“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”
~ 1 Corinthians 3:19
“Love is the highest, the grandest, the most inspiring, the most sublime principle in creation.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda – Journey To Self-Realization
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
~ 1 John 4:7-8
“Full of love for all things in the world;
practicing virtue in order to benefit others,
this man alone is happy.”
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
“Love Is The Law Of Life:
All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love’s sake, because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
In prior memoir chapters I have recounted my midlife transformation from Secular Hebrew social justice litigation lawyer to “Born-again Hindu”, and then to “Uncertain Undo”, devotional and emotional lover of God. [See e.g. Crying For God and other ‘Kundalini Kriyas’]
In this chapter I will explain how, as a newly transformed ‘lover of God’, I came to appreciate rare ascetic and eccentric lovers of God, who’ve often been regarded as God intoxicated “heretics” or “holy fools”.
To help you understand why I have honored spiritual “heretics” and “holy fools” as lovers of God, I will first summarize my devotional history.
Ron’s Devotional history summary
Until my profound midlife spiritual awakening to Self identity as Awareness, I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, at age forty three I cried for twenty four hours. Then, after the Awakening experience, I initially wondered why I was crying so much. But I soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.)
Thereafter, I became and remained an extremely devotional, and inwardly unconventional, frequent crier for God – often ecstatically longing and calling for the Divine.
After meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and receiving his shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga, as “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”, I gradually learned that my continual longing and profuse crying for God was an immense transformative blessing – recognized not only in the bhakti Hindu devotional tradition, but also in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, such as the Sufi Supreme LOVE tradition of Rumi and Hafiz, and the Orthodox/Catholic “gift of tears” tradition of St. Isaac of Ninevah, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi.
I came to realize that my profuse crying spells – which Guruji called kriyas – were purifying my body and nervous system, and permitting ‘peek experiences’ advancing spiritual evolution. For example, in addition to crying, I began experiencing previously unprecedented and protracted laughing spells, and numerous other spontaneous and unpremeditated actions, sensations, and feelings – like indescribable peace, joy and ecstasy.
Thus, when not crying I often had what I called ‘alternative LSD experiences’ of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing. And even as an octogenarian “Uncertain Undo” I still often privately experience spontaneous outbursts of laughing, crying, and calling to God, though with advanced age singing and dancing have been curtailed.
Guruji’s explanation was that:
“There are two kinds of kriyas, one is for purification and the other for the manifestation of joy. ..
Whenever one experiences great joy or bliss, this also manifests physically as crying or laughing.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
St. Isaac of Ninevah, explained that as signs of Grace, “unspeakable joy arises in the soul”, and that:
“The fruits of the inner man begin only with the shedding of tears. When you reach the place of tears, then know that your spirit has come out from the prison of this world and has set its foot upon the path that leads towards the new age.”
~ Isaac of Nineveh, 7th C. Orthodox Saint and Persian Mystic
Learning about devotional spirituality
Not until my 1976 spiritual awakening, did I begin learning about spirituality.
On moving from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I was ignorant about spiritual subjects, or religions other than Judaism.
I knew nothing about Christian saints, or core Christian teachings. I didn’t even realize that my new “San Francisco” home city was named for history’s most popular Christian saint. Moreover, apart from Christianity, I was ignorant of Eastern spiritual and religious teachings.
Growing up in Chicago, I had become familiar with Judaism’s core teachings:
“ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One”; and
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5
However, I had no idea of their supremely profound esoteric importance.
But my midlife spiritual awakening experiences triggered an unprecedented interest in spiritual subjects. Initially – sparked by inner experiences and amazing synchronicities – I experienced great curiosity about Saint Francis of Assisi, and about Christian teachings which inspired him.
Later I began reading hagiographic stories about other Eastern and Western saints and sages. Gradually, I learned that – apart from Jesus and a few other world-famous exemplars of Divine LOVE – the Divine devotional path has been followed by countless unknowns, especially in certain societies which for centuries have honored and emphasized devotional Love.
And gradually I became inspired by genuine “lovers of God” as exemplars of an important spiritual tradition, with which I had instinctively joined.
