June 1, 2020
Welcome to the month of Birthday Bliss! The word bliss is the perfect expression for this month during which we celebrate Gurumayi’s presence in our lives. This name for the month of June came about because many devotees were beginning to celebrate Gurumayi’s Birthday, which falls on June 24, as soon as the first day of June arrived. During the week leading up to her birthday in 2008, Gurumayi told a group of people in at Shree Muktananda Ashram: “God is within you. Let your bliss shine forth, today and forever.” Then in the following year, Gurumayi gave the name Birthday Bliss to the entire month of June. Since that time Siddha Yogis have invoked this sweet and evocative name for June as a way to honor Gurumayi and uplift ourselves at the same time!
Bliss can take so many forms—joyful stillness, radiant enthusiasm, the ecstasy of chanting, the focus and devotion we experience as we offer seva. It can also be the feeling of reverence when arati is offered to a beloved form of the Lord. One feature of the live streams of “Be in the Temple” satsangs is that each time the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple in Shree Muktananda Ashram becomes the center of the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall, at some point an arati is performed to Bade Baba’s murti. For me, this is a joyful and profound moment—the sense of sacredness becomes palpable. Sometimes we recite the Arati, a devotional text that Baba Muktananda compiled in his Guru’s honor; sometimes we sing Jyota se Jyota Jagao or another prayer. Always, one or more pujaris wave lit ghee lamps before Bade Baba’s murti. This offering of light, with its delicate rising smoke, always draws me into a feeling of love and peace—and a quiet sense that all is well.
Each arati in these “Be in the Temple” satsangs concludes with a lovely ritual in which the pujari lights a small piece of camphor, places it in the center of the arati lamp or tray, and then lovingly sweeps the smoke from the camphor toward Bade Baba’s murti—a last, subtle offering. As part of this puja, we sing two verses that appear at the bottom of our computer screens. These Vedic verses are known as the Karpura Arati. This arati and the entire concluding ritual are discussed in some depth in an article written several years ago by Swami Ishwarananda and Ami Bansal: “Krpa ka Jharana: The Waterfall of Grace, Part IX.”
Clearly, these aratis are a living manifestation of Gurumayi’s grace and blessings for all of us during the current world crisis. Gurumayi’s grace is manifest as well in the abundant and inspirational teachings that she has given in these satsangs. Each of these remarkable talks is imbued both with Gurumayi’s deep compassion for us in the challenges we are facing and with her insistence that we must maintain a calm state in order to live through this time with courage and strength. One way Gurumayi has recommended we do this is to focus on our study and embodiment of the Sadguna Vaibhava, the divine virtues she has given us for the month of Birthday Bliss. I also encourage you to study each of Gurumayi’s “Be in the Temple” talks—and, most especially, to study her talk “Employing the Virtues”—as a foundation for this month of Birthday Bliss.
Exploring Birthday Bliss on the Website
There are many, many treasures on the Siddha Yoga path website during the celebration of Birthday Bliss, and each is precious in its own way. Each has its own beauty, its own appeal, its own way of teaching—and each is available only during the month of June.
Sadguna Vaibhava—Splendor of Virtues
For decades Gurumayi has instructed us, her students, to express our divinity in the world by manifesting the divine virtues in our lives. Each day throughout the month of Birthday Bliss a new virtue will be featured in the Sadguna Vaibhava gallery of virtues. These pages of the website provide you with a mind-and heart-engaging contemplation topic for every day of the month—and a perfect way to deepen your study of the virtues. By expressing the virtues in our words and actions, we manifest our divine essence in this world for the benefit of many. I find that simply visiting this gallery and holding each virtue in my awareness for a few moments rekindles my appreciation for the divine virtues as well as my desire to embody these qualities in my life. In addition to pausing for a while with each day’s new virtue, you can journal about it as a way of inviting it more deeply into your heart and mind and integrating it into your daily life.
Commentaries on the Virtues
And, over and above the virtue itself, on many days a commentary on the day’s virtue is included, written by a Siddha Yoga student who has studied and practiced that virtue in their own life. Reading and contemplating these commentaries is an excellent way to inspire and enliven our own relationship to the divine virtues.
Chanting with Shri Gurumayi
What a treat! Chanting with Shri Gurumayi is an extraordinary video with excerpts from nine different namasankirtanas with Gurumayi. You can chant along with each of these and then dissolve into a state of sweet meditation at the end.
Reflections on Gurumayi
Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda offer us fascinating and inspiring glimpses into the many ways that Gurumayi teaches individual students, each told from the student’s perspective. In this rich collection of personal reflections, poetry, and experiences of Gurumayi and her teachings, you’ll find an abundance of stories and insights that you can record in your journal and then turn to throughout the coming year.
