October 1, 2019
We are crossing a new threshold and stepping into the month of October—a month dedicated to Gurumayi’s Guru, Baba Muktananda. We lovingly refer to October as Baba’s Month! Sharad purnima, the full moon following the end of monsoon in India, occurs during this month, which is the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin. This is the divinely auspicious day when, thirty-seven years ago, Baba ji fulfilled his purpose on earth and took mahasamadhi. He merged forever with supreme Consciousness. This year we will honor this sacred day on October 2, the solar anniversary, and October 13, the lunar anniversary.
During this month, we especially remember and revere Baba ji’s illuminating life. After attaining the goal of his sadhana and becoming jivanmukta—one who has become enlightened and is liberated while in this human body—Baba ji bestowed his benevolent grace upon the seekers of Truth so that they too might fulfill their highest destiny.
Great beings live their lives and impart their teachings to elevate all of humanity. Baba ji and our Shri Guru, Gurumayi, wish for us to know our own true Self, to know the deep, abiding love that connects us to God. They not only wish that for us; they show us how we can know and connect with God. It is our prodigious good fortune to be the recipients of such infinite, unfathomable grace and compassion.
The fifteenth-century poet-saint Kabir says:
हरि कृपा तब जानिए दे मानव अवतार।
गुरुकृपा तब जानिए मुक्त करे संसार॥
Know that it is due to the grace of God that you receive a human birth.
Know that you attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death in this world only due to the grace of Shri Guru.1
On the Siddha Yoga path one of the ways many of us celebrate Baba’s month is by participating in the Shaktipat Intensive held each year in honor of his mahasamadhi. Through the benevolent intent of Shri Gurumayi, the awakening of spiritual energy that takes place in the Shaktipat Intensive is a transformative event in each seeker’s life. Every time we participate in an Intensive, we arrive at a deeper understanding of our own Self and help to advance our sadhana.
The title of the Intensive this year is The Power of the Mind—Matrika Shakti, and it will be first held on October 19 or 20 in many locations around the world. Visit the Siddha Yoga path website for more information.
Since the beginning of this year, we have been immersing ourselves in the study of Gurumayi’s Message for 2019 and the teachings she gave us in Sweet Surprise 2019. Each month, we have focused on one of these teachings. As I was preparing to write this letter for October, one particular teaching kept surfacing for me. I was intrigued—why was this happening? Then I realized that I was being reminded of it because this teaching is so pivotal in my own sadhana. Although I have spoken about it before, in the May letter, I wish to share it with you once again. In my thinking, this teaching warrants additional contemplation in the final months of this year as we continue our study of Gurumayi’s Message.
In her talk, Gurumayi guides us to make the “right effort” and to make it repeatedly to support our mind so that it turns toward its own light. Gurumayi teaches us what the “right effort” is and how to make this kind of effort. As I listened to Gurumayi’s talk, once again focusing on this teaching and then contemplating it, it became crystal clear that in making progress in sadhana, in achieving my goal in sadhana, this is a key factor. I truly must understand what the right effort is at any given moment and learn how to make the right effort for my spiritual search to be fruitful.
Have there been moments in your sadhana when you’ve wondered, “I am making so much effort; I am working so hard in doing my practices. Why am I not able to move forward?” I recall many such moments when I felt as though I were at a standstill, all the while rigorously doing my practices. Gurumayi’s teaching in Sweet Surprise has shown me the importance of understanding how to make the right effort. We often mistake strenuous effort for right effort. When we understand the nature and the full significance of the right effort needed to fulfill the goal of sadhana, and then work with it, we are able to befriend our mind and lead it to its own brilliance. To deepen your own understanding of this teaching, you may wish to participate once more in Sweet Surprise, which is still available on the website.
The Siddha Yoga path website this month presents an array of features for us to enjoy and engage with as we deepen our study of Gurumayi’s Message. These features also give us an opportunity to learn more about special holidays. I am delighted to highlight some of these for you:
- Baba’s Mahasamadhi—Here you will find many amazing treasures in the form of of Baba’s teachings, his darshan and wisdom, and so much more.
- Images of Baba’s Moon—This is a much-enjoyed feature on the website, where photos from Siddha Yogis around the world of the waxing moon and of Baba’s full moon are displayed for all to enjoy. You can find out how to contribute your photo of the moon from where you live.
- Reflections on Gurumayi’s Message—This new feature presents writers’ explorations of any one teaching of their choice from Sweet Surprise 2019.
- Stories from different traditions around the world that support our study of Gurumayi’s Message.
- Worksheet #36—This will be the last worksheet in the Workbook series to support you in your engagement with Gurumayi’s Message.
- Meditation Sessions concluded in September; however, you may still register for all or any of the previous sessions from this year.
This month we have several festive holidays to celebrate.
- Navaratri—This festival, dedicated to the Goddess, started on September 29 and will continue till October 6 (October 7 in India). In Shree Muktananda Ashram, there will be a special puja offered on each night of Navaratri honoring the Goddess in her forms of Mahadurga, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasarasvati. There will be many special features on the website for Navaratri, including photos of the puja, a write-up on the significance of items used in puja, and recordings of dhyanam or meditations on the different forms of the Goddess. Learn more about how to participate in celebrating the festival from where you are, for example, by creating an intention and learning the words of the Jaya Devi Arati offered to the Goddess.
- Dasera—At the end of Navaratri, on the tenth day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin, the festival of Dasera takes place. It is also known as Vijayadashami—victory on the tenth day of the month. The great epic Ramayana tells the story about Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana on the battlefield of Lanka. This year Dasera will be celebrated on October 7 in the US and October 8 in India.
- Deepavali—This is the festival of lights that celebrates Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom in Ayodhya after living in exile for fourteen years, as recounted in the Ramayana. It was a new-moon night and the people of Ayodhya lit lamps all along the way to brighten the path for their beloved Lord Rama. Each year on the new-moon night in the Hindu lunar month of Kartik, which this year is on October 27, people in India light lamps inside and outside their homes to mark the return of Lord Rama, and also as an invitation to Goddess Lakshmi to enter their homes―just as abundance and happiness entered each home once Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya and became the king. The festival of Deepavali starts with Govatsa Puja on October 24 (October 25 in India) and culminates with Bali Pratipada on October 28, which is celebrated as the Indian New Year in North India.
In this month of abundant celebrations, be sure to put forth “right effort” as you immerse yourself in the Shaktipat Intensive, and as you celebrate each event this October. May you taste the sweet fruit of beholding your mind scintillating with its own resplendent light!
I leave you with this Urdu couplet that I have written. It describes a seeker’s life–my life–before and after receiving the grace of Shri Gurumayi and walking the path of sadhana. I imagine that many of you have found this transformation to be true for yourselves as well.
जो हमारे वजूद से भी अनजान हुआ करते थे,
आज पूछते हैं पता तेरा हमसे टकरा जाने पर।
Those who were not even aware of my existence before,
today, upon encountering me, wish to know about you, Gurumayi.
Click here to see the transliteration and meaning of the Hindi couplet by Kabir and my Urdu couplet in this letter.