This is a story about my search for the answers to life’s
questions. My search to know God. To know the reason for my being here,
My search for my spiritual master, Krsna’s mercy by sending to
me my eternal master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad,
and at the same time, Srila Prabhupad’s causeless mercy by way
of answering all my burning questions, quenching my thirst for knowledge
of God, enlightening me as to my real and eternal purpose for existing.
He has given me everything. More than I can imagine to ever repay in
1,000’s of life times.
I offer my prostrate and humbled obeisances
unto the Lotus Feet of my Spiritual Master, A. C. Bhaktivendanta Swami
Prabhupad. Without whose
causeless mercy I would be today again wandering completely lost with
no direction in this material world. My life and soul are surrendered
to serving him.
Thus, this is the story of my coming to Krishna Consciousness.
I decided the best place to start is to go all the way back to my early
childhood, because in this life time the road back to Godhead started
there. There were a few things in my early life that I do not recall
ever ‘learning’. They were concepts that came with me when
I was born into this world. Probably the most profound was that I always
knew the real living entity was an eternal soul, not the temporary body.
Somehow I just knew that. It was not until my high school years when
I entered a conversation about it with my friends did I realize that
most other people in this modern American society did not share this understanding.
|I originally began writting
this in long hand most likely around 1978 or so. Then I copied
it onto my first desktop computer, an old Vector Graphics Z80 running
C/PM in 1981. I then copied
it from one compute to another but just never got around to completing
it over all these years. I finally pulled it out last week and
completed it and posted it
today, December 24, 2004. Latest changes and modifications on
May 13, 2006
Along with understanding the soul was eternal came the related understanding
of reincarnation. Again, it was not something that I learned. I just
knew that we come back. That the soul is eternal, that we have had innumerable
lives before and will have ahead of us. Again, all my childhood I simply
assumed that everyone else also knew this.
I was shocked during high school years when my friends argued against
the idea of reincarnation. It never really occurred to me that the current
popular Christian institutions and their members do not accept this.
I just assumed that this was commonly understood and accepted. It took
a while for reality to sink in that very few others in the society that I lived understood this.
Also, from earliest childhood, I always felt that this world was a foreign
place to me. Everything about it seemed out-of-place. The way people
treated each other, the way we communicated and talked, everything just
seemed very foreign and also degraded. I never felt that I really fit
in. When I discovered that no one else, that I knew at the time, believed
in reincarnation or that we are not this temporary material body, I really
started to wonder what I was doing here. I was a stranger in a strange land. And my quest to try and figure ot why God had sent me here became prominent in my high school years.
I was born into a Christian family. In my early childhood my family
went to church regularly (well, regularly for Christians, once a week
on Sunday). I liked Sunday school when the teacher would read stories
about Jesus. One day, I must have been around 6 or 7 or so, the Sunday
school teacher read the story about one follower of Jesus (I think it
was Matthew). He was an important man in the government. He approached
Jesus and told Him he wanted to be his disciple and wanted to follow
Him. Jesus told him that to become His follower the man would have to
renounce his entire family and his wealth. He told him to go home, make
sure his family will be taken care of, then give away whatever wealth
they did not need and to return with only the clothes he wore and one
blanket on this back. He did this and only then Jesus accepted him. (This
was like taking sannyas, or the renounced order, in the Vedic culture).
So, I was about 6 or 7 years old then and it made me think. I raised
my hand and asked the Sunday school teacher, as a confirmation of my
understanding, “Then, until we do this, until we leave our family
and go to Jesus with only a blanket and one set of clothes, then, Jesus
won’t really accept us?”. She was startled. She shook her
head and said, “Oh - no, no. No, it doesn’t mean that at
all.” She was lost for words. I said, “But, you just told
us that is what it says in the Bible. That the only way Jesus would accept
us as His real follower was that we had to do that”. She then said, “The
world, it is, it is just a different world today then what it was when
Jesus was here. Jesus just would not want us to do that today. The Bible
tells us stories of how things used to be. But today, we know that Jesus
will accept us just by accepting Him in our hearts. He would never want
us to do something like this, not today.” She was obviously a bit
rattled by my question. And, I again protested, “But, aren’t
we supposed to do what Jesus taught in the Bible? Isn’t that what
you have always said? I don’t understand how it is so different
today?”. The teacher told me, “Jimmy, you’re too little
to understand. And you’re too small to be asking such questions”.
And that was the end of it. I never asked her any more questions after
that. It was a big disappointment for me. Before this incident I really
looked up to her. I wanted to learn about God and Jesus. I wanted to
be close to God. I really wanted to know what was the right thing to
do, how to please Them. So, I felt disappointed because I knew the right
thing to do would be to follow what Jesus actually said. The teacher’s
idea that we weren’t supposed to had no substance to it.
It was also the beginning of my desire to want to learn and know about
God and religion on my own. I now saw that those who were teaching me
about religion did not really have all the answers themselves, and this
made me want to search out the real truth on my own. Or separate from
what I was being told.
Yet, the most positive thing about Sunday school was that it set the
foundation for my awareness not just of God, but that God is a person.
We were taught about God – The Father. We were instructed to pray
to Him – in a personal way. God was a “person”. He
would hear and understand our prayers, and if we deserved it, He would
answer our prayers. So, those few early years in Sunday school (it was
the United Methodist Church in Glidden, Iowa during the mid to late 1950’s)
gave me the solid basis that God was a real person, my real father. And,
it set a habit for me of constantly praying, within, to my real Father.
God, The Father, and Jesus, became my only real friends as I grew up.
Modern psychologists may say that I became somewhat withdrawn. And,
I did. Not totally. I had friends and all. But, I considered the external
world to be more like a bad dream. I saw it as something unpleasant that
I had to suffer through for this life. So I did withdraw at times to
my room and just try to talk to God and Jesus. In my heart, They were
my guide and my constant companions and friends. I was a stranger in
a strange land. I would feel very lonely at times, because there was
no one I knew who I could speak to about this. I felt that no one would
really understand. So, I kept all of that to myself.
When I was about 12 or 13 (7th grade) we were studying in school about
World War I and II. We were reading about the Nazis and Hitler and how
the Germans would salute their leader and revere their flag. Even these
acts were taught, at least by the teachers, as being wrong and the sign
of evil or idolatry. And, the Swastika, being the symbol of the Nazi
party, also symbolized hate and evil.
At home my father had just purchased a huge thick college dictionary.
It listed the root meanings of all words. A lot of English could be traced
to a Latin or Greek root. Yet this dictionary also showed the Sanskrit
root for many words. I used to spend hours at a time just studying and
reading that dictionary to learn the meaning of words. While studying
the World War’s at school I had become intrigued by the Swastika.
Not the Nazi flag, but at first it was the word Swastika. It reminded
me of something deep in my past. A past life. It seemed familiar to me
and I was attracted to it. But, I had no interest at all to study any
further about the Nazi’s or Hitler. I felt absolutely no connection
with them whatsoever. Just the Swastika grabbed my attention. So, I looked
up the word Swastika in our family’s Webster’s Unabridged
Collegiate Dictionary and was surprised to find that it originally was,
and still is, a sacred religious symbol of the Hindu religion. Swastika
was directly a Sanskrit word still widely used throughout India.
|For those who do not know, Hitler and members
of the Nazi party had a keen interest in the Vedic scripture. The
word “Aryan” is
also a Sanskrit word and is used in the Vedas. Hitler had Sanskrit
scholars who translated many Vedic texts and the Nazi’s studied
those texts. Actually, they also studied other ancient teachings
as well. But, their goal and motive was not to achieve spiritual
advancement or love of God. Many political sects also studied the
Kabalah or other similar ancient writings trying to find ancient
or mystic keys that they could use to empower them in their quest
to conquer the world. They did not study the Vedas for spiritual
enlightenment, but to try and extract what they thought would be
secrets to obtaining mystic powers or supernatural powers, etc. The
Nazi party’s adoption of the Swastika as their symbol was both
a complete misuse and misunderstanding of the symbol’s significance,
and simultaneously their improper use of the symbol has given the
symbol an extremely negative, wrong and undeserved reputation world
wide. The Svastika is used in Vedic ceremonies to invoke spiritual
auspiciousness. To invoke spiritual success. The Swastika, the symbol,
has also been used by other religions and societies over the course
of history. But, the Nazi’s use stemmed from the Vedic influence,
as the name ‘Svastika’ is the Sanskrit name. The Nazi’s
used it to invoke material or political success – not spiritual
auspiciousness. Also, the Nazi’s misunderstood the Vedic word ‘Aryan’.
This is a whole other story, but the basics are that the actual Vedic
term is a title that can be given to any and all people. One can
be white, black, yellow, red, it doesn’t mater his color or
land of birth. An Aryan is one who accepts and lives by the Vedic
scriptures. A non-aryan is one who does not live by the Vedic scripture.
The Vedas may give some hint that those who accept and live in accordance
with the Vedas are superior to those who do not. Why are they ‘superior’?
Because they will reap the benefits of that following the Vedas has
to offer, while those who do not follow will be at a disadvantage
as they will be bereft of those advantages. It is no different then
saying that those who follow the laws of their country, state and
local laws are to be considered superior to the common criminals
who do not accept or follow the laws where they live. The European
historians, however, did not accept this and came up with their own
concocted interpretation, which is rejected by those who accept the
Vedas (it is rejected by true Aryans). The European historical scholars
interpreted Aryan to mean the ‘superior race’, by color,
and they concocted so-called historical evidence to show that the
Vedas were describing the white, blue-eyed, European race. This is
totally rejected by the true Aryans, the true knowers and followers
of the Vedas
was the first time in my life that I knowingly even heard the word or
concept “Hindu”. I was attracted to the Svastika symbol
and not at all to Hitler, etc. So, I began to wonder, what was “Hinduism”.
And, I also became curious about this language called “Sanskrit”?
I have to admit, I was not that educated at 12. I had heard of the Jews,
but mostly only from hearing about them from the Bible. I really wasn’t
sure who they were. (Obviously, I did not have any friends who were Jewish,
or at least who told me they were, at the time.) All I knew was Judaism
(or the religion of the Jews) was the religion before and during Jesus’s
lifetime. I had not heard about Islam by then either. I had
no idea what Islam was, or Mohammed, I didn’t know Allah was a name
for God. And, I would have to say, I knew even less, absolutely nothing, of
Hinduism (or Buddhism). But, because I felt a deep and almost ancient
attraction to the Svastika symbol my view of religion began to open up
as I realized there were other religions in this world besides Christianity.
That really intrigued me. Up to that time in my life, the public school
never taught anything about any other religion, and the Churches we attended
never did either. So, really, I assumed that if one wanted to know God
and be religious than there was no other path, no other way to the Father,
except through the Christian Bible. After all, that is what we had been
taught that the Bible teaches. But, the attraction I had toward the Swastika
was very real, and very deep – I knew there was a strong connection
to my previous life. I started an interest to know more about other religions.
And, specifically this strange new word for me, “Hindu”, “Hinduism”.
What was it? Even though I had absolute no knowledge of what Hinduism
was, nothing, absolutely no connection or knowledge of it in this lifetime,
simply due to a deep and distant attraction for the Svastika,
and simply because a dictionary listed it as a religious symbol used
in India by the Hindus, that day I accepted that I must have been a Hindu
in my previous life, and I began to consider myself a Hindu.
And I have to admit, it sounds really odd. I tried
to find out more, but all I had was that one dictionary. We had no encyclopedia,
had not yet gone to the library to do research. I had an extremely limited
amount of material available to me to study. But, from that dictionary
I learned that Sanskrit was an ancient language, seated in India, the
mother of all languages of the planet, and that Hinduism was founded
in this ancient Sanskrit language and that the Swatiska was a religious
symbol of Hinduism. And from this, I began to consider myself a “Hindu”.
I had never met a “Hindu”. I had never known or even had
seen anyone up to that time who was from India. But, still, I began to
realize that I was a Hindu (and had been in my past-life). These realizations
started to manifest to me at about 12 years of age (~ 1963).
Again, my attraction was completely, totally, separate from Hitler.
I had absolutely no interest in hearing about him, or Nazism. In fact,
I really thought it was quite odd that a sacred religious symbol had
been so misused by someone who the masses considered so evil. But, that
didn’t even phase me at all, because my interest in the symbol
had nothing at all to do with Nazism. I began to draw the symbol on papers
and things without thinking about it’s unfortunate association
with the Nazis.
A short time later we had a short test in one of my classes at school.
The students handed each other our papers so one student would grade
another student’s paper as the teacher read off the correct answers.
I corrected a girl’s paper who sat near me. For each right answer
we were to put a check mark, and for each wrong answer an X. I had mistakenly
marked one answer as right with a check mark, then when I understood
it was wrong I added a cross mark to turn the check into an X. But, one
leg of the X had an extra line on one leg. I thought, ‘hmmm, interesting’.
