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Audle Allison the Great American SwamiThe Life and Teachings of a True Master of Consciousness
By E. Veronica Elam
BALBOA PRESSCopyright © 2013 E. Veronica Elam
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAudle Who?
Who was this unusual man, Audle, (pronounced Odd-lee) with the odd-sounding name? Was he a man of truth or deception? Was he a great pretender or a true Master of Consciousness? At first glance, he appeared to be the typical man next door. In early bird fashion, he would be out jogging around the block before seven in the morning! Later in the day, he could be seen mowing the yard, wearing a straw hat or sipping iced tea in his lawn chair with his feet propped up. He would greet friends with a wide smile and twinkling blue eyes. "Howdy, ya'll," was his favorite greeting and he pronounced it with an authentic southern twang. Also, if there was anything called the language of the gods, Audle's grammar never reflected that sacred verse. In time, it would become a source of knee slapping humor for his devoted followers. Yet, in his words, homely as they sounded, the psychology he taught was the greatest wisdom of his day.
At times, he spoke with a sweet tenderness like a chant of love. However, at other times he would crucify the ego as he unleashed his army sergeant voice. Luckily, those times were rare. Within his ordinary words was truth exquisitely woven into the pattern of advice that his disciples needed to receive.
Everyone knows what a true master should look like. From the chiseled face, long beard, turban, and the mesmerizing gaze, people know an Indian guru when they see one. In contrast, Mr. Allison was nearly bald, wore thick-rimmed glasses, and displayed an old man's grinning smile.
But did his glistening eyes know something? Yes and more—indescribably more than he would say! It is a fact; God places his saints in strange and uncommon places as well as unusual bodies. Who would have predicted a mystic would be born into the Bible Belt of America?
Audle was born into a difficult transition period of history when America was involved with World War I, which ended when Audle was one year old. In the year of 1918, there was an outbreak of influenza, which over several years, resulted in a half million deaths in America and over forty million worldwide. At that time, infant mortality rates were high. According to one estimate, over 250, 000 infants were dying every year in the U.S. alone. Childhood diseases were the norm and it was expected that one out of six children would not survive to enter the first grade. As Americans struggled with their hardships, Audle fought battles with infantile paralysis (polio) and rickets, also called "soft bones."
As the war ended, optimism began to emerge, giving birth to a decade of prosperity called the Roaring Twenties. This particular time of Audle's formative years was when America would also set the foundation for its modern society. Through the power of rejuvenation, it was a time for enjoyment and prosperity. Those who managed to survive the war had a sense of renewed vitality, permeating the economy with new ideas, hopes, and dreams. People wanted more out of life than that received by their parents. For example, the women's movement had finally won the right to vote in 1920.
Another fixed belief was the idea that a person was confined according to his or her place of birth. Most people lived and died in the same town where they were born. This common though restrictive idea was fractured by the development of automobiles, which were commonly available for the first time. The enjoyment of this new convenience gave rise to an ever-growing, intricate system of roadways. These highways would serve to connect and integrate the United States and people in ways never before imagined.
Later in the decade, radio, newspaper, and movies would educate the public on social issues, entertainment, and commerce. This phenomenal explosion of information, resulting from the easy availability of electricity, would serve to connect America at all levels. This broad swath of communication was revolutionizing the culture into an integrated, harmonious blend of diversity. Whatever was not in harmony would rise to the surface to be washed out with eventual resolution or dissolution. America was coming to stand on shaky legs and so, too, was young Audle.
He would live through the prosperous Twenties, making his way from grade school to junior high. He would embrace the grace, humor, and honesty of his generation. Audle was an all-American and completely representative of his time and place. He would become a hometown athletic hero, a war veteran, a successful businessman, and a positive thinker who enjoyed fried chicken, chocolate candy and the occasional margarita.
As an adult, he loved to wear polyester suits, neatly pressed and topped with a bright colored shirt and occasionally enhanced with cowboy hat and matching boots. He also added to his wardrobe an orange silk robe, which was used for retreats and special occasions. That particular robe had been given to him in 1974 when Swami Muktananda recognized him as a Great Swami reincarnated from India.
Regardless of previous glory days, Audle was a Westerner now. He knew who had won the last World Series and when the Oklahoma Sooners would play their next football game. His neighbors thought of him as one of the good old boys. His thick accent was so Southern that it emphasized the wisdom emerging from his lips, rather than a distraction. Furthermore, when his crystal-clear words reached the students' ears and his knowing eyes met theirs, they knew that it was the perfect answer to the question, even though quite often his words would induce a chuckle at its simplicity and truth.
Audle's Family and Place of Birth
Audle's place of birth, Troy Missouri, was hometown America cradled in the heartland where neighbors helped neighbors. A business deal was often sealed with nothing more than a handshake. The citizens never met a stranger and invitations to a pie supper were common. Whenever anyone became ill, another common event, the church ladies were ready to help devotedly with food or other assistance at a moment's notice. It was a close-knit community, weaved together by family ties. Audle's brother, Jim, once said, "Everybody is akin to everybody."
