May 1, 2017
Happy month of May! Happy Baba’s Birthday!
Baba Muktananda was born on the full-moon day of May 16, 1908, and his birthday continues to be a cause for celebration. It is said that the grace of an enlightened being always guides their disciples and those who think of them with a yearning heart. Indeed, many seekers around the world can and do attest to Baba’s unwavering presence in their lives. To this day, seekers receive shaktipat diksha from Baba—for example, in meditation, in dreams, or when they are experiencing a connection with nature.
Baba once said,
This is my philosophy: This entire world is God's painting, and the body is the temple of God, and the inner Self which exists in this body is the deity.
On the Siddha Yoga path, Baba’s birthday celebration is held on the lunar anniversary of his birth. In 2017, Baba’s Lunar Birthday is on May 10—just four days before Mother’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world. It is a beautifully appropriate flow of events. Baba worshiped Mahakundalini Shakti, the energy of the Goddess, the Divine Mother. Through shaktipat, Baba awakened the dormant Kundalini Shakti within seekers. And Baba encouraged these seekers to practice meditation, so that they both continue to make progress in their sadhana and protect the valuable shakti they had received from him.
When I reflect on who Baba was and is, and what he has given to the world, my mind stops for a moment. The full impact of Baba’s work and his legacy is almost beyond comprehension. As Baba was beginning his Second World Tour, he stated that his intention was to bring about a meditation revolution. And that is precisely what Baba did. Baba bestowed shaktipat diksha on thousands of seekers around the world and taught them how to meditate on the Self. Baba demonstrated through his very being how the quiet act of turning within can be an entry into a whole new way of being and perceiving. Have you ever had the experience that when you open your eyes after meditating, the world around you seems to shimmer and vibrate at a higher frequency? Each time you practice meditation you have the power to recreate your world. Through meditation on the Self, what is inside illumines what is outside. That is what Baba taught. And it reminds me of one of the beautiful lines in Gurumayi’s Message for 2017: Revel in the light of the Supreme Self.
I remember the first time I heard Baba’s name. It was over thirty years ago, and I was living deep in the rainforest in northern Australia. One day, when I was at a neighbor’s house, someone happened to be speaking about Baba Muktananda.
Muktananda. This beautiful name pierced my heart, and immediately I felt my being flooded with love. I have a vivid memory of walking down a dusty track in the days that followed, saying Baba’s name to myself and delighting in the music of it. Baba’s name became my song; just saying it made me feel so happy. Two years later, my future husband, Doug, introduced me to the Siddha Yoga path.
Through seeing photographs and videos of Baba, listening to Baba’s talks, and studying his teachings, I have experienced Baba’s presence time and again over the years. All this has made me feel that I have met Baba in person, on some plane of existence. I have experienced his vibrant energy and his boundless enthusiasm. I have seen the delight that seemed to bubble up in him as he told a story, and heard the waves of laughter that resounded in the satsang hall as that story unfolded.
Now I want to share with you how we may all celebrate Baba’s Birthday through the Siddha Yoga path website. The website extends to us an invitation to receive Baba’s darshan, Baba’s teachings, and Baba’s stories, as well as so many other sadhana-nurturing features. In celebration of Baba’s Birthday, there is a particular Siddha Yoga practice that we will be focusing on, called guru-puja. I encourage you to engage in this practice every day to invoke Baba’s grace, Baba’s shakti, and Baba’s love. Through the website, you may also chant Baba’s name, share vignettes about Baba, and read Baba’s homage to mothers.
The nature of Baba’s gift is that it keeps on giving. Thus, everyone will have the opportunity to participate in the Global Siddha Yoga Audio Satsang in celebration of Baba Muktananda’s Birthday, which will be available on the Siddha Yoga path website until May 31. The title of this satsang is What Makes a Human Life Complete? Baba valued a human life, because it is in a human life that one can attain enlightenment.
In A Sweet Surprise Satsang 2017, Gurumayi gave eleven teachings to support our study of her Message. The teaching that is the focus for this month of May is
Connect your outgoing self with the Supreme Self.
In the Sanskrit language, there are several words that relate to “connect.” One of them is mīlana, from the root mīl, which signifies “the act of closing the eyes,” and also, “to assemble or be collected.” From a yogic point of view, mīlana indicates the act of drawing or collecting inward the senses and the outgoing activities of the mind—in search of the Heart within.
Another Sanskrit word that is useful to understand is yoga, which means “union.” One of the verses in the Bhagavad Gita says:
योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्
yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam
Yoga is skill in action.1
In this verse, yoga specifically refers to uniting the individual self with the Supreme Self, the pure Consciousness at the core of every being. To truly engage in yoga, therefore, means to perform actions—to partake in the various activities of our lives—while remaining poised in our union with the Supreme Self.
In all the ancient yogic texts of India, there are descriptions of yogis spending thousands of years performing intense austerities to attain the union of the outgoing self with the Supreme Self. They would do trataka, focusing intensely on one object for an extended time; they would stand on one leg while gazing at the sun; they would expose their bodies to intense heat or cold, just for that experience of connection. I want to bring your attention to our immense good fortune that on the Siddha Yoga path, we need not subject ourselves to such severe austerities. Breathe. Just breathe. Gurumayi’s grace-filled Message teaches us that we can experience this union—connecting our outgoing self with the Supreme Self—through the power of the breath. In fact, Baba used to say that because the Guru has done all the intense sadhana, the disciple does not have to. What the disciple needs to do is receive grace and perform their practices.
As we embark on this bright and fresh new month of study, practice, and self-discovery, I am reminded of a significant experience my youngest son had with Gurumayi when he was five years old.
It was 2001, and my husband, son, and I were visiting Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Ganeshpuri, India. One morning, Gurumayi was sitting in the courtyard, and she beckoned to our son to come and sit with her. My son took a moment to gather himself, and then he stood up and very slowly and shyly walked over to Gurumayi. He sat down next to her and curled over into himself with his hands balled into fists.
Gurumayi saw his tight little hands. Very gently, she lifted one of them and drew it close to her. Then, finger by finger, she opened his hand fully. She began to stroke his open palm, all the way to the tips of his fingers. After a few minutes she did the same with his other hand—with great gentleness and focus. My son was looking at his hands, and he began to smile. He told me recently that as Gurumayi stroked his palm, he felt something open inside him.
Over the years, I have seen how he has cultivated this openness, particularly through chanting, offering seva as a drummer during namasankirtanas in Siddha Yoga Ashrams, and through the kindness and attentiveness he brings to his interactions with others. When I see him now, a young man whose open heart is evident in everything he does, I understand the way the Guru’s grace works. We put forth effort to follow the Guru’s teachings, to act on all that the Guru has given us, and the Guru’s grace unfurls us; it opens the way for us to experience who we truly are. And in turn, everything we do is lifted up—our conversations, our responses to the situations of our day-to-day lives, our very way of thinking. When we stand in who we really are, there is always authenticity in what we do, and we generate goodwill in the world.
Baba’s Birthday month gives us many opportunities to share stories with one another about Baba’s grace, his bestowal of shaktipat, and his life-transforming teachings. Baba was so great, in the truest sense of the word. He was a great soul, a great being; his presence was a boon to humanity. At the same time, Baba was so down to earth. He was the embodiment of love. He was known in India and throughout the world as the Shaktipat Guru.
Happy Birthday, Baba!
Siddha Yoga Meditation Teacher