When I was nine years old, I thought, “If Christ’s disciples existed thousands of years ago, where are they today? If it was possible then, then shouldn’t it be possible today?” I mused about it hoping perhaps one day I’d meet such a person. Later, in my first year of college, a friend (who had been attending lectures at the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center of New York for 10 years) answered many questions about Hinduism and asked me if I would like to meet a Swami. I said yes. As soon as I heard Swami Adiswarananda speak, for the first time in 1983, I felt God was present in the room and Swami understood my inner questions and could give me confident answers born of direct experience.
Until that point, I felt other ministers were talking about theoretical knowledge, not experiential knowledge. I remembered my question when I was nine and thought, “Could Swami be one of those disciples of Christ that I was looking for?” Strangely, I felt I had come home. I was initiated by Swami Adiswarananda.
The goal is Realization and the means is secondary. One only needs sincerity and holy company. I used to think religion was about “make yourself believe” but later realized there is nothing “make believe” about it, it is real, tangible and profound experience.