As at Hilda's classes, songs of devotion were softly sung by the musicians and the
audience before the program began, and soloists sang songs evoking the atmosphere
of Hilda's love and teachings. And also as at Hilda's classes, tears and laughter,
devotion and celebration of the deepest kind prevailed.
Ingrid: On behalf of everybody I welcome everybody. It's so great for us all to
be together in memory of our beloved Hilda Charlton. Some of us here now only came
to one meeting. Others only heard a tape of her or heard of her from a friend. Others
of us came to almost every meeting for many years. But one thing we all had in common
is the experience of being transformed by the presence of Hilda and her Lessons
of Life. We have come today to honor her. Her wish was that this be a joyous occasion,
because she despised the somber worldly custom of mourning the passing of a soul
to the other side. Therefore we will have an afternoon of music, recollections of
her life, and the wonderful Mary dance, which will be performed by Kathy. Hilda
choreographed this dance and once upon a time danced it herself with incredible
grace. Music, poetry, all arts and artists were so very dear to her heart.
To begin, we'll have Dr. Wally, whom we all know.
Dr. Wally: Hello and peace, my brothers and my sisters. Today is February the 14th,
Valentine's Day. And it reminds me of "Oh, how I love you, Hilda." I remember
the first class I came to. I was brought here by Larry and Ilene and I sat right
in front, about eleven years ago. Hilda's words touched my heart and all I could
think of was "Oh, how I love you, Hilda." The energies then were very
similar to today. I didn't understand them, but I cried and I laughed, and they
both were all going on at the same time. Again I felt "Oh, how I love you,
Hilda." Someone gave me her phone number a few weeks later and I called her,
not knowing what I was going to say. I was surprised that she answered the phone.
Again, I spontaneously said, "Oh, how I love you, Hilda" because I didn't
know what else to say. She asked me why I called. I said things were happening in
my life and I was frightened and very confused. She said, "Please come to the
class tonight." It was Friday night. I went to the class and she surrounded
me with light, and she had the people pray for me. All fear left. There was no more
fear. Not even today. And she brought out in me the goodness, the responsibility,
the concern, the integrity, the love, the humanity, all the attributes that she
Just recently, she wrote a note to my wife, Phoebe. I'd like to read a portion of
it, which will remind you of Hilda. She wrote, "To Dr. Wally's patient, kind,
serene, noble and loving wife, Phoebe: Here is a little tiny love offering towards
your home phone bill that he has run up because of me. I give you full permission
to rebuke him once a month, even yell, if you want. The rest of the time, be a patient,
kind, serene, noble and loving human being."
Hilda is a patient, kind, serene, noble, and loving human being. She is a dedicated,
fully integrated, humane, loving, joyful, peaceful and, oh yes, playful person whose
integrity never allowed her to compromise her ideals and who honored and blessed
us by her presence.
Today is Valentine's Day, and oh how I love you, Hilda, but I loved you before and
I'll continue loving you forevermore. And any time I do a patient, kind, serene,
noble, loving act for people or for the planet, I will dedicate it to you.
Ingrid: Thank you, Dr. Wally. With great gratitude, I call upon a very important
figure in Hilda's spiritual mission in New York, Dean Morton, the Very Reverend
Dean Morton, who is responsible for hosting Hilda's Lessons of Life class here at
the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for the past twelve years. I had wanted to
say more in praise of him, but he wouldn't let me. Dean Morton...
Dean Morton: I'm full of all sorts of thoughts. First of all, whenever I'm introduced
as the Very Reverend, that stops me, because I mean, what does it mean? We had an
archbishop here this morning and archbishops are called the Most Reverend. And so
I said to the archbishop, "You know, it's okay if someone says, 'You're really
the most,' but it's not so great if someone says, 'You're really very,' which is
what I am. Hilda would just roar with all of those stupid kinds of things —
the Very Reverend, the Most, all of that.
It's so beautiful to see all of Hilda's friends, because I see Hilda when I see
I would like to say a couple of things about how Hilda came to the Cathedral. A
very old friend of mine is the rector of St. Luke's Church in the Village, where
Hilda's public meetings began. But of course they outgrew the gymnasium, where they
were held. And so Ledlie called me and he said, "The Cathedral is bigger than
St. Luke's and we have this very strange woman here by the name of Hilda Charlton
and she has this fabulous meditation group." I said, "Well, tell me a
little bit about it." He said, "Well, it's very difficult to describe."
I said, "Is she wacky? What do you mean?" There was a pause, and he said,
"She's holy." And I said, "Oh! Well, I'll come down." So I came
down and went to what was one of the last sessions down there. You should have seen
it. How many of you were down in St. Luke's? It was like sardines. I mean, it was
So I met her, and she said, "I understand we can come up to the Cathedral possibly?"
And I said, "Yes." It was simpler to say, "Yes" than anything
else. And so she's been here ever since.
