As he seeks answers to life’s deepest questions, a pilgrim experiences seemingly chance meetings with an atheist, a social activist, Catholic monks, and others. Through his interactions with these individuals, the pilgrim distills and clarifies a universal and liberating life philosophy.

Since childhood, author Swami Kriyananda’s life has been a pilgrimage, and he’s well qualified to guide us on the path of inner awakening. Take up your staff and journey with him to new vistas of truth, inner joy, and freedom.

Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters, 1926–2013) was a direct disciple of the great spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi), a bestselling author, and an internationally known lecturer and composer. Widely recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on meditation and yoga, he taught these principles and techniques to hundreds of thousands of students around the world.

In 1968 Kriyananda founded Ananda Village in Nevada City, California, dedicated to spreading the spirit of friendship, service, and community around the globe. Ananda is recognized as one of the most successful intentional communities in the world, and over 1,000 people reside in Ananda communities in the US, India, and Italy. The European retreat and community located in Assisi, Italy, also serves Ananda meditation groups in Europe and Russia.

Ananda Village is home to The Expanding Light, a world-renowned guest retreat facility where thousands of visitors annually visit for renewal or instruction in many aspects of meditation, yoga, and the spiritual life. The nearby Ananda Meditation Retreat, located on Ananda's first property, functions both as a retreat and as the site for Ananda's Institute of Alternative Living.

An advocate of simple living and high thinking, Swami Kriyananda's more than 140 books cover a wide range of subjects emphasizing the need to live wisely by one's own experience of life, and not by abstract theories or dogmas.

A composer since 1964, Kriyananda wrote over 400 musical works. His music is inspiring, soothing, and uplifting. Many of his later albums are instrumental works with brief affirmations or visualizations. Chuck Dilberto of Awareness Magazine wrote, “[His] words and music are full of his life and light. His sole intention is to heal, something we could all use during these chaotic times.”

Through Crystal Clarity Publishers, his works have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and have been translated into over 25 languages.


1. At the Graveside
2. I Set Forth on My Pilgrimage
3. The Children Come Home
4. The Believers
5. An Atheist
6. A Materialist
7. Sense Addicts
8. The Monks and the Church
9. The Monks and Obedience
10. The Monks and Man’s Relationship to God
11. The Monks and the Soul’s Journey to God
12. Two Saintly Women
13. The Muslim
14. The Lawyer
15. Two Artists
16. The Evolutionist
17. The Schoolteacher
18. The Social Activist
19. A Strange Event


Have you ever had what seemed to be a chance encounter with someone who uplifted and changed you?

In A Pilgrimage to Guadalupe the pilgrim experiences a series of just such seemingly chance meetings. As the pilgrim seeks answers to life’s deepest questions, those he encounters include—at different times—an atheist, believers, a social activist, Catholic monks, a materialist, and two saintly women.

The author, Swami Kriyananda, a man of remarkable insight and love for humanity, creates compassionate dialogue between the pilgrim and those he meets (whose views of life often differ radically from his own). These conversations are respectful, good-humored, and at times challenging and thought-provoking. Because of the pilgrim’s deep respect for each person, each encounter is one of true and open communication; in the process, lives are changed.

People often have beliefs that limit their joyful experience of life. I’ve read that 71% of Americans believe God is angry, judgmental, or distant. Only 23% of Americans believe in a benevolent God. The pilgrim’s first encounter is with “believers” who tell him Jesus Christ came to save us from God’s vengeance. The pilgrim replies to his friends, “I don’t think Jesus wanted to protect us from God’s wrath. He wanted to open us to God’s love.” He goes on to remind them that Jesus scolded only the hypocrites; he showed compassion for those who sincerely wanted to change. How could God—the father of Jesus—be so radically different from His son?

As you, the reader, accompany the pilgrim on his journey, you will find your own mind expanding. In A Pilgrimage to Guadalupe you’ll discover a universal, loving, and liberating
life philosophy that thrills the soul.

Because Swami Kriyananda’s own life, since childhood, has been a pilgrimage, he is well qualified to guide others on the path of truth and awakening. Take up your staff, if you will, and travel with Kriyananda to new vistas of truth, inner joy, and freedom.

You’ll be very happy you did.

