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  • Writer's pictureRon Brent

5. Yoga


It’s now four or five days into the new year of 1970, and several months removed from an extended period in Scientology. I’m living in West Hollywood without any direction or sense of what to do next with my life.

Throwing myself completely into the culture of Scientology almost extinguished the flames of my passion for spiritual matters. Then one day a profound flash of insight resulted in my sudden departure from the organization. Four months later, I’m still in limbo - still waiting for a sign.

On this particular morning, I’m sitting on my living room floor impatiently listening to FM radio while restlesslyturning the radio dial in search of something to connect with. Suddenly I hear a compelling voice that stops me dead in my tracks. Immediately my hand comes off the radio dial.

Swami Satchidananda

It’s Swami Satchidananda being interviewed. He’s talking about yoga. At one point the interviewer asks him, “But isn’t yoga difficult?”, to which Swamiji answers, “Not when you know the greatness of the Goal.”

The conviction and calm presence in Swami Satchidananda's voice have a profound impact on me. Renewed clarity and a deep yearning for what Swamiji is alluding to stirs within me. Having lost most of the passion for my spiritual quest over the past year, Swamiji's words are received with renewed promise. At the conclusion of the interview, I make note of the announcement that Swamiji will be speaking on January 9th at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.

Yogi Bhajan’s ashram, located at the southwest corner of Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard, previously served as a storage facility for celebrity antique dealer Jules Buccieri. Buccieri currently occupies a larger building on the property, which serves as his showroom. A dedicated student of hatha yoga, Buccieri provides the space for Yogi Bhajan to hold classes. The location is convenient for me, as I only live 10 minutes away.

The ashram is a single large teaching space of about one-thousand square feet. Just to the right, as one enters the room, is a table containing various printed materials covering topics such as mantras, asanas, diet, recipes, the Sikh tradition, and Kundalini Yoga - “The Yoga of Awareness” as Yogi Bhajan promotes it. There’s also a sheet of paper with information about the Aquarian Age, which is supposed to be the current time of enlightenment here on planet Earth. Another print-out provides information about the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) - Yogi Bhajan’s non-profit, in which Yogi Bhajan is referred to as “The Teacher for the Aquarian Age”.

Swami Satchidananda is Yogi Bhajan’s guest today and the program has just convened as I pull up to the intersection. I immediately park my car and join the crowd. Before I know it, I’m corralled into attending classes, and as fate would have it, Yogi Bhajan becomes my teacher - not Swami Satchidananda.

While visiting a health food store later that day, (that’s what we called them back then) I saw a poster displaying Swamiji’s photo and the announcement of his upcoming talk. I now have a face to go along with the voice.

Returning home the next day from a visit with my parents in Culver City, I noticed a throng of people dressed all in white exiting a small building. Leading the pack is a striking figure in bright orange who I easily recognize from his poster as Swami Satchidananda. Walking alongside him is a large and imposing figure dressed in white. This is Yogi Bhajan.

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