Yogacharya didn’t really begin his spiritual work until after he retired. His real spiritual work began for the most part after the Mahasamadhi of his master Paramahansa Yogananda. He began his work in relative obscurity. Yogananda put him to his great work. Yogacharya said that at his first philosophy class he only had two people show up, but by the late 1960’s he had a few hundred people at his Sunday Services at the Detroit Institute of Arts main auditorium each week. He was always true to his master’s teachings, never taking any credit for himself, giving all praise to his Guru. Although, he was well qualified and encouraged by Self Realization Fellowship and Yoganada himself to ‘ad lib’ the Sunday Services, he always read Yogananda’s Sunday Service lectures as written. His comment was always that he couldn’t improve on Yogananda’s teachings.
The weekly services were the highlight of the week for many of the participants. Groups from Chicago, Toronto, and Milwaukee would make treks to Detroit on a regular basis. The Services ran weekly from the first Sunday after labor day until the last Sunday in June. Each year on the last Thursday of June Yogacharya would conduct a Kriya Yoga Initiation Ceremony. Yogacharya was one of a very few non monastic ministers acknowledged by Self Realization Fellowship as qualified to conduct a Kriya Yoga Initiation Ceremony
Yogacharya and others began to record the Sunday Services in the mid 1960’s and this continued until 1970. Also during this period a disciple named Eileen Jasnowski began to record the fellowship meetings that followed the Sunday Services. These were candid spontaneous sessions in which the joy and wisdom of Yogacharya were put on display for all to see. My first meeting with Yogacharya in this life was in March of 1972. A brother disciple & I heard there was an SRF meditation group that met at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Sunday Morning. We decided to go. We arrived late and had to search for a place to sit in the dark auditorium. Once in our seats, we were irritated by this little old man in a business suit who kept talking throughout the meditation period. Of course unbeknownst to us this little old man was Yogacharya. In a few months we had a completely different perspective. The Sunday Services and Fellowships at The Detroit Institute of Arts were my first personal experiences with Yogacharya and convinced me of his vast realization and his relationship with me. Many of the recorded meditations, lectures & Fellowships have been preserved and digitized. These recordings are a treasure & a joy and it is my privilege to make them available to all truth seekers.
Yogacharya had a definite pattern to his Services. He started with an opening prayer invoking all of the SRF Masters and then he would lead a group meditation for about 30 minutes. During the meditation Yogacharya would talk, giving meditation instruction, quote from different sources for inspiration, and occasionally relate personal experiences. He would quote primarily from the sixth chapter of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and from the ‘Gospel of Sri RamaKrishna’
From the ‘Gospel of Sri RamaKrishna’
“Like nectar streams its boundless love filling the hearts of men with joy. The very thought of his compassion sends a thrill through every limb. How can one fittingly describe him, by his abounding grace the bitter sorrows of this life are all forgotten INSTANTLY. On every side, land below, sky above, beneath the seas, on every region of this earth they seek him tirelessly and ever ask where is his limit where is his end? Pure wisdom’s dwelling place is he the elixir of eternal life, the sleepless, ever wakeful eye, the pure and stainless one, a vision of his face removes all trace of sorrow from our heart.”
From the second chapter of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ The Book of Doctrines, fifteenth verse, the Sir Edwin Arnold Translation.
“He who shall draw As the wise tortoise draws its four feet safe Under its shield, his five frail senses back Under the spirit’s buckler from the world Which else assails them, such an one, my Prince! Hath wisdom’s mark! Things that solicit sense Hold off from the self-governed; nay, it comes, The appetites of him who lives beyond depart,aroused no more. Yet may it hance, O Son of Kunti! that a governed mind Shall some time feel the sense-storms sweep, and wrest Strong self-control by the roots. Let him regain His kingdom! let him conquer this, and sit On Me intent. That man alone is wise Who keeps the mastery of himself! If one Ponders on objects of the sense, there springs Attraction; from attraction grows desire, Desire flames to fierce passion, passion breeds Recklessness; then the memory all betrayed lets noble purpose go, and saps the mind, Till purpose, mind, and man are all undone. But, if one deals with objects of the sense Not loving and not hating, making them Serve his free soul, which rests serenely lord, Lo! such a man comes to tranquillity; And out of that tranquillity shall rise The end and healing of his earthly pains, Since the will governed sets the soul at peace.
