January 1, 2018
Happy New Year 2018! !
There’s something about the dawn today. Something about the way that New Year’s Day sun looses itself across the earth, creating rivers of liquid gold. Something about that palette of colors the celestial artists left, most generously, up in the sky: red, pink, a slip of purple, more gold. Perhaps you saw clouds in your slice of the world today—great, big, fluffy ones, lit up from inside and parading steadily about the morning’s deity. Or maybe it was a soft haze you observed, drifting this way and that, playing peek-a-boo with the sun.
When I see the sunrise on New Year’s Day, I think of my Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. You’ve noticed, I’m sure, how when you look at the sunlit sky—and I mean when you really take it in, when you let its warmth sink into your skin and its array of colors gild your vision—everything calms down. All feels right with the world. You can breathe again.
This feeling—of rest within, of balance in my environment—is one that I immediately associate with Gurumayi. It is a feeling, an awareness, that Gurumayi’s presence, Gurumayi’s grace, and Gurumayi’s teachings continually return me to.
And so when I look up at the orange glow of the morning sky, especially on a day as special as this one, I see a sweep of saffron-colored robes. I picture Gurumayi’s smile, how it lives in her eyes, how it communicates knowing, understanding, love. I hear Gurumayi’s laugh. I remember small, tender moments, collected like a mosaic in my mind: the way Gurumayi held the hand of a devotee coming for darshan, the gentleness and care in this action so palpable, so arresting, that I have difficulty doing justice to it now; the way Gurumayi offered rose petals to Bade Baba some weeks ago, releasing in one long, flowing movement a cascade of flowers onto his padukas; the way she once soothed a cat who was afraid to go up the stairs. Gurumayi cradled the cat in her arms and whispered, with such softness in her voice, "It’s okay. It’s okay."
I stand gazing up at the sky, my heart on the verge of melting completely, and some part of me understands: if I heed it, any one of Gurumayi’s teachings—any one of her words, expressions, actions—will prompt my own personal sunrise.
It is as Jnaneshvar Maharaj, the beloved poet-saint from thirteenth-century Maharashtra, India, says in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita:
Wherever the sun travels in its path, the universe becomes light.1
Earlier today, in A Sweet Surprise Satsang, we received Gurumayi’s Message for 2018. This is Gurumayi’s teaching for the new year. It is wisdom for us to act upon, a lens by which we may better understand our place in this world, and ultimately, an expression of the Guru’s unbounded compassion for each one of us—of her wish that we find the answers, the fulfillment, the deep serenity we all long for.
I grew up on the Siddha Yoga path, and each January, my family would listen together to Gurumayi’s Message talk for that year. I still remember the sneaking suspicion I had as a young child: that Gurumayi’s Message was just for me. While yes, I knew that technically the Message was for everyone equally, it was also somehow just for me, tailor-made, a love note straight from Gurumayi’s heart to mine. Hers were my words to go to throughout the year, to journal about, to hold close when I felt sad or exult in when I was happy. And so it has been through the years. Always, Gurumayi’s Message has applied to the situations I am in. Always, Gurumayi’s Message provides guidance. Always, it gives comfort and helps me grow.
Perhaps what I love most about Gurumayi’s Message—if it’s even possible to specify—is that when we practice it, when we allow it to blend with and inform the rhythms of our lives, it brings us back to ourselves. Unfailingly it does. Many of us express a wish around New Year’s for a fresh start. We want to renew our spirit; we want to chart a new course or try our hand again at something which we weren’t quite able to accomplish before. Yet when we actually set about doing this, we might not know where to begin. We may think that because our goal hovers somewhere outside our immediate awareness, we must step outside ourselves to achieve it.
Gurumayi’s Message returns us to the wisdom and goodness and divinity that reside right here, inside of us. We do become new when we make Gurumayi’s Message a part of our lives; this has been my experience year after year. But here, becoming new means seeing ourselves with new eyes, taking a fresh perspective on what it is we are capable of doing and giving—and then making the changes we need to, decisively.
So as you receive Gurumayi’s Message for 2018—as you accept this gift of immeasurable value—I encourage you to first be with it. Sit with it. Let the Message make a home in your heart; let it take up residence in your being. Follow the Message to where it leads you. Observe what it teaches you about yourself, what song it sings and rhythm it plays. I have a feeling that if you look closely, if you listen attentively, you might just find it: the sun, rising within you.
Recently, Gurumayi shared with me that there is a connection between the year 2018 and infinity. Perhaps you’ve spotted one marker of this connection already. And if not . . . I trust that it will come to you. Keep looking at the number 2018. ☺
I love this idea—that 2018 is infinite, that it contains within its folds infinite possibility; that no matter what our circumstances are or what the year brings, there is always recourse inside ourselves, there is always opportunity for progress and goodwill. Infinite is also, to me, a perfect descriptor of Gurumayi’s Message. The Message has endless depth and untold power. The more we study it, the more we uncover and experience; the more we see ourselves for who we truly are.
And the Siddha Yoga path website is here for us as we do, an invaluable support in our study and assimilation of the Message. Already we have been invited to receive darshan of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork on the website. And starting Thursday, January 4, all the way through Wednesday, February 28, we will be able to listen to a webcast of A Sweet Surprise 2018. I spoke earlier about setting aside time to be with the Message—well, what better ways to do so? Let us step, again and again, into the warmth and light and color of the Message. Let us submerge ourselves in the music of the Message until we recognize its strains of sound as our own.
This month on the Siddha Yoga path, we will also be honoring two significant occasions. On January 7, we will commemorate the forty-sixth anniversary of the day Baba Muktananda established Shri Guru Gita as part of the Ashram Daily Schedule. On January 14, we will celebrate Makara Sankranti. This is the day when the sun begins its uttarayana, its journey north, bringing with it the season of greater light. I like to think of Makara Sankranti as the sky’s illustration of our sadhana in the months ahead. “Wherever the sun travels in its path, the universe becomes light.” Those exquisite words from Jnaneshvar Maharaj come to mind once more.
Clearly, we have much to look forward to, this month and this year. And as we move forward, as we stride with energy and agility into 2018, let us always remember how we have begun. We have begun with grace—recognizing grace and invoking it. We have begun with auspiciousness. We have begun in the best possible way: we have begun with love.
May we experience infinity in the finite moments of 2018. May we remember Shri Guru’s grace with each new dawn that this year brings.
Siddha Yoga Student