If we ask God for help, will He respond?
The stories in this book answer loud and clear: “YES!”
In extraordinary and eye-opening accounts, we see the Divine Hand:
• Physically and instantaneously moving people out of harm’s way
• Healing life-threatening injuries and diseases
• Providing important guidance for life-and-death, split-second decisions
• Illuminating hearts and spirits darkened by fear or despair
. . . and so much more.
This book is for those who want a deeper, more trusting relationship with God, and who find inspiration in the experiences of others who seek also to know Him.   

Asha Praver

Sometimes the course of a lifetime is determined by a single moment. For Asha Praver, it was her first meeting with Swami Kriyananda in November 1969 at a lecture he gave at Stanford University. Soon after, she moved to the fledging Ananda community in Northern California where Swami Kriyananda lived, to study with him full-time.

Working closely with Swami Kriyananda ever since, Asha has served at various times as his cook, secretary, and personal assistant, as well as head of publications, marketing, and public relations for Ananda. In the mid-1970s, Swami Kriyananda asked her to begin teaching and lecturing, first at Ananda's Meditation Retreat, and later throughout the United States.

Asha is a gifted storyteller and a much-respected teacher. Bringing together nearly forty years of close observation to detail (and copious note-taking), she shares with us here some of her most inspired moments with Swami Kriyananda, observed either in person or related to her by others, each one told with her unique blend of sensitive insight, courage and joy.

Asha and her husband David are the spiritual directors of Ananda in Palo Alto, California, where they have been teaching and serving the public since 1987.

Contents

Part One: God’s Hand
Sudden Change
Free Fall
Divine Currents
Master’s Message
Church of Starbucks
Prayers of a Devout Mother
Fumes in the Night
Godspeed
Wheee!
God Changes His Mind
Collision Course
Even a Sparrow
A Higher Law
Fire Ceremony
Driving Lesson
Minus One
First Day of Vacation
Seek and Ye Shall Find
Friends in High Places
Lane Change
Hand in Hand
On the Way to Italy
AUM

Part Two: Unexpected Gifts
God Remembers
S hower of Blessings
No?!
Happy Ending
My Invisible Friend
Long Walk Home
Roar of the Lion
Motherhood
No Introduction
Needed
Friends to the End
Make Rich the Soil
Why Me?
Conscious Conception
Arranged Marriage
Shoes On, Shoes Off
He Knows Your Need
No More Tears
Emergency Care
New Flight Plan
Doctor Shanti
It Is All Arranged
Travel Plans
Rose Song
Actions Speak
Louder than Words

Part Three: Follow Me
Long Way Around
Twice Blessed
Recommended Reading
Marching Orders
New Wine
Homeward Bound
Believe

Part Four: Problem Solved
Two-Up
Check!
Falling Rain
Home Sweet Home
And the Answer Is . . .
A Good Question
Fear No More
Divine Efficiency
Good Car-ma
The Ten-Percent Solution
Right Time, Right Prayer
She Knows
Perfect Timing
Better to Know
Homecoming
House Plans
Above the Clouds
Go Green
You Have Mail
Go!
GR8
H ighway Patrol
H appily Ever After
Mother’s Care
The Right Foundation
Time
Stonewalled
In Case of Fire

Part Five: Healing Presence
Breathe Easy
Good Medicine
Divine Therapy
The Comforter
Kitty Bliss
Puzzled
Angel Wings
I Sing Your Song
Gone
Never Too Late
Hard Lesson
Hands Across the Sea
One Life Beneath the Surface
Nor for Myself, Lord
Dear Cancer Cells . . .
Saved
Valentine
Vehicle for the Divine
Right Number
Rescued
Rainfall and Moonlight
My Child
Peace at Last
Across the Water
Our Lady
Let There Be Light
White Bird
Desert Hike
Two Nurses
Rock in the Snow Field

Part Six: God Comes
Grandpa and the Lady
Picture Perfect
Am I Not Always with You?
A Dark and Stormy Night
Hansa
NOW!
More Than a Lifetime

This book is for those who want a deeper, more trusting relationship
with God, and who find inspiration and hope in the experiences of others
who seek also to know Him.

Some of the stories told here are quite dramatic. In a split second,
the fabric of the universe rearranges itself and inevitable catastrophe is
averted by forces more subtle than the senses can perceive.

Other experiences of God come quietly, in answer to everyday concerns
like buying a home, caring for aging relatives, finding a mate, or
fixing a car.

Before I wrote this book, if you had asked me, “Do you believe in the
power of prayer?” without hesitation, I would have said, “Yes.” I have
lived in spiritual community for more than forty years and the evidence
is all around me.

