“If I entered the hermitage in a worried or indifferent frame of mind, my attitude imperceptibly changed. A healing calm descended at mere sight of my guru. Every day with him was a new experience in joy, peace, and wisdom.” So Paramhansa Yogananda describes the years he spent in the ashram of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar.

There is so much that we can learn from these few, simple words. The power of the guru to uplift and change our consciousness is not limited to his words or actions. The mere sight of Sri Yukteswar had a transforming effect on his young disciple.

The guru’s consciousness is a catalyst for our spiritual unfoldment. As disciples, our part is to strive to be more in tune and to deepen our efforts to know God. When we’re “worried or indifferent,” or experiencing any number of wrong attitudes, we have the ability to transcend them by tuning in to the guru’s consciousness, which can free us from the mental shackles that keep us bound.

“But,” you may be thinking, “I haven’t had the blessing of living in my guru’s ashram. I live here in a big city surrounded by materialistic consciousness. What hope is there for me to experience these divine gifts?” I’d like to share two stories of people we know who have “lived” in their guru’s ashram, despite extremely challenging outward circumstances.


The first is of our friend Joe Hunt or Jairam, who has spent the last forty years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. About thirty years ago, Jairam’s mother sent him a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, which he read eagerly from cover to cover.

Shortly afterwards, he contacted Ananda to see if it was possible for someone to visit him in prison to teach him how to meditate. Some members were able to do this, and Jairam began meditating every morning and evening on his bunk in his prison cell. After a few years, the prison officials allowed Jairam the use of a small closet as an office for some work he was doing, and it was there that Jyotish initiated him into Kriya Yoga.

One can imagine that a prison environment is not ideal for the regular practice of Kriya. But through the pandemic and lockdowns, through illness and isolation, Jairam has spent hours daily meditating and doing his Kriyas. When we’ve visited him over the years, we could feel that he has “lived” in his guru’s ashram despite all the outer challenges.

The second story is about an advanced direct disciple of Yoganandaji, Kamala Silva, who spent many years with her guru, and wrote the book The Flawless Mirror. Later in her life, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Having no family to care for her and needing constant supervision, she was moved to an assisted living home. Members from Ananda visited her regularly, and though they expected her to be unhappy living there, they were greatly reassured to see her unwavering joy.

One day a woman from Ananda went to see her, and was shocked to see that Kamala was now sharing a room with another woman whose face had been horribly disfigured by burns from a fire. Our friend thought, “What a pity that Kamala has to look at that damaged face every day.” Kamala, however, remarked, “Have you seen my roommate? Isn’t she beautiful?”

That was how Kamala saw her—as a reflection of God’s radiant light. She, too, was “living” in her guru’s ashram, there in that small room.

I hope these stories will help you to realize that the doors to this sacred realm are always open. The choice is ours whether we want to dwell there. Living in our guru’s ashram is a state of mind, and much more: It is constantly reaching out for union with God, until we realize that the guru’s ashram has always resided in our own heart.

I’ll close with these words of Master: “O Spirit, make my soul Thy temple, but make my heart Thy beloved home where Thou wouldst dwell with me in ease and everlasting understanding.”

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi