The Life and Understanding
Copyright 1971 By Franklin Jones
All rights reserved
Table of Contents
Chapter 9: The Death of Narcissus
From the late summer of 1966 until I left for the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia the following August I was a disciple of Rudi without qualification. I performed the internal and external work and surrender he prescribed, and I enjoyed the wonderful effects of his discipline.
My marriage became yoga, my work became yoga, and my life became yoga. I enjoyed a state of physical, mental and moral well-being that I had never known since I was a boy, and I exceeded even that in these realizations of maturity. I learned the great pleasures of self-control and purity, of cleansing work and discipline, and all of the wholesome effects that social communication and outward love bring to one who has exercised himself in an erratic solitude.
I even became a wholly acceptable Christian. There seemed no necessary obstacle in the language of Christianity, and I began to enjoy the creative exercise of adapting my knowledge of truth to the historical and dogmatic language of the church. My studies in Greek also gave me great pleasure, and my attitude of unobstructed work made me excel as a student.
The seminary at Philadelphia offered a one thousand dollar fellowship, which would cover all the usual expenses of tuition, books, and a portion of the rest of one’s living. They proposed a series of questions to be answered in the form of an essay by all those who wanted to apply for the fellowship. I thought it would be immense fun if I could win this fellowship in spite of my background, and my thought and attitude toward Christianity. I wrote a long essay in answer to the questions. They dealt with autobiographical matters and thoughts relating to theology and social attitudes. It was a good test to see just how well I could represent myself and speak the language of a Christian. And I won! I had become a successful religious impostor.
I also did some writing for the completion of requirements for the M.A. degree at Stanford. I wrote a long, semi-autobiographical novella in order to satisfy my “incomplete” in the creative writing course. Wallace Stegner accepted it as actual writing, acceptable for course credit, but he was vehement in his denial of its literary value. He apparently gave the work to some of his students, and they agreed with him that, whatever it was, it was not “literature.”
I was not sure whether to take their resistance as censure or, since I knew very well what they considered viable “literature,” a compliment. At any rate, I did not persist in defending the writing beyond a certain point. Once it was reluctantly accepted for credit, I went to work preparing a thesis for the degree.
I wrote a long study on the aesthetic theories of Gertrude Stein, which I am sure still exists somewhere in the stacks at the Stanford library. I used the work to expand critically on many of the motives that had supported me as a writer, and I showed how these researches ultimately concerned not “literature” in the usual sense, but an attitude and a search that corresponded to otherwise philosophical, psychological and spiritual efforts. My thesis was developed by the addition of Jung’s studies in alchemy and the psyche, various writers on psychology, philosophy and the philosophy of art, and even the writings of Krishnamurti, who seemed, like myself, to be concerned with the problems of mind and art.
As I said earlier, my own career as a writer had been stimulated by various modern sources, of which Gertrude Stein was a primary example. In general, these people thought they were doing something new or revolutionary with the abilities of language to describe, signify, perform or be something. But I knew they were actually, if not self-consciously, doing something with the mind, with life, with consciousness itself. And although this might represent an unusual and revolutionary activity in Western literature, it was not in fact something new in the history of human activity.
When I realized that I was also doing this, I began that work. itself, consciously and deliberately. I no longer required the symbol or medium of language for my work. I abandoned “literature” and began the work that is conscious knowledge and real perception. Then at last I would know this thing, and I would only write it clearly. My Master’s thesis was a critical presentation of this point of view.
My thesis was received warmly by the professors assigned to me, although I am sure they were unfamiliar with the more “esoteric” literature of Gertrude Stein, not to mention the other writers I mentioned. And it seemed clear to me that they did not perceive any fundamental or revolutionary importance in the actual problems I discussed. But the work was an important exercise for me. It served to put a cap on my past work as a writer, and it left me free to engage in my new career as a seminarian.
During the period in which I wrote my Master’s thesis apart from the ministry, that would capitalize on my previous creative life and still make use of my new discoveries. I thought perhaps I could train in some professional work in psychology. I had some experience in encounter groups and sensitivity training. I had read a great deal in all fields of psychology and philosophy. And Jung’s work in particular seemed to bear a close affinity to the forms of Eastern spirituality and the kinds of consciousness I had experienced in the past.
