July 1, 2018
Shubh Gurupurnima month!
Have you ever paused to consider how amazing it is that the moon orbits the earth? There is nothing visible tethering the moon to this planet, no thread or wire that we can see linking one to the other. Yet nature, the laws of this universe, the strength of gravitational force illustrate that there is a connection, unseen but powerful. And the impact of this connection is enormous. The ocean heaves, and settles again, according to the moon.
What is so fascinating—and instructive—about this example is that even if there’s no grand announcement of it, no signal other than the ebb and flow of the tides, the connection between moon and Earth is always present. That back-and-forth, that give-and-take, that mutual recognition and influence are always happening, whether or not the creatures on this planet are aware of it. There is an understanding of some kind between the celestial bodies, a joyful acquiescence to the natural order of things.
As humans, of course, we have our own pressing need for connection. It is the very tendency of our being to seek out connection and to root ourselves in that particular bond which is most true and innate to us. It might not be the pull of gravity that is constantly beckoning us in this direction; however, there most certainly is an impelling force, and I would posit that it is even more potent, even more powerful than those forces dictating our external circumstances. The question is: will we heed this mandate, this directive of our hearts?
Let me share with you a story. Earlier this summer, Gurumayi was standing in the Lower Lobby of Anugraha, and with her was an African gray parrot. This parrot was first brought to Gurumayi in 1991, when he was just five months old and had barely any feathers on him. He lived in Shree Muktananda Ashram for many years, and now he lives in Florida with his caretaker and visits the Ashram once a year.
So on this occasion, the parrot was visiting the Ashram, and Gurumayi was watching him in the Lower Lobby and listening as he made beautiful sounds of the kind only African grays can—lilting whistles, swooping coos. From time to time, sevites would enter the lobby and come forward to greet Gurumayi and watch the parrot. The flow of interaction was very sweet, very easeful.
At one point, Gurumayi looked toward the stairs leading to the Upper Lobby. A visiting sevite whom Gurumayi had not seen in a while was approaching from that direction. It was wonderful timing, because now this sevite could also come forward to have Gurumayi’s darshan — and, of course, see the bird. Gurumayi was just about to call out to her when suddenly the sevite rushed down the stairs, turned toward the doors, and zipped outside without even a second look.
"‘Pause and connect’ was not being followed here," Gurumayi later said to me about this incident. "There is always an opportunity to pause and connect."
The teaching "Pause and connect" is from Gurumayi’s Message talk for this year, and it is integral to the resolution Gurumayi has invited us to carry out in 2018. It is how we create our own satsang at any time and in any place. We pause; we take a moment to step away from our mental chatter, from the narratives we like to play on a loop in our head, from the emotions that roil and twist their way through us and command more of our attention than we might like, and we make the effort to be present. We connect; we link into what is before us and within us, that vast reservoir of grace that is just ready to flow our way.
"Pause and connect" is such an apt teaching to practice and reflect on further in this month of Gurupurnima. Connection is what spurred this very holiday into being—the connection between Guru and disciple, the connection between the seeker and the one who embodies and imparts knowledge of the Truth. Out of gratitude for this connection, the disciples of the great sage Veda Vyasa wished to honor their Guru, to worship him, to give homage to him. And so this day—the full moon in the month of Ashadha, the most perfect and lustrous full moon of the year—came to be dedicated to that very purpose. (You may read the origin story of Gurupurnima in its entirety here.)
I encourage you, on Gurupurnima and in the days and weeks leading up to it, to explore the nature of your relationship with the Guru. As you do so, understand that such exploration requires continual engagement. You don’t pause and connect just once. You keep pausing, you keep connecting, you keep journeying further into your own heart. For the connection we are speaking about is anything but static; it is moving, it is pulsing, it is endlessly varied and nuanced. It is a whole realm unto itself.
And this realm—it is like the stretch of cosmos between the moon and the earth. There is no "mine" or "yours" here. There is belonging but no possession, love without condition. There is duty, yes, and discipline, but these don’t feel like forced obligations. In this space of connection, giving comes as naturally as the upward tug of the ocean tide, the way it spills over out of fullness. And receiving is just as instinctive—the gentle receding of the water as it makes space for the shore.
This year, the Gurupurnima moon will reach fullness on July 27. This is also the date of the next full lunar eclipse. It will be the longest lunar eclipse of the twenty-first century, clocking in at 1 hour and 43 minutes, and it will be visible in India and throughout Asia, in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South America.
It is a fascinating confluence of events, the eclipse and Gurupurnima. For one thing, it is sure to be a deeply auspicious time, one that is opportune for spiritual practice. I also like to think that there’s some symbolic import for us to derive from this astronomical phenomenon, from the idea that even if we do not always perceive it with our outward-facing senses, the moon is there, right there, in all its glory.
There are many ways to make the most of this sacred day and month, to observe Gurupurnima in a befitting manner. We can certainly "Pause and connect," and do so again, and then several more times after that. And—we can offer dakshina. This is, and has been since ancient times, the traditional practice on Gurupurnima.
That we have the opportunity to practice dakshina speaks volumes about the Guru’s compassion. For if you think about it, it really is impossible to quantify gratitude to the Guru, to give back in equal measure—or in anything even remotely close to equal measure—what you continue to receive. Yet through the offering of dakshina, you have the ability to do something. You have a concrete avenue for expressing your appreciation.
And a certain alchemy does take place when you offer dakshina, when you give of yourself and place your offering at the Guru’s feet. You might not even be aware of it at first. But with time, and as you keep strengthening your muscle of giving, you see it; you feel it; you slip into and become one with its steady beat. It is the cycle of giving and receiving. It is dynamic connection, the interplay of the cosmos in your own heart.
I encourage you to read Swami Ishwarananda’s beautiful invitation to offer dakshina in honor of Gurupurnima, which you can do right here on the Siddha Yoga path website.
The website will support your observance of Gurupurnima in other ways as well throughout July. There will, for example, be an article that further elucidates the Guru-disciple relationship. There will be stories relating to Gurupurnima: the classic tale of Amir Khusro and his Guru, Nizamuddin, and the story from the Chandogya Upanishad of Satyakama Jabala. On Gurupurnima itself, you will be able to read a talk by a Siddha Yoga student and have darshan, through a video, of the full moon over Shree Muktananda Ashram. And in addition to all of this, you will be able to explore in greater depth the virtue that Gurumayi gave for her birthday this year; you can read a commentary on karmaṇyatā.
Kabir, the great poet-saint of fifteenth-century Varanasi, India, once wrote in a bhajan:
From the beginning to the end of time,
there is connection between you and me.
In this love, how can there be any distance, any rupture?1
These are profound words to carry with us into the month of Gurupurnima. What is it, after all, that we mean by connection? What is the experience we are tapping into, the power that runs through our bond with the Guru and renders it unbreakable? Lagan, Kabir Sahib says—love. And this is the kind of love that is stirred up in the depths of our soul, like a slow churning of water along the ocean floor. The kind of love that is filigreed with longing, perceptible in those moments when it feels as if our hearts have no option but to come bounding out of our chests. For something in us knows: there is a greater Heart we are part of, an expanse of moon and stars that tumbles out into eternity.