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!
Such a beautiful letter! Such generous sharing, inspirational ideas, and meaningful experiences! My heart responds with eager enthusiasm to put these ideas into practice.
I appreciate the reminders of how to continue my Siddha Yoga practices during the pandemic, and I intend to keep the new habits I’ve established during these trying times. I feel so much stronger in my commitment to my spiritual path. I am so grateful!
And one way I know to express my gratitude is by offering dakshina.
California, United States
Some years ago, my husband and I were going through a financially challenging time. I was experiencing poverty consciousness and felt quite helpless. One morning, as I sat in front of my puja
before meditation, I looked at the picture of Gurumayi, told her how I felt, and asked for help.
I immediately heard an inner voice that said, "Give dakshina
!" I thought, "Oh, no! Ask me for anything, except that." But I trusted this instruction. I picked up a Siddha Yoga monthly dakshina
card from my desk, filled it in, and put a stamp on the envelope. And with that, my poverty consciousness was forever gone!
Since then, I feel a profound sense of abundance and gratitude.
Windsor, United Kingdom
I smiled as I read this letter.
Last July I attended a retreat at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland, where I had many opportunities to offer dakshina
. When I did not come prepared to make an offering, I always felt something was missing. So, in my plan following the retreat, I decided to offer dakshina
daily at my puja
every morning after meditation.
At the end of the month, when I gather the money, I make an offering online and return the cash to my meditation journal. I experience the cycle of giving and receiving as, voilà
, I have a new source of bills to offer in the upcoming month. How wonderful to find our letter writer here following a similar practice!
Through reflection, I realized that when I offer daily, I continually connect with my capacity to give. Every morning, I begin my day exercising this capacity. I feel so affirmed. I can feel this morning ritual expanding my sense of gratitude, and I am able to linger in this feeling.
I’m still smiling.
Wisconsin, United States
During this time of the pandemic, I have been looking for additional ways to practice dakshina.
I have received so much through each of the “Be in the Temple” satsangs
that I have been inspired to develop a new practice in addition to my monthly dakshina
offerings. After each of the satsangs
, overflowing with the fullness of my Guru's grace and teachings, I like to go to the webpage on the Siddha Yoga path website for the practice of dakshina
and offer a gift online. I enjoy writing a small prayer or “in honor of” in the description box and sending my offering.
This new practice fills me with bliss! Shubh Gurupurnima
California, United States
With every paragraph of this letter, I felt my heart expanding more and more. A sweet longing arose within me to experience Gurumayi’s presence within my heart—to be in her divine company and to immerse myself in my beloved Shri Guru. That’s what I want to do in this sacred month of Gurupurnima—by remembering Gurumayi every day, by meditating, by diving into the questions given in the Message Workbook, by watching the moon, and by offering dakshina
For a long time, I have been wanting to connect more strongly to my continuous offering of dakshina
in my monthly practice. Upon reading this sublime letter and receiving the invitation to celebrate Gurupurnima, my heart was stirred and I felt a longing to do exactly this.
I am inspired to read The Transformative Cycle of Giving and Receiving
on the 20th of each month, the day I make my offering. I look forward to adding this element to my practice. I know that each reading of this exposition will give new life, new understanding, and new energy to the divine and shining Siddha Yoga practice of dakshina
I feel so grateful for the abundant ways I am given to experience the steadfast longing in my heart and the gratitude that fills my being.
The reflections in this letter have inspired me to refresh and renew my dakshina
practice through reflection and tweaking the way I approach and engage with this practice.
I have committed myself to begin each workday by offering a coin at my puja
, as a symbol of the dakshina
that I offer monthly. As I do this, I will remind myself that the fruit of my work contributes to the Siddha Yoga mission. And I will pray that my thoughts and actions bring goodness and happiness to this world, and that I feel connected to Gurumayi’s love and grace through the day.