I went to see M. Esther Harding, a close associate and student of the late Dr. Jung. But this meeting only confirmed what I had suspected were grave limitations in Jung’s assumptions. Dr. Harding told me that any Westerner who devoted himself to the spiritual exercises peculiar to the Orient, as for example the Tibetan methods described by Dr. Evans Wentz in books which Jung had introduced to the West, would become clinically insane. The realities of Eastern spirituality were usable and meaningful only as symbols in a Western psychology.
I told her that such practice was exactly what I had been doing and proposed to do. We discussed the peculiar yoga of Kundalini Shakti, but she could see in it only symbols that are the peculiar contents of the Eastern psyche. She urgently suggested that I abandon this approach and volunteer myself to Jungian analysis.
Thus, I saw that Jung’s brand of understanding precluded even the modified use of spiritual practice as I understood it. Even my experiences over a lifetime of phenomena that can only be properly understood in a spiritual context were to this view unallowable, at best clinical, causative of disturbance, and to be made subject to the interpretations of a humanistic psychology that was yet unloosed from the mortal philosophy of the university establishment.
The best Dr. Harding would do was recommend an analyst for me. As far as training in the various methods of analysis or group process was concerned, not only was it precluded by the kind of interpretation required, but I would have to prepare myself with years of university and professional training that was, to my point of view, quite beside the point of what I considered to be the real and necessary preparations for spiritual knowledge.
Thus, I began to realize that, at least for the time being, my only option was to continue my preparations for the Lutheran ministry. Nina also finished her requirements for the M.A. degree at this time, and we directed ourselves toward the coming move to Philadelphia.
No description of this period would be adequate and true without the inclusion of my various experiences with the “Force.” At first that experience was limited to the kind I first described in meeting with Rudi. I became aware that an actual force emanated from him. I could feel it in various ways as a magnetic or electronic energy in my body. This of course is a tremendously unique experience in terms of what people ordinarily would suppose to be reality. But it was for me not unusual or unique in my experience. Rudi’s manifestation and use of it was unique, and my approach to it was now based on a totally new logic of life, but I had experienced such things throughout my life, as the “bright” of childhood and the rising force that overtook me in the college experience.
At first I only came to a natural recognition of this force as a constant presence and felt it operating as a continuous source in Rudi. Thus, that force was redeemed from dependence on the fluctuations of my own consciousness. It stood outside me, constantly available through my teacher. I was free to turn myself from the long enterprise and experiment of my youth, wherein I had sought to perceive and verify the actual existence and nature of this force in myself. Now I devoted myself to purifying work under the assumption of a concrete relationship to that actual presence.
Thus, my first experiences were as I have described. They manifested as changes in my life pattern, my physical, mental and moral existence, its instruments, and its environment. But after I had eliminated the practices and forms of deliberate self-indulgence that inhibited the work of this force on an internal and conscious level, I began also to have experiences of a “spiritual” nature.
When I went to Rudi’s class and tried to open and surrender, I experienced Rudi’s “Force” entering me as he said it would. When he would begin the exercise or look at me during the exercise I would usually feel a sudden descent of tremendous and seemingly infinite force from above. I could feel this descent as a peculiar kind of pressure that first came in the head and then permeated the body.
This pressure was the usual sign of the working of that force in me. As I exercised myself in surrender to it over time, I could feel certain points of resistance in myself fall away and give place in a kind of interior opening on a mental and physical level. In time I could feel this pressure at will and almost constantly. It became a presence that I could respond to in moments of repose or even during any kind of activity.
After many months this pressure became particularly apparent in the head. The center of the upper brain became irritated in a manner that had a deep and even sensuous quality. My ears began to feel as if there was an internal pressure opening their channels, and they felt a certain heat. At times I could almost hear the force descend in a subtle way, and my ears seemed to be stretching open to perceive some sound, both internal and external, that was always going on.
The process of meditation involved a, surrendering of thought, and as this emptying of the mind continued it was replaced by a strong concentration of penetrating energy in the head. Afterwards the head would feel bathed and warmed in a blissful energy that seemed to be descending from above. Its immediate effect was to offset the usual concentration of energy in thought and in the lower body. For a period sometimes lasting for hours after the exercise there was only a sublime calmness and fulness without any anxiety or any movement of desire. The energies that flowed in the body appeared to be balanced and harmonized. And this appeared to be the natural precondition for clarity and free-functioning as a human entity.
There were also certain visual sensations. When I would concentrate in the exercise, either on Rudi or an image used for meditation at home, the field of ordinary vision would be expanded, and I would perceive energy in the atmosphere. A certain brightness would surround everything and form the very substance of space. It was this peculiar quality that led me to call my childhood experience the “bright.”