Lovers of God as “Heretics”
On discovering Rumi poetry, I learned that Persian culture has long encompassed all aspects of love, culminating with mystical Divine LOVE as the ultimate goal in life. And, similarly, that Sufi philosophy has so honored eccentric lovers of God that it has specifically identified many of them as “masts” – persons so overwhelmed with love for God, that they appear externally disoriented.
Also, during my 1982 pilgrimage to India I learned that for millennia India has honored avadhutas, self-realized bhakti mystics living beyond usual egoic consciousness and worldly concerns, without adhering to accepted social standards. (See e.g. Advadhuta Gita, and Avadhuta – Wikipedia)
I especially remember seeing a peacefully smiling elderly man sitting stark naked on a rock in freezing temperatures midst ice and snow near the Himalayan headwaters of the holy Ganges river.
Like Sufi “masts” and Indian avadhutas, worldwide there have been countless unknown lovers of God – who sometimes were so immersed in Divine Love as to be out of touch with the outside world. Western Christianity, Eastern Christianity, and other Eastern mystical religious and spiritual paths have all recognized God intoxicated ‘holy fools’ with extraordinarily unconventional behaviors inconsistent with social norms.
Famous Devotional “Heretic” Prophets
In Western Christianity Paul the Apostle proclaimed that
“The wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”
(1 Corinthians 3:19)
So, Christianity has at times rejected as foolishness “the wisdom of this world”. And it has endorsed the ‘Imitation of Jesus Christ’ – who preached “Love your neighbors” and even “your enemies”. And ‘heretically’ repudiated socially condoned hypocrisy, brutality and thirst for worldly power and gains; forgivingly endured crucifixion, mockery and humiliation from ignorant crowds; and even audaciously proclaimed the ultimate non-duality ‘forbidden mystical Truth’ – that “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
In learning about Jesus’ “heretic” teachings – especially his Sermon on the Mount – I instinctively saw him as an outspoken social justice reformer, and Truth telling political and religious nonconformist. And I intuitively honored him as a wise man, like prophets of other great religions, but not as God’s “only Son”.
I always thought of “God” as ONE universally immanent nameless, formless, nonjudgmental Supreme Power. So I rejected any idea of a personal or judgmental God, and considered the Bible a collection of metaphoric legends – not as ‘the word of God’ who spoke only through special messengers.
And just as I always rejected Torah teachings about Jews as “chosen people”, I could never accept Christian dogma that Jesus was God’s “only Son” because he proclaimed “I and the Father are one”. Nor – like Gandhi – could I morally accept non-egalitarian Hindu scriptures justifying socially stratified caste systems, with some people deemed “untouchables”.
But I accepted that perennially, in historically dark and threatening eras of rampant world materialism, decadence, and violence, there propitiously have appeared renowned wise beings – like Jesus – to prophetically guide Humankind to societal and spiritual renaissance. And that as religious nonconformists and social dissidents these famous reformers often were considered and punished as “heretics” by contemporary worldly authorities.
‘Discovering’ Saint Francis of Assisi and Sri Ramakrishna as heretic “holy fools”.
Most famous Christian imitator of Jesus was Saint Francis of Assisi who in midlife – as an eccentric apostle of Love – renounced and relinquished all his worldly possessions and privileges as son of a wealthy merchant, to live as a hermit in the Umbrian countryside; and later to establish an exemplary order of Franciscan Friars who gave away all possessions and survived only on alms while preaching in the streets to common people. Francis so completely identified with Jesus that, near the end of his earthly life, he became the first saint in history to miraculously receive crucifixion stigmata.
Perhaps the best known Indian saint of the nineteenth century was Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – an extraordinarily charismatic and eccentric ascetic, sometimes compared to St. Francis of Assisi.
(See Sri Ramakrishna and St. Francis of Assisi, by Sister Devamata, 1935)
After my midlife spiritual awakening, I felt increasing egalitarian affinity and harmony with people living unconventionally from inside out, rather than worldly outer directed and conventional people.
And in learning about many famous saints and mystics, somehow I clearly felt most affinity with Saint Francis of Assisi and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa.
