Dr. Lewis - Accomplished Yogi, Devoted Disciple and Householder
Dr. Lewis was a very close disciple and friend to the great guru Paramahansa Yogananda. From the day Doctor met Master in Boston on Christmas Eve, 1920 (when he became the first American Kriyaban and was shown the spiritual eye and the thousand petal lotus), to his glorious passing on April 13, 1960, his life was that of an exemplary yogi disciple following faithfully in the steps of his guru.
Swami Yogananda lived in Doctors home for three years before embarking on his cross-continental tour that led him to California. When Master left, he asked Doctor to stay in Boston to lead the meditation group there and to continue to raise money to support his lecture tours in America which Doctor obediently did even though he dearly wished to follow his guru. Master finally asked Doctor and Mama to move to Encinitas in 1945.
Doctor then began to lecture at the Encinitas and San Diego temples and was put in charge of the Encinitas Colony. After Masters passing in 1952, Doctor became Self Realization Fellowships first Vice-President. He continued to lecture in Hollywood, Encinitas and San Diego, giving up to 7 lectures a week in addition to being in charge of the monks training in Encinitas and giving Kriya Initiations.
In spite of his very busy schedule, he always took time for meditation, taking one day of silent communion with God every week in his home in Borrego. Mrs. Lewis draped heavy black cloth over his meditation room so that the solar light would not diffuse the great spiritual light that he beheld.
His great yogic passing was witnessed by his wife, Mildred Lewis, and recorded
in the book: Dr. M.W. Lewis: The Life Story of One of the Earliest American
Disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda (published by SRF).
Dr. Lewis, 1923
On April 7th, 1960, Doctor entered Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla for a rest and medical tests. On April 13th, as I was visiting him, Doctor took a nap at seven p.m. He slept peacefully until seven-thirty when he awakened and told me, I want to sit up straight. I arranged the pillows at his back as he assumed the lotus pose for his usual evening meditation. His hands were upturned, his eyes closed. I sat beside the bed, thinking that I too would meditate.
I was aroused in two or three minutes by a tremendous sound. It resembled the suction sound of a huge pump, or the breath sound of a giant Kriya. With the sound came a great flash of spiritual white light, whose brilliance might be compared to that given forth by a million electric light bulbs.
Doctors blue eyes opened; piercing flashes of blue light came from them. Then they were locked at the Christ center in the forehead. His head lowered somewhat, but his body remained erect. For an instant, the face of Swami Sri Yukteswarji appeared, enveloping Doctors face. Then all was over.
How many times I have thanked God, the Great Ones, and beloved Master that I was privileged to witness such a glorious passing!
Doctor Lewis example heartens us to continue making efforts in our sadhana. Masters guidance and encouragement (published in Treasures Against Time: Paramahansa Yogananda with Doctor and Mrs. Lewis) are applicable to all of us who strive to reach our spiritual goal while carrying our family and world responsibilities.
The text and pictures in these pages are from John Rosser and Brenda Lewis-Rosser and used with their permission. Brenda Rosser is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Lewis. Mr. Rosser served Dr. Lewis when he ministered at the Hollywood Temple.
Doctor and Mrs. Lewis meet Swami Yogananda in Boston
The first place where Master spoke in Boston (1920) was a Methodist church located in the neighborhood where the Lewis family lived and where Doctor Lewis had his practice. Alice Haysey, who later became Sister Yogamata, was one of the first Bostonians to meet Master. She was very excited about this Swami from India and invited her friend, Mrs. Mildred Lewis to come and meet him at their community church. Mrs. Lewis accepted.
The young Swami exchanged pleasantries with the ladies. Then he told Mrs. Lewis that he would like to talk to her privately and she went along with him. He took her into an adjacent room where they could be alone.
Mrs. Lewis later said that she didnt remember anything of what the Swami said or did in that room, but she was with him for almost an hour. When she came out, she was in tears. She doesnt know what happened but she knew later that Masters spiritual power had overtaken her consciousness and changed her in everyway. (From this day till her passing in 1989 , Mrs. Lewis was always by the gurus side. Often when a situation occurred where a strong and discriminative mind was needed, Master would say, Get Mildred.)
After this meeting, Mrs. Lewis encouraged Doctor to meet the Swami; although he was quite reluctant do so until Mrs. Lewis persuaded him. And from that meeting came the first Kriya initiation in America and the start of SRF. (The story of Doctors first meeting with Master can be read in Treasures Against Time.)
Afterwards, Master moved in with the Lewis family and shared in the daily life with them until 1923. The children were raised with a Father, a Mother, and a Swamiji, as Brenda later told us.
Master saves Doctor from Drowning
This dramatic story of Masters miraculous intervention in 1922 along with other miraculous events in the Lewis lives can be found in the book Treasures Against Time.
