August 1, 2020
As seekers we might ask, how do we awaken to the divinity that abides within us? In the simplest, yet most profound terms, we receive the grace of the Siddha Yoga Gurus and implement their teachings in our lives by contemplating and applying them. This August marks three events of tremendous significance that made it possible for so many of us around the globe to experience the grace and teachings of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Baba Muktananda, and Bhagavan Nityananda.
How does a worldwide “meditation revolution” begin? Perhaps the single most important moment is the morning of August 15, 1947, the day when Baba Muktananda received shaktipat diksha, spiritual initiation, from his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda. This is known as his divya diksha—his day of divine initiation. As Baba writes of this transforming event: “What an auspicious day. How full of nectar it was.”1 For a more complete telling of this auspicious event, in both audio and written form, I invite you to go to the Siddha Yoga path website’s Play of Consciousness page.
In an extraordinary synchronicity, it was on this very day, August 15, 1947, that India gained its independence from British colonial rule. The parallel timing serves as a reminder that the longing for freedom is universal and that the spiritual freedom that ultimately comes as a result of the transmission of grace by the Siddha Yoga Guru is human liberation in its highest form.
So, on August 15, Siddha Yogis celebrate Baba Muktananda’s Divya Diksha, and one week earlier, on August 8, we commemorate Bhagavan Nityananda’s Solar Punyathiti, the day in 1961 when he left his body and merged into the Absolute. This is also the time when this great janma siddha, this great being who was “born perfected” and who in his lifetime was recognized throughout India for his spiritual attainment, passed along to his foremost disciple, Baba Muktananda, the full initiatory power of the Siddha Yoga lineage. It is because of this transference of divine power that Baba gave—and Gurumayi continues to give—shaktipat diksha to many thousands of seekers, awakening us to the experience of the Self.
Which brings us to the third momentous event we will honor this month. Fifty years ago, in August 1970, the teachings and grace of the Siddha Yoga path were carried to seekers outside of India for the first time. This is when Baba Muktananda, following an inner command from his Guru, embarked on the first of his teaching visits around the world. This first world tour was an act of supreme love and compassion on Baba’s part. Because of his faith and his resolute determination to follow his Guru’s command, Baba awakened the inner spiritual energy of people who lived all over the world.
Although I never met Baba in his physical form, I am one of the beneficiaries of his first world tour. In 1987, as a young teacher in Oregon, I was listening to a radio interview with an author of books about human potential. He spoke about having received a life-changing spiritual initiation from a meditation master from India and how, as a result, his experience of himself and the world had been radically transformed.
I felt my heart leap in response to this man’s story. Something profound had happened to him—and I had been looking for something like that myself, for a very long time. Here is a poem I wrote to describe my quiet sense of longing.
One morning I,
through colored glass,
so high above
it seemed heavens
were entering me.
I looked for that light
And then… I wrote down the name Siddha Yoga from the radio program, and with this clue I was able to track down a Siddha Yoga meditation center about an hour’s drive from my house. Within a week, I was entering a meditation hall in a suburban home feeling curious, excited, and hopeful. A few minutes later, I sat in an upstairs meditation room singing Jyota se Jyota Jagao at the beginning of satsang and gazing at a photograph of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda above the chair at the front of the room. As I sang, I kept glancing up at Gurumayi, feeling a sense of joy, peace, and wonder spread through my being. I felt something new open within me, a living presence of what might be called love and serenity. I didn’t have words for it at the time, but I know now that this was the miracle of spiritual awakening, shaktipat diksha, through the grace of the Siddha Yoga Guru.
It’s difficult to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t met Gurumayi through her photograph that day. Gurumayi’s teachings and the Siddha Yoga practices have inspired and sustained my entire life, as they have so many thousands of others.
Now, in 2020 during this highly challenging time in modern history, I and countless others are able to take refuge in the pages of the Siddha Yoga path website. Here we can find a cornucopia of articles and stories, poems and chants, each meant to expand our experience of God, Guru, and our own inner Self. In particular, we can now participate in the remarkable “Be in the Temple” satsangs in which we chant and meditate in the presence of Bhagavan Nityananda’s murti. How fortunate we are to be able to receive Gurumayi’s grace and teachings in this exquisite form right now!
One recent addition to the website is the powerful and poetic Blessings to Treasure—the name that Gurumayi has chosen for the exquisite videos that form the conclusion of many of the “Be in the Temple” satsangs. Blessings to Treasure are Gurumayi’s teachings about sadhana, her guidance to us for how, as Siddha Yogis, we can practice Siddha Yoga sadhana and continue to uplift the world, even in these difficult times.