And so without much thought I added the little line to all the legs of
the X and basically turned it into a Swastika. The girl was not the brightest
bulb in the class and she got a lot of answers wrong. Well, some could
say my bulb wasn’t that bright right then either, because without
really thinking about it, I turned all of the X’s on her paper
into Swastikas. It was done in total innocence on my part. I wasn’t
using the Swastika with any sort of thought about Nazism at all. Rather,
it looked artistic to me to see the paper filled with so many nice svastikas.
In my mind, I had decorated her test sheet with a Hindu religious symbol.
And, it was a very poor test sheet on her part, so the paper wound up
with a lot Hindu religious symbols all over it. At least, that was the
way I was thinking.
After completing the test I handed it back to the girl
with her failing score at the top. She immediately let off with a scream.
I thought she
must be upset about her failing the test. But, she turned to me with
such anger and asked, “Why did you put SVASTIKAS all over my paper?”.
Not waiting for me to reply, she took her paper and showed it to the
teacher. Only then did I learn that this girl was Jewish. The teacher called me up to her desk. She was raging with anger.
She grabbed my shoulders and began shaking me violently yelling at me
for ‘defacing’ this girl’s paper. She went on about
how the Swastika was the symbol of hate, the symbol of Nazism and Hitler.
I was surprised by the reaction all this got. I really did it out of
innocence. When the teacher cooled down enough to let me speak, I argued
that the Swastika was actually a sacred religious symbol used by Hindus. It wasn’t
used only by the Nazis, and for a Hindu it does not represent evil, but
just the opposite, it is used to invoke good religious fortune. The teacher
was a bit taken aback. She had never heard such a thing before. She said, “But
you are not a Hindu, you’re a Christian”. She said that my
use of it was not for religious reasons but to deface the girl’s
paper with a symbol of ‘hate’. So, I then told the teacher
that was not true, and that I was a Hindu. (Rather an odd thing for me
to claim since I knew absolutely nothing about Hinduism). The teacher
asked, “Are you from India?”. “No”. “Are
your parent’s from India?” “No”. Are your parent’s
Hindu?” “No, but I am”. The teacher then said, if my
parent’s weren’t Hindu then I wasn’t either. She considered
this to be a cheap excuse and sent me to the Principal’s office,
where the principal went into even more of a violent rage. He did not
even allow me to say one single word in my own defense. Every time I
tried to speak, he demanded that I keep my mouth shut, he didn’t
want to hear any sort of defense for the horrible thing I had done.
And, so, I got a 3 day suspension from school with a warning that if I pulled something like this again I would be expelled from public school.
At the time, I was totally convinced that I was a Hindu. Yet, looking
back, I have to admit that it was really strange. I didn’t know
anything about Hinduism – period – other then the Svastika
was one of it’s symbols, and that the religion was connected to
the Sanskrit language and that Sanskrit was the original human language.
And, even though this happened in the 7th grade, when I was ~12, I also
forgot about it over time as I had no on-going connection or access to
any Hindu, Hindus, or Sanskrit scriptures.
As I said, at that time we were studying how it was evil for the followers
of Hitler to practically worship the Swastika flag and how they would
raise their arms in salute. At the same time I was studying the Bible
on my own at home. I had just come across some verses in the Old Testament
where it is said that Jehovah is a jealous God. It says that one shall
put no other God before the one and only God, Jehovah. One shall worship
the one and Supreme God only and shall not worship ‘false’ gods
The next morning at school, as we do every single morning for the first
class of the day, the entire class stood up, placed our right hands over
our hearts and began to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
It starts off, “I pledge my allegiance to the flag of the United
States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation
under God…”. As I was chanting the pledge it struck me that
this was really a type of daily ritual or ceremony. I was standing there,
my hand over my heart, looking up at a red, white and blue cloth flag
and daily taking a vow to the flag, by pledging my allegiance to a piece
of cloth (and to the Republic for which it stands). It hit me that this
was no different then a religious ritual. Pledging my allegiance was
no less then making a religious vow to a flag. That flag had became no
less than a false-god, or an idol that I was being forced to worship
by pledging my vow of allegiance to it. I began to see this as a form
of forced worship that I was being engaged in an irreligious ceremony
everyday taking a vow before an idol in the form of a flag. We were daily
praising it’s glory. Suddenly, I questioned, what was the difference
between us, as Americans, placing our hands over our hearts and praising
the glory of our flag in a daily ritual, taking a daily vow of allegiance,
and the Nazis extending their hands and saluting their flag? That day
I now viewed flag worship as irreligious idolatry.
I had just read that God asked that we not worship such idols. In the
midst of the pledge, I fell silent and dropped my hand to my side. I
decided at that moment I would no longer engage in the worship of such
a false idol. And, instead, I began to offer a silent prayer to God,
my Father, and vowed to pledge my vow of allegiance to Him, not to a
The next day when the class stood to offer their homage to the flag.
I chose not to stand. Instead, I silently offered my pledge of allegiance
to my Father, God. The teacher noticed that I was not standing and not
worshiping the flag. After the ceremony she called me and asked why?
I tried to explain. She said that it was mandatory, all the students “had” to
pledge their allegiance to the flag each day. I told her I had chosen
not to do so for religious reasons. She did not buy it (it was a different
teacher then the one with the Svastika run-in). I was told if I didn’t
conform to the rules I would be expelled from school. So, after that,
I stood up and put my hand over my heart and pretended to be chanting
my vow to the flag, but instead, I daily pledged my vow of allegiance
to the Supreme Father, God. I never, again, chanted the flag pledge again.
And, it never became an issue until graduation week in high school. During
commencement rehearsals they played the “Star Spangled Banner” and
I did not stand up. One teacher came running up the bleachers and demanded
that I stand, in honor of our flag. I told him, “I’m sorry,
but, I cannot. I refused to worship a false idol”. “WHAT!!??!
What are you talking about? If you don’t stand up I will have you
expelled and you will not get your diploma.” I stood up, but told
him I was standing to honor God, not a flag. He backed off.
I probably should not take so much time to mention all this, as it is
mostly about ‘me’ and not about how I came to Krsna Consciousness,
in a direct way. But, it is about how I joined, in an overall sense.
It gives some glimpse to events that I always considered to be
major events in my youth, and help to give an idea of who I was, at least
in my own eyes. I see all these events leading me up to the time I would
find my spiritual master. So, I have included them.
One other thing that took place back in Jr High when I was somewhere
around 13-14 yrs old (or maybe it was when I was 12 and I was trying
to find information about Hinduism??? I can’t recall exactly).
Somehow I got hold of a book on Hatha Yoga from the library. It was an
exercise book that showed many different yoga postures that promoted
good circulation and good physical health. I recall being extremely fascinated
by the word ‘yoga’. The main posture was the full lotus,
cross legged with both bottoms of the feet facing up. Seeing the yoga
positions again brought back memories of another lifetime. I had no problem
sitting in the Lotus position and sat like that for some time, in meditation
(the book mentioned meditation as well, and holding of the breath).
When my mother saw the book in the house, she got very upset. And, she
mentioned something to me then that didn’t really get through.
She mentioned the same thing later (several years after I got out of
high school and was studying more heavily in the Vedas and Srila Prabhupad’s
books). But, at that time with the yoga book she had mentioned how my
father, long ago, long before I was born, and possibly in the 1930’s
just before or after they were married, how he had taken up ‘yoga’.
My mother told me that he had got some books written by one of the “Swami’s” who
had come from India and had started to engage in some yoga meditations.
My mother claimed she and others finally persuaded my father to give
it up. My mother’s view was that this ‘yoga meditation’ would
make people go insane (that was her uninformed perspective). I was very
much interested and wanted to learn more, but she would not say anymore
than that. I asked my father, and my father at times was a quite person.
He just sort of gave it a laugh and said, yeah, but he couldn’t
remember much about it. That was all he ever said. But, I found it interesting
that he even had any connection at all to yoga and reading a book from
a ‘swami’ from India in his younger days.
So, back to 1964 or so, after I had got the yoga book. I was normally
a quite kid at school and never liked being the center of attraction.
But, one rainy day we were indoors during physical education class and
they had us do tumbling down a long string of mats on the floor. So,
I ran and as soon as I hit the mat I crossed my legs in the Lotus position
and tumbled on down to the end. At the end I just sat there in the lotus
position and closed my eyes and went into ‘meditation’. I
was faking it, just pretending, but, at the same time, I also got into
it. I recall sitting there for sometime. My friends came over and started
asking me if I was all right. I was oblivious to them. I just sat there.
Even though I was intending to do it as a prank and was pretending, I
really felt like I was in one world and they were in another. So, it
was easy to just sit there and ignore them. One friend got concerned
when I didn’t respond to them. He saw my legs were ‘twisted’.
He started telling the others that something bad must have happened to
me. He said that when I was tumbling my legs must have got all tied up
in a knot and that it did something to my spine or something and that
I had lost consciousness while sitting up. He was asking others to help
him untwist my legs. Another commented that I looked like I had turned
into a pretzel. After sometime all the kids in the class were standing
around with everyone asking what had happened to me. Then I heard someone
yelling for the teacher saying that something really strange had happened,
that I wasn’t moving and that I had stopped breathing. (I was also
practicing breath control). I didn’t want to get ‘caught’ by
the teacher, so I thought it was long enough and started breathing and
opened my eyes again and looked around. Everyone gasped. Then I smiled
and jumped up to my feet. Everyone was just standing there staring at
me – they didn’t know what to think. Like I said, I always
avoided being the center of attention, so I wasn’t really used
to it. When the teacher got there and asked what all this was about,
I just told him I was doing ‘yoga mediation’. No one knew
what I was talking about. That Hatha Yoga book didn’t give much
information either. But, I knew it was something I was familiar with
from a past life. For the next few days I told everyone about the glories
of yoga and mediation. Yet, again, I hardly had read anything, just this
one yoga exercise book.
That was it for me having any connection with any other “Hindu” or “yoga”,
etc, for about 4-5 years. So, I eventually forgot the idea of thinking
myself as being a Hindu – as I just never came in contact with
any other books or people, etc., for a long time.
In my last year or 2 of high school I realized that everything I was
being taught in school was ultimately meaningless. That is, it was only
temporary knowledge and had nothing to do with the real goal of life.
I realized that the knowledge I wanted to learn was not taught in public
school. I wanted to know what the real purpose of life was for? Who are
we? Who is God, really? Why was I born on this planet called earth? How
do I get out of this world and back to my real home? Those questions
I considered to be real knowledge, not all the useless information that
was being fed to us in the modern schools. But, where to find such knowledge?
I had been reading the Bible all my life, but, I had long considered
it limited. When I sat down to study it, I could feel my conscious being
pulled downwards. Not up. At the request of one High School friend I
went back to Church during my Senior HS year and attended Sunday school
for teenagers, but found no answers. One day Pastor Dave asked all of
us to write down a prayer to God, then come next week and read our prayer
out loud to the group and we could all sit around and discuss that person’s
prayer. The next week everyone, one by one, read their prayers out loud
and everyone gave some appreciation or discussion, except me. I just
didn’t get involved. It came to my turn and I simply said that
in the Bible Jesus taught that we should not pray openly in the public,
for your reward will be the mundane appreciation of those who hear it.
Jesus taught us that God, our Father, will not hear those prayers. Jesus
taught that instead one should go to the closet, or a secluded place,
and he should pray to God in seclusion. God will then hear his prayer
and act on it. So, on that basis I told Pastor Dave I was not going to
give my prayer publicly and I felt his program for us was wrong. I was
just being honest. Pastor Dave was not happy. I guess it sort of made
him feel I was trying to one-up him. I was just trying to be faithful
to the Bible, that was all. He said that he was the Pastor and that either
I should follow his program, or if I didn’t like it I should try
and find another group where I better fit in. Okay. Again I found myself
being the odd one out. I just didn’t fit in anywhere, and wasn’t
finding any answers in Christianity.
Around that time I had now decided to find the knowledge I was seeking
in the library. I then began to study other religious teachings. Oddly,
by then I had practically forgotten my attraction to “Hinduism”,
and so I began my research with Judaism and Islam. I wanted to find out
who was God. What does He look like? What activities go on in the Kingdom
of God? What do the buildings look like there. I could not find any real
answers in the Bible, so I began looking elsewhere. Why should I dedicate
my life to trying to go back to God’s Kingdom if I didn’t
even know what goes on there? And, how do I know for sure how to go back
there? I was on a quest. I had been curious before, when I was younger,
but now I had become a more serious seeker of the truth. And, for whatever
reason, I was not satisfied with the Bible. I felt it was too shallow.
