When I was a child, I had frequent glimpses of higher realities and was often vividly aware of an all-pervading, benevolent presence that included me and all things in its wholeness. Perceptions of this kind are not uncommon among young people who, having newly arrived in the physical world, have not yet been unduly influenced by the ideas or behaviors of others.
During my senior year in high school, I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and was told that I must stay in bed until my health was restored. Thus began five months of seclusion that provided me with ample opportunities to nourish my mind, expand my consciousness, discover the kriya yoga path, and know with certainty the purpose for my life.
I learned about yoga practices while reading Francis Yeats-Brown’s Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Paul Brunton’s Search in Secret India, and Theos Bernard’s Hatha Yoga. I began to practice hatha yoga, which I could easily do, and tried to meditate. Alone, in my upstairs bedroom, I sometimes sat on the floor in the lotus posture and imagined that I was a spiritually accomplished Himalayan yogi.
While I was confined to bed, I read articles in health-oriented magazines that motivated me to choose a vegetarian diet. In one magazine, I saw an advertisement for Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, and ordered a copy by mail. As soon as I received it, I read it, then read it frequently. As I avidly perused the text and looked at the pictures of saints and yogis, I knew that Paramahansa Yogananda was my guru.
I prayed for healing and for guidance in my future circumstances. During one intensive prayer session, a surge of energy suddenly moved upward through my spine and into my brain. My spine stiffened and arched as my body became rigid for several minutes. As the force of energy subsided, I became very calm and sensed that a meaningful event had occurred. During the remaining weeks of confinement I patiently waited for my physical healing to be completed and looked forward with anticipation to what was yet to unfold. Mentally, I was already in Los Angeles with Paramahansa Yogananda.
In early July 1949, I was allowed to leave my bed. In November, physically strong again, I felt that it was time to go to California. I arrived at the international headquarters’ of Self-Realization Fellowship on Dec. 23, 1949.
When I knocked on the door, a man who appeared to be about 60 years of age greeted me and took me to the men’s dining room. After supper, a young man led me up a stairway to a secluded area in the main entrance room where we could privately talk. He inquired about my background and asked how I had heard about the organization and Paramahansa Yogananda. Within a few minutes, when the muted sounds of a descending elevator emanated from a nearby hallway, he stood up, turned toward the hallway, and exclaimed, “Master is coming!” I also stood up and turned toward the hallway with alert anticipation.
Paramahansa Yogananda came into the room. Standing in front of me, he looked into my eyes, smiled kindly as he shook my hand with a gentle grasp, and quietly asked, “How old are you?”
“Eighteen, sir,” I responded.
“Do your parents know you are here?” he inquired.
“It’s all right, sir,” I assured him.
Touching my forehead with his hand in a gesture of blessing, he murmured, “That’s good. I’ll talk with you again.”
During the first two months that I was with Master, I became increasingly aware of a deeper relationship that was being established between us. Strong energy movements occurred in my body within a few weeks after I met Master. Unexpected surges of life force would quickly ascend the spinal pathway, then subside. When I sat to meditate, the flows became more pronounced. If I was not relaxed when the process occurred, my body would sometimes be pulled upright. When a receptive disciple has a personal relationship with a spiritually awake person, dormant forces are aroused within the disciple to the degree that one is receptive. This can occur spontaneously or the guru may intentionally transmit life force to the disciple. By experimenting, I discovered that when I was relaxed during meditation, the energy surges would flow freely without causing a physical reaction. Instead, a mild ecstasy was experienced.
The spiritual path is the way of aloneness in God. Outer, wholesome, supportive relationships can be maintained and meaningful purposes can be accomplished while one remains anchored in Self-knowing and God-awareness. While it can be of value to acknowledge the spiritual status of others who are already Self-realized, and to associate with them when possible, every person must awaken to their own realization of their true nature and their relationship to God.
Through the years it has been my experience that, while I have endeavored to wisely use my acquired knowledge and skills, most of the favorable events that have occurred in my life have been provided by God’s grace—which I acknowledge, and for which I am thankful.
Roy Eugene Davis is a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and was ordained by him in 1951. Davis has taught spiritual growth processes for more than five decades in North and South America, Europe, West Africa, and India. The founder and director of Center for Spiritual Awareness, his books have been published in 13 languages.