Tan Me Manah Shiva-Sankalpam Astu:
May My Mind Dwell on That Which Is Auspicious

February 1, 2017

Dear seekers,

Wishing you shubham in celebration of this month of love and Mahashivaratri! Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho!

It has given me such great delight to learn about how the global Siddha Yoga sangham has been participating in the study of Gurumayi’s Message for the first five, amazing weeks of 2017. I have heard, for example, how people repeat this Message as a mantra—and how repeating the Message, like repeating the mantra, ushers them into the stillness at the core of their being.

Gurumayi’s Message for 2017 is

Breathe in deeply the fragrance of the Heart.
Revel in the light of the Supreme Self.
Breathe out gently the benevolent power of the Heart.

At the conclusion of A Sweet Surprise Satsang 2017, after Gurumayi had imparted her Message, she thanked everyone for accepting her gift and asked if they knew what would make her even happier. Gurumayi then said: “If you make this gift your own.”

When I first heard Gurumayi say this, I experienced an upwelling of bliss from within. I wanted to put my full effort, my full heart, my full awareness into engaging with Gurumayi’s Message. And I had the conviction in doing so, the beauty and transformative power of her teaching would emerge for me.

It is a fundamental Siddha Yoga teaching that for grace to work its alchemy, effort is required on your part as a seeker. Through active engagement with the Guru’s teachings, you take responsibility for your progress on the spiritual path.

In each of the eleven months remaining in this year, 2017, you will have a unique opportunity to explore how you can make Gurumayi’s gift your own. You may recall that in A Sweet Surprise Satsang, Gurumayi gave eleven teachings in explication of her Message. Each month, as a way to better assimilate Gurumayi's Message, you will get to focus on one of these teachings.

The teaching from Gurumayi that you will be focusing on this month is:

“Practice this Message on a regular basis.”

In this precise, clear, and profound invitation, you find an answer to the question of how to embrace Gurumayi's precious gift. You must make the regular effort of putting Gurumayi’s Message into practice.

Exactly what this means will vary from person to person. The point is for each student to establish a discipline that works for them. One student may practice Gurumayi’s Message daily at dawn, before meditating or reciting Shri Guru Gita; another might practice during their office break or power lunch. I know that many of you have already been making the effort to carve out time and space each day to practice Gurumayi’s Message. And when I hear stories of how you are doing this, it inspires me.  It energizes me to strengthen my own sadhana.

One thing you might marvel at as you practice Gurumayi’s Message is how accessible this teaching is. Just think: you take a moment to feel your breath, and as you do so, as you focus on your breath coming in and going out, you realize your breath is carrying Gurumayi’s Message. You realize you are the vessel who embodies the essence of Gurumayi’s Message. Yogis would spend their entire lifetimes regulating their breath, mastering their breath. But here, you have Gurumayi’s Message that connects the in-breath with the out-breath, and the out-breath with the in-breath. The sadhana can’t get any easier!

As you practice Gurumayi’s Message regularly, and as you make progress in your sadhana, I invite you to observe what insights and inquiries arise. Journal about your observations. Read the experiences that others are sharing about their practice on the Siddha Yoga path website—and you, too, can contribute your experiences. Research the topics that come up for you as you practice in the Siddha Yoga books. You’d be amazed at what you find. For example, in Baba Muktananda’s book Ashram Dharma, Baba says, “The purity of one’s heart is its true fragrance.1” 

And remember, you may also participate in A Sweet Surprise Satsang until February 28.

 nataraj-ring of fire

This is the month of Mahashivaratri. Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho! In 2017, Mahashivaratri takes place on February 24. In addition, in honor of  St. Valentine’s Day on February 14, you all will get to engage with and enjoy Gurumayi’s Love in Action on the Siddha Yoga path website.

In this year in which we are exploring the sacred dynamic between the breath and the Heart, the celebration of Valentine’s Day—a day in honor of love—is especially germane. This holiday can remind us that the goal of the Siddha Yoga path, and of Gurumayi’s Message, is our immersion in the state of unconditional love.

Mahashivaratri, “the great night of Shiva,” is also an auspicious time to practice Gurumayi’s Message. On the Siddha Yoga path, Lord Shiva is understood to be the supremely blissful light of Consciousness that is the foundation of the universe and also the goal of all spiritual practice. This is the night on which, according to Hindu tradition, Lord Shiva’s blessings manifest most tangibly. It is said that the fruits of worship performed to Lord Shiva on this night multiply a thousandfold. All over the world in Siddha Yoga Ashrams and meditation centers and in homes, students will be chanting Om Namah Shivaya, the initiation mantra of the Siddha Yoga lineage.

In honor of this sacred night devoted to Lord Shiva, I also love to chant Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho, in which we hail Lord Shiva as the Self who dwells in the hearts of all. Gurumayi wrote the words to this chant and composed the melody for this magnificent namasankirtana. And this year, I’m particularly looking forward to reciting Shri Rudram, the text that is a focus of study on the Siddha Yoga path in 2017. Shri Rudram is an ancient and powerful Vedic hymn to Lord Shiva—who is also known as Rudra.

The Vijñānabhairava, a scripture of non-dual Shaivite philosophy, teaches that Lord Shiva can be experienced in the interval between the incoming and outgoing breaths. One of the dharanas, or centering techniques, in this scripture tells us

na vrajen na viśec chaktir marudrūpā vikāsite ǀ
nirvikalpatayā madhye tayā bhairavarūpatā ǀ ǀ

As the center expands with the cessation of our mental activity,
the energy in the form of the breath stops from going in and out.
Through it, Lord Shiva becomes manifest.2

Thus, with these two wonderful celebrations of Mahashivaratri and St. Valentine’s Day, February gives you many opportunities to delve even more into Gurumayi’s Message. The month vibrates with the subtle and astonishing energy of the Lord and Love. By making Gurumayi’s gift your own, you move one step closer to the interior of your own heart and you experience Gurumayi’s happiness.

Warm Regards,

Swami Akhandananda
Siddha Yoga Swami

1 Swami Muktananda, Ashram Dharma (South Fallsburg, New York: SYDA Foundation, 1995) p. 36.
2 Vijñānabhairava 26; English rendering by Óscar Figueroa © 2017 SYDA Foundation. All rights reserved.
Title is from Shiva Sankalpa Suktam 1; English rendering © 2017 SYDA Foundation®.
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