—by Alik Elzafon Pacific Grove, CA

Alik ElzafonHow did Rudi and his work affect my life?

It gave me life.

In 1971 I was a young man just out of film school, totally devastated by life’s mystery, whose sole purpose was to go through a day and stay alive.

An elderly man, the head of mind control in NYC, refused to let me study with him. ‘You don’t belong here’ he said ‘you belong with Rudi’. ‘Who is Rudi?’ I asked. He is a fat Jew who will knock you down with his energy’, he replied. It took me two weeks of constant inner struggle to finally traverse the short distance between my apartment and Rudi’s store.

I walked in singing and chanting to keep my mind still. Rudi looked up at me and smiled. ‘I love you very much‘ he said, and sent me to learn the exercise.

I didn’t sleep all that night. I woke up at 3:30 AM and called the Ashram. A sleepy voice of one of his students answered. ‘I would like to talk to Rudi’ I said.

Bruce Denny (I had learned his name later) said that Rudi does not hold classes on Sunday morning. ‘Please go and ask him, ’ I repeated, ‘or I will keep on calling’. Bruce went and came back after a very short moment. ‘Rudi said that if you come tomorrow morning he will hold a class’.

I had felt like a whale dying on the shore when all of the sudden a body of water appears to him.

Weeks later, when it suddenly dawned upon me that I had actually woke Rudi up in the middle of the night. I came to him soaking in remorse wishing to apologize. ‘Great students don’t stop at bad manners’, he said and never mentioned the incident again.

In all honesty, in the first six month of being around Rudi, I did not internalize that one has to change. That the point of the exercise was to give us enough energy so we risk jumping into the unknown and… change. I was just preoccupied with the buzz around Rudi. As time went on I realized the depth of despair I was climbing from, and made hesitant attempts at changing myself. My appetite grew stronger as I witnessed Rudi changing. His changes were alarming and at times, discouraging. I came to him with despair realizing the distance between us. ‘If I could do it’, he used to say to me, ‘Anybody can do it.’ The courage he had instilled in me aided me all through my life in the most impossible situations.

Change is no longer a word to me. It is a way of life… a reality. Rudi had turned on a valve in my heart that cannot be turned off. The affect it had on my life is a minute-by-minute one.

The Messenger of God

After Rudi’s Samadhi, I felt totally lost. The situation in New York was in disarray, disconnected and chaotic. A few of Rudi’s teachers came to town fighting for the crown. One of these teachers, who had been a friend of mine, kept on asking me to come and live in his Ashram. I felt reluctant, yet he kept persisting. He promised to let me run the Ashram’s bakery and be made a teacher. Neither of these offers tempted me. I needed THE REST OF THE PUZZLE that Rudi had unveiled for me. Finally, desperate enough, I agreed to come for a week’s visit. While in the Ashram, though enjoying the attention he bestowed upon me, I did not feel the fire in the situation. I felt listless and disconnected.

Then Tom Butler showed up. Tom was a friend from New York who was my fierce competitor for Rudi’s love and attention. We were spiritual rivals. Neither of us let Rudi away from our sight. But, I loved Tom. He was a worthy man with a strong flame.

As we talked, he mentioned that he had just returned from Texas. I asked him what was he doing there. ‘There is a man in Denton who teaches Rudi’s work’, was the answer. ‘His name is Stuart.’ I had met Stuart on two separate occasions in NYC, (meetings that were deeply profound and life altering) but never really knew much about his life. ‘How was it?’ I asked him. ‘Terrific, ’ Tom said, ‘I wish I could stay, but he wouldn’t let me’, Tom said answering my unspoken question. ‘He told me to go back to New York and take care of my responsibilities there. He said that he wasn’t running a refugee camp for wounded yogis. ’

His words struck me like a thunderbolt. I packed up and flew back to New York. Upon landing I called Stuart and asked to come and visit for a week. He agreed.

I felt like I was burning alive that whole week in Denton. At the end of my stay, I asked Stuart to move in. He refused. ‘Go back, ’ he said, ‘Finish your situation and call me in a year.’

As soon as I landed in NYC, I ran to the travel office and purchased a one-way ticket to Denton, Texas. I called Stuart again. ‘I am coming tomorrow, ’ I said. ‘If you don’t let me in, I will sleep on your door step.’ Stuart laughed whole-heartedly. ‘ ‘Come on, then’, he said. ‘You’re welcome to live in my house. ’

Forty years later, I still remember how deeply my need was to get to God. In many ways, I’m still on my way to Denton.