Happy Thanksgiving month. In the United States of America, Thanksgiving has been celebrated for the last four hundred years. And in 1942, the last Thursday of November was officially designated as the date for this annual celebration.
On the Siddha Yoga path, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda has established November as the month of reflection and gratitude.
This gathering is titled “Darshan and Manan: The Siddha Yoga Practices of Seeing and Contemplating.” It is being held in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall via live video stream, and it is produced by the SYDA Foundation.
My name is Gauri Maurer, and I am the Managing Director for this gathering of “Darshan and Manan.” I was introduced to the Siddha Yoga path when I was in the womb through my mother’s regular recitation of Shri Guru Gita. When I became an adult, I embraced Siddha Yoga as my own.
Over the years, I have come to recognize the incredible power and benefits of manan: the Siddha Yoga practice of contemplation. On the Siddha Yoga path, when we talk about contemplation, we’re referring to an alchemical process of the heart. Wisdom arises from the heart that is awakened by Shri Guru’s grace.
How fortunate we are to be here, together, in the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple in Shree Muktananda Ashram. Bhagavan Nityananda, who was affectionately called Bade Baba, gave this iconic teaching: “The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”
For decades, Siddha Yogis have come to Bade Baba’s Temple to perform the Siddha Yoga practices and contemplate his teaching. It is emblazoned over the doorway leading into the Temple.
The pristine environment of the Temple is perfectly conducive to deeper contemplation. The atmosphere is invigorated, constantly refreshed by Shri Guru’s grace. And in this gathering of “Darshan and Manan,” our gaze rests on the enlivened, effulgent murti of Bhagavan Nityananda. This is the practice of darshan.
As our sadhana deepens, and we continue to practice darshan and contemplation, we find ourselves in a state that transcends all the limitations of our senses, all the constructs of our mind. Our vision is transformed. We are no longer seeing with only the physical eyes—we are seeing with the eyes of the heart. We are seeing our own divinity. Shiva-drishti.
From speaking with Siddha Yogis, I know that many of you have had glimpses of this experience—when you come into the Guru’s presence, when you arrive in the Temple, when you enter and take a seat in your puja room, when you see something exquisite in nature, when you perform the spiritual practices, and whenever you think of your Guru.
When you apply yourself regularly to darshan and manan, you strengthen these experiences even more and you crystallize the wisdom you gain from them. It becomes easier and more natural for you to frequent this space within yourself and relish Atma ki Prashanti—Peacefulness of the Self. Yes—darshan and manan are two Siddha Yoga practices that lead you to the experience of Gurumayi’s Message for this year.
Sometimes I have wondered what comes first: darshan or manan? Manan or darshan? I’ve concluded that jnanis will go from manan to darshan. And bhaktas will go from devotion and darshan to manan.
As you are practicing darshan and manan, it is fine if your eyes naturally close and you glide into meditation. Even during meditation, continue the practices of darshan and manan.
Participants practiced seeing and contemplating, and then as the gathering came to a close, Gauri gave concluding remarks.
Continue to reflect on your experience of practicing darshan and the insights you gained from practicing manan.
Make space in your day to have the darshan of Bhagavan Nityananda as you go about your business and your various chores. And remember to hold Gurumayi’s Message, Atma ki Prashanti, in your awareness. Just as you reach for water when you are thirsty, keep the Message readily available for whenever you are feeling unnerved, off-kilter, or in distress.
You can also remember to practice bringing about peacefulness while you are happy, while you are excited, while you are soaring high. When you find that you are able to more readily access your own innate peacefulness of being, then you will know: you are getting closer to becoming established in Atma ki Prashanti. Only you can measure your progress.
Thank you all for designating this time for darshan and manan.