Love is Vital

A Speech by Gita and Carlos del Cueto

On Friday, February 14, 2020, a Siddha Yoga satsang with Gurumayi was held in Shree Muktananda Ashram in honor of St. Valentine’s Day. The co-hosts for this satsang were Gita and Carlos del Cueto, a young married couple serving on staff together in the SYDA Foundation. Following is Gita’s and Carlos’s speech, in writing.

Gita and Carlos: Good morning, Gurumayi!

Gita: Good morning, Carlos.

Carlos: Good morning, Gita.

Gita and Carlos: We wish you all a love-filled good morning. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Carlos: As you heard from Gita, my name is Carlos. And my full name is… Carlos del Cueto. On such a day as today, that is filled with love—as every day can and should be—I am so delighted to be your host for this Love in Action satsang with Gurumayi.

Gita: Isn’t Carlos most amazing? He can definitely speak about love.

As you heard from Carlos, my name is Gita, and my full name is… Gita del Cueto. I too am so delighted to be your host for this Love in Action satsang with Gurumayi.

Did you know? This is the first time we are hosting a satsang together.

We got married in Melbourne, Australia, in 2017, three and a half years after we began to fall in love while offering seva for the Siddha Yoga Chanting Tour Australia 2014: Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram.

It was definitely a great Chanting Tour—for all Siddha Yogis, and especially for me. Love prevailed.

Carlos: It did indeed.

I am very happy that, with Gurumayi’s blessing, you, Gita, were offering seva during the Chanting Tour in 2014. You also happened to fall in love with the conductor; I am so glad Gurumayi requested that I serve in that role. I most certainly consider you to be Gurumayi’s blessing made manifest in my life. Thank you, Gita.

Gita: Thank you, Carlos. If anyone asks me today what kind of a person you are, I’ll ask them, Did you attend the satsang? You would have seen for yourself.

As we just said, today is a love-filled morning.

Carlos: Yes, happy Valentine’s Day to you all! Did you know that, in Mexico, where I’m from, today is known as “el día del amor y la amistad,” which means “the day of love and friendship”? I like this name because it illustrates that the love we celebrate on Valentine’s Day is not limited to romantic love. It can encompass all forms of love.

For example, Gita and I also love the Siddha Yoga practices, and the benefits we have gained from doing them are immense.

Today we would first like to speak to you about this love.

motif

Gita: I’ll begin by speaking about my love for meditation.

When Gurumayi was receiving letters from everyone, I always wrote to her about my meditation experiences. I loved sharing them with Gurumayi, and Gurumayi told me she loved reading them. Therefore, today, that’s the topic that I have chosen to speak about.

One experience I hold particularly close to my heart, and that I had shared with Gurumayi at the time, took place on the morning of Gurumayi’s birthday in 2016. I was meditating, and as I went within, I had the experience of a large pearl arising and sitting in the back of my mouth. I was a little confused; however, I continued meditating. I used a visualization I often do during meditation—which is to imagine a chasm open onto the landscape of my awareness, a doorway to the Self. This chasm is radiating brilliant light. So on this day, the morning of Gurumayi’s birthday, as I did this, a diamond appeared and floated in the light. I chided myself, thinking, “Pearls and diamonds! Stop being so superficial and thinking about jewels—just descend into the light!” So I did this, and the meditation continued.

Later that morning, here in Shri Nilaya, there was a Siddha Yoga satsang with Gurumayi in honor of her birthday. Gurumayi spoke about the sunrise. She described seeing the beautiful moon and the sun, and she said that she saw a… pearl, and then… a diamond, in the sky above the horizon. Gurumayi said that after she saw this, she blew a kiss to the world.

As you might imagine, when I heard Gurumayi say this, I was delightedly awestruck. I gently laughed at myself as I understood that my experience in meditation was a gift from the Guru, and an affirmation of my connection with her.

