Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!
Happy International Friendship Day—or shall I say, week? In some countries, Friendship Day was celebrated on Thursday, July 30. And in certain special countries—such as India and Malaysia—it will be celebrated on Sunday, August 2.
People tell me that I am a very amicable person. In fact, when Rohini Menon, the Managing Director for the “Be in the Temple” satsangs, heard that I love speaking with people, she said, “That makes my job easy!” Therefore, I think this week of friendship is my week!
My name is Jaiya Seibert, and it is my joy and great pleasure to be with all of you in this “Be in the Temple” satsang, which is being held via live video stream in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall. I serve as a staff member in the SYDA Foundation. The “Be in the Temple” satsangs are one of the means by which the SYDA Foundation makes Gurumayi’s teachings available to everyone in the world.
This coming Monday, August 3—the full moon of the month of Shravan in the Indian lunar calendar—marks the holiday of Raksha Bandhan. The phrase “Raksha Bandhan” is from the Sanskrit language, and it refers to the bond of love, a bond that in turn bestows protection. In India, the tradition on Raksha Bandhan is that a sister will tie a rakhi, a bracelet woven from thread, around the wrist of her brother, asking for his lifelong protection. In exchange for the rakhi, the brother gives his sister a gift of money, representing his promise to protect her.
So we can also say that today we are beginning the celebration of “Raksha Bandhan week.” As the saying goes: “Don’t sit around and wait for something good to happen.” Our celebration of Raksha Bandhan today gives new meaning to this phrase.
The skies over Shree Muktananda Ashram certainly haven’t been waiting to celebrate. Gurumayi has said that each year on Raksha Bandhan, she sees rakhi-shaped clouds. That’s exactly what happened today. Gurumayi saw in the sky above Shree Muktananda Ashram band after band of rakhi-shaped clouds—wisps of thread linking across the bright blue expanse.
In India, especially along parts of the western coast in Maharashtra and other states, the full moon of Shravan is also celebrated as Narali Purnima. Narali means “coconut” in the Marathi language, and on this day, people go to the seashore and offer coconuts in worship of the deity of the sea, Lord Varuna. As this time of year marks the beginning of the fishing season, they seek Lord Varuna’s protection from the dangers of the waters.
In many ways, therefore, this full-moon day is a day of protection.
In each of the “Be in the Temple” satsangs this year, we have been blessed to receive darshan of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork for 2020. And today, after receiving darshan of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork, we saw a slideshow of images. Perhaps you noticed a connection between the two. The images in the slideshow were your Glimpses of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork for 2020! They were your photos, paintings, and other creative expressions based on your study of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork.
As you know, over the years you have made every beautiful effort to offer to Gurumayi the fruits of your study of her Message Artwork. Last year, you received a communication from Swami Ishwarananda on behalf of SYDA Foundation Management asking that you conclude sending your correspondence and instead find other means to express your gratitude.
In light of this, Gurumayi informed Rohini to speak to the SYDA Foundation Website Department about creating a forum for people to submit their photographs and creative expressions relating to Gurumayi’s Message Artwork.
Seeing these images on the website, I am so impressed with Baba’s and Gurumayi’s devotees. I am so impressed with all of you most wonderful Siddha Yogis. I am so grateful to be part of the Siddha Yoga family.
Each time the SYDA Foundation has extended an invitation or made a request for you to contribute in whatever capacity you can, you do it. You do it wholeheartedly, and you do it so promptly. What a gift you are to this world.
To all of you who shared your glimpses of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork for 2020: please receive my thanks. Undoubtedly, you must have felt Gurumayi’s joy when she laid her eyes upon your photographs and creations inspired by her Message Artwork.
For all of you who wish to send in your glimpses, please do so! Continue sending them in—you have the rest of the year to do so.
At the beginning of this satsang, we vicariously participated in a most beautiful tradition of exchanging rakhis. We watched a video, which was compiled with photos from the Shakti Punja area in the SYDA Foundation, of Siddha Yogis offering rakhis to Gurumayi and to Baba Muktananda, and exchanging them with each other.
As we saw in the video, the rakhi takes so many forms—from a simple thread to the most intricate, ornate jewelry. Yet whatever the rakhi looks like—whatever its form or shape—its meaning is the same. It signifies the bond of love, the bond of camaraderie, and the protection that is fostered by this bond. It’s all in the intention of the one giving the rakhi and the one receiving the rakhi.
When I was reflecting on how Raksha Bandhan is traditionally celebrated, and then when I saw the video at the beginning of the satsang—how people were in close proximity to one another, tying rakhis on each other’s wrists—I thought, what a life we had before the pandemic. So much joy. So much laughter. So much appreciation for one another, and for our togetherness.
Now, we have a new challenge before us. How do we generate the same ebullience, the same rapport, the same bond in this time of social distancing? How do we reinforce true friendliness when we are not able to see each other in person, face-to-face? How do we get to know new people when our interactions have to be mediated by technology? How does our brain reprogram itself to function optimally in these conditions in which physical touch, and the safety and protection it lends, is not advised for the sake of good health? How do we let others know that they are in our thoughts and our relationship with them is as strong as ever, when our usual means of expressing this is no longer a part of our day-to-day reality?
Today we are celebrating International Friendship Day. We are celebrating Raksha Bandhan. These days, which are dedicated to friendship and protection, connote gathering. They bring to mind images of being together, sharing food, exchanging gifts, dancing, singing, holding hands, complimenting one another, enjoying each other’s company.
One of the ways we maintain this camaraderie and strong relationship with everyone is by following the Siddha Yoga path and by practicing Gurumayi’s teachings. And this is why we are here today, in the Temple, participating in satsang.
Jaiya introduced three speakers—Swami Ishwarananda, Rami Curry-Sartori, and Vivek Panchapakesan—who gave speeches on various aspects of protection. Swami Ishwarananda spoke about spiritual protection; Rami about protection of one’s mind, heart, and body; and Vivek about protection of one’s society and community. Following the speeches, Jaiya spoke again.
I would like to share why the speeches we heard today mean so much to me.
Over the last sixteen years, I have had three cousins pass away unexpectedly. These cousins were very close to me in age, so they were all quite young when they passed. They were in their teens and twenties.
I was close with each of them. We spent a lot of time together growing up. After each cousin passed, I felt deep sadness and grief, and it kept building and building. When it happened the third time, I felt something in addition to the sadness and grief.
I felt connection. Why? Because by this time I had begun following the Siddha Yoga path. I felt connected to the fountain of Gurumayi’s love within me.
I knew that I could connect to Gurumayi’s love and send blessings to my cousin and to all of my family. This inner connection to Gurumayi was the pillar that supported me to be strong during that time.
Gurumayi’s love supported me to do the work to overcome the grief that had accumulated over my lifetime.
As I listened to the speeches, I had the assurance that my connection with my cousins will always be felt. By my doing spiritual practices, their souls will be uplifted. They are protected as well.
Thank you, Vivek, Rami, and Swami ji, for your speeches.
And thank you to everyone in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall participating in the “Be in the Temple” satsang today. What a special and important day this has been, what an auspicious start to our celebration of Raksha Bandhan. We have been honoring the bond of love—the bond of love which grants protection.
I wish you all a shubh Raksha Bandhan.