March 1, 2020

Dear students,

What an exalted beginning to the year and decade we had on January 1, as we participated in Sweet Surprise and received Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. We, Chinmayi and Mallika—a mother and daughter duo—have been relishing each day since then, both together and on our own, as we practice Gurumayi’s Message and create this year’s Workbook.

We imagine that you, too, have been pondering Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. We are, of course, most eager to find out what experiences you have been having and how you have been progressing in your sadhana as Gurumayi’s Message takes stronger and stronger root in your heart.

We had the sweet assignment of writing the Workbook on Gurumayi’s Message for last year. We heard from many Siddha Yogis and new seekers who did the Workbook that they found it useful and that it allowed them to think more deeply, access their inner knowledge, and learn how to articulate the progress they were making. Many people shared how transformative the Workbook was for them—so much so that when they spoke about it with people who had not signed up for the Workbook due to time constraints, those people started making plans in advance to do the Workbook in 2020, in case there would be one.

We feel so proud of everyone in our Siddha Yoga sangham when we hear how learning has become your passion—especially learning about the Siddha Yoga teachings and about sadhana itself.

What we’ve heard from the sangham also energizes us to put before you the Workbook on Gurumayi’s Message for 2020. So, thanks to everyone for taking such great interest in the Workbook last year—and thanks to all of you, in advance, who will engage with the Workbook this year. Do spread the word about it to other Siddha Yogis and new seekers!

On January 1, in Sweet Surprise, we were in total bliss to receive Gurumayi's Message, आत्मा की प्रशान्ति—“Peacefulness of the Self.” In that moment, both of us realized: this Message is so apropos of what is happening right now in the world. By practicing this Message, we can remind ourselves again and again that shining within us is a shrine of peacefulness. We do have the ability to guard ourselves from the thrashing waves of emotion and outer commotion; we can maintain and protect the sanctity of our own hearts in the midst of all the upheaval we read about in the news, see in our communities, and perceive in the fluctuations of our own being.

We know, for sure, that anyone who has received Gurumayi’s Message will want this. They will want to recognize, enter, and abide in the shrine of peacefulness within at any given moment; they will want to take refuge in the pristine stillness that emanates from the heart, and to bring their lived experience of Gurumayi’s Message into their interactions. This Workbook for 2020 is a practical guide to help you do just that. It will support your day-to-day effort to implement Gurumayi’s Message and everything Gurumayi spoke about in a Sweet Surprise on January 1.

Over the last several weeks, we have been creating the Workbook with a wonderful team in the SYDA Foundation—both staff members and Siddha Yogis offering seva from their homes. And now, we would like to give an overview of what’s in store for you.

This Workbook consists of thirty worksheets that will be posted weekly on the Siddha Yoga path website—which has, since 2011, been a go-to resource, satsang hall, space of learning, and recourse for many Siddha Yogis. Each worksheet is centered on a question from Gurumayi. In some cases, these questions have multiple parts—additional, related questions from Gurumayi that stem from and support your exploration and study of the main question.

You may remember that in Sweet Surprise, Gurumayi spoke of the ancient tradition of questions and answers between master and student, and how this framework for learning is the basis for satsang—and also for many of India’s scriptures. Consider the questions in the Workbook to be an invitation from Gurumayi to participate in this beautiful tradition.

As many of you know, we are both educators and are aware that questions play a vital role in shifting a student’s thought process. For example, when you are presented with a question, there is a momentary pause in your train of thought, opening a window of possibility for a new perspective or insight. How compelling that moment can be! What mystery might it contain? We invite you to embrace such moments, to relinquish any preconceived notions you might have had about what the “right answer” is. Instead, follow your intuition as it leads you to deeper understanding and knowledge.

From the perspective of cognitive science, asking and answering questions stimulates the brain to create new meaning. Questions prompt your brain to make new connections with the repository of thoughts, memories, and emotions you hold in your mind. When these connections are reinforced over time, you are less likely to default to outmoded thoughts and behaviors. Questions are, therefore, an opening to think more creatively, assimilate new information, and take in unique viewpoints and possibilities.

Some of the questions may, at first glance, appear to be asking for a “yes” or “no” answer. However, we want to give you a reminder—and make a recommendation. Don’t stop at a simple “yes” or “no.” Take your time with the question. Notice what associations, memories, and thoughts arise as you read the question, and work with them. Consider your own life and sadhana in relation to the question and what it reveals to you as you continue to explore and study.

The worksheets will guide you in effectuating the insights and understandings that arise when you read Gurumayi’s questions. Similar to last year, the Workbook will feature three learning modalities—physicalizing, illustrating, and creating mind-maps. By engaging with Gurumayi’s questions through these modalities, you access different aspects of your being.

Often, we think of learning as happening exclusively in our brain. However, Gurumayi teaches us that learning happens in every particle of our being—in our physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bodies. When you participate in four-body learning, then what you have learned becomes incorporated into your long-term memory. This knowledge becomes available to you to use in your daily interactions.

The wonderful activities in the Workbook are designed to support your four-body learning, which will strengthen your ability to practice, assimilate, and implement Gurumayi’s Message. Therefore, we encourage you to experiment with all the learning modalities. Last year, we heard from many students whose most cherished insights came when they dropped limiting notions of “being physically uncoordinated” or “not being artistic” and just gave it a go. Isn’t that motivating? Yes—just go for it!

As you prepare to embark on your journey with the Workbook, here are some useful tips and information:

  • Register for the Workbook here. The first worksheet is now available. The worksheets will be posted weekly on Sundays through Sunday, September 20.
  • Study “A Dialogue between Guru and Disciples,” which is available on the Siddha Yoga path website when you register for the Workbook or a multiple participation package for Sweet Surprise 2020. This conversation, this interchange of questions and answers between Gurumayi and participants in Sweet Surprise 2020, will support your engagement with the Workbook.
  • Read about the three learning modalities in the Workbook here.
  • Remember to breathe all the while, as you schedule time each week to do the Workbook. Time is your friend. You can be flexible with your plan.

We trust that you will make this Workbook an integral part of your weekly exploration and study of Gurumayi’s Message for 2020.

Warm regards,

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Chinmayi Maxwell and Mallika Maxwell
Writers of The Workbook on Gurumayi’s Message for 2020