my whole dance routine completely and to make it spiritual. I decided to take God to people through my dance if they wouldn't go seeking God out at church. As I said, I was young and ardent and full of pizzazz — I guess you would call it divine pizzazz — because I had read that God spews out of His mouth the lukewarm. Boy, that is something — the lukewarm, the half-way people. I prefer to say I had an obsession, but what an obsession — a divine obsession for God. That is what you here, all of you, also have or you wouldn't be sitting in this meeting, especially on the floor, when you could be sitting comfortably at home.
Let's start with the Masters, or a few I've had the great honor and privilege to know and be with. Would you like to hear about them? It's not who I met that's important, but the fact that in your own lives somewhere, maybe in the Himalayas or some place in the heavens, somebody is watching you and looking over you. Do you understand this, everybody? You are being watched and as you expand, they give you more and more teachings when you go to sleep at nighttime.
The first teacher I met was supposed to be a yogi, but he was a bogey. But what a bogey! He taught me wonderful things. He taught me Vivekananda. He taught me Ramakrishna. He taught me Jesus. And he taught it beautifully. He didn't live it, but then, that wasn't my problem. You see, he put me through the most austere things that anyone could go through.
We were a nice household. On the first Thanksgiving after Dad had passed on, we were sitting at dinner when we found out that Mother was into something. A short time before, our dog had gotten lost. Somebody who was into the Bhagavad Gita brought the dog back and invited Mother to the meetings she was holding. So we were at this Thanksgiving dinner with guests, and my mother stood up and said, "I have to go now," and she walked out. We all looked at each other and said, "Where's Ma going?" You know, in the middle of dinner. But what that lady had said was, "If God is not more to you than a Thanksgiving dinner, then you aren't into it. I want everybody at the meeting on Thanksgiving." So, my mother went. What do we put first? What's our priority? Is it God or the world? Is it God or our family? In Jesus' case, when people said to him, "Your family is at the door," he said, "No, my family is in here." Do you remember that from the Bible?
Then a yogi who was on his way back to India was staying in town. Mother said that there was going to be a class, and I said that I'd come and listen. From then on, it was hell-bent for heaven for me. He said, "Sit down on the floor." I sat, and he pulled one leg over and the other leg over into a lotus position and said, "Don't move until I tell you." Two hours later I thought I was going to die, but I didn't move. I felt I couldn't move, that I mustn't move. I don't know — it was something inside me. I didn't know what this was all about, but I knew it was something.
Then he said to me, "Would you give one hour a day for peace?" I thought that behind this there was something going on, and I was a little scared to say yes because I thought it was going to make a big change in my life. I was a dancer, and I was full of fun, having a nice time on Earth, and life was just great. I thought for a while and I said, "Yes," and the moment I said yes, I knew that I had signed up with the right gang, on God's side. Do you understand what that meant when I said, "Yes, I will give an hour a day for peace"? I've given more than an hour a day for peace since then — I've given twenty-four out of twenty-four.
This yogi put me through things you wouldn't believe. Whatever I did was wrong. If you don't like people criticizing you, you should have had him as a teacher. But, you see, I believed that he was a God-man, and I believed that he was testing me. Because he was testing me, whatever he did or said was okay, and I had to do it. If you only knew, my beloveds, that somebody is watching you and testing you at all times, you wouldn't fall under ego, pride, any of those things. Do you follow this? They are watching.
He would say, "All right, now you be master of ceremonies." Afterwards he would say, "You spoiled the whole show, you spoiled it completely." If a tear ran down my cheek, he'd say, "Don't be a fool." In front of everybody, he'd call on me, and he'd put an extra "a" in my name. My name is Charlton and he'd make it Charlatan, "Hilda Charlatan." There'd be all these eyes looking at me. Then he'd tell me how horrible I was if I reacted in any way. I remember once we were all in the country and I happened to turn my head to look at a flower. He said, "All right, don't move. Meditate. Don't move." For the next two hours, I had to meditate in that position. If you've never meditated with your neck crooked, just try it for fifteen minutes. I couldn't get it back straight again after he said I could move. He put me through these disciplines.
Once he said, "I'm going to test you. You are not to speak a word until I give you permission," and he gave a two-hour lecture. He threw a power at me that all I wanted to do in the whole world was to interrupt him. I wanted to, but I bit my lips, I held my lips. I did everything I could do to keep from talking. All I wanted to do was to interrupt that bogey, but I didn't. At the end he came up and said, "Well done." Because as the energy comes up, if it comes out the mouth, uncontrolled, it can't go up to Mount Everest, the crown chakra. It has to go all the way up. The energy that's in the lower part goes up the spine and goes up to all your chakras. If it hits the navel, it's power. If you get stuck on power, it's too bad if you haven't got love. That's what many, many teachers who come here from the Orient get stuck on — power. After the third chakra, then the energy goes up to the heart, the fourth chakra, and you have love. When you mix these two, then you've got something. When the energy gets up to the throat, you speak divine words. Then when the energy gets to the third eye, it has to go on all the way to the top of the head.
