My Realizations The Autobiography of Julian Lee  /  COPYRIGHT 2009 JULIAN LEE
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My Ozarks Shangri-La

I had been left all alone in a farmhouse in southern Missouri, in the Missouri Ozarks. The house was owned by devotees of the Syda Yoga lineage, which started with Nityananda, then Muktananda, and then Gurumayi. They always had Syda yoga chants on, and the house had a tremendously spiritual atmosphere. I want to say that I realize in retrospect that this family was Jewish, or at least the father was. This might account for the sense of distance they finally maintained between my family and theirs, as if we were not on their same level, as if our purpose was to be their workers, etc.

However, they were strong devotees of Syda yoga, the man Hector, especially. He was a very big devotee of the gurus of Syda yoga. When my family and I were there, he behaved very austerely and clearly had it in his mind that he wanted to be our guru figure and leader. When my wife and kids would be gone he would return to his accustomed mode which involved a lot of watching football games and drinking beer. However, they were devotees of a siddha lineage, and that was the place I was sent for some powerful developments in meditation.

My wife and I had become confused about where to go when we came to the conclusion that Alaska did not contain the sort of people we wanted as a community, and I realized that my children had difficult charts there. She had a dream. She was walking across a big map of the midwest, remembering seeing Missouri and Arkansas. A great voice said "Go to Missouri." So we did. Through mutual friends we were put in touch with these people near Sparta, Missouri, just on the northern border of the beautiful and ancient Ozark mountains. We wanted to be part of some higher intentional community, and so did they. Were home homeschooling parents, and so were they. I was 'into' meditation and gurus, and we were told so were they. At that time I was also having spontaneous yogic movements of the body, and I did not know what they were. Thus we arrived.

Hector had a noble manner and was an impressive man. His wife was very gentle, feminine, and a strong mother to their three boys. The first night there we sat around the kitchen table and chatted with the couple, getting to know them. We shared our spiritual interests. I modestly told them that I "had a guru, Yogananda." Hector said, "I never thought much of Yogananda." I learned he always wanted the upper hand, the authority, in spiritual matters. The next day, driving his land in his old truck, he said, "Would you like to spend 10 thousand more incarnations or would you like to get shaktipat and end with this lifetime." I didn't know what "shaktipat" even was, though it was what I had. I just humored him best I could, seeing that he considered his guru the only way, and that he wanted us to become "Syda" yoga people like them.

I was not much impressed with their guru Gurumayi. Not putting her down. Just that some gurus in literature called to me and I felt an authenticity, and others didn't. One thing they had was a library, full of "syda yoga" books. Now, here was a treasure. I found the books of Muktananda, the guru of Gurumayi, and he felt very authentic and his words were a rich feast of knowledge. Most impressive of all  was the photo of his guru, the avadhut (true renunciant) Nityananda. I expressed to the wife -- I will call her Martha -- how impressive he looked and felt; that I sensed he was the real deal. She expressed that she found him rather offputtingly strange. The wife was not as avid about the syda guru thing as the husband, possibly.

Rifling through their library daily I soon hit on a book called "Play of Consciousness." It was a revelation. It told about the spontaneous bodily movements I was having. It turned out they were auspicious and fortunate and a manifestation of the moving kundalini. I was amazed and slightly befuddled. I had never heard of these in any of my readings so far, and I had considered myself a devotee of Yogananda, who never openly mentioned them. But hearing Muktananda tell about them was illuminating and gave me confidence in my path, to keep working, to have faith and continue.

It turned out that Muktananda -- their guru -- had had these yogic kriyas and most of his benchmark book dealt with them. He considered them an auspicious sign and an inherent aspect of his "Siddha Yoga." I never told Hector or Martha about the phenomenon I was having. I knew instinctively that it would not be right to hear it dissed or dismissed, and that they probably wouldn't like the news. After all, were supposed to be hapless uncooked fodder on Hector's farm hopefully waiting for a shaktipat boon and all.

The whole thing is funny in retrospect. I had spiritual respect for Hector and gratitude for their generosity. Sadly, he couldn't see that I and my family were also bringing things to the table and also deserved respect, and not just to be their free labor, baby sitters, or floor sweepers. I offered to pay a modest rental fee for the crude structure they offered for us to live (having Feng-Shui features horrible beyond belief) so as to feel equal, dignified, and not ever-entangled. But they preferred to keep us in that nebulous state in which we would feel always-indebted, always on the clock, never free. I saw this, and knew it wouldn't work. I also was rattled by the fact that we did not have open conversation going on about "what this is, what this is to be, what are we going to build here." Everything was to be vague or hidden or assumed, and I didn't know what kind of expectations we were getting into. Also on the first morning there I had a strange and vivid dream that perhaps told me too much.

But one day Hector and Martha left for a "syda yoga" intensive and my wife and children went up to Iowa to tend to some belongings in a storage unit and visit grandparents. They were pleased to leave me as protector of their home while they went to South Fallsburg, New York. In this home, while left alone and meditating and chanting very much, and roaming the hills of their 150 acres, I started to hear Aum.