The Old Guard

Telling the Truth

Recognizing Mahatmas

Yogis with Ego

Spiritual Leaders’ Powers

Old & New Devotees

Silent Teaching

Swamiji Doesn’t Forget

A Yogi’s Dramas

Associations with the Famous

Guru Brothers & Sisters

Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams

Bhava Samadhi

Explaining Swamiji’s
Use of Spiritual Experiences

The book Swamiji recommended

Perspectives on the Mission Today

About this Writer’s Corner


news about Swamiji & devotees




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  Telling the Truth
—  Yogis Don't Spin the Truth

  Recognizing Mahatmas
—  Get to Know Them

  Yogis with Ego 
—  Not Everyone Who Completes Tapas Is without Ego

  Spiritual Leaders’ Powers 
—  Not All that Glitters Is Gold

  Old & New Devotees 
—  Making Way for the New

  Silent Teaching 
—  Swamiji Discouraged Using Words to Teach Meditation or Describe Spiritual Experiences

  Swamiji Doesn’t Forget  —  Remembering His Devotees

  A Yogi’s Dramas  —  The Shiva in Shivabalayogi

  Associations with the Famous  —  If Swamiji is famous, it is because he has done twelve years of tapas

  Guru Brothers & Sisters  —  It Makes Sense Only If You Add It All Up

  Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams  —  A true yogi doesn’t tell others what to do; ashrams are for devotees.

Get to Know Them

I think it’s best to be extremely cautious about making any judgment about a great spiritual soul (mahatma) unless, of course, you happen to be one.  Read the story of Gangaraju judging mahatmas if you want a good background.  Swamiji often told that story.

I believe some people have a combination of intuition, spiritual awareness and common sense to be able to get decent impressions.  But without spending a little time and knowing a little something about the person, I’m not sure I could tell a great soul from an artichoke.

I do not trust simply feeling good vibrations and hearing nice words.  Good feelings can be projections, or the spiritual presence of an unseen yogi.  Anyone can preach nice words.  What we loved about Shivabalayogi were his direct words, often controversial or unorthodox, but always loaded with the power of his own direct knowledge.  “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one who had authority; and not as the scribes.”  (Mark 1:22)

I have one experience that I keep in mind to put a damper on my ego.  In 1989 I drove to Portland to bring Swamiji back to Seattle for his programs the following day.  I arrived at the hall where he was having a program.  It was quiet so I thought maybe I was too late.  I wandered around the main floor hallway, then up some stairs, and opened one of those metal, double fire doors.  To my surprise, I had walked in on the tail end of a pada puja.  While I was wandering around wondering where everybody had gone, devotees were worshipping Swamiji’s feet.

Some people tell me they see auras.  Others sense a saint’s powerful spiritual vibrations.  Here was a situation where Shivabalayogi was radiating maximum blessings, and I had been oblivious.

Long before I met Shivabalayogi, I wondered what it would have been like to meet Jesus.  I wondered whether I would have recognized him.  Then I met Swamiji and I understood a little better.

It’s not just a matter of seeing halos or sensing vibrations.  Somehow, you just get to know.  For some immediately and for others, like me, we realize the connection with a little hindsight.  I have lots and lots of experiences of Swamiji’s blessings and they continue to this day.  But it’s not like mahatmas wear a nametag or look like Charlton Heston so you can recognize them.

I had the privilege of meeting a Sufi master who worked as an auto mechanic.  The afternoon I spent in his company and that of his devotees reminded me very much of Swamiji’s darshan.  But most people simply knew him as a guy who owned a small auto repair shop.  He preferred it that way.

Swamiji spent a lot of time talking with devotees.  He was very eager to get us to understand what it meant to be a yogi and the difference between yogis and spiritual leaders.  By “yogi”, Shivabalayogi meant someone who has successfully completed tapas, which is at least twelve hours of continuous meditation in samadhi every day for as many years as it takes to have God realization.

For someone interested in Shivabalayogi or his disciples, a lot of information is in print.  If you visit a Shivabalayogi ashram, be sure you talk with many devotees who have some direct experience.  With a little background, common sense, honesty and experience, we can figure out for ourselves if someone is a saint or playing with ego.

Swamiji said, “You can go to as many teachers as you like.  There is nothing wrong with going to many different teachers.  If they have any power you can go and take the power they have to offer.  But you should not get involved in politics.  You can go to as many teachers as you like, take the knowledge and power from them, but do not get involved in any politics.”