And the incidents, oh there are lots of incidents I can recall, but one incident
I want to share with you, because I'll never forget it. She had been here about
a year, so she had gotten a feel of the Cathedral and we had gotten to know each
other. She said, "I want to walk around with you in the Cathedral." I
said, "Okay." And so we walked around. This must have been around 1976,
because I was going through a lot of trouble. That can happen to anybody. But I
was going through a lot of trouble with respect to certain things here at the Cathedral.
Not everything that I was doing, such as having Hilda's meditation group here, met
with universal approval. And there were even some who would have liked to see me
elsewhere. I was really under a lot of heat at that time. And so, as all of us do
in times like that, I looked for all the help I could get. Hilda said, "I just
want to walk around with you." We were walking around in the Cathedral, and
she said, "Do you know the Dean who was here before you?" And I said,
"Well, there are a lot of them." She said, "The one who'd gotten
into all of that trouble." And I said, "Well, many of them did."
And she said, "What's his name?" I said, "Do you mean Dean Pike?"
She said, "Yes." She said, "I've been talking to him." Of course,
he had died 15 years ago. And I said, "Say more." And she said, "He
said you'll be okay." I don't think she knew the politics of the church, but
she said, "You're having some trouble. There are people who are really giving
you a hard time." I said, "Yes, that's true." She said, "Well,
Dean Pike, he knows, he understands, because he went through it too. He just wanted
you to know to stick with it and you'll be okay." Then she told me she'd been
talking to various of the bishops who were buried around the Cathedral. I said,
"What did they have to say?" She said, "Just keep going the way you're
going and it'll be okay."
So, I can't tell you what it means at one level that Hilda won't be calling up on
the telephone. I'll miss her very much. But at a deeper level, I don't miss her
at all, because she's very much here, just like Pike and all those dead bishops.
She makes them come alive. That is, I think, the bottom line of what spirituality
is for all of us. We move to different places, to different spaces. The continuity
is there, because that's why we're here. Hilda was one of those great — not
just teachers, but bringers about of the continuity of the experience of the reality,
so that you enter into communion with God right then and there. And if that would
stop with her death, then the whole thing's a joke. Right? So, there is really no
problem, except we'll miss seeing her, you know, on Thursday. But we'll see her
Ingrid: Thank you so much, Dean Morton. It is with great love and respect that I
introduce Dr. Alagappan, the chairman and founder of the Hindu Temple Society of
North America. He is responsible for founding the Jyoti movement with Hilda's support
and inspiration, which honors the Eternal Godhead or the Goddess of Light and which
has erected temples to her. He was instrumental in arranging the use of the Hindu
Temple in Queens for the Skanda/Jyoti Puja at the full moon of each month, where
Hilda delivered the messages of Lord Skanda. Dr. Alagappan...
Dr. Alagappan: Friends, I'm just now coming from a joint meeting of the Board of
Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Hindu Temple Society of North America.
They passed a resolution, which they've asked me to transmit to this group here.
"The Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee place on record with their
deep sense of appreciation the sterling contribution made by Ms. Hilda Charlton
as a member of the Board of Trustees since its inception on January 26, 1970. Ms.
Charlton, besides imparting an ecumenical leadership, has played a major role in
developing the Jyoti philosophy and the Jyoti movement." This is the text of
the resolution. It speaks for itself.
You see, when the Hindu philosophy came to this continent in the last century, with
the aid of Swami Vivekananda, the temples had not come. This Jyoti movement started
only in this century and coincided with the Bicentennial celebrations of this great
country. But when the effort started to build the temples, one of the first to be
built was the temple in Flushing, and somehow God brought Hilda into the group two
days before its first meeting. It was started with a fifty-one dollar check. But
then, Hilda was there, and so was her grace. Her contribution was, as the resolution
states, an ecumenical leadership. You know, all religions are the same. They lead
to the same Godhead. So a religion becomes the practice of a set of people in a
particular geographic region. Hilda tried to bring this about and dilute the orthodoxy,
the rituals, et cetera, of the people who had brought it. Now, the symbol of this
temple became a light surrounded by the insignias of all religions: Christianity,
Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and so on. So, it is this type of contribution that Hilda
made in the beginning. And the temple at Flushing, Queens was a pioneer, in a sense,
and it has brought a movement of temples on this continent. There are now over thirty
temples and all of them have this ecumenical character. It is indeed an important
contribution made by Hilda. Then, as it was mentioned, Hilda has been there right
from the start of this Jyoti movement. Shrines have been erected for Jyoti in New
York, Houston and Los Angeles. From here, it has gone to India and a major project
is now in the making. And it was our hope that we could have invited Hilda to come
and consecrate that shrine and the philosophy there.
Let me explain what this Jyoti is. She is the Eternal Godhead which is the Goddess
of Light. According to the Hindu legends, the Universal Mother gave the vel1 of
knowledge to a young son of seven, Skanda, to go and do battle. This vel is said
to be one of the forms of the Goddess of Light given by Shakti, the Mother, this