Pricilla Presley (wife of Elvis): “ I have this picture in my mind: It’s a clear sunny afternoon in Los Angeles. Elvis and I are on our motorcycles, roaring through Bel Air, down Sunset Boulevard, over the freeway, past Brentwood into Pacific Palisades. We stop at an idyllic retreat called the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. Elvis takes my hand and leads me through the grounds. For a long time, we sit in the meditation garden and focus our attention on our breath. I’ve never seen Elvis this calm. “It’s what we all need,’ he says. ” …
(Corrections to video: Daya Mataji’s name was Faye Wright; her dates are Jan. 31, 1914 – Nov. 30, 2010)
“Some time later we were summoned to another retreat, the one that quartered Sri Daya Mata, the woman who assumed leadership [of the Self-Realization Fellowship] after the passing of Yogananda. She was soft-spoken and natural, a person obviously at peace with herself. Elvis took to her immediately. Thus began an ongoing dialogue between Elvis and Sri Daya Mata that profoundly influenced his life. At the beginning of this spiritual enterprise, Elvis was wildly enthusiastic. Beyond talking of joining a monastery, he wanted to form a commune. He wanted to devote his life to helping others fulfill themselves through devotional discipline. In fact, he wanted to be a leader of the Self-Realization Fellowship. In this regard, Daya Mata was especially wise. This higher level of spirituality,” he’d tell her, “is what I’ve been seeking my whole life. Now that I know where it is and how to achieve it, I want to teach it. I want to teach it to all my fans—to the whole world.”
“You say that now, and I know you mean it. But tomorrow you will wake up and remember that you’re an entertainer. That’s wonderful work. Important work. And in your case, it’s doubly important because of the bond between you and your fans. But the work of the entertainer is different than the work of the spiritual teacher. Its neither worse nor better. Simply different. The inner peace you seek can be yours no matter what your work.
ELVIS “In the Garden” (Lake Shrine)
“Elvis listened. He had enormous respect for this woman. Part of him understood what she was saying. But part of him—the impatient part—wanted another answer. He did want instant evolution. Accustomed to having everything he wanted when he wanted it, it was emotionally difficult for him to see why this would be any different. At the same time, he was able to be completely honest with Daya Mata. She was perhaps the only one who understood the enormity of Elvis’s fears. She understood because he told her. The pressure of staying in the limelight, retaining his popularity and pleasing his fans—not to mention pleasing the manager who helped establish his fame—was gut wrenching.
“Why me?” was the question I heard Elvis continually asking himself. “Why was I chosen?’ The wise woman’s answer was simple—to entertain. She saw great worth in such work. I’m not sure Elvis did. He wanted more. He wanted a way out of his fears, a life of peace and tranquility that would deliver him from the stress of performance. Ironically, he loved performing. The world saw him as a born performer. But if the wisdom of the ages says that individual ego must die before spiritual evolution is possible, performance does the opposite. Performing before millions of fans—which was Elvis’s fate and the story of his remaining years on earth—would excite anyone’s ego. How could it not? The world is at your feet; the world is clamoring for more; the world is declaring you king. Who can resist? The more you hear such accolades. the further the monastery fades from sight. Finally, I believe. Elvis sought what could never be his—freedom from a world that worshiped him like a god.”
Delores Hart, first onscreen love of Elvis, became a nun