Both of them were extraordinarily charismatic ascetics, having relinquished and renounced all worldly pleasures and privileges, to live unconventionally in utter simplicity. Both were remarkably unconventional and seemingly erratic “God intoxicated” exemplars of Divine Love and devotional faith – blessed with the ‘gift of tears’ and of spontaneously praying, singing, conversing and calling to the Divine, which as egalitarians they beheld everywhere and in every being. Both saints eschewed punditry and were simple, unschooled and unscholarly, yet with vast inner wisdom imparted conversationally and recorded by others.
Both historically helped to religiously reform the world by charismatically living their teachings. And both were so eccentrically unconventional that they were even considered insane by some worldly people, including a few friends and relatives.
Perhaps I found exceptional rapport with both St. Francis and Ramakrishna because my own private devotional tendencies and unconventional behaviors seemed similar to theirs, and especially because of inner and synchronistic experiences, including amazing and unforgettable déjà vu of their still palpable divine energies (shakti) during pilgrimages to India and Assisi.
Later, I learned that that renowned mystical poet-masters Hafiz and Rumi, were Supreme exemplars of the Sufi-Persian path of love. But that even in their Persian societies which honored Love, they were considered by Moslem authorities to be “heretics” or “holy fools” because – like Jesus – they realized and truthfully proclaimed their mystical self-identity as Divine LOVE – a fundamentally forbidden heresy to ruling mullahs. Thus, though Hafiz was not executed, his remains could not be entombed in a Moslem cemetery in his beloved birthplace and cultured home city, Shiraz, Iran.
LOVE as the unseen Source of the world we see
Only after first ‘discovering’ famous God intoxicated “Holy Fools”, did I later learn about the countless unknown others who bless this world as LOVE. And gradually I have realized that the eccentric but loving behaviors of all “holy fools” can help reveal that societal sanity requires radical reform of orthodox worldly rules and beliefs.
Moreover, I have realized that Divine LOVE, which they embody and emanate, inevitably advances human spiritual evolution –
That as we open our hearts, we ultimately remember we are ONE spirit eternally encompassing all life as LOVE;
That we are the unseen Source of the world we see!
Invocation – Love for all, Hatred for none!
So let us love GOD with all our heart and soul and with all our might.
And with firm faith, may our guiding motto ever be
‘Love for all, Hatred for none!’
And so shall it be!
At my death do not lament our separation
… as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
“Birth and death are virtual,
but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
On observing noteworthy phenomena which we can’t yet explain by known natural or scientific laws, we sometimes call them “miracles” and may attribute them to a Divine power.
Like other rare saints and mystics my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi, (“Guruji”) occasionally demonstrated “miracles” to foster faith in the Divine. In his writings and lectures, Guruji explained that yogic powers (siddhis) might be attained via control of life-force energies, but that they were seldom displayed; that such powers are used “sparingly and on occasion for humanitarian and other discretionary ends,” but not “for self-aggrandizement.”
Previously, I told you my belief that Guruji has helped me from subtle planes, like a ‘guardian angel’, ever since I met him when he was approximately one hundred years old, and even after he died in India sixteen years later.
I believe that Guruji left his body consciously and intentionally, using his yogic powers; that his mental body survived the death of the physical body; and, that from subtle planes he continues to help humanity.
I’d like to explain to you my reasons for this belief.
In the Hindu tradition, when a yogi who has previously experienced the highest state of samadhi intentionally leaves his body, this is not the same as death of an ordinary person who has not attained self-realization. Such a passing is called a Mahasamādhi (great and final samādhi) and is the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body at the time of physical death.
When I received shaktipat initiation from Guruji in 1978, I had already witnessed his yogic power to influence this level of reality from subtle planes. He had clearly appeared in my subtle inner vision when we were physically distant. Thereafter, I had other experiences of Guruji’s subtle powers, which I elsewhere share with you.
