It’s been two weeks since I met Doug in California’s High Sierra Mountains, and the encounter is still rippling out to the furthest reaches of my being. I suppose in retrospect, ever since reading Paramhansa Yogananda’s quote, “You must stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds,” I’ve been searching for a way to do just that; now watching the Pacific waves crash onto shore, I feel my search has ended.

Good thing too, since the world seems to be heading towards a breaking point on many fronts. So here we are, the make-or-break generation.

Probably like most people, the increasing outer flux of the world has been a source of inner flux for me, mainly in trying to figure out how to do more. And the final conclusion has unyieldingly been: whatever I do, it’ll never be enough. Being on the path with Master Yogananda has certainly helped replace the inner flux with greater peace; and then there was Doug.

Doug, who alone stayed during the apocalyptic fires last summer, clearing the land of more fuel to the fire until the firemen arrived, standing strong when his world was literally crashing around him; Doug, whom mother bears would trust with their cubs; and Doug, whose wisdom inspired friends to become farmers and stewards of their land as well.

Some of the campers felt it too, returning summer after summer to bask in Doug’s quiet and gentle presence, a presence that confirms the light we all have in common: as humans, animals, and Earth itself.

The immense joy in his stillness will always stay with me, and is changing me still, as if the resonance had opened an avenue of liquid light that’s diffusing through to the very atoms of my being. In this joyful stillness, we can fully be in the present, where anything is possible. As Master said, “The divine eye is center everywhere, circumference nowhere.”

Let us reconnect with our inner bliss and manifest it in a myriad of ways everywhere, necessary now more than ever to create a symbiotic future with our beautiful planet.

I will end with a poem dedicated to Doug:


In the time between old and new realities they met:
she seeking answers, he living a solution.
She had brought so many questions, but now face-to-face
his presence was enough.
Thin and weather-beaten as any sadhu would be,
his stillness held much joy, much like the limpid lakes surrounding them.
He was married to the land, alone staying with it through the engulfing fires,
and she knew the love was beautifully, heart-achingly mutual.
She got what she'd come for, and for the first time in a year,
she tearfully hugged a stranger unmasked,
knowing he'd been waiting for her too.

More on Secluding in Nature:

Seclusion by Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi

About Seclusion at Ananda Meditation Retreat

Ananda Desert Retreat at 29 Palms, CA

The Sky and Earth Touched Me by Bharat Cornell