On New Year’s Day 2023, Siddha Yogis in Shree Muktananda Ashram gathered together to receive Gurumayi Chidvilasananda’s Message for the year in Sweet Surprise. In this satsang, David Katz gave the following talk.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to all who are proficient in giving measurement to infinity.
And now, I want to wish a Happy New Year to all of creation that is not bound by time. Happy New Year to all the seven continents. Happy New Year to the sky above. Happy New Year to the earth below. Happy New Year to all the elements. Happy New Year to all the ten directions.
Happy New Year to everyone who has the privilege to celebrate the happiness of the newness of the new year. Happy New Year to everyone who has been struggling—for you deserve to receive and experience the happiness of the newness of the new year.
I want to wish you a happy new year once again, in the way we do on the Siddha Yoga path, by saying Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!
This morning we have all gathered here in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall to receive Gurumayi Chidvilasananda’s Message for 2023. We are here to receive Gurumayi’s guidance. For those of us who have been on the Siddha Yoga path for many years, this is guidance for how we may continue our Siddha Yoga sadhana. And for new seekers, this is guidance for how to start on the path.
We are participating in Sweet Surprise 2023! Jay Gurumayi!
My name is David Katz, and it’s my great honor and delight to serve as the host and one of the speakers for today’s satsang with Gurumayi.
It always helps to have some knowledge of the import of what you are about to receive before you actually receive it. Therefore, in my talk today, I will share with you what I have learned from my own Siddha Yoga sadhana. I have been on the Siddha Yoga path for thirty-nine years, after being introduced by my very lovely and talented wife, Kashmiri, who has also been my sadhana companion these many years. The knowledge that I have gained through my years of sadhana has benefitted me immensely in knowing how to receive Gurumayi’s Messages for the year and how to practice them.
Around the world—across continents, cultures, and traditions—people approach the first day of the new year with great anticipation, reverence, and celebration. The first day of the new year is embraced as an opportunity to start afresh, to reset our perspective, and to move forward into the future with new purpose and enthusiasm.
On the Siddha Yoga path, January 1 is a truly unique and powerful moment in time. On this day, it is our great good fortune to receive Gurumayi’s Message for the new year. It gives all of us in the global Siddha Yoga sangham the opportunity to collectively advance our spiritual growth. There is tremendous potency in our shared intention and earnest desire to make real progress together in sadhana.
This tradition of giving a Message for the new year was established by Gurumayi in 1991. It is a quintessential expression of Gurumayi’s compassion, and it’s become a pillar of the Siddha Yoga path.
Let’s explore that a little further. And let’s begin by asking, “What is the Siddha Yoga path?”
The Siddha Yoga path is the Guru’s response to our heart’s longing to know God. The path shown to us by the Guru is one of discipline, study, and contemplation. And, because we are blessed by the very presence of the Guru, this is a path of devotion and service. To truly treasure the Guru’s teachings, it is important that we, as disciples, practice these teachings, assimilate them, and put them into action.
The extraordinary alchemy that transpires through the Guru-disciple relationship begins with shaktipat diksha, the awakening of Kundalini Shakti in the disciple by a direct transmission of the Guru’s grace. This initiation is paramount.
Why? Because the power of the awakened Kundalini supports the efforts we make in sadhana to purify the mind and senses and to experience our oneness with God. Only a Siddha Guru, who is permanently established in the experience of the supreme Self, can bestow shaktipat initiation.
After shaktipat, the Guru continues to guide the unfolding of the awakened Kundalini Shakti. This guidance is given through the teachings and practices of the Siddha Yoga path, and it is in this context that we can understand the significance of Gurumayi’s Message for the year.
As Gurumayi says:
When you hear the Message, I want you to know this is an initiation for the whole year. The power of the Message will infuse your understanding and efforts with grace.1
I want you to take a moment to think about that.
I was so heartened to learn this from Gurumayi: that her Message is an initiation for the entire year.
Now, let’s look more closely for a moment at the word initiation.
The word initiation comes from the Latin root initiatus, which means “the act or process of initiating or beginning something.” In many spiritual traditions, being initiated is considered a kind of consecration. And to consecrate something means to make or declare it holy.
With these insights in hand, we can better understand the significance of what we are receiving today from Gurumayi. And that is nothing less than a sacred new beginning on the path of Siddha Yoga sadhana, infused with guru-kripa, the Guru’s grace.
Sometimes I wonder: Why did Gurumayi choose to give a Message for the whole year? Gurumayi is giving teachings all the time. When Gurumayi speaks to us in person, she is giving her teachings. When Gurumayi writes, she is giving her teachings. When Gurumayi gives a talk, when Gurumayi visits us in our dreams, when Gurumayi speaks to us in our hearts as we are, say, reciting Shri Guru Gita or walking on a subway platform—at all these times Gurumayi is giving her teachings. Gurumayi has written entire books, she has composed whole volumes of poetry, in which she is imparting her teachings. The teachings are available if we want to learn them, if we want to make them a part of our knowledge and life experience, an integral aspect of our sadhana.