Another anecdote I’d like to share is from the following year, 2017. I was visiting Gurudev Siddha Peeth to offer seva, and during that visit I made the commitment to meditate for at least an hour per day. A daily meditation practice is something that I’ve been striving toward for as long as I remember, with varying degrees of success.

After a few weeks of putting in the effort day-by-day and meditating consistently, something happened: I began to look forward to meditation, I began to savor it. After a few more weeks, lo and behold! I realized I was in love with meditation!

To this day, the love comes as I give meditation time, as I get to know it like a friend. I’ve come to realize that what nourishes my love for meditation is… meditation. The consistency of the practice fosters the longing, and calls forth my love.

Carlos: Thank you for speaking to us about your love for meditation, Gita.

Let me now speak about my love for music.

After offering seva as a conductor on the Chanting Tour in Australia in 2014, my love and reverence for Siddha Yoga music became stronger than they already were. Australia had felt like home, and the sound of the Australians chanting with such gusto and fullness was magnificent. But what most impacted me was learning how what I taught in the satsangs—which was all based on Gurumayi’s teachings on music and chanting—was having a transforming effect on the people who participated.

After the Chanting Tour, I realized the paramount importance of properly documenting the history of Siddha Yoga music—Baba’s and Gurumayi’s music legacy. For this reason, I applied to serve on staff in the SYDA Foundation just a month after the tour concluded in 2014. Since then I have been very fortunate to offer this seva and continue to give training.

Right now, I would like to tell you about how my love for music came into play thirty-six years ago, even as I learned to speak my mother tongue fluently.

My natural affinity for music was innate; I was told—and I also have faint memories—that as a toddler, I took to music naturally. My beloved grandfather, himself a great music lover, realized the bond I had with music, and he kindled it assiduously. I was only three or four years old, and he would often take me to his music room, and we would simply sit and listen to music in silence. With such care, he cultivated my love for music, and I am eternally grateful to him for this gift.

I remember becoming acutely aware that the love of music was truly in me—it was mine—when I was eight years old. While on family vacation, my grandfather brought a CD player and CDs, among which was the “Brandenburg Concertos” by the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach. This music is full of energy, joy, and dance rhythms, and I basically became obsessed with one of the concertos during this trip. Multiple times per day, I would steal to where the CD player was and listen to it over and over and over again. And each time it would be as good as the last time. I understood that this experience of joy, which is love, would not diminish if I kept listening. It would never run out.

Any time I listen to music, whether the music is emotionally upbeat or occasionally sad and full of anguish, it doesn’t matter. The end result is an experience of joy that is accompanied with peace. In this way, music has been a friend, a companion, and I love it.

As I reflected on the meaning of this love of music in my life, I remembered a rehearsal that I was leading with an orchestra twelve years ago in 2008. We were practicing a particularly beautiful passage, what I consider to be one of the best moments in all of music. Trying to find words to explain to the musicians what to do, I found myself saying: “This passage must convey everything that is good and beautiful in this life.”

And that is what this love of music has brought me—again and again, it has brought me to the experience of the goodness and beauty of life.

I’d like to now talk about how Siddha Yoga music has shaped my love story with music. The thing is: although I grew up playing the piano, it was not until later that, in my heart, I felt I became a musician. And it happened here, in Shree Muktananda Ashram. In the year 2001, when I was nineteen, I was serving on staff when Gurumayi initiated the Premotsava Music Retreat for young adults. Around this time Gurumayi learned of my love for music and dedication to music seva. I also remember approaching Gurumayi the day before this retreat began and letting her know that my wish was to extend my time of service on staff by one year, and that this would not compromise my university studies. I asked for Gurumayi’s blessing. She smiled and gave me her blessing. In that moment I felt that she understood my love for music. And it was shortly after this that Gurumayi requested the conductors in the Music Department to give me a chance to conduct.

And so it was that, at this time of my life, after participating in the Premotsava Music Retreat for young adults, I began to study the Siddha Yoga music principles, and to integrate them into my music-making.

