Jon Monday (Dharmadas)
My wife, Anna, was taking a class at UC Berkeley that required the Prabhavananda’s Gita. That was in early 1967. She brought it home, we read it and WOW it hit home – rang the bell. We hadn’t been especially looking for a path and appreciated all the mystical religious teachings of the world, but this was IT for us; immediately on first reading. We tried to live the teachings, as best we could understand them.
It wasn’t until three years later in 1970, when we moved to Southern California, that our old friends, Charlie (Krishnadas) and Apple (Sita) Mitchell, Carol (Subhadra) Cohn, and others told us that they had met Swami and were waiting or had taken initiation. I was later initiated by Swami Prabhavananda.
But there were signs and circumstances in our childhoods that pointed us in the right direction. Anna saw an episode of Huston Smith’s Religions of Man series in the mid-50s when she was 11 or so. I ran across D.T. Suzuki’s Zen Buddhism when I was 14 and tried to meditate, etc.
I was looking for answers and Vedanta’s answers rang true with what I believed and found to be true in the world. And it all made sense of a confusing world. Before reading the Gita, my own self-philosophy had established certain things must be objectively true, if there is a God. No sermon, scripture, or religion was fitting with that inner belief. But the Gita did – on many levels.
The idea that you had to be a good Christian to get into heaven, or you go to hell seemed just preposterous to me. I thought of a little girl in China, growing up in 1000bce, does saintly unselfish acts and prays to her concept of “God”, would surely go to heaven – but NO! my 7th grade girlfriend said. I called BS. The Gita confirmed that.
When I was very young, perhaps after witnessing my parents fight and divorce, I believed that all people carried in themselves the Objective Truth, untarnished by personal interests. And that everyone could access that truth if they looked sincerely inward. And further, that all fights, conflicts, and wars were caused by the failure of the sides to look within. The Gita confirmed that. Living according to my Guru’s teaching became the central foundation and priority of my life.