⒈ Something In The Forest Chapter Summaries

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Something In The Forest Chapter Summaries



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The Forest: The Story and Timeline Explained

Some numerical data can be treated as ordered categorical. We can further divide numerical data into continuous and discrete. Continuous variables are those that can take any value, such as heights, if measured with enough precision. For example, a pair of twins may be Counts, such as population sizes, are discrete because they have to be round numbers. Keep in mind that discrete numeric data can be considered ordinal. Although this is technically true, we usually reserve the term ordinal data for variables belonging to a small number of different groups, with each group having many members. In contrast, when we have many groups with few cases in each group, we typically refer to them as discrete numerical variables.

So, for example, the number of packs of cigarettes a person smokes a day, rounded to the closest pack, would be considered ordinal, while the actual number of cigarettes would be considered a numerical variable. But, indeed, there are examples that can be considered both numerical and ordinal when it comes to visualizing data. Here we introduce a new motivating problem. It is an artificial one, but it will help us illustrate the concepts needed to understand distributions. Pretend that we have to describe the heights of our classmates to ET, an extraterrestrial that has never seen humans. As a first step, we need to collect data. To do this, we ask students to report their heights in inches. We ask them to provide sex information because we know there are two different distributions by sex.

We collect the data and save it in the heights data frame:. One way to convey the heights to ET is to simply send him this list of heights. But there are much more effective ways to convey this information, and understanding the concept of a distribution will help. To simplify the explanation, we first focus on male heights. We examine the female height data in Section 8. It turns out that, in some cases, the average and the standard deviation are pretty much all we need to understand the data. We will learn data visualization techniques that will help us determine when this two number summary is appropriate.

These same techniques will serve as an alternative for when two numbers are not enough. The simplest way to think of a distribution is as a compact description of a list with many entries. This concept should not be new for readers of this book. For example, with categorical data, the distribution simply describes the proportion of each unique category. The sex represented in the heights dataset is:. This two-category frequency table is the simplest form of a distribution.

When there are more categories, then a simple barplot describes the distribution. Here is an example with US state regions:. This particular plot simply shows us four numbers, one for each category. We usually use barplots to display a few numbers. Although this particular plot does not provide much more insight than a frequency table itself, it is a first example of how we convert a vector into a plot that succinctly summarizes all the information in the vector.

When the data is numerical, the task of displaying distributions is more challenging. Numerical data that are not categorical also have distributions. In general, when data is not categorical, reporting the frequency of each entry is not an effective summary since most entries are unique. In our case study, while several students reported a height of 68 inches, only one student reported a height of We assume that they converted from and centimeters, respectively.

This function is called the cumulative distribution function CDF. In statistics, the following notation is used:. Similar to what the frequency table does for categorical data, the CDF defines the distribution for numerical data. This means that if we send this plot above to ET, he will have all the information needed to reconstruct the entire list. A final note: because CDFs can be defined mathematically the word empirical is added to make the distinction when data is used. Although the CDF concept is widely discussed in statistics textbooks, the plot is actually not very popular in practice.

The main reason is that it does not easily convey characteristics of interest such as: at what value is the distribution centered? Is the distribution symmetric? Histograms are much preferred because they greatly facilitate answering such questions. Histograms sacrifice just a bit of information to produce plots that are much easier to interpret. The simplest way to make a histogram is to divide the span of our data into non-overlapping bins of the same size. Then, for each bin, we count the number of values that fall in that interval. The histogram plots these counts as bars with the base of the bar defined by the intervals.

As you can see in the figure above, a histogram is similar to a barplot, but it differs in that the x-axis is numerical, not categorical. If we send this plot to ET, he will immediately learn some important properties about our data. Second, the heights are close to symmetric around 69 inches. Also, by adding up counts, ET could obtain a very good approximation of the proportion of the data in any interval.

Therefore, the histogram above is not only easy to interpret, but also provides almost all the information contained in the raw list of heights with about 30 bin counts. What information do we lose? Note that all values in each interval are treated the same when computing bin heights. So, for example, the histogram does not distinguish between 64, Given that these differences are almost unnoticeable to the eye, the practical implications are negligible and we were able to summarize the data to just 23 numbers. We discuss how to code histograms in Section 8. Smooth density plots are aesthetically more appealing than histograms. Here is what a smooth density plot looks like for our heights data:.

