Shortly after noon on Thursday June 30, sevites gathered in Shri Nilaya for the midday namasankirtana and arati. It was the final day of Birthday Bliss 2016—the conclusion to a month and a celebration that had been replete with joy.
Gurumayi entered the hall and we all rose to our feet, totally delighted. As Gurumayi was walking toward her chair, she spoke for a few moments with Luke Jackson, a young-adult visiting sevite from Vermont, USA. Shubha de Oliveira-Thompson, the head of the Taruna Poshana Department, was standing nearby and explained that Luke offers seva as a host in satsangs at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Boston. Gurumayi invited Luke to support the host for this satsang and encouraged him to ad-lib. Luke enthusiastically accepted Gurumayi’s invitation.
Gurumayi took her seat and turned to Jayalakshmi Lezama, a young-adult staff member from Mexico who was offering seva with the music ensemble. Gurumayi playfully explained that because Tejas—the eleven-year-old boy from India—had not yet arrived, and he was the “main show,” Jayalakshmi could serve as the “warm-up act” until he came. Gurumayi invited Jayalakshmi to sing a song in Spanish.
As Jayalakshmi was introducing the song she would sing—a song titled “Te Amo” (“I love you”)—Tejas arrived and quickly came to the front of the hall, smiling broadly at Gurumayi the whole time.
Gurumayi told Tejas that Jayalakshmi would be doing a warm-up act and asked Swami Akhandananda to explain.
Swami ji said, “Tejas, in concerts, when there’s a really famous act that’s the main attraction in the concert—really famous—the concert begins with a ‘warm-up act.’ The warm-up act performs and gets everyone prepared for the main attraction, the main performance—which is you!”
When Jayalakshmi concluded, she introduced the satsang host, Nandani Bhargava, a visiting sevite from California—and Nandani’s ad-libbing co-host, Luke.
Nandani and Luke led us all in exclaiming, “Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!”
The hosts welcomed Gurumayi to the satsang and we all joined the hosts in wishing Gurumayi “Happy Birthday Bliss!”
Nandani asked us if we’d all seen the virtue for June 30 in Sadguna Vaibhava on the Siddha Yoga path website. “Yes!” we responded, as eleven-year-old Tejas called out, “Zeal!”
“It’s his virtue,” Gurumayi said, laughing.
Luke explained that as part of the Celebration Satsang held on Gurumayi’s Birthday, selected participants had been asked to share each of the thirty divine virtues Gurumayi has given us to study and embody throughout Birthday Bliss. Fittingly, and with characteristic enthusiasm, Tejas had announced the last virtue: Zeal.
Gurumayi invited everyone to say the virtue together and we did–with great zeal!
Nandani announced that this day—June 30—also marked a milestone in the history of the Siddha Yoga path website.
Since all the current sevites in the SYDA Foundation Website Department were in their offices attending to seva, Gurumayi invited Denise Thomas, the former Department Head, to come forward and tell us more.
After Denise said this, I reflected on how greatly the Siddha Yoga path website has benefited my sadhana—and the sadhana of countless others—over the last five years. The Siddha Yoga path website provides the opportunity to directly receive teachings from Gurumayi that we can then study and apply in our lives; the opportunity to have darshan through images of Gurumayi, Baba, and Bade Baba; the opportunity to participate in satsang with the global sangham; and the opportunity to learn from and appreciate Nature. Knowing these opportunities are available each and every day—that is priceless!
At this point in the satsang
, Gurumayi reminded us that Tejas and his parents, Madhavi and Bruno, would be leaving the next day to return to India. Gurumayi asked who had gotten to know the family well. Many sevites raised their hands. Gurumayi invited three of them to present gifts, on Gurumayi’s behalf, to Tejas and his family. Tejas opened his gift bag first and pulled out an American bald eagle stuffie. He immediately wrapped his arms around it in a sweet hug.