In 1980 just before Guruji returned to India from four years in the USA, he stayed in my apartment for several weeks. At that time Guruji’s American attendant and driver, Lackshman, recounted to me a brief conversation with Guruji following a sparsely attended public meditation program. Driving home, Lackshman had remarked to Guruji that it was too bad so few people had attended this event. Whereupon Guruji replied, “It’s not important. Most of my work is on other planes.”
And, once when we were alone in his room, Guruji told me that he came and went from his physical body as he pleased. [See Human Body – A Precious “Prison”? ]
Also, at Guruji’s meditation programs, I heard amazing stories from others who had experienced his extraordinary yogic powers. Perhaps the most memorable of these stories was that of Rudy, a Chicago teacher who decided to travel on his motorcycle to spend time with Guruji in California. But before reaching California, and while he was in Colorado, Rudy had an unexpected and “miraculous meeting” with Guruji.
On a curvy mountain highway in Colorado, Rudy’s motorcycle skidded off the road and careened three hundred feet down a steep incline. Just before hitting bottom, Rudy called out Guruji’s name, remembering Guruji’s assurance that “I’m always with you.”
Gravely injured, Rudy became comatose. In that comatose state he had a “near death experience” (NDE), which miraculously he survived, and later recounted in detail.
There on ‘the other side’ to greet and guide Rudy, and to save his life was Dhyanyogi. Thereafter, at a California retreat Guruji explained to Rudy that he had saved his life because Rudy still had much more work to do in this world.
Rudy’s vividly credible description of this amazing incident compellingly impressed me with Guruji’s power to manifest at will on subtle planes of “reality” and to thus influence what happens in this “reality”.
Besides my own extraordinary experiences with Guruji, and hearing of Rudy’s experience, I learned about numerous other “miraculous” experiences of Guruji’s devotees. (See eg “This House is on Fire, The Life of Shri Dyanyogi”, as told by Shri Anandi Ma.)
My Experience on Guruji’s Mahasamadhi
One of my most memorable mystical experiences of Guruji happened just after he left his physical body. At the end of August 1994, when Guruji was in India and I was in San Francisco, I was home asleep when I was suddenly awakened in the middle of the night.
With eyes open, I beheld in amazement an extraordinary and unprecedented vision – an otherworldly, multi-colored bird, translucent with a peacock-like tail and human-like eyes. Nothing about the bird appeared like any ‘real-life’ bird I had ever before seen, or might have imagined.
As I gazed in awe at this ethereal apparition, I was enveloped and transformed by a supernal aura of supreme Peace, which emanated from the bird’s radiant dark human-like eyes. I awakened in the morning puzzled, and wondered about that extraordinary apparition which had enveloped me with ‘peace that passeth understanding.’
The next day, still wondering about the vision, I was sitting at my dining room table when an ‘inner voice’ dictated to me a poem about death, a subject I hadn’t then been thinking about.
Listening to my muse, I quickly and spontaneously “channeled” this poem about death:
When we come to Earth
They call it a birth
When we leave,
They say we die.
But we really don’t come,
And we really don’t go.
We just dream our lives
To awaken as Bliss
From all of this,
Joyous that all is
Thereafter, within a day or two, I received a rare call from one of Guruji’s early US disciples, Elyse (Indu) of Sacramento. She informed me of Guruji’s death – his Mahasamādhi – on August 29. Only then did I understand why I had been given this profound poem about death. And I immediately recognized it as a parting gift and message from Guruji.
So I recited the poem for Elyse. Then I told her about my puzzling otherworldly bird vision. She promptly and aptly interpreted that vision as a mythical Phoenix bird, symbol of immortality, resurrection, and life after death.
Thereupon, I realized that the bird’s human-like eyes emanating supernal Peace were Guruji’s eyes; and, that this unforgettable vision with experience of celestial peace was another parting gift and message from Guruji.
Many years have passed since that miraculous experience of Guruji’s Mahasamādhi, but I still continue to feel his subtle presence and often shed tears of devotion and joy, when I think of him or gaze at his photographic image.
Recently, almost twenty years after Guruji’s transition, I had a home visit from my friend Michael O’Rourke, a talented spiritual cinematographer who helped me launch SillySutras.com. I was chatting with Michael about Guruji and feeling his subtle presence, while seated in a reclining chair. After a while I had to excuse myself for a bathroom visit. When I returned several minutes later Michael reported to me his extraordinary experience of Guruji’s appearance.
