July 3, 2017
Shubh Gurupurnima month!
First of all, thank you so much for submitting your photos of the Gurupurnima moon as it travels the dome of the heavens. Each image is beautiful!
This year the Gurupurnima moon began its cycle on June 24, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda’s birthday, and it continues to wax steadily toward fullness, becoming a perfect orb of light. Although every phase of the moon—at any time of the year—is enchanting, for us on the Siddha Yoga path the Gurupurnima moon is particularly mesmerizing, especially because of its profound, divine significance in our sadhana.
In the scriptures of India, the Gurupurnima moon has been extolled as the most luminous, perfect moon of the entire year. Modern science tells us the same—that at this time the moon appears highest and brightest in the night sky, as seen from the tropics, including from India. Many millennia ago, the learned disciples of the great sage Vedavyasa chose this full moon, in the month of Ashadha, as the time dedicated to honor Shri Guru. This was their way of expressing their gratitude for the spiritual awakening and the immeasurable knowledge and wisdom they received from the Master.
On the Siddha Yoga path we, the disciples of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Baba Muktananda, and Bhagavan Nityananda, continue this tradition. During the month of Gurupurnima, we make it a practice to offer our gratitude for shaktipat diksha, and for the grace, teachings, and blessings we continue to receive from the Siddha Yoga Gurus.
In A Sweet Surprise Satsang 2017, Gurumayi imparted her Message for the year along with eleven teachings to guide our study and practice. Each month this year, we are focusing on one of these teachings in particular. For July the teaching is
Understand the importance of your effort.
Why is effort important, especially in Siddha Yoga sadhana? Just think about it. In order to truly master something—to make it so completely a part of your being that your life naturally conveys its beauty and wisdom—you must practice it consistently and thoughtfully. Your journey toward mastery requires dedication and commitment. When you put forth this effort, you knit a truth or skill into your being so deeply that you become a living expression of it. Imagine, for a moment, what it would look like for you to be a living expression of what Gurumayi teaches in her Message. It is a magnificent goal and one that is within the reach of all of us.
A few days ago in a satsang in Shree Muktananda Ashram, I heard a visiting sevite share something that beautifully illustrates the power of focused practice. This sevite said that recently, she and her sister decided to recite Shri Guru Gita to ask for blessings in the face of a challenging family situation. Her sister had recited this text regularly in the past, but more than three decades had passed since she’d last done so, and the sevite expected that her sister would not remember how to recite it. When they began the recitation, the sevite was astounded to hear her sister perfectly pronouncing verse after verse! The sevite realized that her sister’s efforts from three decades ago were so ingrained in her being that the verses of Shri Guru Gita were readily available for her to access when she needed them. Her sister later told her that as she recited these verses, she felt the same, deep connection to the text, to the sacred mantra of Shri Guru Gita, that she had experienced as a young person. Her efforts from many years ago were continuing to bear fruit.
The Shiva Sutra, the divinely inspired scripture of Kashmir Shaivism, gives us another perspective on effort:
In other words, bliss, radiant stillness, and all the other attributes of Bhairava—of Lord Shiva—are available to us now. We do not need to wait until we reach the goal of our sadhana to experience the benefit of our practice. Every moment of meditation, every moment of chanting the mantra, every moment in which we breathe fully and naturally is a sacred moment, a beautiful and uplifting moment. It is our sublime responsibility to recognize the sacredness of these moments and make the most of them. Gurumayi teaches us that we do not reach the goal of sadhana through grace alone; our own self-effort is essential. Grace is inherent in self-effort, and self-effort draws grace. This is why, as the Shiva Sutra says, “Effort is itself Bhairava.”
I encourage you to read Gurumayi’s birthday talk The Benevolent Companion in which you will learn how to explore the power of your breath. With each effort you make to practice Gurumayi’s Message, you strengthen your experience of God within your own being.
I would like to share a story that a visiting sevite in Shree Muktananda Ashram recently told me; this sevite is a friend of mine and we share a love of photography. In fact, she offers seva as a photographer in the SYDA Foundation Multimedia Department, and many of her photographs are featured on the Siddha Yoga path website.
One day, around dusk, this sevite set out to take photos for the website. To her great delight, as she was taking pictures in the Amrit courtyard in Anugraha, she heard Gurumayi calling her name. She turned and saw Gurumayi standing in the courtyard. Gurumayi asked her to come over and look at something. Gurumayi pointed to how the golden light of the setting sun was streaming across the courtyard, illumining everything in its path. Each leaf, stem, and petal was outlined by a halo of light.
Gurumayi then asked this sevite to take a photograph of some flowers that were lit by this brilliant light. When the sevite had taken the photograph, Gurumayi asked to see it. The sevite handed the camera to Gurumayi, and after Gurumayi looked at the photo in the viewfinder, she handed back the camera and said that the sevite had missed what Gurumayi had wanted her to see.
The sevite tried again. She took care to focus her lens and frame the shot just so before snapping the shutter. This time, she perfectly captured the soft glow of the light as it shone on the flowers.
Just then another sevite walked through the courtyard. Gurumayi drew the photographer’s attention to the way this sevite’s face was radiant from the light. The photographer took the photo and handed her camera to Gurumayi. After Gurumayi saw the photo, she nodded in approval and handed the camera back to the sevite.
After this extraordinary interaction, the photographer reflected on what Gurumayi had taught her. Gurumayi had opened this sevite’s eyes and shown her where to direct her lens and how to focus, so that she could immortalize the beauty of the sun’s light through the lens of a camera. And at the same time, the photographer saw a deeper meaning in this interaction. She learned that by making the right effort—by shifting and focusing her awareness—she could perceive that shimmering light, that moment of luminosity, and, through her photographs, chisel it into the folds of time for the benefit of all.
Throughout the month of July, as you honor Shri Guru and celebrate Gurupurnima, the Siddha Yoga path website will continue to feature stunning visuals of the phases of the waxing moon from Shree Muktananda Ashram and around the world. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to share your photos of the Gurupurnima moon.
During this auspicious time I also invite you to renew your engagement with the core Siddha Yoga practice of dakshina. Dakshina is the main Siddha Yoga practice we observe during the month of Gurupurnima. I find that offering dakshina is a meaningful and heartfelt way to express my immense gratitude for Gurumayi’s presence in my life. There’s so much I could share about my experience of this practice. For now, however, I encourage you to read the invitation from the Siddha Yoga Swamis in honor of Gurupurnima and the exposition on the Siddha Yoga practice of dakshina.
To learn more about how you can celebrate this month of Shri Guru in all its fullness, please visit this link.
Once again, I wish you a shubh Gurupurnima. May you recognize, time and again this month, the many exquisite ways that the Guru’s grace flows through your life.