April 1, 2018
A part of me feels that this month—April—actually began some days ago. It was fluted in with all the strength and sweetness of the breeze in spring; it was serenaded in with poetry. And not just any poetry, but the kind of poetry that burrows itself into your heart before your mind can make sense of what's happening, the kind of poetry that's as filled with silence as it is with language, and in that silence something of your own heart's khwahish, its iccha, its wish or desire, is articulated. Our beloved Gurumayi wrote a poem, and it's here on the Siddha Yoga path website for us to read and study—and read again, and study again, and sit with and journal about. It is satsang with Gurumayi, and on this full-moon, Easter weekend, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the turn of a new month.
Poetry has, in fact, been a key medium by which people throughout the global sangham are experiencing and expressing Gurumayi's Message this year. There's something so fitting about this. Isn't it true that the most transcendent poetry feels like a glimpse into the conversation someone is having with their own Self? And then there's the sense of continuity inherent in poems. Where does a poem really begin? Where does it end? Sure, a poem has a first word and a last word, but reading through it, you get the feeling that actually, it goes on. The writer is having satsang, and you've been made privy to one particular moment of it.
As we arrive in the fourth month of the year, this idea—of continuity—is an alluring one to consider. How can we make the feeling we get from reading poetry our day-to-day reality? How do we make our experience of satsang "go on"? How can we have more moments of satsang, and how can our experience of those moments grow in depth and strength and maturity?
Perhaps you've already surmised the answer. To acquire a certain degree of constancy in your experience, your effort must also be constant. You have to make the effort, and make it again, and then do so yet again.
The question that follows, of course, is how to put this understanding you may have into practice. However good your intentions are, however earnest your longing to go deeper in your sadhana, you might, for example, get busy. Your list of tasks seems insurmountable. Or you might get distracted. You are surrounded by endless stimuli, by all manner of noise that encroaches on you from the peripheries of your awareness, pulling your attention this way and that.
As valid as this may be—you are busy, no doubt, and there is a lot going on—for just a moment I'd urge you to step outside that narrative. What if you have a bit more responsibility—and with that, a bit more agency—in the matter than you might initially think? Isn't it true that for all the activity in your life, and for all the freneticism and anxiety those activities may create, there is something easy, even satisfying, about getting swept up in them? It may feel easier to get swept up than it does to sit with yourself, to effect change in yourself, to make the effort over and over to connect within.
Yet even if you're reluctant to admit it, something within you—call it your conscience, or your sense of duty or dharma—something in you knows that change starts with yourself. You will recall, perhaps, that Gurumayi spoke about this very idea in her Message talk for 2018. So in those moments when you feel your motivation is flagging, or you're just a little confused about how to move forward, it is useful to remember the force impelling you from within. Get in touch with that commitment you made to yourself ages and ages ago, that conviction born of who knows how many lifetimes. Some days the results of your effort will be more apparent than on others. Understand that this is okay. Just keep on making the effort.
Tukaram Maharaj, the great poet-saint of seventeenth-century Maharashtra, India, once wrote,
Just as the wet, young root of a tree can pierce rock as it grows through the earth, so too by constant effort can all tasks be accomplished.1
The imagery in this verse is so captivating—and instructive. All the plant knows is that it must bloom. And so with steadfastness, with one-pointedness, with tenacity it goes forth—wending its way through soil and cutting through rock if needed—simply because that is what it's meant to do.
It is also fascinating how Tukaram Maharaj describes the root as ole—"wet" or "young." Consider what it means for your effort to be like the young root of a tree, the spongey feet of a plant that is just emerging from the earth. Such effort must be inflected with certain qualities—subtlety, for one, and also a freshness, a newness, a sense of alacrity. What if you tried to approach each attempt to practice satsang—be it your tenth or twenty-fifth or six-hundredth—as your first? How different would your experience of putting forth that effort be?
On the Siddha Yoga path we honor various new beginnings—among them the blossoming of springtime—to remind ourselves that at any time, we can see our sadhana as new again. Each moment of practicing Gurumayi's Message can be precisely that—a moment, a new moment, to seize and make full use of. Therefore, I urge you in the weeks ahead to take note of what inspires you, what aids you in approaching your practice with newness.
And the Siddha Yoga path website will support you as you do this, providing different avenues, different angles, by which you can practice the Message. There will, for example, be more poetry. Beginning this month, a section of the website will be dedicated to the poetry of the saints and Siddhas, whose legacy in bringing satsang to all people Gurumayi extolled in her Message talk for 2018.
There will also be a story, the classic tale of the elephant and the bee, which has been told over the years by Gurumayi and Gurumayi's Guru, Baba Muktananda, to illustrate the importance of our effort. There will be a commentary by Swami Akhandananda on pranayama—a breathing technique Gurumayi taught in her Message talk to support easeful meditation—explored from the perspective of Patanjali's Yoga-sutra.
And there will be much more—so do keep visiting, do keep having satsang. As your moments of satsang accumulate, each one new again, you will find that you are building a muscle for creating satsang. You are developing greater constancy.
At the end of April, we will be honoring a great being who taught about satsang—and whom we often remember giving satsang, surrounded by the countless seekers whose lives he transformed through his teachings and his bestowal of shaktipat diksha. Yes—on the full moon of April 29 (or April 30 in India and other parts of the Eastern Hemisphere), we will be celebrating Baba Muktananda's lunar birthday. It is the first time since 1999 that Baba's lunar birthday is taking place in April rather than in May. On the website we will herald this head start to Baba's month with stories of Baba, teachings by Baba, and namasankirtana of his name.
Often when I hear Gurumayi speak about Baba—when I see her smile as she explains how he would teach, or what it was like to chant with him or offer puja before him—something in me goes still. I might see the orange of Baba's robes flash forth in my mind's eye; I might hear Baba's voice or his laugh, familiar to me from recordings of talks and chants I have listened to over the years. I feel I am having satsang with Gurumayi and with Baba—a satsang with the Siddhas.
There is something particularly wonderful about reflecting on Baba and his teachings in this year when we are seeking the company of the Truth with such ardent longing—and striving to make steadier efforts toward that goal. Baba frequently taught about the importance of constancy in sadhana; again and again he called upon seekers to continue going forth in their practices, and to do so with faith, devotion, and an intrepid spirit.
In one poem, Baba wrote:
Focus your vision on inner Consciousness.
Repose joyfully in the inner Witness.
Intensify your efforts;
With ardor and courage,
climb higher and higher.2
With ardor and courage, climb higher and higher. Reading these lines, you can practically picture the mountain before you—it is majestic and snow-capped, or maybe it's covered in green and gilded by sunlight. And there you are scaling it, one step at a time, one foothold after another in the tough yet pliant earth. It might not always seem like it as you climb, but if ever you take a moment to pause, listen to your breath, and look out upon the unending horizon, you realize: you are entering into a vista more expansive, an air more pure and clear than what you have known before.
Wishing you all the best in your sadhana this April.