I started meditating in 1965, practicing Hatha Yoga and Astanga Yoga. I began my studies by reading and practicing the techniques described in a book by Dr. Ramamurthi Mishra, The Fundamentals of Yoga.
Every morning I would go out on the sun porch by the sea, and do a half hour to an hour of hatha yoga. I followed this by an hour to an hour and one half of meditation, selecting different chapters of this wonderful book to study and practice.
In 1967, I hitch hiked up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco to participate in the Summer of Love. Among my adventures at the be-ins and love-ins, I found a poster that moved me profoundly and crystallized my intention to pursue spiritual realization. It was a poster of Avatar Meher Baba.
I went on through the years to read from his profound writings. From these writings I discerned a clear description of what we later identified as the Third Transcendental Path.
Before I met my first teacher in 1969, I explored several different teachings.
- I read from the writings of Theosophy and the Buddhist canons.
- I chanted Hare Krishna with ISKCON devotees.
- I meditated with followers of Sri Ramakrishna.
- I did Zen Buddhist meditation in a Buddhist Zendo in Los Angeles.
- I got a sacred scroll from the Nicheren Shoshu organization and chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo by myself in the mornings, and with groups once a week in the evenings.
- I was baptised and became a born again Christian with a Pentacostal sect in Portland, Oregon.
- I started studying the Self Realization Fellowship lessons.
At the beginning of my own quest for a genuine spiritual teacher, I investigated these many different paths. However, as I had found Dr. Mishra's book in 1965, two books deeply resonated with me and pointed out two threads of my spiritual destiny.
The first of these books, The Path of the Masters, by Dr. Julian Johnson, described the teachings of Sant Mat, the teachings of the Radha Soami Sat Gurus.
Something inside of me melted when I read these writings, and I knew that I had to find such a Sat Guru, one who had reached the highest stage of spiritual realization.
This book ignited in me an intense bhakti, a spiritual longing and devotion, to find such a Perfect Master.
Years later, this powerful attraction to the Sant Mat teachings was to be fulfilled through initiation by Sant Darshan Singh.
The second of these books was Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. This book described Yogananda's experiences in meditation and his meetings with remarkable holy men and women in India. He described a practice called Kriya Yoga that accelerated spiritual evolution.
I yearned deeply to gain spiritual realization and mastery. After reading his book and beginning the study of the Self Realization Fellowship lessons in 1968, I affirmed to myself in meditation, "I shall take the Kriya Yoga path to the Infinite."
This affirmation turned out to be prophetic. I went on to later complete the study of all 180 lessons of this course, and was initiated into all four levels of Kriya Yoga.
A friend of mine called me one evening in 1969 to tell me that she had had a very profound experience with a gentleman who painted astounding pictures of the Christ and the Masters of Love and Wisdom, and who gave "the Light." She gave me his name, in passing.
I dismissed what she said, thinking to myself that he was probably just another psychic from the Astral Plane. A few weeks later, I was seeking a book on Eckankar® by Paul Twitchell in the Carlton Bookstore, in Santa Monica, when I caught with the corner of my eye a small painting of an angel.
I was immediately drawn to the picture. As I gazed at this beautiful image, I read the name of the painter upon it. It was the same name as my friend had told me.
At that time my intuition told me, "go ask the man behind the counter where this man lives."
My reason balked, "that is absurd—how will this man know this painter?"
"Just do it!" my intuition mellifluously intoned.
I walked over to the counter. Feeling a little embarrassed, I asked Mr. Carlton, the kind proprietor, if he knew where this painter lived. He did. Mr. Carlton had been studying with this man for a long time. He gave the address right on the spot.
More than a little surprised, I wrote it down and thanked Mr. Carlton. As I turned to go back to the bookshelves, my intuition joyfully prompted me, "please go to this address right away."
Reason barked back, "but this address is over two miles away. This man doesn't know me from Adam. I can't just go and knock on his door. He'll call the police!"
My intuition was on a winning streak. "Please go now!" it sweetly whispered to me.
Feeling like a complete fool, and fully expecting to be roundly chewed out or possibly even arrested, I proceeded directly to the address. The gentleman lived in a second floor apartment near the beach in Santa Monica. I walked up the steps and stood before the door. I held my breath. I knocked on the door.
I began to feel an energy come through the door. I felt like an angel, or some powerful presence, was reading my soul at all levels. The door slowly opened. A gentleman dressed in a silk Nehru coat looked at me with great kindness. He gently spoke, "oh, you've come for the Light, haven't you?"
He cupped his hands together in front of him, and closed his eyes. He then raised his hands above my head. I felt an incredible fire filling my whole body and soul. As I closed my eyes, I saw brilliant, dazzling white light within me.
I do not know how long this ecstasy continued. It seemed like an eternity. When I again opened my eyes, he was standing before me with a flyer in his hand. He said softly and sweetly, "would you like to come to my meetings in the evenings?"
My mind was completely blown. I thought to myself, "is he kidding? Would I like to come? I will bite and scratch and scream to be there!!!" I managed to weakly stammer, "I, uh, plan...to come."
I sat with the Master Maha Genii Turriziani weekly for about six months. His Light transformed me. His inspired discourse burned in my Soul. I traveled deep into the Cosmic Sphere with him in meditation. I experienced Samadhi, the mystic union with Cosmic Consciousness, for the first time. I glimpsed the sacred Masters of the Hierarchy of Light. I journeyed through dimensional Planes of ineffable beauty and splendor.
In esoteric teachings, the Father Guru is the Initiate who first opens the Path for an aspirant. The Maha Genii was my Father Guru.
I do not recall how we separated. I believe that he moved away and I could no longer attend his meetings.
But an old rankling in my soul emerged. I kept feeling, there is something more, even beyond what this great Master has taught me." I've got to find Sat Guru," echoed in my thoughts over and over, like a spontaneous mantra.
In the days and weeks that followed my time with the Maha Genii, it became increasingly difficult to concentrate on my studies in college.
My spiritual longing was growing so intense that I could scarcely keep my mind on anything else. I dropped out of college and took some odd jobs to support myself. I read spiritual books voraciously.
During this period, I was initiated into Ananda Marga, and received a transformational (bija) mantra. While I did not resonate with this path, my introduction to a transformational mantra was later to play a key role in my understanding of the Mudrashram® teachings.
Also during this period of great yearning and longing, I had the opportunity to see Maharaj Charan Singh Ji, the spiritual head of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas. I also saw Baba Ram Das, Swami Muktananda, and other holy teachers. But nothing felt right. I kept searching.
One day when I was walking on the Venice boardwalk with some friends of mine who had been initiated with me into Ananda Marga, I noticed a sign on with a picture of a young boy with his eyes half closed, seated before a microphone. The sign said, "Sat Guru has come."
Intrigued, my friends and I agreed to go see him that week at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. I reflected to myself, "wouldn't it be funny if this was a literal message from the universe. Could this be...the Sat Guru... I have been looking for?"
When I went to the gathering at the Ebell, Sat Guru Balyogeshwar Paramahansa was dressed in simple yoga whites. Sitting with him, grinning from ear to ear, was a bald "Mahatma" dressed in orange robes. I later learned his name was Mahatma Guru Charanand.
I remember that I was relatively unimpressed with the discourses and testimonials I heard that night. They sounded like so many satsangs (spiritual discourses) I had heard from sundry Hindu holy men and women. But what did impress me was the quality of the vibration I felt from Sat Guru Balyogeshwar and his followers. I sensed there was "something real, something living here," beyond what could be communicated by their words.
I proceeded to go and live with Guru Maharaj Ji, as his followers called him, at his center on Alta Loma Terrace, above the Hollywood Bowl.
I camped in my sleeping bag in the front room with other seekers and his followers. His followers called themselves premies, which means lovers of God.
