by Swami Gurudevananda
This article is excerpted from “A Steady Light: Swami Gurudevananda — The Life of a Western Disciple”.
In June of 1970, with permission given by Swami Chidanandaji, I joined him in Los Angeles, California. It was a week filled with heavenly satsangs, lectures and a weekend retreat. I was, also, to meet with him to discuss his upcoming visit to our Branch in Harriman, New York. As time ran out, we never had our meeting, so Swamiji suggested that I join him on the flight to San Francisco. It was very exciting for me to have the opportunity to spend time alone with Swamiji, and to possibly be able to serve him.
As the time of our departure neared, my mind became very restless and started jumping from thought to thought, losing all focus. I stood there numb, just watching the scene as the devotees took leave of him. It was the usual chaos of loving affection and emotional goodbyes. While this was going on, I could not function, not even to hold on to the things he had given me to carry for him. My mind was preoccupied with thoughts like, “What will happen if he misses the plane? Will I have to go on by myself, missing my precious time with him?” Previously, Swamiji had told me that he would select a date for my Mantra Initiation. All of this could now change or possibly never manifest if Swamiji were to miss his plane.
As I was wrapped in these thoughts of negativity, Swamiji suddenly turned towards me and spoke with a stern voice: “Stop feeling anxious, thinking that I may miss the plane. Be peaceful and calm!” His strong command shook me up and awakened me from my stupor. I realised the enemy of my mental equilibrium was a collection of tendencies developed during years of struggle, insecurities and preoccupation with worldly thoughts that had produced a mind agitated with self-centred concerns. Swamiji immediately pointed out to me, through his interjection, that desire and dissatisfaction are born of mental assumptions that are essentially false.
With this realisation, I experienced a sense of harmony around me filled with a love for the others and a deep serenity for the situation at hand. This liberation from selfish concerns brought back my equipoise and stability, freeing me from habitual worries. It was a worthwhile lesson, one that would protect me in my future undertakings.