Written and published on 24 May 2018; revised on 25 April 2020
- GRACELIGHT DURANGO (HILDA CHARLTON GROUPS)
- Gracelight Meditations I Attended in Years Past
- Gracelight Founder Hilda Charlton and Her Experience with Paramahansa Yogananda of Self-Realization Fellowship
- My Meditation Experiences at Gracelight and Self-Realization Fellowship
- Experience of Psychic Rape During a Gracelight Meditation: Why?
- Code of Silence at Gracelight
- My Research on Gracelight After I Left That Group
- YOGI BHAJAN’S 3HO GROUP
- SHOTOKAN KARATE OF AMERICA
- SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP
- KARMA: ROARING LIKE A LION
- MORE INFORMATION
I ran across a great quote recently, to the effect that the advice of a spiritual teacher can only take a person just so far along the spiritual path …
Image: “Your Best Teacher,” a saying by Ralph Nader … https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cd/e3/c1/cde3c1b350d0cc53a546e2949bc77592.jpg ..
GRACELIGHT DURANGO (HILDA CHARLTON GROUPS)
Some years ago, I meditated with a meditation group called Gracelight … aka Hilda Charlton Groups … http://www.hildacharlton.com/Groups.html … The folks I meditated with were mainly the West Los Angeles branch of Gracelight, which at that time comprised a small group of women. The person who was the teacher of my West Los Angeles Gracelight teacher at that time was the meditation leader in Durango, Colorado, and the national nonprofit organization was registered in Durango …
Link: Gracelight 501C3, EIN 95-4702049 … https://www.taxexemptworld.com/organization.asp?tn=1194271 ..
In view at the meditation groups I attended were photos of various Indian saints, including the Vallalar, Sri Aurobindo, and others. In Durango there was a crystal or stone lingam about 18 inches tall; that was on the floor in front of the teacher.
Gracelight Meditations I Attended in Years Past
There were other Gracelight meditation groups on the East Coast, mainly New York and New Jersey, I believe. The Western United States leader was having meditations at his home in Durango, Colorado, and also, from time to time, at Holy Spirit Retreat Center in the San Fernando Valley, at the home of the East Coast Gracelight leader in Freehold, New Jersey, and at Stella Maris Retreat Center, Long Branch, New Jersey.
I started meditated with the West Los Angeles group on 2 February 2011, as I recall. The woman who introduced me to Gracelight was a member of a Venice Beach walking group that was an offshoot of the Sierra Club (of which I am a long-time member). That woman recommended also trying out meditations with the national leader, and I attended a number of his meditations over the years 2011-2014.
Gracelight Founder Hilda Charlton and Her Experience with Paramahansa Yogananda of Self-Realization Fellowship
While a member of Gracelight, I did some research on the founder of the group, Hilda Charlton, now passed on. She was a fascinating lady. One of the things I found out, was that she mentioned having met Paramahansa Yogananda, of the Self-Realization Fellowship, and that he had asked her to join his ashram, and that, after thinking it over, she had declined.
I see from her memoires she said that, every time she went there, he used to ask her how much money she had … and that, finally, she admitted she had none. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea. Possibly they did not get along, and that is why she said that …
Link: “My Story,” Chapter 9: Pioneers of the Soul, by Hilda Charlton … http://www.hildacharlton.com/HerOwnWords1.html ..
I found it odd … the historical link between Hilda Charlton and Paramahansa Yogananda … as my last prior meditation group experience had been with Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, in Pacific Palisades, California. That was quite a coincidence.
My Meditation Experiences at Gracelight and Self-Realization Fellowship
When I first started with the Gracelight group in West Los Angeles, I noticed Hilda Charlton’s picture on one of the meditation chairs: the shawl she wore, and the flowers. Nobody said much about it. Eventually I learned that it was a photo of Hilda Charlton, and I read a few of her little books. I began to have a feeling for the Soul that was there, who had touched and transformed many lives. Once in a while, during meditation, especially at first, I would call on her, and I would always see a vision of her, and feel blissful joy welling up in my heart.
While meditating at Self-Realization Fellowship I had also had many blissful moments, with visions of saints and feelings of rapture, during the group meditations.
Experience of Psychic Rape During a Gracelight Meditation: Why?
Then on 15 May 2014 I left Gracelight, after an experience of psychic rape during a meditation led by the Durango Gracelight leader at the West Coast Gracelight leader’s house in West Los Angeles. While I cannot say the cause of my experience during that meditation, and in fact have no way of knowing what the cause was, I felt it best, because of the temporal juxtaposition of the two events, to resign from the group that day.
So I was meditating with that group from about 2 February 2011 to about 15 May 2014 … approximately 3 years.
Code of Silence at Gracelight
I never knew much about Gracelight, or about any members of the group, as we were asked not to have social conversations with other members of the group, or with the leaders, before or after meditations. During the meditations, we could raise our hands, and if the leader nodded, we might ask spiritual questions.
A DVD about Gracelight was put out in 2006, I think it was. It was nicely done, and very inspiring. And that was all I knew about Gracelight.
I recall I knew the woman who introduced me to Gracelight, as a member of one of my walking groups, but the things we talked about were family and finances, and things of that nature, rather than Gracelight or its members.