Through Gurumayi’s guidance, teachings, and blessing, as I offered seva in the Music Department I truly became a musician—by which I mean, I learned how to serve music, and how to access and convey through my own music-making the same experience of love, beauty, and goodness that I received as a listener.

motif

Gita: Now I’ll be sharing with you all about Australia.

I heard from Gurumayi that ever since she became aware of the catastrophic and devastating conflagrations in Australia, her heart has continued to feel the pain. Her heart has continued to sing to the land of Australia. The fact is that Australia, and truly speaking, the whole world, feels the loss of the billion and a half animals that have died, as per reports from the news media.

Gurumayi said, “This pain is unbearable. This loss is unbearable. This situation is unbearable. At the same time, lending a helping hand and supporting one another is what will give everyone the strength to get through. It is what will give everyone the courage to create a new world and let the light of love shine through. Keeping your faith strong at times when your faith itself seems to be thinner than the thinnest ice is what will reveal to you God’s purifying tears.”

I feel fortunate that I am from Australia. I also feel fortunate that I am from Gurudev Siddha Peeth. And I feel most fortunate that I have the opportunity to offer seva in Shree Muktananda Ashram. The Siddha Yoga path has been my life, and I love every country that gives me spiritual sustenance. Right now, I would like to shed light on the current situation in Australia.

Over the last six days, heavy rain in the eastern part of Australia has extinguished 30 fires.

To give you an idea of the amount of water that has fallen: Dams in the greater Sydney area received more water this past weekend than they did in all of 2019.

There are now 63 fires burning throughout Australia. Only two weeks ago, this number was 90. Six weeks ago, before a Siddha Yoga satsang with Gurumayi that was live video streamed to Australia and New Zealand on Saturday, January 4, the number of fires was 290.

While this blessed, heavenly rain has been showering its love on the land of Australia, because of the drought, the soil has not been able to absorb so much water. People have experienced challenges from all the flooding, strong winds, damaged power lines, fallen trees... it’s been relentless, to say the least.

On social media, Siddha Yogis have created groups to share what’s happening in their lives, reminding each other of Gurumayi’s love, the Siddha Yoga teachings, the Siddha Yoga practices. The strength of the sangham has shone through.

This support of the community, this support of the sangham, reminds me of what they say in Maharashtra on Makara Sankranti—“Tilgud ghya, god god bola.” Please take these sweets, and speak sweetly.

My interpretation of this saying is: you take the support, and then you give support. You give the support, and then you take support. That’s the circle of love.

motif

Carlos: Speaking about the circle of love, I am going to assume that most, if not all of you, had the chance to engage with Gurumayi’s visual creation of Love in Action 2020 on the Siddha Yoga path website.

Gita and I made a point to explore it together, not only because it’s about love, but also because we knew that together we would be hosting this satsang today. We were so moved, so grateful, to see what we saw, to read what we read, to feel what we felt, especially in light of what is happening in Australia.

On the Siddha Yoga path, we celebrate many holidays and auspicious occasions. Each celebration gives us a reason to reenergize our Siddha Yoga practices and restrengthen our faith in God. Each celebration gives us a reason to offer our gratitude to the Guru and to seek blessings to continue to follow the path shown by the Guru, and become beacons of light in this world.

Today we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day—although there isn’t unanimous agreement among people about whether or not the legend of St. Valentine really took place. However, one thing is certain: what this celebration holds and conveys is true, and that is love. Love is true.

Gurumayi has given us a very clear direction about what true love is. True love is revealed in our actions.

Therefore, I do think the title Gurumayi has given to her visual creation of love—Love in Action—is important.

People talk about love, write about love. At times people think they feel love. Many times they feel they are giving love.

Everyone has their own meanings of love, their own associations with love, their own interpretations of love. Everyone has their own stories and philosophies about love. The word “love” is loaded for everyone—in both positive and negative ways.

And, of course, love is not limited to humans. Love is found between animals. Love exists in and among trees. It runs through the soil. I have heard Gurumayi say, “Where there is the action of breathing, there is the power of love.”

The reason I say Gurumayi’s title is so important is that it calls for action, instead of leaving love in the world of thought and association—something theoretical, abstract, ethereal.

Gita: Gurumayi has given this title—Love in Action—so that people may better understand the nature of love, so that they better comprehend how love can be made manifest in this world, how it can be actualized, and how its benefits can be felt both in the moment and down the road. When love is put into action, it is not affected by the ebb and flow of one’s emotions.

So often, we conceive of love as a passive thing, as something that comes around and “happens” to us if we’re lucky, if we’re born into the right circumstances, if we meet the right people. Yet in clinging to this concept of love, we unwittingly keep love at bay.

We keep it away from our day-to-day life.

When we visit the Siddha Yoga path website to view Love in Action, which is replete with teachings, we can consider it to be an invitation from Gurumayi, a beckoning, a call to change how we think about love.

There is always an element of discovery in Love in Action; there are mysteries to be revealed, secrets to be unearthed, so many wonderful surprises to be uncovered.

I do want to warn you, though: with each click, you might just find your smile getting bigger and bigger, wider and wider, as you breathe in the beauty and take in the teachings.

Carlos: Though Gurumayi has given us Love in Action as a profound teaching, I want to acknowledge that Gurumayi is giving us this teaching on love in a fun way. I say this as someone whom Gurumayi has often called a “serious person.” Some of you may have been present when Gurumayi would tease me. She would be telling these excellent jokes, yet there would be no visible reaction from me. I would just look back at her, like a very serious scholar—the joke having gone right over my head… I just didn’t get it. And Gurumayi would ask in disbelief, “Carlos, how is it possible that you are so serious?!”

In those lighthearted moments created by Gurumayi, I often felt encouraged to look at myself and ask: “Carlos, do you really have to be quite so serious? Your Guru is teaching you that life is fun.” This kind of thinking has brought me a long way. And I have discovered that whenever something is fun, learning takes place more naturally.

So, I find it is similar with Love in Action. Gurumayi has created a lighthearted experience for all of us. By doing so, I feel Gurumayi is helping us to understand that this deepest, most profound and mystical virtue of love is, in equal measure, light, joyful, full of effervescence. We can therefore approach love, and Gurumayi’s teachings about love, with this perspective.

I hope that as you click, and click, and click on the different images in Love in Action 2020, as you explore all its corners and facets, you will come to the understanding that love is available for you. Love is yours to keep. Love is yours to hold. Love is yours to give. Love is your palette. And what is more, you will have the insight that waiting for love, hoping for love, expecting love to come and pick you is not productive or useful. It only exhibits a picture of selfishness.

Always remember: You do have the power to create love. You do have the power to paint love. You do have the power to share love. You do have the power to spread love. And this love is matchless.

It is my hope that by engaging with Love in Action 2020, you also come to realize that love is not one color. It is not one feeling. It is not one person. It is not just one thing. Love is love. Only love can define love. And this love is unparalleled.

Gita: Love is present when you teach a child how to say “thank you.”

Carlos: Love is present when you realize you missed the train.

Gita: Love is present when you open your svadhyaya book for recitation of Shri Guru Gita.

Carlos: Love is present when you take a bite of zucchini that you dislike.

Gita: Love is present when you hear a story of devastation.

Carlos: Love is present when you find out that your best friend stood you up.

Gita: Love is present when you think of helping someone.

Carlos: Love is present when everything is going the way you did not plan.

Gita: Love is present when you watch a leaf floating gently down a stream.

Carlos: Love is present when you thought the weather would be perfect for going to the beach, but instead, it ends up being awfully cold.

Gita: Love is present when you make a donation to support a good cause.

