Terrence Oldham Barnes (1922-2000), also known during his lifetime, to a select few, as Sri Vyaktananda, was born in Ada, Oklahoma, but lived the last 54 years of his life in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of El Cerrito. He spent his entire professional life as a science teacher for what is now the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Though he and his wife of 48 years, Minnie, never had any children of their own they were important friends, even parental surrogates, for many children over the course of their long lives.
The Barnes' lifelong interest in Judaeo-Christo-Islamic mysticism and the Eastern religions led them to host at their home an informal discussion group on every other Thursday evening. This group, which now continues under the sobriquet Vyaktananda Society, was led by Terry and Minnie, and then just Terry, for over twenty-five years. Terry got the alias Sri Vyaktananda as a joke one evening when he kept persistently holding forth on the theme of bliss. Someone made a comment to the effect that the individual determines what bliss is. "Do you know what the individual is?", asked Terry. The question was asked right back at him. He answered, "Bliss." with the kind of smile which convinced many of those present that he knew whereof he spoke. As a result of this occasion our resident Hindu scholar came up with the honorific Sri Vyaktananda to describe our host (vyakta is the individual manifestation and ananda is bliss) and from then on we teased him with it until finally it just stuck, and even Terry started referring to himself by it.
After Terry's body died (his spirit lives on in us) a slim well-worn notebook was discovered among his effects. It contained a few short essays, but mostly it was filled with brief reflections, little aphorisms, and poems that reflected a lot of what we had come to know in our direct experience of him. The Vyaktananda Society decided to edit and arrange some of the material from this notebook and publish it on the World Wide Web here.
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