"F9F-6P VC-61 OVER NAS MIRAMAR 1954" BY U.S. NAVY - U.S. NAVY NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NAVAL AVIATION PH. NO. 1999.272.021 . LICENSED UNDER PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIMEDIA
Having transitioned from military duty to civilian student life, Joe still loved observing the jets taking off and landing from this base next door to downtown San Diego, the soon to be renamed Naval Air Station Miramar. At the campus he became close friends with Mark, who was the son of the base commander at Miramar. Four months into their first semester, Christmas break approaching, Mark approached Joe and asked: Do you want to fly in a jet up north? Holy crap, Joe responded, are you pulling my leg or serious - your father is taking a two-seater out for a spin? You're sure right on that, that's what my father will do come Sunday. He will do some hops this weekend to stay current and this Sunday is just a ferry flight to and from Moffett Field to pick up a new radio. Wanna go? He heard about your service when I bragged about your personality, don't take off just yet buddy, but he checked and found your clearance to be easily renewable as recent as you were an MP, so I'll tell him you're game and revert when all ok. We'll pick you up, I'll come along to the base.
Joe did take off, he almost soared jogging to meet Maura. You know what, he beamed as he approached her, I will get to fly a jet on Sunday! Are you kidding, said Maura, how come? Joe told her the story. Well, I can accept another invitation then, Jane and Paul invited the two of us to this spiritual teacher up in Escondido, his name is Paramahansa Yogananda. Heard about him? Yeah, raincheck for next time, my city architecture professor actually mentioned him as one teaching both Joe Doe as well as high flying politicians and business people. He sounds just amazing. He should be, said Maura, I'll tell Jane we'll be just three then. It is at 10 am to 2 pm only, so I'll be back here at 3, I'll pray for you and your safety, she said before handing him a warm loving hug and a quick public kiss.
Sunday arose and five minutes early, Mark and his father pulled up outside Joe's student dorm entry. Joe was ready as could be, smiling from ear to ear in giddy anticipation. He already felt a tingling feeling in all of his body, light and energetic as if he would help propel the jet airborne. An hour later, they were next in line for takeoff. A busy air base for the aircraft carrier ferry flights and makeover of jets, air and ground taxiing traffic was busy. The nearby civilian airport added to the busy air picture as well. Joe wandered how the air traffic controllers and pilots all handled it, but felt very reassured by Commander Stanford's easy manners and firm maneuvering. Soon they were up high and heading north. "We'll fly up higher than the airlines, then I'll let you fly some straight and level, if you wish? Sure want to, thank you Sir! Sure, I'll manoeuvre inland soon, so we can follow the mountain range west of Owens valley, including Mt Whitney which is the tallest peak in the continuous 48 states. We'll fly a wide circle to get to Moffett, so we can enjoy the mountains, then Mono Lake, I'll fly us low then, and out by Yosemite Valley and their majestic peaks and into the Bay Area for landing. We'll take another jet south, as this one will get new avionics, then flying down the coast at medium height. Sounds like a plan, private? Oh, yessir! We'll have lunch at the officer base, I got a waiver for you as a civilian. Thank you, Sir. My pleasure, for such a good friend of my first son.
After refuelling at Palmdale Air Force Base, they flew their mountain route in crisp and clear winter air, snow covers on all the taller peaks and some greenery even down in Death Valley. Mono Lake was awesome, although Joe knew the strange rock formations would be even more magical from the ground. Flying by Half Dome in Yosemite was just perfect in a fast jet, what a thrill!
Maura sat in between Jane and a stranger at the packed church at The Self-Realization compound in Escondido. They've had an hour-long guided meditation, recorded tapes of Yogananda, and Maura felt at peace in the meditation as if held by the space, the guiding and the people in it. Just now, the beloved teacher is being strolled in on a wheelchair, as the congregation arises. His body weakened, he turns to the audience as he has been maneuvered onto a small podium and radiates a glow and a joy Maura has never seen before. She is mesmerised as his mellow voice is heard, in perfect English welcoming all and beckoning us to sit. She had heard that he rarely taught anymore, focusing on his writings, but that for this traditional Pre-Christmas talk, he made an exemption. Behind him were several profile pictures of what looked like a row of other masters, Jesus included. She was new to seeing Jesus besides teachers of a totally different tradition, but with Paramahansa Yogananda now speaking, it all made sense. She truly felt in the company of a master and suddenly realised that Joe might not be able to see him, as frail and secluded Yogananda now was. He spoke with an eloquence and a power belying his physical health. "In the presence of Masters before us, we bow our souls to the sacredness of the teachings and the lineage we're in. Please close your eyes. Let's remain silent in their honor, for a few minutes." "You may open your eyes", he says after what seemed like a timeless span of time. Quite a contradiction of terms, Maura realised as she smiled warmly. Miraculously she feels like Yogananda is smiling back at just her.
At 81, Joe knew well that his life was precarious. Having meditated for long, he had realised that life is just a cloak to cast away when used up. At the same time, he clearly felt as if within his body. It had been showing some old-age symptoms for some time now, with quirky knees, stiffness in the body, aches and pains that had been graciously absent from most of his life. It wasn't until 75 he started to feel old, with these liver spots on his skin showing up and body pains here and there appearing more steadily.
