February 1, 2020
Welcome to the month of divine love! Did you know that the word “welcome” comes from the Old English wilcuma, which means “a person whose coming is pleasing?”1 At a deep level, this greeting expresses a profound vision, expressed in the Sanskrit statement atithi devo bhava, “the guest is God.” And, as many of you know, recognizing the divinity within everyone we encounter is an expression of a core Siddha Yoga teaching: See God in each other.
So, welcoming one another is especially appropriate in this month of February, when the two main holidays on the Siddha Yoga calendar are celebrations of love: St.Valentine’s Day and Mahashivaratri. On Mahashivaratri, we joyously honor and meditate on Lord Shiva, the Supreme Being and the essence of our very own heart. And on St. Valentine’s Day, we jubilantly express this divinity by giving symbols of our love to others in our lives. In this way, the nondual Consciousness that is God expresses and experiences itself in the divine play of love, friendship, joyful companionship, and the welcoming of our fellow human beings.
Engaging with Gurumayi’s Message for 2020
Every day, we eat to nourish our physical being and to support the activities, physical and intellectual, that we engage in. With just a bit of imagination, we can see that it is an excellent idea to nourish the spiritual aspects of our being each day as well. Studying and practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings is the perfect way to strengthen and give joy to our inner being. And, just as we each have our own tastes in food, we each have preferred methods of engaging in spiritual study and practice. In 2020, Gurumayi’s Message is guiding our Siddha Yoga study and practice—and, fortunately, there will be a wide variety of both reflective and active methods to support your study of this Message.
Participating multiple times in Sweet Surprise is a powerful way to imbibe Gurumayi’s Message. I highly recommend to you that you read “Delving into the Study of Gurumayi’s Message” in which a Siddha Yoga meditation teacher from Italy, Leonardo Russo, shares his profound experiences of participating multiple times in Sweet Surprise last year. He would do this on special days he called “Golden Sundays”—a practice I’ve decided to implement in my own study of Gurumayi’s Message this year.
My own favorite way to study the Message last year was to participate in the Siddha Yoga Meditation Sessions. In particular I loved following the guided meditation instructions included in each session—I felt I was wrapped in a serene energy and could glide easily into meditation as I listened. I definitely will be participating again in 2020 as a new series of eight Meditation Sessions begins this month via audio stream! Gurumayi has given a title and focus to each of these Meditation Sessions, and Swami Ishwarananda will be the meditation teacher for the first session.
Other effective ways to study and implement Gurumayi’s Message in the coming year will be to engage with the many study tools that will be available on the Siddha Yoga path website. I definitely look forward to participating in these—as you can imagine, each of these ways of approaching Gurumayi’s Message has the potential to guide us into the living experience of the Message.
This Month’s Holidays
St. Valentine’s Day—February 14
St. Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday celebrating love, often with the image of a big red heart on the cards and candies given to our beloved. On the Siddha Yoga path, St. Valentine’s Day honors and celebrates the great Heart as the divine source of love, and reminds us to honor this great love in ourselves and each other. The great heart associated with St. Valentine’s Day is a visual symbol of this love. One delightful and contemplative way to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day is to visit Love in Action 2020 on the Siddha Yoga path website, a gift to each of us from Gurumayi in honor of this holiday. With Love in Action 2020, Gurumayi takes us deep into the experience of divine love. Every year it’s different, and every year it opens my heart in a new way.
As its name indicates, Mahashivaratri celebrates “the great night of Shiva.” One of Lord Shiva’s many names is Shanta, which means “the tranquil one”—a fitting name for the supreme master of meditation. He is often represented sitting in padmasana, the full lotus posture, with his hands placed one on top of the other in dhyana mudra, the gesture of meditation. His eyes are often looking downward, with his awareness directed deep inside himself. Through this image of Lord Shiva, we are led to look within and meditate on our own Self, which is pure, blissful Consciousness and one with the Lord.
Lord Shiva is also known as the primordial Guru, the One whose grace flows through the Gurus of the Siddha Yoga lineage. Through this beneficence of the Guru we receive shaktipat initiation, spiritual awakening, and we can experience deep and spontaneous meditation.
On Mahashivaratri, Siddha Yogis often dedicate the night to the worship of Lord Shiva, the great Self of all, by repeating his name in the form of Om Namah Shivaya, the initiation mantra of the Siddha Yoga lineage. It is said that on Mahashivaratri, a single repetition of Shiva’s name carries the power of one thousand repetitions at any other time. I think it’s my favorite holiday—there’s something magical about it.
Leap Year—February 29
Did you know that the solar year is actually 365¼ days long? Yes, the earth needs an extra quarter of a day to complete its yearly journey of 584 million miles (940 million kilometers) in its orbit around the sun. Every four years we make up that extra six hours by adding an extra day, February 29. We call it Leap Year. If we didn’t add this day, after 780 years, New Year’s Day would coincide with the summer solstice2!
The Guru and Student Are Connected
My wife, Achala Woollacott, and I were married many years ago in a garden not far from Shree Muktananda Ashram. Soon afterward, we had darshan with Gurumayi. Achala and I were seated on the floor by Gurumayi’s feet, with the rest of the family and wedding party seated in a semi-circle behind us. At one point, Gurumayi asked my father what his hobbies were. He replied that he was a sculptor, and that he loved giving form to pieces of wood.
Gurumayi responded with an innocent voice, “You like to farm?”
Thinking she had misheard him, I quietly said, “Form, Gurumayi. He likes form.”
Gurumayi smiled at me and nudged my knee playfully with her toe. My mind stopped, and I felt a quick flood of wonder and love pour through me. Wow, I thought. That’s exactly the kind of pun I make—and Gurumayi is showing me just how closely connected we are. I felt this was a profound gift—a divine wedding present: the experience that the Guru and student are truly one. The conversation moved on then, and watermelon juice was served to all. I think my dad—and, in fact, both of my parents—were thrilled with the amount of love they experienced in this little nuptial gathering. And I had a teaching for life.
I invite you to think about your own experiences that you are one with God and the Guru. This month of divine love is the perfect time for you to recognize how your mind and heart yearn for this profound bond and then ask your truest Self to awaken you to this ever-available experience. Make this the month of divine love!