At times during meditation I would also see certain forms appear superimposed on Rudi’s face as well as on other people or objects. I would see beards and mustaches appear and disappear on Rudi, or he would seem to be clothed in Oriental robes. Sometimes the whole room would take on a quality of splendor, and it would seem as if we were in another time, seated before some Oriental philosopher prince. The features of his face would go through many changes, as if revealing his past lives and our past associations.
Rudi and some of his students also claimed to have various visions, but I never had any such experiences while with him. Basically, my experience with him was limited to these subtle demonstrations of energy on a physical level or an etheric level just beyond the physical.
The class itself was an exercise in concentration, in which the Force was received, directed below, and then drawn up the spine to the head. After the class I would experience a fulness, a sensitivity and vibrancy in the organs of the head, a quietness descended into the mind, and a kind of charged and burning feeling pleasantly throughout my body.
One time Nina and I spent a weekend with Rudi at a beach house on Fire Island. That night Nina woke up feeling a tremendous electronic shock running through the body, beginning from the head. I experienced the same thing a few nights later. In my own case, I struggled to arouse my body and shake off the experience. The Force had become so powerful that I felt I was about to be electrocuted.
There was also another manifestation evident in Rudi and some of his students. During the exercise their bodies would begin to jerk in a characteristic manner. There appeared to be a jolting within the spine that communicated to the muscles. Their spines would seem to revolve and make small spasms. Then their heads would begin to revolve very violently. This always happened to Rudi at the close of the exercise. I often desired this experience myself, but it at any time tried to fake or simulate any kind of phenomenon. My own seeking has always been too desperate to be satisfied with anything but an obvious and spontaneous experience. Thus, I mention only experiences that have been genuine in me and which carried a certain internal knowledge and self verification.
These movements or “kriyas” (spontaneous and purifying movements) as they are called in India did not arise at all in me until shortly before I left Rudi and his classes.
Finally, they did begin to develop, although not as violently as in others. For the most part, I only felt a kind of gentle pulsing in my lower back, like little bubbles of air and fluid rising in a percolator. Also, I began to manifest a twitching in my face and mouth, and a rapid breathing like the snarl of a wolf. The arising of such manifestations and the spontaneous generation of animal sounds is also a characteristic of this Shakti yoga.
On a few occasions I also experienced what I mentioned previously as the “thumbs.” While seated in the exercise I would feel the Force descending through me almost unobstructed. Then it seemed that I could easily relax to an unusual depth. And the energy would seem then to move to the base of the spine and travel upwards along the spine to the head. As it did so I felt as if the polarity of my being were reversed, and instead of tending gravitationally downward toward my seat I would gravitate upwards toward the head. As I relaxed completely the reversal of energy would be completed, and my form seemed to be a kind of detached sphere. A tremendous sense of peace and fulness would arise at such times and I would long to remain in that state. But as soon as I became attached to it, it would tend to disappear. So I would relax more. And as I relaxed a depth in consciousness would arise, and I would feel as if I were falling into an infinite deep. Then I passed away into a profound bliss. In India this is called “samadhi.”
These experiences approximately summarize my benefits from Rudi. By the time I was about to leave for seminary in the late summer of 1966 I had become quite strong, clear and free. And this strengthening was accompanied by a growing force of independence. In spite of all the wonderful qualities that were active in Rudi, he tended to make people dependent on him. His yoga itself was a form of dependence, wherein we were filled and nourished and guided by the teacher and his Force.
Rudi was a kind of super-parent to me, a mother-father force that guided me into maturity. It is traditional in the spiritual cultures of the East for the disciple to determine the moment of his independence, his attainment, his spiritual manhood. It is not unusual, for instance, for a student of Zen to strike his teacher. But he had better do it when he has attained what his teacher has to give him! Otherwise he can expect a beating and even banishment.
As time passed I knew my moment of independence was approaching. At first I had accepted a childish and dependent role. It was clearly appropriate in my case at the time. But the stronger I became the less I was suited to that role and Rudi’s tactics.
Thus, I began to become self-consciously aware of the urge to independence in me, and this was also reflected in an alarmingly critical awareness of Rudi’s qualities. Rudi never represented himself as a “finished product.”
