My personal introduction to mysticism

 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 most powerful 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.

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. He again met with me in twice Delhi. Dr. Radhakrishnan was then Vice President of India after 16 years teaching at the University of Oxford. He was one of the foremost authorities on Indian philosophy.

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.

(My publication)Posted:Aug 01 2018, 02:00 AM by Ron Krumpos
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