Still, I was not prepared for what I saw in the eyes of those who
shared their stories with me. How tenderly, how sensitively, how personally
God responds. Not just to the prominent or talented, the rich or
articulate, but to everyone who sincerely calls to Him.

“God feels for us,” Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in his Autobiography
of a Yogi. “He is not partial to a few, but listens to everyone who
approaches Him trustingly. His children should ever have implicit faith
in the loving-kindness of their Omnipresent Father.”

Prayer is not a ritual to be carried out in a formal way at specified
times. Prayer is a conversation, an ongoing heart-to-Heart. Every day we
talk to friends and relatives, to coworkers, store clerks, and hairdressers
about our hopes and disappointments, our losses and needs.
Why not talk also to the One who has the answers?

Many contributors to this book follow the path of Self-realization.
Their stories include references to aspects of that path, which are
mostly explained in context, as well as references to certain persons. Babaji,
a deathless Himalayan yogi, is one in the Self-realization line of
gurus. Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, is the
most recent guru and best known. His devotees call him “Master.” Sri
Yukteswar was the guru of Yogananda. And Swami Kriyananda, “Swamiji,”
is the founder of Ananda, a global network of spiritual communities.

Divine Currents
I vaguely remember that there was a sign, saying: “Dangerous
Currents. No Lifeguard.” I grew up in the middle of the United
States. At age twenty I had hardly ever seen an ocean and certainly knew
very little about them, so the sign meant nothing to me. It was a beautiful
sunny day, and there I was in California at the Pacific Ocean. All I
could think about was diving into those waves.

Paddling around in the water, I reveled in this new experience. Then
everything changed. I was caught in a rip tide and it was carrying me
away from shore. I fought against it, but the current was too strong. Farther
and farther it took me out into the sea, until the crashing surf was
tossing me about like a rag doll.

I struggled and struggled to no avail. I was fighting for my life and
the ocean was winning. Finally, unable to swim another stroke, I turned
over onto my back and literally went “belly up.” I was convinced there
was nothing I could do and no one who could save me.

Waves were crashing around me, but I felt completely calm. I had
never considered what I would do when faced with death. In hindsight,
I am surprised by my response. I had just started meditating recently,
and I knew God was out there somewhere. I wasn’t sure, though, what
role He might play in my life, and what my relationship was to Him.
Now, as I looked at the vast blue sky, the bright sun, and the ocean
around me, I offered myself completely to God. No words. I wasn’t asking
to be saved. I didn’t pray to die quickly. With all my heart, I just gave
myself back to Him.

What happened next seemed the most natural thing in the world.
In response to my self-offering, God gave me bliss. Self-offering equals
bliss: It is a lesson I have never forgotten.
Basking in His bliss, it took me a few minutes to realize that I was
now floating in calm water. I rested there until my strength returned.
Then I dog-paddled in a channel of calm water all the way back to shore.
–from Devarshi

Prayers of a Devout Mother
I was a compliant child and joined without question the daily
prayers and three-times-a-week church services that defined our
family life. My grandparents had been missionaries to India. My father
was the music minister and my mother a devoted member of the evangelical,
born-again Christian church we all attended.
I wasn’t just being obedient. As a child, I had my own sweet connection
with Jesus.

By the time I went to college, though, none of it made sense to
me anymore. I had to throw away that whole worldview, including the
Bible. I didn’t, however, leave God entirely. Or perhaps it would be more
accurate to say, He didn’t leave me. When I stopped going to church,
He started meeting me out in Nature. Sometimes, hiking through the
mountains, the beauty I saw moved me so deeply that, overcome with
feelings of joy and love, I wept tears of gratitude.

Still, the “God” I had known as a child I held at a distance. Enough
of surrendering my will to His! Ego was in charge of my life now.
Three classmates and I were commuting one day from our morning
lab to our afternoon seminar at the University of Washington Medical
Center. The woman driving had borrowed her boyfriend’s car: a Renault
Dauphine that he was very proud of and had spent a lot of money fixing
up.

Even though we had plenty of time for the commute, she was excited
to be driving his car. When we got on the freeway, she accelerated
to seventy-five miles per hour, twenty miles more than the speed limit.
From the backseat I could see she wasn’t a very experienced driver and
was completely unfamiliar with this rear-engine car.

A big Cadillac to the right of us, going about fifty-five, moved into
our lane. The driver had no idea how fast we were going and miscalculated
the distance. Seeing us rushing toward a collision with the Cadillac’s
rear end, my friend instinctively hit the brakes and simultaneously
turned the wheel, trying to swerve around the Cadillac. The weight of
the rear engine began to bring the back end forward, turning the car
sideways to the road. My friend, in pure primal instinct now, overcorrected,
and we fishtailed back and forth across three lanes of freeway
traffic before crashing into a twenty-foot concrete wall.

