About Swami Abhayananda
I was born Stanley Ross Trout on August 14, 1938, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1966, at the age of twenty-eight, I was graced by God, and experienced the unitive vision. A few years later, I met a holy man called Swami Muktananda, and I journeyed to India to live with him and to learn from him. After some time, he invited me to join the spiritual Order of sannyasa, and gave me the name "Swami Abhayananda", which means 'the bliss of fearlessness.' I have kept that spiritual name ever since, though I eventually parted with Swami Muktananda and his organization.
I do not belong to any church or to any religion, but I do belong to that select group of people who have experienced God directly, and I stand as an unyielding bulwark against the current cultural trend toward an atheistic worldview. God is very certainly real. God is, in fact, the only reality. Since He first revealed Himself in me, my focus has been on God and His revelation, and my writings are simply a means of sharing that revelation. I am not hindered by organizational ties or religious affiliation, as my vision and my philosophy is based on my own personal mystical experience, and is not restricted to any of the mystical traditions of either the East or the West. Today, I live a simple, solitary life, devoted to meditation on God and the sharing of His revelation.
November 18, 2020 was the fifty-fourth anniversary of God's revelation to me. I am not the first to be so graced and I will not be the last. What He revealed to me I have passed on to you. Whether you accept this revelation and make this knowledge your own is totally up to you. Nevertheless, it is my earnest hope that this revelation will inspire you to seek to know Him in yourself and for yourself. I can tell you that He helps and guides those who trust in His presence, and He rewards those who make the effort to reach Him. May He bless you every one.
Los Gatos, California, 1965
Los Gatos, California, 1965
Ganeshpuri, India, 1972
Oakland, California, 1977
Oakland, California, 1977
New York, New York, 1978
What Is A Swami?
(from The Divine Universe, 2008)
It’s a question that comes up from time to time, and I’ve learned that I cannot really say what being a Swami means for all Swamis, but I can at least try to say what it means to me. I was living in a secluded cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains when it first dawned on me that I wanted to be a Swami. I had gone to live in that cabin in my spiritual quest for enlightenment, and I had been reading many books on Indian philosophy as well as books on Western religious philosophy. I was impressed by what Sri Ramakrishna’s disciple, Swami Vivekananda, said about sannyasa, the Indian Order of renunciant monks, and also by these words of the great scholar and former president of India, Sarvepali Radhakrishnan:
“A sannyasin [monk, swami] renounces all possessions, distinctions of caste, and practices of religion. As he has perfected himself, he is able to give his soul the largest scope, throw all his powers into the free movement of the world and compel its transfiguration. He does not merely formulate the conception of high living but lives it, adhering to the famous rule, ‘The world is my country; to do good my religion’. Regarding all with an equal eye he must be friendly to all living beings. And being devoted, he must not injure any living creature, human or animal, either in act, word, or thought, and renounce all attachments. A freedom and fearlessness of spirit, an immensity of courage, which no defeat or obstacle can touch, a faith in the power that works in the universe, a love that lavishes itself without demand of return and makes life a free servitude to the universal spirit, are the signs of the perfected man.”
Well, who wouldn’t want to be such a person? It was during this same period of time that I was given to experience a profound illumination from God, revealing the spiritual depth of my true being; and shortly thereafter, I made myself and God a promise: that I would first give myself a twelve-year period of spiritual study and growth, then I would become a Swami. That was in 1966, and in 1978 I was able to fulfill that promise. After an amazingly beautiful five years in my cabin in the woods, I traveled to Ganeshpuri, India, and became a disciple of the famous Kundalini master, Swami Muktananda.
Now, Muktananda (affectionately known by his disciples as “Baba”) is known by many today as a man who made a tragic mistake in his later years, just prior to his death in 1982, by inappropriately sharing his physical affections with a number of his young female disciples. Many of us will also make great mistakes in our lives, especially as we age; and it is a terrible shame that Muktananda’s great legacy of loving wisdom should be so tarnished by the memory of a few misdeeds in the latter period of his life. I was one of those who left his organization in protest and who spoke out condemning those misdeeds, and they needed to be condemned. But, because of those unfortunate events, few of the public today know of the greatness that was Swami Muktananda. His was a spiritual presence that touched the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of souls and lifted them to an experience of God in their lives through the generous gift of his own heart’s immense compassion and love. Those who sat in his presence know, as no others can, that despite his human imperfections, he was indeed a great saint, possessing immense compassion and awesome power.