Carlos: Love is present when the music ensemble refuses to follow the conductor.

Gita: Love is present when you sit for meditation.

Gita and Carlos: Because love is present, we can do what we wish to do, both on our own and together with one another. It’s only because of love. This is love in action. And this love is unassuming.

Carlos: Therefore, why not affirm that love is present within us? And, why not affirm that love is present outside of us? Why not hold the firm belief that love is present in our surroundings, and that love is present in our world? Why not have the conviction that yes, love is here? Love is meant for us. Love has already chosen us as its home.

And this love is suffused with humility.

Recently, Eesha Sardesai, a staff member who offers seva as one of the writers in the SYDA Foundation, shared that Gurumayi had once told her about a darshan in which a Siddha Yogi had sung the song “Do You Love Me?” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. In this song, a husband asks his wife of twenty-five years if she loves him, since he’s never heard her say the words aloud: I love you. His wife, after initially dismissing his question as preposterous, replies that for twenty-five years she’s lived with him, raised four children with him, tended to their household. If that’s not love, she asks, what is?

From this, I understand that there isn’t one set way to convey love. Love is not defined by certain words or by a particular kind of gesture. Love is not limited to whatever parameters we may have placed on expressing it.

Gita: Therefore, the question for us is: Will we make the right effort to experience love—either when we are sharing love or when we’re receiving it? Will we be able to recognize love when it wafts in our direction?

I have another question for you, which I heard Gurumayi ask someone once. Do you ever think of becoming an expert at recognizing all the different ways in which the people, animals, and plants of this world communicate their love?

What an amazing question, isn’t it? Let me repeat it: Do you ever think of becoming an expert at recognizing all the different ways in which the people, animals, and plants of this world communicate their love?

I’d like to share one more thing with you all. In giving the title Love in Action, Gurumayi is also bringing to our awareness the fact that the experience of love is not just for oneself. Love is not solely for us to receive and enjoy. We have just as much of a duty to give love and demonstrate love. We have just as much of a responsibility to embody love as we move about and interact with this world—in which seven thousand languages are spoken; hundreds of religions are observed; millions of books have been written on faith and agnosticism. This world, in which there is an endless array of cuisines being eaten, and new life is constantly emerging. Any progress we make to recognize the love in our lives becomes exponentially more valuable when we then give that love to others. And this love—it defies all simile and metaphor. It is beyond compare.

To put it another way: for love to be in action, for it to be more and more vibrantly manifest in our world, it must be activated.

motif

Carlos: Love. Love is. Love was. Love shall ever be.

Love was in that first throb of spanda from which the entire universe, this manifest cosmos, unfurled.

Across time, through the rise and fall of so many civilizations, through the ebb and flow of the outer and inner worlds, love has remained. Love has endured. Love has been the constant.

And so it is here on the Siddha Yoga path. So it is now, in the presence of our Guru. Love is pulsing in our satsang hall, in the spaces between us, and in the cavern of each of our hearts. Isn’t love great? You give love a little space and—like that—it spreads, transforming everything and everyone that comes into its orbit.

We have come together today, in this Siddha Yoga satsang with Gurumayi, to rejoice in love, to honor love, to continue to learn about and experience the many rasas of love and devotion. We have convened in satsang, in the presence of our beloved Guru, to offer our love to the Guru, to readjust the sails of our understanding, to understand how we can enact love in this world—how we can be lighthearted emissaries of love. For love is vital.

Gurumayi, from you we have learned and experienced firsthand how love wants for nothing; it has no agenda, no restrictions, no conditions. All love needs is space. Space to be. Space to grow and to flourish. Space in which love can be seen and felt and heard and held. And it is because of your love, Gurumayi, that we gain the courage and we have the knowledge to create and expand that space in ourselves. It is because of your golden teachings, and your shining example, that we help usher more of that space into this world.

Thank you, Gurumayi. We love you so much.

motif