Nostalgia and Grace, by Carolyn Lee (page 12)

Two Spiritual Autobiographies (continued)

Like Augustine, I recognized that scholarship was not enough. I was studying, teaching, and enjoying the stuff of the sacred, but I was not living a sacred life. I had settled for a surrogate. I felt that I was actually engaged in a form of promiscuity—stimulation without commitment. “We are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men, leaning together, headpiece filled with straw”. T.S. Eliot’s words cut close to the bone—he seemed to be perfectly describing many of the academic occasions I used to attend. And now I, as a teacher, was busy raising another generation of hollow men! I was revolted. But I did not know what to do about it. I did not feel able to accept the dogma of the Catholic church. Where was I to find a sacred life that made sense in today’s world?

Then I came across another remarkable autobiography. It was Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of A Yogi, quite the best story of visions and miracles that I had read. But it was not these marvels that gripped me. The heart of the book as I saw it was the relationship that Yogananda had with his Teacher, Swami Yukeswar. The joyful reverence and complete surrender that Yogananda showed to his Guru made me weep. It was more attractive humanly and Spiritually than any love relationship I had ever experienced or heard about. And so I began to pray for a living Teacher. I prayed directly to Yogananda (who had been dead for some years), begging him to guide me. This was the most irrational thing I had ever done, and the most urgent. I wondered at my own temerity, and told no one.

That was 1976. Time passed, and no Teacher appeared. But I was not moved to go searching for one in India. My Western roots were too deep. By this time Avatar Adi Da had been actively Teaching in California for years, but I knew nothing of Him.