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, 2016 was the fiftieth 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
Ganeshpuri, India, 1972
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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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.
It may well be that my story will end as the stories of all those before me has ended—with no one the wiser. For the experience of which I speak cannot truly be shared. It is imparted by God and is known only to those to whom He has revealed Himself. And so, though I have strongly desired to share my experience with you, and to pass on to you the inestimable blessing I have known, it may be that all my efforts have been in vain, and His secrets will remain His secrets. But please be assured that all is, and forever will be, exactly as He wills it to be. 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.
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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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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