A Journey Into the Unknown

A spiritual life in the woods.


Durga Ma’s spiritual journey began in ernest, in 1963. With only $25 in her pocket and her small stash of belongings packed in the trunk of her Ford, she set out to find answers she had sought since childhood. She had completed her BA at the University of Missouri in only three years with an eye to breaking free and satisfying her quest for knowledge and enlightenment. Little did she know that her journey would take her to become a hermit in the woods, living the mysteries.

Working jobs as she traveled westward, her journey came to an abrupt halt when she reached the Pacific Ocean. Within months of arriving in a small town in California, Durga Ma began her first foray into the spiritual world for which she was destined.

She had her first experience of samadhi, years before she was to hear the word or discover it described in Sanskrit mystical texts.Her attempts to find someone who had the knowledge she sought and the mastery to guide her, continued to fail. She became depressed, sought distraction, and completed a Masters degree. Discouraged and in despair, she threw in the towel and gave up. In spite of all this, a few years later samadhi made a surprise return, this time with clues that would take her to the portal of discovery.

Durga Ma found her spiritual master. She did not see bright lights or hear fireworks. She simply recognized the teachings of her master and his lineage as “familiar” and was drawn to pursue them to their end. After so many years of seeking, she was finally on her way. Now, having attained success after many years of  yoga meditation, Durga Ma has become a master in her own right. Replacing her original spiritual name, Gandharvi, with the name of the goddess from whom even the gods seek counsel, her students began calling her Durga Ma.

A spiritual journey Into The Unknown

If you were to see Durga Ma on the street today, you would probably not recognize her for who she is. On those rare occasions when she leaves her home, what you would see would be just another woman in her seventies. Having abandoned “uniforms” in favor of moving about incognito, she wanders through life looking at it through a very different set of eyes — eyes that see God everywhere, in you and me, and in all creation. When asked how she felt about having successfully completed her sadhana, she responded, “Oh, there’s always more.” The story of Durga Ma’s earlier spiritual life can be found in Living the Mysteries.

Read more: Education and Experience