In 1978, I was working in Baba Muktananda’s Oakland ashram, when I wrote to Baba in India informing him that the 12 years of my apprenticeship had expired and that it was now time for me to become a Swami. He then invited me to Ganeshpuri to take part in the sannyasin initiations that were to take place in May at the time of his birthday. There were about a dozen of us, both Indians and Westerners to be initiated, and an appointed Mahamandeleshvar (ceremonial official) named Swami Brahmananda Sarasvati of the Shringeri Math was on hand to direct the proceedings. After performing the Vedic rituals of offering rice balls to our ancestors, and after having the last remaining ‘brahmin’s tuft of hair’ shorn from our heads, signifying the transcendence of all castes, we performed the culminating ceremony of discarding our old clothes while standing waist deep in a cold raging river at midnight, and the receiving of the Swami’s ochre robes. After that, we were Swamis, monks of the prestigious Sarasvati Order.
But, of course, it is not the ritual ceremony that makes a Swami; it is the heart’s desire, the commitment to a spiritually dedicated life, and the favor of God and one’s Guru. I was to know the awesome power of Muktananda’s grace to his Swamis, a grace that enlivened the world and my soul with a brightness that revealed God’s sparkling beauty within and without. Through no merit of my own, I experienced a divine blue light that would indicate to me advanced godly souls by dancing over their heads; I would experience Muktananda’s grace being emitted from my own body to sincere devotees; I was even able to experience the transference of spiritual energy to others when someone inadvertently brushed my clothes. It was all his amazing and gracious power, transmitted from him through me, even though he was not present. His loving regard of me, even from far away, was a tangible energy that drew me in awed devotion to know him as the very image of God and distributor of God’s grace on this earth.
In Muktananda’s organization, SYDA Yoga, Swamis were honored, not so much for their holiness, but for their position in the hierarchy of the Guru’s favor. Muktananda, in the tradition of the rajas of India, ruled as king over an orange silk-robed aristocracy or nobility, who always sat in the front nearest the king when he gave audience. Further back were the members of the functional bureaucracy, and behind them the peasants, the visiting mob. The Swamis shared in the teaching role, giving authorized courses and operating the regional Meditation Centers and Ashrams. In the absence of the Guru, they were the connection with the Guru and his teachings. In a way very similar to the monks and priests of the Catholic Church, the Swamis of SYDA Yoga made up an organizational hierarchy of representatives of the Siddha line.
But just as in the Catholic Church there were, and still are to some degree, lone contemplative hermits and anchorites who live among the people, in India there are many sannyasins who wander freely and independently, living the worshipful and contemplative life or teaching and lecturing and living by the charity of the citizenry. One can easily see, however, that such a class of religious itinerant beggars would not be feasible in Western countries. What, then, is a Western Swami to do? How is he (or she) to carry on his or her chosen vocation?
We must understand at the outset that a Swami transcends not only all Hindu caste designations, but all sectarian religious designations as well. A Swami is not (necessarily) a Hindu. The ideal Swami is learned in all religious traditions, and he is familiar as well with current science and literature. He is an enlightened and learned soul, and he is solely dedicated to God and the well-being of all God’s children. After I had left Muktananda’s organization, I was faced with the question of how to continue my “mission” as a Swami. My immediate instinct was to share my acquired experience and understanding in the form of writing, and I went on to produce a number of books, all concerned with the “mystical experience” and the Self-knowledge obtained thereby.
