At the Dawning of This Brilliant New Year

January 1, 2020

Dear readers,

Happy New Year!

Greetings to each of you as the dawn of this year’s first day is making its twenty-four-hour journey around the globe! Each new dawn begins when the sun rises over the rocky Chatham Islands off the east coast of New Zealand and then unfolds at 1000 miles (1600 kilometers) per hour as the sunrise glides ever westward to where you live and beyond. The saying time flies is absolutely true!

With the days whooshing by, it’s certainly worth pondering how we will make the most of this brilliant new year.

The sages of India repeatedly assert that the absolute best use of our time is to keep turning our awareness toward the presence of the supreme Self within our own being.

As Siddha Yogis, the most profound way for us to accomplish this is by actively engaging with the Message that Gurumayi gives us at the beginning of each year. If you’ve ever wanted to receive a teaching directly from Gurumayi, one meant just for you, know that Gurumayi’s Message for 2020 is that teaching!

So, my heartfelt suggestion to you is to embrace Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. Study Gurumayi’s Message. Put it into practice. Savor how this Message is for you. Gurumayi’s Message is alive with her blessings, and by studying and practicing this Message, we become more deeply anchored in the experience of the Self.

Let me highlight some of the practical ways you can begin your study of Gurumayi’s Message for this coming year.

Participate in Sweet Surprise
For many of us, our anticipation of receiving Gurumayi’s teaching for the year 2020 will have been fulfilled by the time you read these words—we will have experienced Gurumayi’s Message for 2020 during the live stream of Sweet Surprise on New Year’s Day! Participating in this grace-filled satsang is definitely a most auspicious way to begin the new year. And soon thereafter, Sweet Surprise was made available on the Siddha Yoga path website as a webcast, which we can now participate in as many times as we wish!

Participating in Sweet Surprise is a significant practice for each of us, because every word of Gurumayi’s Message talk is chaitanya—alive with shakti, the transformational power that awakens us to our true nature as the supreme Self. This is why, as Siddha Yoga students, when Gurumayi speaks, we learn best by listening deeply. When we take in Gurumayi’s words on every level of our being, we receive her teachings to a degree that goes far beyond what words alone can convey.

Seen in this light, participating in Sweet Surprise is itself a practice that immerses us in Gurumayi’s grace. This is why I take part in Sweet Surprise multiple times throughout the year. Each time I do, my mind experiences new insights and awareness, and my whole being feels renewed. I encourage you to do the same! You can support this intention by registering online for a Sweet Surprise multiple participation package.

Actively Study Gurumayi’s Message
On the Siddha Yoga path, we experience the transformational power of Gurumayi’s Message by actively studying, contemplating, practicing, and assimilating this teaching from our Guru into our daily lives. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • You could study and contemplate the meaning of each word of Gurumayi’s Message and your overall understanding of what that word is conveying.
  • You could reflect on various aspects of your life, how Gurumayi’s Message applies to each, and some practical ways you could put the Message into practice.
  • You could sit for meditation and ask for insights about Gurumayi’s Message, and then record and contemplate these insights in your journal.

As the new year unfolds, many study tools will become available on the Siddha Yoga path website. I encourage you to stay attuned to the website throughout the coming weeks and months and to engage with these study tools as you encounter them.

Gurumayi’s Message Artwork
I love how Gurumayi also conveys her Message each year through her Message Artwork. Contemplating and savoring Gurumayi’s Message Artwork draws me into a state of wonder, and helps me discover many facets of her Message that I might otherwise miss. For me, the Message Artwork speaks in the language of metaphor and imagery, revealing nuances and depths of the Message that are beyond the reach of language. I encourage you to experience and reflect on Gurumayi’s Message Artwork for 2020 and allow it to resonate within the depths of your own being.

January Holidays
January 7 will mark the 48th anniversary of the inauguration of reciting Shri Guru Gita as a part of the Ashram Daily Schedule. You might like to read “The Significance of Shri Guru Gita on the Siddha Yoga Path” by Swami Shantananda to learn more about the history and significance of reciting this revered text.

Makara Sankranti is the festival in India that celebrates the harvest season and honors the god of the Sun, Surya Devata. I encourage you to absorb yourself in chanting the surya-gayatri mantra as a way of preparing to meditate. This holiday also marks the traditional beginning of the season of light in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, Makara Sankranti falls on January 15 in India and on January 14 in many other places.

Another upcoming holiday is Ganesh Jayanti, which is celebrated in Maharashtra, India, as the birthday of Lord Ganesh, a deity renowned for his wisdom and compassion and known as the remover of obstacles. My wife and I often honor Shri Ganesh by chanting Mangaladata Kripasindhu. This year Ganesh Jayanti falls on January 28.

The very next day, January 29, will be Vasant Panchami, the festival that marks the birth of Mahasarasvati, the goddess of learning, music, and the arts. In India, Vasant Panchami also welcomes the coming of spring.


I would like to close by recounting a flash of intuition I had recently. One day when I was sitting before the puja altar in my meditation room, I asked for an insight to deepen my sadhana. Immediately, an image flashed through my mind of a major intersection in Boulder, Colorado—Broadway and Canyon Boulevard. I was puzzled. It’s been forty years since I’d lived in that city, and, besides, why would a bustling street intersection give me insight into sadhana?

I understood, however, that this image was a gift from my intuition, and so I thought more about these two streets. I reflected on how Broadway runs north and south, through neighborhoods, office parks, and shopping malls, while Canyon Boulevard runs westward, up the length of Boulder Canyon and all the way to the Peak to Peak Highway, where travelers can see close-up the majestic and formidable snow-covered peaks of the Colorado Rockies. It occurred to me that these two roads could be seen as metaphors for the two spheres of our lives—the everyday life of the personality and the transcendent life of the inner Self.

I saw how engaging in Siddha Yoga sadhana transforms us by bringing these two paths together: we meditate, and we carry the calmness and focus of meditation into our commute and our daily life; we chant, and we carry the vibrancy of the names of God with us as we shop for groceries and stand in the checkout line. Examples abound! I understood on a deeper level how Siddha Yoga sadhana transforms our lives: we come to experience that we are a living confluence of the human and the Divine.

I encourage you to revel in the experience of this truth as we enter the new year by actively embracing Gurumayi’s Message for 2020 with your heart, mind, and actions.

Warmest regards,


Paul Hawkwood

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About Paul Hawkwood

author photo Copyright SYDA Foundation

Paul Hawkwood has been following the Siddha Yoga path for more than thirty years. Until 1992, Paul and his wife, Achala Woollacott, hosted a Siddha Yoga meditation center in their home in Eugene, Oregon. Currently, Paul offers seva as a Siddha Yoga meditation teacher in Sadhana Retreats and other courses in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and as a writer and editor in the SYDA Foundation. He also serves on the leadership team for the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Eugene.

Paul has a bachelor’s degree in religion and English from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, and a master’s degree in composition and rhetoric from Eastern Washington University. Paul was a professor of English at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon, from 1987 to 2017.

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