He remained dependent on his Guru, and always saw his life as a matter of growth, although he assumed he had grown more than anyone else. Thus, as I also grew, I began to become aware of Rudi’s limitations. I saw how he created dependence in others out of his own needs. I saw how he himself was burdened with the problems of his personality and its excessive urges. And I saw that the Force or Shakti available through him had carried me as far as it could go. I felt that it was not an unlimited source but a limited one in a certain stage of growth.
But I was not yet strong enough to assert my independence. I held these rumors down in myself. Then I began to approach the Shakti on my own. It no longer seemed to emanate exclusively from Rudi, and I could engage it according to my own intuitive insight. I began to understand the spiritual process on a level that was peculiar to me.
For me, real spiritual influences necessarily demonstrated by particular signs. Mere “experiences” or piecemeal growth were not the events that guaranteed the presence of truth. I looked for a radical presence, a radically transforming force that always, when it appeared, drew a person into a totally new cognition of clarity, wholeness, love and freedom.
At some point I became aware that Rudi’s Force no longer had these radical characteristics. It was a concrete influence, to be sure, but it ceased to have a radical effect. I saw that Rudi and his students remained as seekers, and even in the midst of “experiences” their despair and seeking remained as the essential motivation of their lives.
Thus, when it came time to leave Rudi’s physical presence, I was no longer an innocent. I had already begun real spiritual life on my own. I had already attuned myself to the Force that was present in me, which had been the companion of my whole life. It had never been apart from me. I knew it as the “bright” and as my own eternally free nature beyond all internal contradiction.
When I left for seminary I kept all of this silent in myself. I wanted to test it in Rudi’s absence and see if it demonstrated as truth in independence. Thus, Nina and I moved and took up residence near the seminary in Philadelphia.
Shortly after the beginning of the school year I began to write again. Only now it was of a different kind, and its motivation was also new. My position in the Christian community was unusual. I had to act and communicate and profess as a Christian, but in fact I was conscious of reality in a radically different way. The longer I was there, the more of an “impostor” I knew myself to be. I didn’t feel I was putting anything over on anyone. That was not my intention. But I had to remain continually aware of the difference in myself and, in the same moment, translate my awareness and my perception of reality in more or less orthodox fashion.
This dual position produced a constant reflectiveness in me, and so I began to write a journal of my experiences and thoughts as they actually were, prior to the necessary translation into “Christian.”
I managed to communicate myself fairly well. My studies were a tremendous discipline for me, but I managed to keep the highest grades in all of my course work. I exceeded everyone else on the level of study, and this alone was a tremendous proof of the utility of the attitude of work.
I kept as free as possible of the traditional religious life of the seminary. I only went to church when it was required, and Nina and I retained a sphere of invulnerability and necessary privacy. As the months passed I became more and more acutely aware of the internal movement of my own life. I was again independent and free to pursue the link of my consciousness. But now I was also functioning as a visible member of the world. I acted with a great feeling of clarity, freedom and power.
The benefits of my spiritual life were thus obvious to me as a very practical matter of course. And this made me all the more aware of the limitations bred in the traditional religious community. The men there were alike pale and in doubt, struggling with desires they never understood, and they bore the burden of the kind of liberal theology that first affected me in college, when I read books like The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed.
The seminary and Christian community were a confused and suffering mass of human beings who lived without benefit of radical truth. The kind of experience that was my daily enjoyment was for them unavailable, and they consigned it to a primitive state of life. My own experience was not different from that enjoyed by the early Christians, but these contemporary Christians, far from enjoying the “peace that passes all understanding,” were busy wondering what small portion of spiritual life was the legitimate inheritance of the age of materialism, science, universal skepticism and mortal philosophy.
I saw that the whole religious community was suffering exactly the form of unenlightened and suppressive philosophizing that had turned me out of college into the wilderness of my seeking. I wrote in a copy of the Bible a remark by one of the psalmists “My soul is released as a bird from the snare of fowlers.” This sense of release, certainty and joy was my common experience, but I saw no way at all to tell my truth so that I could be heard.
In time, my daily life became routine. I had learned my “place.” Most of the seminary professors had seen fit to criticize me openly or in private for the few of my “extreme” views I allowed myself to express. For them, there was no viable truth at all to the whole realm of spiritual experience and phenomena that was my birth right. They were enclosed in Bultmann and Tillich, and even a mortal theology. At best they saw us all as necessarily mortal. When you are dead you are dead. But, they hoped, perhaps it is true that Christ will come again at the end of time and revitalize the world, creating all of us again in a new and immortal life.
