December 1, 2018
Somewhere along the continuum of infinity this year began, and somewhere along that same continuum it is coming to an end. But then what does that mean, really, for it to come to an end? What if, instead, like the loops of a figure 8, your path is starting to bend just as you reach its seeming conclusion? You’re far from where you began, yet you’re also coming full circle. You’ve learned so much through your practice of Satsang, Gurumayi’s Message for 2018—yet each time you touch in, each time you pause and connect, you return to something you’ve long known.
We have arrived in December now, the final month of 2018. All across the world people are preparing to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays of the winter season. There’s a certain enchantment to this time, a mystique that pervades regardless of what we are celebrating or not celebrating, believing or not believing. Is it just us, or is there magic in the swirling snow globe that cooler regions of the world have transformed into? Is it just us, or is there an extra bit of warmth in the way people are interacting, their actions demonstrating the kind of true elegance that comes when one sees, really sees, another? Are we imagining it, or is our longing—for an unarticulated something, maybe love—more keenly felt at this time? It’s like a westerly wind traveling through our beings, making music wherever it picks up on a hollowness.
For many years, Gurumayi has requested that teachers and speakers in the SYDA Foundation give talks about God around Christmastime. It is such a beautiful request, and one that crystallizes precisely why this season has taken on the import that it has. For what, if not collective remembrance of the divine as manifest in love, light, peace—what, if not that, endows the atmosphere with special sheen in December? What is it that we perceive in acts of kindness if not an expression of the virtues, the sadguna we all find within, those myriad affirmations of what it is, fundamentally, that unites us and makes us human? What is it we hear in those quavering yet clear notes of longing if not a call for connection—and connection to that which is eminently within our reach?
We conclude this year, therefore, as we began it: by remembering God, by invoking divinity. Since the first day of 2018, when we received Gurumayi’s Message, we have been endeavoring to get in touch with the Truth in our own hearts, to recognize it in its various forms and hear it in the sounds of its manifold names. Our efforts have been guided, each step of the way, by Gurumayi’s teachings and grace.
We can approach the month of December with this in mind—the context of our sadhana up to this point. We can understand that, yes, reminders of God may seem particularly available to us at this time, and it is our conscious effort which makes the light of God shine forth in our awareness ever more brightly. We can keep creating moments of satsang—here, there, everywhere. We can continue, even now, to learn more about the Truth, what it feels and sounds like, the taste of its rasa: satyarasa.
This is, after all, a journey that goes on. It is why one can make progress even within circularity; why, for all its curving around, infinity remains infinite. Jnaneshvar Maharaj says, आत्मप्रभा नित्य नवी (ātmaprabhā nitya navī) — “The light of the Self is ever new.”1 Our efforts deliver us again and again to the same place, only for us to discover more wonders, more joys, more inspiration to chart the depths of. The year may soon be coming to a close, but our practice of Satsang, of acquainting ourselves with our own good company, of becoming awakened to the Truth of our own being—that never really concludes.
This month, as the winter holidays and their attendant flurry of activity approach, the Siddha Yoga path website will support you to create moments of satsang. You can begin by receiving Gurumayi's Season's Greetings for 2018—and then return to this exquisite greeting again and again throughout the month, as you will no doubt wish to do. Each image, each word, each symbol and shape and sound in this gift from Gurumayi holds meaning. It conveys Gurumayi’s love; it communicates her teachings.
Later in the month, the website will be featuring stories, a recording of the chant Rama Raghava, and a shanti mantra, or a mantra evoking peace. There will also be festive and interactive posts, such as the annual “Happy Holidays” gallery and a virtual holiday tree which you can decorate with ornaments that are reminiscent of Gurumayi’s Message for 2018.
In all these ways and more, then, we will celebrate the winter holidays together, as a sangham. Together we will conclude the year. And together we will begin another.
Yes—on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, we will join each other in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall for Sweet Surprise. We will gather round, as spiritual seekers have for centuries, to receive the wisdom of the Master—wisdom which uplifts and transforms, which pulls back the veil of ignorance and points us toward a reality more genuine and joyful than that which we’d become habituated to. Gurumayi will be imparting to us her Message for 2019, and we, all of us, are so incredibly fortunate.
More information about Sweet Surprise 2019, including ways to prepare, will be available soon on the Siddha Yoga path website.
I’d like to close this letter, and this wonderful yearlong correspondence we’ve been having, by sharing a story with you.
It was New Year’s Eve of last year, December 31, 2017. It was the meeting point of another beginning and end, a cusp, a threshold, our previous turn around the bends of eternity.
A few other sevites and I were accompanying Gurumayi to the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple for evening worship. We had happened to meet her while she was walking through the Upper Lobby of Anugraha. When she asked us where we were going, we each said, in succession and with mounting excitement: “Wherever you’re going, Gurumayi!”
The sky was dark as we walked along the passageway to the Temple, the sun having wrapped itself in the silk of night some time before. Strings of winking lights looped around a nearby banister. From some seemingly faraway place, a room off the lobby perhaps, we could hear strains of laughter.
We followed Gurumayi into the Temple. One by one we brought forward the offerings for worship—the fragrant oils; the kumkum, sandalwood paste, turmeric, and rice; the piles of rose petals unspooled from their stems. Silence cloaked the inside of the Temple, yet there was a vibrancy to it, and a cushiony kind of gentleness. We watched, enrapt, as Gurumayi anointed Bade Baba’s paduka with the different oils and pastes, and then as she gathered bunches of rose petals in her hands. She released the petals over the paduka, the flowers forming a ceaseless ribbon of color.
Earlier that day, in a satsang in Shri Nilaya, Gurumayi had requested that some of the young men dance during the namasankirtana. When Gurumayi later asked one of the musicians if he’d felt any envy watching them dance (he’d been playing the flute at the time), he shared that yes, in fact, he had wanted to dance—he loved dancing.
This musician was among the group in the Temple that evening. And his wish, the one he had expressed so sincerely before his Guru just a few hours prior, was about to come to fruition. Gurumayi invited us to dance.
The chant Om Namo Bhagavate Muktanandaya, in raga Bhupali, streamed through the Temple. Its melody whirled about us as we began to move in a circle around Bade Baba’s murti. Traces of khus, one of the oils used during the worship, lingered in the air; its sharp, intoxicating scent cocooned us in a sort of otherworldly realm, one where I imagine meaning is communicated chiefly through fragrance.
And—we danced. We danced with Gurumayi, before Bade Baba, chanting Baba’s name. Some people twirled around in long, slow circles, the meditation of the dervish. Some people took strong, steady, purposeful steps, the ground under their feet lending power and conviction to their movement. Some of us had our arms aloft—in exaltation of, and in conversation with, a God who was everywhere and so immediately present.
I looked at Gurumayi, at her soft smile, as she danced with us. In that moment, something in me came undone. Or—who knows? Maybe it was just ushering itself to a more authentic place inside. We were each moving in our own way, yet we were also moving in harmony, attuned to some transcendent force carried on the lush swells of the chant. We were each communing with God in our own way, yet we were doing so together, in the company of the Siddhas. There was this feeling of unbounded space—between us, around us, breathing into the many tunnels and chambers and unknowable pathways within. And it was because of her, our beloved Gurumayi, that we could have such an experience. It was because of her wisdom, and her grace, that we could recognize this experience for what it was.
On and on we danced, I can’t say for how long. At some point we must have spun off into the night, each of us going our separate ways. But then I wonder—did we really? Or is our dancing saptah still playing out on some distant star in this far-flung universe, in some gorgeously lit crevice of the human heart? Is it going on right here? Right now? With all of you?
For on and on we have been dancing, you and I and everyone seeking a Truth that has always been ours to know. On and on we will continue to dance, in satsang, in the company of the great ones, into infinitude.