As Michael was gazing at me while I talked about Guruji, he went into an altered state of consciousness. He then perceived another face morphing into mine – a face without glasses and with a longer white beard. It was Guruji!
Michael said that amazingly after I got up to go to the bathroom he still perceived the image of Guruji seated in the chair, until after I returned and sat down again.
Guruji once said: “All those who came to me for Shaktipat …. are my spiritual heirs. For my energy works through them.”
With utmost gratitude, I deeply feel that my continuing experience of Guruji validates his statement and supports my faith that he continues to help humanity, including Ron, even after his Mahasamādhi.
“Do you want deliverance from the bonds of the world?
Then weeping profusely, you will have to cry out from the bottom of your heart: Deliver me, Great Mother of the World, deliver me!….
When by the flood of your tears the inner and outer have fused into one, you will find her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart…”
~ Anandamayi Ma
“When the child refuses to be comforted by anything except the mother’s presence, she comes.
If you want to know God, you must be like the naughty baby who cries till the mother comes.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
‘Where does the strength of an aspirant lie? It is in his tears.
As a mother gives her consent to fulfill the desire of her importunately weeping child, so God vouchsafes to His weeping son whatever he is crying for”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
My pivotal rebirth experience, sparked by divorce at age forty three, opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears. Thus, a ‘broken heart’ had opened my heart to a new life phase. And never again since that long-locked floodgate was opened have profuse tears failed to flow regularly.
Initially, with a newly a opened heart, I wondered why I was crying so much. Sadness at the divorce was not an adequate explanation for what was happening. But the puzzlement began resolving with my Yosemite epiphany.
At Yosemite, I beheld the unimaginably intense and otherworldly luminosity of “ten thousand suns” only after I had wept with extraordinarily spontaneous intensity, longing to be taken by God.
My tears then were not tears of sadness, but tears of intense longing to merge with that Light – and so to end the illusion of separation from it. I had beheld Divinity in that magnificent panorama of God’s cathedral, and with all my Heart intensely yearned to be merged with That.
This unforgettable experience gradually brought to consciousness a realization that my frequent crying was motivated not merely by worldly distress, but by an immensely deep and soulful longing for God.
But realizing why I was crying, raised a new mystery:
“How could it be that a secular lawyer who hadn’t cried or fervently prayed during his entire adult life, was now intensely crying for God?”
The Universe gradually provided answers to that question, through a series of extraordinary synchronistic events and experiences following the Yosemite experience.
After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji) into the Hindu tradition of kundalini maha yoga, I learned that “Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies”; that when awakened it frequently manifests through spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional phenomena called kriyas; that kriyas automatically open subtle body energy channels (nadis), thereby purifying the nervous system and allowing evolutionary experience of ever subtler states of consciousness.
Also, I learned that in kundalini maha yoga my spontaneous torrents of tears – as well as many of my mystical experiences – were considered purification kriyas. And soon I further learned from repeated experiences that – beyond purification or catharsis – crying kriyas could also be manifestations of extreme joy or bliss, and even ecstasy.
Thus, Guruji has observed:
“Whenever one experiences great joy or bliss, this also manifests physically as crying or laughing. There are two kinds of kriyas, one is for purification and the other for the manifestation of joy.”
And I have been extraordinarily lucky enough to repeatedly experience both types of crying kriyas.
For many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize – after initial puzzlement – that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized not only in the Hindu tradition of kundalini yoga but also in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, such as the Sufi tradition of Rumi and Hafiz, and the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola, known as “the gift of tears”.
Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for many years have remained – a very frequent (and sometimes protracted) crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy.
And until now I have regularly experienced numerous other non-crying kriyas – spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which have helped further my spiritual evolution and through which I have manifested extreme joy and gratitude for this blessed life.
For example, when not crying, I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD’ experiences of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.
But of all my spiritual and synchronistic experiences, I continue to believe that the most fortunate was my 1978 synchronistic meeting with Guruji, whose benevolence has helped me ever since, even since he left his body in 1994.
In 1980, just before returning to India, Guruji resided in my San Francisco apartment. During that period, I once spontaneously exclaimed to him: “Guruji, the day I met you was the luckiest day of my life!” He responded, dispassionately and epigrammatically, “That’s true.”
And I still gratefully agree with that exclamation, and with his response.
“When the student is ready, the master appears.”
~ Buddhist Proverb
When something or someone wonderful happens in our lives many of us feel grateful and lucky, especially if our good fortune happens seemingly by chance.
Can you recall times or incidents when you felt really lucky? Have you ever thought that something or someone in your life was a wonderful blessing? Have you ever considered yourself lucky to be alive? Blessed to be living during important times?
I want to share with you a story about the luckiest day and biggest blessing of my life – a blessing which I couldn’t understand when it happened and can’t yet fully appreciate. Because of what happened that day, I am happier than ever before, enjoying a wonderful life on our precious planet and able to share with others ever more love, happiness and gratitude.
Paradoxically, this biggest blessing of my life followed my most painful experience, and has helped me realize that even my life’s most difficult experiences have been disguised blessings, which have helped me to open and to evolve spiritually.
In 1976, during a psychologically traumatic divorce separating me from my young children, I experienced an extraordinary and dramatic rebirth experience opening me to the spiritual dimensions of life.
Before the divorce, my most memorable spiritual experiences had happened in hospital delivery rooms when, in my presence, my former wife Naomi gave birth to our children, Jessica and Joshua.
But beginning with my dramatic rebirth experience and spiritual opening, I gradually have learned that each birth – and every other appearance and experience in this world – originates with unseen energies arising in Infinite Awareness; that our true essence and identity is eternal spirit, beyond form – beyond birth and death; and thus, that spirituality, consciousness and mind, are of immeasurably preeminent importance to us as genesis of all physical or material appearances.
I couldn’t have experienced these blessings but for what happened on the luckiest day of my life – April 15, 1978 – two years after my spiritual rebirth experience.
On that day I received a spiritual initiation from an extraordinary Holy man – venerable Hindu guru Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).* Until meeting Guruji, I knew very little about Gurus or their teachings and had no intention of becoming involved with a spiritual teacher. Nor did I have any idea of how a rare and authentic Guru could help me both in this world and from subtle planes – like an incarnate ‘guardian angel’. So, I couldn’t begin to imagine how fortunate I was.
Before meeting Guruji, I didn’t understand the karmic law that we reap as we sow. But since then I have learned that in this world nothing – however mysterious – escapes the law of cause and effect. So I now intuit that the biggest blessing of my life did not happen by chance; but, that it was my destiny to meet Guruji as my spiritual master and that I was led to him through synchronicity.
Before meeting Guruji, I wasn’t familiar with Indian culture or religion. But I began to have synchronistic experiences which seemed associated with India.
First, Mahatma Gandhi surprisingly and vividly appeared to me as an inner spiritual guide advising me at various times in response to my questions to him, even though I then knew little about him and hadn’t invoked him. (Later I learned that Gandhi had been a lawyer, and that from childhood his principal spiritual practice was constant repetition of the name “Rama” – an Indian name for God which was his last utterance on his assassination in 1948.)
Soon thereafter, in Hawaii while lost in a jungle-like nature preserve and frightened, I spontaneously and inexplicably began calling and repeating “Rama” – a name for God which I’d never before recited in this life, found my way out of the jungle tangle, and immediately thereafter began seeing my own aura, and afterwards auras of others.
Later, in San Francisco, I was suddenly awakened from deep sleep one night to behold (sitting up with eyes wide open) an extraordinarily vivid vision of a golden Indian Divine Mother which morphed into a golden image of myself.
Thereafter, at night before retiring, I began seeing blurred inner visions of an elderly Indian man with a beard, though I had not yet begun meditating regularly.
Apart from these “inner” experiences there was a series of “outer” synchronicities that led me to Guruji.
