It took 139 posts and more than a year, but I'm finally at the end.
I hope you've enjoyed the story.
Before summing up, I thought I'd share some of the motivations and principles that have guided me as I've written.
Initially, I wanted nothing more than to share Sahishnu's account of Guru's last hours. I had fully expected that in the days -- or at most weeks -- following Guru's death, the Center as an organization would release a detailed account of what happened from all those who were with Guru at the time.
Inexplicably, that was not to be (and still hasn't happened as far as I can tell).
After more than a month -- with no official word from the Center and no account of Guru's death whatever to be had-- I began to think about how I could get Sahishnu's account of what had happened out to those who would no doubt like to know (like Guru's thousands of active and former disciples). That's when the idea of a spiritual memoir hit me.
Aside from getting that important information out, what possible value could a memoir about my spiritual life have for anybody else? Honestly, I don't know.
What got me to write, though, was the thought that I could offer a different perspective on Guru and the Center than what was then available online. Though I have fallen short, my goal has been to try to replicate even a portion of the spirit of Christopher Isherwood's peerless spiritual memoir: My Guru and His Disciple. That is, I've tried to write a sincere and frank account of my time in the Center, all the time taking care not to slip into hagiography.
I've also worked to write something that I'd want to read if I were a new seeker and was looking for information about Guru and his spiritual path. I've tried to "keep it real." In my own seeking, I find lots of talk about avatars and miracles unhelpful and uninteresting. The idea, for example, that Swami Brahmananda was brought down to Earth eternally perfect from some high unseen world has no practical value to me as a seeker.
The fact, however, that Rakhal enjoyed having sex with his young wife (with the approval of his master), fathered at least one child, and then abandoned them -- these facts have value. They show a more complicated and human portrait of an undoubtedly great yogi, who nevertheless was a person who struggled with the same issues we modern seekers struggle with today. What does it mean, for example, that an advanced individual like Swami Brahmananda could enjoy the bliss of trance one minute and then exhibit behavior that falls beneath even ethical standards of conduct (i.e., not caring for one's wife and child, both of whom died while Brahmananda was wandering the countryside)?
Can a person be both extremely developed in an occult sense and dysfunctional in an emotional sense?
To the extent I've written about events in Guru's life that some may latch onto as "miracles" -- like the 7,000 pound lift -- I've simply tried to describe what happened, what I saw, without foisting any conclusions upon you the reader. I certainly don't think it was a miracle. As I've written before, I don't believe in miracles. There's a process behind everything, though sometimes it's not apparent.
Finally, I wanted to make a humble effort to pay tribute to the many people that have made a positive impression on me. I haven't written about them all. One notable absence, for instance, is a dedicated post about Databir, whose larger than life example influenced me -- and still influences me -- in ways I have simply found too difficult to put into words. Nevertheless, I'm grateful for the help, wisdom, and guidance I've received throughout my life thus far from some truly unique individuals. This is my small way of saying thank you.
As for the writing itself, my only constant guiding principle has been to do no harm. With two big exceptions, I've done my best not to criticize anybody that I'm writing about. In this, I think I've been successful.
The two exceptions to this rule have been Guru and myself.
I've learned a lot about myself over the past 15 months. Nothing more important, however, than the fact that the narrative arc of my spiritual life is one long -- unfinished -- story. In the past, when I've reflected upon my life inside the Center and out, I've tended to think of it in discrete chunks of time or experience: there was the time before I was in the Center; there were my Center days; my life outside the Center; my time in the Navy; my life as a husband, student, father, lawyer.
I see those memories now as chapters in a larger story. Each chapter provides a foundation for those to come. In the end, that's all I have.
Thank you for reading. As always, please send me your comments, questions, and feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org). I do intend to publish one more post in the next week or so -- an epilogue of sorts sketching out my hopes for the Center going forward. Y.