September 1, 2018
It is a time of becoming, this month, September. It is a time to come into being, and to do so more completely, with more conviction and joy. Certainly that’s what nature seems to be telling us. In some regions of the world, spring is approaching, the valleys and countryside starting to look lush, green, expectant. In the US and in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the riotous bloom of summer will soon mature into autumn, into that regality of color which seems to come only with time and a humility born of having weathered things—highs and lows, joys and sorrows. This is a liminal period, wherever we are in the world.
That this period has so many shades, moreover—that there can be at once a vibrant newness to it and a ripening into what is and always has been—is apt. The variety of hue and feeling reflects the range of human experience itself, and the nature of sadhana. Our progress in sadhana requires both newness and maturity, the beginner’s mind and the cultivation and strengthening of wisdom. In the synergy between the two, there is possibility, brimming potential. There is movement.
In her Message talk for this year, Gurumayi teaches about the poet-saints of India and the tradition of satsang they helped create—how they showed, through their words and their actions, that the experience of the Truth is accessible to all people. One of the saints Gurumayi spoke about was Lalleshwari, of fourteenth-century Kashmir. To this day Lalleshwari’s stirring verse remains a source of inspiration for spiritual seekers; it gives poetic form to a yearning that is universally felt, and lyrical shape to the teachings that help us act on that yearning. Baba Muktananda rendered many of Lalleshwari’s poems into Hindi (she wrote in the Kashmiri language), and Gurumayi translated Baba’s renderings into English.
In one poem, Lalleshwari writes:
Are you awake?
Then stride forth.
Walk fast and complete your journey.
You must take great care
to let your understanding grow.2
There is such dynamism in Lalleshwari’s words, a spirit of starting anew in her call to stride forth. At the same time, she is urging us to complete our journey—to bring to conclusion what it is that we have already begun, to take strong, swift, steady steps to make good on what we have accomplished so far.
In her Message talk Gurumayi asks us to carry forward a resolution, and that is to create our own satsang, to “Pause and connect” at any given moment and in any given place. So, as we enter the last third of 2018 while keenly aware of the beginnings that are afoot, let us consider what it would mean to fulfill this resolution. Where do we want to be in our sadhana by the end of 2018? What does completion of our journey, or this leg of it, look like, and how do we get there?
Truly speaking, there is no end date, no cutoff point, for creating your own satsang. Satsang, coming into the company of the Truth, is the very essence of sadhana; it is timeless in its relevance, limitless in its capacity to reveal more to you about your own Self. Still, it is useful to articulate some idea or measure of where you want to be by the end of the year, and to then pursue that goal in earnest while you still have four months—four whole months, replete with promise and opportunity—to get there. Gurumayi has taught about taking “small, specific, scheduled” steps to achieve goals in sadhana. In this way, you can more readily conceive of what you are working toward. You can wrap your mind around it—and then do it, with greater verve too.
So think about the questions posed above. Where do you want to be by the end of 2018? What would it mean to have carried forward the resolution Gurumayi has given you? Perhaps, for you, fulfilling this resolution means really developing your muscle for creating satsang; it means assimilating “Pause and connect” so thoroughly into your being that this practice becomes as natural for you as breathing in and breathing out. Perhaps it’s about knowing intimately what your own good company is, and being able to access that with equal ease whether you are with people or by yourself. Or perhaps it’s about sustaining the moment of satsang, so that you experience connection with yourself more continuously as you go about the activities of your day.
Whatever resonates with you, go with it and go for it. Derive inspiration and energy from all the new beginnings happening around and within you. Heed the words of Lalleshwari and—without forcing it, without coercing it—let your understanding grow. With patience, with persistence, with intrepid spirit, create an environment in which Satsang, the teaching and the experience, can take permanent root in your soul.
As always, the Siddha Yoga path website will be an aid and resource for you in your endeavors. In India, this is the month of Ganesh Utsava, the ten-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesh (also known as Ganapati), the remover of obstacles and the deity of new beginnings. Ganesh Utsava will be taking place between September 12 and 23 this year (September 13 to 23 in India); so that you may invoke his presence during this time, there will be hymns to Ganapati bappa for you to sing and read about on the website. The website will also be featuring stories relating to themes from Gurumayi’s Message, and a talk by Swami Akhandananda about the role of the intellect in your sadhana.
And if you have not done so already—or even, especially, if you have—I encourage you to participate in A Sweet Surprise Satsang and listen to Gurumayi’s Message talk. It is available on the Siddha Yoga path website until September 9. Each time you participate, your exploration of Gurumayi’s teachings—your understanding of what it is you are moving toward, of the course you are staying—grows deeper, more profound, and more nuanced.
Recently, Gurumayi was in the Amrit Courtyard in Shree Muktananda Ashram with a group of children and young people. The courtyard was a panorama of color, one side of it curtained by tall stalks of sunflowers, and the rest fringed by plants and flowers in shades of red, orange, pink, yellow. The sun was out, its bright white glow enveloping everything.
As Gurumayi stood near the sunflowers with the children, a butterfly clung to her hand. It just sat there—still, unmoving, as though unsure of what would happen were it to inch forward on its spindly legs.
After a few moments Gurumayi nudged the butterfly toward a nearby sunflower. The flower’s spongy face and big, heart-shaped leaves were like an open invitation. Yet the butterfly stayed put; it would not leave Gurumayi’s hand. Very gently, Gurumayi tilted it forward on her open palm and said, “Go. You can hold on. You’re strong.”
Ever so slowly, the butterfly obliged, tipping onto one of the leaves. And then—it stayed there. It held on, its grip a remarkable combination of ease and tenaciousness. It stretched out its wings, letting in the sun and revealing the incredible mosaic on its back.
It is remarkable what happens when we follow the Guru’s teachings—the virtues we discover within ourselves, the strength and beauty we can suddenly draw upon and share with our world. Earlier in this letter, I quoted a poem by Lalleshwari. It has another stanza, one that is pertinent to us always, but perhaps especially so now, in this particular, pivotal, transitional moment we find ourselves in.
Seek your Friend
and you will see the light.
Let your legs become stronger
and your wings sprout.4