This is a short talk I gave on Guru Purnima Saturday night.
Tonight, is a special occasion. We are celebrating and honouring the Guru. Not only do we honour our own Guruji but we also celebrate our great lineage of Sadgurus—Bhagavan Nityananda and Baba Muktananda.
Guru Purnima means ‘perfect Guru’. However, this epithet does not refer to a perfect person. It refers to the state of Consciousness the Guru has attained. It is a state of oneness, wisdom and compassion. It is their connection to the divine power, Shakti. This is a state we can achieve if we commit to the process of unfolding the inner shakti.
The Guru’s purpose is to awaken the shakti of seekers, and to share their state with those searching relief from suffering and ignorance of the Self. Gurus like ours, offer everyone the possibility and opportunity to attain their divine state by means of sadhana.
When I think of Guru Purnima my mind turns to the moment when I received Shaktipat. When I entered the meditation hall on the first morning of the Intensive I had no idea what to expect. I thought I was going to learn a little bit about meditation and how to calm my mind.
I was unprepared for the explosion of energy and love that lay hidden within my being. When Swamiji touched me at the third eye, and bopped me with the feathers, my life was transformed from one of darkness, to one of light.
My vision of myself and the world radically changed. I went from misery to bliss, from the mundane to the divine, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, even though there have been many bumps on the road since then, my connection with the Self has remained.
It took a few days after the Intensive, but eventually I realised that I had found something I did not know existed or that I wanted—I had found my Guru. In appreciation for that shift in Consciousness I committed myself to serve the Guru and do the Guru’s work, whatever that may be.
Guruji’s greatest gift to me, besides shaktipat, has been the innumerable opportunities he has given me to serve our community and satang. He has given my life purpose and meaning, inspiration and creativity. There is no greater gift than this.
I am deeply grateful to him, to Baba and to Bhagavan for their dedication, perseverance and tapasya. Without their devotion to their Guru, we would not have what we have.
The poet saint Kabir wrote:
He is the real Sadguru: Who reveals the formless as our own Self. Who teaches the simple way of attaining Him; Who does not make us close the doors, hold the breath, and renounce the world; Who teaches us to perceive the Supreme Spirit, wherever our mind goes; Who teaches us to be still, in the midst of all activities. Who keeps the spirit of oneness, in the midst of the world. Who shows us the infinite dwelling of the Infinite Being in everything: in the earth, in the water, in the sky, and in the air; Who, is as firm as the thunderbolt, until we are established in the Self. The Sadguru is within, he is without: Kabir says, I see Him and only Him everywhere.
It’s winter. I look out my office window. The orange flag on top of the meditation hall is blowing forcefully. There is a lot of activity outside considering the weather is unappealing. Dark rainy and cold, it is the worst winter I have seen here. Of course, it seems mild compared to Canadian winters where I trod through the snow freezing and felt cold even in down jackets. My dad used to drag us to the mountains. I wished that I liked to ski but I could never get used to the cold.
If I didn’t know better I would think I was melancholy. Well, maybe I am a little. But that is fine. I would rather feel melancholy than angry, or scared. I am at home in this space. It is familiar. I know that melancholy arises when I am brooding about the past. I only indulge for a while and then move on.
I don’t struggle anymore to change my state unless it is unbearable. That has happened a few times this past year. I experienced states of unhappiness that I thought I would never feel again. Life is full of surprises. And these past four years are testimony to that.
I have watched material things being torn away from me. Truly, I felt little grief at their loss. More painful was the shock I felt from the anger and hatred directed at me, and the ashram by former friends and students. My love for them seems to have gone unnoticed.
As I look back at my life I find it interesting that I have been hurt more brutally by women than men. The men in my life have hurt me in the usual way, but the women tried to destroy my life. How to talk about that? I probably can’t. Suffice to say only that.
Self-inquiry connects the personal with the impersonal. It respects the person. It doesn’t try to kill the person, but it also acknowledges the transpersonal. It seeks connectedness so that the person flowers within the impersonal [the divine] and discovers the impersonal within. A life without the impersonal is dry and empty. You want the universe to flow towards your personal advantage, but alas, the universe is indifferent. What chance does this little person have? The whole universe is arranged to frustrate or be indifferent to your desires. There is no joy in simply being a person.
…Through the process of inquiry, we recognise the dynamism running through us. We become liberated from doubt and concern when we no longer try to hold the universe at bay, but surrender to it and welcome it. Our actions become effective and powerful, because they are aligned with this great impersonal process.
Swamiji, Self-inquiry (pages. 42-43)
One of my favourite teachings of Swamiji’s is ‘you are your awareness‘. He says that everything we know, we know through our own awareness. And, we cannot know anything outside of our awareness.
Swamiji also says that awareness is the most powerful healing technique we have at our disposal. Our awareness is a divine gift. It is the light of the Self. It illumines the inner world and can heal the pain of separation. It transforms darkness to light. It connects us to the state of oneness. By focusing awareness inwardly on inner discomfort, we can change our state from painful to peaceful, in a split second.
The Shaivite text, Spanda Karika, says that staying connected with the Shakti is the key to maintaining a rich and satisfying life. Happiness and misery all arise from Consciousness and subside in Consciousness. And so, when we attend to our Consciousness magical things happen.
To maintain equanimity in the face of difficulty is no easy task. But, to have faith that whatever arises in Consciousness is temporary and that the Self underlies all thought and feeling means that we always have an inner refuge. As the text says, when the mind, after dwelling in mental agitation calms down then the Self shines through.
I am happy, I am miserable, I am attached–these and other thoughts have their being evidently in another in which the states of happiness, misery, etc., are strung together.
Spanda Karika I.4
We can investigate the inner world any time, in any place, in every moment. We just have to remember that we can. Swamiji encourages us to ask, ‘what’s going on here?’
Perhaps, rather than look for a permanent state where the mind never wavers, it may be more realistic to learn to recognise when we lose touch with the Self and how to reconnect. To be conscious of what Swamiji calls, the ‘upward’ or ‘downward’ shift in energy is crucial to maintaining a positive mind. In this way we can tell immediately when we have lost touch with the Self. The upward shift is not different from what the Spanda Karika calls spanda.
Again in sutras 1.23-1.25 it states:
Taking firm hold of that (spanda) the awakened yogi remains firm with the resolution, ‘I will surely carry out whatever it will tell me’. Resting on the experience of that spanda, both prana and apana get merged in the sushumna and by the upward path of sushumna they rise up to the great ether of universal Consciousness by abandoning the sphere of the body together with the brahmarandhra and are completely dissolved in it. There the unenlightened yogi by considering that state a kind of deep sleep remains stupefied, while the one who is not covered with the darkness of infatuation is established in that ether of universal Consciousness and abides as fully enlightened.
People often ask, ‘how can I tell the difference between delusion, or a desire that arises from ego and an upward shift?’
It is true that some infatuations feel really good and that only after we have satisfied that desire, do we realise that we paid a high price emotionally or energetically, for the indulgence.
These sutras say that the difference between an ego desire and the upward shift is that the latter is free from indulgence. Also, to follow the upward shift is good for everyone around us, not just for an individual. Spiritual desires are transparent, those around us will feel the Shakti that comes from a divine movement.
We think, act, speak and feel from the contents of our own awareness. And, we can see by looking within, how thoughts contaminate or uplift our inner world. This toxicity can cause hysteria, despair, insomnia, and mental agitation. It creates an inner vibration that we transmit to the outer world. We send those vibrations out to our nearest and dearest, disempowering and worrying all who are close to us. We talk to everyone hoping that someone will hold the key to solving our painful dilemma. However, the one who will solve them is concealed in our own awareness.
So, what are the ways in which we can follow the upward shift in daily life?
To check in, during the day, on the content in awareness is a simple way to clear away impressions that bring agitation, turmoil, and negative emotion in our psychic system. To simply make contact with your inner world often for a few minutes.
The methods for dealing with persistent negative thoughts and feelings can be different for different temperaments. But all types of people can use their power of language to shift their chemistry from contracted to expanded.
Experiment with different statements, and watch the effect each statement has on your inner world. When you can do this you soon learn to renounce thoughts that bring agitated mind states.
Oh Shiva, give me your grace.
If you are vulnerable to getting caught in grief and disappointment and taking to bed in disappointment, then rediscovering love and connection with the shakti is imperative. When a feeling of separation or isolation plagues the mind, it is within your power to keep the feeling of devotion alive. You can stay connected to the shakti, by remembering love for God, for the path, for the teachings, or for the Guru. You can turn your mind away from grief or sadness and call on God’s grace to shift your state of mind. You can make statements like:
Love is within me.
I give my love.
I am one with everything.
No outer event can harm my true Self.
The Self is always present.
There is no obstruction to Shiva anywhere.
When the mind becomes confused or agitated and decision making is impossible, you can change the way you think; you can substitute lower thoughts for higher. Move the mind away from doubt or fear, toward a higher understanding. Look for an understanding that suits the circumstance. Swamiji recommends contemplating what he calls G-Statements, statements that Shiva would say:
Everything is Consciousness.
There is absolutely no problem.
The whole world is inside my awareness.
Everything that arises in Consciousness is me.
My mind is illumined.
No outer event can harm my true nature.
When the world seems to be going against everything we want to accomplish and we are thwarted by circumstances beyond our control then we must stop and look within. When frustrated, disempowered or caught in self-concern we need to act selflessly. We take our attention off what we want and think of others. By serving the Guru, shakti, God, family, friends or spiritual community the mind will return to peace and contentment. Making statements like:
I relax and let go
My actions reflect the Self.
Shakti is always arising within me.
I accept myself and I accept others.
I surrender to the Guru.
Lately, Swamiji has been saying that everyone should represent the Guru in every situation. In other words we can all find a way to bring shakti into our home, our work, and our relationships. This means that we can look ways to give our highest value moment to moment, whether that is compassion, wisdom, love, patience, or service. We then maintain the shakti, the upward shift and positive energy is transmitted to others.
I am the Lord of Matrika [language].
By doing inquiry we can discover the narrative that connects us to shakti in each moment.This engages us with the Guru’s state of Consciousness, and we can reflect his or her state wherever we are. When we do the Guru’s work of remembering the Self, we make authentic contact with people and the Shakti we carry uplifts our environment. When our inner world is full of Shakti, all is well in the outer world.
Some questions to ask:
How can I stay connected to the shakti and the Guru?
What is in the way of that connection?
Could it be anger, fear or sorrow?
What can I do to reconnect?
How can I make contact with the Self?
How can I make contact with others?
It is enough to know when we are not as in touch with Shakti as we would like. If we are blaming someone, we can forgive. If we are clinging to something, we can let go. If we are holding enmity, we can return to love.
In this way we put love, wisdom, and compassion ahead of anger, fear and sorrow. We value the highest, not the negative stories the mind creates. Not the negative song of our life that us to a hell world of suffering. A simple inner world action will return us to the Self. The great beings teach that we can always: