March 1, 2020
We have arrived at the magical month of March, when one season begins to exit the stage and another one begins to tiptoe in, inviting us into fresh awarenesses of Nature’s beauty and mystery! This year, March 19 is being observed as the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and the first day of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Isn’t it fascinating how our location on this planet can shape our perceptions of life? Some of us are celebrating the return of greater light and warmth and the anticipation of summer, while others of us are preparing for the shorter and cooler days of autumn and winter. One world, and many seemingly different realities! Yet underneath the differences that the physical world presents to us, a deeper current flows. In the midst of our daily lives on this magnificent planet, we can recognize within ourselves and others—and the whole world!—the profound, ever-nourishing presence of the supreme Self.
How can this recognition take place, when our habitual thoughts, feelings, and actions—like shiny toys!—often distract us from our quest to live in this luminous awareness? The Siddha Yoga path, a path of both self-effort and divine grace, gives us everything we need to attain the radiant, ever-present experience of divinity within ourselves and the world we live in. And the Siddha Yoga path website provides us with an abundance of articles and resources each month that support us in our sadhana, our spiritual practices. This month I’d especially like to point you toward some of the many helpful and inspiring resources for engaging with Gurumayi’s Message for 2020:
Forming a Study Plan
I highly recommend that you come up with an inspiring and practical study plan. This will support your efforts to investigate the many facets of Gurumayi’s Message, and then implement your understandings in your sadhana and your daily life. By creating a personal study plan that reflects your own interests and favorite learning techniques, you can design an approach that is doable and engaging for you. One of my favorite elements of a study plan is to meet regularly with a “study buddy,” to share our reflections, creative expressions, new understandings, and other ways we’ve actively engaged with Gurumayi’s Message. These conversations inspire me to continue returning to Gurumayi’s Message on a regular schedule to discover new insights and ways of implementing it in my life.
And here are a few of the essential study tools on the Siddha Yoga path website that I recommend that you begin with.
Explore & Study Gurumayi’s Message will once again be an area of the website devoted to supporting your practice of Gurumayi’s Message for 2020 with a collection of resources and learning activities. Here, you will be able to experience sweet and ecstatic bhajans and abhangas, delve into scriptures and scholarly articles, and explore a myriad of other ways to practice and implement Gurumayi’s Message in your sadhana and daily life. In this way, you can enjoy assimilating the wisdom and teachings of the Message in ways both delightful and profound. What an adventure! You can find the two resources described below in this section of the website.
The Workbook on Gurumayi’s Message for 2020 is a vital resource for studying Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. It is comprised of thirty worksheets that will be posted weekly on the Siddha Yoga path website. Each of these worksheets is focused on a question from Gurumayi that is related to her Message, and there are also specific activities that will support you in exploring and studying these questions. One friend of mine was particularly enthusiastic about last year’s Workbook exercises, which she said helped her expand her perspective on the world through movement and drawing. These creative Workbook exercises helped my friend discover new pathways of experiencing joy in her life and expand her assimilation of Gurumayi’s Message into new areas of her life.
Meditation Sessions 2020 via Audio Stream will continue with a second session this month. This session’s title, given by Gurumayi, is “Comforting the Mind, Reposing in the Heart: Sukha-shānti.” These Meditation Sessions are designed to help you integrate Gurumayi’s Message into your meditation practice. The Siddha Yoga meditation teachers for these sessions guide you into the practice of meditation—and you can replay the recordings of these meditation instructions as many times as you want, and whenever you want, throughout the year! Last year, I listened to the guided meditation instructions each morning at the beginning of my meditation practice. They helped me enter ever deeper levels of meditation… and I can tell from my experience of the first session we received this year in February that the 2020 series holds the same potential.
This Month’s Holidays
Holi Purnima—March 9 - 10
Holi Purnima is a joyful and color-filled Indian holiday celebrating the arrival of spring in the Indian subcontinent. It begins with the full moon on March 9, and it’s often celebrated by playfully tossing brilliantly colored powders on friends and passersby alike.
Tukaram Maharaj Vaikuntha Gaman—March 10 in US (March 11 in India)
Tukaram Maharaj was a saint in the bhakti movement of 17th-century Maharashtra who was known for his abhangas (devotional poems) and for leading ecstatic kirtans (chants). Vaikuntha Gaman honors the day that Tukaram, in the midst of leading a rapturous chant, is thought to have been taken to Vaikuntha (heaven) on the wings of Lord Vishnu’s divine mount Garuda. For an inspirational story on this saint’s early life, you can read Swami Vasudevananda’s “The Triumph of a Great Soul.”
Eknath Maharaj’s Punyatithi—March 14
Eknath Maharaj was a 16th-century Maharashtrian saint celebrated for his scholarship and devotional poetry. On this date, we honor Eknath’s punyatithi, the anniversary of the day he left his body.
Spring and Fall Begin—March 19 (March 20 in India)
Did you know that the Latin language is still alive in English? The word “equinox” comes from the Latin word aequus for “equal” and nox for “night.” On March 19, the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere, the lengths of day and night are equal—twelve hours each—in each hemisphere. After this date, the days get longer in the Northern Hemisphere and shorter in the Southern Hemisphere until the autumnal equinox, when the day lengths reverse and the cycle starts over again.
Gudhi Padva—March 24 in US (March 25 in India)
Gudhi Padva is a springtime festival that marks the beginning of the new year in the state of Maharashtra, in India. This holiday also celebrates the return of Lord Rama and his wife, Sita, to the legendary city of Ayodhya, his birthplace and the setting of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. Lord Rama is known for slaying the demon, Ravana, and re-establishing dharma throughout his kingdom. Gudhi Padva is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, helping all of us recognize the many opportunities we have to begin anew with refreshed conviction and energy.
A number of years ago, I was the assistant manager for Atma Nidhi, the facility at Shree Muktananda Ashram that includes Annapurna Dining Hall. One morning I was standing outside Annapurna, talking with a friend of mine from home in Oregon. It was midmorning, and we were the only people around. A few minutes into our conversation, a car arrived at the door to the Atma Nidhi lower lobby, and Gurumayi got out and began walking toward us. I greeted Gurumayi and introduced my friend to her, concluding my introduction by saying that he was one of my “favorite people.” There was a moment of silence. Have you ever blurted out something, and then wondered why you’d said that?
Gurumayi gave me a questioning look, smiled, and said, “favorite people?” She then turned and walked down the hallway, leaving me to contemplate her question.
I gave a lot of thought to Gurumayi’s words. After all, how many people do we exclude from our love and respect if we have “favorites”? Since this experience, I’ve become more aware of how often my mind wants to sort people into categories that reflect limited aspects of who they are, rather than seeing divinity in their faces and words and actions. I make it a practice now to see light and beauty in the faces of people I am with. The Siddha Yoga teachings are that everyone is a favorite to God. How different would the world be—and our own inner state—if we keenly practiced one of the core teachings of Siddha Yoga, See God in each other.
How can we discover within ourselves the kindness, respect, graciousness, and love to practice this teaching in our daily lives—and to also treat ourselves with the same beautiful care? This month, we can cultivate these inner qualities by becoming a living expression of Gurumayi’s Message for 2020:
Atmā kī Prashānti
Peacefulness of the Self
As we immerse ourselves in the many inflections of meaning and experience contained within Gurumayi’s Message for 2020, the divine virtues will naturally unfold within our words and actions. What a beautiful and noble way to spend March!