From the sixth chapter of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ The Book of Religion By Self-Restraint, fifth verse, the Sir Edwin Arnold translation.
“Sequestered should he sit, Steadfastly meditating, solitary, His thoughts controlled, his passions laid away, Quit of belongings. In a fair, still spot Having his fixed abode,—not too much raised, Nor yet too low,—let him abide, his goods a cloth, a deerskin, and the Kusa-grass. There, setting hard his mind upon The One, Restraining heart and senses, silent, calm, Let him accomplish Yoga, and achieve Pureness of soul, holding immovable body and neck and head, his gaze absorbed Upon his nose-end, rapt from all around, Tranquil in spirit, free of fear, intent Upon his Brahmacharya vow, devout, Musing on Me, lost in the thought of Me. That Yojin, so devoted, so controlled, Comes to the peace beyond,—My peace, the peace Of high Nirvana!”
From the sixth chapter of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ The Book Of Religion By Self-Restraint, eighth verse, the Sir Edwin Arnold translation.
” Steadfastly the will must toil thereto, till efforts end in ease, and thought has passed from thinking. Shaking off all longings bred by dreams of fame and gain, shutting the doorways of the senses close with watchful ward; So, step by step, it comes to gift of peace assured and heart assuaged, when the mind dwells self-wrapped, and the soul broods cumberless. But, as often as the heart breaks–wild and wavering–from control, so oft let him re-curb it, let him rein it back to the soul’s governance; for perfect bliss grows only in the bosom tranquilized, the spirit passionless, purged from offence, vowed to the infinite. He who thus vows his soul to the Supreme Soul, quitting sin, Passes unhindered to the endless bliss of unity with Brahma. He so vowed, so blended, sees the Life-Soul resident in all things living, and all living things in that Life-Soul contained. And whoso thus discerneth Me in all, and all in Me, I never let him go; nor looseneth he hold upon Me; but, dwell he where he may, whate’er his life, in Me he dwells and lives, because he knows and worships Me, Who dwell in all which lives, and cleaves to Me in all. Arjuna! if a man sees everywhere–taught by his own similitude–one Life, One Essence in the Evil and the Good, hold him a Yogi, yea! well-perfected!”
After the Meditation period Yogacharya would read one of Yogananda’s Sunday Service readings. Occasionally he would conduct a marriage or Christening after the lecture. After the service Yogacharya & a group of people would meet for fellowship time. These were at various restaurants and finally at a private room in the Detroit Institute of Arts. This was a unique opportunity for devotees to see a real master yogi in action and receive darshan. These meetings would go on generally for an hour or two. The beginning of the fellowship was a social gathering, but after a while the crowd would thin out and Yogacharya would answer spiritual & Philosophical questions and regale us with his spiritual experiences & wisdom. His ever expanding joy was intoxicating. His example often reminded me of the saying ‘A Saint that is sad is a sad Saint’. Yogacharya was anything but.
During these Detroit years Yogacharya was quite a American Yogi Pioneer. In the 1950’s he started a Hatha Yoga teachers organization called the Self Realization Fellowship Yoga . Teachers Association. In 1976 the name of the organization was changed to the Golden Lotus Yoga Teacher’s Association to avoid conflicts with Paramahansa Yogananda’s organization. During the late sixties and early seventies we had well over 100 Yoga teachers in the association from all over the country. Most of the teachers were from Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, and Milwaukee. It gave us a great sense of purpose and comradery. Mr. Black ran the association much the same as he would run a business. We had semi annual business meetings which became great social & spiritual events for all the teachers. These later evolved into semi annual banquets that became fund raising banquets for Song of the Morning Ranch.