Birthday Bliss 2014

Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Gurumayi Answered My Hearts Prayer

Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram in India, is a most sacred place—it is the seat of the Guru’s shakti and love. It is an oasis of beauty and harmony. I was fortunate to travel to Gurudev Siddha Peeth as a staff member supporting Gurumayi’s Teaching Visit in 2005 – 2006. I treasured everything about Gurudev Siddha Peeth—the silence of the courtyard, the expanse of Dakshin Kashi, the evening arati in the Temple, the star-sparkling night sky.

However, during the last weeks of my five month stay—among the magnificence, stillness, and power of the Ashram, in that ocean of love—I felt as if an invisible wall had sprung up inside, disconnecting me from my own heart. I fell out of step with the rhythm and flow of the Ashram. In fact, I seemed to always be at the wrong place at the wrong time, saying the wrong thing. The harder I tried to re-establish connection with my heart, the more inaccessible it seemed to become.

As the Teaching Visit was coming to a close, staff members were beginning to depart on various days. The afternoon of my own departure, I was invited for Gurumayi’s darshan in the courtyard. Gurumayi asked about my stay in Gurudev Siddha Peeth and I shared my appreciation. She asked questions that drew out my gratitude even more. I felt Gurumayi was calling on my higher Self—this is what the Guru always sees in me—and it gave me confidence that I had the strength to face my current distress.

Then Gurumayi gave me guidance: she said that I might find it helpful to practice noticing details, such as those in architecture and in the patterns of fabric. And she wished me a safe journey.

I was puzzled by this instruction but so happy to receive it. I knew the value of the Guru’s words and recognized how enormously blessed I was to receive Gurumayi’s direct guidance. I knew if I followed this guidance, it would bear fruit.

I put the exercise into practice immediately. As I walked around the Ashram, saying good-bye to all the sacred places, I paid attention to the details—the curve of the trunk in Lord Ganesha’s murti, the pattern of the flagstone path, the painted design atop the pillars of the Mandap.

Upon my return to Shree Muktananda Ashram, I made an effort to stop periodically during each day and take note of the details and patterns around me. I paid attention to the texture of fabric covering a chair cushion, to the grain of the wood of my desk, and to the curving shape of my computer keyboard. And I paid attention to what was happening within myself as I did so.

As the weeks passed, I noticed that the practice of noticing details was becoming more natural. My mind, which had been stuck in a downward spiral of self-absorption, mulling over the feeling of separation from my heart’s beautiful energy, became calm. I also noticed that something else was starting to happen. My mind became keen at, and receptive to, observing the world around me. In the flitting of a robin from one tree branch to another, I enjoyed nature’s lightheartedness. In the filigree of an ironwork railing, I appreciated the qualities of gentleness and strength. I admired the perfection in the smooth, red roundness of an apple.

I realized that there is a connection between what’s within me and what's in the world around me. This allowed me to become more aware and more present, and to experience the graceful unity that constantly pervades both inside and outside. This new realization supported my meditation and my meditation supported this new discovery. I began to feel the qualities I noticed in nature and architecture—like lightheartedness, strength, and perfection—present within me. By following Gurumayi’s guidance to practice noticing details in architecture and fabric, I was able to develop the eye of a connoisseur. The result was so great that my vision expanded and I was reconnected to my heart’s beautiful energy.

Gurumayi had given me a profound gift that touched and transformed me at the deepest level of my being. Having reflected on this transformation, I understand that Gurumayi was giving me the golden opportunity to practice an aphorism from the Shiva Sutra which Gurumayi teaches—yatha tatra tatha'nyatra, “As here, so elsewhere.”


About the Author

Kathryn Downing began her Siddha Yoga practice in 1995 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since 1997, she has been serving on staff in the SYDA Foundation. She offers seva in the Premotsava Department, which conducts trainings for staff members and visiting sevites. Kathryn previously worked as a family therapist, an entrepreneur, and a creator of innovative learning environments. She has a master’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in adult learning from Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.


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Today, during a japa walk in my neighborhood, I was drawn to practice the teaching Gurumayi gave to Kathryn Downing. I focused on the patterns of leaves, grasses, shrubs, rearranged by the dappling of light; the organized randomness of cracks in asphalt; the surprising complexity of stone piled into a wall. As I did so, I noticed that my mind was no longer evaluating or labeling what I saw. My awareness was simply more present, more deeply appreciative of whatever I encountered—roadway, gardens, gravel in a path reflecting light like sand on a beach. The mantra rose naturally and remained more stable than it has in some time.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for such a clear and powerful teaching. Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing it with us all.

a Siddha Yogi from Ohio, USA

I am relatively new to the Siddha Yoga path. Although I have never been in the physical presence of Gurumayi, I consider myself to be so fortunate to receive her guidance.

Ever since I first saw a DVD of Gurumayi, my bond with her has felt extremely real. I have heard her voice resound in me so many times, comforting me, encouraging me, letting me see my limitations, and pushing me gently so that I could overcome them. Gurumayi has been a loving, gentle guiding hand for me. She is a daily presence, unseen by my physical eyes—but so very much here!

Thank you, Gurumayi. Thank you for all that you have given me. Thank you for teaching me, right from the start, that the Guru is to be found most of all in my own heart.

