Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Recognizing My Guru

The inner workings of the body have always fascinated me. During my college biology course, I remember marveling at how the breath enters and exits the body, the heart beats out its own rhythm, and digestion progressesall without direction from the thinking mind. This fascination led me to pursue a career in medicine. I wanted to know more about the mysterious, invisible functions inside the human body. Yet by the time I neared the end of my first year of medical school, the body had become a collection of parts to memorize and analyze. I felt disappointed. I realized that I had been half expecting to find some hidden space inside the outer forma physical space for the soul. But the heart was full of blood, the brain full of tissue, and even the bones were filled with marrow. If the body is a temple, then where, exactly, is its deity?

The day before my final exam in anatomy, I was walking down a school hallway when I noticed a poster. I drew in close and saw that it announced that the meditation Master Gurumayi Chidvilasananda would be speaking at a nearby hall the next evening. I drew closer still and found myself gazing into Gurumayi’s eyesfor a moment, my breath stopped and my active mind quieted. I marveled at the seemingly infinite depth that I saw beyond her eyes. Enjoying a rare moment of stillness, I wanted to stand there all night. Then a reminder—Time to study!—broke my reverie. I established myself in my study cubicle, and as I memorized the human body’s bones and muscles late into the night, I kept returning to the image of Gurumayi’s compelling eyes.

The next day the minute the exam was over, I rushed to my first satsang with Gurumayi. I arrived just in time to see Gurumayi gracefully enter and take her seat at the front of the hall. The same captivating eyes that had kept me company the previous night were now shining brightly right in front of me. Throughout Gurumayi’s talk, as I watched her closely, I experienced extended moments of beautiful mental stillness—a rare occurrence for me. And with this stillness, a gentle stirring in my heart.

The following day I sought out the local Siddha Yoga meditation center, in pursuit of the mental tranquility I had tasted in Gurumayi’s presence. As I was reciting Shri Guru Gita for the first time, verse ninety-three caught my eye; it said of the Guru, “He is the physician for the disease of worldly existence.” In this ancient verse, I saw my own diagnosis! Although I was healthy, I felt chronically dissatisfied with ordinary worldly pursuits—I questioned the meaning and purpose of my existence. Instantly my mind filled with new questions. Which physician holds the cure for my discontent with worldly existence? Is it Gurumayi?

About a year later I traveled to be with Gurumayi during one of her Teaching Visits to the Midwest. At the conclusion of the satsang, I knelt before Gurumayi in darshan and asked my burning question: “How do you know if you’ve found your Guru?” My intellect was eagerly poised to analyze the criteria I expected to hear. Instead, Gurumayi laughed. She turned to a Swami seated at her left side and said, “She’s asking how you know you’ve found your Guru.” He briefly returned her laughter. Then she paused, her expression became serious, and she leaned toward me and lowered her voice to answer my question with another question, “When you’re thirsty and you drink water, how do you know when you’ve had enough to drink?”

My brain was momentarily stunned. I left that satsang puzzling over Gurumayi’s question.

Over the years as I completed my medical training, I spent as much time in Gurumayi’s presence as I could. Whenever possible, I deeply engaged with the Siddha Yoga practices. In time, I began to recognize that my body felt more enlivened, light, and energized. It was like the feeling of stepping out from a stuffy room into crisp, clear mountain air. Sometimes I would notice people smiling at me, and I would wonder why, only to realize that it was because I was smiling at them without knowing it. Not infrequently, when walking alone, a peal of laughter would spontaneously arise from the center of my body, for no apparent reason. These external expressions arose with no input from my mind or intellect. My body seemed to know and express—long before my mind apprehended—that Gurumayi is the physician for my worldly existence. She had awakened my inner joy.

In time my intellect discerned what my body already knew. I realized that meeting Gurumayi, receiving her grace, and performing Siddha Yoga practices had transformed my moment-to-moment experience of reality. My perpetual discontent with my external life had diminished. A serene interiority developed—I became aware of my own blissful Self within the temple of my body. I discovered who I really am.

Gurumayi’s question led me to discover an unshakable truth about the true Guru. In the heart of my innermost being, there is a Knower. My inner Self recognized Gurumayi and conveyed the knowledge to my intellect and body. In my life I have known moments of great love, enjoyed profound insights, and experienced transcendent happiness—but it was only through the grace of a Sadguru, of Gurumayi, that I was awakened to the awareness of my ever-present true and joyous inner Self.

 

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