Aloha, North America.
Bienvenidos, Latin America.
As-salaam alaykum to those of you in the Middle East.
Shalom to Israel.
These happen to be some of the greetings that I know from around the world. However, from my heart I want to wish everyone in the global Siddha Yoga sangham a big, big hello.
Welcome to the fourth and final Siddha Yoga gathering of Darshan and Manan: The Siddha Yoga Practices of Seeing and Contemplating. You are in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. You are participating in a live video stream from Bhagavan Nityananda’s Temple in Shree Muktananda Ashram. This live video stream is produced by the SYDA Foundation.
Here in Shree Muktananda Ashram, the sky is blue, so blue!
A few weeks ago, we celebrated Deepavali on this blue planet. And very soon—on November 29 in the USA and November 30 in India—the celestial beings will celebrate Deepavali in the heavens. In India, this holiday is called Dev Divali.
Gurumayi has said that on occasion, she might not remember at the start of the day that it is Dev Divali. However, at the end of the day, she will be telling someone, “This day felt so special. Something about the light. Something about the energy in the air. I feel something great must have been happening somewhere.”
Also on November 30, there will be a lunar eclipse. As you know, one must be vigilant during the time of an eclipse. On the Siddha Yoga path, our Gurus have taught us that performing Siddha Yoga practices yield greater fruits during this powerful time.
My name is Heather Williams. I am so delighted to be hosting and speaking in this gathering of Darshan and Manan.
I cannot thank my parents enough for the decision they made to follow the Siddha Yoga path. I feel blessed to have practiced the Siddha Yoga teachings my entire life. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of receiving Gurumayi’s teachings.
I still recall the scene as if it were yesterday:
I am a small child, and I am sitting at the feet of my beloved Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda.
I am gazing up at Gurumayi. I am thinking, “She is beautiful.”
I am listening to her giving a talk.
I do not understand everything she is saying.
However, I am listening intently.
The power of Gurumayi’s words is entering my being.
I experience Gurumayi’s words resonating in every cell in my body.
As I said, I am not grasping everything she is saying. I am a child.
Nonetheless, I am feeling her words pulsing in every molecule within me.
The very fabric and form of my self is being molded by this guidance from Gurumayi that I have yet to fathom.
I am recognizing that there is something very special in my little body. Yet I do not know exactly what that is.
And then I hear Gurumayi say: “Divinity is within you.”
These experiences of sitting at Gurumayi’s feet and being utterly mesmerized by her teachings have shaped and guided my life. And now, I think I understand what Gurumayi was and is teaching. I think I learned from Gurumayi how not to be attached to anything that will distract me from walking the Siddha Yoga path.
There is nothing like the Guru’s love. It is this love which has brought us together today in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. It is this love which forges and maintains our everlasting bond. It is this love we worship with our body, mind, and soul.
This is the fourth and final Siddha Yoga gathering of Darshan and Manan.
Gurumayi has given the term Bhagavan as a focus for our practice of darshan and manan in these gatherings. The Sanskrit word Bhagavan refers to God—to the supreme power of this universe and to the Lord within our hearts. Bhagavan also refers to one who embodies and exemplifies the six divine attributes.
A verse from the ancient Indian scripture, the Vishnu Purana, explains what these attributes of Bhagavan are. The English translation of this verse says: “Complete mastery, righteousness, glory, abundance, wisdom, and detachment. Together, these six virtues are known to constitute the root of the word Bhagavan.”
In these gatherings of Darshan and Manan, you have learned about four of the attributes of Bhagavan. Today I will explain the meaning of the final two attributes: jnana and vairagya. As is the case in any language, words in the Sanskrit language are replete with meaning. A single word will often have three, four, five—or even more—meanings. Truly speaking, jnana and vairagya each have several meanings. For the purposes of this gathering, however, I will be defining them as follows. Jnana is knowledge or wisdom. And vairagya is detachment or renunciation.
I will speak first about jnana, which is “knowledge” or “wisdom.” It is important to understand that in this context, “knowledge” does not refer merely to information. It is not only the facts and ideas that one learns from books or from lectures. It is not limited to academic knowledge, and it’s not about being well-read.
Jnana is the result of a deeper understanding, an assimilation of collected learnings and experiences that result in inner transformation and kindle the light of compassion within you. Jnana is not restricted to the mind and intellect; jnana embeds itself into your being, and it shapes your outlook on life.
In every field, knowledge is essential. This is especially true when you are on a spiritual path, where knowledge of the Self is both the goal and the means to that goal. Each glimpse you have of the Self propels you further and further toward attainment of the Self.
The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. The sages and saints of India considered ignorance to be a sin—and the greatest folly. The scriptures tell us that the purpose of a human life is to know who you are. Therefore, at the beginning of their sadhana, a seeker asks certain questions. The great sage Adi Shankaracharya explained what some of these questions might be. “Who am I? How is this world created? Who is its creator? Of what material is this world made?” These potent questions prompt a churning in one’s mind, one’s heart, and one’s soul. They lead one on the quest for knowledge—and in time, to the revelation of it. If a person does not pursue this quest, then they are passing up the precious opportunity that this existence offers.
Jnana entails understanding both the nature of this world and the nature of the supreme Self. In India, there are four great yogas—jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, karma yoga, and raja yoga. All different types of yoga are important. And among them, jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, is held in the highest regard.
The knowledge contained in the Indian scriptures spans millions of pages. At the same time, many of the sages who wrote these scriptures, and many of the great beings who have taught about them, have summarized this knowledge in concise and memorable statements.
For example, there are the Mahavakyas, or the “great statements,” from the Vedas:
Aham Brahmāsmi—I am Brahman, the Absolute.
Ayam Ātmā Brahma—This Self is Brahman.
Prajnānam Brahma—Knowledge is Brahman.
Tat Tvam Asi—Thou art That.
There are the Shiva Sutras, which include:
Caitanyam Ātmā—The Self is Consciousness.
Jnānam Bandaha—Limited Knowledge is Bondage.
Prayatnah Sadhakaha—A Seeker is One Who Makes an Effort.
There are the teachings of Bhagavan Nityananda, Baba Muktananda, and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda that distill, with great precision, the knowledge of the scriptures.
Bade Baba says:
“The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”
“All are Om.”
“Be calm. I am everywhere.”
“Honor your Self. Worship your Self. Meditate on your Self. God dwells within you as you.”
“Love is the way.”
“Make the mind your friend.”
“I am That. I am the Truth. I am knowledge. I am infinite.”
The Indian scriptures define the fruit of knowledge as having the complete awareness of Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. All this is Brahman. All this is the Absolute. All this is God.
Why do we understand that Bhagavan Nityananda was the embodiment of jnana? Bade Baba, as he is affectionately called, was the living representation of knowledge. The power of knowledge came through his every gesture, every glance, every syllable he uttered. Simply by sitting quietly in his presence, seekers could receive his wisdom. On the Siddha Yoga path, we have learned that knowledge of the Self arises within a seeker whether they are in the physical presence of the Guru, or they are having a thought of the Guru, seeing an image of the Guru, or having a dream of the Guru.
I will now speak about vairagya—detachment or renunciation. In the Sanskrit language, vairagya is derived from the word vi-raga. Vi means “without” and raga encompasses worldly passions, emotions, desires, and attachments.
Because the word vairagya indicates detachment and renunciation, people often think this attribute is not for them. They think, “I am not an ascetic. I have not freed myself from worldly affairs.” However, as I continue to explain what vairagya is, you will learn how this attribute of Bhagavan is very pertinent to everyone.
Bhagavan is he who possesses this divine quality of vairagya, which is also referred to in the Indian scriptures as nishprapancha—freedom from worldliness. Bhagavan is one who is in this world but not of this world.
What causes pain and suffering, sorrow and misery, despair and despondency? According to the Indian scriptures, the cause is clinging to anything: to a thought, a person, an idea, an object, and so on.
