Last Sunday I found myself driving to the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Gatos for what I thought was the morning meditation. I am not a ‘member’ but found myself drawn to visit. When I arrived at the entrance, two minutes late, an 8×11 poster of Sri Daya Mata was on the door. I knew enough about the history of this place to realize what it signified without even reading.
I opened the door and the voice of Paramahansa Yogananda was reverberating throughout the building. Attendants and a few others were standing, eyes closed in reverence, hands in prayer pose. I joined them.
Yogananda is of course the author of the famous book Autobiography of a Yogi, one of the most popular spiritual books of all time. He arrived here in 1920, traveling aboard the ship City of Sparta, as India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals that was convening in Boston. He ended up staying the rest of his life and was one of the key teachers bridging Eastern and Western Spirituality. In fact reading Yogananda’s book in December 1995 had such a profound impact on me, like so many others, that I traveled to India in May-June 1996.
I found myself floating back to India again, experiencing the warmth and kindness, the hygiene issues, the awe inspiring presence, the dysentery, it all came flooding back. Then Yogananda’s booming voice startled the reverie. It was coming from the ether but in fact it was a restored tape circa 1949, with a powerful vibration which simultaneously inspired and put one at ease. Moments later the inner doors were opened and the rest of the group was able to take a seat. An Indian man took the podium and read a short clip referencing the death of Daya Mata. Mataji (ji being an Indian suffix indicating ‘with great respect’), as she was affectionately known, had taken over as head of the Fellowship in 1955 at age 41 and had died at aged 96. After he was finished, the leader sat at the Harmonium, an Indian organ, and began leading a Kirtan (call and response chanting) of ‘Jai, Jai Ma’ (Hail the Divine Ma). It was chanted with such fervor that occasionally the leader would morph into a sobbing chant. Tears poured from my eyes but I wasn’t crying. They were ecstatic tears, heart-opening tears. It was the most powerful Kirtan I had ever been part of.
We are always being lead to the perfect unfolding for our own unique needs. If we trust in that, life will reveal itself as wondrous.