Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

The Connection That Sustains Me

I work as a professional artist in Mexico. Recently, I was asked to do a painting, and I accepted this commission even though for the past three years I had been focusing on personal and family needs rather than on my work. I felt that this new commission would be an opportunity to reconnect with my creativity.

I began to work on this painting immediately and with a lot of enthusiasm, but after some weeks I realized I wasn’t finding a way to express what I wanted. The piece looked lifeless to me, and I felt blocked.

Then, I received a note reminding me that the painting was supposed to be finished in a matter of days. This put me into a panic. I told my husband what was happening, and at the end of the day he handed me a slip of paper I had given him four years before, when he was the one going through a challenge with his work. On the slip of paper, I had written this passage from Gurumayi:

Whenever you think you are helpless, you are denying God’s grace and the Guru’s blessings. The minute you turn to the source of grace, the minute you turn to the infinite light of God in your heart, you find the peace and all the protection you need. May you wake up to your inner courage and become steeped in divine contentment.1

The first time I heard this timeless teaching—when Gurumayi gave her Message talk in 1997—it resonated with me. Later, I read this passage many times in Gurumayi’s book Courage and Contentment.

As I looked at these words again, written out in my own hand, I smiled, remembering my wish to help my husband reconnect with his heart and recognize the power of grace. I know he appreciated receiving this quotation; he kept it by his work space at home to have it next to him as a reminder. Now, I needed to remember grace, and so he was offering Gurumayi’s teaching to me. I felt grace was reaching out to me.

In the middle of the night, I woke up thinking about the painting. I got up and went to the meditation room to reflect on what I was feeling. I saw that I had so wanted to succeed and prove I was good at my job, and this very ambition had gotten in the way of my creativity. I resolved to move my awareness into a place of courage and confidence and began praying to Gurumayi, asking for grace.

Then I remembered Gurumayi’s words: “The minute you turn to the source of grace, the minute you turn to the infinite light of God in your heart, you find the peace and all the protection you need.”

With these words resonating in my being, I sat for meditation. I focused my mind on recalling a meditation experience I’d had a few weeks before at a Siddha Yoga Sadhana Retreat when I perceived the light of God within me and everywhere around me. In this experience I first sensed the light within every part of my body. Then this light expanded, radiating beyond my body, beyond the room where I was sitting until, finally, absolutely everything was light. I lost any identification with “me” and merged into a field of energy and light.

As I recalled this divine experience, I once again found the inner light. In this light, I could feel the Guru’s grace embracing me, and all my anxiety and fear vanished. I felt expanded and free, and in the magnificence of this perfection, I experienced myself to be complete. I knew with joy and with full conviction that I was capable of doing this painting. It was still the middle of the night, so I went back to bed. After another two hours’ sleep, I woke up again, this time with the impulse to start working on my painting, even though it was three o’clock in the morning.

When I got to my studio, I paused to recognize the stillness in my heart. I honored grace as the power within me and asked for guidance. I felt quite certain—and this was a relief!—that I was not painting to attain something in particular. I was painting to experience the connection with my own heart.

I looked at what I had already painted, searching for a clue as to how I could approach this work with a sense of newness. Suddenly, I became clear about the atmosphere I wanted to create in this painting, and I set to work with great care. The profound quiet of the early hours supported me to keep my mind still. I didn’t want to interrupt this silence, so I kept my movements focused. I painted slowly, allowing each color, each brush stroke to enrich the scene. I felt in communication with the painting and my movements became smooth and coherent. At times I stopped to look at what was on the canvas—not to judge but to see what was needed.

I painted like this for many hours, with complete confidence and joy. Afterward, when I looked at the painting, I was in awe to see what was manifest on the canvas. The painting was not yet complete, but it was coming along—and I felt a sense of joy, detachment, and freedom.

When the painting was finished and had been delivered—on time!—I was grateful. Reflecting on Gurumayi’s words had moved me from feeling helpless to feeling content and strong—and able to allow my creativity to manifest. Gurumayi’s precious teaching had inspired me to remember that grace is here for me all the time.

Now, I find this teaching to turn to my heart gives me a pathway not just to accomplish my painting but to approach any situation in my life. Whenever I find myself uneasy because something didn’t come out the way I’d wanted it to, I stop and direct my attention into my heart. There, I am able to experience the presence of grace, which allows me to let go of my expectations and surrender to whatever has happened with confidence and respect.

I love recalling Gurumayi’s words as a sweet reminder so that I can recognize the infinite love and grace within me. Each time I do, I grow in my conviction that all my efforts on my journey are accompanied, and guided, by the grace of my beloved Guru.

1Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Courage and Contentment: A Collection of Talks on Spiritual Life (South Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation, 1999) p. 19.
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