There was also, of course, the necessity of meeting the expenses of living in this world; and this I managed to do by obtaining a license as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and working primarily as a Home Health Aide for elderly and infirm patients in their homes. For the twenty-five years since I left Siddha Yoga, I have written my books, seen to their publication, and daily served the many patients I was assigned to: victims of stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and senile dementia with hands-on care. (In 2012, at the age of 74, I retired from my work as a Caregiver, and since then have given much of my time to maintaining this website.) I no longer parade about in orange silk robes; rather, I live a simple solitary life, presenting my books and articles as free downloadable ebooks at my online website: www.themysticsvision.com; and I spend a good deal of time in reflection and inward communion with God. According to our brother, Socrates:
This is that life above all others which man should live, … holding converse with the true Beauty, simple and divine. In that communion only beholding Beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth,
not images of beauty, but Reality [Itself]; …and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue, to become the friend of God and be immortal if mortal man may. Would that be an ignoble life?
― Plato, Symposium
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The Perennial Philosophy
The one Spirit, whom we usually refer to as “God,” is all-inclusive, containing and comprising all existence. Human beings, contained in and comprised of that one Spirit, surmise Its existence but are unable to see It. However, they are capable of knowing that Spirit if and when It wishes to reveal Itself to them. When the all-inclusive Spirit reveals Itself in a person, It does not reveal Itself as an object to be seen; It reveals Itself to a person by transforming that person’s limited perspective into Its own all-inclusive perspective, so that the person sees for a limited time with the eyes of the one Spirit, knowing everything to be Itself, knowing Itself to be everything.
When that divine revelation fades, the person returns to his own limited perspective, but retains the memory of the “mystical” experience as well as the metaphysical knowledge obtained during that revelation. By the Grace of God, Jesus experienced this revelation and knew that all was contained in God and comprised of God. It is this knowledge that Jesus spoke of when he said, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. I and the Father are one.” (For more about Jesus, please see my Article, "Enlightened Christianity: The Story of Jesus, The Mystic" from the Menu.)
As for the cause of such mystical experience: It is undeniably produced in a person’s soul by the one Spirit. Those who search for any other cause of mystical experience, such as a mental hallucination or a chemical aberration in the brain, simply do not comprehend the profound nature of mystical experience. Only those who have experienced it are able to appreciate the divine nature of the unitive mystical experience.
There are some who think that ‘the spiritual quest’ is the search for an agreeable Church or Temple, or group of worshipers. But they are wrong; the true ‘spiritual quest’ is the search for God, and He is only found within oneself. It seems that many have forgotten this truth. Perhaps they do not believe the truth that, as Jesus announced, God does indeed reveal Himself to the pure of heart. The fact that so few are aware of this is an indication of just how disconnected is our modern society from the true spiritual wisdom of Jesus and our other great mystics.
You may think that this small life you’re living is all there is, but there is a greater life, a brighter reality than you have ever dreamed of. Though you may have never thought it possible, you may experience God’s Grace—the sudden revelation that you live in God, that there is no you, but always only the infinite ocean of God in which you live and move and exist. When I say “a sudden revelation,” I do not mean the formulation of a thought or concept; I mean a sudden alteration in your perception of reality awaking in you a realization of the truth of divine existence, an overwhelming experience of divine reality that convinces you of its authenticity by dissolving the boundaries of time and space as well as your sense of individuality and independence.
When you experience God’s Grace, you will know that you are the illimitable Spirit in all, that you are the One who is breathing forth all the worlds and inhaling them all again. This is no aberration but is the awakening from an aberration; and though the immediate intensity of this awakening may eventually fade, it nonetheless illumines your soul forever thereafter with an indelible awareness of divinity and bliss.
To experience that Divine revelation, in which it is revealed to you inwardly in your soul that you are a manifestation of God and identical with Him, is a very remarkable thing! To experience this is to experience what was revealed to Jesus, what was revealed to Meister Eckhart, what was revealed to Rumi and Ibn Arabi, what was revealed many long years ago to Heraclitus and Socrates, and other favored souls throughout time.