Gurumayi’s Darshan and Wisdom
This beautiful collection of photographs of Gurumayi—Gurumayi’s Darshan and Wisdom—holds a delightful secret. Click on any one of the images of Gurumayi to read one of her teachings. The gallery has thirty-three images with quotations from Gurumayi, so you can visit at least one photograph and teaching each day of the month! You might also find that your heart and mind respond deeply to one teaching in particular and that you want to hold it within your awareness for the entire month. Go for it!
Siddha Yoga Yantra
Yantras are visual and mystical representations of the Divine. Gurumayi created the Siddha Yoga Yantra for Birthday Bliss, and when we absorb our awareness in this yantra, our minds become still, opening us to the experience of divinity within ourselves. As you contemplate the Siddha Yoga Yantra, let your eyes calmly absorb the movement and stillness in each element, as well as the yantra as a whole. Absorb yourself in how it affects your inner state. You might even decide to explore creative ways to integrate it into your life.
Redolence, Remembrance, Recognition
This is a collection of nine reflections on Gurumayi’s life and teachings titled Redolence, Remembrance, Recognition: The Life and Legacy of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Written in honor of Birthday Bliss, this is a delightful and profound perspective on Gurumayi’s life and legacy through the eyes and hearts of nine Siddha Yoga students who have been with Gurumayi for many years.
Explore and Study Gurumayi’s Message
Recently, I’ve been contemplating how to study and practice Gurumayi’s Message for 2020 in ways that support my sadhana and all aspects of my daily life. The beauty of this approach is that it engages my awareness of the Message throughout my day and engenders an ongoing sense of joy and serenity—a perfect way to cultivate and experience Gurumayi’s Message: Atma ki Prashanti, Peacefulness of the Self.
One of the things I’ve noticed is the importance of singing—and not just any songs, but hymns to the Divine and the divine name itself. For as long as I can remember, my wife and I have been chanting a namasankirtana before our meditation each evening, and since the first of this year we have been singing the lovely Kundalini Stavaha before our morning meditation practice as well. I find that this singing before meditation calms my mind and anchors my awareness in the Heart—the Self, the atman. Then, when I finish singing and begin to meditate, I’m already there.
I’m mentioning this as a way to encourage you to become creative, and even playful, in finding ways to bring Gurumayi’s Message into your life.
Kabir Jayanti—June 5
The birth anniversary of the fifteenth-century poet-saint Kabir is observed on Jyeshtha Purnima, the full moon of the month of Jyeshtha according to the Hindu lunar calendar. The hallmark of Saint Kabir’s work is the two-line couplet, known as a doha, which illustrates profound truths in a single, remarkable image. In Guru Govinda Dou Khade, the saint wrote “My Guru and the Lord are both standing before me. To whom should I bow down first? O Guru, I totally give myself to you. You have shown the Lord to me.”
Summer and Winter Solstice—June 20
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, this same day is known as the Winter Solstice—and it’s the shortest day of the year. Wherever you live, this is a day observed in many cultures and by many religions as a turning point of significance in our lives.
Father’s Day—June 21
A number of countries have set aside a day for honoring fathers, and the most popular timing of this holiday is the third Sunday in June. Each year, Father’s Day reminds us to celebrate and honor the many roles that our fathers and father figures play in our lives. They are our protectors, providers, and role models as we grow up and, if we are fortunate, wise guides who help us become our best selves. Father’s Day is a great time to remember and honor our fathers and everything we learned and received from them.
As we all know, the Siddha Yoga path website plays an increasingly important role as a vehicle for Gurumayi’s grace. The first year it was made possible for Siddha Yogis, wherever they might be around the world, to receive Gurumayi’s darshan on her birthday was 2012. That year, at regular intervals during the birthday celebration, the website posted videos of Gurumayi going through the day in Shree Muktananda Ashram—offering puja in the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple… walking around Lake Nityananda… chanting in the Celebration Satsang…
Hundreds of grateful Siddha Yogis wrote in from around the world in response to those videos. They described their joy at being with Gurumayi in this immediate way, and the transforming effect of receiving her darshan. To take just one example: a woman in New York City was waiting for a commuter train to take her to work, regretful that this was the way she was spending Gurumayi’s Birthday. Then she opened her cell phone to the website—and was enthralled to see a video of Gurumayi taken just an hour before at Lake Nityananda. Immediately the woman was with her Guru. She was vaulted right out of commuter mode and into a state of joy and delight. Now she was able to give herself gracefully to her working day—while visiting the Siddha Yoga path website whenever she had some free time.
Over the years the website has expanded its approach to special days. I’d like to remind you that it’s a great idea to visit the Siddha Yoga path website daily—and several times on an auspicious day. I myself plan to stay closely attuned to the website during Gurumayi’s Birthday Celebration this year.
I wish you great peace and delight in this joyous, abundant, and sweet month of Birthday Bliss!