A sequence of events took place over a four year period that culminated in my doubting straight-forward cause and effect timelines, and wondering just how far is the reach of one’s deepest desires.
As a single mother, I had given serious thought as to whether I would ever want to marry, and if so, what kind of husband and father the man would have to be. One day, I actually sat down and thoughtfully wrote out a list of mandatory character traits and qualifications for a potential mate. As I read the very specific list back to myself, I realized that I had never met such a person, and that maybe I was asking too much. Regardless, I tucked the note into a drawer, and tucked the ideal into the back of my mind.
Sometime later, I began having dreams containing images of a ram with spiraled horns. The dreams recurred with great regularity and persisted for several years. Throughout that time, I perused several dream analysis books, but never found a satisfactory explanation.
One Friday, I began to feel weak. By Saturday, I was very ill with an upper-respiratory infection. Having allowed myself to be chronically overwhelmed and overworked, I was finally sick enough to get the message. Amenable to lifestyle modifications, I decided that whenever I was awake, I would proclaim: “I do not need to learn my lessons through pain or sickness.” I did so relentlessly throughout the day. When I awoke on Sunday, I was completely well. I mean completely! I had no painful throat, I could breath normally through my nose; I had no need to shed residual congestion; I was no longer fatigued, but felt well-rested and energetic; there were absolutely no signs of having been so desperately ill just the day before!
This was not a typical recovery; I knew it was a spontaneous healing, and it had my full attention. Just as my curiosity piqued, I heard, within my head, a deep male voice directing me to, “Go to Buckingham.” Wow! I did not know what or where Buckingham was, and I don’t usually hear voices, so I was both stunned and perplexed.
I got myself and my two-year-old daughter dressed that morning, and we went to church. I told a friend seated next to me about my miraculous recovery and the voice that told me to visit Buckingham. I asked her, “What could this mean? The only Buckingham I know is Buckingham Palace, and surely I am not going there!” At that moment, a guest new to the church that day, who was seated directly behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, saying, “I overheard your conversation. Perhaps this would be useful to you.” He handed me the business card of a medical doctor practicing medicine in Buckingham County. He explained that Buckingham was only about an hour and a half drive west of Unity of Richmond, VA. The helpful guest wished me luck. I never saw him again after that Sunday.
With only that single clue, my young daughter and I journeyed to Buckingham on that sunny, spring afternoon. The main throughway of the quaint town was flanked by beautiful white Victorian houses with wrap-around porches. Charming though they were, nothing seemed to have special significance for me.
Reaching the far edge of town, I stopped at a convenience market and asked if the clerk knew the whereabouts of the doctor’s office. They exclaimed, “Oh, yes! You have stopped at the correct intersection!” Her office, they told me, was merely eight more miles down the road that began right there at that corner market.
Winding through the hilly countryside, we eventually came to a sign that said “Yogaville”. At that moment, the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. This felt like a sign. Was this where the voice wanted me to come?
Stopping at the administrative office, I met the guest services director, who kindly gave my daughter and me a tour of the premises. She pointed out the health clinic where the ashram’s doctor practiced. That doctor happened to be the one whose card I had been given earlier that morning.
She showed me the red brick building where their congregation held gatherings and events. This modest building overlooked the James River, which coiled around the Blue Ridge Mountains; its views were breathtaking. My thorough guide explained that selling alfalfa sprouts to the community was a cottage industry for the ashram. She wanted to introduce me to the man who grew the sprouts in a large room beneath the overlook. She left our vehicle to go looking for him and returned saying, rather sadly I noted, that he was away running errands.
For the next four years, I made occasional trips back to the ashram, for the soothing change of pace and delightful scenery, and for the utter peacefulness that washed over me whenever I was there. I was always warmly welcomed, though no one ever tried to persuade me to join, donate, or subscribe to anything.
After a couple of years, I did attend an organized event there, as I was visiting on the very day that a memorial service was to be held, honoring the memory of young child who had drowned. I was told the resident guru would preside.
That evening the attendees gathered and began chanting as they sat cross-legged on the floor in semicircular rows facing an ornamental chair reserved for the beloved yoga master. With alert anticipation, I also took a seat on the floor in one of the rows. Soon, Sri Swami Satchidanda, dressed in a floor-length, saffron-colored robe, entered the room with great solemnity. He took his seat and the chanting subsided. The service that followed was tender, inspiring, and quite emotional for all.
