November 1, 2019
The month of November is here and we are nearing the end of the year 2019. This is a time ripe for reflecting upon what we have achieved by engaging with the Siddha Yoga teachings and through our spiritual practices. It is an occasion to assess how we have fulfilled the intentions we set many months ago at the beginning of January. This is also an opportunity to reflect on the experiences that have brought new insights as the year progressed—revelations about ourselves and the nature of the transcendent Self. In this month, it is prudent to ask ourselves how our experiences have guided and molded our sadhana and brought us closer to attaining our goals.
Sadhana experiences are like the colors of the spectacular autumn foliage lighting up the northeastern parts of the United States. Have you seen “Images of Nature” for October on the Siddha Yoga path website? Leaves turn color along a spectrum ranging from light yellow to vivid deep maroon. Similarly, from the most subtle to the most tangible, each spiritual experience shines brilliantly and adds to the breathtaking beauty of the journey we are undertaking on the Siddha Yoga path.
In India, this season—one of six in the year—is called Hemant Ritu, indicating the onset of the pre-winter season. It spans the two Hindu lunar months of Kartik and Margashirsha (also called Agahan), corresponding to the fall season from mid-October to mid-December according to the Western calendar.
As I began to think about the word reflection prior to writing this letter, I felt inspired to look more closely at its meaning. My study revealed that it is a word of numerous facets. Its definitions include “consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose,” “a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation,” and “careful thought about a particular topic.”1 In Hindi it is गहन चिन्तन, gahan cintan—which literally means “deep contemplation.”
Adding yet more breadth to this word are synonyms such as contemplation, observation, rumination, impression, and view.2 The many aspects of the word reflection helped me understand that reflection is not a passive act of letting images of what has transpired in the past drift aimlessly on the screen of my mind. Instead, it requires active engagement, in assessing how events, thoughts, and actions have impacted me and my life—and what I have learned from them.
Holding the nuanced understanding of the term in my awareness, I embarked on reflection upon the past ten months of Study of Gurumayi’s Message for 2019, and my experiences of seeing the light of my mind.
I discovered that this focused endeavor helped me recognize even more vividly the brilliance with which Gurumayi’s grace shimmers in my life. This recognition naturally gave rise to a sweet feeling of gratitude settling in my heart, running through my being like a river. At the same time, the process of reflecting shed light on areas of the path that I still must traverse in my journey to the attainment of Truth. I have been gleaning insights about where I need to put my attention to move forward in my sadhana. During your own engagement with reflection, perhaps you too have had such glimpses of previously unlit areas?
The distance we’ve travelled in sadhana, the knowledge of the Self that we’ve gained, the positive changes we have brought forth in our awareness about ourselves—all these are benefits from the regularity and constancy of our repeated effort. It is through our daily practices that we move closer every day to the steady experience and knowledge of our true Self.
In Sweet Surprise 2019, Gurumayi speaks about the importance of repetition of our spiritual practices. She teaches that regular repetition of our practices will help lead our mind to its own light. Gurumayi also gives us the remedy for taking “the boredom” out of repetition. Do you remember what that remedy is? It is adding the “gem-like virtues,” the sadgunas that reside within us, to our practices. After contemplating this teaching, I decided to implement it in this way: I choose a divine virtue and focus on it as I engage in my daily practices. As I do this, my practices become suffused with the benedictions and beauty of that virtue, keeping them “ever new,” as Gurumayi says in Sweet Surprise. The result? I feel invigorated to pursue my sadhana further. Enthusiasm, passion, and exhilaration inspire my commitment to sadhana.
I am curious to know if you, too, have approached your practices this year by focusing on the sadgunas, invoking them to refresh your practices. What has your experience been? Please share your observations about this by clicking here or on the link below this letter.
In this month of reflection, you can continue to deepen your study of Gurumayi’s Message for 2019 by participating yet again in Sweet Surprise. It is available only till the end of November on the Siddha Yoga path website.
Additionally, there will be a plethora of features on the website for us to enjoy and to enhance our knowledge and study during this eleventh month of the year. Here are some of the November highlights:
- Words of Gratitude—the word gratitude expressed in a different language each day.
- Reflecting on Siddha Yoga Teachings—Parts I, II, III—a collection of Siddha Yoga teachings that we have received this year through the website. We can refresh our memory by reading them once again so we may continue to reflect on them and implement them in our lives.
- Reflections on Gurumayi’s Message—This feature presents different writers’ explorations of a teaching they have chosen from Sweet Surprise 2019.
- Stories from different traditions around the world that support our study of Gurumayi’s Message.
- Songs and Poems—A collection of bhajans and dohe (couplets) by the poet-saints of India, providing further insights about Gurumayi’s Message for this year.
- Scriptural Texts—A collection of teachings about the mind from the scriptures of India, to support your study of Gurumayi’s Message for 2019.
- The Meditation Sessions concluded in September; however, you may still register for all or any of the sessions that took place during the year.
Two of the festivals that occur this month are Dev Deepavali and Thanksgiving.
Dev Deepavali, the festival of light of the gods, marks the triumphant victory of Lord Shiva over the fierce and powerful demon Tripurasura. This is a different festival from Deepavali, which was just celebrated in October. Dev Deepavali is observed on two different days in India. The first festival day is observed in northern India on the full moon of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik. In 2019 it occurs on November 12 both in the US and in India. The other festival day is celebrated mainly in the state of Maharashtra on the first day of the lunar month of Margashirsha, which is November 27 this year in the US and India.
Thanksgiving Day, with its beautiful tradition of giving thanks, is observed in the US on the last Thursday of November. This year it will be celebrated on November 28. On this day, friends and family gather to express their gratitude for the many blessings in their lives and for the company of their loved ones as they partake in a festive meal together.
I have found that the divine virtue of gratitude flowing in my being is a constant beacon of light for me. It inspires me to practice Gurumayi’s teachings to keep my mind witnessing its own light each day. In consequence, the flame of divine light stays ablaze within my heart.
In conclusion, I would like to share with you a short poem I wrote in the Hindi language. It reflects a thought that spontaneously arose in my mind as I was writing this letter and expressed itself in these words:
हमारा आज ईश्वर का वरदान है।
आज है तो जीवन है।
आज में छिपा है हमारे अस्तित्व का सारा रहस्य।
आज में है आगे बढ़ने का दम,
आज में है हमारा धर्म और कर्म,
आज में बसा है सृष्टि का समस्त वैभव।
बीते हुए कल में है यादों का समन्दर,
आने वाले कल में है आशाओं की पुलकन,
पर आज, आज में है सामर्थ्य
जो दे सके हमें आत्मा का अनुभवा ।
Our today is the blessing of God.
If we have today, we have life—we are alive.
All the mysteries of our existence are hidden within the womb of today.
Inherent in today are the strength and courage to move forward.
Our dharma and our actions reside in today;
today is the abode of all the splendor of this universe.
Yesterday is an ocean of memories.
Tomorrow has the excitement of hope.
But today, today has the power
to give us the experience of the Self.
Click here to see the transliteration and meaning of the Hindi poem in this letter.