Marching Orders

from Tim Tschantz

When I met Swami Kriyananda I was powerfully drawn to him and the work he was doing. I had finished college and was living in a cooperative community that a few friends and I had started on a two-hundred-acre farm in Illinois. We had high hopes for what we could accomplish together. Now I felt called to live at Ananda Village in California. Did God want me to leave my friends and all the plans we had made together? Desperately I yearned for clear guidance.

I took my prayers to one of the most inspiring places I knew—a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, dotted with gnarly red cedar trees. Many of the cedars were hundreds of years old and had grown into exquisite shapes. They looked like carefully cultivated bonsai trees, only full scale. The bluff to me was God’s own cathedral, decorated by His hand.

Usually I meditate facing east, but since the question was whether to move west, I sat facing that direction. I was determined to stay there until an answer came.

For many hours I prayed and meditated, but felt no closer to clarity than when I had sat down. Then, all of a sudden, even though I hadn’t been singing or thinking of music at all, lyrics to one of Swamiji’s songs popped into my head.

Some men lack the daring
Ever to be free
They shun the heights
And cloud the depths
And court security
Come, you’re a man,
No passive stone,
Stand up and call
Your soul your own
Go on alone,
Go on alone,
Don’t look back,
Just go on alone.

I came down from the bluff and told my friends what I had received. Some wept at the news. We were like a family, and it was hard to think of not being together in this way anymore. But all felt as I did that God was calling me and I had to follow.

I packed my bags and moved to California.