—Joseph Cornell (Nayaswami Bharat)
Author of Sharing Nature with Children
and AUM: The Melody of Love


Chapter One: At the Graveside

The mourners had left. The coffin had been lowered to its final resting place; it was now decently covered with dirt. I stood there alone in the darkening twilight, weeping.
My anguished cry rang out into the gathering night, and in my own heart.
“My beloved wife! Only two days ago I saw your face: smiling, radiant, fresh! I held your hand; it was warm. Now it is cold—dark; beyond my despairing reach!

Intensely I felt her loss. But I wasn’t asking, “Why did I lose her?” I knew the answer to that question: The end of life is death. My anguish arose from the thought, rather, “Why do we have to live at all?”

We are born, I reflected, without our conscious consent. We are driven helplessly onto a stage and forced to play our parts. Whether we play them well or badly seems equally pointless: their ending, in any case, is death. Why even play the game? We can never win it.

Role after role! Game after game! Fresh, exuberant life—then the final sinking into death! Is anything real?
And yet—I thought again—life persists! Is life, and not the countless forms it assumes, the reality?

I thought of life rising up out of the ground, as if with eternal impulse. And then the further thought came: Surely that life contains intelligence, even if it is a different kind of knowing from our own. Is such an awareness possible?
Perhaps we come on earth as exiles from another reality. A higher one?
Ah! Suddenly I felt myself here on earth a stranger—a foreigner, and alone. What could I do? Where could I go? I raised my gaze questioningly above that lonely grave, and looked beyond it.

There, all of a sudden: Lo! I beheld before me a beautiful young girl.
“Why are you here at this lonely site?” I asked her. “Did you know my wife? Have you, too, come to mourn her death?”

She answered me with a smile, “I knew her. I still know her. And I know you!”
“But how is that possible? I have never seen you before! Surely you couldn’t know me!”
“My child,” she said—and she seemed hardly half my age!—“you have known Me in countless forms. You knew not that it was I, smiling at you behind every happy experience, and weeping with you behind every pain. It was I in the comfort of your mother’s arms, holding you when your friends turned away from you. It was I in them also, telling you silently through their disdain: ‘Not here will you find the balm you seek.’

"It was I now, also, who took from you your beloved wife in order that you might know a higher love.”
“Then . . . ?” I queried, not daring to pursue the question further in words.
“Yes, I am that life for which you are longing. I am that ‘intelligence,’ which is much more than arid reasoning: I am absolute Knowledge. And I am absolute Peace, Love, and Bliss!”

My heart burst then, like a broken dam. Waters of pure love gushed out from it in a mighty torrent. “Then You must be that Being whom all men worship! You must be . . .”

“I am your Lady of Guadalupe,” She finished for me. It was an unexpected reply. Where was Guadalupe? Who was the Lady there? Why would She come to me?

“I am the Divine in its aspect of Mother,” She explained further. “In this form I particularly watch over God’s children in the Americas. I am your Divine Mother. And you are My divine child.”
“Oh, can I be with You always? Always!”
“My son, that is your destiny. But you must first undergo purification. If you would be with Me, you will have to travel. Go as a pilgrim to My shrine in Mexico. Go, as a penitent, by foot.”

“Gladly!” I cried. “Shall I then leave everything behind me?”
“Everything, My child. Has anything ever been yours, anyway? Your work, possessions, friends—all these, in the sense that they were yours at all, were yours only on loan. Lo! all things are but gossamer—blowing lightly on the wind.”
“Oh, I will leave today! I will leave at this very moment. The thought that You will be waiting there to receive me!”
“Go, then, by narrow roads, avoiding the congested highways. Solicit no rides, but if people offer you a ride, you may accept. Through them you will learn what you need to know.”

She smiled kindly, then vanished. I turned away from the grave.
And there before me lay the first stretch of my long journey.

"Life lessons and wisdom realized through a lifetime of spiritual practice, study, and service. A Pilgrimage to Guadalupe offers solutions to many of the dilemmas facing truth seekers today. Very highly recommended."
Richard Salva, author of Walking with William of Normandy: A Paramhansa Yogananda Pilgrimage Guide

"As you, the reader, accompany the pilgrim on his journey, you will find your own mind expanding through teachings that thrill the soul."
Joseph Bharat Cornell, author of Sharing Nature, The Sky and Earth Touched Me, and AUM: The Melody of Love