A few years later, when my daughter was six, I decided to start my own business to help small-business owners, especially medical practices, with efficiency, marketing, and protecting their assets.
My chiropractor referred me to a friend of his who was just moving to Richmond to open his own chiropractic practice. As we made our appointment, he told me he was working at a new multi-disciplinary holistic health clinic in midtown Richmond. I had heard of its recent opening and was delighted that I would soon be given a tour.
As the handsome chiropractor showed me around, I asked him where he had lived before coming to Richmond. He replied, saying that he had been living in Buckingham County. He was quite surprised when I told him I had visited Yogaville many times over the past four years. He had been residing there at the ashram for those same four years!
During my tour of the facility, I learned that the medical doctor, whose card I had been given four years earlier, also came to work there! They had worked together in an integrated medical center in Connecticut, even before the ashram was built in Virginia.
Yet another surprise coincidence was forthcoming. While living in Buckingham, he substituted for other Virginia chiropractors when they went on vacations or took seminars—including several times for my own chiropractor! Because I was resistant to having a substitute adjust me, I always waited for my doctor to return.
Although our paths had crossed back and forth between his trips to Richmond and my trips to Buckingham, we had never met.
At Satchidananda Ashram at Yogaville, even though we sat only four feet from each other at the memorial service I had attended, and even though it was he who grew sprouts beneath the overlook, we never laid eyes on each other.
By the time we did meet he was divorced and I was finally open to being loved by the right man. It was nine years after the epiphany I described in the previous story.
I knew by our second meeting that Dr. Ron Herrsche was the man for me. My recurrent dreams of the ram soon made sense. When Ron was in his twenties, Sri Satchidananda gave him the name Ram (pronounced Rom). Ram is a Sanskrit name that means pleasing, or charming. Swamiji gave me the name ‘Devi’ soon after he met me. Devi is the Hindu mother goddess who manifests herself as all other goddesses.
Ram and I married a year and a half later, in 1989, and expanded our family three years later when our baby was born, giving us three daughters in total: his, mine, and ours. Now (2019) after thirty years of marriage, I can testify that Ram continues to live up to the sentiments of his yoga name.
When packing to move to the first home we bought together in Richmond, I found the list that I had made more than a dozen years before that outlined the qualities I desired in a mate. I realized when I re-read it that my husband actually possessed every one of those traits I had long desired.
Believe it or not, our new home address was on Buckingham Avenue! The directive, “Go to Buckingham,” turned out to have a double significance.
The voice in my head had told me where to find the man of my heart. My dreams had told me the name of my husband to be! After experiencing these unlikely coincidences, it was difficult not to wonder whether the final outcome–our lives becoming happily entwined–could have been the effective cause of those events that led up to our meeting, and to our mutual destiny. If so, this would indicate retro-causality, and possibly, pre-determination. Neither idea was easy for a left-brained Westerner, like me, to accept.
I also wondered, had my husband and I been ready for each other earlier in life, would we have found each other sooner? For years, he and I had been restrained by circumstances that had kept us from fulfilling our heart’s desires. When we broke free of our limitations (which we accomplished individually at almost precisely the same time), we met within weeks, fell in love, and began creating a wonderful life together.
Had we been standing in our own way, delaying what would, or could, ultimately be our destiny? And if that were the case, would it not be true that everyone’s personal destiny is ready and waiting for them whenever they are ready to receive it?
If the answer is affirmative, is free will a matter of choosing to accept one’s functional fit within a vast complexity, or to refuse or negate it?
If the answer is negative, would it then be by chance, or by intention, that one comes to his or her fulfillment?
If by chance, what are the chances that so many random events could constellate, creating a perfect outcome, as has happened in my life, and has likewise happened in the lives of others as fortunate?
If by intention, how is that we obtain the wisdom to want that which harms none and benefits all, lest the desires of one cancel the desires of another?
Or is it that our personal destinies are driven by necessity, reaching far beyond our personal interests? As we are born, are we received into a world that is awaiting our special gift(s)? If we follow our intuition, and pay close attention, will we find the clues that lead us to opportunities whereby we may deliver those gift(s) and fulfill our unique role in human destiny?
These philosophical questions, and others, thoroughly captivated me. Most of us, who have grown up in Western cultures, have been taught to value eyesight over insight. With our eyesight, we recognize patterns of a physical nature; and with our insight, we recognize patterns that transcend physicality.
An intuitive person simply pays very close attention to insightful patterns.