The truth is that it is only a relative few who have experienced this revelation, and today few have even heard of its occurrence, though all of the individuals who experienced it attempted with all their heart and all their strength to tell of it to all those living at the time. I too have made a great effort to tell of this experience to all who would listen, but very few have the ability to hear and comprehend the truth of such a spiritual occurrence.
Some have chided me for attempting to share what cannot be shared. And I acknowledge that the words of the seers of Truth cannot bring about illumination in another. That experience cannot truly be shared. It is imparted by God and is known only to those to whom He has revealed Himself. But all of the seers of the past were also aware of that. And yet each of them continued to share their vision and their knowledge in the hope of inspiring others to embark on the spiritual journey. I, myself, was greatly influenced by the inspired words of those enlightened souls who have gone before me, and if there is even a slight possibility that my words are able to inspire another to set foot on the path to God-realization, what kind of a fellow would I be to remain silent?
My dear friends, when Jesus realized, through the Grace of God, that he and the Father are one, it was the greatest moment in his life. I and many others have also experienced that joyful revelation. Perhaps one day you will also experience the awareness that you are one with God, that you are made of His Light and live by His Spirit. It will be the greatest moment of your life, and all your former beliefs about who you are and what you think you know will vanish like smoke in the air. Then, like me and like every other seer of the nondual reality, you will have no other desire but to share with everyone the certain knowledge that we live and move and have our being in God, the one Father and divine Reality of us all. Praise God!
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If you have read even a small portion of the writings featured on this website, you are well aware that it represents a viewpoint that is not only revolutionary but highly unpopular—unpopular in the sense that it goes against the view of the majority. In the books and articles featured here, the occurrence of my own revelatory experience of the Divine reality is described, and forms the basis for the assumption that any other devout human being is also capable of experiencing such a transcendent revelation—that, in fact, those who have experienced such a revelation in the past were also ordinary beings and not divinely begotten children or incarnations of the supreme deity—at least no more so than anyone else.
This understanding flies in the face of the customary religious suppositions of a large number of people, I know; but old customs must eventually give way to proven experiential knowledge. The acceptance of mystical experience, and the recognition of its misinterpretation through the ages will certainly not come overnight; but eventually human evolution requires the expansion of human understanding through the acceptance of accumulated experiential evidence.
There is no shortage of evidence to show that many people throughout the world and throughout history have experienced the interior revelation of their own divine being; and if you are unaware of this evidence, please see my History of Mysticism, a factual account of that evidence (available as a free download from my website). Though, from the perspective of history, so many have testified to the occurrence of that revelation in their lives, it is, for us, a sad fact that so relatively few seem privileged to experience that revelation each day, month, and year during the limited time of our lives. In that regard, it is an experience that seems to be both common and yet rare--common in the long term, but rare in the short term.
It must nevertheless be accepted as indisputably true that we are, each one, the manifestation of God’s bounty, and are capable, each one, of knowing Him as our immortal Self through prayerful contemplation and a focused and mindful intent. His will is paramount; but if, by acting in accord with His will, you can affect, or in any way influence the course of His will, you must do so. Beg for His favor, implore His merciful gift of light, give your heart unreservedly to Him, surrender your life in His service; see all creation as His manifestation, and know your oneness with Him.
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(from The Divine Universe, 2008)
In my book, The Supreme Self, I told of my retreat to a small cabin in the mountains of Santa Cruz, of my hermit life, and my subsequent mystical experience; and when I first approached my publisher [O Books] in the effort to republish this book, I was put on the defensive by his question, “Do you think everyone should do the same as you have done?” In reply, I asked him, “Do you think everyone should be a book publisher?” The point to be made is that everyone has their own proclivities along with their own unique task in this life. That I may want to be a concert pianist does not necessarily imply that I feel that this is what everyone should do.
Look at the life of Jesus, for example: while he is certainly exemplary in many respects, it does not follow that everyone should attempt to replicate the events of his life in their own. If we believe that there is a natural evolution at work, by which each individual learns in each lifetime what he or she needs to learn in order to progress toward the ultimate Good, then we must allow that there are different unique life paths for each individual, and that each will follow the path that naturally appeals to his or her self-revealed nature.