Gurumayi asked if someone could explain the significance of the eagle. I raised my hand and shared that the eagle is an emblem of the United States. Eagles fly very high and have amazing vision; they can see very far and they can also see the details. “And that’s you, Tejas!” I said.
Then Madhavi opened the gift box for the family and held up a brilliant quartz crystal. The stone had wavy fissures in it that looked almost like little rivulets, streams of water, that had solidified onto the rock face. Gurumayi explained that the quartz represents her Message for 2016 because there is movement within the crystal.
When Gurumayi asked who could tell us more about crystals, Denise came forward again. She explained that crystals are very pure. “They take whatever energy is in the room around them,” Denise said, “and then they magnify that energy and reflect it outward. So that’s why people put crystals in their meditation spaces.”
Denise continued, asking us to recall the exquisite crystal in the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple—it is of incredible size and splendor, with many gleaming facets. “The crystal behind Bade Baba magnifies his divine energy a thousand times throughout the Temple.”
“Beautiful,” Gurumayi said.
Gurumayi asked if any of us would like to share something about Tejas. Hands shot up throughout the hall. Swamis, Trustees, staff members, and visiting sevites—it seemed everyone had something to share.
Participants shared about Tejas’ unfailing kindness and compassion; about his ability to open people’s hearts by seeing the positive in every circumstance and every individual; about how they were moved by the purity of his intention—his desire to bring the world together in peace and harmony; about how he always seemed to speak from his heart; about his wonderful Lord Krishna-like mischievousness; about his freedom and fearlessness; and, finally, about his being fun!
I was moved by the sweet sincerity of each person as they spoke about the virtues they had recognized in this young boy. With a big smile, Gurumayi said, “Thank you, Tejas!”
Gurumayi asked if everyone knew the meaning of the word tejas. When some of us said no, Gurumayi turned to Arti Shishodia and said “You’re the translator!”
We all laughed and Arti explained that tejas means “bright light” in Hindi.
“So he’s been enlightening us,” Gurumayi said. “And, Tejas, at the same time, as one of the participants said, you’ve brought much fun into this wonderful community.”
We nodded enthusiastically. This acknowledgment of Tejas was so beautiful. I was inspired by the many ways Gurumayi teaches us to encourage young people and to express our appreciation for one another with concrete acknowledgment. By recognizing the best in others, by acknowledging how others demonstrate their good qualities, we bring forth light in our world. We create an atmosphere of goodness, kindness, and compassion—an atmosphere shimmering with the sadguna vaibhava, the divine virtues.
Our hosts, Nandani and Luke, stood once again after the arati. Luke said, “Even though today is the last day of Birthday Bliss, I want to remind everyone to take this bliss home with you and keep it going. Bliss can continue in the other eleven months of the year as well!” When Luke said this, we clapped and nodded in appreciation.
The celebration of Gurumayi’s Birthday 2016 was coming to a conclusion now. “Beautiful. Fantastic. Marvelous,” Gurumayi said.
One of the participants called out “Wonderful!” And all of a sudden, everyone started calling out adjectives to describe their experience of Gurumayi’s Birthday.
“Let’s take one at a time,” Gurumayi said. “Then we can really hear it resounding.”
Splendid! Effulgent! Exuberant! First class! Sensational! Expansive! Magnificent! Spectacular! Incredible! Stupendous! Moving! Delightful! Blissful! Sublime! Transformational! Joyous! Fun! Fantastical! Outstanding! Beatific! Terrific! Splendiferous! Sweet!
And a sevite from Food Services called out, “Delicious!”
“Delicious,” Gurumayi said. “That’s a good note to end on!”
It had been a delicious celebration. And a transformational one. Gurumayi’s Birthday 2016 was a celebration to remember—a manifestation of the virtues, an opportunity for offering, a clarion call for unity.
This month-long outpouring of joy called to my mind this verse about Shri Guru by the poet-saint Kabir:
Then as now, and ever always: you, you.
By your grace, I am forever blissful.1
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