Each day, my Siddha Yoga practice is growing stronger and stronger. Gurumayi's grace is becoming more and more evident in my day-to-day life. There’s a talk by Gurumayi titled "What Allows Us to Live a Full Life" that I read in a DARSHAN magazine (issue 109), which is helping me to change and grow stronger. In that talk Gurumayi says:
It’s amazing how our upbringing doesn’t allow us to see something very deep within ourselves. We are stuck in the idea that people never change when, in reality, change does take place. If a person never changed, then the world would always be going in the same direction. But there is constant change. This Shakti is always in motion, it’s always moving.
One thing I’ve done to keep changing is to create a reminder for myself. It is like a mantra for me now: "Do it skillfully." Here’s how it works. I have always experienced that emotions are like trapdoors, which you can fall through at any moment. But more and more now, I'm able to remain present, even as an emotion is overtaking me. I think, "Oh, the emotion is coming." So far, I haven’t discovered any magic mantra or prayer to hold it at bay. However, I am learning to allow it to be with me, but not as me! I tell myself, "Handle this skillfully."
Here’s an example. I'm standing in line for chow and two or three other inmates rudely jump ahead of me. How I hate that! I really don't care about having to wait a few minutes longer for the food. But what burns me is that they just jump ahead of me without the slightest acknowledgment of my presence. This is a perfect opportunity to put Gurumayi’s teachings into action and not fall down the trapdoor.
The lesson I apply at a moment like this is what I have understood about Gurumayi's teachings concerning aversion. "Replace aversion with compassion" is what I understand Gurumayi to say. I do not need to condone someone’s behavior in order to have compassion for the person displaying it.
In my understanding, compassion is a skill to develop. It's not so much about having compassion for people who are rude. Compassion is about my perception of such people and my reaction to them. The lesson to be learned is in me, not about them. All of these thoughts have come from my study of Gurumayi’s teachings. They are so beautiful! And precisely the tool I need for this life I'm living.
Day by day, I am learning to be more vigilant and to let the Shakti move and bring positive change to my life. I am so thankful for Gurumayi’s teachings.
Reading this Reflection on Gurumayi made me aware that although I too strive to replace aversion with attachment, the ego still lurks in the background, whispering such phrases as: “Why are you letting them get away with it? What if they do it again?”
The author’s experience helped me see that if I keep the focus on myself and develop compassion for humanity in a broader sense instead of focusing on other people’s egos and personalities, I become free to maintain a state of equanimity. This is quite an empowering realization!
Connecticut, United States
I was heartened to read this reflection by a Siddha Yogi who accesses the Siddha Yoga Home Study Course
through the Prison Project. His ability to develop new and beneficial qualities and attitudes via the lessons is so inspiring!
Most meaningful for me was the writer putting into practice Gurumayi’s teaching on aversion as he repeated “replace aversion with compassion” while standing in line for food in the prison. His example encourages me to replace my own intolerance and impatience with compassion toward the people around me.
This share is so powerful! It really does speak to the fact that every life circumstance is a fertile field for sadhana
, spiritual practice. And it reminds me of something I remember Gurumayi saying, "If not now...when?"
It was humbling for me to read this. I could feel the sincerity in the student’s words.
It is always a blessing when we share our experiences with each other.
New York, USA
I was deeply moved by the sharing of the Siddha Yoga student. He touched on an issue that has troubled me for a long time: how to handle the emotion that arises when people jump ahead of me in different circumstances without noticing my presence. This student’s answer came as a direct solution, filled with grace.
Thank you, Gurumayi, for letting me know about the practice of replacing aversion with compassion through this beautiful Reflection.
Mexico City, Mexico
I have been contemplating the virtue of compassion lately. I’ve found out some of my friends are doing the same. Sharing our revelations takes my contemplation to deeper levels of understanding and experience.
And now, as I read this Reflection, and I see the profound impact that a talk Gurumayi gave years ago is having on a Siddha Yoga student in prison, the power of the Guru's compassion for her students is revealed to me.
My heart opens with an enormous feeling of gratitude, and I feel the Guru is the principle of compassion manifesting in this world in the form of the life-transforming teachings we receive from Gurumayi.
Gratitude to you always, Gurumayi.
Mexico City, Mexico
Thank you so much for this Reflection. It was a reminder to me that I am the one to choose the thoughts that shape my experience. I can either choose aversion or something more uplifting. I have found that it helps to acknowledge my feeling of aversion and then create a different future.
