"Behind the Scenes"
Weekly Commentaries on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita
by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)
In 1996 (I believe it was), I received a fax from a friend, the minister of the Ananda Church of Self-Realization in Palo Alto, California. They, like most of the Ananda churches, had been using my edition of Paramhansa Yogananda's book, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained, in their Sunday worship services in place of my earlier Rays of the Same Light, with its quotations and explanations of parallel passages from the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita.
I had always known that Rays of the Same Light didn't quite meet the needs of our ministers. That book gave explanations of the scripture passages, but failed in the sense that many of the explanations were simply too long for a Sunday worship service. I had done my best to keep them all brief, but at the same time, because of the need for brevity, in that attempt they were too brief to explain my full meaning. I realized that two books, really, were needed: one succinct enough for reading at services, and another much longer one to be read alone, at one's leisure.
The fax I received was a heartfelt plea. "We've been reading excerpts from Omar Khayyam Explained. Next Sunday we'll come to the last of those excerpts. Please, please, must we really go back to those long readings from Rays of the Same Light?" It seemed to me I could almost see tear-splotches on the printed fax paper!
Very well, I decided. I knew she was right; I'd only been delaying the inevitable. That very day I sat down to write something we'd always needed: a condensed version of Rays of the Same Light. I called this greatly abbreviated version, Rays of the One Light. It has become our standard Sunday manual. Ministers often study the longer version also, to help them in preparing their sermons.
Yes, I did get the first of these readings off to our Palo Alto minister before the deadline she'd given me. I also managed from then on to keep ahead of subsequent deadlines!
Rays of the One Light is useful primarily for reading during worship services. The need for brevity, however, necessitated in a number of cases that I write new thoughts altogether. Thus, the book is no mere condensation of Rays of the Same Light, but is in many ways a book in its own right.