Living in the Miami ashram was a great beginning for my spiritual journey. I felt the expansive pull of yogic committed life. Starting the day at 3:15 each morning with the reading of the Japji prayer, then a full yoga set, then a meditation, and then a Sikh service with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, also known as The Guru. It was a powerful daily practice that has given me a foundation I continue to enjoy more than 45 years later.
Each day after the more than three-hour sadhana, we had breakfast and then went to work in our landscaping company. We cut lawns, planted trees, and did many other landscaping services. It was hard work, but luckily I was much younger then and managed to keep up.
It was a small ashram with anywhere from 6 to 12 members living in the house. In was 1975 and we had two Dutch guys visiting and helping work in the landscaping company. They were like most Dutch men, tall, thin, and refusing anyone’s attempt to control them. They worked hard and were devoted yogis.
The director, Bob, and I got into an argument about something, he became quite agitated and attempted to hit me. I was able to hold him off with one hand. Frustrated he just walked away. A few days later, the landscaping crew returned from work to find Bob, his wife and kids had left. It was clear he was not coming back.
I called someone to inform them what had happened. They said they would send another teacher to head up the ashram. A few days later, he showed up with his wife. He was young and quite nervous about the task. This new director seemed to believe he was the supreme authority over everyone in the ashram. Well, the Dutch guys told him to f*** off, and I just refused to bow down to his demanding attitude. He said if I did not blindly accept his word, I needed to leave. So I went to my parent’s house, about 40 minutes away, to relax and let the situation cool down. My wife remained living at the ashram.
After about 10 days I gave this new director a call and offered to meet and discuss the situation. He replied there was nothing to discuss, I either accepted his absolute control over me or I was not welcomed. I informed him I was not accepting his heavy-handed desire to control me so I would be permanently leaving and my wife would join me. It was not a decision I felt entirely good about. I had been at the ashram for over three years and had no plan what to do next. I felt guided and trusted it would all work out for the best.
My wife and I discussed the situation and decided to buy an old phone company van, fix it up and travel across the country staying in ashrams along the way until we felt we had arrived at our new home. It was this journey that led us to the mother ashram in Espanola, New Mexico. Where both our kids were born and we created a life together for ten more years.
There is something about trusting your inner guidance. This is not the same as following your desires. Trust usually takes equal parts inner courage, a bit of foolishness, a sense of adventure, and a belief things will work out for the best. How many times in your life did you stop yourself because it seemed crazy, or you felt fearful? Getting thrown out of the Miami ashram may have been one of the best gifts I have ever received.
Photo: taken in 1971 includes Bob and his wife, the man (with his wife) who took over when Bob left, my future wife and other early yogis. As far as I know, only the ones in this photo still in 3HO are the replacement director and his wife. I am not identifying the exact persons in the photo. Just use your own intuition or imagination.