Guru Maharaj Ji slept in one of the bedrooms of this tiny white stucco two bedroom house. Mahatma Gurucharanand slept in the other.
During the day I would do service in the garden and listen to discourse from Guru Maharaj Ji, who sat in a stuffed love seat. I asked him many questions.
I remember asking him one day if he knew about the five shabds of Guru Nanak.(This is supposedly a test question to determine if someone is a Sat Guru in the Sant Mat teachings).
He began to talk about the wind and the rain and the powers of nature, something completely unrelated to my question. But I glimpsed in that moment the infinite depths of his realization, which was far, far beyond anything described in the Sant Mat teachings.
Here was a teacher of the highest order, who had attained what the Mudrashram® lineage later referred to as the "Infinite Stage."
I recall later that week, Guru Maharaj Ji was discoursing about asking these "wise seers of Truth for Knowledge." A flood gate opened somewhere deep in my soul, and I threw myself at his feet, weeping, sobbing, begging him for Knowledge.
Mahatma Gurucharand gently took me in his arms and cradled me. Through my tears, I saw Guru Maharaj Ji look over at me. Great kindness filled his eyes. He softly said to me, "yes, you may have Knowledge." I was initiated the next day.
Mahatma Gurucharand revealed the techniques of Knowledge to me and unveiled the mysteries of Satchitananda.
While the techniques themselves are unremarkable—I had previously practiced three of them of them before I had ever taken Knowledge—it was what happened after I had practiced the four techniques that changed me completely.
I awakened as the Ancient Wisdom. I had become Satchitananda. My spirit now freed, traveled through rivers of light, sound, nectar, and primordial vibration, continuously, with every moment, with every breath.
I studied with Guru Maharaj Ji for five years. During this time, I would be drawn into the powerful vortex of meditation for up to ten to twelve hours a day. I was riveted by the unfolding at the inner spiritual eye. Vision after vision poured into me. World after world opened up to me.
I visited Guru Maharaj Ji whenever I could. I went to see him at events in India, in Orlando, Florida, in Houston, Texas, and at his home in Malibu. I went to satsangs with his followers several nights a week.
Imperceptibly, as my meditations deepened, the Satchitananda presence with which I had identified myself become a universal power, belonging no longer just to me, but to every living creature. It had become like a mighty ocean.
It began to teach me, to give me satsang, to dictate writings to me. Then it started its ministry, developing the Masters of the Mudrashram® lineage as extensions of its own infinite realization. A great power had risen up within me. The Mudrashram® lineage had been born.
Needless to say, remaining continuously in an altered state of consciousness for several years was, however, taking a severe toll on my personal life:
- I had great difficulty making decisions.
- I gave satsang much of the time; it was hard to carry on a simple social conversation.
- I would space out at the marginal counter person jobs I was lucky enough to get at minimum wage. I can't recall how many times I was fired.
- Having a girl friend during this period was impossible. My feelings were completely numbed. Much of the time I felt like I was a spiritual entity outside of my body. I couldn't relate to people at a personal level, much less establish intimacy with someone.
- I would go through periods of terror and confusion, alternating with profound depression.
In a word, I was a complete mess. I was undergoing, what I would later learn, are the consequences of involvement with a religious cult: marked deterioration of personality functioning.
One day in meditation, my guide came to me and said, "now we are going to embark on a very important part of your spiritual journey. Your work with Maharaj Ji is now complete. You now have to pay attention to a part of yourself that has been neglected while we focused on your spiritual development."
The next moment I was hurled out of the Higher Planes and immediately popped back into my body. The gates of the inner vehicles were slammed shut behind me. The guide's voice gently and soothingly continued, "you must learn to function in your body. You must also learn to be a person."
Not wishing to be imprisoned in the body, I tried to smash my way through the inner gates. I would not suffer the indignity of dwelling in a limited body when I had tasted the freedom of the spiritual Sky.
"We shall have our times of communion together," the guide resumed. "But let us begin with paying attention to your personal life: concentrating on your work, cleaning your house, taking care of your appearance, experiencing what it is like just to be a person, a human being who lives in this world."