It is not deep enough, it offered little in the way of actual science – no
deep philosophic understanding. Not for me. Not that could quench my
thirst. But, when I began reading (skimming) the Talmud, the Torah, the
Quran, really, all of them offered nothing new. They were all slightly
different flavors of the same thing. I felt there had to be something
more deep. This was a big world, there had to be more detailed information
about God. After all, He is God. I mean, the Bible contained no detailed
information, at all. None of the main scriptures I read did.
When I left High School my quest to learn real knowledge had just begun.
In America we have 3 summer months between school years, it was the summer
of 1969. I had just graduated from High School and was going to attend
Jr College in the fall. I spent many days in the library. Not finding
any real difference between Judaism and Christianity and Islam, I widened
my search. I even read philosophies, like Kant and others, trying to
find something with deep substance. I also widened my search by going
to the public county library – West Covina branch - which had a
lot more books. I found the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Well, that was
sure different, but not what I was looking for. Then I found the Tibetan
Book of the Dead.
By this time I was 18, it had been ~6 years since I first had the realization
that I was a “Hindu”, or was one in my previous life (when
I had felt a long past attraction for the Svastika and looked up it’s
origin in our home dictionary). And it had been at least 4-5 years since
I had gotten the Hath Yoga book and originally started practicing ‘yoga’.
During my high school years I basically forgot all about those experiences.
Not coming into any contact at all for all those years with anything
connected to the Vedas, or “Hinduism”, I had essentially
simply forgotten that I had earlier considered myself a Hindu. So now
when I discovered books of Tibetan philosophy, which also used a language
closely resembling Sanskrit, I again felt I was getting closer to what
I was searching for. Then I found Tibetan Buddhism. For a while I thought
I had found the keys to unlock the mystery of life. But, even if it was
a key, I had no idea where the door knob was, or even where the door
was, or which door. I began to chant “Om Hum Hrim Mani Padme Hum” as
I sat in the lotus position and mediated on the mind being like a closed
thousand pedaled white lotus flower which was gradually opening to reveal
the whorl inside, the brahman, the Divine Light, of which I was supposed
to enter into and merge as one.
For several weeks this seemed refreshing and I felt, for the first time,
I was now on a very spiritual path that would take me to God. The mediations
were vibrant, as compared to an emptiness I had long felt in study of
the Bible. But, soon the colorful feelings faded as a single questioned
took center stage in my mind: “Where is God, the Father? What happened
to God?” This mediation on the jewel within the mind was nice and
all, and the discovery of the Divine Light, but, if I merge into this
all-one divine energy, the diving light, well, what happened to The Father?
What happened to that “Person” I had been praying to all
my life? My constant companion, God?
When I saw that Buddhism was ‘impersonal’, that it did
not account for the ‘Personal’ aspect of God, I realized
my search hadn’t ended. So, I would keep going back to the library – seeking
something much higher.
I then found Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in the library. Wow. Astangha
Yoga. ‘Yoga’, oh yeah, Hinduism. And again I recalled my
long past connection with India, or what I understood to be Hinduism.
But, unlike the small Hatha Yoga book I had found many years earlier,
I now felt that I had found something much more vital. I again took up
practicing pranayam, breath control. And I started to think that the
goal of spiritual life was to acquire some mystic powers. I got to a
3 + minute breath cycle and was awakening the chakras and raising them
to the top of the head. I felt a great relief. Most fortunately, the
book I read included descriptions of meditation upon the SuperSoul, Narayan
or Paramatma, the Lord within the heart. Ah, God, the Father, was back
in the picture. My friend, the Lord in the heart was back. God was again
in the center. But, then, the desire to want to really know “What
does He look like? Can I see Him?” Became really strong. I started
praying constantly, “Please, God, I want to SEE you, please reveal
Yourself to me”.
Actually, it was not a new desire. I had this same desire years ago
when all I knew was Christianity. But, now the desire came to the surface
and predominated by thoughts and prayers.
I then discovered the book “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by
Paramahamsa Yogananda. This was the first book that revealed to me a
little bit about life in “modern” India, the culture. It
also instilled within me the need to find a real and bona-fied guru who
would teach me and answer the questions about life that I was seeking.
I wanted answers to life’s deepest questions, and I wanted to know
God personally. What this book instilled in me was that the proper path
to achieve these goals was to accept a guru, a spiritual teacher who
would show me the path. I now knew that I had to find a guru, but, I
also knew Paramahansa Yogananda was not that teacher. His books were
not able to answer my questions.
It was now the fall of 69 and I went to the Jr College to sign up my
classes. I was going to major in electronic design and engineering. But,
I was burning up with the need to find answers to my questions. I was
burning up with the desire to learn real knowledge, as Krishna calls
it, the King of all Knowledge. And, I knew my answers were there in the
scriptures of India.
I flipped through the books listing the teachers and subjects looking
for the electronics and other classes I needed and I happened to see
a Hindu name as I turned the pages. I had never met anyone up to that
time who was from India. This teacher taught, of all things, Philosophy
of World Religion. In a flash I changed my whole direction in life. I
looked into my future if I stuck with my course of taking up electronics
as my major. I saw a nice house in a nice area and a wife and family
and that Lamborghini sports car I always wanted. I saw material success
and wealth. But, I also saw total frustration and an empty void. I saw
absolutely no point to such a life. There was no purpose to it. Why?
Why live another life of another 80 years just to wind up dying and taking
birth in another body and do the same thing again and again? What was
the meaning? What was the good of such a life? I saw it as having no
real or lasting meaning. Then there were my unanswered questions about
God and life. I had to change course. I had to find my answers about
life first. I wanted out of the material world, I wanted to go back to
God. That was ‘real’ knowledge. That was the real goal. I
had come to this conclusion on my own (well, Krishna, from within was
telling me this). So, I signed up for Philosophy of World Religion -
having no idea what lay ahead. Instead of looking for classes that fit
a major for a mundane purpose, I now flipped through the book looking
for other teachers with Hindu names. What a criteria for setting one’s
curriculum! I found another teaching Political Science. Then another,
who taught Physics. I totally abandoned the idea of any major, instead,
I felt I would make it my goal to get answers to my questions, that became
my major, my quest in life. And what a combination, Religion, Physics
and Political Science. To round it out, I decided to take a course on
sociology and psychology. I thought it might come in useful someday.
What a disappointment. It hit me like a ton of bricks in the first 2
weeks. I had never met anyone from India. The only books I had read from
India were drenched with spirituality. I was expecting to find teachers
who were somehow naturally divine and self-realized who were hiding behind
a veil of being a mundane teacher (quite naïve wasn’t I?).
Instead, they were no more self-realized than any one else I had met
or myself for that matter.
The physics class was murder. Absolute murder. The first day the teacher,
Hindu or not had no relevance, stood in front of the class and proceeded
to, at least in his own tiny little way, try and kill God. Basically
he said there was no God, no creator, no director of the Universe. The
world, he said, could be fully understood by science. He expounded the
virtues of Darwinian evolution, and said that man was the highest form
of intelligence and life in the universe. Man was God. And that among
men, the scientists, they were actually the supreme due to their being
the most intelligent of all beings – the quiescence of intellectual
beings. He said that his was to be a class of scientific facts, not wishy-washy
religious sentimentalism. There was no place, according to him, for God
in a physics science class. He said if anyone had any problem with that,
then they should leave immediately and request to be reassigned. One
girl stood up with her hands over her ears screaming, “Jesus save
me, this man is a blasphemer”. She ran out followed by 3 or 4 others.
I gathered my books together ready to leave, but then thought that I
really wanted to learn everything there was to know, so why not learn
physics from a teacher who really believes in it. My faith in God was
not going to be shaken by his ranting and raving, so I stayed.
The Political Science class was not much better. As the name ‘Political
Science’ can conjecture, it really wasn’t focused on religion
or knowing God. But, it was interesting. I did learn some mundane things.
While the teacher was no divine saint, he actually was probably the most
personable of the 3 Hindu teachers.
But, the biggest blow was the Philosophy of World Religion class. I
had given up my aspiration to become mundanely successful in this world,
I had given up my pursuit of a career in electronics, simply on the basis
of this class and the fact that it was taught by a Hindu. He may have
been a Hindu, but he was insistent that he would not reveal his religious
back ground or share it with the class. But, what was most devastating
was the course itself. I was expecting a study course that extolled the
virtues of each religion. I was expecting a comparative religious course
in which I would study the depth and spiritual nature of each religion
so that I could than make an educated choice as to which was best for
my own advancement. How naïve I was again. Rather, the course was
an analytical exposé of each religion for the sole purpose of
showing each to be based on primitive man’s need to deify his origins.
The text book the course followed was written from the Darwinian premise
that basically there was no God and that life has come about by chance
and has evolved from the primitive religious past to the advanced scientific
present. It showed all religions to be nothing more then cultural mythologies.
It was a modern atheistic, so-called ‘scientific’ and analytical
exposé of all the world’s religions. That fact struck me
hard the first day I looked at the text book the course was based on.
But, I had hoped the teacher would make up for what the book lacked.
After the 3rd month, I could see that was not going to happen. The teacher
stuck to the letter of that book, to the n’th degree. Again, the
word disappointment cannot do justice.
As I said, the teacher insisted on not bringing his own religious views
into the class room and secondly the book and the teacher himself spent
only a few days discussing Hindusim. India, the land of religion, where
hundreds of millions do not practice religion once a week but live it
in every fiber of their lives day in and day out. India, where temples
in some cities outnumber houses. India, the land of the sacred Ganga
and Yamuna Rivers and the oldest holy places on earth. The home of the
oldest (eternal) scriptures of the planet. The home to the largest religious
gatherings in the whole world, etc., etc. This book that the course Philosophy
of World Religion was based on had only a few short pages dedicated to
it. It swept it off to one side as if it were totally insignificant in
regards to the study of religion. Obviously the course and book were
written by so-called scholars who had a Judaic-Christian background,
and who themselves knew little to nothing of India and the Vedas. It
did mention Krishna. It stated that Krishna was worshipped by ‘primitive’ ‘uneducated’ villagers
in some ‘remote’ areas of India as “the God of Love”.
Then, probably the only beneficial thing of the whole course was that
it mentioned Bhagavad Gita as being the most popular book of Hinduism.
(Yet, it didn’t even state that the Gita was spoken by that same
Lord Sri Krishna who the book said was only worshipped by those remote
and primitive villagers !). This was the first time I heard about the
Gita. All those books I had read by different swamis and gurus and yogis,
they either didn’t mention the Gita, or they didn’t emphasis
it to where it got my attention.
When I read this I went to the college library and found 2 English Gita
translations, if you could use the term ‘translation’ to
describe them. One was a stand alone book authored by a Western scholar.
Throughout the Gita it used the terms “The Holy One Spoke” for
Krishna and “The Mighty Armed One Spoke” for Arjun. In the
preface it only mentioned Krishna once. It described that the Holy One
was Krishna, a ‘minor’ incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The other
book wasn’t the full Gita, it was an extremely brief summary of
the whole Mahabharat, Ramayan and it included excerpts from 10th canto
of the Bhagavat Purana. The whole book was less then 300 pages.
Even though these did not at all satisfy my desire to keep searching,
and even though those translations were very weak and incorrect (and
I was fully aware of that), I also knew, from the very depth of my being,
that I had finally touched onto the source of real spiritual knowledge.
I knew that within the original Gita and the Vedas were the answers I
had been seeking. I knew that I had to find a better translation, but,
even from those meager translations, I was 100% convinced that the Gita
was the greatest religious book of all time for the whole world. It was
this, the discovery of the Gita, that made my whole 6 months of that
year in Jr College worth my time for being there.
I had a profound realization. A vision if you want to call it that.
I saw that there would come a day when there will be only one religious
book for the whole world, and that will be the Bhagavad Gita. I started
preaching to everyone I knew like that. The Bhagavad Gita, I told them,
is the original scripture of the world and it will again become known
and respected world-wide as the greatest scripture for all time. This
was before I had seen A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad’s Gita.
I based this only on weak and incorrect translations of it I had found.
I shouldn’t paint only a picture of myself as some pure and innocent
soul only searching after the absolute truth. I was not all white and
pure. I was living in America and was a youth in Southern California
in the hay days of the hippie culture. By the time I left high school
I had shoulder length hair. I was into the rock and acid-rock music of
the period, yet, I had not gotten into the psychedelic drug scene – yet.
While, not during my high school days.
Three events changed that. First, about 3 months before the end of my
senior high school year I was driving in my car and someone I knew from
high school was hitching a ride, so I pulled over and gave him a lift.
I never really associated with him, but we knew each other. There were
three major recording artists that I listened to, who were my favorites.
