Birthday Bliss 2014

Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

An Unforgettable Teaching

To this day, I thank my lucky stars that I found my path, I found my Guru, and I have the good fortune to offer seva to Gurumayi.

One of my cherished memories is of offering seva for Gurumayi’s Maha Yatra—the Great Pilgrimage. The Maha Yatra, which was a continuous pilgrimage with many stops, began in Shree Muktananda Ashram in November 1995 and concluded in Shree Muktananda Ashram in June 1996. One of the stops of the Maha Yatra was the city of Lódź, Poland, in April 1996. Many Siddha Yogis and new seekers from Russia and other areas of Eastern Europe made their own pilgrimage to Lódź, to participate in satsangs with Gurumayi.

Gurumayi invited everyone attending these satsangs to accompany her on a pilgrimage to the Jasna Góra monastery located in the city of Częstochowa. Within the monastery is the Icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa, also known as the Black Madonna. The site is a national shrine in Poland and is a focus of worship for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Pilgrims come from all over Europe to pray to her, for she is known to perform miracles. The inner sanctum is dimly lit; the fragrance of frankincense, the perfume of flowers, and the sacred sounds of the mass fill the air. As Gurumayi walked through the shrine, she offered gifts and prayers to the Black Madonna.

The shrine lies within a compound of buildings and gardens. One of the features is a bell tower that stands 106 meters tall. From the top of the tower, visitors can see a magnificent view of the countryside. Gurumayi started to climb the narrow, winding staircase that led to the lookout. Thinking that Gurumayi would prefer some space as she climbed the stairs to the tower, I asked the group of Siddha Yogis present if they could wait a little before entering. After Gurumayi had taken a few steps up the stairs, a throng of tourists pushed through, apparently wanting to race to the top as quickly as their legs could carry them. Our group was now behind the crowd of tourists.

After Gurumayi had spent some time in the tower, everyone descended the stairway. Gurumayi turned to me and asked, “Wouldn't it have been better if the group of Siddha Yogis who have accompanied me to this monastery had come up the tower with me? After all, these are my people. These are my people!” By that time, the sun was out in full force and Gurumayi continued her walk, making her way to an expanse of lawn where she sat down and gave darshan.

I had to ensure, at that moment, that my mind didn’t berate me for the action I had taken. I needed to stay present to receive Gurumayi's guidance and darshan, and to continue carrying out my seva responsibilities.

Gurumayi's words, “These are my people,” entered my heart. I knew that to be one of Gurumayi's people is to be invited to make God our daily companion. This invitation was both enticing and quite daunting at the same time. I say “enticing” because what a great honor to receive such an exalted invitation to make God our constant companion! And I say “daunting” because I knew that this would require every fiber of my being to be reshaped by God's love.

As years went by, again and again I returned in my mind’s eye to the teaching Gurumayi gave me that day. I thought I had been doing the right thing by asking Gurumayi's people to keep their distance, to give Gurumayi space to climb the tower. Now I understand that Gurumayi wasn’t just speaking about the physical distance from her form: Gurumayi was propelling me to look deeply into my own approach to the divine. With this ongoing reflection, I have come to see that the more I dive into my own heart to explore its depths, the closer I feel to God and the Guru. It is a mysterious and ecstatic process that is in perpetual motion. There is a subtle intertwining of the inner and outer that is made possible by the elixir of grace.

I have often heard Gurumayi say that the Guru is closer to us than our very breath. This suggests to me that every in-breath and every out-breath pave the way for us to touch the divine. As I reflect back on the visit to Częstochowa, I remember the moment when Gurumayi slowly brought her hands together and lowered her head before the Black Madonna. When I saw this, I wondered if I would ever experience the depth of feeling, the reverence, and the perfection that I was witnessing. I know now that with every in-breath and out-breath, we are all invited into this sanctum sanctorum of the Heart, into the recognition that divinity and perfection exist within us and all around us.

 

About the Author

Menaki Clark has been following the Siddha Yoga path for more than three decades. She began her practice in 1981 in Sydney, Australia. Menaki went on to offer full-time seva for twenty years, first at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Sydney, where she was a manager of the Ashram. Menaki also served on staff in Gurudev Siddha Peeth and Shree Muktananda Ashram as a writer and sevite in the Dakshina Department. She currently offers seva from home as an editor for the SYDA Foundation. Menaki is studying for an MA in education online through the University of British Columbia.

 

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What stood out for me as I read this beautiful and thoughtful Reflection was the part where Menaki ensured that her mind didn’t berate her for her action.

This reminds me that I also need to control my tendency to shut down or become mired in self-recrimination, and instead, to receive Gurumayi's (or others’) teachings and corrections as gifts rather than criticisms.

Thank you, Menaki, for elucidating this important teaching. Thank you, Gurumayi, for accepting me among "your people" and for leading us all on the path to freedom!

a Siddha Yogi from Colorado, USA

As I read Menaki's reflection, I was brought back to a vision I had while offering seva during Gurumayi’s Maha Yatra. While meditating during one of the programs with Gurumayi, I had a vision of being with her at the top of a hill. Many Siddha Yogis were there, and Gurumayi was leading all of us into a new country, a new land. I had the insight then that we were a people—her people.

The memory of this today inspires me to contemplate what obstacles I place between myself and Gurumayi—the imagined or created separations. It inspires me to recognize that Gurumayi wants me to always be with her, with her people, and to experience the grace of God within my own heart.

Although I live in the desert in central Australia and experience the shakti of this path in timeless and unimaginable ways, I am now inspired to spend more time closer to her people, my people, and to my own heart, where the Guru is always in residence.

a Siddha Yogi from Yulara, Australia

When I read Menaki Clark’s Reflection on Gurumayi, I stopped at the sentence, “I have come to see that the more I dive into my own heart to explore its depths, the closer I feel to God and the Guru.” I took a deep breath and a moment to turn in toward my own heart. These Reflections remind me of my longing to experience that closeness and connection within. The connection is always there when I stop and pay attention.

Thank you, Gurumayi. Thank you, Menaki, for helping me to remember.

a Siddha Yogi from Massachusetts, USA

I find these shares to be such a rich form of satsang. It is profoundly inspiring to read how some devotees truly take the Guru's teachings to heart and apply them to their day-to-day lives, especially when some unflattering aspect of the ego or a mistake in judgment is exposed. I love each of these extended stories of Baba and Gurumayi because they’re each so individual, authentic, and personal and reveal a different facet of the Guru's grace.
 
Menaki's writing is so vivid, and she deftly puts me into the scene. I feel as if I'm with her as she summons the courage to remain present on that day in Częstochowa. It triggers my own memories with Gurumayi, and my mind reels at how it is possible that, whether in person or in meditation, the Guru touches the lives of thousands of us around the globe in such profound ways. These shares have inspired me to deepen my practice during this month of Birthday Bliss.

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA

Thank you, Menaki Clark, for sharing your priceless experience. Pondering Gurumayi's words, "These are my people," gives me a great sense of belonging and being cherished by Gurumayi. Every day, I am grateful to have been called to the Siddha Yoga path and to have received so many decades of ongoing grace, blessings, and awakenings. My experience on earth has become a heavenly one. I cannot imagine my life without my Guru and the Siddha Yoga path.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA