July 1, 2020
Recently, I have fallen even more deeply in love with the moon. For many years I lived in a hilly, forested area where rain or drizzle was the default mode for the sky, and I rarely gave a thought to the moon. Now, living in the high desert of Arizona in the southwestern United States, I see the moon almost every night—and sometimes in the mornings and afternoons! I enjoy the moon waxing toward fullness and waning towards the tiniest of crescents. But always my mind and heart are most enchanted by the full moon. It seems so close, so whole, so present.
During Gurupurnima we have the opportunity to experience what sacred texts of India consider the most auspicious full moon of the year, the full moon dedicated to the Guru. This is an especially powerful day to honor and worship the Guru in gratitude for the grace and knowledge that we receive.
In fact, we could consider every full moon, that beautiful and evocative presence in the nighttime sky, to be an apt reminder of the abundance of grace we receive from the Guru—and of the fullness of the Guru’s presence within our own being. Have you ever considered that, from the sun’s perspective, the moon is always full because the moon is always fully facing sunward? In the same way, the Guru is always fully aligned with the supreme source of inner light, with God, and she wholly reflects that divine light of grace and wisdom on us.
In Sanskrit the word for “full” is purna. A number of years ago I experienced an indelible connection with the moon and this term purna on the day of Gurupurnima. My wife and I were in Europe for a variety of reasons—personal and professional—and were riding in a taxi to the Berlin Airport very early that morning, when I caught glimpses of the golden Gurupurnima moon setting in the west as the sun was rising in the east. The full moon playfully glided in and out of sight, shrouded by clusters of low clouds.
I realized that at this hour of sunrise in Germany, it would be late at night in New York, and I imagined that Gurumayi might also be looking at the Gurupurnima moon, taking in its radiance in the night sky. In that moment, I experienced a new connection to Gurupurnima. In the past, it seemed mysterious—why honor the Guru at the time of one particular full moon? Then, instead of trying to understand Gurupurnima, I chose to imagine Gurumayi enjoying the full moon in the night sky above Shree Muktananda Ashram. As I did this, in my mind I heard Gurumayi say the word purna slowly and with clear delight. Then I heard her repeat purna, again and again, her voice ringing with enthusiasm and joy.
I wondered what such an intensity of delight might feel like, and I began to feel an exultant radiance open up inside me. The word purna kept arising strongly from within, and I thought about how utterly full it all is—nature’s plenitude, God’s unwavering presence, the Guru’s constant grace and love. Now I find that this feeling of divine wholeness is naturally symbolized by what I know to be the most significant full moon of the year.
This year, Gurupurnima will be celebrated in the West on July 4—and in India, July 5. One way to experience the moon throughout the month is to look at the stunning photographs of the Waxing Moon of Gurupurnima, sent by Siddha Yogis from around the world in the two weeks leading up to this holiday. Every day now, new photos are being added to this gallery, and this will continue until it culminates with the photos of the full moon on Gurupurnima. You can submit photographs of the Gurupurnima moon yourself and actively participate in this unique form of celebration.
In most years, my wife and I attend a Gurupurnima Celebration Satsang at a Siddha Yoga meditation center or a chanting and meditation group, joining with other Siddha Yogis to chant and meditate and invoke the presence of the Guru in our hearts. This year, living as we are in the midst of a pandemic, we will celebrate at home—and that makes me quite grateful for the extraordinary resources that Gurumayi is making available through the Siddha Yoga path website.
Bhagavan Nityananda’s Lunar Punyatithi
On July 17, we celebrate Bhagavan Nityananda’s Lunar Punyatithi—the anniversary of the moon phase on which Bade Baba left his body and merged with the Absolute. In 2012, on the fiftieth anniversary of this sacred day, Gurumayi gave a talk, Nityanandam Charanam Sharanam, in which she reminded us that wherever we may be, we can be present “heart-wise” to celebrate Bade Baba. This year, on July 17, we can all participate by honoring Bade Baba heart-wise in our own practices of chanting and meditation—and by singing Shri Avadhuta Stotram on the Siddha Yoga path website.
Explore and Study Gurumayi’s Message
Recently, a friend told me about a Siddha Yoga student in Melbourne who is making the Workbook on Gurumayi's Message her main Siddha Yoga study tool this year, one that she turns to every day. I spoke with this young woman about her experience with the Workbook. She said she particularly loves the questions from Gurumayi that begin each worksheet and which direct the student’s exploration of the Message for 2020. “I hold Gurumayi’s questions in my mind all week long,” this woman said. “I’m thinking about them as I walk, as I cook dinner, as I do the dishes… I’ve always wanted the feeling of being in dialogue with Gurumayi,” she added, “and I have that all the time now.”
It struck me that this is what many of us long for—a profound and yet deeply human connection with the Guru. One of the points this woman made is that it isn’t too late in the year to start the Workbook.
In the month of Gurupurnima, the Siddha Yoga practice on which we focus is dakshina, the practice of making offerings to the Guru in monetary form. I have always seen dakshina as the ideal way to honor the enormity of grace and wisdom we receive from the Guru, even though we may feel we can never offer enough. In many bhajans and abhangas, we hear India's poet-saints declare their vast love and gratitude for the liberating grace they received from their Guru, and yet they acknowledge that they are left with a dilemma: what to give to the Guru in return? As Saint Brahmananda sings, “What gift can I offer my Guru? In all the three worlds, I don’t find anything worthy enough. For nothing can ever compare with the supreme bliss he gave me, not even mountains.”
At the same time, we want to make an offering—and it is important that we do. The act of giving, which is a natural part of the cycle of life, nourishes the inner transformation that the Guru has set in motion within us. I encourage you to read The Transformative Cycle of Giving and Receiving by Mark McLaughlin to gain an expansive view of the alchemical nature of giving and receiving.
After reflecting on the nature of offering, I decided that I wanted to revitalize my practice of dakshina. For many years, I’ve made my main dakshina offering through the Siddha Yoga Monthly Dakshina Practice, in the form of an automatic transfer from my bank account. My monthly offering has also been inspired by the awareness that this regular offering of dakshina supports the Siddha Yoga Mission in an ongoing way. Then, in satsang at the Siddha Yoga meditation center where I live, I would also make an offering of dakshina as I bowed before Gurumayi’s chair in the meditation hall. In this setting, I often had a deep experience of my connection to Gurumayi—I was grateful for her grace and presence in my life. Now, with the Siddha Yoga meditation centers and chanting and meditation groups on hiatus during the global pandemic, I realized how much I miss those moments of darshan and offering dakshina.
It occurred to me that I could make this situation a blessing. I saw that in addition to participating in the Monthly Dakshina Practice, I could also make an offering of dakshina at the puja in our meditation room each night after my wife and I finish chanting and meditating. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I must say that the experience is profound—it brings forth the feeling of love and connection that I want to experience in my Siddha Yoga practices. And at the end of each month, I will send this additional dakshina to the SYDA Foundation as an online offering. Voilà! In this way I can enjoy that moment of connection every night.
This direct experience of the power of offering dakshina has inspired me to find a way to become more aware of the benefit of my longstanding commitment to a regular practice. I have decided to reread The Transformative Cycle of Giving and Receiving on the first day of each month. On that day, I will also journal about my experience of offering dakshina, noting any shifts in my sense of connectedness and love.
I invite you, during this month, to consider how you might enliven or deepen your own experience of this core Siddha Yoga practice.
In this month of Gurupurnima, we each have the opportunity to turn our minds and hearts toward the full light of the Guru within and to revel in that light. May this be a splendiferous month for each one of us!