Well, 4 if you include the Beach Boys. My number one favorite musician
was Donovan, from Scotland. I got into his music when he came out with
the hit “Mello-Yellow”. At the time, I had no idea that that
song was actually about smoking marijuana. Mellow described the ‘high’ and
yellow was the most popular color of rolling paper that marijuana joints
(cigarettes) were rolled in. Donovan also called it the “electric
banana”. My second favorite was the Beatles and third was Bob Dylan.
(Later, Ravi Shankar became another favorite artist). So, when I picked
up my high school acquaintance he was smoking ‘something’ and
was a little high, smiling and laughing for hardly any reason. I was
playing Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” tape
(on my 8 track cartridge deck). The acquaintance got in and heard the
music and then passed me the joint. I asked, “What is that? Is
that a marijuana cigarette?” The guy said, “Ye-ahhhh – man,
and it’s heaavvyy. Here, take a hit”. I told him, “I’m
sorry, but I don’t touch that stuff”. “What, oh man,
really?. Whoa, sorry man. Are you sure? I mean, wow, that is far out
psychedelic music your playing. I mean, that is righteous sounds, man,
who is that?” I told him it was Donovan. He didn’t know who
that was, so I told him he had the hit “Mellow Yellow”, and
the guy said, “Oh, man, I dig that song. That song is all about
smoking pot, man. Mellow Yellow. See this joint, man, it is wrapped in
yellow paper. Man, the guy is singing about smoking pot, Mellow Yellow”.
Whoa, I was really into Donovan’s music. I had bought all of his
albums back to his first, Catch The Wind, and really liked his music.
Was my idol ‘Donovan’ into smoking dope? Whoa, that was a
real eye opener.
So, this guy was in my 57 Ford Ranchero (only had the front seat) for
about 5 min. There isn’t that much room in the cab. During that
time he finished off his rather fat marijuana joint and the cab had filled
with a thick smoke. At school we had been taught marijuana was really
bad stuff. So, I wasn’t expecting the sweet smell that filled my
small car. I actually thought the smell was pleasing, unlike tobacco
cigarettes. And, in a few minutes my head was feeling a lot lighter then
it was before. And, the music I was so used to hearing, it started sounding
really different. Actually, by the time he left, we both started laughing
about – something - or – maybe we were laughing about nothing – well – heck – it
really didn’t matter to us what we were laughing about – we
just thought whatever it was - was funny. We couldn’t stop laughing.
So, I was thinking, hey, is Donovan really into smoking marijuana? My
hero, Donovan is a ‘drug user’? And, I didn’t want
to admit it, but I liked the high from the smoke. But, at school they
taught us that if you get hooked on weed, the next thing you know you’ll
be hooked on heroin. So, I stuck with it, pot wasn’t for me. I
wasn’t going to become addicted to opium and that was that.
The next thing that happened was under a similar circumstance. I was
driving in the same Ranchero and again saw an old – old friend.
George Fick. We were best friends in 6th grade. But, we wound up not
seeing much of one another in Jr High and High School. It had been a
good 5 years since we last talked. So, when I saw him walking along the
road, I pulled over and said, “George! Hey, hop in”. George
said, “No, that’s alright, I prefer to walk”. I said, “George,
it’s me, Jim, your old friend, come on, jump in and lets talk.” He
knew it was me, and he really didn’t want to get in and talk. “Why?
George, we were best friends, come on, I want to know what you’re
up to lately”. Finally he got in. First thing off he said, “I’m
a born again Christian now. I’ve accepted Jesus in my life”. “Great,
George, I knew you were always a serious Christian, I knew your family
was very religious. Hey, tell me, what are up to nowadays.” “No,
I’ve really accepted Jesus into my life now. I’ve been born
again.” So, he went on for a while about it.
I had a tape of the Beatles playing. He then said, “Please, turn
the tape off. You’re listening to the work of the devil.” “George,
that’s the Beatles.” “Yes, and they have a pact with
Satan, they are doing the work of the devil” “Hey, George,
come on. What are you talking about. That’s the Beatles playing.” He
was looking at my other tapes by Donovan, Dylan and others. He said, “All
those people, they are singing on behalf of the Devil. They are all evil.” “Wow,
George, come on, that is crazy. The Beatles, Donovan, they are into Love
and Peace, how can you say they are evil?” George then told me
that they all sang about drugs. They were all into marijuana and LSD.
At that time I was still a bit naïve. But, here was another person
telling me that my greatest hero, Donovan, was into ‘drugs’.
I was really against drug use at the time. So, I just couldn’t
believe my music heroes had anything to do with drugs. George was the
second one who insisted that Donovan’s Mellow Yellow song was all
about marijuana. Dylan, the Beatles, he went over songs and the lyrics
and, wow, yeah, maybe George was right. Maybe they were signing about
drugs. Maybe they were smoking pot. But, I was convinced they were basically
good people. Donovan, he couldn’t hurt a flea. John Lennon and
the Beatles, they were definitely not evil. They were definitely not
in a pact with the devil. That was ridiculous.
The point was, after this little ride with George I realized he was
right about the part that all my heroes were really into taking drugs.
Especially marijuana and other psychedelic drugs. But, rather than accept
that was somehow evil, I remembered the friend I gave the ride to a few
weeks earlier and how I felt high on Marijuana second-hand smoke, and
how we just wanted to laugh. The high felt nice to me. I started thinking,
maybe marijuana and LSD is not the evil that the school was telling us
it was. I mean, if Donovan is into smoking Marijuana and the Beatles,
maybe I should try it out. Maybe it is something good instead of something
Finally, the 3rd twig that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
It was also during the summer of 1969. This time I was walking down a
street near my home to go visit some friends. On the way I ran into another
young man walking down the sidewalk. He stopped me and started talking.
I had shoulder length hair and we talked about music, and then I mentioned
yoga to him, and that I was into meditation and all. He thought all that
was really cool. His name was “Pepe” (well, that was his
nick name). He was half Apache (American Indian) from his father’s
side, and half Swedish from his mother’s side. But, he looked and
acted more pure Apache. He also had long hair. So, he said, “Hey,
you wanna trip out this weekend on a hit of ACID together?”. “ACID,
no way man, I don’t do drugs”. “What?” Pepe couldn’t
believe it. I had long hair, was into Dylan, Donovan, the Beatles, was
practicing yoga and mediation, dressed and looked like a ‘cool
head’, and yet I had never taken ACID? He couldn’t believe
it. I told him I was into controlling my mind and didn’t need drugs
to get high.
Oops, that did it. He said, “Oh yeah? So, you think you are good
at controlling your mind?” “Yeah, I practice yoga every day”. “Oh
yeah. I challenge you that you cannot control your mind under LSD”. “Yes,
I can”. (What a fool we are in our youth – we think we are
so much greater then we really are). He challenged, no way, no way would
I be able to control my mind on LSD. “Yes, I could”. “No – No
one can” “Well, I can” “Okay, then prove it”. “Hmmm…” “Prove
it” “Hmmm..” “Look, tomorrow is Saturday, I know
some people who have orange barrel hits of ACID and we both take one
and I say that you will not be able to control your mind on LSD”. “Hmmm…” “Look,
man, the orange barrel tab is only this big”, he told me while
he showed a size smaller then a quarter of a dried pea. He then sort
of tricked me and said, “Its just a small amount, man, it’s
not going to hurt you. I have taken it many times. Come’on. But,
I still say you won’t be able to keep your mind under your own
control even with such a small amount”. So Pepe tricked me because
LSD was so concentrated, even that small tab was a full strength amount.
And, he made it such a challenge. He said, “You say you can control
your mind, but if you take LSD then you’ll know just how good you
are. If you don’t take it, then you’ll never really know
if your mind is stronger or LSD is stronger. Come’on, you’ll
want to know, right? Which is stronger, your yoga and controlling your
mind or LSD. Lets find out.” I said, “It’s only that
small?. Okay, I guess I could take such a small tab. I mean something
that small couldn’t really do much. All right, I’ll take
up your challenge”. So, the next night Pepe and I went to a common
friend’s house, put on a Beatles album and each took a hit of ACID.
15 minutes later I felt butterflies in my stomach. Then the music sounded
like it started falling through a vacuum cleaner hose. Sounds were bouncing
off the walls and making echoes in my head. And the walls started moving,
breathing. Then the music started playing slower and slower. Pepe sat
that with a big grin going from ear to ear. He said, “Man, I’m
starting to ‘come on’ now, so, are you still in control of
your mind? Or is your mind totally blowing it?” “Blowing
it? Uh ah. Just my stomach feels like its flying. But, what’s happening
with the record? Why is it playing slower and slower?” They said
it was playing normal. “No, man, it is going slower and slower” “That’s
just the acid, just go with the flow cause you’ve lost control
of you mind now man, your on an ACID trip”. “HEY Hey hey
h e y h e y h e y” Wow, I went to say something and my own voice
echoed all over the place inside my head. And now the Beatles record
was playing r e a l l y s l o w w w w . And so were my friends. Then,
everything just stopped. Dead. And Pepe and the other friend also just
stopped moving. Everything came to a stand still, except me. I looked
around, everyone they looked like statues. Someone had tossed something
into the air and it was just hanging there in mid air. Time had come
to a total stop. But, I was still moving. My mind was racing so fast,
I was thinking faster then my body could keep up. The last thing I heard
Pepe say was, “Oh wow – my mind is totally blown. This ACID
is potent, man”. Finally, the music started playing again, and
everyone started moving. But, now the music was playing in reverse, and
Rob and Pepe started moving, but they were only moving a small amount,
then repeating the same moves several times, hardly moving at all. “Oh
wow… this is a trip – where in the world am I going?” But,
wait, I was supposed to keep control of my mind. I wasn’t supposed
to let this happen. I had totally lost it. It wasn’t a fair fight.
I didn’t even see what hit me. I was completely wasted and didn’t
even know it until it was way too late. I had to admit, LSD was stronger
then my attempt at self control over my mind. I was no match. I was on
a trip and I had no control over it. So, that was just the start of my
first psychedelic trip, it was a real trip – a- trip trip. 3 months
later my new friend and I lost count. By that time we knew we had taken
LSD well over 50 times. And that was just the beginning.
After that night I began associating with this American Indian and his
friends who were all into getting high, stoned, on psychedelic drugs.
And so, I entered the culture of the times, the psychedelic ‘head’ scene.
Most of the others took the drugs simply for sense-enjoyment. Since I
was already well on a spiritual journey before I took the drugs, I saw
them differently. I felt the experiences were “transcendental”.
I was thinking that the ‘high’ I experienced was an actual
and real transcendence from this material world. I took the experiences
to be spiritual. Later, I realized they were not. But, at the time that
is what I thought. There were books and a lot of other people who had
similar ideas, like Timothy Leary and Allan Watts (Ram Das).
So, when I came down from that first LSD trip, I was convinced that
I had just had a glimpse of what spiritual visions and spiritual ecstasy
was all about. I was convinced that what I experienced was ‘religious’.
And, that is what motivated me to keep taking LSD, Peyote, and as much
marijuana I could devour. I wanted to get high, and stay high forever.
I thought it was something ‘religious’. I thought it was
a gate, and entrance, to the ‘spiritual world’. I could not
have been more completely wrong.
Later, as a devotee, I had heard that one devotee had mentioned to Srila
Prabhupad that he felt LSD helped him. That if he hadn’t taken
LSD he would probably never had taken up Krsna Consciousness. He mentioned
how on LSD he had an out of body experience. He could see himself separate
from his body. He said the highs were very ‘spiritual’. But,
Srila Prabhupad insisted that the drugs were not at all spiritual nor
at all vital to his taking up spiritual life. Rather Srila Prabhupad
assured him they were a hindrance. That he would have taken it up sooner
had he not taken drugs.
This is the truth. I know it. Vividly. In my case, before I started
taking the psychedelics I was already well into Yoga, meditation, and
was just about to discover the Gita. Without drugs, I would have joined
Krsna Consciousness a lot sooner. The drugs were not a help on my path
at all, they totally derailed my spiritual journey for 3 years. The psychedelic
days were a totally distraction from the path I was already well headed
on. I had been practicing yoga as a path to spiritual enlightenment,
but now I was convinced a more easier way was to just smoke a few joints,
puff on my hooka or take some peyote or LSD.
By Feb. of 1970, after about 6 months of Jr College, I dropped out of
school. My attempt to find spiritual enlightenment in the walls of the
modern school system had failed. But, I didn’t know where else
to look. In those days there were some other gurus who had started ashrams,
but not in my area and nothing I was aware of. And so, the library remained
my main source of self-taught religious / spiritual knowledge.
The closest Los Angeles (California) county Library was about 5 miles
from my home in West Covina. That proved to be a priceless source of
spiritual / Vedic books for me. Once I had discovered the Vedic books,
I wound up going to the West Covina branch on a regular basis and it
was amazing as every 3-4 weeks there would be different Vedic books available.