Though I resisted this strenuously at first, I came to accept, and later enjoy, being a person. What helped me come back was working at my first stable job, learning to listen to others on a help line, dancing, and writing poetry.
I did a lot of writing over the years until I went back to school in 1980.
After I was initiated by Darshan Singh in 1978, poetry poured through me. Poetry helped me get back into touch with my feelings again, feelings that had been deadened by years of staying in an altered state of consciousness.
Dancing helped me get back into touch with my body. I used to dance three times a week at Dance Home, an avant garde dance studio in Santa Monica.
Over the next few years, I would take classes at Continuum™, and with the Athey sisters, Eve and Mary Anne, in their Movement Expression™ workshops. I would dance maniacally, ecstatically with the disciples of Bhagwan Rajneesh, feeling the joy of being alive in the body.
The Movement Expression™ work was specially valuable for me because it incorporated elements of Gestalt therapy. After growing up in an alcoholic family and getting lost in the blissful oblivion of spiritual cults for several years—believe me, I needed therapy!
After grounding myself through this process, I was then allowed to fulfill another facet of my spiritual quest, a long standing desire to be initiated into the Sant Mat tradition.
Initiation into the Sant Mat tradition felt like a natural acceptance of my destiny. My burning spiritual longing had been quenched. I was at peace within. I felt equally comfortable being a person, and traveling at will to any spiritual Plane at the speed of thought.
Meditating in the Sant Mat tradition was not difficult for me. What I learned here that was more important than its meditation was the reformation of my character. This teaching helped me formulate enduring values, and build my life on a platform of integrity and honesty with myself.
Sant Darshan Singh was a saint of unspeakable beauty and grace. He was a fountain head of love and virtue. Sweetness and purity radiated from him. His legacy survives today in his holy successor, Sant Rajinder Singh.
I have had the extreme good fortune to spend time in the presence of of both of these great Sat Gurus. I consider this to be some of the most treasured experiences of my life.
I am no saint. I perhaps will never be one in this life time. It was truly inspiring to me, a very imperfect man, to experience the glory of two of God's holy Sat Gurus, perfect saints of the highest order.
Dancing gave me back my body. Poetry gave me back my feelings. Sant Mat helped me clarify my values. The EST training gave me back my will and my ability to set goals and accomplish them.
Meditating for long periods of time like I did makes you very passive. You are content to just be, watching and enjoying the scenery around you. You become a kind of spiritual spectator, watching your life unfold in the moment. You blissfully follow somnambulant routines, being fully present with your spoon and fork, as you chew and swallow your peas.
What is lacking from this picture is the ability to take charge and make it happen. The idea of manifestation, of actualization, means using the will to achieve your cherished goals and dreams. This had languished in me. The EST training was the catalyst that reawakened it.
With my rehabilitated sense of ability to create my future, I decided to finish some long unfinished business: to go back to school to complete my Bachelors degree in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Studying Psychology at UCLA reanimated my reason and intellect. I discovered I enjoyed reading and research, and thinking about the ideas of the insightful psychologists. I studied about cults in an attempt to understand what had happened to me during my extended mystic odyssey.
I was beginning to formulate my own understanding of psychology, integrating yet another strand of the colorful tapestry of my life.
After I worked for the Los Angeles West Side Hot Line for over a year, I found an unusual ad in the newspaper. The ad announced that they were looking for a hotline counselor for The Los Angeles Spiritual Lifeline.
The ad fascinated me. I thought to myself, "who in the city of Los Angeles has been exposed to a greater variety of spiritual experiences than me? I'd be perfect for this!"
My intuition, which usually chimes in at a time like this (and tells me I'm full of it), was strangely silent. "Well," I thought, "I'm going to check this out."
