October 1, 2020
Each year, throughout the month of October, Gurumayi encourages us to become aware of signs of Baba as we celebrate his mahasamadhi, the time when he left this world and merged completely with the divine Self. What might a sign of Baba be? With some intention and focus, we can experience that the world is overflowing with signs of Baba! Baba’s grace can manifest in such an abundance of ways that we can see signs of Baba throughout each day once we turn our attention toward embracing this opportunity. In this way, we can become aware of one who has himself become one with the Infinite, and who also makes his presence and love palpable in our lives. Here’s a poem I wrote as a way to deepen my understanding and experience of this divine paradox:
Let’s slow down now, and
make room for light, for
heart, for the vibrant
stillness of it all.
He whom we adore is inside.
He whom we adore is outside.
Where shall we go?
Gurumayi’s invitation to become aware of signs of Baba offers us a delightful challenge: to see our daily world through new eyes and recognize the radiant Self in all that we encounter. Perhaps you might even want to keep a small notebook with you throughout the whole month of October—which is thought of as Baba’s Month on the Siddha Yoga path—so you can write down all the signs of Baba you experience. I’m looking forward to doing this myself, along with taking photographs of moments of beauty and light that I see throughout this time.
Baba took mahasamadhi on October 2, 1982, a full-moon day, and so each year this anniversary is observed by the solar (Western) calendar on October 2, and it’s observed on the lunar (Indian) calendar on the full-moon day. In 2020, we will honor Baba’s Lunar Mahasamadhi on October 31, which is not only a full moon but also a blue moon—the second full moon in this month of the Western calendar. In the West, the expression once in a blue moon refers to something both rare and precious, terms which certainly reflect the life and grace of a great soul like Baba.
It’s difficult for me to even imagine the spiritual merit that is associated with living as Baba did—and as Gurumayi does—in an unbroken experience of God-realization and with the sole purpose of bringing others to that same exalted state. Yet according to the Indian tradition, a portion of this spiritual merit is granted to those who honor great souls on each anniversary of their mahasamadhi. And so we are encouraged to remember Baba on this holy day.
During this month of Baba Muktananda’s Mahasamadhi, each of us can choose how to remember Baba. How are you drawn to bring Baba to mind this year? By reading the shares of Siddha Yogis who recount their experiences of Baba’s Mahasamadhi? By exploring the practice of guru-puja? By taking photographs of the waxing moon for the Siddha Yoga path website? By chanting Baba’s name with Om Namo Bhagavate Muktanandaya in one of its many ragas?
After reading about Baba’s mahasamadhi on the website, I felt inspired to go on a mental pilgrimage to his Samadhi Shrine in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. I had a heartfelt longing to experience Baba, whom I did not meet when he was alive, and I wanted to be in his presence. I sat for meditation, and in my mind’s eye, I entered the front lotus gate of Gurudev Siddha Peeth and went first to the courtyard, where I bowed to Gurumayi’s chair. I stayed there for a few minutes, enrapt in the stillness of my Guru’s presence. Then I went to the Samadhi Shrine, expecting that I would enter the door and find Baba’s sandals on a stand in front of the austere marble tomb in which he rests. Instead I found Baba standing there, as if he were waiting for me. He smiled at me in a joyful and loving way, and then he embraced me. Something melted in my heart, and I felt a deep sense of peace and love arise. It was both remarkable and very simple. I had the sense that Baba has always been with me, protecting and guiding me, and that I can be with Baba whenever my heart pulls me to him. This constant presence in the hearts of their students is a gift of the grace bestowed by the Siddha Yoga Gurus.
Have you ever wondered, what is grace?
During this time of extraordinary challenges in the world, I’ve been contemplating grace a great deal—what it is and how it affects our lives. In the most transcendent sense, the sacred power of grace awakens us to the divinity that is our true essence and transforms our sense of smallness into the awareness of light and beauty within our own being and in the world and people around us. What a marvel! Through shaktipat diksha—the awakening of the sacred Kundalini energy within us—the Guru sets us on the path of becoming increasingly aware that God’s light is our own light.
Grace can also manifest in tiny ways in our lives, in utterly personal and whimsical ways—the appearance of a naturally heart-shaped rock, a friendly face at the right time, or a cloud in the form of a peacock feather. As I’ve mentioned, throughout this month you might enjoy keeping an eye out for signs of Baba: in nature, in other people, and in the beauty and miracles, both large and small, that pervade our lives. These are all manifestations of divine grace.
One lovely manifestation of grace I’d like to point out to you is the Siddha Yoga path website page titled Divya Sukta—Colors of Grace in which Gurumayi presents a collection of concise teachings, some of them brief, some just one word in length. Each is artfully displayed on a beautiful photograph of nature. Perhaps you might feel inspired, as I have been, to choose a teaching you’re especially drawn to and keep that page open on your web browser throughout the day so that you can revisit its beauty and wisdom.
October is also an excellent time to assimilate our reflections on Gurumayi’s Message and to worship the great Goddess.
Reflections on Gurumayi’s Message
One of the most important aspects of Siddha Yoga practice is to study, contemplate, and apply the Gurus’ teachings in our daily lives. In the Reflections on Gurumayi’s Message, Siddha Yoga students share their experiences of contemplating and implementing one teaching from Sweet Surprise. For 2020, these reflections started appearing in September. Each is a gem; each, an inspiration for us to apply in our own sadhana and life circumstance. More will appear in October.
Navaratri and Dasera: October 17-24 (in India, 17-25) and October 25
Navaratri, “the nine nights,” is a traditional Indian celebration in honor of the Devi, the exalted Goddess and Mother of all. In her essence as the supreme Shakti, she manifests as the Goddess in a multitude of forms for the protection and upliftment of the world.
In India, Navaratri 2020 will be celebrated between October 17 and 25. On the Siddha Yoga path, three forms of the Goddess are customarily honored for three nights in succession: first Mahadurga, then Mahalakshmi, and finally Mahasarasvati. In the West, this year’s celebration will be from October 17 to 24, making the traditional nine nights only eight. This happens some years because, due to the lunar cycle, two of the auspicious nights fall on the same night. Thus, in Shree Muktananda Ashram this year the first two nights will be in honor of Mahadurga. In these two nights, all of the appropriate pujas will be performed.
In both India and the West, October 25 is Dasera, which is also known as Vijayadashami, “the tenth day” and “the day of victory.” This is celebrated in India as one of the three and a half most auspicious days of the year. Sacred texts recount that it was on this glorious day—though in different years and even in different yugas—when the Goddess defeated the demon Mahisha (Devi Mahatmya), Lord Rama vanquished the ten-headed Ravana (Ramayana), and the Pandava princes returned home from thirteen years of exile (Mahabharata). So, Dasera marks the victory of light over darkness in many forms.
Svadhyaya Study Sessions
As you may know, the Svadhyaya Study Sessions are taking place weekly on Saturdays in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall via live video stream. The literal translation of the Sanskrit term svadhyaya is “self-study,” and—as Swami Akhandananda, the Managing Director of the Study Sessions, pointed out in his introductory exposition, “What Is Svadhaya”—it’s also “Self-study.” Svadhyaya refers to the time-revered practice of reciting sacred texts. In these Study Sessions we are receiving specific instruction on how to recite Shri Guru Gita so that our conscious practice of svadhyaya will be even more effective in bringing us to the understanding and experience of the divine Self.
In the first session, Swami Akhandananda spoke about the greater meaning of svadhyaya and introduced the specific topic for that week’s focus: an introduction to the many study opportunities to be found on the Siddha Yoga path website. In Svadhyaya Study Session II, Swami ji gave detailed instructions on the proper asana, “posture,” to adopt for recitation whether we sit on the floor or on a chair. Then he led us in writing our own personal affirmations for spiritual practice along the lines of the timeless statements of identification with the Divine that are given by the Vedic sages of ancient India. As we go deeper into the “ber” months, October, November, December—in the Northern Hemisphere, some of us think of them as the “brrrr” months—we’re entering an inspiring and innovative time for Siddha Yoga study.
In my mind, one of the greatest legacies of Baba’s life is the teaching expressed in his words that are written above the entrance to Shree Muktananda Ashram: God Dwells within You as You. Recently, a friend who was visiting my wife and me recounted her experience of arriving at the Ashram more than twenty years ago. She said that as she saw Baba’s words on the arch above the Ashram entrance a flood of joy rushed through her, carrying the absolute conviction that God does dwell within her, as her. This woman is a neuroscientist—someone who studies the brain—and she is quite observant about what goes on in her own head. She was astonished at how Baba’s teaching instantly wiped away her long held sense of being a sinner and replaced it with an immense feeling of peace and wholeness.
While it’s not possible to count the numbers of people whose lives have likewise been touched by Baba and Gurumayi’s grace and teachings, I like to imagine a lush and subtle garden that has somehow spread across the globe and taken root in the hearts and lives of many, many, many people. I see this as central to the legacy of the Siddha Yoga path. As we celebrate Baba’s Mahasamadhi this month, we can each reflect on our own personal transformation and how we ourselves have a responsibility to contribute to the Siddha Yoga legacy for the benefit of future generations.