May 1, 2021
We’ve arrived in May—Baba’s month, the month when Baba Muktananda took birth on this planet. Baba’s solar birthday is on May 16, and this year, his lunar birthday is May 26. On the Siddha Yoga path, Baba’s Birthday is a time to celebrate the transformative power of his grace and teachings on this world, and to reflect on the profound joy and love that so many thousands of seekers felt in Baba’s presence. It came through his voice; the freedom of his movements; his spontaneous, full-hearted laughter; the way he would give his teachings, weaving songs and stories into them that perfectly encapsulated the points; and the way that being with Baba made us feel that we’d found our way home.
Baba Muktananda brought shaktipat diksha, the awakening of the dormant spiritual energy, Kundalini Shakti, to the world at large, where previously it was a closely guarded secret known to only a few yogis. He imparted the Siddha Yoga teachings and led what he called a “Meditation Revolution,” therein providing the means for seekers to recognize the presence of God within their own being and all of creation.
In preparation for Baba’s month, I’ve been reflecting on what I learned from Baba—through the books he’s written, his teachings, and the times I was in his presence and received his darshan. One memory that often comes to mind is of sitting silently with Baba and other Siddha Yoga students in the courtyard of Gurudev Siddha Peeth. There, in the beautiful winter morning light, under the dappled shade of the mango trees, I felt a powerful love and benevolent strength radiating from Baba. I envisioned it as a grace-filled radiance with rays entering each of our hearts. Even now, recalling that moment, I feel the luminosity of Baba’s love shining within me.
Baba changed the direction of my life. In 1976 I received shaktipat initiation from Baba and learned from him how to practice Siddha Yoga meditation. At the time, I was a neuroscientist teaching at the university level, and I thought science had all the answers to understanding the universe. But after receiving shaktipat from Baba and beginning to practice meditation, I realized there was much more for me to learn. I made the intention to approach meditation as a scientist, exploring in my own inner laboratory—watching my thoughts as I meditated and asking myself how meditation changed my awareness.
When I first began to meditate, what I noticed initially was a stream of thoughts. As I focused on my breath, the thoughts began to subside, and to my delight, I discovered that, just beneath the thoughts, there was pure blissful silence. I had learned from Baba that supreme Consciousness is the foundation and the essence of everything that exists, including our mind. As I continued to meditate, I began to recognize that this pure Consciousness is what I was tapping into as my mind came to rest in those still moments of meditation.
In the last several decades, as I deepened my meditation practice under Gurumayi’s guidance, I became inspired to explore the beneficial effects of meditation through the lens of neuroscience. I found that meditation literally changes the structure of our brains. I also found compelling evidence that consciousness—which many of us think of as awareness—continues to exist even when the body has stopped functioning.
I have received great joy in sharing this information in the course of my work and Siddha Yoga study, especially with people who have experienced infinite and eternal Consciousness through their own “inner research”—their Siddha Yoga meditation practice—and who are interested in seeing how such information is supported by the strict methodology of scientific research.
These are some of the ways that my life has blossomed since I received shaktipat from Baba Muktananda in 1976, and as I’ve continued to practice Siddha Yoga meditation with Baba’s and Gurumayi’s teachings as my guide.
This month, in honor of Baba’s Birthday, the Siddha Yoga path website will feature stories about Baba, teachings from Baba, photographs of him, hymns invoking his grace, and more. The Siddha Yoga Audio Satsang in Celebration of Baba Muktananda’s Birthday will also be available for you to participate in throughout this entire month.
In addition to Baba’s Birthday, there are several holidays and events that take place during the month of May, and which we celebrate on the Siddha Yoga path.
Mother’s Day: May 9
Mother’s Day is celebrated in fifty countries throughout the world—twenty-five of them, including the United States, observe the holiday on the second Sunday in May. On Mother’s Day we offer gratitude to our mothers, who brought us into the world and whose love nurtured us as we grew up. We also honor all those who have protected and sustained us in our lives.
The Siddha Yoga Gurus have always accorded great respect to mothers. Baba dedicated his spiritual autobiography, Play of Consciousness, to his mother and to all the mothers who had cared for him in his life. Year after year, in countless talks and poems, Gurumayi has extolled the virtues of mothers. Both Gurumayi and Baba have taught generations of seekers about the divine Mother, Kundalini Shakti, who brings forth the universe from her own being and whose life-transforming energy is awakened within us by the Guru through the bestowal of shaktipat.
Akshaya Tritiya: May 14
Akshaya Tritiya is acknowledged on the Hindu calendar as one of the three and a half most auspicious days of the year. On this day, people begin new projects, perform acts of charity, and engage in spiritual practices such as puja, mantra japa, and dakshina. On the Siddha Yoga path website, you can read about the history and significance of Akshaya Tritiya and a related story, “Lord Krishna’s Everlasting Grace,” from the Mahabharata.
Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti: May 16 (May 17 in India)
Adi Shankaracharya was born in the eighth century in Kerala, South India. He was an enlightened spiritual Master who established throughout India the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Many of the Siddha Yoga teachings are based in this philosophy, which recognizes the unity of God and the individual soul. Shankaracharya also founded four monasteries and created ten monastic orders, including the Sarasvati order to which Gurumayi and Baba belong. In honor of the jayanti, birthday, of Adi Shankaracharya, you may wish to read, listen to, and learn to sing some of Adi Shankaracharya’s hymns on the Siddha Yoga path website.
As I finish this letter, the pandemic is continuing to rage in numerous parts of the world, including India, where fear and distress are very much present in the daily lives of many. At this time, there is no way to know how long these challenges will last or when people’s lives will finally become more stable. In light of this, what can we do? How can we help? In this month when we honor Baba Muktananda and remember his legacy, one thing we can all do is redouble our efforts in Siddha Yoga sadhana, and offer the fruits of our spiritual practices toward the alleviation of suffering and the upliftment of this planet.