Later that week I met Danielle Levy, founder of the Los Angeles Spiritual Lifeline. Danielle was a bright and bubbly lady, a hearing officer for the City of Los Angeles at her day job. She taught me about the writings of Alice Bailey, showed me the fine points of metaphysical counseling, and introduced me to Psychosynthesis.
Psychosynthesis, a system of psychotherapy developed by an Italian disciple of Freud, Dr. Roberto Assagioli, was an eclectic blend of many techniques for insight and personal growth.
What specially intrigued me about Dr. Assagioli's work was that he had incorporated the spiritual dimension into psychology, a realm he referred to as the Higher Unconscious and the Transpersonal Self.
"Finally," I thought, "a system of psychology [e.g.,the term psychology comes from a Greek word that means science of the Soul] that has a Soul! Yeah, baby!
I went on to study Psychosynthesis in 1979 for one year with Doug Russell, LCSW. I continued to read the evocative writing and journal articles of Psychosynthesis therapists. I further expanded my knowledge of this system of Transpersonal Psychology by writing a scholarly paper on it at UCLA.
Only one piece remained incomplete on my spiritual journey. Years earlier, I had vowed to study Kriya Yoga.
In my remembrances of my past lives, I clearly recalled studying Kriya Yoga with Lahiri Mahasaya, one of the gurus in Yogananda's lineage. Processes I did in the EST training and other workshops kept bringing me back to this life, when I was a devoted monk, doing one thousand kriyas a day.
I resolved to put this missing piece in the puzzle. I finished studying the Self Realization Fellowship lessons. I took initiation into Kriya at Mother Center, a secluded ashram in the Mount Washington area of Los Angeles.
As I progressed from Kriya to Kriya, there was much that was familiar about the techniques I was using. But the great surprise came when I started doing the third Kriya.
As I started to do the sacred breathing and silent chanting of this advanced technique, I felt something wake up inside of me. Out of this silent, mystic presence within me, a deep, slow resonant voice came to me: "what year and time is this?"
I stated it was 1982. The voice intoned, "I have not practiced this technique since 1893. It has been 90 years since I practiced this holy Kriya at the feet of my beloved Guru deva." I remember sobbing for a long time.
I continued practicing Kriya for some time after that. I remember one day that I felt a deep release within me. I then sensed an oceanic peace spreading out in all directions. A great inner silence filled me, and then the mighty AUM began to resound. Out of the Cosmic AUM words began to form: "oh my child, your work is done. Thou art liberated, immortal, free. Thy dedication to Kriya hast made thee Jivan Mukta."
[The term Jivan Mukta means liberated Soul. It refers to the dissolution of all karma except for Pralabdha or destiny karma, which continues to operate until the end of one's allotted life.]
Swami Prem Dayal had been appearing in my meditations for over a year. He later initiated me into Kaivalyam Kriya and other advanced forms of this sacred transformational meditation.
[Kaivalyam Kriya is known as the deathless, breathless Kriya. It is only given after the Cosmic Consciousness has been liberated. This technique brings about direct transformation at the higher octave of the Astral Soul.]
Swami Prem Dayal would appear regularly in my meditations, sometimes with Mahavatar Babaji, sometimes with Lord Jesus by his side. I thought he was an advanced disciple of Babaji or Jesus, or maybe one of the rishis. His wisdom was boundless, and great power flowed through him.
One day he appeared in my meditation in 1983. He said to me, "I am Swami Prem Dayal. I represent a newly emerging lineage called Mudrashram. From this day forward you shall initiate on our behalf and you shall be our mouthpiece to men."He proceeded to empower me to give the seven sacred mudras, and reveal to me the blueprint of the teaching that formed the foundation of the Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation. True to his word, he has allowed me to channel his Light and satsang since that time. I continue to this date  to receive his satsang, to dictate his inspired writings, and to channel his spoken words during a Soul Attunement and Guidance Channeling.
Since that time, two other Masters of the Mudrashram lineage have begun to work through me, Swami Charan Das and Swami Prabhu Maharaj. I continue to carry the torch that they have passed to me to bring their inspired teachings to humanity.