Doubts began to arise in me. It was no longer simply a matter of whether or not I would be able to speak within the religious community. I began to doubt whether I could even survive in such a place. The Christian community became and remains for me a pale shadow of life, a desperate vestige of the past that is no longer opened even to its own truth.
Rudi continued to use the same arguments as before, and I remained for the same reasons. But I wrote and lived according to my own light, and waited for a moment when I would see my own path clearly.
It seemed to me as always that I was involved in the way of Narcissus. I was witnessing his evolution in myself and the world. And I worked in private to see the accomplishment of my ultimate release.
Finally, in the spring of 1967, the usual time of year for great revelations, I passed through an experience that epitomized all of my seeking and all of my discovery. The experience itself is surrounded with all the evidence of a clinical breakdown. But it is also full of the sense of primary experience, the break through of an ultimate and unqualified consciousness.
I had contacted a spring cold, which was not unusual, except that I had appeared almost impervious to disease for the last couple of years. I was in the bathroom when this episode began. I had bathed and shaven, and I was rubbing a cleansing pad on my face. Suddenly my flesh began to feel very “massy” and unpliable. I felt as if the pores of my face had closed. The skin became dry and impervious to air. As I looked at my face in the mirror it appeared gray, disturbed and deathlike. The saliva in my mouth stopped flowing, and I was overcome by a rising anxiety that became an awesome and overwhelming fear of death.
The death of Narcissus had begun in me. I was stuck with the knowledge that I was soon to go mad and die. I tried as much as possible simply to observe this process in myself. I calmly said good-bye to Nina and left for school.
When I sat down to my first morning class this process was still going on in me. There was simply this absolute fear, and all my physical and mental processes seemed to be rushing to disappear and die. As I listened to the lecture on church history I felt as if my mind were a separate, material entity. It seemed to be rushing forward at an invisible point with accelerating speed. I felt as if I were to go violently insane on the spot. I began to write very rapidly in my notebook in order simply to observe this process and not be overcome by its effects.
I wrote every word the professor spoke, and if there were a moment of silence I would write whatever I was observing in the room or in my body. Somehow I managed to get through the fifty minute lecture. When it was over I sat by myself. My body felt in a fever and my mind close to delirium.
The whole experience seemed to summarize all the parts of the many experiences of fear and sickness and near madness I had known in my life. It was as if every one of those experiences was an event of this same kind, which could have led to some marvelous perception if only I were able to allow the death or madness to take its course.
But in this instance, as in the past, the shock and awesome fear were too great to be allowed without resistance. I had taken a few cold pills in the previous days, and so I left school to go to a doctor for advice. The doctor said the pills were mild and not aggravating or narcotic. He attributed my heightened sensitivity and alarmed condition to perhaps overwork or some kind of nervous excitement.
None the less, I stopped taking the cold pills. I went home. All day I stretched alone on the floor of the living room, revolving in this same overwhelming fear of death. When Nina came home she tried to make me comfortable, and I passed the evening in front of the TV set observing my terror.
When Nina went to bed I also tried to sleep. But the fever of the experience only increased. Finally, I woke her in the middle of the night and asked her to take me to the hospital. My breathing had become alarming, and my heart seemed to be slowing down. At times my heart would beat irregularly and seem to stop.
She drove me to a nearby emergency ward. I was examined by a nurse, and then a psychiatrist, who told me I was having an anxiety attack. There was nothing apparently wrong with me physically. He gave me a sleeping pill and told me to rest. If I felt no relief within a couple of days, I should seek psychiatric help.
When we got home I tried to sleep, but it seemed a long time before I could sleep. During the next few days I went to a psychiatrist, and I detailed to him the entire history of my life, including my experiences with drugs and my work with Rudi. He only told me I could join a group therapy session he held every week. I went to his session that night, and also, the next day, to a group session for students held by a psychologist at the seminary. But there was no relief, no fundamental insight, no communication I could make that made the difference.
Finally, several days after this process began, I was lying home alone in the afternoon. It was as if all my life I had been constantly brought to this point. It seemed that all of the various methods of my life had constantly prevented this experience from going to its end. All my life I had been preventing my death.
I lay on the floor, totally disarmed, unable to make a gesture that could prevent the rising fear. And thus it grew in me, but, for the first time, I allowed it to happen. I could not prevent it. The fear and the death rose and became my overwhelming experience. And I witnessed the crisis of that fear in a moment of conscious, voluntary death. I have no idea what occurred to me physically at that time. I may very well have passed through what would appear to be clinical death. I only know that I allowed the death to happen, and I saw it happen.