Tapping into his fond memories, Audle proudly spoke about his extended family in Missouri. He reported that he had relatives at all levels of county government, including the Sheriff's Office and the public school system. His female cousin taught first grade during his early history. His mother's relatives, the Thurmans, were active members of the school board. Another cousin managed the Troy Cemetery. Overall, the Allisons and Thurmans were located all over the city, country, and extended into nearby states, as well.
Audle's brother Jim said that their dad, Oscar loved to drink and party; that everyone called their dad "Patty," as a fond nickname and perhaps to recognize that the Allison family had emigrated from the old land of Ireland. According to Jim, his dad had developed a long list of friendships. Being in the monument business, he went to numerous monument conventions and enjoyed staying out all night at times. He was a "manly man," where politics and religion were discussed over cigars and cold drinks, occasionally enhanced with a shot of "hooch," illegal alcohol. Audle admitted that his dad drank too much liquor at times. Despite this, Oscar was responsible and was known to be a sober thinking man. He dressed the part of a prosperous businessman, wearing diamonds, expensive rings, and pendants. Jim further stated, "My dad looked like Diamond Jim Brady. He had diamonds all over, with stickpins and cufflinks. He wore a diamond ring that would choke a horse."
From old photos, newspapers, and miscellaneous books, the description of Troy, Missouri in the early twentieth century appeared to be similar to many other Midwestern towns. Although it was much smaller than St. Louis or Oklahoma City, it was a fairly big town for its day and had all the necessities of a town situated in the farming belt. The newspaper, Troy Free Press had advertisements from multiple sources including the Mercantile, drug store, clothing store, Kuhne Brothers' Ice Cream and Dairy Store, insurance agencies, theaters, churches, hotels, gift stores, dentists, and eye care. And let us not forget the Crown Gasoline Station where the shopper could get service for car maintenance and a squeaky clean windshield, too. All this was available with a country smile, pleasant service, and a common good-bye, "Ya'll come back—ya hear."
Main Street was so wide that it was possible to park five cars across between the sidewalks. The streets were lined with a variety of storefronts on both sides, which were full of window advertising. These charming, rugged old buildings appeared to be left over from the pioneer days. Some had Spanish influences with square-topped roofs, large door-like windows, two-story structures, and tall hand painted signs. The cloth covered awnings and wooden sidewalks gave customers a dry entrance. The shopping district was simple yet dignified, with old world charm and grace.
The main school building had a sharp gable top above the two-story brick structure. There was an impressive set of concrete stair steps leading up to the double door entrance. The building had plenty of windows. It was large and attractive for that time in history. Being centrally located in the county seat, this school system was considered the best in the state.
Jim talked about how the leaves of autumn piled up on their front lawn. The streets had many trees and the dropping foliage applied a heavy layer of golden brown, orange, and red leaves all over the yards. The trees included peach, plum, apple, and cherry, all of which grew in abundance in this region of Missouri. A natural fragrance in springtime pervaded the whole area. Flowerbeds and garden spots were common in Troy. Long shadows from the shade trees in the morning were beautifully contrasted against the colorful pink and blue sky, outlined in brilliant gold, setting the frame for the rising sun—or the setting sun, which was just as beautiful. Front porch conversation combined with pieces of sweet watermelon was a usual pastime before the invention of television. Noisy children would scatter like wild monkeys while the old folks rocked in chairs on the front porch.
While sharing conversation, they would fan their faces with cardboard, handheld fans. The dogs barked at squirrels, chasing them out of the yard. From overhead came the cries of the birds intermingled with the clanging of cowbells from the nearby meadow. Old Model-T cars chugged down the dirt road, lost in a cloud of dust; a person could see their visitors coming from miles away just by the approaching dust cloud. However, the dust was more accommodating than the mud of the wet season. Narrow roadways, bridges, and bright red barns were scattered through the countryside, creating an attractive scene for artists and photographers.
It was in this charming little town that Audle Asker Allison was born November 15, 1917 to Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Allison. His humble earthly journey would begin in this small farming town thirty miles northwest of St. Louis, Missouri. Unto this family was granted a Great Soul superficially disguised as a tiny, helpless infant: "A magnificent ball of light with a little bit of skin," which was how Audle came to describe babies. This baby came so early in the morning and premature that Effie, his mother, did not realize that she had given birth until after the fact. Apparently, there were no pains or discomfort involved which was ordinarily expected with delivery, especially of the firstborn child.
Surprised, Oscar and Effie awoke early that chilly morning to find that in their bed was a smiling baby boy. With a mother's tender instinct, Effie lovingly wrapped him, embracing Audle close to her breast and looking deep into his fathomless blue eyes. It has been said that a mother's silent affectionate smile to her baby is one of the most elegant images on the planet. Both parents were shocked as to how this birth could have taken place without interrupting their sleep.
The indescribable joy in Effie's voice can only be guessed at, as she told her mother, "Lizzie," about the good news. Later, the proud father, Oscar, began telling friends and family about their miracle of birth. There were numerous people to tell, since the Allison and Thurman families were a large and diverse group. By the end of the day, the whole town was affectionately talking about Audle's unusual entry into the world of Troy, Missouri.
It is not hard to visualize the hearty handshaking and backslapping congratulations to Audle's genuinely surprised poppa and the undisguised pride as he passed out the customary cigars. After all, he was still proving himself a man at the elderly age of forty-eight, while his colleagues were becoming grandparents.
Oscar was an outgoing Irish American with an athletic body, a firm handshake and a hearty laugh. He had a steadfast stride, a tall, slim, and erect stance, and a friendly face. At age thirty-five, he began to appear huskier after putting on some weight. The man had an indomitable will to achieve his goals; high on the list was providing responsible support for his family. He was an active and vigorously hardworking man. His life experiences totaled nearly half a century before Audle's dramatic arrival to the Allison family.
The Allison and Thurman families enjoyed a simple lifestyle in their quaint little town. It might not be too hard to imagine a town without the modern conveniences such as television, radio, or cable service; however, in the early part of the twentieth century, even such basic necessities as running water, gas, electricity, and sewer services were in the early stages of availability. The City of Troy with its population of 1,100 had been the county seat since 1828. With a relatively modern community and lush, fertile land outside its borders, the area attracted progressively more citizens as time passed. Troy's school system was considered one of the best in Missouri. The city had electric lighting by October of 1905, although the dusty dirt roads were not graveled until the early 1920's. The state highways began to receive cement in the mid 1920's. By the end of 1923, most downtown businesses had telephones installed as an investment and a status symbol.
The whole town had been talking about Oscar's new baby boy. It was his third child; however, it was Effie's firstborn. According to the family, the townspeople thought it was quite strange to have a birth without the mother's participation. Audle said, "The whole town was all shook up. How did this little baby get there, laughing and giggling?"
From all appearances, this baby seemed to be a healthy boy, the newest member of Troy, Missouri. It was in this small town that Audle would spend the next fifteen years of his life. His dad, Oscar, would remember this event and tell others not to worry about his boy.
You will not have to worry about that kid. When he wants to do something, he will do it! Look at how he came into the world.
From the close examination of antique photographs of downtown Troy, one can see a variety of people representing the populace of the time: men wearing straw hats, overalls and boots; women with long dresses, bonnets, and carrying large handbags; and barefoot children with rolled up pants. The pictures show several vintage cars parked on Main Street, around the storefronts. There were barbershops, dentist and doctor offices located in the downtown area.
The physicians had plenty of work, since health and disease were major concerns during this period of history. Since influenza was often fatal, the officials closed down the streets of Troy during any serious outbreak of disease. The citizens were not allowed to go into town for shopping or anything else. The local health department had a major job to do and was connected to the school system to keep disease under control. In addition, this was a time prior to the development of penicillin when pneumonia was considered a deadly disease. Tuberculosis (T. B.), an infection of the lung, was a common illness as well. Sometimes children as young as ten or twelve would die of this lung disease.
In 1927, Troy had outbreaks of scarlet fever. The newspaper had many reports of infant deaths from various diseases, some of which were unknown. Children were especially vulnerable and it was common to have funerals for more than one child in a week's time. In addition, the childhood disease, infantile paralysis or polio would cause many children to be crippled for life. The usual aftermath of this disease was to walk with a severe limp or be confined to a wheelchair.
The citizens of Troy, or Trojans as they liked to be called, exhibited the true survivor spirit as disease and hardship ambushed the settlers on many fronts and yet with determination the little town would survive. The Allison and Thurman families were not exempt from the hard times. They too confronted their share of grievous difficulties as the Law of Karma spiked their days with both pain and pleasure.
The joy of parenthood was mingled with loving and caring for a tiny infant, so premature; some women have developed their natural inborn tendency for nurturing—a type of mothering instinct. It is unknown the type of mothering which Audle received and obviously he was too young to remember. However, it was common for mothers to breast feed their infants during this early time period.
Baby Audle, dressed in a cotton diaper and a white tee shirt, smiled with his big blue eyes sparkling. The oversized shirt resembled a dress in one old photograph. This tiny baby so helpless required increasingly more assistance as he neared his first birthday. As the months passed by, the family thought that Audle should be walking, but his legs were weak and flaccid. His mother undoubtedly knew that something was not right. By the time he was one year old, he was completely paralyzed. Overall, it took about a year before they sought medical advice. It was then that a formal diagnosis was made of infantile paralysis or polio. During this time in history, people did not run to the doctors for every conceivable illness regardless of severity.
Excerpted from Audle Allison the Great American Swami by E. Veronica Elam Copyright © 2013 by E. Veronica Elam. Excerpted by permission of BALBOA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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