opening of my third eye after attending a 3-hour meditation class at a local SRF church (which I discovered thanks to the first two visitations from who I later discovered was Sri Yukteswar dressed as a modern-day teacher, teaching in a modern-day classroom where a framed picture of his star pupil was above the chalkboard) where they had refunded my tuition when I shared my unique experience, was Yogananda himself.
    He was atop the largest of three octagonal red-roofed Ashrams within a glass Lotus bud.
    Upon recognition of who I was seeing I bowed in solemn reverence in which he returned in kind before reversing in age.
    The forest reminded me of a specific town and when I awoke I searched the internet for octagonal Ashrams being built in this particular town., I found out there was one in the process of having its foundations laid.
    That was in August of 2018 if I remember correctly and seven months later I discovered something written by Yogananda back when he was still in flesh form where he stated “The true saints of one religion bow to the divinity manifested everywhere, including of course to the true saints of other religions.”
    Since then I’ve come across the history of certain individuals that seem to share my somewhat of a hot-temper of a character.
    I’ve been occasionally hot-tempered since my youth only because I’ve been wearing the weight of the world’s suffering on my heart and shoulders and I don’t appreciate how it seemed to me that I’m the only one attempting to forge a Will of iron in regards to perfecting the nature of my character.
    I know I’m not the only one., but growing up isolated with few interactions with others has given me a limited perspective.
    I already met one individual though, through a job I felt assured I would get, whose aura preceded him by at least 30-feet.
    I felt his presence/Soul as if it were a vortex pulling me towards him.
    His coworkers were not behaving any differently around him and I later discovered through a coworker of mine that he was someone who prayed and possibly meditated (which to me is one in the same).

    The star that left my father’s chest when he passed was approximately 12″ in diameter, mine was 12′ feet in diameter as I saw it through the eyes of my deceased sister before her coming back as her own grand-niece.
    Since then I’ve learned she (gender is a product of flesh) has been my wife, possibly my mother, my sister and now my grand-niece and she like my grand-nephew who was recently my father, have been drawn to me since the moment I’ve known them.
    The energy I feel from much of my family and some acquaintances, is very familiar to me.

    What I’m getting at is., What am I supposed to do with such knowledge if I don’t believe in a world of ego, money or the worship of other individuals who “We” are already a part of?

    I’ve already contemplated at age six that I’d be torn to shreds by ignorant souls if I were to share my knowledge later in life., so that’s why I’ve continued to live in isolation so long because interacting with those that want to seem to fight all the time is not only a chore but feeling as I do, it crushes my heart to interact with others at such a level.
    Although I have attained a semblance of peace, I feel it’s not up to me to force others to refine their character, yet I yearn to shake everyone by their collars as if that would help them to see.
    Of course I know it wouldn’t., but being mild and so easily accepting is not in my nature.
    Thank you🙏

  18. Such a sweet story… it helped me feel closer to Master.

  19. Dear Nayaswami Devi JI,

    Thank you for this lovely blog :-)

    A great reminder & thanks for the guidelines that will help us in to be attunement with our Guru.

    Joy,
    Prem

  20. What a Divine blessing from Swami. It sounds like you were blessed because of your deep attunement and love for him. Thank you for this sweet story.

  21. Thank you so much for your beautiful words! Blessings and love

  22. Devalila shared this wonderful story. How happy I am to read it. Joy to you!

  23. Pursue your spiritual interests, and it will become clear to you, or rather your guru will make it clear to you. 🌠

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