Eating healthier than ever to compensate the deteriorating trend, life was obviously in a final chapter. In general he felt just fine, through meditation he had found the ability to let pain be pain and thoroughly enjoy life anyhow. The pain was there, but it didn't manage him. He loved his mountain hill life, with walking trails abounding just up the hill. And with cafes and friends in the valley, he still upheld a social life, naturally at a slower pace also as friends had started to die off.
He and Maura moved to this mountain cabin place 16 years ago, when they both retired. Joe's great grandfather had bought some land and built the original cabin back in the 1890's, ensuring that they owned enough land below to clear the tall pine forest expanding everywhere if it could. Keeping a clearing they kept the magical view from the cabin but it also held a space for gracing animals in the otherwise forested mountainside. Nowadays, cattle and sheep had been long replaced by his dogs, currently down to his his one surviving Huskie and since three years ago when his wife died, three cats outliving her.
They had moved into the old cabin there back in 1998, and lived in it while building a new one more in tune with our times. When finished on January 1, 2000, they were thrilled moving into this spacious inner space mirroring the majesty of the outside. Modern panorama windows really let them enjoy the drop dead beautiful mountain and valley views, truly inspiring them both. And now kids and grandkids came to visit even more, being able to stay over in proper guest rooms. The grandkids loved the animals and the outdoors, and the nearby peak of Grace Mountain was just a two hour walk away, something most guests could be coerced into joining. Maura would sometimes stay behind and walk with the group of people not having the guts or physical ability to go all the way, just enjoying the more open space starting some 200 ft higher than their cabin. Joe walked to the peak at least twice a week now, even more so compared to when Mary was alive when they socialised more. He just loved the mellow grassy hills leading up to this medium tall mountain. Other taller peaks were everywhere to see and the top of Grace opened up to further vistas.
Joe was totally devastated when Maura died, they had had a long life together, meeting back in 1952 when they both studied at University of California San Diego. There and then, the US and the world was struggling with recouping from World War II, and there was much grief still felt for all the soldiers dying - also within the families of both of them. Being too young to become a wartime soldier, Joe had just served a year as a private at Naval Base North Island across from downtown San Diego. He had been a military guardsman, an MP, overseeing the traffic of people and vehicles into North Island. He had also served as nighttime guard at hangars when new aircraft were readied for the growing fleet of aircraft carriers. He absolutely loved to see aircraft getting readied for test flight, talking with the pilots whenever he had the chance and strangely enjoying smelling the fumes of parafine as they propelled by, or taxied by with new technology jet engines. Most of the pilots had wartime experiences and would at rare times share both the horror and energetic thrill of being balancing on the edge of death and winning in the face of a vicious enemy. Those who didn't take out the enemy in time in dogfight, were simply not there to talk. It is a hard world, Joe realised.
At other times of guard duty, nothing transpired through the night, and he fought falling asleep. As that was the only fighting he did, the transition to being a student was easy. He was a freshman studying architecture, while Maura was almost finished with her medical doctor education, being four years older.
Hailing from Montana and much isolated form civil life in the Navy, he was for the first time experiencing the joy of civil university life where boys and girls in their early or later 20's met from all over the country to share studies, good and bad professors, partying and an always refreshing cold beer. Many fell in love too, enjoying sexual life perhaps for the first time in otherwise much puritan USA. Joe felt mesmerised by student life, and seeing Maura he was immediately drawn to her radiating joy of life and bursting laughter. She was at first sceptical, as he was still 19 and she close to 24, but he had this boyish playful way around him that also inspired her and drew her to him. After meeting at friends places and the campus cantina over three weeks, she said yes to Joes courting and invites to a relationship. They were falling in love.
On the About page (of website), I have shared one of many magical events in my life, linking me to the highly acclaimed guru, Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. To meet his soul alive, some 50 plus years after his death, quite amazing. Having told that story to a spiritual friend, yesterday, I was kicked behind to not only tell this story but to stand forth with my best. Share openly, do I dare? Yes, I need to respect my experiences of the divine and in this dark world, no kidding, even the tiniest flicker of light will help. And to be open on my spirituality will help direct my energies after some serious leakage in my current life.
Talking of Yogananda, if I can be a vessel to promulgate his teachings further, I would be deeply honored. I see a few areas though, where I would have to teach very differently, according to what I believe in and honoring the fact that I come from 15 years of Tibetan Buddhism and including Native American teachings, Sufi whirling and breathwork. For one, I don't believe in celibacy for other than highly realised beings (or people just lacking sex drive, yeah right). Sexuality is a powerful force for spiritual growth, as well. Held back unnaturally, it will easily explode into abuse. No lack of evidence on this, see that Yogananda?
I just now step forward with my actual depth potential, and my clumsy but somehow working way inwards. I will think of how to continue at large, and I will ask my archangels for advice, primarily Archangel Michael and Mother Mary. Regardless of doubts and not wanting to accept my best, uh oh, my healing sessions all go miraculously well. Yes, I do invite others, and would you know it: They always show up.
I am Sanata.