(Photo: The “darshan line” at the end of a program in New York.)

When I was in my 20s, I used to go to the New York Integral Yoga Institute on 13th Street and buy books and tapes and great things. And then I took a shiatsu class there with a great bunch of spiritual people for 20 weeks and we were all different, but we all got along. The class was led by a student of Swamiji’s named Bharata Fiala. We would go to the roof under the stars in the springtime and study. Each week, one person had a turn to receive shiatsu and healing hands from the other 7 students. So, that was 14 hands offering energy to one person. It was sublime.

I visited Swami Satchidananda on a number of occasions. He was always very sweet and kind to my family and myself. He had the peaceful eloquence, elegance and grace of a king, with the humility of a saint. The story of his journey and his Guru is legendary. I had one particular cassette tape of him that I used once or twice daily called “Deep Relaxation.” I studied a lot from many Gurus and teachers and I learned a lot of words and lessons and the correct way of thinking, but that one simple tape held the key to simplicity beyond words and thoughts. Nobody made it so simple at that time. Even though I studied his master, Swami Sivananda, and derived immense encouragement and motivation, that simple “Deep Relaxation” tape cut through mind, body and intellect. It revealed the underlying experience of “awareness.”

At that time I could not accept it because it was just too easy and simple. But, I enjoyed it. I thought that information was more valuable, so I studied more. Now, I realize that he gave it to us way back then. I later got married and had children and became a workaholic and fell ill. Swami Satchidananda also became advanced in years. I went to see him at a public lecture and the line for darshan was very long. He was older so the monks, his students, requested that we take darshan quietly—make eye contact and leave. That disappointed me because I just really needed to see him so desperately because I was in a very bad way, sort of desperate. But, he was no longer so robust and could not talk to hundreds of people any longer.

Prior, I had spent time in the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh and I had a very profound experience in the meditation room where Swami Sivananda meditated. I was with two other men. We all experienced the same thing. We verified with each other. We three were simple folks. I was working as a court reporter in New York City; the other guy was a maintenance man in the VA Hospital, and the other was a guy lived in his parents’ attic with no job. But, we were all very sober, sincere, honest, humble people, just searching for truth.

Anyways, getting back to the darshan line of Swami Satchidananda where you could only make eye contact. Because I was desperate, I prayed very intensely to Swami Sivananda, the spiritual master of Swami Satchidananda. Swami Satchidananda arose, much to the protest of his senior students and he walked over to me, out of turn, talked to me about my problem. He put his folded hands on my head, prayed with me and told me to continue on my journey. I always knew he was authentic. But, that experience really opened my heart with gratitude and humility. I realized that he still hears the call of his Master. I realized the unbroken chain of Guru and student. He was compelled by his Master, and he obeyed. I just want to say that I wasn’t trying to bend the rules in any way. But, there comes a time in everyone’s life where the world around them collapses and the depth of despair is almost unbearable. A little encouragement from a great saint could save you and save the lives of others who depend on you. He is still with us, as his life has left a safe pathway on this earth that we may follow. Much love to him and his Master and this great lineage and all fortunate enough to find it. It doesn’t get any better than this.

(Posted on YouTube.com/IntegralYoga by Angelo Iodice)