Attempting to scientifically understand what was happening to me after my spiritual re-birth experience, I found and read with tremendous interest and fascination a medical case study book by Lee Sannella, MD, entitled: “Kundalini-Psychosis or Transcendence” about an esoteric psychophysiological transformation process long known to Indian yogis and adepts but not to Western medicine; a process initiated by awakening of dormant ‘kundalini’ energy at the base of the spine.
The book defined the kundalini process as an “evolutionary process taking place in the human nervous system”. As I read therein medical case studies of fifteen different people undergoing the kundalini process, I realized that I too had been experiencing that process since my April 1976 spontaneous rebirth episode; and, that the kundalini process might explain some of my ‘weird’ new experiences.
Thereupon, I wanted to meet Dr. Sannella, who practiced in the Bay Area as both a psychiatrist and ophthalmologist. On learning that he was a principal officer of the California Society For Psychical Study, I joined the society and began attending its bi-monthly meetings, where I met him.
One evening in early April 1978, I attended a regular meeting of the Society. As I entered the meeting room, I saw a poster announcing a forthcoming series of meditation programs at the University Christian Church in Berkeley. The poster featured a prominent picture of an elderly man with a gray beard. As the meeting progressed, I irresistibly kept looking at the poster. Something about the picture of the old man fascinated me.
After the formal meeting concluded, I asked Dr. Sannella about the pictured meditation teacher and his announced meditation programs. Dr. Sannella told me that this would be an exceptional opportunity for “darshan” of an Indian master yogi, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, with rare power to activate and guide the Kundalini transformation process, which when activated could accelerate spiritual evolution but cause problems without such guidance. (I later learned that Dr. Sannella had received an initiation from this master yogi.)
I took a printed flyer with details of the schedule and decided to attend the first of the announced meditation programs. A crucially important new life phase was about to begin.
The meditation programs proved unlike anything I had anticipated or ever before experienced. At the front of the room was a pleasant, bright-eyed elderly man with a beard, wearing a white robe, and accompanied by an interpreter. Unknown to me, this small elderly gentleman was then about 100 years old, and had attained an exceptionally advanced state of spiritual evolution with unbelievable mystical powers which were largely esoteric in the West and clearly beyond the comprehension of Western science.
I soon began experiencing some of those extraordinary powers, and began perceiving him differently than anyone else I’d ever yet met.
In the interpreter’s introductory remarks we were informed that Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas was empowered to awaken dormant kundalini energy via thought, gaze, sound or touch; that in the ensuing meditation program we were to be given an experience of communication of this energy via the sound of sacred Sanskrit mantras, which he would sing. We were instructed to sit with closed eyes, watch our breath, and listen to the mantras.
Listening to Dhyanyogi sing Sanskrit mantras was for me reminiscent of hearing Jewish cantors singing Hebrew prayers and chants. But I had never before felt such intense subtle energy. Nor had I ever before perceived someone with a luminous silvery aura like his. After the singing, audience questions were entertained and answered via interpreter. On conclusion of the program, I decided to – and did – attend the next night’s program. It was similar to the first, and I experienced it similarly. And so I decided to attend the final program.
At the last program I experienced Dhyanyogi’s exceptional spiritual energy more intensely than ever before, and felt somehow changed by it in an ineffable way. That program ended with an announcement that on Sunday morning Dhyanyogi would be conferring a shaktipat initiation on anyone requesting it, after they made appropriate arrangements. It was explained that this shaktipat initiation would entail his formal transfer to each initiate of Divine shakti energy via touch and otherwise.
Still an uptight lawyer, I felt quite reluctant to participate in an esoteric initiation involving unknown formal commitments to an Indian guru with whom I was barely familiar. So I didn’t sign up for the shaktipat initiation, but retained the contact information for shaktipat participants. I returned to my San Francisco studio apartment still experiencing the intense subtle energies which had been transmitted that night, and feeling quite strange – like I’d never before felt.
