I first met Sri Swami Satyananda as he came through Sydney on his 1969 world tour. Even though I did not see him again for six years, from the moment we met, my life took a complete turn and headed off in a direction of indescribable beauty.
The guru-disciple relationship is not necessarily a physical interaction on the level of mentor to student. As I moved through India and around the world in the years that followed, Sri Swamiji frequently advised me and told me what was going to happen to me, and his predictions and direction were always correct. However, I always had the feeling that even though we were physically far apart, he was guiding me at some subtle level, and that the divine grace that flowed through him was a part of my life.
I received from him the answers I was desperately seeking. For instance, the reality of what a human being is, what life is all about and how to manage it, and even what death is. Previously, as a practising psychiatrist, I had been trying to help people find the answers to just those things when I didn’t have the answers myself. Now I had the tools to be able to truly help people, not just with prescriptions, but with real mental, emotional and spiritual guidance. Added to that was the vast panoply of yoga practices that Sri Swamiji taught us, which proved to be extremely helpful in managing the mental and emotional distress that people experienced. Sri Swamiji had interpreted and developed a vast body of work in the yoga techniques, which made it all simple, sensible, logical and correct.
Sri Swamiji also taught by example – he was an impeccable warrior in the game of life. He also had a way of placing us in just the situation where we would experience our next lesson. During the years when I was travelling as a swami, he continually moved me from place to place, and it was uncanny that the moment I twigged to the lesson I had to learn from there, I received a message from him to go somewhere else where the next lesson awaited.
Sri Swamiji also inspired a vast world-wide organization, so that no matter where we went over the globe, we were with family, were able to interact with like-minded people, and express ourselves in serving, loving and giving in the spirit of karma yoga. This continued in his Rikhia years as he once again set us an excellent example of how to provide effective help.
All through this, something much more subtle was happening to me and to all members of the Satyananda family, which is difficult to put into words. Even though we underwent conflicts and stresses in our lives, the outcomes were always harmonious and beneficial. The guru has a subtle, pervasive and positive influence over our whole life, no matter the distance – so that divine grace seems to bless us continuously. Divine grace certainly blessed those of us whose lives were transformed by that exceptional individual, Paramahamsa Satyananda, and our gratitude to him is beyond words.