December 1, 2019
We have arrived at the culminating month of the year 2019! To me, it seems like we just started—though you and I have actually been on this journey for a full year.
We have been studying Gurumayi’s Message throughout the year by engaging with the plenitude of amazing materials provided for this purpose on the Siddha Yoga path website. As I’ve read your monthly shares on the website, it’s been evident that you have been tasting the fruits of your diligent efforts in sadhana. The opportunity to participate in Sweet Surprise 2019 multiple times and to access the materials relating to Gurumayi's Message on the website—such as the Workbook, stories, dohe, bhajans, abhangas, Meditation Sessions, and so much more—has added perceptible depth and breadth to your sadhana, as it has to mine. We have glimpsed the splendor of the mind and have experienced its benevolence again and again.
The winter solstice that officially signals the first day of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere will occur on December 21. This is the day the North Pole tilts farthest away from the sun. Simultaneously, the sun reaches its farthest southward point and travels the shortest path in the sky. These celestial movements make this day the shortest and this night the longest in the Northern Hemisphere, while countries in the Southern Hemisphere will experience their longest day and their shortest night on December 21 or 22, depending on their location. This phenomenon is due to the fact that the earth orbits the sun while tilted on its axis. It is a time of transition—from fall to winter in the North, from spring to summer in the South, and from the old year to the new year for everyone.
The year 2020 lies alluringly on the horizon. Just as a banyan tree seed contains within it the possibility of sprouting into an enormous, splendid, shady tree, the new year holds glorious unseen possibilities. To receive and benefit from them, we must prepare ourselves, body and mind, to step forward and bring to fruition the immense promise inherent in the year ahead.
Time is mysterious. And how we relate to it is subtle and complex. On some occasions time flies by, yet on others it drags on, depending on circumstances and the state of our mind. Whether it seems fleeting or infinite, we must endeavor to value each moment, to make it count, to make it worthwhile—wouldn’t you agree?
So, the question to ask ourselves is: how do we do this? I have often heard Gurumayi quote a couplet by Kabir, the great poet-saint of fifteenth-century India. This couplet emphasizes the importance of respecting the passage of time, of taking action in the present moment, not letting it slip away. It goes like this:
काल करै सो आज कर, आज करै सो अब
पल में प्रलय होएगी, बहुरि करैगो कब ?
What you plan to do tomorrow, do today.
What you plan to do today, do now.
For the world may come to an end in the next moment.
How will you then complete the tasks that are yet incomplete?1
This is a teaching that I have heard Gurumayi give repeatedly over the years. As people share with her their goals—personal, professional, or related to their sadhana—Gurumayi responds by saying, “Very good. Start now.” I too have received this teaching from her—more than once, as I recall!
Start now. I understand from this that it is not enough just to set goals for ourselves. We must begin to take action in pursuit of these goals, for only then will we be able to attain them. For example, we create a plan, we define the next steps, and then we start to implement these steps. And it is in our hands to realize the power and potential of this very moment to serve our goals. This is a teaching that stays front and center for me. When I start taking steps right away in pursuit of my goals, I immediately experience the sweet fruits of these actions. On the occasions that I procrastinate and leave taking action to another day, I often find that the goal imperceptibly slips away, both from my reach and from my memory. Do you recall such incidents in your life?
Understanding even more fully the preciousness of now, of the present moment, I am excited to see how this increased awareness will guide me in the times ahead.
In the month of December—as is true for each month—there are many remarkable elements on the Siddha Yoga path website for us to enjoy and engage with. I wish to share some of these with you. Some of the links you see below will become active at different times in the month, so please keep checking back.
- Sadhana Experiences of Gurumayi’s Message, 2019—This is a collection of shares submitted by many of you about how you have studied and practiced Gurumayi’s Message, and the benefits it has brought into your life.
- Winter Solstice—This features a beautiful poem from one of the many solstice traditions around the world.
- Happy Holidays—Here you will find wonderful images of nature and of the holiday preparations in Shree Muktananda Ashram.
- Interactive Tree Trimming—Enjoy adorning your very own Winter Holiday tree as you listen to the chant Rama Raghava in the Bihag raga.
- New Year’s Sunrise Images—Here you will find information on how to submit your photos of the sunrise on New Year’s Day, taken from wherever you are at that time.
Additionally in December we celebrate:
- The holiday season—The good cheer of the holiday season sparkles in the air; hearts are awash with the spirit of joy and peace. It is a time that is filled with enthusiasm, love, and generosity as people get together with their friends and family to celebrate. In this spirit we get ready to welcome the new year.
- Annapurna Jayanti—the celebration of the birth of Goddess Annapurna, who is worshiped as the goddess of food and nourishment. This year it falls on December 11 for most of the world—on the purnima, the night of the full moon, in the Hindu lunar month of Margashirsha. To honor Goddess Annapurna, we sing the Annapurna Stotram, a hymn written by Adi Shankaracharya, the great proponent of Advaita Vedanta—the nondualistic philosophy that teaches that the soul is not separate from Brahman—the Absolute. On the website, you will find an audio recording of, and the words to, the hymn to support your worship of Goddess Annapurna.
- Gita Jayanti is celebrated on the eleventh day of the waxing moon of the Hindu lunar month of Margashirsha, which is on December 7 this year in the United States and December 8 in India. It commemorates the day that Lord Krishna imparted to his disciple Arjuna the immortal teachings enshrined in the sacred text of India called the Bhagavad Gita. This text has become a guiding light for people around the world to learn about how to live a life of dharma. This is also the text that Gurumayi had chosen for our study this year.
A saying in the English language is: You can’t see the forest for the trees. This means we can be challenged when trying to comprehend the entire forest, in the sense of “the big picture,” if we are focused only on the trees, in the sense of the minute details. In sadhana, however, it is valuable to look at both the forest and the trees, and to hold both these views simultaneously. Zooming out, we keep the big picture in our sights at all times—to attain the goal of sadhana. Zooming in, we discern where we are and what we need to do at any moment to advance toward this goal.
As we prepare to embark on another wondrous year of sadhana, it behooves us to look at both the forest and the trees. It is beneficial to keep our eye on our goal of attaining liberation, while at the same time diving deep into our spiritual practices, which reveal the light of the mind and take us closer to our goal.
On a personal note, offering this seva has made this an incredible year for me. Conversing with you, sharing my experiences of studying Gurumayi’s Message for 2019, and reading your shares have all been extraordinary gifts. Another year awaits us with its exciting promise of many a discovery. And so I bid you adieu from 2019, and wish you a year of joyful sadhana in 2020!
Click here to see the transliteration and meaning of the Hindi couplet in this letter.