Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Living in Joy

On the refrigerator door in my kitchen is a birthday card Gurumayi sent to me many years ago. It says, “Your laughter is the greatest healing energy. Thank you for your joy.” I have always associated Gurumayi with joy, and joy with Gurumayi. Over the years, through her guidance and her example, she has encouraged and inspired me to live joyfully.

During the years I served on staff in Shree Muktananada Ashram and Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I would always know when Gurumayi was walking through the Ashram by the sound of laughter rippling down the hallways. At times it seemed to me that the entire Ashram was a container full to the brim with Gurumayi’s joy.

One evening I was in my office in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, when I heard someone singing in the hallway. I went to the door and saw that Gurumayi was returning from her daily walk through the gardens. She looked so serene and happy, humming a bhajan and twirling something between her fingers. “Good evening, Gurumayi,” I said, and she smiled as she passed by. After a few steps, Gurumayi stopped, turned around, and beckoned to me. She reached out her hand and dropped a small fragrant eucalyptus leaf into my outstretched hand. Then she walked on.

I stood, delighting in the shimmering green leaf and reveling in the joyful state that Gurumayi had shared. That joy was familiar, as though my own heart were resonating with Gurumayi’s heart, and the words I heard within were, “Yes! Be joyful!” My next thought was: “I want to live in this joy.”

The intention that sprang from that darshan became an exploration: “What can I do to lead my mind to a state of joy, moment to moment, in the midst of daily life?” I turned to Gurumayi’s teachings, and in her book Inner Treasures, I found this guidance: “Give yourself to those moments that let you reap joy, that bring you delight.”

Contemplating these words, I became increasingly aware that by choosing to hold on to positive experiences and thoughts, I could expand my energy and joy. I began to purposefully cultivate thoughts and activities that make me happy; I encouraged happiness to linger.

Being in nature has always called forth my joy. Walking outside, drawing a deep breath and taking the time to appreciate what is happening all around me, an expansive sweetness arises. So I decided to give myself more time in nature. One evening while I was sitting in my backyard, a beautiful blue heron swooped down and landed on the bank of our pond. In exquisite slow motion, the bird walked around the pond, regal and in tune with its surroundings. I felt as if I were absorbing that attunement, the pleasure of being completely one with God’s creation.

Another time a river otter came and spent a whole day fishing, frolicking in the water and basking on a log in the sunlight. What joy! Even now, recollecting the otter’s playful antics, a feeling of delight arises within me.

At this moment, I look over at my puja and there is Gurumayi’s smiling face, alive with joy. Gratitude arises in my heart for her generosity, for all the years that she has encouraged us all, sharing her joy, and reminding us, again and again, through her teachings and presence, that we can be happy and live joyfully.

 

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