Quick Links to Chapter Excerpts



Chapter 1


Chapter 2

A Being in Time

Chapter 3

All in the Mind

Chapter 4

I Chose This?

Chapter 5

Speed, Winning, and Jesus Christ Superstar

Chapter 6

Exploring the Unconscious

Chapter 7

The Threshold of Life

Chapter 8

When the Student is Ready

Chapter 9

Magical Meeting

Chapter 10

Toward the One

Chapter 11

Who is Shiva?

Chapter 12

Destiny Calls

Chapter 13

Winter Wonderland

Chapter 14

This Karmic Dance

Chapter 15

The Fruits of Surrender

Chapter 16

That Gracious Glance

Chapter 17


Chapter 18

Totally One With Him

Chapter 19

Clothed in Devotion

Chapter 20


Chapter 21

She Still Thinks She Did It!

Chapter 22

Perfect Mistakes

Chapter 23

Taming the Beast

Chapter 24

Leaving the Ashram

Chapter 25

The Great Guiding Force

Chapter 26

The Wish-Fulfilling Tree

Chapter 27

Kumuda Gump


































































































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Chapter 25: The Great Guiding Force              

       Moving to Hollywood after ten years of monastic living brought other technical challenges regarding finding employment. When I'd apply, some interviewers would ask about my previous salary. How could I say $100 or even $500 per month? I would have been laughed out of Hollywood. Yet, part of my discipline was also to be as truthful as possible, which only occasionally came down to being technically honest while knowing the person would probably misinterpret the words. When asked how much I’d earned in my previous job, I'd sometimes answer “Oh, thirty to thirty-five.” They would, of course, think I meant thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars per year, while I'd chuckle inwardly at the unspoken “cents per hour.”
       After leaving the monastic environment that had been my home for so long, I did not ease gently into “the world.” Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, I was hired as a freelance editor for a new television program that was essentially the first official celebrity tabloid show. “Hard Copy’s” massive success eventually contributed to the tabloidization of the entire news and media industry, so chalk one thumb down on the scoreboard for my personal goal of using my creative skills to help bring light to the world.


Chapter 26: The Wish-Fulfilling Tree                         

       I left Disney's news station after two and a half years, and was hired to edit and co-produce a low-budget feature film titled “Beretta's Island.” The movie was being produced by Mr. Universe bodybuilder Franco Columbu, and it would include a cameo appearance by Franco’s best friend, Arnold. Yes, that Arnold.
       For the next few months, I would be eating a whole lot of Italian dinners and drinking considerable amounts of wine, including the homemade brew whose production was filmed as part of the movie. I hadn’t consumed any alcohol during my ten years of ashram life, but as a teen, had often used the fake I.D. my folks had gotten for me to go to bars with friends, so I’d imbibed my share of alcohol during those teenage years.
       I would spend Thanksgiving evening 1992 sipping peppermint schnapps in side-by-side recliner chairs, chatting about “mooovies” for a couple hours with “the Terminator” himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He seemed to enjoy chatting with me very much while puffing on cigars and explaining how they had done various effects in his movies. I hadn’t seen any of the movies Arnold mentioned, since I’d lived in the ashram during the 1980s, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that. Anyway, I was enjoying his descriptions, and figured I could always look up the movies later.


Chapter 27: Kumuda Gump      

       Most ashram residents didn’t watch television shows or movies, so we often didn’t even recognize famous people. One long-term ashram resident was eating lunch at a group table in the dining hall with actor William Hurt, and asked what he did for a living. When Academy Award winner William replied that he was an actor, the woman asked if he had been in anything she might have seen.
       Another time, I was visiting the ashram soon after drinking peppermint schnapps and chatting with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thanksgiving evening. Anjali, a very sweet longtime resident, came up to say hello, and as we chatted, she asked if I’d met any celebrities in Hollywood.
       “Yes, quite a few,” I happily responded.
       “Who have you met?” Anjali eagerly asked.
       “Well, just a couple months ago, I spent Thanksgiving with Arnold Schwarzenegger!”
       Anjali asked, “Is he famous?”
       I chuckled and thought, “Why did you even ask?” Of course, just a few years earlier, I probably wouldn’t have known who he was either.






A beautiful and poignant spiritual odyssey that is equally provocative and touching, informative and enlightening, humorous and heartbreaking.  – Joseph Chilton Pearce

In a larger sense, this memoir is a dialogue between Indian spirituality and Western psychology. The question that Janis answers is: "Can a westerner come to know Indian spirituality and flourish in its depths, even when it is alien to western ways of knowing?'" She answers with a resounding "yes."      – Publishers Weekly

It's a good story, and for those of us who are interested in what exactly goes on in those ashrams, it's hard to put down... Few writers so far have told the tale of what it is like to live and study, heart and soul, with the likes of Muktananda. 
  – RALPH: Review of the Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Inspired by deep guidance and inner listening, this book aims to bring readers to "a sense of wonder and respect for their own journey" and a greater regard for others on their paths.   – NAPRA ReVIEW

It is a book that is very difficult to put down—the kind that keeps you up at night beyond your bedtime.  – 21st Century Books


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By Sharon Kumuda Janis,
Author of Spirituality For Dummies

Spirituality For Dummies is a Mecca for those who are sincerely seeking the genuine meaning and practice of spirituality.  Sharon Janis fuses mystical insights drawn from the east/west approaches, resulting in a volume that opens the heart, exhilarates the mind, and inflames the soul.  No matter upon which rung of the spiritual ladder you now stand, expect to be catapulted to the next level of awareness through practice of the wisdom-offerings in this scripture of Truth.

Michael Bernard Beckwith





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