How many times and how much do we invest in holding up the veils that obscure the truth and the opportunities for enlightenment? A Guru can aid a student in navigating the path, gaining mastery over the obstacles, cracking open the egg shell, and reaching the summit. In this new book, Bhaktan offers a view of his spiritual path and the teaching events that, as a disciple of Sri Swami Satchidananda, changed the course of his life. Read this new book here free.

An Excerpt from Teaching Events by Bhaktan

During a visit to my mother Marie in New York City, we saw a poster advertising a Yoga retreat in the window of the Integral Yoga Institute (IYI). My mother had taken classes at the Institute; she strongly suggested I go. The Swami on the poster seemed to be calling me. I signed up. In June 1973, with all my possessions in my backpack as usual I hitchhiked to the retreat site, near Monticello in upstate New York. My last ride had just dropped me off; I was walking the last couple of miles.

Since I was a day early, I thought I’d look for a place to camp until the retreat started. I saw a promising-looking powerline clearing to the right and followed its cut through the woods. Soon a flock of fifteen or twenty crows appeared and began flying in a circle above me, cawing loudly. I knew this was some kind of omen, but having no idea of how to read it I walked on. Finding a suitable site I stopped, took off my backpack and began to set up my tent. This threw the crows into a frenzy (I’m not making this up). Cawing at full volume they flew as fast as they could in a circle above me, practically bouncing in the air with agitation. A little bewildered, I said to myself, Well, I guess I’d better be moving on. I packed up my things, shouldered my pack, and headed for the retreat site. The crows flew off.

At the site I sought out the retreat organizer, Muktan, and volunteered my services; as it turned out, they were much needed. In an attempt to make it all familiar I threw myself furiously into the work of preparing the camp for the other retreatants. The retreat was held on the grounds of a summer camp; the campers would be arriving after the retreat. The main events were held in a converted barn; it had plenty of space for the four hundred retreatants. On one side of the barn there was a wide ramp formerly used for carting hay onto the main floor. The big old barn doors were wide open; I was standing inside.

I first saw Swami Satchidananda as he slowly approached this doorway. Two hundred people were lined up on both sides of his course, greeting him with folded hands, giving him flowers and gifts, and bowing to the ground at his feet. I had never seen anything like it.

Seemingly oblivious to this avalanche of thoughts and feelings, he entered regally into the hall, flanked and followed by devotees, advancing slowly (so as not to step on anyone). When he drew up parallel to me, he turned, stood still, and gazed directly at me across the hall. I can feel his gaze even now, forty-five years later. He gazed into my eyes for what seemed like eternity. My mind went completely still; all thoughts and emotions left. After what might have been twenty or thirty seconds in this world (considering the circumstances, a very long time), my internal conversation began to slowly come back to life; I began to wonder if he was actually trying to get the attention of someone else near me. I pointed at my chest with an inquiring look, me?

He held my gaze for another few seconds without even the ghost of a response. I began to look around to see if he was looking for someone else; he turned, softly and majestically, and advanced to the front to take a seat for the orientation. I said to myself, Well, all right then. That’s it. I’m diving in. This time I’m going to finish it.