We spent most of our second day in California at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment.
It was a Sunday morning at a special place in San Jose, and it was the fulfillment of an invitation from Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian, a.k.a. Uma, who chaired the panel on yoga's Hindu roots that Bodhinatha spoke on at the PWR in Melbourne (which she lovingly appropriately pronounces "Melbn") four years ago. We finally made it.
Uma is a disciple of Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. Being with this group, which is in the family of SRF, Ananda and the other groups in the Paramahansa Yogananda lineage, was such a wonderful and rare experience. It seemed as if two great rivers were merging. When we explained to the group of seminarians that Gurudeva had personally visited Yogananda twice in the mid 1940's, they were moved deeply, moved also that all these decades later the lineages were reconnecting.
We attended the Sunday 11am service. Uma's sermon on abundance consciousness was delightful, articulate and profound.
Afterwards we had a tour of the grounds, which were once owned by the Unity Church, then lunch with Uma, her husband Amarnath and senior minister in charge of publications, the animated Sundari. We talked publishing and offered to help with their ePub work.
But the really special part of the gathering was to come. Uma brought together some 25-30 of her ministers, seminarians and directors to hear us speak. We offered some small gifts, a signed Guru Chronicles (explaining it is our version of Autobiography of a Yogi), and a special rudraksha mala from Kauai.
Paramacharya spoke first of monks' life and sadhanas, challenges and of Gurudeva's wise ways of living together. Then he gave a Keynote on Yoga: Promise or Peril, followed by lively Q&A. Senthilnathaswami then gave Bodhinatha's popular "Which Yoga Should I Follow" Keynote, again with Q&A.
We were deeply moved by the discipline in the group, the dedication. It is not often that two spiritual groups get to share their life and experiences with one another in open dialog and trust.
That afternoon we drove to San Francisco to our new home for four nights, stopping on the way to have dinner with our members.
Key concepts: Naalupadasaivam: "A Saiva doctrine that the initiate should pass successively through charya, kriya, yoga and jnana stages and thence obtain moksha." The charya pada, the dasa marga, path of servitude. Sharing the world of God. The kriya pada, satputra marga, true son's way. Nearness to God. The yoga pada, sakha marga, way of the friend, experiencing inner light, sharing the superconscious mind. We talk to God. The jnana pada, san marga, sayujya patavi, union with God. There is no difference between Siva and the soul. God is our dearest Beloved. The three types of temples provide training and experience leading to worship and meditation in the Atma kovil.