The first public event was held at the Rancho Meditation Sanctuary last Saturday, August 29. Sanctuary founder Randall Krause, spoke to the audience, introducing the Sanctuary. Here is an edited transcript of that talk.
This was the house in which I grew up. We moved here when I was two years old. So this house is a sacred place for me. My parents’ bedroom on the other side of the house, the most sacred place in the house for me, is now the meditation room. They say your parents are your first gurus, your first teachers, and their room was special for me.
In later years, as I became a student and then teacher of yoga meditation, I never imagined that I’d come back to this house. I’d been living in the San Francisco and then Santa Cruz areas for 25 years. Then, about ten years ago, one of the teacher’s in the Himalayan Tradition, Swami Hariharananda Bharati, who was known as the laughing swami because he always laughed and was funny and delightful, was visiting here in L.A., and I came down from the north to assist him. He planned to visit Canada to teach and needed a visa. So he and I sat all day in the Canadian consulate for him to apply for a visa. While we were waiting, I told him that my mom was blind from macular degeneration and was all bent over with osteoporosis and had chronic pain, and my 85 year old dad was taking care of her along with running his business.
Suddenly, Swami Hari became very fierce looking and with great intensity, in a commanding voice, said, “Now you must come to Los Angeles and take care of your parents!” Shocked at his command, and taken aback, I responded, “are you completely out of your mind?”
But when I thought about what he’d said, it seemed that he might have a point. Also, I wanted a good excuse to get away from him after that, so I decided that I’d spend the next five days at my parents’ house being their servant. I’d do everything for them for five days. So that’s what I did. I cooked for them, shopped for them, made their beds. I did everything I could for them.
At the end of the five days my parents were all aglow with smiles and gratitude, and I felt strong and deeply happy. So I knew then that Swami Hari was right, and decided that I would move from my home in Santa Cruz to L.A. to care for my parents.
I returned to Santa Cruz and went through the surprisingly difficult task of packing up to move. It was difficult because I was emotionally attached to the little cottage in the forest in which I lived. But, “how,” I wondered, “would I feel when it came time to leave my body at death if I could not even leave this little cottage?” I knew that too much attachment wasn’t good, and I had a task to do.
So I moved to Los Angeles and for the last ten years I took care of my folks. The first few months I’d just visit them every day and do a few things for them. During that time, Dad started teaching me how he did the accounting for his business and it was wonderful to sit with him to do that. It brought us closer. But after a year things suddenly changed: In August 2006 my dad had a stroke that left him incapacitated. The strong father I knew became like a little child. In that situation, I wanted to help them, and so I took over running the business along with their personal household. This was a huge task.
Then, half a year later, mom suddenly died of a stroke. After that I took care of dad for eight more years until he passed away in February.
After Dad died, I decided that I wanted to turn his house, my childhood house, into a meditation sanctuary. Not as a commercial venture; not as a yoga studio, but as a place for people learn to tap into the eternal spring of peace, love and wisdom that exists within each of us; a place to learn the practices and to have the space to practice them. So that’s what this place is.
There are all kinds of other things out there and people are welcome to do those things. This Sanctuary is for those who want to get in touch with that silent spring within through the path of Himalayan Yoga Meditation and related authentic disciplines. You are welcome to come here and learn from those who teach here and enjoy what we have to share.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, sutra 16 of chapter 2, says, in Sanskrit, “heyam dukham anāgatam.” A translation is, “the suffering that is yet to come should and may be avoided.” So how do we avoid that suffering? That’s what yoga is really about. It’s about learning the difference between what we really are and what we think we are. We have lots of thoughts about who we are and what we are, but maybe we are actually something different from that. Actually, those thoughts about who and what we are tend to lead to suffering.
Back in February when my father passed away, I was sitting right next to him watching him intensely, with mantra in my mind. Suddenly he left. At that moment, when the life that was my father left, the thought came to me that this body that I always thought of with love as my father, was not my father. Rather, it was the body that my father inhabited and animated, but it was not he. Dad was something more than the body, some great mystery that had now departed. That thought left a strong impression in my mind.
I’m sure that this body of mine is going to die too. After seeing both my parents die, and after my beloved teacher Swami Veda Bharati left his body, I’m convinced my body too is going to die.
Before that happens, I want to find out what I truly am.
In the morning I look in the mirror and think “oh, I look well today,” or “I don’t look so well today,” or “I look older.” But that’s not me! That’s my body. Even though I think it’s me, it’s not. I want to know what I really am. I’m committed to doing so.
I practice Himalayan Yoga Meditation so I can come to know, absolutely, what I am and become one with that.
This place, The Rancho Meditation Sanctuary, has been founded to help others who wish to take this journey to Truth with me. I hope you will be a frequent visitor.