Before I began to practice dakshina
, the thought of money brought a sensation of limitation and apprehension. Now, offering dakshina
in gratitude to Gurumayi and in support of the Siddha Yoga mission has transformed even mundane monetary transactions into worship.
While shopping for food, I remind myself that I am looking for the freshest and most vibrant nourishment with which to honor the temple of the body. As I take care of my home, I remember that I am preparing for the joyful presence of my beloved Guru.
When I think, "Will there be enough?," the practice of offering flings the portals of my heart open in gratitude. Yes, I realize, there is more than enough!
New York, United States
I feel I’ve received a gift, gloriously unwrapped by this introduction to the month of July—an invitation to refresh and deepen my practices during this auspicious month of Gurupurnima.
My heart is filled with joy and gratitude for my Guru, my path, and my fellow Siddha Yogis who have imbibed the Guru’s overflowing grace and who support her work.
I am so grateful to Gurumayi for teaching me and turning me toward the divine light within.
Michigan, United States
Soon after reading this beautiful, inspiring letter, I read verse 15 of the Arati,
which speaks of the Guru as “the full moon, showering his cooling nectar on those who are overwhelmed by the fierce heat of the sun in the desert of the world.”
These words naturally reminded me of Paul’s experience of watching with wonder the moon in the Arizona desert. The contrast between the cooling moon and the hot desert sun also helped me realize that, when I used to look for happiness outside myself, I was really just wandering in the desert of maya
, illusion. It was in the midst of this wandering that I met the Guru—who illuminated my life with the blissful experience of shaktipat
and showed me the path to liberation, through sadhana
As the day of Gurupurnima rapidly approaches, I'm ready to welcome the light of the sun, distilled by the moon into a cooling nectar, and to celebrate the Guru, through whom I enjoy God’s perfection in my heart.
I was intrigued by Paul’s observations about the word purna.
Its literal definition as “full” and its connotations of abundance and perfection helped me realize in a new way just how natural it is to connect the practice of dakshina
to the moon called Guru Purnima.
Years ago, when I used to suffer from “poverty consciousness” and a sense of deprivation, my attitude to dakshina
was similarly contracted. But the longer I have walked the Siddha Yoga path, the more open I have become to seeing the genuine abundance in my life: the plenitude of blessings (yes, even in the harder times), the ocean of grace, the profound depths of wisdom available for me to explore as a Siddha Yoga student. And the more I opened to this fullness and this sense of inner bounty, the more comfortable I became in offering dakshina.
So this letter has clarified for me the perfection in linking our celebration of Gurupurnima to the practice of dakshina
—in honor of the perfection of the Guru-disciple relationship.
Illinois, United States
Several years ago, when I participated in a Shaktipat Intensive during the month of Gurupurnima, I heard one of the Siddha Yoga Swamis explain that when you go closer to the Guru in your heart, you will find the light there. Since then, I have been meditating with this intention and with a longing to experience the light in the heart.
So when I discovered that the title of the letter for July is “Revel in the Light of the Full Moon,” my heart leapt up with joy at the thought of receiving another opportunity to go deeper into my understanding and experience of the light of my heart. I have decided to hold the feeling of fullness of this light not only in my heart but also through doing the practices—including the practice of offering dakshina—and during my day-to-day activities.
I am really grateful to have this amazing focus for the month of July.
Reading about dakshina
in “An Introduction to the Month of July” was intoxicating! It has been my experience, too, that the spiritual practice of offering dakshina
has an immediate and beneficial effect on me: I feel fuller, more connected to the Guru, more grateful, and more content.
It is mysterious how this happens. But then I think of a flowering plant, and how when I water it and care for it with love and regular attention, it continues to bloom, delighting me with its gorgeous presence. Similarly, when I offer dakshina
, I am taking care of the beautiful spiritual path that has given me everything. And, just as the beautiful flowers enrich my life, I feel deeply blessed and continually showered by the Guru’s grace.
Connecticut, United States