December 1, 2020
Welcome to the culminating month of 2020! Whether you are preparing for winter in the Northern Hemisphere or for the planting season in the Southern Hemisphere, this is another moment of transition in our spiritual lives as we reflect on the abundance of guidance and teachings we are receiving this year from our beloved Gurumayi. This kind of manan, “contemplation,” is the best preparation I can think of for entering the year 2021.
In this particular moment another year is coming to a conclusion, giving us a clear awareness that time is passing. Haven’t you noticed how endings can make time more precious? At this very moment as I sit here writing, a storm is approaching, darkening the sky. There is a quietude in the world around me—the proverbial calm before the storm. The gentle rumbling of thunder draws me back into the present moment and inspires me to write a brief poem.
Between All Moments
In the moment before rain,
there’s a living stillness,
like the leap of a fish,
a leaf drifting down, or
the space between breaths.
Between all moments
you’re no one—
After these lines came up, it occurred to me that studying Gurumayi’s Message for the year has deepened my understanding that these calm moments of awareness are always available to us, if we pay attention. So, in a sweet way, this very poem expresses for me wisdom that I have more fully anchored myself in this year.
While we may have many difficulties at this time, the Self forever shines forth with its tranquil light. Yet don’t you find that it takes some initiative and care to turn our awareness toward this light? In some ways, life is like one of those mega-theaters with twelve different movies playing, some of them adrenaline-producing, nail-biting sorts of dramas and some quite beautiful and inspiring.
While we can choose which movies to immerse ourselves in, we may not feel that we’re choosing the circumstances of our lives. Yet we do have a great deal of control over what films we play within our own minds. And when we tire of our inner comedies and dramas—which seem, I grant you, very real—we can turn our awareness toward the peaceful and scintillating light of the Self, which is constantly shining within.
One practical way to accomplish this turning toward the Self is to absorb your attention in some of the many profound and uplifting destinations on the Siddha Yoga path website. Now, here is a multiplex where everything is uplifting.
In the finale of last month’s “Darshan and Manan: The Siddha Yoga Practices of Seeing and Contemplating,” Jaiya Seibert shared that so far this year there have been forty-nine satsangs via live video stream in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. This month, we can continue to study the teachings that we received in many of these satsangs, study sessions, and gatherings—and we will have the opportunity to participate together as a sangham in several more satsangs.
Engaging in Shanta-rasa
In the first three weeks of December, a new series of satsangs, “Engaging in Shanta-rasa,” will be held in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. These satsangs, which will take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, will be available via live video stream.
Be in the Temple
The extraordinary “Be in the Temple” satsangs—thirty-six live video stream satsangs that took place in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall between March and August—have had an impact on participants that I feel we cannot even begin to calculate. The initial Be in the Temple pages on the website brought together Gurumayi’s talks in the satsangs and the streams of teachings titled Blessings to Treasure that she created for some satsangs. I’ve mentioned these in past letters, but they are worth returning to—as I’ve found for myself a number of times. And there are—coming back to the theme of movies—sequels that have come out, each a different aspect of what the Siddha Yoga sangham received in these satsangs. There are two of these.
- Be in the Temple II— These pages contain many of the speeches and talks by Siddha Yoga meditation teachers and sadhakas, classical stories that were told by Siddha Yogis around the world, as well as clips of Siddha Yoga music and chants that were presented in the “Be in the Temple” satsangs, along with a recipe for Siddha Coffee. In the introduction, About “Be in the Temple II,” Eesha Sardesai writes that Gurumayi’s intention for the satsangs was to make people’s spirits soar once again.
- Be in the Temple III— Here, you will find expositions written by Siddha Yoga meditation teachers and scholars of the literary and scriptural traditions of India, explaining in depth some of the Siddha Yoga teachings, practices, and traditions that were a part of the “Be in the Temple” satsangs. In his introduction, About “Be in the Temple III,” Swami Shantananda encourages us to examine the sacred teachings presented in these pages with the purpose of identifying what we can apply in our own lives and sadhana. This is, he writes, “like unearthing gold—the gold of divine wisdom.”
The Holiday Season
The month of December is known for its celebrations. It is often called the holiday season: a magical time of light when people decorate their homes and streets and look for ways to give to one another—and, especially, to give to children.
At this time people around the world are celebrating such holidays as Hanukkah, the Jewish “festival of light” (December 10 – 18), Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday of family virtue (December 26 – January 1), and Christmas Day (December 25), the Christian holiday honoring the incarnation of the Divine within humanity.
For many years in the holiday season, I sang in choirs and especially loved the deeply spiritual music we sang. On the Siddha Yoga path, we have the blessing of singing God’s name throughout the year and experiencing the divine mystery within our own being again and again. There is also something truly alive and special about the holiday season, and chanting a namasankirtana each day or reciting Shri Guru Gita several days a week could be a perfect way for you to make this truly a season of light within your own being.
Speaking of light, this month marks the moment when our experience of light shifts toward the birth of a new season. The solstice that occurs in December marks the change of seasons from fall to winter in the Northern Hemisphere and from spring to summer in the Southern Hemisphere. There are two solstices in the year, and each indicates the moment when one of the Earth’s poles is tilted farthest from the sun—the North Pole in December, the South Pole in June. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice on December 21 is a return to the time of light and, in this regard, you can read verses from the Rig Veda celebrating the Sun, the bearer of light, in “The Radiant One” on the Siddha Yoga path website.
As this year draws to a conclusion, I would like to thank each of you for your thoughtful engagement with these monthly letters. I have read all of your comments on the letters, and I have appreciated how they convey your studentship. Your presence has inspired me to listen deep within and to look for the words that convey the essence of each month’s themes. It is my wish that each of us in the Siddha Yoga sangham continue our spiritual advancement in the coming year.