by Eesha Sardesai
On the Siddha Yoga path, we have learned from our beloved Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, about God’s time, and we believe that things happen in God’s time. It’s a belief that keeps us buoyant. It’s a belief that gives us an anchor, helping us return to center regardless of how far away we may drift.
It’s on the currents of God’s time that we’ve been propelled into spring. And it’s perhaps these same mysterious, nonlinear movements of time that keep the start of the year so fresh in our collective memory.
I’d like to revisit one of the satsangs with Gurumayi that we participated in earlier this year. It was held on January 7, in honor of the 51st anniversary of Shri Guru Gita being recited as part of the Ashram Daily Schedule on the Siddha Yoga path. I had the privilege of offering seva as a writer in this satsang, and the teachings that Gurumayi gave us then have stayed with me, especially what Gurumayi said about the virtue, the universal principle of “good.”
In the satsang, Gurumayi cited an aphorism from the Svacchanda Tantra:“Nashivam vidyate kvachit.”1 “There is no place where there is no Shiva. There is no place where there is no God.” Gurumayi explained that whether our minds are calm or restless during the recitation of Shri Guru Gita, we are still “in Shiva.” We are still “having a good time with Shiva.”
I remember becoming suddenly aware of the atmosphere—in the Temple, and throughout the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall—when Gurumayi said this. Everything was quiet and everything was dynamic. Everything was still and vibrantly alive. “Lord Shiva really is here,” I thought, “with us, around us, in the very particles of the air.”
I listened with rapt attention as Gurumayi continued. “Shiva is playful,” she said. “Shiva is Consciousness, and so are you. I want you to feel good about yourself.”
One of the things I’ve observed over the years is that whenever Gurumayi imparts her wisdom, she gives us the means by which we can implement that wisdom right away. So it was on January 7. Gurumayi told us all to “feel good for the rest of the day and into the night.”
“If anyone asks, How are you?...”
Gurumayi paused, and then said with a knowing smile: “Good.”
“How are you doing?”
Again, the same sweet smile. “Good.”
“So let that goodness come forward,” Gurumayi said. “When you see the Guru, feel good. When you see the sky, feel good. When you look at water that you’re drinking, feel good. Just do the dharana: ‘Good, accha. Good, accha.’” (Most Siddha Yogis have come to know this word, accha, from hearing Gurumayi speak in satsang about one of Baba’s signature phrases: bahut accha. In the Hindi language, bahut accha means “very good.”)
Gurumayi further explained: “I said good. I’m not saying better. Don’t try to be better now. I’m not saying the best. Don’t try to be the best. And don’t try to be better than the best either. Just good. Remember: I didn’t say ‘Be good.’ Just good.”
In the days and weeks that have followed this satsang, I’ve reflected on Gurumayi’s words, on their meaning.
Recently, I recalled something I had heard Gurumayi say in a darshan once. “Each one of you has inherited the goodness of the heavens,” Gurumayi said, “and you carry it in your beings.” I believe it was this same goodness that Gurumayi was calling forth from us on January 7. I felt that her encouragement to us to let that goodness come forward was like a gentle tailwind, supporting our efforts to experience all that we have within.
I’ve also been thinking about what Gurumayi said about Lord Shiva—how she had assured us that we are always with Lord Shiva, that we are forever abiding in Shiva consciousness. In the Sanskrit language, Shiva literally means “good” and “auspicious.” If there is, indeed, no place in this universe where the goodness of Lord Shiva does not reside, then it would follow that we, as inhabitants of this universe, as people made up of the same Consciousness that forms the fabric of the universe, must also be good. Therefore, when we say “I am Shiva,” it’s not hyperbole. It’s a proclamation of the most fundamental truth of life in this world.
This leads me to the main focus of my reflections: Gurumayi’s guidance for how to apply her wisdom. We can respond to this question that people will frequently ask of us—“How are you? ”—by saying “Good,” and do so with an awareness of our innate goodness. In this way, we treat the interaction as an opportunity to evoke and experience our goodness, and to share that goodness with whoever is before us.
To be clear, this is different from the conventional manner of exchanging such pleasantries—where “Good ” is a default response, what someone says mechanically, irrespective of how they’re actually feeling. Gurumayi’s teaching is not about giving a frivolous or superficial reply. In fact, her teaching prompts us to rise above this kind of automatic behavior. Gurumayi puts before us the challenge to feel good—in other words, to truly mean what we say.
The Hindi words bhav and bhavana come to my mind now; some of you may have also studied these words, or otherwise be aware of them. Bhavana indicates a more fleeting sentiment, a temporary emotion, whereas bhav refers to a deeper stance within. Bhav is an inner posture, a steady substratum of a space that’s not affected by the more transitory aspects of one’s reality. Like bhavana, bhav can manifest as a felt experience, though this “feeling” will have a markedly different tenor than more surface-level emotions.
My sense is that, when Gurumayi spoke about feeling good, she was referring to the bhav of goodness we all hold inside of ourselves, the deeper space within. Gurumayi’s words, moreover, connect us to this space. I find that when I let myself inhabit it, the other thoughts and emotions I might be having become less prominent; their noise quiets. It’s like Gurumayi is giving me a macro lens for my own self, one that I can use to zoom in on what is most beneficial—and thereby approach the rest of my inner world with greater perspective, clarity, and objectivity.
I urge you, too, to make use of this lens at every opportunity you get, and to discover different ways of doing so. One practice that I’ve taken to is making note of three to five things in a day that remind me of my own goodness. As a writer, I like to carry a small notebook with me to jot down such ideas and inspiration throughout the day. (Yes, even in the digital age, some of us millennials are still out here using pen and paper.)
However you choose to do it, make it a point to practice this teaching. Make it your intention to practice, practice, and keep practicing to find that good within yourself, the good that blossoms no matter the inner or outer season, the good that prevails in spite of any snowflakes (again, inner or outer) that might obscure it. We, all of us, can make good happen. We can make good happen for ourselves, for others, for the world that we live in. We need not hide from the good that has been gifted to us by God. We can cherish this goodness; we can relish it and share it. This is our birthright. This is our responsibility.
As Gurumayi has said, “It is the responsibility of all of humanity to ensure that the transformative power of goodness prevails.”
By way of conclusion, I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote. You might remember that I spoke to you about poetry in December 2022—about bringing into the new year all the creativity that we demonstrated in the poems we wrote about Gurumayi’s Season’s Greetings.
This poem arose as I was reflecting on Gurumayi’s teachings from the Siddha Yoga satsang on January 7, 2023.
In the electric wind
and the circles I spin,
in joy that sparkles orange
and the million quotidian heartbreaks
elapsing in the span of a second—
a gravity of good
drawing me to that
ray of sun, pure energy
from which I am made,
cradling me in
the essence of what is,
freeing me into
One last thing I wanted to share: as I finished writing this poem, a memory came up, resonant and sweet. It was Gurumayi’s voice, her words from a satsang some years ago.
“Let us meet,” she said, “in the field of Consciousness.”