Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Gurumayi Taught Me to Love by Veronica Tao Chevalier

I was first introduced to the Siddha Yoga path in 1989 by a well-known businesswoman in my hometown of Hong Kong. We were collaborating on a project for a charitable organization, when she began inviting me to come to her house to watch a video of a talk given by her Guru. At that time I didn’t think I was searching for a Guru, so I kept politely declining her invitations. She sweetly persisted, so I finally agreed to come and watch the video.

The instant Gurumayi's image appeared on the screen and she began to speak, I felt certain that I had known her all my life. All physical boundaries seemed to dissolve and I was immersed in an unidentifiable, faraway place of infinite peace and happiness. The teachings in Gurumayi's talk were deeply familiar, although I was hearing each word for the first time, understanding each teaching for the first time. I experienced that this meeting with Gurumayi was intrinsic to my very nature: I knew her and she knew me. At the time I did not understand what was happening. Now, after many years of reflection and sadhana, it is clear that this was my first recognition of the Heart, the Self of all.

After seeing that video, I spent a year avidly studying Gurumayi's teachings via books and videos, and chanting with recordings of Gurumayi. Then in 1990, I had a chance to visit Gurudev Siddha Peeth with some friends from Hong Kong. Soon after our arrival, someone beckoned me into the kitchen of the Amrit café. There I saw Gurumayi standing amidst a group of people. The silence was palpable. My mind stopped and a feeling of wonder and delight spread through me. To have Gurumayi's darshan in person for the first time, and so unexpectedly, was stunning. Until then I had only thought of Gurumayi as a divine power and teacher. In that moment I was awestruck to realize that Gurumayi was also a human being—I was seeing the divine power in a human form!

It was in Gurudev Siddha Peeth that I began to practice meditation. The first time I sat in the meditation cave, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I looked at the photos of the
Siddha Yoga Gurus and felt the deep stillness in the cave. I thought that maybe I should pray. To my surprise, the prayer that burst through was: Gurumayi, show me how to love!

The following year, 1991, the Siddha Yoga sangham in Hong Kong learned that Gurumayi would be coming to Hong Kong on a Teachings Visit. With great anticipation I began immersing myself for the first time in the practice of seva. As I worked with other sevites, I became aware that all our interactions were permeated with our shared love for Gurumayi. And I noticed an inner shift taking place: my old tendency to be impatient and controlling with others was dissolving, and I was being more respectful and kind to others. In the beautiful environment of seva, I felt my heart opening more and more.

Now my studentship began in earnest. I was learning to look at the events in my daily life through the lens of the Siddha Yoga teachings and practices. Again and again I had the experience of falling in love, and being in love. And there was a purity to this love that I had never known before.

Over these many years of active sadhana, my reflections often returned to that first prayer from my heart in the meditation cave. I would check in with myself about my progress in learning to love. I noticed how many events in my life were actually lessons in love. Each day provided so many opportunities to be aware of love: a blue sky, a child’s smile, an e-mail from a friend, offering seva, chanting.

I knew these lessons were Gurumayi's answer to my prayer. I experienced her unwavering love, guiding me with such a sure hand, with infinite patience and compassion.

In 2010, my mother became seriously ill. In the past, we'd had a difficult relationship, but now I was happy to be able to stay by her side and support her. During the months of her illness, I became aware of surges of compassion arising in my heart. Again, I experienced that physical boundaries were dissolving; I knew we were not limited or separated by the roles we had held ourselves to, and I was able to see my mother as a human being, in all her fragility and alight with God’s beauty.

Gurumayi has shown me that compassion and love are inextricably entwined. Whenever I access the pure space of love within myself, I find that compassion is naturally present. I have come to realize that this is where the Self resides, this is where I meet and melt into my Guru’s love, and this is where I receive clear guidance for living my life.

I am deeply grateful to Gurumayi for this ever-expanding, delightful, and transforming journey of love.

 

About the Author

Veronica Tao Chevalier began her Siddha Yoga practice in 1989. She has served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Hong Kong and as a coordinator for Siddha Yoga retreats in Hong Kong. Currently, she offers seva as the Siddha Yoga Asia area director and the Asia applications coordinator for Gurudev Siddha Peeth. Veronica is an alumna of Smith College in Massachusetts and works as the director of a Hong Kong investment company. She lives in Hong Kong with her husband, Alain Chevalier.

 


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