October 1, 2018
There’s a tree you often find in parts of the eastern United States and Canada, with heart-shaped leaves that turn red and orange and golden yellow with the coming of autumn. I always smile when I walk by this tree. Streams of the little hearts drip down its branches, a waterfall of color welcoming us to the season.
What’s even more enchanting for me, though, is that stray leaf which drifts off the tree. You know the one. It’s camouflaged by the grass or else lying on the pavement, quite unassuming, its face a little freckled and its edges curling in gently. In essence, however, it remains as it ever was—a heart.
There are many narratives one could read into this phenomenon at once ordinary and extraordinary. It could be a story of existence beyond time, of that which both respects and transcends the dictates of the elements, the undying spirit of a certain something that gives true meaning to this life. It could also—relatedly—be a story of grace, how it envelops everything, how it can be found in even the most seemingly unexpected of places.
This is Baba’s month, October. It is the time when we observe the anniversary of Baba’s mahasamadhi, his passing from the physical form to merge completely with that great, expansive Consciousness pulsing in each plant and creature and inanimate particle of this universe. Baba took mahasamadhi on the full-moon night of October 2, 1982. This year, the lunar anniversary of Baba’s mahasamadhi is on October 24.
It has become a tradition for students on the Siddha Yoga path to take note of the many reminders of grace—Baba’s grace—that we find around us at this time. “Baba signs” they are called. Perceiving these signs, picking up on these synchronicities, we feel that Baba is with us. We know he is here.
And we can do something with that feeling—this is what is perhaps most important. If we so choose, we can take the signs we see as encouragement for our sadhana, reminders to keep practicing the Guru’s teachings, knowing that our efforts to achieve the goal are supported inestimably. When we do so, moreover—when we take such action—something amazing happens. Our perception of grace expands and transforms.
Gurumayi has spoken many times about how Baba loved to teach about the Blue Pearl—the nila-bindu, the sublime goal of sadhana, the entirety of the cosmos and our oneness with it encapsulated in one sesame-seed-sized point of blue light. Gurumayi has said that the Blue Pearl was Baba’s dearest experience. It is a beautiful image to hold in our awareness and to contemplate, particularly in this year when Gurumayi’s Message is Satsang, the company of the Truth.
To see the Blue Pearl in meditation, in our dreams, in our waking state is to have the experience of satsang. It is to be in connection with our true Self, and to recognize this same Self in all that is around us. It is to understand, not just intellectually but instinctively, intuitively—in our bones and our tissue and that place where our soul just might reside—the meaning of Baba’s teaching, "See God in each other."
I’ve always loved to read and listen to Baba’s descriptions of how he saw the world. Baba said that the Blue Pearl was what he would first see when someone came before him; everything and everyone was made of shimmering blue light. Just thinking about this vision inspires awe. Just conceiving of the fact that such a vision exists—and that it is the true reality of this world—gives rise to wonder, astonishment, gratitude. It is the vision of the saints, the reality they invite us into.
Therefore, as you continue your practice of Satsang in October, remember Baba and what he taught. Reflect on the vision he awakened within seekers—that of the Blue Pearl. Keep pausing, keep connecting, your search within intensified not by a desire to see fireworks behind your eyes just for the sake of it, but because you have the genuine longing to know, to understand, to answer the question “Who am I?”
Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come?1
These questions are posed by the great sage Adi Shankaracharya in the Bhaja Govindam, a Sanskrit-language text which is based in Vedantic philosophy, and which has been sung in Siddha Yoga Ashrams. In her Message talk for this year, Gurumayi spoke about Adi Shankaracharya; he was one of the saints who, centuries ago in India, first brought people together in gatherings of satsang.
The questions that we see here from Adi Shankaracharya are ones that the saints and sages have asked since time immemorial. They were pertinent in ages past and they resonate now, for they articulate a yearning so deep, so innate, it is definitive of human existence. People throughout history have explored these questions in varied ways, their pursuit often resulting in expressions of incredible creativity and very tangible actions to foster peace and goodwill.
On the Siddha Yoga path, we are fortunate beyond measure, for we are guided by the Guru’s grace and teachings in this most fundamental journey of purpose and identity. Who am I?—this endlessly rich, profound inquiry—is the title that Gurumayi has given to this year’s Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive in Honor of Baba Muktananda’s Mahasamadhi.
It is hard to overstate the significance of the Shaktipat Intensive. It is during the Intensive that the Guru bestows shaktipat diksha, divine initiation, the awakening which commences our sadhana on the spiritual path. Baba created the Shaktipat Intensive forty-four years ago, in 1974. Since then, Baba and Gurumayi have held hundreds of Intensives, giving shaktipat to countless thousands of people.
This year’s Shaktipat Intensive will be held around the world on Saturday, October 27, or Sunday, October 28. For more information, including a Q&A with Swami Shantananda, I invite you to read through these pages.
In addition to participating in the Shaktipat Intensive, you can celebrate Baba’s month through the Siddha Yoga path website. Beginning in mid-October the website will feature the annual photo gallery of Baba’s moon as it waxes toward fullness; you can contribute to this gallery by sending in your own photos. There will also be a video of Baba speaking about the Intensive, teachings by Baba, a darshan gallery of his image, and an exposition about turning the senses within.
Since October is the month of Navaratri as well—the nine-night holiday honoring the Devi, Mahakundalini Shakti, whose power is awakened in us through shaktipat diksha—there will be teachings, hymns, and namasankirtana to support us in worshiping some of the Devi’s various forms. This year, Navaratri takes place between October 9 and 17.
So it is, all in all, a special time. A sacred time. A time when grace, with its mysterious and enthralling power to prompt real transformation, feels so viscerally present—and when our own responsibility to allow for that grace to unfold, for the betterment of ourselves and our world, can seem all the more immediate. In Shree Muktananda Ashram, we received a sweet reminder of this—grace and effort and their combined impact—in the days leading up to October. Summer was bidding us farewell; the trees were beginning to turn color. And yet—sunflowers started popping up in all parts of the Ashram gardens and grounds! They’d sprout up for a short while, right before the cooler air set in, and often far from the garden patch in which most other sunflowers were planted. It was as though Surya Devata had been walking about and we’d just missed him, the flowers leaving a vibrant trail of where his lotus feet had been.
I later learned that these surprise sunflowers had been planted by chipmunks on the Ashram grounds. Yes—chipmunks. They had collected seeds from the sunflower patch and from birdfeeders that are in the garden. And then, like the dutiful new garden sevites they are, they strewed those seeds about, bringing light and warmth to all parts of the grounds—and to all who walked by.