In this plot, we no longer have sharp edges at the interval boundaries and many of the local peaks have been removed. Also, the scale of the y-axis changed from counts to density. However, we provide a heuristic explanation to help you understand the basics so you can use this useful data visualization tool. The main new concept you must understand is that we assume that our list of observed values is a subset of a much larger list of unobserved values.

In the case of heights, you can imagine that our list of male students comes from a hypothetical list containing all the heights of all the male students in all the world measured very precisely. This list of values has a distribution, like any list of values, and this larger distribution is really what we want to report to ET since it is much more general. However, we make an assumption that helps us perhaps approximate it. If we had 1,, values, measured very precisely, we could make a histogram with very, very small bins. The assumption is that if we show this, the height of consecutive bins will be similar. Below we have a hypothetical histogram with bins of size The smaller we make the bins, the smoother the histogram gets.

Here are the histograms with bin width of 1, 0. The smooth density is basically the curve that goes through the top of the histogram bars when the bins are very, very small. To make the curve not depend on the hypothetical size of the hypothetical list, we compute the curve on frequencies rather than counts:. Now, back to reality. We therefore make a histogram, using bin sizes appropriate for our data and computing frequencies rather than counts, and we draw a smooth curve that goes through the tops of the histogram bars. The following plots demonstrate the steps that lead to a smooth density:.

However, remember that smooth is a relative term. We can actually control the smoothness of the curve that defines the smooth density through an option in the function that computes the smooth density curve. Here are two examples using different degrees of smoothness on the same histogram:. We need to make this choice with care as the resulting visualizations can change our interpretation of the data. We should select a degree of smoothness that we can defend as being representative of the underlying data. In the case of height, we really do have reason to believe that the proportion of people with similar heights should be the same. For example, the proportion that is 72 inches should be more similar to the proportion that is 71 than to the proportion that is 78 or This implies that the curve should be pretty smooth; that is, the curve should look more like the example on the right than on the left.

While the histogram is an assumption-free summary, the smoothed density is based on some assumptions. Note that interpreting the y-axis of a smooth density plot is not straightforward. It is scaled so that the area under the density curve adds up to 1. If you imagine we form a bin with a base 1 unit in length, the y-axis value tells us the proportion of values in that bin. However, this is only true for bins of size 1.

For other size intervals, the best way to determine the proportion of data in that interval is by computing the proportion of the total area contained in that interval. For example, here are the proportion of values between 65 and The proportion of this area is about 0. By understanding this, we are ready to use the smooth density as a summary.

For this dataset, we would feel quite comfortable with the smoothness assumption, and therefore with sharing this aesthetically pleasing figure with ET, which he could use to understand our male heights data:. As a final note, we point out that an advantage of smooth densities over histograms for visualization purposes is that densities make it easier to compare two distributions. This is in large part because the jagged edges of the histogram add clutter. Here is an example comparing male and female heights:. With the right argument, ggplot automatically shades the intersecting region with a different color. We will show examples of ggplot2 code for densities in Section 9 as well as Section 8. In the murders dataset, the region is a categorical variable and the following is its distribution:.

Knowing that there are 51 states counting DC and based on this plot, how many states have murder rates larger than 10 per , people? Based on the density plot below, about what proportion of US states have populations larger than 10 million? But I recall a characteristic discussion. One is enough. My only breakfast, before walking miles to my school, was a small banana. Later, at the university, I was in such need that I applied to a wealthy judge for aid of one rupee per month. He declined, remarking that even a rupee is important. Give it to her with my good will. If I could bolster up my numerous requests with one or two good arguments, he invariably put the coveted goal within my reach, whether it were a vacation trip or a new motorcycle.

Father was a strict disciplinarian to his children in their early years, but his attitude toward himself was truly Spartan. He never visited the theater, for instance, but sought his recreation in various spiritual practices and in reading the Bhagavad Gita. His sons bought automobiles after they came into popular use, but Father was always content with the trolley car for his daily ride to the office. The accumulation of money for the sake of power was alien to his nature. Once, after organizing the Calcutta Urban Bank, he refused to benefit himself by holding any of its shares. He had simply wished to perform a civic duty in his spare time. Several years after Father had retired on a pension, an English accountant arrived to examine the books of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Company.