There is an age-old parable that Gurumayi has told in satsangs and Shaktipat Intensives, and it illustrates this exact point. In the story, there is a monkey who excitedly thrusts his hand into a jar full of sweets. The problem is, once the monkey has grabbed a big fistful of sweets, he can’t get his hand out. As long as he holds on to all the sweets, his hand is stuck in the jar. Similarly, if we hold on to that which is useless to us, or unnecessary for us, it is to our own detriment. It is when we relinquish that incessant need, that urgent desire, to have that we experience freedom and can realize the wholeness of our own being.
When Gurumayi would tell this story, she would sometimes conclude it by posing a question. Could this monkey have sacrificed just a few candies to get his hand back?
Bade Baba embodies vairagya—“detachment” or “renunciation”—just as he embodies the other divine attributes of Bhagavan. Those who were around Bade Baba experienced his vairagya on a daily basis. And though they witnessed it day in and day out, though they knew that this is who Bade Baba was, with each new example of his vairagya, they were blown away. Each time it was a profound experience. To this day, seekers are captivated by and enveloped in Bade Baba’s inner state of total detachment—whether they’re experiencing it in their hearts, or seeing his image, or reading his words, or meditating upon him, or sitting before his murti, as we are right now, in the Temple. To put it succinctly: Bhagavan Nityananda is forever united with God.
I have heard the wonderful history of how the murti of Bhagavan Nityananda in Gurudev Siddha Peeth—which was installed in 1971—was created. Baba Muktananda took great care to make sure that his Guru’s divine qualities came through while his murti was being created. He would visit the artist’s studio in Mumbai every few days to check on the progress of the murti. The sculptor would ask Baba if he had accurately captured Bade Baba’s expressions, and often Baba would work on the murti himself. Baba’s intention was that when people looked upon Bade Baba’s murti, they would experience what he—Baba—had experienced in Bade Baba’s presence. Baba wished for people to experience the state of his beloved Guru, his beloved Siddha, Bhagavan Nityananda.
Therefore, when you look upon Bade Baba’s form, you have clearer knowledge and a stronger experience of Gurumayi’s Message for this year: Ātmā kī Prashānti, Peacefulness of the Self.
In this moment, you will be practicing darshan and manan of Bhagavan Nityananda’s effulgent and enlivened form.
As you become immersed in these practices, you will hear the sweet and soothing notes of classical piano played by Carlos del Cueto. Carlos is an SYDA Foundation staff member and an accomplished musician.
Allow your awareness to be supported by the streams of sound permeating the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. Music has the power to cut through ignorance. Music has the ability to release you from attachment. It frees you from your own preoccupations and self-constraints, and it reveals to you a better world within yourself.
In the presence of Bhagavan Nityananda, participants practiced darshan and manan. Afterward, Heather gave concluding remarks.
ज्ञानं वैराग्यं च। दर्शन और मनन।
Jnana, and vairagya. Darshan, and manan.
दर्शन और मनन। ज्ञानं वैराग्यं च।
Darshan, and manan. Jnana, and vairagya.
Thank you all for participating in this fourth and final Siddha Yoga gathering of Darshan and Manan: The Siddha Yoga Practices of Seeing and Contemplating.
I want to remind you that the teachings from the Siddha Yoga gatherings of Darshan and Manan are available on the Siddha Yoga path website. Please do visit the website and have darshan and practice manan. You will be thankful to yourself for making time to do your sadhana. And I’ll leave it up to you to discover just how great you will feel as a result.
Thank you, Gurumayi. When I think of how I am being affected by your teachings and by performing the Siddha Yoga practices, I feel like a piece of gold that is being carefully refined so that its innate sheen and value become ever more apparent. Thank you for your pragmatic and philosophical vision, for your invaluable and down-to-earth guidance, and for your benevolent presence.
I want to offer my gratitude and everyone’s gratitude to Gurumayi by singing the refrain of a bhajan by the poet-saint Brahmananda that is very dear to my heart. I was fortunate to sing this bhajan with Gurumayi in 1999 on the CD Beloved. Gurumayi dedicated Beloved to—as she said—the children of the past, the children of today, and the children of the future.
Brahmananda says: “I offer myself at my Guru’s feet, by whose grace, duality has disappeared from my mind.”
Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!