As many of us have experienced, the “Be in the Temple” satsangs have showered us with Gurumayi’s grace and teachings in the last several months, and Gurumayi’s talks in these satsangs have been available on the Siddha Yoga path website on the “Be in the Temple” pages. Now, other extraordinary aspects of these satsangs also have their own pages on the website. “Be in the Temple II” brings together many other elements of these unique satsangs: discourses by the Siddha Yoga Swamis and other Siddha Yoga teachers; bhajans and aratis sung by Siddha Yoga musicians; and videos of spring weather anointing the Temple with an abundance of both rain and sunlight. In particular, I encourage you to listen to Rani Doyon’s deeply moving rendition of Shri Guru Sarikha. Listening to this abhanga on devotion to the Guru gently draws me into what I can only describe as a living and vibrant experience of Gurumayi’s Message for 2020: Ᾱtmā kī Prashānti, Peacefulness of the Self. It is one way I am choosing to explore and experience the Message.
Meditation Sessions 2020 via Audio Stream
I have meditated at least once a day for more than thirty years, and still I find that the instructions given by Siddha Yoga meditation teachers in the Meditation Sessions 2020 via Audio Stream are a great support. They quiet my mind and help me enter into deep meditation. And this deep meditation, in turn, supports my study and practice of Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. The title that Gurumayi gave for the Meditation Session in August is “Contentment in the Mind, Steadiness in the Heart: Sukhāsana.” It will be available beginning Saturday, August 29.
Raksha Bandhan—August 3
The name of the Indian holiday Raksha Bandhan means “bond of protection,” and among Siddha Yogis this is observed as a time to honor the bonds of love and protection between the Guru and disciple as well as between friends. These are symbolized by the colorful thread (rakhi) bracelets that are tied on the wrist. There is so much love in this exchanging of rakhis!
You may be wondering how you can participate in the sweet tradition of Raksha Bandhan when your loved ones are far away—or when you are practicing keeping a social distance. One way is to send them a link to Gurumayi’s Teaching in Honor of Raksha Bandhan, which both expresses Gurumayi’s teaching about Raksha Bandhan and depicts a very beautiful rakhi bracelet.
Raksha Bandhan falls on the full moon of Shravana in the Indian calendar; this year it is celebrated on August 3.
The celebration of Lord Vishnu’s birth as Lord Krishna is called Janmashtami, which falls on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in Shravana. In the Indian state Uttar Pradesh, which is where Lord Krishna is said to have been born and spent his childhood, many pilgrims come for this celebration of prayer, chanting, and dancing. One thing that we can do from our homes anywhere in the world is to enjoy the extraordinary Golden Tale that was put on in honor of Janmashtami by the children and young adults in Shree Muktananda Ashram in 2019: “The Story of Lord Krishna and the Demon Shishupala.”
Ganesh Utsava—August 21 to 31 (August 22 to September 1 in India)
Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of new beginnings and successful endeavors, is one of the most beloved deities in India. The holiday Ganesh Utsava honors the period in Vedic times when, legend tells us, sage Veda Vyasa narrated the epic Mahabharata and Lord Ganesh wrote it down. One delightful way to celebrate Ganesh Utsava is to chant Mangaladata Kripasindhu, a namasankirtana written and composed by Gurumayi to honor Lord Ganesh as “the remover of obstacles, the bestower of auspiciousness, and the ocean of compassion.”
The month of August offers us an abundance of ways to engage in the Siddha Yoga teachings and practices—so many opportunities to go deeper in our sadhana! Perhaps we will be able to continue experiencing the “Be in the Temple” satsangs and to contemplate Gurumayi’s teachings in Blessings to Treasure! With a little curiosity, we can also explore the many, many other resources on the Siddha Yoga path website that can support us in living an awakened life.
I had a remarkable insight about this recently. In meditation one morning I felt like I was mud wrestling with my mind—considering and rejecting each of the thoughts that came up from inside me. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I didn’t need to deal with my thoughts; a part of me was already quiet. Now, each morning as I sit to meditate, instead of trying to still my mind, I just shift my awareness to the simple, subtle space of not-Paul that is already radiantly silent, spacious, and free. I have learned that if I smile gently and focus on the heart region as I soften my breath, I become aware of this intimate and vast energy of joy and peace. Then, throughout the day, when I remember to quietly smile and breathe freely, I can return to experiencing the awakened reality that I am.
Perhaps you will find your own way to shift your awareness to the already-awakened you more and more each day as you experiment! After all, you really are the Self—enjoy it!