So, those were the tests he put me through, that first yogi. I was so delighted when I saw him off on the train after three months. I couldn't wait to see the train pull out. Why? Because I wanted to try some of the things he had taught me. I wanted to put them into action.
The next teacher I met was a true master — Yogananda. Would you like to hear a little bit about him? I went to Santa Barbara to see Helen Bridges, who was the artist who drew Babaji, the great master, under Yogananda's guidance. She had a room about the size of this small stage as an ashram for Yogananda, Paramahansa Yogananda. He came in — there couldn't have been more than ten of us there — and when he was talking, I saw a light coming out of his eyes and entering me, just light entering me. At the end he was standing at the door to shake hands and I thought he'd say, "My beloved, you have come." He didn't — he just shook my hand and I went out into the air of Santa Barbara in ecstasy.
Later, because I was overdoing my yoga, I became quite ill. If they said breathe in for seven counts and hold for fourteen, I thought if I breathed in for fifty and held for one hundred, that would be better. I just wanted to make it fast to the goal, but you can't make it fast to the goal. You can't pull a rose open. It has to blossom on its own — you just can't pull it. You have to let yourself unfold.
I was feeling ill and I thought if I could only get to that Yogananda. A friend and I were going into Santa Barbara. I told her not to drive me to where we were going, but to drive me up to Helen Bridges'. When we got there, a car was waiting, and Helen said, "We have a place in the back seat. We're going down to see Swami Yogananda in Encinitas and we're waiting to see who belongs in the empty seat." I said, "Well, I do." All the way down, I was so ill I thought I'd never make it there. They put me in a glorious room with satin curtains overlooking the ocean. I was sitting there thinking that I was dying when there was a knock at the door. I shall never forget it. I'd never dreamed that the Master would come to my room. I said, "Come in." The door swung open and there was Yogananda, around him a light, an effulgence that filled the doorway. I was instantly healed. He didn't have to say, "Get healed." It was fantastic. Then he asked, "Do you want to learn?" I said, "Yes, I'd like to learn." So he said, "All right, come with me to Mount Washington." So I got in the car and rode with him. Now, I don't know how you people are, but I always thought that holy people should talk holy, they should talk God, you know, heaven. All he talked about on the way was that I should drink carrot juice and eat carrots and raw foods. He was really holistic. I thought, what's up with this yogi? Where's the spirituality? All he's talking about is food, about eating the right things. Yet, every yogi I've ever met has told me the same thing.
So I went to the Mount Washington ashram, which was a great big place. One time I made an appointment to go and see him. I was supposed to have an appointment at seven in the evening. It got to be seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, one, two. At three in the morning, they came down for me and I went up to where he was. It was just a heaven up there. He didn't really sleep, you know. He slept maybe one hour a night. We had our interview about 3:00 in the morning. I sang for him. I did some Mayan chants that had been given to me in meditation and he said they were genuine. He said, "Would you stay with me? I will have a place for you at the ashram." I thought about it the rest of the night, and I had to say no to him because I didn't want to, what shall I say, be caught in anything. I didn't want to join anything. I wanted to be a free soul. Do you understand that? To be a free soul, not to be bound by any one thing. It's too limiting. I felt it was too limiting for me. So I went my way, and much later, when I was going to India, he gave me letters of recommendation and we had a lovely talk.
Then I went off to India. Because I didn't have the money to go to India, I went as a dancer, a classical dancer, danced everywhere in India and then I stayed there. I was in Ceylon for a while. I will tell you just a short story of a yogi — Yogi Swamy. He was exactly what you would think a yogi would look like — soft gray hair, grey beard, elderly, wonderful. When I used to go to see him, I would travel all night on an old train to Jaffna, where all the warfare in Ceylon is going on now. This one time I had brought some camphor.2 The day before, my friend had taken somebody there who wanted to know about a lot of worldly things. When this person went in there, the yogi had asked him, "What have you got behind your back?" The man had said, "Camphor," and the yogi had said, "Burn it on your own tongue." Yogis could be tough, kids. Then he said to my friend, "Why do you bring people of that caliber here?" So I came in the next day. I had some camphor behind my back. I had just heard this story. He asked, "What have you got behind your back?" I said, "Camphor," and he said, "Come right in, come right in." See?
Every time I went there, he would say, "How much money do you have?" It was just like Yogananda with the food — I would think, what kind of a person is this? I would give no answer, and then he would know I had no money. He would ask, "What is your salary?" Well, I didn't have any salary. So one day I was honest with him and I said, "I don't have any money." He said, "Oh." He had a boy take a book and read, and as the boy read,