Autobiography of a Yogi

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"We have indeed learned the value of meditation," the leader of the London Self-Realization Fellowship center wrote me in 1941, "and know that nothing can disturb our inner peace. In the last few weeks during the meetings we have heard air-raid warnings and listened to the explosion of delayed-action bombs, but our students still gather and thoroughly enjoy our beautiful service."
 

Another letter reached me from war-torn England just before America entered the conflict. In nobly pathetic words, Dr. L. Cranmer Byng, noted editor of The Wisdom of the East Series, wrote:
 

"When I read East-West I realized how far apart we seemed to be, apparently living in two different worlds. Beauty, order, calm, and peace come to me from Los Angeles, sailing into port as a vessel laden with the blessings and comfort of the Holy Grail to a beleaguered city.

"I see as in a dream your palm tree grove, and the temple at Encinitas with its ocean stretches and mountain views, and above all its fellowship of spiritually minded men and women, a community comprehended in unity, absorbed in creative work, and replenished in contemplation. It is the world of my own vision, in the making of which I hoped to bear my little part, and now . . .

"Perhaps in the body I shall never reach your golden shores nor worship in your temple. But it is something and more, to have had the vision and know that in the midst of war there is still a peace that abides in your harbors and among your hills. Greetings to all the Fellowship from a common soldier, written on the watchtower waiting for the dawn."
 

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The war years brought a spiritual awakening among men whose diversions had never before included a study of the New Testament. One sweet distillment from the bitter herbs of war! To satisfy a growing need, an inspiring little Self-Realization Church of All Religions was built and dedicated in 1942 at Hollywood. The site faces Olive Hill and the distant Los Angeles Planetarium. The church, finished in blue, white, and gold, is reflected amidst the water hyacinths in a large pool. The gardens are gay with flowers, a few startled stone deer, a stained-glass pergola, and a quaint wishing well. Thrown in with the pennies and the kaleidoscopic wishes of man has been many a pure aspiration for the sole treasure of Spirit! A universal benignity flows from small niches with statues of Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar, and of Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, St. Francis, and a beautiful mother-of-pearl reproduction of Christ at the Last Supper.

Another Self-Realization Church of All Religions was founded in 1943 at San Diego. A quiet hilltop temple, it stands in a sloping valley of eucalypti, overlooking sparkling San Diego Bay.

Sitting one evening in this tranquil haven, I was pouring out my heart in song. Under my fingers was the sweet-toned organ of the church, on my lips the yearning plaint of an ancient Bengali devotee who had searched for eternal solace:
 

In this world, Mother, none can love me;
In this world they do not know love divine.
Where is there pure loving love?
Where is there truly loving Thee?
There my heart longs to be.
 

My companion in the chapel, Dr. Lloyd Kennell, the San Diego center leader, was smiling a little at the words of the song.

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"Tell me truly, Paramhansaji, has it been worth it?" He gazed at me with an earnest sincerity. I understood his laconic question: "Have you been happy in America? What about the disillusionments, the heartaches, the center leaders who could not lead, the students who could not be taught?"

"Blessed is the man whom the Lord doth test, Doctor! He has remembered now and then to put a burden on me!" I thought, then, of all the faithful ones, of the love and devotion and understanding that lay in the heart of America. With slow emphasis I went on, "But my answer is: Yes, a thousand times yes! It has been worth-while; it has been a constant inspiration, more than ever I dreamed, to see West and East brought closer in the only lasting bond, the spiritual!"

Silently I added a prayer: "May Babaji and Sri Yukteswarji feel that I have done my part, not disappointing the high hope in which they sent me forth."

I turned again to the organ; this time my song was tinged with a martial valor:
 

The grinding wheel of Time doth mar
Full many a life of moon and star
And many a brightly smiling morn
But still my soul is marching on!


Darkness, death, and failures vied;
To block my path they fiercely tried;
My fight with jealous Nature's strong
But still my soul is marching on!

477

New Year's week of 1945 found me at work in my Encinitas study, revising the manuscript of this book.

"Paramhansaji, please come outdoors." Dr. Lewis, on a visit from Boston, smiled at me pleadingly from outside my window. Soon we were strolling in the sunshine. My companion pointed to new towers in process of construction along the edge of the Fellowship property adjoining the coast highway.

"Sir, I see many improvements here since my last visit." Dr. Lewis comes twice annually from Boston to Encinitas.

"Yes, Doctor, a project I have long considered is beginning to take definite form. In these beautiful surroundings I have started a miniature world colony. Brotherhood is an ideal better understood by example than precept! A small harmonious group here may inspire other ideal communities over the earth."

"A splendid idea, sir! The colony will surely be a success if everyone sincerely does his part!"

"'World' is a large term, but man must enlarge his allegiance, considering himself in the light of a world citizen," I continued. "A person who truly feels: 'The world is my homeland; it is my America, my India, my Philippines, my England, my Africa,' will never lack scope for a useful and happy life. His natural local pride will know limitless expansion; he will be in touch with creative universal currents."

Dr. Lewis and I halted above the lotus pool near the hermitage. Below us lay the illimitable Pacific.

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"These same waters break equally on the coasts of West and East, in California and China." My companion threw a little stone into the first of the oceanic seventy million square miles. "Encinitas is a symbolic spot for a world colony."

"That is true, Doctor. We shall arrange here for many conferences and Congresses of Religion, inviting delegates from all lands. Flags of the nations will hang in our halls. Diminutive temples will be built over the grounds, dedicated to the world's principal religions.

"As soon as possible," I went on, "I plan to open a Yoga Institute here. The blessed role of Kriya Yoga in the West has hardly more than just begun. May all men come to know that there is a definite, scientific technique of self-realization for the overcoming of all human misery!"

Far into the night my dear friendthe first Kriya Yogi in Americadiscussed with me the need for world colonies founded on a spiritual basis. The ills attributed to an anthropomorphic abstraction called "society" may be laid more realistically at the door of Everyman. Utopia must spring in the private bosom before it can flower in civic virtue. Man is a soul, not an institution; his inner reforms alone can lend permanence to outer ones. By stress on spiritual values, self-realization, a colony exemplifying world brotherhood is empowered to send inspiring vibrations far beyond its locale.

August 15, 1945, close of Global War II! End of a world; dawn of an enigmatic Atomic Age! The hermitage residents gathered in the main hall for a prayer of thanksgiving. "Heavenly Father, may never it be again! Thy children go henceforth as brothers!"

Gone was the tension of war years; our spirits purred in the sun of peace. I gazed happily at each of my American comrades.

"Lord," I thought gratefully, "Thou hast given this monk a large family!"