Within a few minutes after entering my apartment, I spontaneously began extraordinarily intense crying and sobbing, as had first happened during my 1976 rebirth experience. Then, with closed eyes I beheld amazing inner visions. First I saw a small bright blue circle. Gradually, the vivid circle grew larger and larger. Then, within the circle, with the clarity of a good color TV image, I beheld Dhyanyogi, who had come for an inner visit knowing I was in a receptive state of consciousness after meditating with him in Berkeley.
I had learned from my inner experience with Gandhi, that disembodied spirits could intentionally manifest to me while I was in an ‘alpha state of consciousness’. But this was my first such experience with an incarnate being. And thereupon I suddenly realized that, long before I met or heard about him, it was Guruji who had frequently appeared to me as the blurred inner image of an elderly man with a beard.
This experience and realization changed my mind about taking the shaktipat initiation. I thought “this yogi is someone very special, who I must learn more about.” So, the next day I phoned and made arrangements to participate in the esoteric initiation ceremony.
During the ceremony I was given a sacred mantra to repeat as a primary spiritual practice. Like Gandhi’s mantra and the mantra I had first spontaneously repeated in Hawaii, it was a Rama mantra. Also, I was given a Sanskrit spiritual name: “Rasik”. Before leaving the ceremony I asked Guruji’s assistant for the meaning of “Rasik”, and was quite surprised and puzzled when he replied “one engrossed in devotion”. He wrote this new spiritual name and its meaning on the cover of a small meditation instruction pamphlet which I had received after the initiation ceremony.
“Why has a secular lawyer like me being given a name like this?”, I wondered. The answer to that question gradually became quite evident.
After meeting Guruji in 1978, I was fortunate to see and be with him on various occasions during his remaining time in the US – mostly in group retreats and meditations. In his holy presence, I was invariably moved to intense devotional tears. And more and more Guruji’s saintly simplicity, compassion, love, and humility captured my heart.
And as he presciently foresaw in bestowing the name “Rasik”, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep emotion of devotion.
In December, 1979, Guruji was interviewed for a “New Dimensions” radio broadcast, which is linked below. I was lucky enough to have been present then and to have briefly participated in that interview, explaining how I became Guruji’s disciple.
During the interview, Guruji told how he had come to the United States in 1976, to find and help American devotees many of whom he had previously seen during a near death visit with Lord Rama, the aspect of universal Divinity most emphasized in Guruji’s devotional practices.
Further he explained the importance of meditation and “shaktipat” and how his kundalini yoga path was not a religion but a spiritual practice and science bringing lasting inner peace and happiness to individuals of any belief or religious affiliation. He concluded the interview by chanting mantras with which he subtly transmitted his exceptional spiritual energies.
[To listen to interview click here]
In addition to emanating an amazingly intense shakti energy field, Guruji displayed extraordinary physical prowess. I saw him as a centenarian demonstrating difficult yogic postures – like head stands – and walking so fast on a beach that young people had to jog to keep up with his extraordinary pace.
But, after four years of tireless efforts in the US, Guruji became extremely debilitated and in 1980 was obliged to return to India. My apartment in San Francisco, was the last place in the US where he stayed for a few weeks. During that period I was blessed not only with his holy presence but with rare opportunities to speak with him directly.
On one of those memorable occasions, I effusively and spontaneously exclaimed to him: “Guruji, the day I met you was the luckiest day of my life!” After a pregnant pause, his unforgettable reply was: “That’s true.”
More than thirty years have now passed since I received shaktipat initiation. But the kundalini evolutionary process which Guruji initiated still continues. Thanks to Guruji’s subtle guidance, it seems irresistibly to be removing my egoic limitations, so that there is today (self-identified with this life-form) much less “Ron” and much more “Ram” than there was on April 15, 1978. Like ‘magical’ spiritual alchemy, the kundalini shakti is transmuting and transforming Ron’s humanity to Divinity.
At age 102, Guruji returned to India where he spent his fourteen remaining years until leaving his physical body at age 116. Nonetheless since then, with tears of deep devotion and gratitude, I have continued to experience (at subtle levels of awareness) his profoundly transformative shakti energy.
Thus, from the depths of my heart, I still feel that the day I met Guruji was the luckiest day of my life.
* See Facebook page Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas for a brief biography of Guruji, and many photos.