I found 16 books of the 108 Upanishads. These books had been translated
in the 1800’s and reprinted in the 1920’s. They were done
in the same format as Srila Prabhupad’s books. That is, first the
original Sanskrit, then the Roman transliteration, then word for word
meaning, then the English translations and then a purport (which the
author called his Commentary). It was my first contact with actual Sanskrit
script and grammar. I studied the Iso and Katha and other Upanishads.
I was convinced, now, without any doubt, that the Vedic scripture contained
all the knowledge and all the answers that I was seeking. It was real,
and it was deep, philosophical. I knew I had finally found the source
of my answers, the Vedas. But, I didn’t trust the realizations
of the authors of the translations I was reading. I questioned their
true spiritual advancement. In looking back, I think it was the fact
that in most of the books I was reading, there was always an emptiness
- God – the Divine Energy or Divine Force or Divine Light was referred
to, but they lacked a vivid teaching about any personal God or personal
relationship with God, a Person. Obviously, I was only getting impersonal
writings. I was seeking out a personal relationship with the Supreme
Person-God. I was convinced that the Upanishad’s that I had found
were very spiritual teachings, but I didn’t trust that the author
was realized enough. So, I set out to try and self-teach myself Sanskrit
so that I could read the original Sanskrit myself.
Amazingly, when I looked in the same library were 2 books on learning
Sanskrit. After having checked the Upanishads out and renewing them for
weeks, I had to return them. I went back a week later to again check
them out, but they were gone. So, I inquired at the desk. The lady said, “Oh,
so your the other person who keeps checking those books out.” She
then explained that there was an elderly lady librarian who worked there
who was the one responsible for getting those books. She too was making
a self-study of Vedic literature and being a librarian she used her contacts
to order books from libraries all over the State of California. But,
the books were on loan from the other libraries. After she read them
they were put out on the shelves for a few weeks (which gave me the opportunity
to check them out), then they were sent back to their originating library.
Unfortunately I never got to speak with or ever was introduced to this
But, it was Krishna’s arrangement. I was seeking Vedic knowledge,
and through this lady, Krishna was sending me so many books. This went
on for 1 – 2 years! There were many books about and by so many
yogis and self-claimed gurus. Maher Baba, Shirdi Sai Baba, Satya Baba,
this baba that baba, Vivikenanda, Ram-Krishna, Maharishi, this yogi,
that bogi. Everyone. All sorts of books. All kinds of teachers. I was
able to read all sorts of them. And, the more I read the more I was convinced
that I needed to find a guru, a teacher. And, I also knew that none of
the gurus I was reading from or reading about were fully enlightened
(many of them, I could see, they were simply cheaters). I can only explain
that I was being guided from within. I had no way of knowing who was
qualified or not. But, I knew, very clearly, that God, the Father, He
was there. He was with me on my journey, and He was guiding me from within.
I was well aware of this.
I would pick up a book by some baba or yogi or guru and I would start
reading, and I would immediately get an idea how advanced that teacher
was. Usually I would appreciate this or that, so I would keep reading,
but, I would also know this person is not so advanced. Sometimes I could
tell in seconds. For instance, I picked up a book by one Maher Baba and
skimmed over it. I then tried to read part of it. It was as if the book
were poison. In my mind I would know, this man is bogus. He has no self
realization. He is cheater. So, I would put the book down and go to the
next. I read books by Vivekananda and the single message I got was, I
needed to find my guru, my spiritual master, my spiritual teacher. And,
yet, I knew it was not Vivekananda. He wrote about his guru, Ram Krsna,
and so I was thinking, maybe his guru is actually qualified, maybe he
is my guru. So, I found a book on Ram Krsna. Within 5 minutes I knew
this person was cheater. Rather than feeling up lifted by reading about
him, I felt harshly dragged downward. All of those men were no longer
Then, I found books on Satya Sai Baba, he was living at the time (still
is today, over 30 years later). He was a fairly young man at the time.
One day a friend of mine met 2 ladies, they must have been in their upper
30’s to 40’s (I was only about 19-20 at the time). These
ladies had just returned from India. They considered themselves disciples
of Sai Baba. They told us stories of how they witnessed his mystic powers.
They had a photograph of him on their wall and they claimed his picture
secreted ashes. (And there were ashes on the bottom edge of the picture
frame). They considered him to be God Himself. But, instead of being
inspired, I was totally put off. Here I was seeking Indian spiritual
knowledge, and as these ladies are telling me about this famous mystic
guru my heart starts racing. But, not because I was excited to hear more,
instead, I was in so much anxiety to get away. I had to flee. I did not
want to hear about this man. God, in my heart, was telling me, this man
is a cheater. When these ladies said that they believed Sai Baba was
God, I objected sharply and told them, “No, he is NOT God”.
At first the 2 ladies thought I didn’t believe that the man had
mystic powers. But, it wasn’t that at all. I fully accepted he
had mystic powers, but he had no philosophic or spiritual substance.
I was put off by him, by his pictures. It can be explained in no other
way then the Lord within my heart was guiding me. The more I heard about
him, the more I felt like I was taking poison. I finally had to tell
my friend that I could not stay there any longer, I had to leave. My
friends didn’t understand me. They knew that I was seeking a guru,
that I was into the study of India and gurus. Why didn’t I even
want to talk to these ladies who had been to India and met with, what
they thought, was a real guru. But, no, I had to flee.
And so, I kept up my prayers to the Lord within. To my Father. Actually,
by this time I had read about Narayan or the Super-Soul within the heart.
So, by the Summer of 1970 I was aware of Vishnu and Narayan and the concept
of the Super Soul. I now realized that the person I had been praying
to since I was a small child, whom I called the Father, was actually
known by the name Narayan, or Visnu, the SuperSoul, the Paramatma. Thus,
I now prayed directly to the Supersoul, please reveal yourself to me,
and please send me my spiritual teacher. I prayed that God would send
someone who was truly and fully realized and who can deliver to me the
highest knowledge about God. Those were my sincere prayers.
One day I bought a package of incense at the local ‘Head’ shop
(a ‘head’ store is a store where they sold books and posters
and paraphernalia on mind expansion drugs and Eastern thought as well.
In Southern California we didn’t call ourselves ‘hippies’,
but we called ourselves ‘heads’. A ‘head’ was
someone who was into the psychedelic drug scene but was also an intellectual
of sorts. Someone who was ‘heady’ and into Eastern philosophy
and deep thinking). So, I went to the “Head” shop in West
Covina and bought a pack of incense. The incense package had a picture
of Janardan - Visnu or 4 armed Narayan on it. I didn’t know until
after I joined the temple many years latter, but that was the first Spiritual
Sky incense package made by the ISKCON devotees. In one of the Vedic
books I had got from the library I found the name Janardan to be one
of the names of Vishnu. I was immediately attracted to Him. It was the
first picture I had ever seen of Vishnu (I had not seen any picture of
Krishna up to this point yet). I fell in love with that picture. It was
small, maybe 2 ½” inches square. I cut it out and placed
it on a small table in my bedroom, which I made like an altar. Actually,
I had never seen an altar or Hindu temple. I had no idea what it was
I was doing. But, I cut the small picture out and I sat in front of that
picture, lit incense and meditated on Him as Vishnu, the SuperSoul, as
God, my Father whom I had felt a closeness to all my life. I now had
a picture of what God, the Father, really looked like. I was very attracted
to that picture.
So, by the summer of 1970, even though I had not come upon a book by
Srila Prabhupad yet, I had by that time come to the clear understanding
that Bhagavad Gita was the greatest religious book known. That it would
someday become the main religious book for the whole world. I knew I
needed to find a guru. I was now worshiping the Paramatma within my heart,
understanding Him to be God, the Father, and now I knew Him by the name
Janardana and now had a picture of Him and knew something of what He
You might wonder, being born and raised a Christian, now that I was
studying Eastern and Vedic thought and worshipping Narayan, the SuperSoul
as God, the Divine Father, what about my relation with Jesus? I had never
considered Jesus to be God himself (as some modern Christians do). I
considered him a saintly teacher. A guru. And, yes, I had always looked
to him as my guru, yet, still, I knew that I wanted a guru who could
specifically teach me details about God. Details that were lacking in
the Bible. I never considered Jesus to be less, but, I wanted a teacher
who could teach me things that were not there in the Bible. I never,
at any time, lost my closeness or respect and reverence for Jesus.
And, I am embarrassed to include this part, but, since I am writing
a lot of detail, I will admit my worse fallen faults at that time as
well. LSD was a strong and powerful drug.
Previously I wrote about my drug highs. I may have made it sound like
it was ‘far out’ in a positive sense. What I was trying to
convey was my experience that I felt at the time. At the time, when I
was first taking the drugs, I was mesmerized by the psychedelic experience.
I did think the drugs were positive and that the high was ‘religious’.
But, that is not how I viewed them later, especially not now. Those drugs
are very powerful. They are called mind-altering drugs for a very good
reason. They alter the mind. And that can be a very dangerous thing.
Because I was studying the Bible at the same time I was also reading
about the ‘visions’ of the prophets. And, when you take LSD
you definitely have ‘visions’. And, the American Indians
would take psychedelic drugs specifically so that one could have what
they teach are spiritual or religious visions. So, I was thinking the
LSD trips were like some sort of spiritual/religious vision. But, the
fact is, these drugs are not spiritual. They do not induce higher spiritual
states of consciousness. Rather, they simply put one into an ‘illusion’.
They induce false visions. And, they do, in fact, alter the mind. And
the way they alter the mind, over time, is generally not good. My given
name was James. So, some times high on LSD I would think, yes, I must
be James, the disciple of Jesus. The drugs make you think all sorts of
crazy things, and so if you think in terms of religious things, when
you get high you think all sorts of strange ideas concerning religion.
On other LSD trips I would think that I was, in fact, Jesus.
It didn’t help matters much that in those days I had shoulder
length hair and a beard. Many times some stranger would see me and think
that I was, in fact, Jesus. I had kids come up to me thinking I was Jesus.
When you have that happen to you on LSD, which I did, it really puts
all sorts of crazy ideas into your head. And, many musicians of the day
sang about things that made you think Jesus was going to appear again,
any day. So, why not me, why not I be Jesus?
This is all embarrassing. But, it is also taught in our Vedas that when
one progresses on the spiritual path to try and get out of this material
world, that maya, the material illusory energy, tries to keep you bound
up here. Maya tries to keep you away from God, so that only the most
sincere will be able to overcome the lure of maya and that way only the
most sincere will be able to return and enter into God’s kingdom.
It is said that maya’s last and final pull on you, trick on you,
is to make you think you are God. Well, for me, Maya worked through the
LSD so that I would think, I am Jesus. When I would get high, I would
feel it, then, you would come down and see that you aren’t and
you would get depressed.
Believe me, I am no advocate for drug use. I know from first hand experience,
it is extremely dangerous. It diverts one from actual spiritual life.
It is very powerful stuff and I saw, personally, how it messed up my
life during the time I was taking it.
Anyway, it was now becoming the summer of 1970. My desire to really
know who God was had reached a peak. I had to know Him, personally, for
real, who He was in Full. My desire to become self-realized was very
strong. And my desire to find my spiritual teacher was also very strong.
I had to know, I had to find out. One night I stayed up all night sitting
in front of the small picture of Janardana and prayed to Him, as the
Lord in the heart, and begged Him, please send me a guru, and please
reveal Yourself to me. I want to know who You are. What is the Kingdom
of God like? What do You do there. Please, tell me.
I recall praying as hard as I could, with tears in my eyes. With every
bit of strength I had, I put into my prayer. Yes, I may have smoked some
ganja (marijuana) that night, but that wound up being just a minor distraction.
My prayers were sincere and genuine, despite the intoxication.
I cannot recall if it was the very next day, or maybe 1-2 days later,
but I really believe it was just the very next day, I went to the West
Covina library branch to see what new books they may have there. I went
there fully convinced in my heart that God would send me my guru in the
form of a book. And that my guru’s book would be the answer to
my prayers and would contain all the answers to my questions, who was
God, etc. I was sure I would find that book, and my guru, that day and
would do so in that library. I had to. I had prayed so hard for it. God
had to answer my prayers. He had to.
So, I went to my favorite aisle and to my favorite section and started
to look. I was looking for a very old book. You see, the 16 books of
the Upanishads I had found there were printed in the 1920’s,
and that was actually a reprint of the originals that were translated
in the 1800’s. So, I was thinking my guru probably lived long
long ago. I was thinking that he would have written some book in which
he had explained all the details of who God is, and that this book
would just appear in the library. I was thinking that it would have
to be a very old book, and that my guru really had written it just
for me, many years ago, before he left this world. This book was for
me. I knew it was there, waiting for me that day to find it. So, I
looked over the shelves, looking for a very old book.