My Research on Gracelight After I Left That Group
After I left Gracelight, I was curious what I might find out, in an amateur sleuth sort of way. I did some online research. One of the things I gathered, after I left the group, was that its online name was changed to Hilda Charlton Groups …
Link: “Hilda Charlton Groups” … http://www.hildacharlton.com/groups.html ..
I gathered this because the web site named “Hilda Charlton Groups” looks pretty much the same as the prior website for “Gracelight,” except for the name change.
I guess (although I do not know) that the name change may have taken place because there is another group, “Pillai Center Mind Science,” led by Baskaran Pillai, that sometimes uses the similar term Grace Light …
Link: “Pillai Center Mind Science” … https://www.pillaicenter.com/about-us/dr-pillai ..
I also gathered, from an online background search, that the Durango leader of Gracelight may have used another name as well. Others of the Durango Gracelight group also apparently had several names, according to my online research. But you never know about background searches; two records may have been mixed up and merged.
I also found that some of the members of the group may have had felony records, at least according to my internet research. Maybe not, though … one never knows about internet research. And, maybe they are not members of the group any more, for all I know.
For me, at the time, I was upset to find out about the alleged criminal backgrounds of some of the members, as I had never known anyone with a felony record, my family and friends being ‘true blue’, law-abiding folks.
YOGI BHAJAN’S 3HO GROUP
Looking back over the years, at other meditation groups with which I have meditated …
Long ago, I was a devotee of Guru Ram Das, he of the compassionate heart, through Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO group. I lived in a 3HO ashram for 6 years, and I learned a lot there, mostly by way of suffering, because of the demands of daily meditation and selfless service. I am not big on ashram life; I am more the eclectic, more drawn to union with the God through individual spiritual practice than to life in an ashram.
SHOTOKAN KARATE OF AMERICA
After that I tried karate for over a decade, and that helped me develop my will power and face my fears. With a good deal of hard work, I eventually earned a first- and second-degree black belt.
And after that, in about the year 1999, and for some years thereafter, I tried meditating with Paramahansa Yogananda’s devotees, and walked daily around the Self-Realization Fellowship’s Lake Shrine grounds in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, to meditate and enjoy the beautiful flowers.
I recall going to Sunday lectures, which were delightful. I recall volunteering for the hospitality committee, which served refreshments after Sunday lectures.
I remember a brief stint as bracelet bell ringer during kirtan at the long meditations in the Temple, and becoming a ‘Kriyaban’ during a ceremony at Mother Center in Mount Washington, Los Angeles.
For quite a few years I was one of the coordinators of the Ladies of the Lake, an ancillary group of Self-Realization Fellowship women that met at a restaurant for a light meal and to talk about spiritual topics. That was quite a lot of fun.
I remember coming up with Creativity Events that gave those attending a chance to recite a poem, show a painting they had done, read a story, or sing a song. Those were very popular, and I had a great time organizing them.
I remember when my mother was ill and I was taking care of her in Washington, DC, area in the early 2000s, that my schedule sometimes allowed me to attend the Self-Realization Fellowship Sunday lectures in College Park, Maryland.
There I found that enthusiasm for the Creativity Events had spread as far as the East Coast. That was a wonderful feeling for me, as it seems to me that a chance for each of us … young and old … to express our creative side is very important to our well-being.
KARMA: ROARING LIKE A LION
It was just at that time, in the early 2000s, that one of my most devastating karmic ‘discharges’ (1) overcame me. In this most painful karmic play I was trapped in from about the year 2000 to 2016. I have learned a very great deal, and while my mental-emotional body, during those years, cried out in pain from time to time, I found that my Soul … when I spoke with It … was at peace and knew all to be well.
The most obvious, in-your-face thing in our lives … the thing that causes all the sorrow, and which changes moment by moment … is the karmic play. But the dharmic (2) path is to welcome the karma with an open heart, as a gift from God on our Soul’s journey.
Down through the years, my karma has pursued me, sometimes like a roaring lion, and sometimes sleeping like a little lamb. In those years from 2000 to 2016, for sure, it was a roaring lion. In those years, a great longing was in my heart, that the karmic play might be ended, that I might learn the lesson, and go on to the next one. And finally, through God’s grace, it did so.
In love, light and joy,
I Am of the Stars
Link: “Personal Recollections: Rising to Awareness in the City of the Angels,” by Alice B. Clagett, filmed on 19 September 2015; posted on 21 September 2015; revised May 2016 and transcribed 12 October 2018 … https://wp.me/p2Rkym-42J ....
Link: “Alice’s Perilous Tales: Karmic Traps, Recurrent Fantasies, Blame and Forgiveness,” by Alice B. Clagett, filmed on 15 February 2015, published on 24 October 2015; transcribed on 4 October 2018; revised on 29 January 2019 … https://wp.me/p2Rkym-4de ..
(1) “Hovering over the embryo, it remains upon the mental plane. From that level it broods over the man, and takes or makes opportunities, to discharge itself by sections, sending down from itself a flash like lightening to strike, or a finger to touch, sometimes far down on the physical plane,sometimes a sort of extension which reaches only the astral plane, and sometimes what we may call a horizontal flash or finger upon the mental plane.” —-from Citation: “The Causal Body and the Ego,” by Arthur E. Powell, 1928, “Ch. XXIII. The Permanent Atoms and the Mechanism of Reincarnation,” public domain.
(2) “In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living.’” –from Link: “Dharma,” in Wikipedia … https://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma … CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
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