Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

I am Grateful to Gurumayi

As I reflect on all I have received since I first met Gurumayi as a seven-year-old boy, I experience her grace threading through each event of my life. Gurumayi has taught me, and continually unveils, the mystery and magnificence of reality and the importance of becoming a true human being—one who knows and is established in the all-pervading Self.

Over the years, I have often marveled at Gurumayi's subtlety as a teacher and her tireless commitment to finding new ways to communicate the truths and living experiences of the Siddha Yoga path. Listening to Gurumayi tell a funny story about Sheik Nasruddin, becoming absorbed in the sound of her singing an abhanga of the poet-saints, reading and rereading her books, hearing her cite and expound scriptural verses with clarity and authority, and watching her spontaneous interactions with devotees have left valuable impressions of the nobility and depth of the Siddha Yoga tradition in my mind and heart.

I will never forget one birthday celebration for Gurumayi at Shree Muktananda Ashram, in 2001, when I was 24 years old. At the conclusion of the Shri Guru Gita recitation, the host, a young adult, graciously thanked everyone for attending and invited us to go to breakfast. Something in his manner of extending the invitation sparked giggles in a few people. The host, completely unaware of the effects of his delivery, continued to speak in the same manner. This caused Gurumayi herself to begin laughing. As soon as we heard the first sound of Gurumayi's laughter, the entire hall erupted into peals of laughter, which seemed to continue for eons. I remember watching Gurumayi laugh, and being in the ocean of laughter. There was total freedom in Gurumayi's laughter and I experienced that freedom spreading throughout the hall. As I reflected on the source of Gurumayi’s unbounded laughter, I remembered Baba's teaching from the Indian scriptures, “The bliss of the Self is ever new.” In that moment, every facet of my world became unimaginably beautiful and the meditation hall itself was transformed into a theater of light and blessedness.

One of the reasons Gurumayi's words, music, and gestures have had such a powerful impact on my life is because they convey a first-person experience of her teachings, beyond the horizon of a purely intellectual acquisition of knowledge. It is extraordinary how listening to Gurumayi give a simple meditation instruction or speaking to her—even in a dream—can suddenly reveal the pricelessness and mountain-like steadiness of my inner Self. The science of this transmission of knowledge is not something we can appreciate or fully conceptualize in the framework of our modern lives. And yet, this is exactly the type of learning that I received from Gurumayi during a stay at Shree Muktananda Ashram in the summer of 2003.

At the culmination of a week-long retreat, during which the participants were immersed in an extended period of spiritual practice, our retreat teacher announced that we would be having satsang with Gurumayi. During the satsang, while Gurumayi looked around the room, her eyes found mine for a few moments. How can I put into words the integrity of the penetrating glance of a Sadguru?

As Gurumayi looked at me, I immediately became aware of all the places in my life where I was playing a role or putting on a show. It was suddenly clear to me how this “act” was serving as a barrier between myself and others, blocking a more natural and genuine channel of communication. This series of insights unfolded instantaneously in the form of a “mini-life-review,” along with the realization that this manner of being was not a sporadic event, but rather a consistent feature of almost all of my interactions. As this was all dawning on me, Gurumayi—still gazing directly into my eyes—slowly nodded with a gentle smile.

Through that one brief glance, Gurumayi served as a spotless mirror, granting me an entirely new level of self-awareness. Moreover, Gurumayi's glance was more than a simple exposé of my conditioning: by seeing this pattern in an unfiltered fashion, in the light of her glance, I no longer identified with it. Although Gurumayi's look was devoid of judgment, it was not uncaring or indifferent. Gurumayi's nod and her smile were full of understanding. As I became aware of all the work I now had to do, I was also suddenly in touch with a much deeper part of myself that was already perfectly present, awake, and totally steadfast.

I had received a first-hand experience that even the seemingly casual gestures of a great being, such as a passing glance, are full of power. The way Gurumayi calls me, with uncompromising candor and lightness of being, to embrace a life of purpose, instilling in me the strength to face whatever obstacles impede me from recognizing my own divinity, stills my mind and evokes love and gratitude.

I am grateful to Gurumayi for this pivotal moment in my sadhana, for being a rare exemplar of the art of teaching, and for showing me, through her embodiment of the miraculous freedom, compassion, and total spontaneity of the supreme Self, that there is infinitely more to live for than I ever could have imagined.

I offer pranams to Shri Gurumayi, again and again.

 

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