Thank God, I can change myself—what a sense of possibility!
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
In my work as a cashier in a grocery store I come in contact with a wide variety of people. Oftentimes people can be very impatient and even rude. This Reflection, written by someone who lives in an environment that can be many times more challenging than a grocery store, brings to light that the real battle is inside all of us. We all need to learn to do things skillfully. No matter where we find ourselves, we all have trap doors that can open up into negativities, stealing the peace and equanimity that we have been developing through the Siddha Yoga practices and the grace of the Guru. We all need to be vigilant.
Thank you to this writer for sharing your practices and your wisdom so skillfully.
"Do it skillfully." As soon as I read these words, I received them as a command. How intriguing, I thought as I read on, to use these words as a mantra to help with my reactions to life
, rather than just to my workload. I thought to myself, "Wow! I am really going to start using this and see what happens.”
A few moments later, I was about to go out the door to leave the house for several days, when I remembered that I had to water the plants. I started to do it hastily, and before I knew it the water was dribbling over the edge of the plate and under the pot. The trapdoor opened and I started to go down into the spiral of: "Now I'll be late. How am I going to empty the water without making a mess. How could I have done this now." Mercifully, I stopped. I heard the command, “Handle this skillfully.” Immediately I stepped out of the spiral. I was able to assess calmly how to deal with the situation and make the least mess. It didn't even take very long.
I saw that letting go of my rude and negative thoughts and being compassionate with myself allowed me easefully to take care of what needed to be done.
Thank you, Gurumayi. Thank you to the incarcerated Siddha Yoga student!
When I read this Reflection, I am deeply moved. To see how a person in these circumstances can find solid support in the Siddha Yoga teachings and practice with such creative determination fills me with admiration.
The metaphor about emotions being like trapdoors is so descriptive, and to be able to allow the emotion to be with you is really skillful. It reminds me of the story of the churning of the ocean. When the gods and the demons churned the ocean, the first thing that comes up is deadly poison. Then Shiva comes to the rescue and drinks the poison, but he doesn't swallow it, he just holds it.
Thank you to the writer of this Reflection for your insights and strength.
Thank you, Gurumayi, for the Prison Project— such a powerful manifestation of compassion!
Thank you to this writer for writing your words. I understand very well the depth of your feelings and your gratitude. Each and every day I am awed at the ways our Guru gives her love and grace to each one of us.
Thank you to our Gurus and the Siddha Yoga path!
I love this writer's understanding and application of the teaching, "Replace aversion with compassion." Here, he is practicing it in an environment that can be quite negative. It is inspiring that even in this environment and in the face of many types of negative behavior, he can find the perfect opportunities to apply Gurumayi's teachings and strengthen his ability to practice compassion.
As a Prison Project satsang facilitator, I have heard from a number of incarcerated Siddha Yoga students who share how the Siddha Yoga teachings enable them to transmute their experience of a very negative environment into one in which they experience joy and love among their fellow inmates. Just as this writer has done, these students steadily practice and implement Gurumayi's teachings and experience significant positive change in their lives over the years.
I feel so honored to be able to offer seva for the Prison Project and to share in these students' joy and gratitude for having the Siddha Yoga teachings in their lives.
This share was so moving and inspiring! What a model of how to implement Gurumayi's teachings, and what a clear example of how to consciously practice a virtue like compassion!
This share is also inspiring to me because of how the writer doesn’t allow the conditions in which he finds himself to limit his Siddha Yoga studentship. It was a reminder to me that any circumstance in any venue always provides an opportunity to practice applying the teachings. I was also struck by the wisdom in his statement about compassion being "a skill to develop" and a lesson for him to learn about himself, not about the other people he encounters.
After offering seva with the Siddha Yoga Prison Project for over thirty years, I have become accustomed to the depth of understanding exhibited by many Siddha Yogis who happen to be incarcerated. May we all be continually reminded by their example that effort in sadhana is not dependent on situation or place.
Thank you, Gurumayi, for your transforming grace that knows no distance or boundary! And my thanks to the writer for the inspiring share.
It is inspiring to read how Gurumayi's teachings and grace are working so powerfully for this incarcerated Siddha Yoga student.
Even in this most volatile of environments, his ability to step back into witness consciousness and remain steady is a great reminder for me to pause in the moment, offering my best to all situations and recognizing the lesson and growth that exist there for me to embrace.