There are some few who are drawn to the religious life--some to a life of service, some to a contemplative life, or to a mixture of the two. It is not a field so lucrative that it attracts competitors desirous of material gain. Rather, it is a path upon which one enters in order to follow an inner yearning for the knowledge and service of God. It is a yearning inspired by a grace known inwardly in the soul. There are some who, following this inner calling, obtain a further grace: that of spiritual vision. In a moment of prayer or deep contemplation, the mind becomes focused above its normal plateau, and finds itself staring into the normally unfathomable depths of its own consciousness wherein lies the fundamental source of all that exists. In that vision, one’s own nature and the nature of all existence is revealed, and one becomes lifted in consciousness to a union with the eternal Mind that we call ‘God’. From that vantage, there is no longer a soul and a God, for the two are then one wakeful seeing, one eternal Being.
After some time, the mind, no longer able to retain that height, no longer able to remain fixed in that intensely one-pointed focus, sinks by its own weight away from that supremely attractive delight. Yet it retains the afterglow of that divine visitation, awed and inebriated by the infusion of knowledge and joy that revealed itself in him. It is a soul once more, limited to a single body, cast back into an alien environment, still longing to return to that timeless and unbounded country. There, he is what he has always been; there, he is the true and unfigured Self of which he is now but an imaged copy. And now, having been thrust once again back into the throng of selves in this busy world, would he not be urged from within to tell of what he had seen for the benefit of all whose source and destination he now knows full well? Surely, all would wish to know what had been revealed of that hidden source!
Ah, though speak he might, in this shadowland, very few are able to hear him. The pride of life spreads over all, concealing in its deadening roar the sound of the true seers’ words, and hiding in its cloaking mirage the knowledge of the single Father of us all. The people go on, unheeding, uninterested in what our visionary has to say. But that is how it’s always been; perhaps that’s how it will always be. For it is clear that God is hidden by His own design, and it is He who makes Himself known. The game goes on; the others too must find the breadcrumbs scattered here and there and follow clues to come at last into His vestibule. All is indeed well. Was this not finely shown in the clarity of his vision? (Nothing to lament, nothing to vanquish, nothing to pride oneself on; all is accomplished in an instant.)
The all-inclusive One brings all to fruition in His own time, by His mysterious yet merciful ways. Nevermind that no one hears; He hears and governs all. No need to fret or fear. He holds us all, and brings us, one by one, along our way home in Him.
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I am occasionally asked if I continue to have ‘mystical’ experiences similar to my initial experience in the mountain forests of Santa Cruz which I documented in my book, The Supreme Self. The answer is ‘No, I do not continue to have similar experiences.’ But the truth is that there is a kind of ‘accustomization’ that has followed that experience, and which increases or diminishes in clarity at various times. It’s like any other kind of knowledge—say the knowledge of one’s proximate environment; there are times when it becomes more pronounced in your awareness, and times when it is less so. I find it impossible to retain the same level of awareness of God’s presence in a continuous manner, without interruption; but I nonetheless make every effort to retain that awareness as best I can at all times.
My initial mystical experience was truly transformational; I was never the same again. I had been given an enlightening knowledge that affected my vision of the world forever thereafter and instilled in me a lasting certainty that has never been more than the flutter of an eyelid away. For the most part, I hold onto the knowledge that He alone is—in my surroundings, in myself, and in the guidance and movement of all that exists. The intensely clarified awareness of His intimate presence, however, comes only rarely, though I long for it constantly. It’s quite possible that age has some deleterious effect on the refinement and clarity of my intellect and my spiritual perception; I can’t say for certain. But so long as He grants me the capability of remembering Him, I am filled repeatedly with an upsurging of loving gratitude and freedom from care that is invincible. Today, my knowledge remains as strong and certain as ever, and I live consciously, confidently, in His merciful grace.