The fishtailing had slowed us down, but we were still going about
forty-five miles an hour when we hit. This was in the days before seatbelts
were required, so none of us were wearing one.

The front of the car made first contact with the wall, at a forty-fivedegree
angle. The car then bounced off the wall and did a complete sideways
somersault, landing solidly on all four tires. The impact shattered
the glass in every window. The rear suspension buckled. One side of the
roof and the whole front of the car were demolished.
Inside the car, we sat for a few seconds in stunned silence. The most
generous-hearted of my friends was the first to speak. “Are you all right?
Are you all right?” she asked. True to her nature, her concern was for
everyone else.

The driver, seeing what a wreck she had made of the vehicle, began
wailing and crying, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! My boyfriend is going
to kill me! He just put seven hundred dollars into this car!” (That was a
lot of money in 1970 when this happened.)

The whole thing could not have been more perfectly engineered to
destroy the car but save our lives. We did not sustain a single injury. Not
a bruise. Not a scratch.

Trembling with nerves, we sorted through a million little pieces of
glass to gather up our strewn books and bags. A Washington State Patrol
car took us the rest of the way to our destination, and a few minutes later
we were sitting in our college classroom waiting for the lecture to begin.

Three days afterward I was commuting by bicycle from my dorm to
the lab. When I left home, it was clear and sunny. By the time I started
back in the late afternoon, a hard rain was falling. The ride home included
a long, straight, downhill section, but a little rain couldn’t dampen
my enthusiasm for what was definitely the most fun part. Down the hill
I pedaled as fast as I could on my narrow-rim tires, accelerating to thirtyfive
or forty miles per hour as I raced toward the place where the street
leveled off. There were two lanes going each way, and I was actually passing
cars moving more slowly than I was because of the wet conditions.

At the bottom of the hill, a small side street came in from the right.
I saw a car waiting at the stop sign there. Then he pulled into my two
lanes, intending to cross them and turn left uphill on the other side of
the road. I calculated how long it would take him to get across my lanes.
I compared it to the speed I was moving, heading directly toward him.
“No problem,” I thought. “I don’t even have to slow down. As he
goes forward, I’ll just scoot around behind him on the far right.” This
was fortunate, because with wet tires, wet brakes, and wet pavement, it
wouldn’t be easy for me to stop.

Suddenly I saw something I had not noticed before in the fading
light with all the rain. There was traffic coming up the hill in the two left
lanes where the driver intended to turn. He saw it at the same time I did.
Instead of turning left, as I had counted on him doing, he shifted
into reverse and started backing toward the side street again. He started
going backwards just as I started to arc around behind him. Except now
there was no “behind him”—just the full length of his car right where I
was heading.

With all my strength I squeezed both my handbrakes. The wheels
locked and the bike went perpendicular to the road, facing the side
street. Sliding sideways, I was tipped over so far my handlebar almost
touched the street.
“I’m going right under that car,” I thought, “and I’m not going to
survive.”

Suddenly time, space, thought, and vision ceased to exist. I felt a
force move my body and my bicycle in a smooth, seemingly effortless
motion—not sideways into the car, but forward over the curb and onto
the sidewalk, out of harm’s way. When thought and vision returned, I
was there on my bike, facing toward home.
Twice in four days death had come racing toward me, but Something
had held it at bay. What was going on here?
“How fragile and precious life is,” I thought. “Guardian angels must
be real.”

I wrote to my parents, sparing them the details, but humbly inquiring,
“Have you been praying for me?”
“Yes, of course,” they replied. “We pray for you every day.”
–from Jagadeesh

"…This is a book for all seasons of life. It can be a light read for sweet dreams before bed, a read for inspiration and for help in meditation. And it is most certainly a read for the dark times we all face; when we need to be reminded that we are never alone, to never lose faith and to hang on to God in our most crucial moments. It has felt like a precious gift.

"
Trish Waldon

"It was hard to put it down and go to sleep yesterday. It left my heart filled with gratitude for everything in my life.
"
Saiganesh

Loved and Protected is a book to keep close by during the day so you can pick it up for inspiration and solace. Filled with short stories about how God intervened in events or how the use of prayer gave guidance, this book can help you feel loved and protected. Many of the stories are written by people who follow the path of Self-realization and the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Whether the issues relate to health, relationships, work, money, or spiritual growth, they are all represented here. It’s a warm book sure to fill you with a sense of divine support.”
New Spirit Journal