August 1, 2018
August has me thinking about rain, the way it’s unburdened itself from the clouds above Shree Muktananda Ashram over much of the last few days. It comes down curtain-like—one steady, swooping motion that goes on for minutes or hours, depending on what the heavens have in store that day. You can meditate to the sound of this water; you can chant to it; you can hear, in its liquid folds, the vibrations of the mantra emanating.
Gurumayi has often taught us to welcome rain showers as an indication of blessings. So when I see the rain, I like to take it as a reminder that, yes, there is goodness in this world, and quite a lot of it. There is divinity; there is opportunity for rejuvenation and new beginnings; there is, amidst the deluge of sound, deep peace and velvet silence.
This month holds great significance on the Siddha Yoga path and in Siddha Yoga history. August 8, per both the lunar and solar calendars this year, is the date of Bhagavan Nityananda’s Punyatithi. A week later, on August 15, is the anniversary of Baba Muktananda’s Divya Diksha. And on the full moon of August 25 (or August 26, in India and parts of the Eastern Hemisphere), we will celebrate Raksha Bandhan.
The Indian scriptures tell us that when a great being leaves their physical body, they do not truly leave us. They may no longer inhabit the form they once did, yet their shakti, their presence, their grace continue to texture our atmosphere and endow it with light. This is what we recognize and reflect on during the punyatithi of a great being, the anniversary of their passing. We might consider the steady rain as an analogy. It surrounds us on all sides, the water forming a kind of silver-gray backdrop. Yet when we look closely enough, we see how each drop shimmers. In each speck of rain there is a hint of something like magic, of auspiciousness and hope.
Bade Baba was a born Siddha. He came to this planet already enlightened; his very existence in human form was a boon for humanity. The stories abound of how in his presence people’s sorrows were lifted. Their fortunes changed, for the better. People understood, anew or perhaps even for the first time, what peace was. They came into contact with their own Self.
So, it is humbling—it is awe-inspiring—to think that even in Bade Baba’s passing, there was such enormous compassion. Even, and perhaps especially, in this, there was untold magnanimity. To have the ability, now and always, to invoke Bade Baba’s blessings is a matter of the greatest fortune.
Bade Baba’s Punyatithi is therefore an excellent occasion, and impetus, to “Pause and connect”—to make the effort to be in Bade Baba’s company; to experience the Truth of who he is, in our hearts and in the world around us. When we discern the outlines of Bade Baba’s form in the blue-gray space between the gathering clouds, we are very much having satsang with him. When we focus on his image—he is seated upright, for example, one foot placed over the other thigh, the majesty of his asana coursing through even sepia-toned film—we are most definitely in connection. When we sing arati in his name, the sweetness of the Marathi verse softening even the most stubborn walls we’ve erected around our hearts, we know intuitively: our voices are melding with something greater than ourselves. And when we practice Gurumayi's dharana on his form—finding not entirely to our surprise that his smile is reflected in our own hearts, a mirroring so perfect it’s hard to tell which was the cause and which was the effect—then we can be assured. We are in communion with the Truth.
In the book Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, Baba Muktananda writes with exquisite beauty about what Bade Baba’s Punyatithi means for all those who love and worship him. Baba says:
Shri Gurudev is as he was. He is here. He was and will remain perfect from the beginning of time to the end.1
Connection, infinity, the infinitude of connection—these themes relating to Gurumayi’s Message for 2018 continue to emerge in our observance of the various holidays in August.
Baba Muktananda describes a light rain falling on August 15, 1947, in the moments shortly after he received shaktipat diksha from Bhagavan Nityananda. This was “the most auspicious of all auspicious days,” Baba writes in his autobiography, Play of Consciousness.
So much good was precipitated by Bade Baba’s bestowal of grace that day; it propelled Baba’s own sadhana and attainment and, with that, the sadhana of generations of seekers all across the world. Baba’s renown as a Shaktipat Guru, his own imparting of this sacred initiation to thousands of people, had its roots in the events of August 15. It was a day, moreover, whose auspiciousness seemed to play out as much in the world at large as it did in Baba’s life. Freedom within was reflected in freedom without as India’s inexorable march toward independence at last bore fruit.
I am reminded of this quotation from the Jnaneshvari, descriptive of both Baba and Bade Baba, and conveying so precisely the sheer abundance of good that Baba’s Divya Diksha brought to humanity. Jnaneshvar Maharaj says:
Hail to you, O grace-bestowing power, who are pure, famous for your generosity, and always pouring out showers of joy!2
Each year in August, the Siddha Yoga path website features Baba’s shaktipat experience as he recounts it in Play of Consciousness. It is a beautiful passage, one that keeps beckoning us back, beseeching us to read and re-read, to keep finding more to contemplate and be enthralled by. For me it is, perhaps more than anything, an expression of Baba’s greatness, his generosity. Shaktipat diksha gives us a glimpse of our true nature. By sharing with us—in such vivid and precise detail—his own experience of this most precious event, Baba is teaching us about the goal we yearn for and work toward.
It is impossible to do justice to Baba’s description through summary—you will most certainly have to read the passage for yourself. There is one part of it, however, that I will bring your attention to now.
Baba writes about perceiving “the One in the many,” and about the dissolution of difference between what is inside and outside. He describes seeing clusters of tiny blue sparks swirling within and around him, blending with the oncoming rain. It is an incredible description of unity in diversity, of a Consciousness that is all-pervasive, of connection. Baba’s account tells us that connection is the very nature of this universe, the foundation upon which this world is manifest.
When we read Baba’s words about his Divya Diksha, they inspire us, impel us, to pursue our own spiritual practice. And they guide us to do so with clearer understanding, with renewed perception of how our sadhana—itself an ongoing act of connecting—is for the purpose of connection. We connect to be connected.
Toward the end of the month, on August 25, the moon will round itself out into a perfect orb and we will celebrate Raksha Bandhan. On this day connection takes especially tangible form, in braids of brightly colored thread slipped around one another’s wrists. In India, a sister ties a rakhi onto the wrist of her brother as a sign of their love and protection for each other. On the Siddha Yoga path, Raksha Bandhan is a time to acknowledge and affirm the bond of love and protection between Guru and disciple, as well as the bond between seekers.
There is such symbolism in thread, and in the rakhi especially. A thread links, carries, connects, bridging one point in space with another. And when that soft string is looped into a perfect circle, like the moon on August 25, what happens? The connection becomes endless, infinite—eternal, even. It is a perfect signifier of our bond with the Guru.
As you celebrate the August holidays and further explore what connection is and means to you, I encourage you to look to the Siddha Yoga path website. It will be an ongoing resource and support for you. I spoke earlier about the stories of Bade Baba, of his grace and his darshan; several of these will be posted in the early part of the month. Baba’s shaktipat experience, from Play of Consciousness, will of course be featured on the website, as will a selection of his teachings. There will also be the first in a series of video talks on Gurumayi’s Message, taught by esteemed and experienced Siddha Yoga students and teachers.
And this is not all. Beginning on August 25, up until September 9, A Sweet Surprise Satsang will be available once more on the website. I urge you to participate again—or for the first time if you have not already—and to recommit to your practice of Gurumayi’s teachings from her Message talk.
For they are like rays of sun, these teachings, poking through the cloud cover on a rainy day. There is sparkle in the rain—this much by now we know. The thing about sunlight, though, is this: it helps us see the sheen a little more.