My personal introduction to mysticism

Krumpos, R.

In 1959 during my second year at Northwestern University, I decided to become an astronomer (at age 20 you think you can become anything). Northwestern had a small observatory on campus with a one man astronomy department. Dr. J. Allen Hynek himself was a controversial person.

He told me to visit the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, less than a one hour drive from my hometown in Kenosha. It then had the largest refracting telescope in the USA. Dr. Hynek provided an introduction to Chandra (the name he gave to Americans who could not remember Subrahmanyan or Chandrasekhar).

That summer Chandra invited me to visit to discuss astronomy as a career. He told me to come late, just before midnight, when there was less ground light and the sky was usually clear. He had trained their telescope on the Orion Nebula, which is the birthplace of the stars in our galaxy (on  the cover of my ebook).

I viewed the nebula for only about 15 minutes before feeling that I was absorbed in it. 30 minutes later Chandra called out to me, but I didn't hear him. Apparently I had gone into a trance, something he recognized from his own prior experiences. He stood beside me and gradually talked me down from it.

Astronomy, and especially astrophysics, requires a lot of higher mathematics. When he learned that I had barely passed calculus, he advised me to consider another career. He also suggested that I meet with Swami Vishwananda of the Vedanta Society in Chicago. The Swami had a PhD in psychology and could help to explain what had happened to me. Chandra was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983.

Swami Vishwananda was a delightful person, kind and caring. When he realized that mine was a more intellectual approach, he recommended I meet Swami Nikhilananda in New York. In the summer of 1960 I spent three months in Manhattan, staying at the Columbia University International House. We met at the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center about 12 times. He was a no-nonsense teacher…quick to correct me.

Swami Nikhilananda had learned that the University of Wisconsin-Madison was about to begin a program in the area studies of India. He encouraged me to transfer there: it was my state university so tuition would be much lower than private Northwestern. One year after moving to Madison I was awarded a Carnegie grant for a fully paid one-year study at Lucknow University.

In 1962 in Lucknow I was introduced to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan by John Kenneth Galbraith, then the U.S. Ambassador to India. Dr. Radhakrishnan was then Vice President of India after 16 years as a Professor at the University of Oxford. He was one of the foremost authorities on Indian philosophy. He again met with me twice in Delhi.

All the Hindu mystics I have met, and most who I have read, believe in religious pluralism. That is especially true of Vedanta and the mystical tradition of other faiths. They taught that there are many paths to the same goal: realizing divine oneness.

Other mystics who I met and talked with: 1962 in Hong Kong: a Quaker missionary in Victoria. 1962 in India: a sadhu/scholar in Lucknow. 1964 in England: an Anglican bishop from Bath. 1964 in Denmark: a retired police inspector in Copenhagen. 1969 in Japan: a professor of philosophy in Kyoto. 1969 in Indonesia: a Hindu priest on Bali. 1969 in Iran: a Sufi shaykh from Shiraz. 1969 in Egypt: a professor of political science (and shaykh) in Cairo. 1969 in Israel: a member of the Knesset, a professor of history and a Greek Orthodox monk in Jersusalem. 1970 in Hong Kong: a Zen abbot and a Cistercian monk on Lantau. 1972 in Thailand: a Therevada monk at Nakhon Pathom. 1973 in Nepal: a Vajrayana abbot in Kathmandu. 1980 in the USA: the chairman of a global bank from New York.

In 2004, upon retirement, I began to research my ebook on comparative mysticism. After reading 180 books, including four years of writing and rewriting, my manuscript was submitted to 20 religious leaders/scholars for review. “The greatest achievement in life: Five traditions of mysticism” was first published on the Internet in 2009 and last revised in 2012. Since 2012 there have been 34,194 downloads from my website and it can also be downloaded from more than 30 other sites. From 2011-2016 I conducted an email forum for 220 professors who teach mysticism at universities on five continents.

(My publication)Posted:Aug 01 2018, 12:00 AM by Ron Krumpos
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