The amazed investigator discovered that Father had never applied for overdue bonuses. He thought so little about it that he overlooked any mention to the family. Much later he was questioned by my youngest brother Bishnu, who noticed the large deposit on a bank statement. He knows that man arrives penniless in this world, and departs without a single rupee. Early in their married life, my parents became disciples of a great master, Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares. Abinash instructed my young ears with engrossing tales of many Indian saints. He invariably concluded with a tribute to the superior glories of his own guru. It was on a lazy summer afternoon, as Abinash and I sat together in the compound of my home, that he put this intriguing question.

I shook my head with a smile of anticipation. Your father ridiculed my plan. He dismissed his servants and conveyance, and fell into step beside me. Seeking to console me, he pointed out the advantages of striving for worldly success. But I heard him listlessly. I cannot live without seeing you! We paused in admiration. There in the field, only a few yards from us, the form of my great guru suddenly appeared! He vanished as mysteriously as he had come. Lahiri Mahasaya! I must know this great Lahiri Mahasaya, who is able to materialize himself at will in order to intercede for you! I will take my wife and ask this master to initiate us in his spiritual path. Will you guide us to him? Entering his little parlor, we bowed before the master, enlocked in his habitual lotus posture.

He blinked his piercing eyes and leveled them on your father. Lahiri Mahasaya took a definite interest in your own birth. Lahiri Mahasaya left this world shortly after I had entered it. His picture, in an ornate frame, always graced our family altar in the various cities to which Father was transferred by his office. Many a morning and evening found Mother and me meditating before an improvised shrine, offering flowers dipped in fragrant sandalwood paste.

With frankincense and myrrh as well as our united devotions, we honored the divinity which had found full expression in Lahiri Mahasaya. His picture had a surpassing influence over my life. As I grew, the thought of the master grew with me. In meditation I would often see his photographic image emerge from its small frame and, taking a living form, sit before me. When I attempted to touch the feet of his luminous body, it would change and again become the picture.

As childhood slipped into boyhood, I found Lahiri Mahasaya transformed in my mind from a little image, cribbed in a frame, to a living, enlightening presence. I frequently prayed to him in moments of trial or confusion, finding within me his solacing direction. At first I grieved because he was no longer physically living. As I began to discover his secret omnipresence, I lamented no more. I was blessed about the age of eight with a wonderful healing through the photograph of Lahiri Mahasaya.

This experience gave intensification to my love. While at our family estate in Ichapur, Bengal, I was stricken with Asiatic cholera. My life was despaired of; the doctors could do nothing. I gazed at his photograph and saw there a blinding light, enveloping my body and the entire room. My nausea and other uncontrollable symptoms disappeared; I was well. Mother pressed her head repeatedly against the little picture.

I realized that she too had witnessed the luminous blaze through which I had instantly recovered from a usually fatal disease. One of my most precious possessions is that same photograph. Given to Father by Lahiri Mahasaya himself, it carries a holy vibration. The picture had a miraculous origin. It appears that the master had an aversion to being photographed. Over his protest, a group picture was once taken of him and a cluster of devotees, including Kali Kumar Roy.

It was an amazed photographer who discovered that the plate which had clear images of all the disciples, revealed nothing more than a blank space in the center where he had reasonably expected to find the outlines of Lahiri Mahasaya. The phenomenon was widely discussed. A certain student and expert photographer, Ganga Dhar Babu, boasted that the fugitive figure would not escape him. The next morning, as the guru sat in lotus posture on a wooden bench with a screen behind him, Ganga Dhar Babu arrived with his equipment. Taking every precaution for success, he greedily exposed twelve plates. With tears and shattered pride, Ganga Dhar Babu sought out his guru. It was many hours before Lahiri Mahasaya broke his silence with a pregnant comment:. But, Holy Sir, I lovingly desire a picture of the bodily temple where alone, to my narrow vision, that Spirit appears fully to dwell.

Again the photographer focused his camera. This time the sacred figure, not cloaked with mysterious imperceptibility, was sharp on the plate. The master never posed for another picture; at least, I have seen none. The photograph is reproduced in this book. His intense joy of God-communion is slightly revealed in a somewhat enigmatic smile. His eyes, half open to denote a nominal direction on the outer world, are half closed also.

Completely oblivious to the poor lures of the earth, he was fully awake at all times to the spiritual problems of seekers who approached for his bounty. Sitting on my bed one morning, I fell into a deep reverie. An immense flash of light at once manifested to my inward gaze. Divine shapes of saints, sitting in meditation posture in mountain caves, formed like miniature cinema pictures on the large screen of radiance within my forehead. Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstasy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God.