Letter from Sri Yukteswar to Dr. Lewis
In Treasures Against Time there is a letter from Sri Yukteswarji to Doctor Lewis where the great guru praises Doctor for advancing in spiritual consciousness.
"My dear Doctor: Yours of the 9th of May is at hand (l922). I heartily congratulate you that you have advanced so much in spiritual consciousness and appreciate the real truth of the religion.
Innumerable thanks to our Almighty Father through whose blessings my disciple Swami Yogananda has become a help to you. If our Sadhu Sadha gets a home for Satsanga at your place, I shall be extremely glad to be with you out there, and enjoy a pleasant trip with your company round the world.
With my whole heart's love, I remain, Very sincerely yours, Swami Sri Yukteswar"
Dr. and BrendaLewis, 1923
Pie For Santa
By Brenda Lewis Rosser
In the early days in our home, the Christmas tree was not decorated until Christmas Eve after Bradford and I were in our beds. On this particular night, Mother had been baking her pies and cakes for the holiday, especially her famous apple pie. My brother and I asked her if we could have a piece of the pie to leave for Santa Claus, to which she agreed.
We set a place at the dining room table and mother cut a piece of her pie and left it for Santa. We were finally sent off to bed so that Mother could complete the Christmas tree.
After awhile my brother and I slipped out of our rooms and took up our vigil at the head of the stairs awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus.
Finally, Bradford said he heard the reindeer stopping on the roof. We kept
watching the dining room table when all of a sudden a familiar face appeared
at the table. It was Swamiji! He sat down and ate Santa’s pie –
but what greater Santa could there be than a true guru.
Back in the early days in Boston, when Master was living at the Lewis home, there was a lot of controversy in the city about a condemned man. There was a great division on both sides whether he was guilty or not. Appeal after appeal was made for a stay of execution, but none were honored. Then a last appeal was sent to the governor but he turned it down.
Doctor thought that the condemned man lifes should be spared, since he was certain that he was not guilty of the crime he was accused of. So Doctor asked Master if he could do anything about it and Master went to his room saying, "We will see..."
In the morning, when Doctor went to pick up the paper, there was just one word
blazoned across the headline, "REPRIEVED". People thought the governor
had a change of heart, but Doctor knew in his soul that it was Masters
Bradford and Brenda Lewis, 1925
During the l920's one could buy stock in the stock market without putting up much money... They called it buying on the margin. Everyone was reveling in the continuing upsurge of the market and so Doctor thought he would get in and make some money for Master's work.
He jumped in heavily, investing $500,000.00 which in today's money would represent several million. But the market suddenly went down. Mama Lewis said that Doctor was sweating blood after this happened How could a dentist come up with that much money? While Doctor was feeling all this stress, Master walked in the room. Doctor turned on the stock report on the radio and found that the market had surged back up past where he had bought in so he was saved from bankruptcy.
Master had stayed calm through the ordeal. Doctor asked him how he could stay so calm when they were facing financial ruin? Master quietly said, "The same father who protects me, protects you. He is our Common Father."
During the depression in l933, all the banks were closed. Mama Lewis was frightened for her children for they had no cash and had no way to get any. She called Doctor at the office. He told her to keep her eye on the sewing machine. She did, and when he got home he opened it up and took from the money he had hid. There was enough to see them through until the banks opened again.
But Doctor reminds us, "One of the greatest things we have in SRF is the great sense of security we feel in God's Presence."
It wasnt long after Master landed in Boston that he began his lecture tour. One of the first places he spoke was in the prestigious Symphony Hall in Boston. There was a lot of interest in the city about this man from India speaking at their great concert hall and a large crowd was expected. Dr. and Mrs. Lewis were excited, too, about the prospects of hearing their guru speak to the multitude.
Mrs. Lewis was concerned about her two small children, Bradford and Brenda. Master told her to bring both of them to the lecture, and make sure they stayed awake for then they would be receptive to the words and the consciousness of the evening which would lodge permanently in their souls.
Years later, Doctor Lewis baptized two young children in the Hollywood Temple. He said that both of the children were scratching at their forehead trying to erase the feeling there, which was the Divine Vibration. Doctor always liked to baptize the children for he said they were fresh from God and more receptive than older devotees whose consciousness had been besmirched by the world.
The Attempted Robbery
During the depression there was less crime than in ordinary times, although there are always those who were lurking to get something for nothing. Dental offices with their supply of gold were always fair game.
One day while Doctor was working on a patient, a stranger came in. Doctor immediately saw that the man had a gun and obviously was going to try and rob him. But Doctor had learned from Master that the vibration of a man of realization can ward off evil and so he caught the eye of the would-robber and concentrated his gaze. The man became very nervous and in the next moment, dropped his gun and ran out of the office.
Evil has no force that can overtake the Divine vibration.