I didn’t see it. I was beginning to feel very vacant, that God
had let me down. I didn’t see any old book anywhere. Where was
my guru, where was this book?
After a few minutes I noticed something flashing out of the corner of
my view. There were fluorescent lights over head, and that may have contributed.
But, really, they were not flashing. I looked around, and then again,
I noticed something flashing on the shelf. I turned, but saw no old book.
Instead, there was a shinny brand new silver book with red letters. The
red on the silver seemed to pulsate and flash. “What? What is that?” I
went to pull the book down, but, I was thinking, “No, this is cannot
be the book I am supposed to find here. This book is shinny and dazzling
and it is brand new. The book I am looking for will be very very old.
I looked at the letters. K-R-S-N-A, with dots below the RSN. What was
that? I never saw that spelling before. I tried to pronounce it. “Kersna” “Krasna”,
then I remembered that Sanskrit book I had used dots under letters to
equate to the additional letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. I remembered
the dot under the r was pronounced ‘ri’ and the dot under
the s, that is sh. I now had the book in my hand, and just as I pronounced
the word, “Krishna”, I turned to the front cover. As I said
the name Krishna, I found myself looking at the most beautiful painting
I had ever seen. A dark blue young man in flowing yellow garments and
bedecked with jewels standing with a radiantly beautiful young girl in
a forest – garden setting. The title of the book read,
The Supreme Personality of Godhead
Tears came gushing out of my eyes. I knew that I was now holding in
my hands the book I had been praying for. I was now beholding in my vision
a painting showing me the actual form of God, the Supreme Personality
of Godhead. My long search for God had been fulfilled. The tears flowed
out. My knees weakened and I collapsed onto the floor and just gazed
at the painting. And, exactly as Srila Prabhupad had predicted in his
introduction to the Krsna Book, on seeing Krsna standing with Radharani,
I immediately wondered, “Yes, Krishna is God, but who is that girl
standing next to Him?”
After controlling my tears, I opened up the book, so I could read about
God, and read about what He does in His kingdom. But, the first thing
I noticed there was no Sanskrit. I was at first disappointed. How could
I be sure the author had translated this properly if I did not have the
original Sanskrit to check it out with? I wanted to be able to read the
original Sanskrit. But, rather then finding Sanskrit, I was more than
elated to find one full color print after the other showing the pastimes
and activities of the Supreme Lord. I was beside myself. Now I knew for
a fact, this was indeed the very book I had been praying for, and that
I knew would be waiting for me that day in the library. God had answered
After flipping through the pages and seeing all the color pictures,
I realized, whoever wrote this book, he is my spiritual master. Whoever
he is, I accepted him immediately as my spiritual master. As I was thinking
like this, I turned the book over and looked on the back side. There
was a picture of someone. My first thought was that it was a picture
of a small boy. So, my first reaction was, “How could such a small
boy write a book like this?” Then, I could see, the photo was of
an old man. So, then I though, “Oh, the small boy has an old man’s
body”. Those were my first thoughts on seeing Srila Prabhupad’s
photo for the first time. I immediately accepted him as my spiritual
At that age, everything you do you want to share with your friends.
So, I then was thinking how am I going to tell my friends about Krsna?
Just then I was flipping the pages and I landed on a page with a green
Apple Records logo on it. What was that doing in this book? It was at
the top of an introduction, and it was signed by George Harrison of the
Beatles. George Harrison. Wow. Oh wow. He is into Krsna and is a follow
of this guru? Oh wow. I was thinking, my friends will be blown away.
Prior to this I had given up on trying to find a guru who was still
physically living. I had resigned to trying to find my guru through his
teachings in an old book. But, here I was holding a brand new book. And,
I also noticed, the publish date was that year, 1970. Also, this book
had never even been checked out before. I could tell by the binding,
it had never even been opened up. So, I was even more happy to know that
the person I had accepted as my spiritual master, the author of that
Krsna Book, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, was actually still living
on this planet. I could met him in person someday.
I wondered what other books he had written? The libraries had no computers
back then. They had several books. One was Books In Print – by
Author. I found A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad listed, and was very
pleasantly surprised to find a number of books listed. And, some of the
titles were very intriguing, such as “Easy Journey to Other Planets” I
also noticed Isopanishad, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Nectar of Devotion,
Srimad Bhagavatam and many other books. And, of course, Bhagavad Gita
As It Is. That really made me happy because it had been 1 year since
I discovered the poor translations of Gita and had come to the conclusion
that the Gita was the original and greatest of religious books in the
world. I copied down the list of books, then I went to the libraries
card files to see what other books they carried.
I found 2 others that the library had. The Nectar of Devotion and The
Teachings Of Lord Caitanya. I wrote down their numbers and went to the
aisles and shelves and took them, plus the Krsna Book, to the check out
counter. I then placed only those 3 books on the counter. The librarian
lady was dumb-founded. Her mouth dropped open and in astonishment she
exclaimed, “How did you get those 3 books?”. Not knowing
what her excitement was all about, I answered her very honestly. I said, “Because
God sent them here for me”. This caused the poor lady to gasp in
total bewilderment. In fact, her hands began to tremble. I was wondering, ‘what
is wrong with this lady?’ I knew these were very potent and spiritual
books, and now I was thinking, ‘wow, just see peoples reactions
to these books’.
The woman went on, “But, how – why those 3 books?” Again,
I said, “Because I had been praying to God to please send me these
books, so He did.”. I was telling her the actual truth. Then the
lady explained her bewilderment. She said, “Just yesterday 2 young
men with shaved heads and pony tails wearing white robes, accompanied
by a young lady wrapped in a colorful cloth, came in and donated those
same 3 books to the library. And, one of the men told me that these are
very spiritual books and were sent here by God Himself”. Although
the woman was thinking this was some sort of mysterious or mystic thing
that had just taken place, I just took it as something totally normal
and expected. I again said, “Yes, God sent these books because
I had prayed and asked Him to. I was expecting them to be here.” She
then said, “But, how do you get those same 3 books? I know there
are in 3 totally separate locations, even on 2 different aisles. How
did you know to get those 3 books?”, she was very perplexed. Even
though I had looked up by author and found all the books by Srila Prabhupad
that the library had, I still told her the actual reason that this happened.
I said, “Because God wanted me to find these 3 specific books,
so He directed me to them.” And, really, that was the fact.
I went home and began reading to my heart’s content. I had finally
found my teacher, and found the book that I had long been wanting to
find. A book that described in detail who God, the Supreme Person, is.
What He looks like, what His spiritual kingdom looks like. What activities
God engages in, who are His friends and what do they do. Everything I
was wanting and longing to know. It was all there, in more exacting detail
then I had ever imagined, finally, in my hands.
Plus, I had been given the Nectar Of Devotion. This was Srila Prabhupad’s
translation of Srila Rupa Gosvami’s book, BhaktiRasAmrtaSindhu.
It contained additional nectar about Krsna, as well as some of the rules
and regulations the Vaishnav’s (followers of Krsna) follow. It
truly was Nectar for my soul.
I was already familiar with the ‘title’ Caitanya from my
study of Buddhism and also from some Shankarite books I had read. The
word Caitanya meant “Life Force”, and it was a title awarded
to sannyasis, members of the renounced order, both by the Buddhists as
well as followers of Srila ShankarAcharya. So, I had heard the title
before and knew the meaning of the word. But, when I read this book,
I was puzzled. The book was about Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu who is Krsna
Himself, and who appeared only 500 years ago in Bengal, India. I had
no problem accepting Krsna, etc. But, it took me longer to accept Caitanya.
I had never heard of Him before in any of the many books I had read.
Who was He? But, I when I read the book, Teaching of Lord Caitanya, I
was completely satisfied that everything was perfectly correct. Again,
the Lord in my heart guiding me.
And, it is here, this aspect of the story, for which I chose the title.
Yasya Prasadad Bhagavat Prasado,
Yasya Prasadan na gati gato’pi.
By the mercy of Krsna, one gets a spiritual master
And by the mercy of the spiritual master, one gets Krsna
Without their mercy, one cannot achieve the goal of human life.
This is from the last verse of a prayer/song that we, ISKCON devotee,
sing everyday in glorification of our spiritual master. In a reply to
one of my letters that I wrote to Srila Prabhupad he quoted part of that
verse and I find it applies very well to how I joined my spiritual master’s
Srila Prabhupad had further explained in this connection that when an
aspirant devotee is sincere in wanting to know God, God will deliver
to that sincere devotee His representative teacher, the spiritual master.
The spiritual master then will deliver Krsna.
Due to some desire, I was praying and had long wanted to know God, to
see God, to understand Him. But, I had now also knew that I needed a
spiritual teacher to help me on that path. So, Krsna’s mercy is
that He did both at the same time. He sent to be His pure representative,
Srila Prabhupad, as my spiritual master, and Krsna Himself came, in the
form of the Krsna Book, and via Srila Prabhupad’s book – via
his mercy – he revealed Krsna to me in the form of that same Krsna
Book. I was so fortunate to have received both of their mercy at the
same time, and both came in the form of that Krsna Book.
Another interesting thing about this particular book and how it wound
up in that library. Back around 1981 I was speaking with Jayatirtha in
Detroit. Jayatirtha was the current GBC for the Detroit temple where
I was performing my service with the FATE museum project. Jayatirtha
was also the temple president of the LA temple when I joined back in
1973. Anyway, in 1981 I was telling him this story of how I had found
the Krsna Book. How I had been praying for it, then I went to the library
and how it had been donated just the day before. He then asked, “Where
was this library?” “West Covina [in Southern California]”.
Jayatirtha exclaimed that that was he, along with another grhasta devotee
and his wife, who had brought and donated those books to the library.
And, he told me something else that was special about this and about
that exact Krsna Book. He said that the temple had just received several
boxes from the first original printing of the Krsna Book, part 1, of
the 2 volume hardbound set. These were large hardbound books. The devotees
were distributing mostly Back To Godhead magazines and soft cover smaller
books. They really didn’t know what to do with the hardbound books.
The didn’t know how to sell them on the streets so well.
So, he had the idea of taking a few of the books and donating them to
some libraries. Jayatirtha was also servicing the ‘Head’ shop
account for Spiritual Sky – for the incense and posters, and he
had to go out to West Covina anyway. So, he took the first Krsna Books
from that first box of book and the first place the first Krsna Book
distributed went was to the West Covina public library. Along with the
Nectar Of Devotion and Teachings Of Lord Caitanya. So, that Krsna Book
that I had prayed for was not just very special for me, but it was a
very special copy, being the first one to be distributed.
Another thing occurred within the period of my checking out the Krsna
Book from the library for the first time (I rechecked it out many times
thereafter, as I did not know how or where to purchase it) and having
the book in the house (I was staying with my brother at the time). That
was that I woke up one morning and the FM underground rock station was
on – it was Saturday (or maybe Sunday morning) and they would read
off all the name of the US soldiers that had been killed that week in
the Viet Nam war. At the same time my brother was frying bacon on the
stove. I used to like bacon. But, this morning I was hearing of the dead
from the war, and got the smell of the cooking dead flesh, and I saw
a very direct karmic link. War and suffering of the people, and an animal
that had been killed and it’s dead flesh frying on the stove. My
brother yelled out, “Breakfast is ready”. I came out and
said, “I’m not going to eat bacon, or any meat any more.
I’ve decided to become a vegetarian.” “Huh?” My
brother was quite shocked. A vegetarian? Why? I told him, there was a
lot of negative karma to kill an animal just to cook and eat it’s
flesh. So, I had decided never to eat meat again.
Well, that was a big shock to a lot of people. When I told this to one
close friend he exclaimed, “You don’t even know anyone who
is a vegetarian. What made you decide this on your own?” I told
him, devotees of Krsna do not eat meat, and I guess I got the idea from
And, another thing was that every time I had picked up a book by or
about some other guru, spiritual teacher, I always had some reservation.
Sometimes I would know immediately, this person is a cheater, or this
person lacks genuine realization. Other times I may find some good
things and learn something, but after a more thorough reading I would
conclude, no, this person is lacking in his realization. But, this
never occurred once, never, with any of Srila Prabhupad’s books.
From the first word I read, “Krsna”, to every topic, subject
and aspect of his teachings, it has only been full and complete acceptance.
I would venture to say, I never had any doubts at all. Either regarding
his authority, his realization or in any of his teachings. From the
very beginning, once I began reading, I just absorbed and accepted.
Any and all other books by other teachers, I could never do this. Again,
I have to attribute it to the SuperSoul within, or to whatever advancement
I had in my previous birth.