Another early recollection is outstanding; and literally so, for I bear the scar to this day. My elder sister Uma and I were seated in the early morning under a neem tree in our Gorakhpur compound. She was helping me with a Bengali primer, what time I could spare my gaze from the near-by parrots eating ripe margosa fruit. Uma complained of a boil on her leg, and fetched a jar of ointment. I smeared a bit of the salve on my forearm. I am testing your ointment on the spot where the boil will appear. Uma was unimpressed, and thrice repeated her taunt. An adamant resolution sounded in my voice as I made slow reply.

With a shriek, my sister rushed to Mother. I have always remembered her counsel, and followed it. My boil was surgically treated. Those simple and apparently harmless phrases to Uma, spoken with deep concentration, had possessed sufficient hidden force to explode like bombs and produce definite, though injurious, effects. Our family moved to Lahore in the Punjab. An unequivocal conviction came over me that fulfillment would crown any of my prayers uttered in that sacred spot. Standing there with Uma one day, I watched two kites flying over the roofs of the buildings on the opposite side of the very narrow lane. Matches are played in India with kites whose strings are covered with glue and ground glass.

Each player attempts to sever the string of his opponent. A freed kite sails over the roofs; there is great fun in catching it. Inasmuch as Uma and I were on the balcony, it seemed impossible that any loosed kite could come into our hands; its string would naturally dangle over the roofs. The players across the lane began their match. One string was cut; immediately the kite floated in my direction.

It was stationary for a moment, through sudden abatement of breeze, which sufficed to firmly entangle the string with a cactus plant on top of the opposite house. A perfect loop was formed for my seizure. I handed the prize to Uma. If the other kite comes to you, then I shall believe. I continued my prayers with a crescendo intensity. A forcible tug by the other player resulted in the abrupt loss of his kite. It headed toward me, dancing in the wind. My helpful assistant, the cactus plant, again secured the kite string in the necessary loop by which I could grasp it. I presented my second trophy to Uma. This is all too uncanny for me! Spiritual teacher; from Sanskrit root gur, to raise, to uplift. My name was changed to Yogananda when I entered the ancient monastic Swami Order in My guru bestowed the religious title of Paramhansa on me in see chapters 24 and Traditionally, the second caste of warriors and rulers.

This noble Sanskrit poem, which occurs as part of the Mahabharata epic, is the Hindu Bible. Babu Mister is placed in Bengali names at the end. A yogic technique whereby the sensory tumult is stilled, permitting man to achieve an ever-increasing identity with cosmic consciousness. See chapter A Sanskrit name for God as Ruler of the universe; from the root Is, to rule. There are names for God in the Hindu scriptures, each one carrying a different shade of philosophical meaning. The infinite potencies of sound derive from the Creative Word, Aum, the cosmic vibratory power behind all atomic energies.

Any word spoken with clear realization and deep concentration has a materializing value. The poet Tennyson has left us, in his Memoirs, an account of his repetitious device for passing beyond the conscious mind into superconsciousness:. Kali is a symbol of God in the aspect of eternal Mother Nature. Mother was in Calcutta, joyously supervising the wedding preparations. Father and I alone remained at our home in Bareilly in northern India, whence Father had been transferred after two years at Lahore. I had previously witnessed the splendor of nuptial rites for my two elder sisters, Roma and Uma; but for Ananta, as the eldest son, plans were truly elaborate. Mother was welcoming numerous relatives, daily arriving in Calcutta from distant homes.

She lodged them comfortably in a large, newly acquired house at 50 Amherst Street. Everything was in readiness—the banquet delicacies, the gay throne on which Brother was to be carried to the home of the bride-to-be, the rows of colorful lights, the mammoth cardboard elephants and camels, the English, Scottish and Indian orchestras, the professional entertainers, the priests for the ancient rituals. Father and I, in gala spirits, were planning to join the family in time for the ceremony. Shortly before the great day, however, I had an ominous vision. It was in Bareilly on a midnight.

As I slept beside Father on the piazza of our bungalow, I was awakened by a peculiar flutter of the mosquito netting over the bed. The flimsy curtains parted and I saw the beloved form of my mother. Rush to Calcutta if you would see me! Mother is dying! I sobbed out the fatal tidings. If we get any bad news, we shall leave tomorrow. Father and I left distractedly. One of my uncles met us en route at a transfer point. A train thundered toward us, looming with telescopic increase. From my inner tumult, an abrupt determination arose to hurl myself on the railroad tracks. Already bereft, I felt, of my mother, I could not endure a world suddenly barren to the bone.

