February 15, 2024

Dear reader,

By now, you will have read them. You will have listened; you will have let the music play under and over and behind your reflections. In celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, Gurumayi has given us Toward Love—an astounding collection of her teachings on love, one a day on the Siddha Yoga path website from February 1 through February 14, 2024.

The reason I’m so confident that you’ve engaged with these teachings is—you’ve said so! Or, to be more precise, you’ve been sharing your insights and experiences on the website. I’ve enjoyed reading your shares; while a lot of people will respond thoughtfully to the articles and books they read, I’ve found that there’s a special quality to what Siddha Yogis share. It’s evident that you take to heart what Gurumayi has taught about studying, practicing, assimilating, and implementing her teachings in your daily lives. And here, with Toward Love, you’ve done so in relation to Gurumayi’s guidance on love.

It's fascinating; on the one hand, love is something we all know, understand, have experienced. We’re familiar with its many expressions, which can range from the ludicrous (who hasn’t heard of—or themselves made—a questionable decision in the name of love!) to the positively sublime.

Some years ago, I was having a conversation with Gurumayi on this very subject. I was asking her about a line from her poem for Deepavali 2022. Gurumayi had written: When you fall in love, every little thing in and around you is rendered in light. It was such a striking line, and I was intrigued by Gurumayi’s use of the phrase fall in love. This is language that’s generally associated with romantic love, yet I’d understood that the love Gurumayi is speaking of in this poem is not limited to that.

Gurumayi explained that she had very deliberately chosen this phrase. The experience of falling in love—that sun-strewn haze that descends over everything, that curious moment when it seems that all the stars in the night sky are as much within you as they are outside—it’s something that many people can relate to. And though this experience may arise in a specific context, something about it is elemental to love in general. In this way, it serves as a reference point for love as Gurumayi teaches about it. As Gurumayi further explained: “That spark of light you feel, the way your heart lifts when you look at a person, or even at a tree, or at anything—this is no different from divine love.”

So, there are many avenues, many points of entry to the experience of love, and we are well-acquainted with them. At the same time, it’s been my observation that there are a lot of misconceptions about love. Now, I’ll be the first to admit—I am always up for a good love story, or love song for that matter. (In my mind at least, I’m something of a connoisseur of the genre.) But what I’ve found in a lot of what I’ve read, watched, and listened to—and even in what some of the people in my life have shared with me—is a tendency to equate love with pain and suffering. The prevailing assumption seems to be that you can’t have one without the other. And insofar as storytelling goes, it’s always the conflict or uncertainty accompanying love that drives the plot forward, that is considered to be the main draw for the audience. Love itself, with its attendant feelings of joy, of peace, of belonging, never seems interesting or varied enough to dwell upon for very long.

Yet my own experiences of love, and especially love as Gurumayi has shown and taught it to me, would indicate otherwise. I remember once Gurumayi was explaining to me the nature of love, and the love of the Guru for the disciple. Looking directly into my eyes, she said, “I could never love you less.” She lifted her arm skyward. “This love can only ascend higher, into the stratosphere, through the cosmos.” She motioned to the ground. “This love can only grow deeper, into the very core of this earth.”

I couldn’t tell in that moment if the sky above me was opening (surely some angels had to be singing somewhere) or if it was the ground below shifting beneath my feet. But I did have a glimpse of it—the immensity of this love Gurumayi was speaking of, its infinite potential for expansion, its endless dynamism. I had spent so much time, I realized, wondering if love would be there for me at the end of the day—worrying about how long it would stay, when it might go away. The real question, though, was if I would recognize love—and then, what I would discover the more I explored its depths. The prospect was thrilling, invigorating.

Which brings me back to Gurumayi’s teachings on the Siddha Yoga path website. Toward Love. As I read your shares, I felt that you too had grasped this nuance about love, that you had understood that love exists beyond and apart from what the sages of ancient India call the “pairs of opposites” (pain and pleasure, loss and gain, the like). One of you, for example, wrote in response to the fourth teaching: “I discover that I must make the effort to recognize love as it is in order to experience it. . .Trying to overlay my preconceived notions of it will prevent my entry into its mystical presence and flow. . .It’s as if I am allowed to enter a magical kingdom all its own if I give into it.”

A number of you also related your understanding of Gurumayi’s teachings in Toward Love to your study of her Message for 2024. You came to a greater appreciation of what dignity entails, with one of you sharing: “In order to uphold dignity, I need to value love.” You spoke of being open to grace, and any insights, revelations, synchronicities this brings, as you continue on the path toward love. Most of all, your shares both spoke of and demonstrated the effort you’re making to remain connected to your divinity. You described your attempts to remember and move toward love as a means of maintaining that inner connection.

I’m inclined to agree with this description. Recently, I was speaking with two Siddha Yogis who are the parents of a young child. They told me that on one specific day in January, their son began to insist upon writing a poem about Gurumayi before going to bed. So, for the next several days, that’s what he did; he wrote a daily poem expressing his love for Gurumayi.

I smiled incredulously when I heard this story. You see, it was on that very day in January that Gurumayi had shared with me her wish to write daily teachings about love for Valentine’s Day. It was so clear to me—this little boy was in tune. And by honoring the love in his heart as he did, he was in his own way making sure he remained connected.

