May 1, 2018
One hundred and ten years ago this month, in the coastal region of Karnataka, India, Baba Muktananda came to this earth. And with his birth came the birth of thousands of possibilities hitherto unknown, of myriad suns that would blaze more brightly because of him, of a sangham the world over—a company of seekers whose pursuit of knowledge, true knowledge, would not just change their own lives for the better, but would enrich the lives of those with whom they came into contact. Baba Muktananda’s grace, his teachings, his very presence were a boon for this planet, and the benefits can be perceived to this day.
There is a beautiful verse written by Jnaneshvar Maharaj for his Guru, Nivrittinath, and it comes to mind now. It articulates—and how—the same feeling that is surely shared by all those who love Baba, who are overcome by the very thought of what Baba brought to this world. Saint Jnaneshvar says,
tayā citsūryā śrīnivṛttī | ātā namo mhaṇo puḍhatapuḍhatī |
je bādhakā yeizatase stutī | bolāciyā ||
To Shri Guru, that sun of Consciousness, I bow again and again.
There are no words which can express his praises.1
As we move toward Baba’s solar birthday on May 16, the full moon of his lunar birthday still lingers overhead; it is just now beginning to tuck itself back into the blanket of sky from which it emerged. The significance of Baba’s birth is indeed difficult to articulate in words. Baba was a Shaktipat Guru, by whose compassion and grace untold thousands of people received shaktipat diksha. They perceived within their own beings that which may have previously been only an abstraction to them. They experienced God, the Divine, a love so all-encompassing, so present, even the word “unconditional” would fall short of describing it.
And Baba taught seekers, day in and day out, in satsang and in informal conversation, in the Ashrams and on tour, how to continually return to the experience of their true Self. Baba taught them to meditate, to find for themselves where the silence of their soul resides, and to cultivate a growing connection with it. The fruits of their meditation and their study of the Siddha Yoga teachings would then inevitably ripple out to others; and that in turn brought further benefit, even greater merit, to the seekers themselves. So it was a virtuous circle that Baba set into motion, a constant expansion and reinforcement of goodness. This was the impact of his Meditation Revolution.
Though I never met Baba in person, I often feel that I do know him, that I have always known him, that those who truly wish to can, in fact, know and remember him. A few years ago I visited Yeola, the village in Maharashtra, India, where Baba did sadhana for several years. As I walked along the narrow roads, the late afternoon sun enrobing everything in a filmy golden haze, I remember having the feeling—at once simple and thrillingly marvelous in its truth—that Baba was there. He was in the sweet-smelling air and that low-floating sun; he was in the clear blue sky above my head and the cottony-soft joy expanding through my ribcage. Even now that I’m many miles away from Yeola, I remember those moments vividly, and the imprints of them on my mind and heart are readily evoked—when I read and listen to stories about Baba, for example; when I study his teachings; when I chant his name or reflect on his life and legacy.
In the letter for last month, I wrote about how there is something especially wonderful about celebrating Baba in this year when we are practicing Satsang, Gurumayi’s Message for 2018. Satsang is the company of that Truth which is innate to and inextricable from our very being; it is a Truth accessible to us at any time, no matter who we are, where we come from, what we look like, or what we believe in. As Gurumayi explained in her Message talk for 2018, this is precisely what Baba taught, just as the great poet-saints before him had. This is what Baba lived. This is what he gave to the world.
Baba had such faith in all of us, in our ability to know the Truth that is our birthright, and his teachings urge us to cultivate—even insist that we cultivate—the same faith in ourselves. Therefore, as we put forth greater and more constant efforts to practice satsang, it is worthwhile—with Baba’s month as the context, the inspiration, the impetus—to carefully consider how we might practice satsang with greater faith. The fabric of constant effort is, after all, threaded with faith. Faith helps keep us going even if the way forward is not always, well, straightforward; it keeps us turning inward even if it’s been a while since we’ve met with what we are searching for there.
And faith is not merely a buoy in times of challenge or uncertainty. It propels us even, and especially, when all is well, when we are already feeling so connected inside. Faith gives us the conviction that there is even more to our inner experience, that there is more of God’s love to discover in our being and share with others. And it gives us the certainty that we can, and will, make those discoveries.
How, then, do you strengthen the faith you have in yourself—especially when faith can be as subtle and nuanced, as seemingly gossamer, as the Truth itself?
One way is to take a moment to look back, even as you plan to keep marching ahead on your journey. You are entering the fifth month of 2018, and with that, the fifth month of your practice of the Message. In terms of your understanding, your experience, your relationship with the Truth, you are probably not in the same place you were in January. You will have made progress. It is important to acknowledge that. When you recognize how far you have come, how each step you’ve taken—even if you didn’t see it at the time—has helped land you somewhere useful, then you realize: "Oh, I can do this. I have come this far. I can go a bit farther."
In addition, you might recall some of the experiences you’ve had up to this point, the glimpses of the Truth you’ve seen, however subtle or grand. Your experiences affirm your efforts. They help you to build faith. They whisper to you to go on, to keep on in this direction, to discover what more is in store.
And if, for some reason, you feel that you can’t identify your progress, or you haven’t had an experience you feel you can look to for inspiration, then no matter. You can always derive faith from the practices, both the core spiritual practices like chanting and meditation and japa, and your own personal techniques for practicing satsang. There’s a passage I love from Baba’s book From the Finite to the Infinite, recounting an interaction between Baba and a devotee. The devotee asks Baba if lack of faith would prevent them from getting in touch with the Self in meditation. Baba replies, “Keep on meditating, and you will have faith.” 2
We return, then, to the concept of the virtuous circle. Faith and effort are mutually reinforcing. The more you make the effort to get in touch with your Self, to have satsang with the Truth innate to you, the stronger your faith will be; and the stronger your faith, the more naturally, more easefully, more continuously you will have satsang. It is a principle that is beautiful in its simplicity. Yes, faith is essential if you are to pursue a sustained connection with your Self. However, it is not a precondition, something you must have fully realized within yourself before you even attempt to connect with your Self. Rather, faith and effort are intertwined. In tandem with one another they unfurl across our inner horizon, revealing to us our own selves, manifesting before our eyes the truth of Baba’s immortal words: “God dwells within you as you.”
This month on the Siddha Yoga path website, there will be much available to support you in honoring Baba and celebrating his birthday, and in taking further your practice of Gurumayi’s Message. If you have not done so already, I invite you to register for the Siddha Yoga Audio Satsang in celebration of Baba’s Birthday. The title of this satsang is “Perceive the One That Exists in All”—a reference to the sat in Satsang, to that Truth uniting all the distinct forms of this universe.
You will, in addition, have the opportunity to read even more stories about Baba on the website. Perhaps, as you read these stories, you will find that they remind you of your own stories of Baba—memories of receiving Baba’s teachings in person, in meditation, in dreams. Do write these stories down as they come up for you, and send them in to the website (using the designated link on this page).
May is also the month of Mother’s Day in the US, India, and many other parts of the world. On the Siddha Yoga path, Gurumayi and Baba teach us to worship the divine Mother, Mahakundalini Shakti, whose energy is awakened within a seeker with the bestowal of shaktipat diksha. The Gurus also teach us to give homage to the mothers in our lives, whose very act of mothering is a testament to the purest kind of love; it is a display of the virtues in action. This year, Mother’s Day will take place on May 13, and suffice it to say, you would be wise to visit the website around that time.
So there is much to anticipate in the days ahead, on the website and in our sadhana. The month of May holds much promise. Or maybe—maybe it’s we who hold the promise, and something about the riotous bloom of the season, the glimmer of Baba’s smile we can just make out in the waning moon, the memory of him evoked by the dappled light of day, brings that promise out in us just a bit more.
I wish you an incandescently happy Baba’s month.