I loved Mother as my dearest friend on earth. Her solacing black eyes had been my surest refuge in the trifling tragedies of childhood. But I scarcely believed him. When we reached our Calcutta home, it was only to confront the stunning mystery of death. I collapsed into an almost lifeless state. Years passed before any reconciliation entered my heart. Storming the very gates of heaven, my cries at last summoned the Divine Mother. Her words brought final healing to my suppurating wounds:. See in My gaze the two black eyes, the lost beautiful eyes, thou seekest! Father and I returned to Bareilly soon after the crematory rites for the well-beloved.

Early every morning I made a pathetic memorial-pilgrimage to a large sheoli tree which shaded the smooth, green-gold lawn before our bungalow. In poetical moments, I thought that the white sheoli flowers were strewing themselves with a willing devotion over the grassy altar. Mingling tears with the dew, I often observed a strange other-worldly light emerging from the dawn. Intense pangs of longing for God assailed me. I felt powerfully drawn to the Himalayas. One of my cousins, fresh from a period of travel in the holy hills, visited us in Bareilly. I listened eagerly to his tales about the high mountain abode of yogis and swamis. He revealed my plan to my elder brother, who had just arrived to see Father. Instead of laughing lightly over this impractical scheme of a small boy, Ananta made it a definite point to ridicule me.

But I was inexplicably thrilled by his words. They brought a clear picture of myself roaming about India as a monk. Perhaps they awakened memories of a past life; in any case, I began to see with what natural ease I would wear the garb of that anciently-founded monastic order. Chatting one morning with Dwarka, I felt a love for God descending with avalanchic force. My companion was only partly attentive to the ensuing eloquence, but I was wholeheartedly listening to myself.

I fled that afternoon toward Naini Tal in the Himalayan foothills. Ananta gave determined chase; I was forced to return sadly to Bareilly. The only pilgrimage permitted me was the customary one at dawn to the sheoli tree. My heart wept for the lost Mothers, human and divine. Father never remarried during his nearly forty remaining years. Assuming the difficult role of Father-Mother to his little flock, he grew noticeably more tender, more approachable. With calmness and insight, he solved the various family problems. After office hours he retired like a hermit to the cell of his room, practicing Kriya Yoga in a sweet serenity. But Father shook his head. Ananta was present at her deathbed and had recorded her words. Although she had asked that the disclosure be made to me in one year, my brother delayed.

He was soon to leave Bareilly for Calcutta, to marry the girl Mother had chosen for him. But in any case you are bristling with divine ardor. When I captured you recently on your way to the Himalayas, I came to a definite resolve. I must not further postpone the fulfillment of my solemn promise. I first knew your destined path when you were but a babe in my arms. I carried you then to the home of my guru in Benares.

Almost hidden behind a throng of disciples, I could barely see Lahiri Mahasaya as he sat in deep meditation. As my silent devotional demand grew in intensity, he opened his eyes and beckoned me to approach. The others made a way for me; I bowed at the sacred feet. My master seated you on his lap, placing his hand on your forehead by way of spiritually baptizing you. Shortly before your birth, he had told me you would follow his path. Your little face was illuminated; your voice rang with iron resolve as you spoke of going to the Himalayas in quest of the Divine.

The most singular event in my life brought further confirmation—an event which now impels my deathbed message. While our family was living in Lahore, one morning the servant came precipitantly into my room. Bowing at his feet, I sensed that before me was a true man of God. Your next illness shall prove to be your last. Finally he addressed me again:. I will not give it to you today; to demonstrate the truth in my words, the talisman shall materialize in your hands tomorrow as you meditate. On your deathbed, you must instruct your eldest son Ananta to keep the amulet for one year and then to hand it over to your second son.

Mukunda will understand the meaning of the talisman from the great ones. He should receive it about the time he is ready to renounce all worldly hopes and start his vital search for God. When he has retained the amulet for some years, and when it has served its purpose, it shall vanish. Even if kept in the most secret spot, it shall return whence it came. Not taking the offering, he departed with a blessing. The next evening, as I sat with folded hands in meditation, a silver amulet materialized between my palms, even as the sadhu had promised. It made itself known by a cold, smooth touch. Do not grieve for me, as I shall have been ushered by my great guru into the arms of the Infinite.

Farewell, my child; the Cosmic Mother will protect you. A blaze of illumination came over me with possession of the amulet; many dormant memories awakened. The talisman, round and anciently quaint, was covered with Sanskrit characters. I understood that it came from teachers of past lives, who were invisibly guiding my steps. A further significance there was, indeed; but one does not reveal fully the heart of an amulet. How the talisman finally vanished amidst deeply unhappy circumstances of my life; and how its loss was a herald of my gain of a guru, cannot be told in this chapter. But the small boy, thwarted in his attempts to reach the Himalayas, daily traveled far on the wings of his amulet. The Indian custom, whereby parents choose the life-partner for their child, has resisted the blunt assaults of time.

The percentage is high of happy Indian marriages. An anchorite; one who pursues a sadhana or path of spiritual discipline. Though she died before the wedding, her natural maternal wish had been to witness the rites. A customary gesture of respect to sadhus. My keen love of travel was seldom hindered by Father. He permitted me, even as a mere boy, to visit many cities and pilgrimage spots. Usually one or more of my friends accompanied me; we would travel comfortably on first-class passes provided by Father.

His position as a railroad official was fully satisfactory to the nomads in the family. Father promised to give my request due consideration. The next day he summoned me and held out a round-trip pass from Bareilly to Benares, a number of rupee notes, and two letters. Unfortunately I have lost his address. But I believe you will be able to get this letter to him through our common friend, Swami Pranabananda. The swami, my brother disciple, has attained an exalted spiritual stature. You will benefit by his company; this second note will serve as your introduction. I set forth with the zest of my twelve years though time has never dimmed my delight in new scenes and strange faces. The front door was open; I made my way to a long, hall-like room on the second floor.

A rather stout man, wearing only a loincloth, was seated in lotus posture on a slightly raised platform. His head and unwrinkled face were clean-shaven; a beatific smile played about his lips. To dispel my thought that I had intruded, he greeted me as an old friend. I knelt and touched his feet. He nodded. In astonishment, I handed him the note of introduction, which now seemed superfluous. He glanced at the letter, and made a few affectionate references to my parent. One is by the recommendation of your father, for whom I once worked in the railroad office.

The other is by the recommendation of my Heavenly Father, for whom I have conscientiously finished my earthly duties in life. I found this remark very obscure. Does He drop money in your lap? He laughed. I never crave money now. My few material needs are amply provided for. Later you will understand the significance of a second pension. Abruptly terminating our conversation, the saint became gravely motionless. A sphinxlike air enveloped him. At first his eyes sparkled, as if observing something of interest, then grew dull. A trifle restlessly, I looked about me in the bare room, empty except for us two.

My idle gaze took in his wooden sandals, lying under the platform seat. The man you wish to see will be with you in half an hour. I heard somebody coming up the stairs. The swami has spoken to no one but myself since my arrival! Abruptly I quitted the room and descended the steps. Halfway down I met a thin, fair-skinned man of medium height. He appeared to be in a hurry. Less than an hour ago I had just finished my bath in the Ganges when Swami Pranabananda approached me. I have no idea how he knew I was there at that time. As we proceeded hand in hand, the swami in his wooden sandals was strangely able to outpace me, though I wore these stout walking shoes. I walked here as fast as possible.

I was very glad to see him again today at the bathing ghat. Am I losing my mind? Did you meet him in a vision, or did you actually see him, touch his hand, and hear the sound of his feet? His eyes opened widely. I never expected to witness such a miracle in my life! I thought this swami was just an ordinary man, and now I find he can materialize an extra body and work through it! The subtle unity of the phenomenal world is not hidden from true yogis. I instantly see and converse with my disciples in distant Calcutta. They can similarly transcend at will every obstacle of gross matter. It was probably in an effort to stir spiritual ardor in my young breast that the swami had condescended to tell me of his powers of astral radio and television.

Inasmuch as I was destined to undertake my divine search through one particular guru—Sri Yukteswar, whom I had not yet met—I felt no inclination to accept Pranabananda as my teacher. I glanced at him doubtfully, wondering if it were he or his counterpart before me. The master sought to banish my disquietude by bestowing a soul-awakening gaze, and by some inspiring words about his guru. He was Divinity Itself in the form of flesh. If a disciple, I reflected, could materialize an extra fleshly form at will, what miracles indeed could be barred to his master?

I used to meditate with another disciple for eight hours every night. We had to work at the railroad office during the day. Finding difficulty in carrying on my clerical duties, I desired to devote my whole time to God. For eight years I persevered, meditating half the night. I had wonderful results; tremendous spiritual perceptions illumined my mind. But a little veil always remained between me and the Infinite. Even with super-human earnestness, I found the final irrevocable union to be denied me. One evening I paid a visit to Lahiri Mahasaya and pleaded for his divine intercession. My importunities continued during the entire night. I see Thee materialized before me in a physical body; bless me that I may perceive Thee in Thine infinite form!

I have interceded for you with Brahma. In meditation that night, the burning Goal of my life was achieved. Now I ceaselessly enjoy the spiritual pension. Never from that day has the Blissful Creator remained hidden from my eyes behind any screen of delusion. The peace of another world entered my heart; all fear had fled. The saint made a further confidence. Then I mentioned another matter. Please release me. Brahma keeps me continuously intoxicated. The doctor inquired the grounds for my premature request. I know the divine will of Lahiri Mahasaya worked through the doctor and the railroad officials, including your father. After this extraordinary revelation, Swami Pranabananda retired into one of his long silences. As I was taking leave, touching his feet reverently, he gave me his blessing:.

I shall see you again, with your father, later on. Kedar Nath Babu walked by my side in the gathering darkness. How pleasant to look forward to at least one of the pensions that Swami Pranabananda enjoys! But it is impossible; I cannot leave Benares. Alas, two bodies are not yet for me! Choto Mahasaya is the term by which a number of Indian saints addressed me. In its own way, physical science is affirming the validity of laws discovered by yogis through mental science. For example, a demonstration that man has televisional powers was given on Nov. Calligaris told the other professors that if certain areas on the skin are agitated, the subject is given super-sensorial impressions enabling him to see objects that he could not otherwise perceive.

To enable his subject to discern things on the other side of a wall, Professor Calligaris pressed on a spot to the right of the thorax for fifteen minutes. Calligaris said that if other spots of the body were agitated, the subjects could see objects at any distance, regardless of whether they had ever before seen those objects. God in His aspect of Creator; from Sanskrit root brih, to expand. Emerson chuckled. In deep meditation, the first experience of Spirit is on the altar of the spine, and then in the brain. The torrential bliss is overwhelming, but the yogi learns to control its outward manifestations.

After his retirement, Pranabananda wrote one of the most profound commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, available in Bengali and Hindi. Stop in the lane where no one in my house can see you. These were my final instructions to Amar Mitter, a high school friend who planned to accompany me to the Himalayas. We had chosen the following day for our flight. Precautions were necessary, as Ananta exercised a vigilant eye. He was determined to foil the plans of escape which he suspected were uppermost in my mind. The amulet, like a spiritual yeast, was silently at work within me.

Amidst the Himalayan snows, I hoped to find the master whose face often appeared to me in visions. The family was living now in Calcutta, where Father had been permanently transferred. Following the patriarchal Indian custom, Ananta had brought his bride to live in our home, now at 4 Gurpar Road. There in a small attic room I engaged in daily meditations and prepared my mind for the divine search. The memorable morning arrived with inauspicious rain.

This bundle I threw from my third-story window. I ran down the steps and passed my uncle, buying fish at the door. I gave him a noncommittal smile and walked to the lane. Retrieving my bundle, I joined Amar with conspiratorial caution. We drove to Chadni Chowk, a merchandise center. Alaska speaks openly to Miles about how degrading porn is towards women, making them seem like objects.

Alaska then proceeds to lay down across Miles, and this makes him fall even more for her. They drive two hours together and eventually get his home, which is a trailer. The Colonel and his mother, Dolores are very poor and it is evident to Miles because of their lifestyle. Miles is overly happy because he gets to share a bed with Alaska, although nothing happens between them. Miles, Alaska, the Colonel and Dolores share Thanksgiving dinner together. According to Miles, it is the best Thanksgiving food he has ever had.

All four of them mention what they are grateful for, and then the Colonel drives Alaska and Miles back to Culver Creek. Alaska heads to a store, Coosa Liquors, where she flirts with the clerk and he lets her buy alcohol and cigarettes. She buys three cartons of cigarettes, five bottles of wine and a fifth of vodka for the Colonel. Miles goes back home for Christmas and spends quality time with his parents. He spends most of the two weeks studying for exams coming up, but he also realizes how much he missed his parents and how much they truly care about him.

