|MR. RAYMER, (better know as Bob, or "Baba") was a highly advanced yogi who had reached deep states of inner awakening during pervious incarnations. He met Paramhansa Yogananda in 1950. Shortly after meeting Bob, Sri Yogananda ordained him as a Minister of Self-realization, and in time empowered him to teach the advanced meditation techniques of Kriya Yoga. Bob was living in Minneapolis when he met Yogananda, but after the master's passing in 1952, Bob purchased another home in Borrego Springs California. This enabled him, for at least part of the year, to be near James Lynn. James Lynn (also known as Rajarsi Janakananda) was Yogananda's most advanced disciple and his spiritual heir. (Near the end of this webpage you'll find a video interview with Bob, in which he describes some of his experiences with Yogananda and James Lynn.) During the 1960s, Bob moved his second residence to Pacific Palisades, California, where he hosted an active meditation group. During those years he also traveled extensivly in India, meeting great saints like Anandamoyi Ma and Sai Baba. Eventually Bob moved to a remote location on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Students and seekers would come there for inspiration and retreat.
In the last years of his life Bob became the Spiritual Director of the Song of the Morning Yoga Retreat located in Northern Michigan. A retreat founded by his good friend, and fellow direct-disciple, Yogacharya J. Oliver Black. During the 1950s Bob would fly to Detroit to visit and share spiritual fellowship with Yogacharya Oliver. When Yogacharya would do Kriya Initiations Bob Raymer would often fly in from Minnesota to demonstrate the Mahamudra Yoga posture. During those years of spiritual fellowship Bob also became close friends with another well-known direct-disciple, a young Self-realization Minister named J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda). Here's a treasure of a photo showing these great disciples of the master together in the 1950s. The man in the center of the photo eventually became known as Brother Mokshananda. The jovial soul next to Yogacharya Oliver is another of Yogananda's great Yogachaya's, J.M. Cuaron from Mexico City:
When Yogacharya Oliver passed away in 1989, Bob was invited to come to Michigan and take charge of Yogacharya's spiritual works. At that time Bob, was still living on Maui and had little interest in moving to the chilly northern end of Michigan. However, he agreed to visit. The first night he spent at the Reteat he found himself engulfed in the loving presence of the masters. This joyful experience took away all his doubts about leaving Hawaii. He moved to Michigan in 1991 and was made the Spiritual Director of Song of the Morning Retreat and President of the Board of Directors of the Golden Lotus, Inc., the retreat's non-profit parent organization. A year after Bob arrived in Michigan he invited his good friend Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda) to visit Song of the Morning. At that time I was living in one of the Ananda Communities in California. When I heard Swami was heading back to my home state of Michigan I decided to go as well. While there I videotaped his Saturday morning class at Song of the Morning and also took a few photographs:
Swami and Bob Chanting in the Lodge. mmmmmmmmmAfter lunch visiting with devotees.
For more information on that visit, and a short video extract of Swami's talk, go to this link:
Less than a year later, in 1993, Swami returned the invitation by asking Bob to visit Ananda Village to join with other direct disciples, relatives of Yogananda from India, and hundreds of devotees in celebrating the Centennial of Paramhansa Yogananda's birth. The Master was born in 1893, and devotees all over the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of his birth in a varity of ways. At that time I was living at Ananda and it was with great joy that I was able to attend the celebration. And once again, I took photographs as well taking part in video recording. Below is a photo I took of Bob, along with other direct-disciples, sharing stories of his life with Yogananda:
Direct Disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda: Bob Raymer, Swami Kriyananda, Peggy Deitz, and Roy Eugene Davis
TO WATCH A FIFTEEN MINUTE VIDEO INTERVIEW of Bob Raymer talking about
his spiritual life, and his experience at Ananda Village: CLICK on the photo below:
AFTER THE CENTENNIAL EVENT I was able to visit with Bob a few times between 1995 and 2003. The most memorable interactions I had with him were in regard to classes I'd been doing on Paramhansa Yogananda's Bhagavad Gita interpretations. On one of my visits to Michigan during that time I did one of these "Gita Assemblies" for Bob. He was noticeably moved by it and asked me to return to Song of the Morning at some time in the future to present it as a formal offering in their retreat catalog. Arrangements were made, and on Friday July 24th, 1998, I came back to lead a weekend of events, including the Gita on Saturday morning and afternoon, a Babaji commerative celebration in the evening, and a Sunday Morning Service the following day.
This was the first time Bob had ever seen an Ananda Self-realization Minister doing Sunday Service and was very pleased. So much so that directly afterwards he greeted me with a big smile and surprised me by saying: "You're hired! You should come up here and do service every other month." This was an unexpected and intriguing offer, but seeing as I was living at Ananda in California at the time it was not feasible. However, Bob and I agreed to meet to discuss it further. We met the next day and he gave me some very warm and inspiring personal encouragement. Some of what he said helped inspire me to eventually move back to Michigan, thus following Yogacharya Oliver Black's September 1989 advice to me to "come and help with Master's work in Michigan." Bob Raymer wasn't aware of that request, nor did I tell it to him. After all, Yogacharya's coming to me in spirit on the very night of his worldly passing, was not something I had often shared. Therefore, it occurred to me that Bob's unexpected counsel about me giving Sunday Service "every other month," might be guidance from a very high source. Moreover, if I followed his request it could be a practical way of carrying out Yogacharya's 1989 spiritual directive.
For the last several years of Bob Raymer's life he struggled with Alzheimer's Disease. Because I was living in California at the time and was not in direct relationship to him, I was not aware his memory was being gradually eroded by this disease. When I finally moved back to Michigan to begin a formal teaching mission, I contacted the office at Song of the Morning to make arrangements to do as Bob had suggested and perform Sunday Service every other month. Word came back that Bob had no memory of ever having made such a request. He was in fact emphatic that he had never said such a thing. Nevertheless he did say it. In fact, the very evening he made the request I wrote down his exact words in my journal. I still have this journal. Therefore, for some time I was confused by his obvious memory lapse. It wasn't until his Alzheimer's was made public that I finally understood.
I was able to visit with Bob a few more times before his passing. Most of those were very brief exhanges, mostly to share greetings of loving spiritual affection from his old friend Swami Kriyananda. One time around 2004, Swami Kriyananda asked me how things were going in Michigan and especially how Bob Raymer was doing. I answered very solemly that "well, Bob's still stuggling with the loss of memory from Alzheimer's." Swami then said to me, with a mischievous look in his eye, "Bob may have lost his memory, but at least he hasn't lost any of that thick red hair of his!" Seeing as Swami and I both have thinning hair he knew I'd be able to relate to the humor in this teaching. And, like everything Swami Kriyanada has ever said to me, it was a teaching. What he wanted to remind me of, was the immutable truth that the intellect and the personality are only instruments – they are only temporary servants of the soul. They are not the important part of who we are. As those who were close to Bob Raymer during the last difficult years were well aware, his great shining Soul continued to be a powerful beacon of light and a great blessing, for everyone around him. The light of Bob Raymer's loving and wise presence shines on, and continues to bless all of us. LCD, December 3, 2008.
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