I love you.

a Siddha Yogi from Uden, Netherlands

Thank you to Kathryn Downing for her Reflection on Gurumayi's Direct Guidance. For me, the ways she studied and practiced Gurumayi’s words model Siddha Yoga studentship and inspire me to strengthen my own.

a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth

Thank you so much, Kathryn Downing, for your exquisite share. It reminds me of my first visit to Gurudev Siddha Peeth, which took place shortly after I’d received Gurumayi’s Message for 2014. Before I left for India, one of the Siddha Yogis from the local Siddha Yoga meditation center said several times to me, "Notice the details wherever you go." I listened to the advice, and I intended to follow it.

When I stepped onto the sacred ground of Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I made sure I noticed every little detail. Almost simultaneously, the inner sounds of nada spread through my whole being. I felt the vibrations emanating from every detail of the Ashram. I felt immersed in indescribable love!

After walking through the Ashram gardens, I sat and meditated. Upon opening my eyes, sparkling, miniscule, rainbow bubbles of light danced in the air in front of my eyes. I was bathed in bliss.

After reading Kathryn's experience, I felt that the instruction I received from the Siddha Yogi at my center had come from Gurumayi.

Thank you, Gurumayi!

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

I am so moved by Kathryn’s Reflection—by the details of the Ashram and her love for it, the details of the “invisible wall” that affected her state of mind, the details of her darshan with Gurumayi.

Thank you for your openness and honesty, Kathryn, and for the inspiration to look for, contemplate, and remember the details of grace in our lives.

a Siddha Yogi from Massachusetts, USA

Kathryn Downing’s Reflection sparked a contemplation about how Gurumayi teaches us true perception. Her account of Gurumayi's guidance to notice detail, and its profoundly transforming effect on her vision and state, reminded me of the times I've had the privilege to witness Gurumayi's instructions regarding seemingly practical matters—such as the way the furniture in a room is arranged, or the way a particular word affects the meaning and effect of a sentence.

It is my experience that in each of these situations, Gurumayi is teaching me how to be more conscious, more perceptive, in order to see the Truth that already exists there and to allow that divinity to manifest more fully.

Gurumayi has said, “Together, may we make this world a better paradise.” I love this instruction. It reveals to me that sacredness is inherent in every detail, in each part of the world, as it is.

As I read Kathryn's Reflection, fresh inspiration arose to practice seeing the divine in the details of every object and action, so that I can make the world even more beautiful and beneficial for all.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for teaching seekers how to see God everywhere.

a Siddha Yogi Swami

After reading Kathryn's Reflection, I was reminded of the beautiful experience I had today. Early each morning, I walk in a park while listening to one of Gurumayi’s chanting recordings and humming along.
As I was doing that this morning, I suddenly looked up and saw the beautiful blue sky with soft white clouds floating by. The green trees were swaying in the breeze, and I was singing with Gurumayi, Nacho Re Mero Mana. My heart felt light, in touch with the wonderful world around me and my Guru singing with me.

Thank you, Gurumayi.

a Siddha Yogi from Pune, India

This reflection is so beautiful. Kathryn’s words, "I felt Gurumayi was calling on my higher Self—this is what the Guru always sees in me," went straight to my heart. I am sitting in awe now, as if this were the first time I’ve ever had this awareness—this remembrance.
Of course, I’ve read about it in the Guru's books. And I know it on an intellectual level. But never has it reached my heart so poignantly.
Thank you. A gift from the Guru, through the words of one of her devotees.

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA

As I read Kathryn Downing’s Reflection on Gurumayi, I was struck by her heartfelt embracing of the guidance she received from Gurumayi. I also realized that attention to and delight in detail has grown in me as my sadhana has unfolded. I see that this external perception reflects a deepening inner awareness.

Inspired by the Reflection, I spent time gazing at the Siddha Yoga Yantra, Gurumayi’s gift to all of us. I consciously gave careful attention to detail. Today my gaze was drawn to the pattern woven into the lotus. This drew me to the central pearl.

I am aware of how each detail of the yantra absorbs me. The yantra moves and vibrates. Each day my experience of it is different. Each detail brings a subtly different inner response and each response dissolves into delight and gratitude.

What a perfect birthday gift this is! Thank you, Kathryn, for helping me to deepen my understanding of its power.

a Siddha Yogi from Melbourne, Australia

When I ask myself about the direct guidance I have received from Gurumayi, the first thing that comes to my mind is a moment from last summer. It was when Gurumayi, toward the end of webcast of the Maha Abhishek Puja, looked at the camera and instructed everyone who was watching all over the world, “Keep coming back. We’re always here.”

I received this as Gurumayi’s direct guidance to me and to all of us. Since then, each time I’ve remembered Gurumayi’s words, they’ve instantly brought me back to my own heart, and to the experience of Gurumayi’s presence there.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for teaching us the practice of remembrance and for constantly leading us back to the Truth.

a Siddha Yogi from Wisconsin, USA

As someone with a passion for writing, I connected deeply with Kathryn’s experience of detail. I find that when I am writing, I often close my eyes and picture the scene I want to write about. As I am doing this, I imagine details like the texture of tree branches, the sound of rain, and the feeling of the wind against my skin.

I am also passionate about neuroscience, a field where there is an incredible focus on detail. I find that when I am studying or thinking about the inner workings of cells and systems within the brain, I feel as though I am discovering God within them.

Kathryn’s Reflection reminded me of how these details bring me into the present, free from distractions, and fill me with a sense of awe for the immense beauty of the world around us.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for your constant wisdom and guidance.

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA