Protect the Earth, Uplift Humanity

Namaste! Bienvenue! Willkommen! Bienvenidos! Ciao! Добро пожаловать!

I am delighted to be speaking in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall, during this live video stream of “Be in the Temple” satsang.

As you know, I am a Siddha Yoga monk. I am also a Siddha Yoga meditation teacher. I have had the great destiny to travel with Gurumayi during her Teachings Visits to Europe and many other countries. At Gurumayi’s request, I have also traveled on other occasions to many places in this world to disseminate the Siddha Yoga teachings. During my travels I have met hundreds and thousands of amazing people who were all...seeking.

Today, my heart is palpably happy to be with all you amazing people in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. I am very happy to be speaking to you, the Siddha Yogis who have been following the Siddha Yoga path for decades. It also gives me sweet delight to know that many new seekers have been participating in the “Be in the Temple” satsang as well.

I want to share with you what you already know—which is that Gurumayi had requested that today, April 22, in honor of Earth Day, I speak in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall specifically to all of you in northern, eastern, and western Europe. I want to take this moment to inform you of the countries represented today in satsang.

There are Siddha Yogis participating from western Europe: the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Austria, Ireland, and Belgium. Also, from Northern Europe: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland. And, from Eastern Europe: Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia. I think there are a few more countries participating, but to honor time, I’ll just say: you know who you are.

Each “Be in the Temple” satsang begins with the magnificent image of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork for 2020. This is why, at the start of this satsang, your eyes rested on the Message Artwork and you could therefore go deeper into your study of this Artwork.

After that, all of you were treated to beautiful scenes of nature on the grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram during the spring season. I believe your countries and Shree Muktananda Ashram seem to have a similar kind of climate. When you are watching the nature scenes from Shree Muktananda Ashram, you must have felt, “Oh yes, I know that. Oh yes, I know that.” You must have felt completely at home.

That being said, I must share with you that as of late, the weather patterns in Shree Muktananda Ashram have been quite variable. Just in the last couple weeks, we’ve been greeted and blessed by the presence of Surya Devata in the bright sun overhead; by Shri Hanuman, in the form of mighty winds; by Mahakali and Lord Krishna, in the thick, dark rainclouds that have rolled over the sky; and by Lord Shiva, in the almost seven inches of snow that blanketed the grounds of the Ashram just a few days ago.

It’s like all the deities are out there having fun while we’re in lockdown!

Speaking of lockdown and being at home, have you made “Stay home, stay safe” your motto? Have you been able to embrace it? Have you had trouble with it?

As Gurumayi said during her talk on Easter Sunday, “It’s a crazy, crazy world. It’s a wild, wild world we’re living in.”

I have been keeping current with the news about how each country is dealing with, coping with, handling, and managing COVID-19. I am impressed by the actions taken by some of the countries—especially the ones that put a lockdown in place immediately. Because of their proactive decision-making, and the readiness of the people in those countries to listen to their leaders, they’re able to gradually let people return to work and school.

Of course, they are continuing to observe social distancing, and taking all the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks and thoroughly washing hands. Congratulations to all the countries that are enjoying the fruits of their prompt decisions and actions, because of which many of you are able to experience the freedom of life.

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Earlier I mentioned how, at Gurumayi’s request, the “Be in the Temple” satsang is being live video streamed to countries in Europe in honor of Earth Day.

Perhaps you know how it came about that the world celebrates Earth Day; still, I would like to give you a few facts about it. Earth Day is celebrated around the world every year on April 22, and it is dedicated to honoring and protecting this beautiful planet which sustains us all—Mother Earth. The first Earth Day was celebrated fifty years ago on April 22, 1970 in the United States. Thirty years ago, in 1990, it became a global event celebrated in all the countries in this world.

I am very grateful to the people who are committed to safeguarding the environment. Because of their arduous and diligent efforts, we have a better world—in which we can live a fulfilled life, a life of purpose. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, which is based in the USA, the average tree produces as much oxygen in a season as ten people inhale in a year.

Although right now humanity is undergoing untold hardship—the hardship of the century—we have been made aware of how the bodies of water, the mountains, the beaches are getting cleaner and cleaner and returning to their original, pristine form. Although our hearts are aching, we must be alert to offer our gratitude for this remarkable transformation of our Mother Earth.

In light of these extraordinary transformations, Gurumayi requested that the SYDA Foundation Website Department Head, Sandeep Knoesel, send you all a communication, informing you that if you wish, you could send your photos of nature to the Siddha Yoga path website. Sandeep shared with Gurumayi the other day that overnight, hundreds and hundreds of photos of nature poured into the website. I want to take this moment to thank you all for your generosity.

Gurumayi was totally impressed with your immediate response. Gurumayi said, “I am so touched. I love these people. Thank you all so much.”

On Monday evening, April 20, Sandeep ensured that your spectacular nature images were posted on the Siddha Yoga path website with the title Gurumayi gave: “Glimpses of Nature.” I hope either you have or you will view each image as a gift from one of your friends in the global Siddha Yoga sangham. Each image gives insight into how a Siddha Yogi sees this world, accepts its beauty, and respects the bounty of this planet.

Now back to the current world news: Whenever I read what’s being covered by the news media, I am faced with the stark reality of how there is so much hardship and uncertainty in the whole world. Many experts predict that the recovery period could be a long one, perhaps taking years. As a seasoned Siddha Yogi, I ask myself:
“How do I protect my mental state and support others during this very strange time?”
“How do I continue my Siddha Yoga practices and inspire others to hold onto the Siddha Yoga teachings?”
“How do I implement Gurumayi’s words from Sweet Surprise 2020 and determine and act upon my intention, wish, vision, dream, and prayer?”
“How do I fulfill my aspirations as the world has turned upside down?”

When I ask these questions to myself, it is about my stance, my behavior, my way of doing things. It is about how I can fulfill my responsibilities and honor and stay true to that in life which is most dear to me—which is the Siddha Yoga path and serving Gurumayi and her mission. And do you know what’s more? I have observed and taken heart that many people on this planet are so thoughtful, generous, and in possession of the sadguna vaibhava, the divine virtues that Gurumayi has requested that we practice on a daily basis.

Gurumayi always says how she is pleasantly surprised by the immense talent, creativity, and generosity of people in this world. In fact, just the other day Gurumayi shared one example of this with Rohini Menon, the Managing Director for the “Be in the Temple” live video streams—who in turn shared it with me.

The example was from Switzerland. Each night for nearly a month, a light artist has been projecting light in the colors of various nations’ flags onto the Matterhorn—the famous mountain in the Alps. On Saturday, April 18, the artist projected the three colors of the Indian flag—orange, green, and white—onto the Matterhorn.

And do you know what’s more?  Many of you must have seen photos of Gurumayi seated on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

I was informed by Eesha Sardesai, who offers content seva for the Siddha Yoga path website, that on the same day the Matterhorn was emblazoned with the colors of the Indian flag, Gurumayi’s teachings from a “Be in the Temple” satsang with the Siddha Yogis in India were posted on the Siddha Yoga path website. And do you know what’s more? Gurumayi had given the specific guidance that the designs accompanying her teachings from this satsang be in the three colors of the Indian flag. So at the same time the tricolor was on the Siddha Yoga path website, it was being displayed in all its glory across the Swiss Alps.

At this moment, I want to read a sharing from a Siddha Yogi from Marlanval, France who participated in one of the “Be in the Temple” satsangs with Gurumayi. This share is posted on the Siddha Yoga path website. The Siddha Yogi writes:

It was so wonderful to be reminded by Gurumayi that I am responsible for my own thoughts and feelings! In this time of seclusion here in France, I recognize how much the Siddha Yoga retreats and courses in which I have participated over the years, as well as the spiritual practices of seva and meditation, have taught me to remain one-pointed, to accept my feelings and contemplate them, and to understand that everything will pass. It is when times become difficult that I see the value of sadhana, and the Siddha Yoga teachings, even more clearly.

In the Siddha Yoga retreats and courses this person spoke about, Siddha Yogis focused on the practice of Siddha Yoga meditation and studied the divine virtues, and other themes from Gurumayi’s Message for that particular year. Reading this person’s share, I recalled the many great Siddha Yoga Teachings Visits, and retreats Gurumayi has held throughout Europe. And, I also remember many of you with whom I have offered seva over many years in support of such Siddha Yoga Teachings Visits and events.

So many faces come to mind:

Hansueli Ramseier in Switzerland,
Vaman and Annie Greig and Lakshmi Zarod Hall in London,
Janharm and Cinda Musters from Holland, now in the UK,
Maja Ceraj in Slovenia,
Karlheinz and Ute Gelhardt in Germany,
Cristina Bomba, Svastimati Brianza, Leonardo Russo, and
      Saroj Del Duca in Italy,
Govinda Schwarz and Undine Dellisch in Austria,
Miguel and Maria Penalva in Spain,
Eugene and Pavitri Wypior from Poland, now in the UK,
Winnie and Eigil Molsgaard from Denmark,
Rudra Sharp and Khadija Laghrani Sharp from France,
Mark and Lydia Karp in Russia.

To honor time, I am only mentioning what are of course just a few names. So know this: if you remember that you offered seva with me during Gurumayi’s Teachings Visits, I remember you too.

Over almost two and a half decades, Gurumayi held satsangs, retreats, and Shaktipat Intensives throughout Europe—for example, in London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Montreux, Heidelberg, Sitges, and Lodz. Gurumayi visited many communities during those visits. I remember on each stop, Gurumayi would meet with the key people offering seva and always encourage them to “work together.”

This has always been Gurumayi’s key principle.

When we work together,
whether we agree with each other or not,
whether we fight with each other or not,
whether we like each other or not,
whether we have issues with each other or not,
regardless of all that, when we work together toward one goal,
it pleases the Guru’s heart tremendously.

I want to acknowledge all the hard work that the Siddha Yogis of eastern and western Europe have done. You held European retreats every year for a long time, and prepared for the Mahayatra in Europe from 1995 to 1996. When I was preparing my speech for today, I had an aha moment. And this was that we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Gurumayi’s Mahayatra. Yes!  The Silver Anniversary of Gurumayi’s Mahayatra. Thank you, Gurumayi, and thank you all.

The Mahayatra was Gurumayi’s grand Siddha Yoga meditation tour in 1995 and 1996, which stretched over seven months and included many teaching stops in North America and throughout Europe. The grand finale was the Global Satellite Shaktipat Intensive from Wembley Hall in London, England entitledBe Filled with Enthusiasm and Sing God’s Glory.”  This teaching was Gurumayi’s Message for 1996.

Gurumayi called the Mahayatra “the tour of a million hearts,” as so many hearts— literally tens of thousands—were touched and awakened. I remember it well as I served as one of the seven managers for the Mahayatra twenty-five years ago. I also remember, having been one of the managers for the Teachings Visit, how much work it was to get everything ready for travel. The Mahayatra was announced in July 1995 to start at the beginning of October. So over the course of the next two months, the tour managers booked venues for events and hotels for people to stay, shipped video and audio equipment by truck and plane, and identified hundreds of Siddha Yogis from around the world to support each Teachings Visit.

At each stop we would need to transform whatever space we had available to us—a conference room, for example—into a Siddha Yoga satsang hall. We would clean thoroughly, lay down carpets, set up chairs, set up lights and audio equipment, build a backdrop. We also cooked for everyone and provided transportation to and from the venues. Once a visit was completed, we had to take everything down in a timely fashion in order to meet the check-out time for the venues. We packed everything into trucks and moved on to the next visit—and started again in another country. I should add that we left every place cleaner, much cleaner, than when we arrived.

It was a glorious time, traveling around the world with Gurumayi, spreading her love and grace and teachings, on the Mahayatra. And look at the magnificent fruits of all the different seva everyone offered all these grace-filled years ago! Now, Rohini Menon, who is the Managing Director for the “Be in the Temple” live video streams, says to all her colleagues who support putting on these satsangs that they are on a tour with Gurumayi.

When I heard this, I thought, “How awesome is that!”

These days you can participate in the tour exactly where you are—and you can do it without getting on a packed plane, or running to catch a bus, or driving the car cross-country, or having to block out vacation time months beforehand. With the click of a button on the computer, or on one of many other mobile devices, we can all come together in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall and participate in the “Be in the Temple” satsangs.

I have a backstory about the Mahayatra that I’d like to share with you. In December 1995, the Mahayatra was on the road and we were in the midst of a winter retreat in Palm Springs, California. Thousands of people were participating. One day, during this retreat, Gurumayi held a meeting with the tour managers and informed all of us that we should add Poland to our itinerary.

After we heard Gurumayi say this, we went back to our managers’ meeting space and looked at each other in total disbelief. We were wondering how in the world we could make this possible, as the tour was already underway and adding one more new stop would take an enormous amount of planning. I don’t know who first broke the silence, but at some point all of us in the meeting—the SYDA Foundation tour managers—came up with an idea. And that brilliant idea was to call the Siddha Yoga leadership in Europe and share with them Gurumayi’s inspirational request and take it from there.

With great excitement, we put the request on the Europeans’ table. We were in for a huge surprise. There was a resounding “Yes!” from the European leadership. “We can make it happen,” they said. We were moved by the response we heard from the Siddha Yoga leadership in Europe, and how they came up with a very ingenious plan to arrange for the stop in Poland. They did make it happen. They fulfilled Gurumayi’s mandate. For this, we are forever grateful to all of you. This is the power of the Siddha Yoga sangham. If one person cannot do it, then there is someone else who can do it. It brings us all together. We are able to experience grace together and share the fruits of grace with one and all.

I want to share with you now an anecdote of Siddha Yoga history, which I myself first heard while on the Mahayatra. Back in the 1960s a small number of seekers from Poland visited Gurudev Siddha Peeth to receive Baba Muktananda’s darshan and live a spiritual life in the Ashram. They were very serious seekers, sadhakas. As their visit came to a conclusion, they felt fulfilled, having received Baba’s teachings and guidance and having lived such a sacred life. Therefore, before they were leaving Gurudev Siddha Peeth, they invited Baba Muktananda to visit Poland. Baba told them that if all the people in Poland were like them, then he must indeed come.

Back to the story about the Siddha Yoga leadership in Europe and their ingenious plan. What they did was contact all the Siddha Yogis from the countries in southern Europe to support the retreat that was already scheduled for Sitges, Spain, while Siddha Yogis from the countries in northern Europe would support a retreat in Poland. In this way, Poland was added to the tour itinerary and the promise made thirty years earlier to visit Poland was honored and realized.

And the retreat itself was nothing short of a miracle. I use the word “miracle” with utmost sincerity, since it really was like that—story after story after story of miracles taking place in people’s lives during and after this Siddha Yoga retreat with Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. I’m just giving you highlights today—and there were so many highlights from the Mahayatra.

Another one of these highlights was the Siddha Yogis from Russia who participated in the Teachings Visit. I remember the moment that all of you from Russia arrived at the Siddha Yoga retreat, which was held in the Opera Hall in Lodz, Poland. Over a hundred of you traveled over three days and three nights by train and bus to be in this retreat with Gurumayi. I recall so clearly that electrified moment when you arrived at the satsang hall, right at the conclusion of the morning Shri Guru Gita recitation, and you walked up the aisle for darshan of Gurumayi.

I was surprised that you showed no sign of exhaustion after traveling such a long, long distance. You had journeyed all through the night, yet you were as fresh as the morning dew. There was so much love and such a sense of wonder as you offered pranam for the very first time before Gurumayi. The outpouring of devotion from your hearts and your stance of humility was unparalleled. It is still etched on my heart. You could see, in the glow of the sunlight streaming through the windows, the tears that were sparkling on your beautiful faces. Those of us who were present to witness this love between the disciple and the Guru were also drenched in tears.

You may say these were tears of devotion, tears of “finally we’ve met,” tears of gratitude, and tears of forgiveness taking place between Poland and Russia in that blessed moment. I will never forget that purifying moment. How the Guru’s grace unites all of us. To honor time, I will not keep telling story after story, though I very well could.

Aah, the Mahayatra. Thank you, Gurumayi. Thank you one million times and more.

Thank you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yes, we have walked down our memory lane, with the awareness that our Siddha Yoga sadhana brings us here, in the presence of the radiant Bhagavan Nityananda, for this “Be in the Temple” satsang in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall.

Bade Baba’s iconic teaching written over the Temple entrance is: “The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”

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 After Swami ji gave his remarks, participants in the satsang practiced meditation and then sang the arati Jyota se Jyota Jagao. Following the arati, Swami ji spoke again.

When the pujari waved the arati lamp as we all sang Jyota se Jyota Jagao, we heard the beating of the drum and the sound of various instruments—the conch, cymbals, bells, shakers, and the damaru.

On the Siddha Yoga path, we use many musical instruments to make different joyful sounds. These sounds invoke the universal shakti and grace. These sounds have many, many benefits. During the global struggle to stop the spread and overcome the effects of COVID-19, the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, requested that at a specified time on March 22, people throughout the country bang on pots and pans for 10 minutes. The reason was twofold. One reason was to show support and gratitude to the frontline healthcare workers. The second was that the sound vibrations people created would help get rid of unwanted negative energies.

When I learned about this, I remembered Gurumayi speaking about Baba Muktananda’s words about sound. Baba once said, “During the arati… they play damaru and they play the drum and they blow the conch. The sounds of these instruments reach the subtlest part of the mind.” And specifically about the sound of the drum, Baba said that it reaches the innermost molecules of the heart, where no medicine can reach.

I have been enjoying this tour to northern, western, and eastern Europe.

I hope you have gained much knowledge about how doing Siddha Yoga sadhana leads you to find your life’s goals.

I hope you’ve felt Gurumayi’s love and appreciation for who you are.

I hope that during these unsettling times, you have found Gurumayi’s Message, Ᾱtmā kī Prashānti, Peacefulness of the Self, as your anchor.

We have been honoring the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and celebrating the 25th Silver Anniversary of Gurumayi’s Mahayatra in your countries. Because of our deep longing to continue our Siddha Yoga sadhana, Gurumayi has blessed us with "Be in the Temple" satsangs in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall via live video stream.

Soon, we will be departing from the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. However, I want to leave you with a reminder—and that is to engage with the Workbook on Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. In the Workbook on the Message, each week we receive questions directly from Gurumayi and there are many different creative ways to contemplate and work with these questions—so that we may learn and grow in our understanding of Gurumayi’s Message for 2020: Ᾱtmā kī Prashānti, Peacefulness of the Self.

The Workbook helps me keep Gurumayi’s Message foremost in my mind week after week throughout the year. And this is the keystone, the philosopher’s stone for me—connecting with the Peacefulness of the Self. In the midst of my study, there comes a new insight, an energetic moment when I connect with the Self. Then I find that any worry and confusion I am entertaining gets swept away, and my mind resets—attuned to the wisdom of the Self. It’s a magical moment, a moment of grace.

We have been fortunate to be present in satsang in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. And what a divine satsang this has been.

Be in the Temple—with Bade Baba.

Be in the Temple—with Gurumayi.

Thank you, Gurumayi.
         Thank you, Baba Muktananda.
                  Thank you, Bade Baba.
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