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You will have noticed that I do not speak of temporal conditions in the world; I do not propose solutions for the worldly ills that are so apparent to all of us. These things will be remedied on their own if only we, the people, become transformed in heart and mind to focus on God’s loving presence in our own hearts. Surely, then, He will bless you and many others with the interior revelation of His ever-presence, and free you forevermore from all worry, distress, and sorrow. Reach out to Him with all the power of your mind and heart and soul, and He will surely grant your heart’s desire.
Also, please explore the many books and articles available to you here on my website. They were written solely for your benefit.
And please take every precaution to remain safe from the current Corona Virus pandemic. I pray that God will inspire and protect you and keep you well.
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Here's a song to make every day Thanksgiving Day:
Song of Thanksgiving
(from my Collection, “Praising God”)
Hari, my love, I wish to sing to Thee a song of Thanksgiving.
Yet, O how I dread the futile search for meaningful words to offer Thee!
My heart is full of thanks and praise for each breath that is granted me,
But to speak reveals the lie of pretended two-ness that I must tell.
For Thou art my breath, my voice, the Real; and I am but the image.
I live by Thy uncommon Life, imaged in Thy dream of me.
And yet my gratitude to Thee upwells, as an image in a mirror
Might admire its own source, its real and original Face.
Or as a dream character might call out praise to its dreaming Self.
Though we are one, not two, I’ll speak as though we’re separate and apart.
For how else might I truly speak to Thee?
O Hari, Thou art alone, undiminished by the clatter and glitter
Of a billion billion images, mere reflections in a house of mirrors.
For Thou art alike the house, the mirrors, and the flitting images as well.
This speaking too is like the barking of a dog in an empty field.
For, though it may be heard, the silence of the cosmos remains unbroken.
Yet I, this imagined form, am present—at least in appearance.
And because I’m here, please let me speak to Thee in loving thanks.
O Hari look how wonderful is this story Thou dost tell!
Look how beautiful is this body and the life ensouled.
Though all too quickly it will turn to dust, this form is Thine
And holds Thy greatness and Thy holy light and breath of life.
Thou, this brightly glowing wakeful knowing,
Thou, this deep and endlessly creative song of light and love
That bubbles up from Thy unfathomable depths
Within the soul of me to greet each day with joyful thanks.
O Hari, from Thy eternal Goodness and unknowable Repose,
Thou hast issued forth this universe of man and beast
With purpose known only to Thy own delight.
And Thou hast given Thy own thoughts to guide us from within
To bring us happily through adventures great and small,
To our end in Thy boundlessly blissful Self.
O Hari, it is a most wonderful and admirable drama
Thou hast produced, full of harrowing dilemmas,
Frightful predicaments, and uproarious denouements!
Yet, in the end, we all awake to know one eternal Self.
The Dreamer of this dream, our ever-undisturbed Reality.
Always unperturbed, Thou art forever untouched by time,
As the patient sky is ever untouched by the passing clouds.
We are where we have always been in truth, never separated
From our constantly unfolding, ever undivided Self,
Where all the fervent lives o’erpassed, like dreams,
Once left behind in waking, hastily retreat from view,
Revealed as the flimsiest of transient illusions.
In waking, we are one in Thee, O Hari!
And in Thee, as Thee, we have always been.
Never imprisoned as we thought in separate forms,
Once reawakened from our dreams, we know our
Ever undivided and eternal Identity as Thee.
In blissful folds of snow-white radiant Eternity
We rest as Thee in peaceful oneness and joy.
But while I live in pretended separation from Thyself,
Let me now offer my song of grateful thanks to Thee,
Who art the Life that lives me, my secret pride and joy.
For it is Thou who hast made Thyself as me.
Dear Father, all that Thou hast made is good,
And all Thy beauteous forms sing praise and thanks to Thee.
Then, let me uplift my voice in song as well
To glorify in praise my gracious Lord:
O Hari, all praise be to Thee in Thy heavenly glory!
All praise be to Thee in Thy universal pageantry of form!
My head is bowed in loving thanks and worship,
Knowing Thou art all and more than all.
Thy grace to me is beyond what my voice can tell.
I can but offer thanks, with hands held high, to Thee,
My ever kind and gracious Lord.
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