The Life Story of One of the Earliest American Disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda – SRF’s tribute to this great disciple
Dr. Lewis, one of the earliest American disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda, was among the first to recognize the greatness of Swami Yogananda (as he was then known) and to dedicate his life to him and his work. This book follows his life story and provides a rare glimpse into the great master’s life at an inspired and bourgeoning age of the spreading of Self-Realization Fellowship. Also included are four of his lectures at SRF temples, poems written by Dr. Lewis, and the text of the eulogy delivered at the memorial service for his wife Mildred Lewis, a beloved disciple who passed on at the age of ninety in 1998.
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Dr. and Mrs. Lewis, left, with Paramahansaji; (to his right) Sister Yogmata (Alice B. Hasey) and Disciples of the first Yogoda Meditation group, Boston
Dr. Lewis spoke and his words were drawn from a well of love for Paramahansaji.
“I chose the subject, “My Guru,’ because that theme is nearest and dearest to me. All spiritual realization that I have or hope to have I owe to him, my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. When I first sat at his feet, back in 1920, my heart was filled with honest doubt. But when he taught me and I saw the compassion in his eyes, I was overwhelmed. Something sprang up within me that had been sleeping, something that I had forgotten; and it has been present with me ever since. Ordinary human ties and friendships pale in the light of that divine relationship between master and disciple. ….
Doctor with Paramahansaji, Mother Center
“That is why I have been interested in Self-Realization Fellowship, and that is why I have tried to help; because I knew that some good, some great good, would come from Paramahansa Yogananda. America has given me much, and I am thankful for it; but there is one thing that America did not give me, and that is the spiritual realization and understanding I received from India; they came to me from Paramahansa Yogananda.” ….
Doctor told of an incident when he became aware in a divine way of the Guru’s need for financial assistance.
“I had started one day from my home, where Swamaji was staying at the time, and had not gone far when suddenly I felt I must go back and give him some financial aid. This was just as clear to me as if an audible voice had said, ‘Turn around and go back and help.’ I felt through intuition that Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar were both asking me to do something; and so strong was the feeling, I turned right around, went back, and gave him the assistance he required. When I did, his eyes filled with tears, because he knew that God had responded to his needs, and that the Divine Voice had silently spoken to me.” ….
Doctor with Paramahansaji, Rajarsi Janakananda, Oliver Black, Brother Bhaktananda (seated)
Dr Lewis said…about [his first] meeting with his Guru: “As we sat together on the tigerskin rug enjoying God’s presence, and I looked into his face, I saw no show of consciousness of superior ability. He might well have expressed it; for to be able, by such great calmness and realization, to help another to feel the Divine Consciousness is no mean accomplishment. But instead there was present an expression of humbleness, love, and supreme satisfaction that another of God’s children was able, like himself, to enjoy the presence and bliss of the Lord, our common Father. Such humility has been and always will be a deep inspiration to me. To my mind, it is a characteristic of true greatness.” ….
The members from Encinitas and San Diego regularly attended the Thursday evening services Dr. Lewis conducted. Paramahansaji said, “On Thursday nights you should come to meditate in the Hermitage with Dr. Lewis, who is a very wonderful, spiritual man. In his company you will feel great happiness… He and his wife, during the 28 years that I have known them, have led exemplary lives. Doctor’s presence itself will be of great help to you. Dr. and Mrs. Lewis were among my first friends in Boston. Those who have been our friends in need we remember always. I have never forgotten those early days. Dr. Lewis has steadfastly followed this path with great zeal. So be sure to come on Thursday nights to hear him. He gives not only words, but the Spirit behind the words.” ….
Doctor and Mrs. Lewis, Paramahansaji birthday celebration
Dr. Lewis continued to serve Paramahansaji’s work with unchanging enthusiasm, as he did in everything he undertook. No matter how trying the circumstances, he kept on faithfully for Master. To the end of his days he kept a heavy schedule of classes and services, traveling back and forth each week between his home in Encinitas and the temples in San Diego and Hollywood. He was also called upon to preside at various ceremonies and to represent Self-Realization Fellowship at important public meetings. His administrative duties at the Encinitas Ashram Center and various special assignments were considerable. He also gave generously of his time to Self-Realization Fellowship students who sought counseling on the teachings. His heart and mind had long been dedicated to tireless service, and he continued his selfless activity. He had but one wish – to live constantly in the consciousness of his divine Guru and his supreme God, and to impart something of that spiritual ardor to those who came to him. The spiritual zeal that had kept him in harness all these years enabled him to fulfill his great desire to be faithful unto death. Greatest of all, Dr. Lewis remained faithful to his search for ever-higher heights of God-realization through Kriya Yoga. ….
Doctor entered Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla for a rest and medical tests on April 7, 1960. Following is an account of Dr. Lewis’s passing given by Mrs. Lewis: “At 7 pm he said he would take a nap. He slept very peacefully until 7:30, when he awakened and told me, ‘I want to sit up straight.’ I arranged the pillows at his back as he assumed the lotus pose for his usual evening meditation. His hands were upturned, his eyes closed. I sat beside the bed, thinking that I too would meditate. I was aroused in 2 or 3 minutes by a tremendous sound. It resembled the suction sound of a huge pump, or the breath sound of a giant Kriya. With the sound came a great flash of spiritual white light, whose brilliance might be compared to that given forth by a million electric-light bulbs. Doctor’s blue eyes opened; piercing flashes of blue light came from them. Then they were locked at the Christ center in the forehead. His head lowered somewhat, but his body remained erect. For an instant, the face of Swami Sri Yukteswarji appeared, enveloping Doctor’s face. Then all was over.”