Even though I immediately considered myself a devotee of Krishna and
a disciple of Srila Prabhupad (I even told people he was my guru),
it took three years before I joined the temple. It was almost three
years before I even attended any temple program. During those years
I had made 4 attempts to do so, but was never successful. It seemed
that Krsna didn’t want me to join right away.
In the books the LA temple address was listed. One day my brother wanted
me to take a ride with him on his motorcycle. He wanted to take a ride
and didn’t care where, so we decided to go to the temple. It was
Saturday, mid day. We arrived and saw the main doors we assumed to be
the temple. We knocked on the door, no one answered. It was locked. We
walked around for a while, knocked on other doors, and no one answered.
We sat out on the grass for a while. No one came. Finally we left. Later
I found that everyone was out either distributing books or on Hari Nam,
chanting of the Holy Name on the streets.
Another time I found an address for a temple in Santa Barbara. It was
Sunday late afternoon. I was hitchhiking up to Big Sur in Northern Calif
and was passing through Santa Barbara. I went to a gas station and asked
for directions to that address. The guy asked if that was for the Hare
Krsna temple. I said, yeah, it was. So, he gave me directions – totally
in the wrong direction. He purposefully misled me. He sent me to downtown
Santa Barbara, and on Sunday the whole downtown area, all the shops,
everything was closed. It took me way over an hour to find someone who
could help. They told me the address I was looking for was on the other
side of the town. It was by then late, I needed to keep going, so I gave
Another day my friends and I had taken a trip to Big Sur
and Berkeley and we passed by the Krsna temple when it was located near
Park. I asked them to go, but several insisted they wanted nothing to
do with the idea, so we didn’t go.
And, another time I had taken a trip with my Apache friend,
Pepe, across country to Florida, near Miami. That was the summer of 1972.
I met, I would tell them about Krishna. I had brought a BTG with me on
that trip (since 1970 I had come across devotees from time to time distributing
BTG’s and books). After loosing the BTG I wound up drawing pencil
drawings of Baby Krishna and giving it to people for them to meditate
on as I told them about Krishna being the one and only original Personality
of Godhead. When I was in Florida I had told a number of young people
about the free Sunday feasts and so we loaded up 2 vans and about 15-20
people and headed out to attend a Sunday Love Feast at the Miami temple.
I had written down the address from a BTG that was probably a year old.
We pulled up to a house that was colorfully painted and above the door
it read Sri Sri Radha-Krishna Mandir. Finally, I was going to attend
the temple for the first time, and I was bring 2 van fulls of people
with me. But, no one was around. It was Sunday Feast time, no one around
? ? A neighbor saw us and told us that the Hare Krishna’s just
moved a few days ago. He wasn’t sure where, but not far from there.
There was no notice on the door. So, for 3 years I did make some attempts
to go to a temple, but all ended in failure. Amazingly, most of the members
of that group who I tried to take to the temple told me they would keep
trying latter (for me, I had to leave back to California).
Something sort of related to my coming to Krsna Consciousness.
I was into the music culture like everyone else in those days. I also
had big desire to become a big rock star / even wanted to do movies.
But, being a rock star was a big thing. While in Ft Lauderdale, Florida,
on the above trip, it was the summer of 1972,
my 12 string
shallow hollow body electric guitar with me. It was my only number one
attachment in this material world. I took it with me everywhere. I used
to jam on it all the time, that and a harmonica. I never learned music.
I had no idea how to play a 'C' or 'G' chord (I have also read that John
Lennon never learned to read or write music either. But he would compose
a new song by playing it out on the piano). In Ft Lauderdale one day
the people I was staying with invited some
record people to come by to hear me play. But, they made 2 mistakes.
1) they didn't tell me what was going on, and 2) they thought I would
do better if I was flying as high as a kite can go - without a string
in a hurricane. So, first they got me so stoned-out on about 3-4 hits
of LSD and opened a full kilo of pot. After I was totally wasted the
room filled up with all sorts of sllicked out dudes I never saw before
- then they through my guitar at me and told me to jam. I was peaking
on the LSD and started freaking out. What was going down? Who are all
these people and why are they wanting me to perform. I mean, you don't
put someone on LSD and do that sort of thing to them, at least without
telling them what was going on. When I finally came down, then they told
me that "I" had blown it because they had all these real important recording
people in the room, some came a long way away, just to hear me play and
I wouldn't do it. What does this have to do with my coming to Krsna Conssciousness.
was then told that several of these people would come again, when I was
ready. All I had to do was tell them.. But, I chose not to. Why? Because,
even though I really wanted to start a group and make records and become
famous, I decided that I should first meet my guru, whom I had already
taken Srila Prabhupad to be my guru. I wanted to meet him first, and
that way I felt I could make recordings that were spiritual in nature.
I wanted to sing songs with a message that could help uplift people.
Looking back on it, songs like that probably would not have made it.
The recording executives would probably not fund it, it probably would
not have made it. But, who knows?
Anyway, on my way back to California from that trip, I
ran into another person. His name was Jim Mcartney. He told me he was
not related to Paul. He was a backup lead guitarist for a group called
Mountain. And, he was also the lead guitarist for his group called Cactus.
We were both hitchhiking. That was popular in those days with the hippie
crowd. We both sat on the side of the road and jammed together for a
few hours. He had a harmonica and I had my guitar. Before he told me
who he was, he asked me to play. So, we jammed, and we jammed and we
jammed. He told me he was really impressed. Then he told me who he was.
He told me that, in his opinion, I was too good for any existing group.
He told me that I should get my own group together and do lead and singing.
He then wrote me out an invitation to come to a party up in Aspen Colorado
that was taking place in about 1 month. He said it was at Edgar Winters'
place, that Johnny Winters, Edgar, Leon Russel and Elton John would be
there, plus a whole lot of talent. He said that Elton John and Leon Russel
wanted upcoming musicians to come there because the whole point of the
party was to put together some new groups. This Jim McCartney told me
I had to be there. He said he would tell Elton I would be coming, and
that he was completely confident with my playing that Elton and Leon
would do what they could to help set me up with my own back up band and
they would help me record some songs. He told me that when I get to the
gate, just tell them the password, which he wrote down.
him by name
let me in.
Okay, so, what does that have to do with my joining Krsna
Consciousness? Well, the same as above. In Florida I had a chance. What
I had wanted for a long time, to get noticed and a chance to get into
professional music. I turned it down because I wanted to find my spiritual
direction first. But, here was even more of a chance. A chance to not
only meet Leon Russel, Elton John and a whole lot of top musicians,
but I was going to be introduced by someone who was going to ask Elton
John to help me form my own group. Talk about abig break. I started writing
songs, composing stuff. I got back to California. And, yet, I also knew
that I wanted to be a devotee of Krishna. I wanted to met my spiritual
master. And, I was thinking that I could also meet George Harrison. That
was who I really wanted to get tother with, musically. John Lennon, Harrison,
etc. That is what I really wanted. Eric Clapton, Donovan (Goo
goo Barabajagal - or Riki Tiki Mongoose) and Dylan. Maybe Young and Stills
and Nash too. Give it some American home
I was thinking, now that would be a far-out group. That is who I wanted
brothers, they were in-tight with the blues, but, hey, that would
be a real good start. So, it could have led to a major break.
day I sat there and I looked at that invitation, and I looked at
the Krsna Book I had again checked out from the library, and I looked
at the invitation, and I prayed to Krsna, what should I do? The message
that came was - I was not ready. So, what did I do? I took the written
invitation and I proceeded to tear it up, into little tiny pieces, then
I burned them. Gone. Finished. I chose that before I become famous, before
I get into music, first I have to get my spiritual direction settled
up. First, I will join a temple and become a Hare Krsna devotee, then,
later, I will get into music.
You know, who knows what would have happened had I gone
to Aspen, Co that year (I think it was 1972- but the party could have
been early 73 ?). I might not have been as good as Jim McCartney thought.
I might have been given the boot. Who knows, I might not have even gotten
in. BUT, on the other hand, I might of.... Who knows what might have
happened. But, it was another major step in my coming to Krsna Consciouness.
I once held in my hands a ticket that 'could' have led me to stardom.
But, stardom was not what I was after. It was just like when I was going
into Jr College. I looked into the future and I saw me sitting in somewhat
of a mansion in Pasadena with a beautiful wife and a Lamborghini sports
car, and I felt that was a totally empty - no where life. I wanted to
find out who God was. And I was determined to try and get out of this
material world in this lifetime. That was the real life. That was what
I wanted to live for. Eternal life. Not another temporary life of temporary
success. And, so, that is what I looked at with that invitation. I looked
into the future and I saw me up on stage before 1,000's of screaming
fans. And, I also saw an emptyness again. I wanted that, but I wanted
to "give" people a message that would uplift them. To do that, I had
to be uplifted myself, first. And I knew that I wasn't. For as much as
I thought I was advanced, deep down, I knew I wasn't. So, I decided to
throw away the biggest break someone like me could have asked for.
Over the years I have 'wondered' about what might have
been. I have never regretted it. But, there have been times
in my Krsna Conscious life when I wonder, what If? And, there have been
many times that I have thought, may be now I should try to get into music
and do something. But, I also saw the music industry is brutal. You can't
remain innocent and pure at heart. I also knew I would have to compromise
to be successful, and so I never tried. I wrote George Harrison
over the years. 3-4, but he never replied. Of course, he didn't know
who I was, exactly (although I had met him several times as a devotee).
I left it to Krsna, had Harrison replied and get in touch with me, I
would have taken it as a sign to try and do something musically. If not,
then I kept letting it go. Now that Harrison has passed away, I have
closed that part of my life.
Other interesting things occurred between 1970 and 73.
After finding the Krishna books at the library I also found BBT posters
at the Head shop. One day, while meditating on a poster of Krishna
and practicing pranayam (I didn’t know about chanting japa at that
point) I was listening to the FM radio. They were playing American Indian
Peyote chants. (It was the height of the hippie days in Southern California,
remember). Then, with no announcement they played Govinda Jaya Jaya,
Gopala Jaya Jaya from the Radha-Krishna Temple record album. But, they
didn’t say who or what it was, they just played it in the middle
of a set of American Indian chants. When I heard it, it sent shivers
all over me. Govinda - Gopala, these were Krishna’s names. This
was no American Indian Chant. It was India Indian. The sound of the
song sent me into total outer-space. It was the first kirtan-bhajan
ever heard (in this life). I listened at the end for the announcer
to tell who and what it was. But, at the end it went right back into
Indian chants for another 2-3 minutes. Then the announcer came on and
explained what he had played, the American Indian chants and he mentioned
that Govinda Jaya Jaya was on an album entitled the Radha-Krishna Temple
album that was produced by George Harrison.
Oh Wow. My mind was totally blown away. Then, he said the next song
was the number one song in England at the time, also from the same album.
What played next was the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra.
Over the next few days I heard the Hare Krsna mantra only once or twice
more, then I never heard it played on the radio again. [That is another
story. It has to do with the idea that the devotees wanted to control
the distribution of the record themselves in America – think they
could do better then Apple – and at first George insisted that
was not good idea. But, the devotees were hoping they could do better,
so George gave ISKCON distribution rights, and since we had nothing set
up, the record never got onto many stations, didn’t get air time,
and didn’t find its way into the store distribution channel. Generally
songs that are #1 in England, especially with George Harrison’s
name on it, would also be #1 or close to it in America. Instead, the
Maha Mantra never made the charts, never even made it to the stores,
nothing, in America]
After this I told all my friends about it. A Radha-Krsna Temple album
produced by George Harrison. I took some friends and drove to one record
store after another to buy the record. Nothing. No one had ever heard
of it. One store pulled up a print out of all records produced by Apple,
nothing. My friends thought that I must have been hallucinating. They
told me I should stop reading and talking about this Krishna so much,
it was really getting to me. They seriously did not believe me that I
actually heard the record. They told me, “Man, just lay off this ‘Krishna’ stuff.
It is really screwing up your mind”.
Well, about 2 months went by and one day I was driving in another city
I hardly ever go to (Fulteron). I was by myself and saw a record store
I had never been to. A new record by John Lenon had just come out (I
can’t recall if that was ‘Imagine’ or not?). I decided
to stop in to see if they had it in yet. I walked in and looked at the
new releases under Lennon. Nope, nothing. I turned to walk out and got
about 5 feet when I felt a hand on my shoulder. The store owner said, “Here
I think you’ll want this”, and as I turned around he handed
me a record. On one side of the cover was a photo, reddish and yellowish,
flowers all over and 2 white marble statues in the center covered with
flowers. It was the white marble Deities of Radha-Krishna (either from
London or Bhaktivedanta Manor). I had never seen marble Deities before.
Instead, I though they were small 12” high white ceramic figurines,
like China dolls. It didn’t strike me it was a picture of Radha-Krishna
Deities, so I had no idea what the record was.
