February 1, 2018
Namaskar, and welcome to this month of Mahashivaratri.
If you close your eyes, perhaps you can still hear it: Gurumayi’s voice, making music of a certain sunlit word, imbuing that word with a beauty and timbre that defy description, with a power at once mysterious and yet so familiar. Satsang. . It resounds.
We received this exquisite Message from Gurumayi—her Message for 2018—on January 1 in A Sweet Surprise Satsang. Since then, many of you have been examining the varied contours of this Message, observing what associations it brings up for you. You have been sharing your insights with each other, one on one and right here on the Siddha Yoga path website. You might have been writing in your journals—poetry, prose, fragments of assorted thought. Or maybe you have just set aside some time to sit and reflect on the Message, to inch closer to what satsang means for you, to dip into the bottomless well of your own intuition and recognize how you can follow Gurumayi’s teaching—how you can create your own satsang wherever you are and whenever you wish to do so.
In February, I invite you to take your inquiry even further, to plumb even deeper. What does it mean, for example, to have the ability to create your own satsang? What does it mean to be in the company of the Truth at any time? What does that say about the nature of the Truth?
The answer may be familiar to you. The Truth is all-encompassing, you may say; it is everywhere, in everything, existing in every moment. And yet. Does it always feel that clear and simple in practice? When it comes to your life and your own particular circumstances, when you’re in a situation where it feels like it’s just you and your muddled thoughts and your fast-beating heart, what happens? Do you remember the Truth? Does it feel elusive? Does a part of you wonder where the Truth seems to have gone?
As this is Mahashivaratri month, we have an excellent context in which to consider these questions. Lord Shiva, the supreme Lord, is the embodiment of the Truth. The Kaivalya Upanishad describes the Lord in this way:
I am subtler than the subtle. I am great. I am this diverse universe. I am most ancient. I am the supreme Person. I am the Ruler. I am the golden Being. I am Shiva.1
“I am subtler than the subtle. I am great. I am this diverse universe.” There is something so telling about this description. Strung as it is into the very fibers composing this universe, the Truth is right in front of you and also, paradoxically, easy to miss. It evades perception as much as it pervades perception. The image that comes to my mind is that of someone trying to find an essential possession—say, a necklace (the classic example given in the Indian scriptures) or even something like a pair of glasses. This person is looking here, there, all over, their search growing more and more frantic, their desire to see—just see—becoming more and more overpowering. It is only when they stop and turn their attention to themselves that they realize they have been holding their glasses in their hands the whole time.
So yes, the Truth is all around. It is in the swelling lobes of dew we find on grass in the morning. It is in the ruby-pink sheen of the setting sun, and most certainly in the gleaming sliver of moon that will transfix us on Mahashivaratri. It is also in a pang of wistfulness that crops up in us unexpectedly, in a tinge of sorrow that steals over us briefly, in a moment of hushed yet incandescent joy.
To actually perceive the Truth in these situations, to get a glimpse of that glittering wisp of something that wends through them and gives us hope, insight, a way forward—we must refine our perception. Otherwise, dew is just pretty condensation, and we see the sunset but not its full magic.
This is why Gurumayi teaches us to have satsang. This is why it is so important to make a habit, a practice, of satsang. Take time, even if it’s just a few minutes each day, to be with the Truth within. Find out what activity—or rest from activity—helps you to get in touch with that Truth. Learn what the Truth looks and sounds and feels like to you. Is it utter repose? Bliss bubbling over? That exhilarating flow you experience when you sing or paint or put pen to paper and just…write?
The more you make the effort to keep the company of the Truth inside of you, the more you broaden your perspective of the world, inner and outer, and the more your discernment is sharpened. The Kaivalya Upanishad describes the Lord as subtle but also mahan, “great.” One connotation of the Sanskrit here is that while it may take some time and energy to perceive the Truth, in that instant when you do see it, you really see it. It is evident.
I am reminded of a moment that took place just a few weeks ago during a satsang with Gurumayi in Shree Muktananda Ashram. We were reciting Shri Guru Gita, and at one point, the tempo of the recitation began to lag a little. Gurumayi smiled at the conductor and asked that he use a metronome to help keep the pace. Gurumayi said to him, “There is happiness in the rhythm.”
I have thought a great deal about this teaching, how compassionate it is, how it extends beyond the immediate context in which it was given and serves as a fantastic analogy for sadhana. In being steady, in being disciplined, in regularly settling into the rhythm that’s always pulsing inside, we find space in our being and expansiveness in our world. We start to hear the silence in music, the quiet in even the most mundane sounds of our day. We start to see the unseen tissue, the sinewy golden thread, connecting this moment to the next, and each one of us to the other. We come to touch that which is “subtler than the subtle”; we put our finger on that which is great.
Here we are, then, in February, a month replete with opportunities to practice Gurumayi’s Message. February presents us with reminder after reminder to turn within, to get to know the Truth in our own hearts, to keep the company of the Lord who resides there.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the month of Mahashivaratri, the great night of Lord Shiva—the night on which the crescent moon smiles down upon us from its perch in the Lord’s matted locks; the night on which, it is said, the benefits of worshiping the Lord and chanting his name are multiplied a thousandfold. In 2018, we will celebrate Mahashivaratri on February 13. (You can read the story behind Mahashivaratri here.)
Right after Mahashivaratri this year (the very next day!) is St. Valentine’s Day. The saints and sages tell us that the Truth is ultimately of the form of love—a love which is innate to us, independent of any external impetus, and which, if we look closely enough, we will find flowing without interruption within. On the Siddha Yoga path, it is this love we recognize and celebrate on Valentine’s Day.
Of course, if you’re like me, the very idea of unconditional love will make you think of Gurumayi. So I’m honored—and thrilled, really—to share with you that this year, we can celebrate Valentine’s Day with Gurumayi’s Love in Action, which is coming soon on the Siddha Yoga path website.
Finally, on February 16—in the same week as Mahashivaratri and Valentine’s Day—comes the Chinese New Year. As with all new beginnings that we acknowledge on the Siddha Yoga path, this day is a signal for us to yet again refresh our resolve, to bring greater alacrity and a spirit of newness into our spiritual practice.
So Mahashivaratri, Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year—these are all auspicious days to practice Gurumayi’s Message. These are all auspicious times to grasp the Truth that scintillates, just out of sight, within us and everywhere around us.
And…today is a good time to practice Gurumayi’s Message. Tomorrow invites you to practice Gurumayi’s Message. The day after that is downright insisting that you have satsang. Truly speaking, satsang requires no additional reason to come into being, no incentive beyond your own longing—your longing to know, your wish to understand, your yearning to be in the company of the Truth. In this month when we worship Lord Shiva, in this month when we celebrate the Lord in his form as love, act on that longing.