February 1, 2021
Welcome to the month of February on the Siddha Yoga path.
One of the holidays celebrated this month is Valentine’s Day. On the Siddha Yoga path, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the teachings Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and Baba Muktananda have given us about love, and what we have learned by applying these teachings in our lives.
Early in my marriage to my wife, Achala, I had a powerful experience of reflecting on and applying a teaching from Gurumayi about putting love into action. During darshan many years ago, I was bowing to Gurumayi when I heard her say to me, “Are you taking care of your wife?” This really surprised me, and thinking that I’d show how strong Achala was, I blurted out, “No, Gurumayi, Achala takes care of herself.” This was obviously not a great answer, and Gurumayi repeated her question—“Are you taking care of your wife?” I then grabbed the next answer that popped up in my brain, thinking that it would show my faith: “Gurumayi, God is taking care of Achala.” Gurumayi kept looking at me intently, and said once again, “Are you taking care of your wife?” I may be slow, but I was starting to get the point. I said, “I’ll try, Gurumayi,” and after bowing to her, I returned to my seat, reflecting on her words.
I began to recognize how I often looked after my own needs as if I was a roommate rather than a spouse, and realized that it was time to change. I began to contemplate what it meant to truly take care of Achala, and began to see that it spanned everything from making soup to supporting her in her very busy work life. I became more aware of her interests and concerns, and sought to truly be there for her in the challenges and joys of her own life.
Over time, I began to awaken to something I hadn’t experienced in my life before—the mystery of connecting deeply in heart and mind with a beloved friend and partner, and the sense of being both individuals and “us” at the same time.
With time and reflection, as I began to make answering Gurumayi’s question a central focus in our marriage, Achala and I began to see how this was creating a much deeper experience of love between us.
No matter where we happen to be in this beautiful and challenged world, contemplating Gurumayi’s teachings and engaging regularly in the Siddha Yoga practices can sustain each of us deeply. As we put Gurumayi’s teachings into practice, our actions convey love to others in practical and open-hearted ways. By connecting with the love that’s at the heart of our being and carrying it into our actions, we participate in making love manifest in this world.
In addition to St. Valentine’s Day, the month of February gives us the opportunity to learn about and celebrate two significant Indian holidays and to welcome in the Chinese New Year.
Ganesh Jayanti: February 15
The elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesh, is a deity beloved throughout India as the lord of new beginnings, which is notable in a month when we’re celebrating two other new beginnings as well as his birthday. Ganesh is also known as the remover of obstacles and the embodiment of strength and wisdom. With one hand raised in the gesture of abhaya mudra, Lord Ganesh soothes his devotees and dispels their fears. To prepare for Ganesh Jayanti, you can read and contemplate the stories, songs, hymns, and images of Shri Ganesh on the Siddha Yoga path website.
Vasant Panchami: February 16
During the festival of Vasant Panchami celebrating the advent of springtime in India, people honor and worship the goddess Sarasvati. She is the deity associated with learning, music, language, and the arts. The Siddha Yoga path website provides us with several ways to enrich our knowledge of Mahasarasvati and to invoke her blessings.
Chinese New Year
In the Chinese calendar, this is the Year of the Ox, which begins on February 12 this year and ends on January 31, 2022. In many countries around the world, people recognize and honor the many noble qualities of the animals—domesticated and wild—that are part of their lives. One way the Chinese celebrate the animals in their lives, and the wisdom they embody, is by giving an animal name to each year of a twelve-year cycle of names. People born in a particular year are believed to embody the great qualities of the animal the year is named for. This year, for example, is the Year of the Ox. Those born in the Year of the Ox are known for their patience, honesty, positive nature, and strong work ethic, and they are especially respected for their persistence in bringing projects to a conclusion.
During this month I invite you to pause and reflect on the love that has been awakened in your own being and how your life has been transformed by your study and implementation of Gurumayi’s teachings. What stories would you share with someone? What inner discoveries would you celebrate? What love would you recognize in your actions, thoughts, and words? And, having reflected in this way, how might you see additional opportunities to express this love?
I wish you a joyful, safe, and fulfilling February!