So, given all this, why is it that Gurumayi has given a Message for the entire year?
A thought occurs to me: it just might be because…Gurumayi knows us really well.
When something is given a seat in the way that the Message for the year is—when its purpose and significance are explained to us, then we rise to the occasion. We find a way to value that which we are receiving. We also find within ourselves this virtue called commitment—the commitment to follow the command, to imbibe the Message.
And on the topic of Gurumayi knowing us so well, I want to share another thought I’ve entertained about why Gurumayi gives a Message each year. Many people I have spoken with personally, and many others who’ve shared on the Siddha Yoga path website, have said that Gurumayi’s Message has come to them at the exact right time. Those words from Gurumayi were just what they needed to hear.
At the same time, I want to make it clear that Gurumayi’s Message is timeless. Each Message is a mantra, each Message is a sutra—you can spend eons unraveling its meaning, so unending is its wisdom.
Now, how and when Gurumayi decides this is the Message she wants to give in any given year—I don’t know! In this not knowing, I feel great joy.
What I can say is that the impact that Gurumayi’s Message has on our lives is immeasurable. It reaches the hearts of seekers regardless of their religious beliefs, their culture, or their age. Gurumayi’s Message is a universal teaching.
Listen now as I share with you one seeker’s experience of Gurumayi’s Message for 2014. This woman was a nun in the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church and had been for nearly sixty years. In August of 2015, she visited Shree Muktananda Ashram. And she was so grateful to be visiting Shree Muktananda Ashram and receiving Gurumayi’s darshan that she could only describe her feelings through expressing her gratitude for her favorite Message from Gurumayi. The nun said:
How do you speak about something that is so precious inside of you? I love Gurumayi’s Message—“The soundless sound arises and subsides in the space of flawless quietude.” When I read that, I put it on a sign and hung it up on one of the Convent’s gates, so the high school kids could see it.
There is something deep inside each of us—we can call it the Blue Pearl, or we can call it the presence of God. That Message from Gurumayi touched me within, in a profound space of silence. You want to know what God is? It’s you, it’s me, it’s the presence of God in nature. I cannot thank you enough, Gurumayi, for what you have given me today.
I heard from one of the staff members in the SYDA Foundation, who is friends with this nun, that she has continued to speak about the profound impact that Gurumayi’s Message for 2014 has had on her. It has awakened the presence of her master, Jesus, in her heart.
The experience that this nun had—and this idea, that the Guru’s teachings, and especially Gurumayi’s Message, can prompt awakening after awakening within us—brings to mind the great wisdom of the sages and seers of India. This wisdom has been recorded in many ancient scriptures and philosophical texts.
I’ve always found the Indian scriptures to be a deep well of knowledge that helps to illuminate my own experiences on the Siddha Yoga path and my understanding of Gurumayi’s teachings. And, for many years now, I’ve had the privilege of being able to expand my understanding of just how deep that well is, in my capacity as President and Board Chair of the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute. The Institute was founded by Gurumayi in 1997 to support the preservation of the ancient scriptural texts of India. It has digitally preserved more than three thousand manuscripts to date.
To quote from the Katha Upanishad:
The sages say…
उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत
uttiṣṭhata jāgrata prāpya varānnibodhata
“Arise, awake, approach the great ones and learn from them.”2
May we, my dear fellow sadhakas, understand the importance of what it is to be awake. And then, let’s nudge each other to wake up. Whenever we see ourselves or others starting to doze off, let’s shine the light of the Guru’s teachings—the light of Gurumayi’s Message—on each other’s path.
In the year 2008, Gurumayi gave the name Sweet Surprise to the satsang in which she imparts her Message. Gurumayi explained that it’s a surprise because we may receive her Message for the year in any format.
And no matter what format the Message takes, I want to remind all of us that the great gift of a Message for the entire year is that we have ample time to study and put its teachings into practice; to approach it as we would a prism and discover all the many ways its light reflects and refracts into our life.
I can’t tell you the number of times that Gurumayi’s Message for the year 1996, Be filled with enthusiasm and sing God’s glory, has been my life raft during challenging situations. And this past year, 2022, just one word of Gurumayi’s Message, “Listen,” was all the reminder I needed to stop, take a deep breath, and tune in to what was needed in the moment, before acting.
Of course, all of us know the word listen. I worked for thirty-five years as a neuroscientist and medical school professor. And I certainly did everything possible to try and ensure my students listened to me!
However, when I hear this word, “Listen,” from my Guru, it resonates in my mind differently. It resonates with the vibration of the Guru’s sankalpa—which I received in the form of Gurumayi’s Message for 2022. It resonates at a level that transcends my mind. It takes me to a place within myself where I know without a doubt “I Am That I Am.”
We are so blessed to be on the Siddha Yoga path. And for all the new seekers who will be participating in Sweet Surprise for the very first time and receiving Gurumayi’s Message, which will transform your life—I want you to know you are embarking on a holy pilgrimage. You are embarking on Siddha Yoga sadhana.