You might recall, it was Gurumayi who first spoke about love in relation to her Message for this year. On January 7, during the satsang via live video stream in honor of Shri Guru Gita recitation anniversary, Gurumayi asked the three Siddha Yoga Swamis in attendance to share their experiences of the Message. Gurumayi asked these Swamis to share because she knows that each of them makes a specific plan to practice her Message, and that everyone listening would, therefore, be able to gain useful insights from what they say.

True to form, all three Swamis gave very concrete and useful explanations. And I’d like to highlight what one of these Swamis, in particular, shared. After outlining his method of practicing Gurumayi’s Message, he spoke about how easeful it’s been for him to imbibe the meaning of the words—for example, Stand tall in your dignity. Then, in his characteristic manner, a mix of humor and humility, Swami ji said: “Well, dignity was never my strong suit, you know. So that was surprising.”

When Swami ji said this, Gurumayi laughed; he laughed; we all laughed! That was probably to be expected—this Swami, who is beloved by children and adults alike, has an uncanny way of bringing about joy wherever he is and wherever he goes. Everyone laughs when Swami ji is around.

After the Swamis took their seats, Gurumayi smiled and said, “I want to say something. Swami ji, you do have great dignity.” Gurumayi proceeded to explain that dignity comes in many different forms. In this way, she said, dignity is like love.

Gurumayi then posed the question: “What is love?” As we all pondered this, she gave some possible responses—the different things people might say would constitute love for them. I remember thinking that I would be content to just stay there, suspended in that moment, listening to Gurumayi speak about what love is and what it entails. Subconsciously, the wish was forming in my mind. And though it did not manifest right then, it did come to fruition in just a few weeks’ time, and in a manner more grand and beautiful than anything I could have imagined. Toward Love.


On Valentine’s Day, we received the final teaching in Toward Love—the pinnacle, the culmination, the crème de la crème, as it were, of this truly incomparable set of teachings. I feel like we’ve been in a different realm entirely these last couple weeks, a kind of love-filled bubble where your, my, everyone’s proverbial cup runneth over. When the first teaching was featured on February 1, there was an upwelling of love in my heart—for everything and for nothing in particular, and most of all for Gurumayi. And then day two came, and day three, and day four, and each new teaching was my favorite, and the topography of my experience was the same but also changing—first it was a cascade of love I was feeling, and then a rushing river, and then the utterly placid sea. Each day, the love was expanding; each day, it seemed, my capacity for love was growing.

At this point, it feels impossible that this love could get any bigger—and yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will. For one thing, we can keep returning to the teachings in Toward Love. We can experiment with different ways of engaging with them. And might I suggest one particular sequence to try out? First read the teaching; then listen to it read aloud; and, finally, play the music as you reflect on what you have just taken in. As you’re listening to the pan flute and the amalgam of sound that surrounds it, stay open to what comes up for you—what ideas or images come into focus in your mind, what actions you’d like to take. The inspiration can and, I think it’s safe to say, will come in any form.

I’d also like to share with you a little bit about one of the designs that you’ll have seen accompanying Toward Love. Let me preface this by saying that almost always when you come across a design on the Siddha Yoga path website, there will be more to it than meets the eye. It will have specific symbolism, significance. And that’s certainly the case here—namely, with the image of a small branch of leaves that you will have seen below each teaching. (It is, moreover, the same kind of leaves that are on the design accompanying this letter.)

These are leaves from the kauri tree, which is native to New Zealand. Gurumayi shared with me that she was inspired by the story of one specific kauri tree, which is called Tane Mahuta in the Maori language, and is frequently referred to as the “God [or Lord] of the Forest.” It is estimated to be approximately two thousand years old. “For all these years,” Gurumayi said, “out of its love for this planet, this tree has been standing.”

Another point of note about the designs on the Siddha Yoga path website is that, as much as possible, we try to take the support of all the wonderful Siddha Yogis who have been to those regions of the world whose flora, fauna, and artwork we might wish to feature. Often, we also look to what is housed in the Shakti Punja archives. Sandeep Knoesel, the SYDA Foundation Website Department Head, shared with me that when he received Gurumayi’s request for the Toward Love designs, he immediately knew whom to contact—he had family that had visited this sacred site in New Zealand, and he knew of several other Siddha Yogis who might have gone there as well. Soon enough, photographs came flowing in from people, a moving example in its own right of how love can arrive through so many different channels—and how the promptings of that love can be embedded in the folds of our memory.

Returning, now, to Tane Mahuta: could there be a more apt symbol of love? Like this legendary tree, love is ancient. Like this exalted tree, love is new, continually regenerating. Like this tree—a deity, in Maori lore, of forests and birds—love gives shelter; love is a springboard for flight. Like this tree, mythologized as the creator of mankind, love gives essence to the human soul. Love is epic like this tree. Love is iconic like this tree. Love is, was, and will ever be.

Several of you, in your shares, picked up on Gurumayi’s classic words from her book My Lord Loves a Pure Heart: “In the beginning, love. In the end, love. In the middle, we have to cultivate virtues.”1 I can see why you’d think of these words as you consider what it means to move toward love.



Eesha Sardesai

1Swami Chidvilasananda, My Lord Loves a Pure Heart: The Yoga of Divine Virtues (S. Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation, 1994), p. 139.