I turned it over, and there was a picture of Srila Prabhupad,
my Spiritual Master, the author of the Krsna Book. And the title, “Radha-Krishna
Temple Album”. I was totally floored. I mean, this really blew
my mind. Very dramatically and slowly I asked, “How did you know
I wanted this record?”. The guy told me that a few weeks earlier
several Hare Krishna’s came by and dropped off several albums to
see how fast they would sell (their ‘better’ way of record
distribution). He said he put it in the new release rack, under Radha-Krishna,
but he said no young people even looked at it. He was convinced that
if a young, long hair (I had long hair at the time) person saw it, they
would want it. He told himself the next hippie who walks in here I am
going to show him the record. I happened to have been the next hippie
who walked in. I knew this was no coincidence. I also was very much aware
that getting the Krishna Book and now this record was the direct results
of the dealings of the SuperSoul, who directed me to stop in to that
record store, then directed the store owner to give me that record.
untouched original scanned cover
I played that record day and night for the next 2 ½ years. It
became my all time favorite. The Govindam Adi Purusam prayers we sing
each day to greet the Deities is also on that album.
I was now able to show and play the record to my friends, who really
had thought I had hallucinated the whole thing. They were a little impressed
that it was a for real thing, but, I was the only one (among them) that
really got into it.
The other thing was the picture on the record cover, the picture of
the marble Deities of Radha-Krishna. I didn’t know what Deities
were, how big they were, etc. When I looked at that picture I thought
they were only 12 inches high and made out of white ceramic clay, like
China dolls. I had the record for years and spent many long hours looking
at the cover, I started to think that these must be some figures Prabhupad
brought with him from India. He must keep Them to remind him of Krishna.
But, I noticed that They had clothes on and that They also had fresh
flower garlands. I started to think that someone must take the time to
dress Them and make new garlands for Them. I began to pray to Krishna
that someday maybe I could do that service for Srila Prabhupad.
Enhanced scanned (poor quality) of Radha Krishna
Temple Album cover
to be able to dress Them and make new flower garlands for Them. But,
I would check myself when those desires arose. I didn’t know if
it was ‘sane’ to think like that. I mean, I was a grown young
man at the time. I didn’t want anyone knowing that I had a desire
to dress small dolls. What would people think? I even questioned if there
was something wrong with me for thinking like that. I was almost afraid
to ask, but I still prayed to Krishna to be able to do it. I had no idea
at all about Deity worship and dressing the Deities. Obviously, after
I joined, all of this was so wonderful. Immediately it all seemed so
natural to me once I joined the temple. Like I was stepping into something
I had done in my past lives.
It was also interesting how I got my first
BTG (Back To Godhead) magazines. I liked to burn incense, and I found
that the incense
that came from
India was the
best. But, the Head shop only carried the Spiritual Sky incense (it
was made in the US, by devotees, but at the time the fragrances they
were not natural, but were synthetic chemicals. Most of it actually
gave me a headache – that was then – eventually devotees imported
the best incense from India). So, I looked up in the phone book and found
some Indian grocery stores. The nearest ones were over 20 miles away.
The stores were Indian grocery stores. I wnt to one and bought some incense.
A few weeks later I went to another store. This was in the Lakewood Mall.
I went there and they had a large glass window and in the window were
a number of posters of all sorts of demigods, Shiva, Ganesh, Saraswati,
Durga, etc., and there was only one of baby Krishna. Before I entered
the store I stopped to view this poster. The title at the bottom of the
poster was written in Sanskrit (Hindi) script. As I said, I had started
to study Sanskrit on my own, so I was able to read the Sanskrit writing.
It said, Bala Rupa Sri Krishna. The form of Baby Krsna. I walked in and
asked the store owner how much was that poster of baby Krishna in the
window. The owner said all the posters were, I think, $1 or so, but he
added all posters were for sale except that one of Krishna. Hmmm, that
I wanted to make sure we were talking about the same poster, because
I wasn’t interested in any pictures of demigods, and I only wanted
that one poster of Krishna. I said, “You mean the poster that says ‘Bala
Rupa Sri Krishna’ on it?” The owner, an Indian man, obviously,
was astounded. He said, “You can read Hindi?” I said, “No,
but I can read Sanskrit”, (I didn’t know they used the same
alphabet). Even more impressed, he said, “You read Sanskrit?” “Yes.” He
asked, “Do you know who Krishna is?” I said, “Lord
Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead”. Then the store owner
told me, “Go, take the poster, you can have it, it’s yours.” He
explained that he originally didn’t want to part with it because
it was the last picture of Krishna he had left in his store. But, he
said he was going to India soon and could buy many more.
He asked if I had ever been to the Hare Krishna temple? No. So, he invited
me, then he reached down under the cash register and asked if I had any
BTG’s. No, I had no idea what he was talking about. He handed me
a large stack of them, maybe 10 to 15. He explained that one mataji,
Krishna devotee, comes to his shop every month and brings him the latest
magazine and he gives her some donation. He reads them and leaves them
there to give to anyone who might be interested, but he never really
found anyone who he thought would appreciate them, so he had a large
stack of them, and gave them all to me. So, I bought maybe $3 of incense
and walked out with a poster and a large stack of Back To Godhead magazines,
the magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement.
Another, odd thing, small, but still it was meaningful to me at the
time. My brother was moving into another house. He had already rented
it and it had a garage in the back that had been converted into an extra
bedroom. My brother told me it would be a prefect place for me to stay.
Then he asked me if I knew what “H - a - r - i B - o - l” meant.
He asked if it had anything to do with that “Hare Krsna” thing
I was into. Hari Bol, yeah, it means to chant Krishna’s name. He
said that it was odd because it had been written onto the back door of
the house before he rented it. Like I said, this was a small thing, but
it had meaning to me when it happened. It was the door I used everyday
to enter the house, and everyday I read it, Hari Bol. Another aspiring
devotee had lived in that same house. In fact, the landlord told my brother
that the previous renter did have a son about 18 years old, so it must
have been him.
So, I took all of this as signs from Krishna. The way I received the
Krishna Book, the way I heard the songs on the radio, the way I got the
record album, the posters of Krishna, the BTG magazines, the Hari Bol
on the door. Everything concerning Krishna always seemed to come about
in an unusual way. In a way that I could see and felt assured that “someone
up there” was ‘personally’ making all these arrangements
and was also looking out for me.
Other things I did before actually joining the temple was
that I came up with my own alphabet. I made my own new letter shapes
and fashioned the alphabet after Sanskrit. That is, each letter has a
specific sound. A phonetic alphabet. Also, like Sanskrit, the sound 'ah'
(short a) would not be written, but would be assumed after any vowel.
And, another thing I did was I designed Vedic communities, which are
planned out around a temple, with the temple in the center, and walls
surrounding the whole city. I could forsee that there will come a time
when people will again live in such Vedic style cities.
after nearly 3 years I finally went to a temple and someone was there.
house) on a Saturday
morning. Only one devotee was there, and after speaking with me for
a few minutes asked me to help him clean up the Sankirtan Room and put
the books on the shelves. It was the first time I saw the Srimad Bhagavatam
and Prabhupad’s Gita. I bought SB 1-1 and the Gita after I spent
about 2 hours cleaning and reorganizing the book room. Then he told me
that Srila Prabhupad was at the temple and asked that I come back at
7:00 AM to hear his class. He told me that by 8:30 the program would
Before I left the devotee asked me to come into the temple room. The
LA temple room then was where the museum is located now. When I entered,
the main entrance entered on the side of the temple room, the frst
thing I saw was a large painting of Nrsingha on the other wall. I asked, “Who
is that?” He is very ferocious looking, but also makes the devotees
feel well protected, not intimidated. And, that is how I felt by seeing
Lord Nrshingha for the first time. The noon arotik was beginning and
the curtain opened. There was Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarakadish. This was the
first time I had ever seen Deities. The devotee had told me before we
entered the temple that the Deities were the same size as the ones on
the Radha Krishna Temple album. But, remember, I thought those were small
1 foot high ceramic dolls. When the curtain opened the Deities stood
taller than me, high on the altar. I was totally amazed. So “BIG”.
I stood there for some time drinking in Their most exquisite beauty.
Then I looked over and saw Lord Jagannath. His eyes were so huge, and
he was smiling. I asked the devotee, “Who is that with the big
Big eyes and big smile?”
Well, the next morning I got up late and didn’t leave the house
until well after 7:00. It was a 45 min drive, plus I had trouble finding
the temple again. It was nearly 8:30 when I arrived at the temple. I
was feeling despondent because I was sure I had missed the whole program.
At best, I was thinking I would only get in on the last few minutes.
This was the first time I ever saw Srila Prabhupad (or he me). I had
accepted him as my guru nearly 3 years ago, but I had never seen him.
I was thinking some great exchange would take place. I was thinking that
when he saw me he would come over and say, “It’s about time
you came”, that he would recognize me and would take me in personally.
But, as I arrived I began to realize that I was no great soul. I realized
it was not going to be so dramatic. Then, I began to pray just to be
able to see him at all, now it was so late.
I approached the temple room. There is a small entrance foyer as you
go into the older temple room (now museum entrance). Not only was the
temple room packed, but the foyer was packed as well. All I could see
was the back of those standing in the door way. Even though I arrived
late, guru puja had lasted longer and class was less than half over.
I kept trying to see in, just to get a glimpse of Srila Prabhupad. Nothing,
all I could see were the backs of those in front of me. I could see a
peacock fan and chamara rising up and down, and I could see the canopy
of the asan, but I could not see Srila Prabhupad. After some time, my
legs grew tired. I was expecting and hoping for some dramatic first time
meeting, I could see that wasn’t going to happen (at least not
the public way I though it would).
Getting tired, I kneeled down with one knee on the floor and accepted
it that I was not going to be able to see him that day. After a few more
minutes, quickly, one by one, each person standing in front began to
lean to one side or the other. It reminded me of the parting of the waters
when Moses crossed the Red Sea. Half the people leaned to their left,
the other half leaned to their right, and quickly a straight line of
site opened up between me and Srila Prabhupad. As the last several people
moved to the side and the line of sight opened, there I was, looking
directly at Srila Prabhupad, who was also looking directly at me. I was
expecting some dramatic, but I was thinking it would be very public,
that Prabhupad would come up to me and that everyone else would see just
how great I was, that Srila Prabhupad would make a big thing and recognize
me and all. I was wanting him to jump up and say, “You finally
came, what took you so long”. And, just when I realized how self-centered
that desire was, and just as I abandoned that desire, I am kneeling on
the floor and at that time Srila Prabhupad and I had our first eye-contact
meeting. Even though this was not what I was originally expecting, it
was still very dramatic for me, yet it was private, personal, no one
else knew anything unusual had just happened.
With Srila Prabhupad looking directly at me, I felt like frozen ice.
I didn’t know what to do. Then, I remembered that the devotee who
showed me the temple room the day before had bowed down and touched his
head to the floor when entering the temple or seeing the Deities. So,
I quickly bowed down and touched my head to the floor (for the first
time in my life, I hadn’t done it the day before, but had observed
it). I stayed down for some time, thinking that when I rise up my head
the line of sight would be closed. It wasn’t, and Srila Prabhupad
was still looking directly at me. This time he had a smile, but also
a concern, like he was inviting me. As I said, it was something that
no one else would have noticed. It was dramatic for me, but it was private,
personal, not openly public. Then I thought, “Well, here I am,
finally, 3 years after I first accepted you in my heart as my guru”,
and as I was thinking like this, Srila Prabhupad made more of a smile,
still looking directly at me. I knew in my heart he could hear me, he
could hear my heart from within. I knew he knew what I was thinking.
He and I looked at one another, probably less than 30 seconds, but it
seemed like an eternity. I could feel the compassion, the mercy. Feel
it is not the proper word. I was consumed by it. It pierced me, like
a flame. For the whole remainder of the class, about another 15 minutes,
that line of sight between us stayed open. The devotees who had formed
a solid dense wall when I first arrived simply had moved themselves to
one side or the other and remained that way for the rest of the class.
It was little things like this that made major impressions on me. It
made me realize the workings and potency of the SuperSoul.
I left that day knowing that Srila Prabhupad did know me. I knew that
he knew that I had accepted him as my guru for the last 3 years. And
I felt that he was happy to see that I finally had come. I was happy
that I had finally come. My eyes never left him for the rest of the class,
and every few minutes he would purposefully look directly at me. His
expression was not so much smiling, but beckoning, beckoning all lost
souls like me to come and follow him, Back Home, Back To Godhead. He
was the embodiment of compassion and mercy.
Yasya Prasadad Bhagavat Prasado Yasyaaprasdad na-gati gato’pi
Dhayan stu vams tasya yasyas tri-sundyam Vande Guro Sri Charanaravindam
Srila Prabhupad ki jai !