Everybody comes back to Culver Creek after Christmas break, and Alaska tells Miles and the Colonel that she thinks it is necessary to have a pre-prank on the weekend warriors. The pre-prank is designed to lull the administration into a false sense of security. Alaska tell the Colonel that he will help her figure a prank out, and Miles feels angry because he feels like he is being excluded. The Colonel and Alaska spend a lot of time preparing the pre-prank, and excluding Miles.

Miles spends the extra time he has working on his religion exam, and trying to find out the answer for it. The plan goes well, and the Eagle chases after Miles and Takumi, but does not catch or see them. The Colonel sends out twenty letters to the parents about the failing grades, and the group of them go back to the barn, where they set up their sleeping bags, and drink wine. The next day, the Colonel, Takumi, Miles, Alaska and Lara spend their time drinking and just talking. They end up playing a drinking game, where everyone shares their best day ever, and their worse day ever.

The Colonel wins the best day ever because he explains how his best day will be when he buys his mother a house. However, for the worse day ever, Alaska wins it because she finally explains how when she was younger, she found her mother laying on the floor, jerking, and Alaska froze and sat beside her crying, thinking she has fallen asleep after she had stopped moving.

This makes Miles understand a lot of things about Alaska. At the end of the night, Miles and Lara share a sleeping bag together, start kissing and eventually Miles asks Lara to be his girlfriend, and she agrees. Miles spends most of his day sleeping, because he is hungover. The next day was the beginning of the new semester. Miles and Lara spend some time together and get to second base. Alaska and the Colonel get very drunk, and they end up playing truth or dare.

Somehow, Alaska ends up making out with Miles. She falls asleep instantly, and Miles tells her he loves her. Alaska wakes up abruptly later on, screaming, sobbing and crying, and tells Miles and the Colonel that she forgot about something, and she tells them to get rid of the Eagle for her so she can leave. They light up fireworks in the forest to distract the Eagle from hearing Alaska drive away, and Alaska drives away, drunk and crying. The next morning, everyone is called to the gym for an assembly. Miles tells the Eagle to wait for Alaska to start, but the Eagle does not listen. Eventually, the Eagle explains to everybody that Alaska has gotten into an accident last night and has passed away. Miles runs out of the gym, and starts throwing up, thinking it was completely his fault for letting her go the night before.

He is in denial about her death, and does not think it can be true. The Eagle explains to Miles that the death was instant, that she hit a cruiser without even swerving, she drove right into it. The Colonel and Miles hug and comfort each other, and keep saying how sorry they are to one another. Miles feels paralyzed and is unable to sleep after this. Miles and the Colonel discuss their anger and how they feel as though they should have stopped her from leaving that night.

The funeral will be the next day, and Miles has a nightmare about Alaska that night. Miles has a breakdown and confesses to the Colonel how much he loved Alaska. Miles takes a book she had left in her room, named The General in His Labyrinth. On the first day of the new semester, Dr. He explains to Miles that it was Jake that called her on the pay phone, they got in a fight, and she drove off extremely angry.

The Colonel proposes that he should call Jake to find out if she had called him that night, but Miles wants nothing to do with him. Miles and the Colonel decide to walk to Pelham Police Department in search for witnesses of that night. The officer also tells them there were white tulips at the back of her car, and Miles and the Colonel know that those tulips were a gift from Jake. Miles and the Colonel try to find signs in the past that Alaska could have been suicidal. They try to find answers, but soon give up, convincing themselves they will find the answers they need eventually. They conclude that it was not a suicide.

A weekend warrior, Holly Moser, who was not friends with Alaska, tries to convince them both that Alaska tried to give her a sign before she died, by flashing her car lights at her in the Waffle House. Miles and the Colonel get very irritated by this, knowing that she is only saying such things to get attention. The Colonel gets in a verbal fight with Miles because he is very upset that Miles is refusing to communicate with Jake. The Colonel does not think that Alaska would have left Jake for Miles, and he tells Miles to get that out of his head.

Miles gets angry, and walks away from the Colonel. Miles takes some time apart to think about Alaska and his anger towards her for leaving him after turning him into a different person. Miles gets back to the room, and makes up with the Colonel.

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