When that moment of crisis had passed I felt a marvelous relief. The death had occurred but I had observed it! I remained untouched by it. The body and the mind and the personality had died, but I remained as an essential and unqualified consciousness.
When all of the fear and dying had become a matter of course, when the body, the mind and the person with which I identified myself had died and my attention was no longer fixed in those things, I perceived reality, fully and directly. There was an infinite bliss of being, an untouched, unborn sublimity, without separation, without individuation, without a thing from which to be separated. There was only reality itself, the incomparable nature and constant existence that underlies the entire adventure of life.
After a time I got up from the floor. I walked around and beamed joyfully at the room. The blissful, unthreatened current of reality continued to emanate from my heart, and not a pulse of it was modified by my own existence or the existence of the world. I had acquired a totally new understanding. I understood Narcissus and the whole truth of suffering and search. I saw the meaning of my whole life to that moment. Suffering, seeking, self-indulgence, spirituality and all the rest were founded in the same primary motivation and error. It was the avoidance of relationship in all its forms. That was it. It was the chronic and continuous source of our activity. It was the chronic avoidance of relationship. Thus we were forever suffering, seeking, indulging ourselves and modifying our lives for the sake of some unknown goal in eternity.
Life appeared to be determined by this one process of avoidance. It was the source of separation and unlove, the source of doubt and unreality, of qualification and loss. But in fact there is only relationship, only love, only the unqualified state of reality.
In the weeks that remained to my first year at seminary I tried again and again to communicate my experience and my new knowledge. I was not in the same position I had been in college. This experience was fundamental and complete. It could not be lost or modified by any events, any return of old tendencies. This was the primary knowledge I had sought all of my life. The “bright” paled beside it. My experience in college was merely a symbol for it. All that I had come to see as a result of Rudi’s discipline, all of the functioning apparatus of our spiritual being, all worlds, all possibilities, all powers were merely a distraction from this primary knowledge.
But my professors failed to understand what I had understood. I abandoned myself to them completely and told them all of the motives that brought me to seminary. Most of them were simply shocked. Their leading seminarian had turned out to be a fanatic, an heretical “enthusiast.”
In the course of my studies I had learned about the Eastern Orthodox Church. This grand event of my death had not removed the necessity for life in the ordinary sense. I had still to find some sort of creative and productive means of life. And so I considered turning from the Lutheran Church to the Eastern Church.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, at least on paper, seemed to be the ideal form of Christianity. Above all, it acknowledged all the classical spiritual phenomena of the saints. And its theology was founded in spiritual experience rather than ecclesiastical dogma. Thus, I contacted a local Orthodox priest, and Nina and I were received into the Orthodox Church a few weeks later.
In the meantime, I served as a chaplain in the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital. Then, at the end of the summer, we returned to New York, and I entered St. Vladimir’s Russian Orthodoxy Seminary in Tuckahoe.
But I was quick to learn that Orthodoxy too was bound to traditional mentality. The experience of liturgy, church politics and ethnic religion was the fundamental occupation there. I felt so trapped that during the lunch hour I would have to walk up behind the seminary, where there was a waterfall and a stream. I would hold my hands out over the water so that the spiritual force that filled my body would run out into the stream. Then I would return to the seminary relatively empty to carry on the religious games.
Finally, I was told that it was not likely that I could be accepted as a candidate for the priesthood. Nina happened to have been married and divorced before she me, and there was an ancient canonical law preventing men from becoming priests if married to a divorced woman.
This was the final absurdity. Of all my “sins,” to be counted out on the basis of this technical absurdity seemed to me beyond any further toleration or seriousness. I decided then that I would give up my religious career entirely. I went to speak to Rudi and, surprisingly, he agreed.
In the following weeks I worked as a book salesman, and then I was hired by Pan American World Airways as a sales agent. It was the first legitimate job of my life, and it promised a good living. Above all, the travel benefits of airline work attracted me. I had decided that if I were to continue my spiritual research at all I must go closer to my sources. I would travel to India.
In March of 1968 Nina and I went to India. Rudi had reluctantly put us in touch with his teacher, Swami Muktananda Paramahansa. When we took off for Bombay I again left all of my past behind. I knew that I was to become a disciple to my seeking on a new level. I went to confirm my knowledge and my destiny and to remove forever the obstacles in my path.