Tag Archives: guru

Who is the Guru? by Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

“Meditate on the Sadguru,
embodied form of consciousness,
knowing, being, illumining,
giving me That which is my Self”

Thus says one of the introductory verses in the Shree Guru Gita, the ultimate song to the Guru.

In February 2013, after witnessing life in Ganeshpuri, whose heart is Bhagavan Nityananda, I found that I had many questions: What is my relationship to the Guru and how is it deepening? How did the yatra to India affect this relationship to my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda? What effect did this pilgrimage to the fountain of spiritual energy have in me?

Devotion and love of the Guru is the core of life there, and the Nityananda temple in the town square is a true testament to this.  Ceremonies are performed several times every day to the enlivened murti (statue) of Nityananda. In our yatra to Ganeshpuri, we were fortunate to accompany Swami Nirmalananda to witness these devotional ceremonies.

Every morning, at 4:00 AM, the temple came alive with chanting, beating of the drums and ritual bathing of Nityananda’s life size murti.  The two-hour ceremony was absolutely spellbinding.  We were riveted by the affectionate way the Brahmin priests engaged in their tasks. When they concluded with the waving of lights to Nityananda, we all joined in the chant of “Jaya, jaya Arati, Nityananda.” The temple was transformed into a powerhouse of spiritual magic and mystery.

At Her daily satsangs, Swamiji interwove tantric teachings into our experiences of the day.  Thus, Her satsangs facilitated self-reflection, contemplation and integration of what was unfolding in our bodies, minds and hearts. Each evening concluded with a Svaroopa® yoga class bringing the busy day into a tranquil repose.

The yatra with Swamiji is no ordinary trip to India.  It is a voyage of self-discovery that is guided and assisted by Swami Nirmalananda, who is a living embodiment of the Gurus of the lineage that preceded Her –Baba Muktananda, Bhagavan Nityananda as well as the sages prior to them.

The devotion and love of Bhagavan Nityananda’s devotees was very tangible, and it made it clear to me how my relationship to Swami Nirmalananda was evolving. The effects of the yatra are unfolding to this day in many subtle ways.

The yatra opened my eyes to what is possible – “the human capacity” was made more palpable, more real.  I know I am changing at the core of my being – I am not who I was; I am in a constant process of “becoming and being.” And in every moment I am guided by the immense Grace bestowing power of the Guru.

All I need to do is think of Her, say Her name and allow the Grace to carry me through the darkest, most difficult steps of the journey to the core of my Heart, to the stillpoint of existence.

As I delve more deeply into myself, naturally and organically my relationship with the Guru expands.  The Guru is outside of me as Swamiji and inside of me as my Self.  As I reach for the Self, as I sit at my Guru’s feet – the boundaries dissolve, expanding into deeper states of awareness.

Guru is a person who lives in a constant state of knowing of Divinity – their Presence, word and action are infused with Grace that opens the doors to the core my being.

Where can you go in this world that the Guru is not?  What can you see, hear and know that is not infused, pervaded and sustained by the Guru?

Where can you go that you do not experience the Presence of the Guru?

What can I say about the Guru that has not already been said? Yet the words flow through my being and from my heart and their expression is a testament to the evolution and revelation that I experience through my Guru’s Grace.

 

Who is the Guru?
In the black, velvety darkness
The path is hard to see
Yet I have a guiding light
That sits in the centre of my skull
At first – invisible, hidden
The steps are muddled, frantic
As I sit in the silence of my heart
The light begins to shine
Very distant, dim, elusive
It begins to grow and pulse through my blood
Shimmering crystal light
Effulgent sapphire blue
As it fills the chidakasha
Deeper and deeper I go

 

Who is the Guru?
What do I see?
She is the light and the Sun
The sky and the stars
The flame that kindles my soul
As she lifts the sadness from my heart
To reveal the stillness beyond

 

She is the Grace that guides my path
She opens the door and I float
Beyond knowledge and knowing
Beyond sound and word
My eyes are opened
To the infinite vastness
That is yet unborn

Ganeshpuri’s Heart by Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

Ganeshpuri exists because of Nityananda. Before he came, it was a jungle.  After he settled there, others began to follow suit, and, before long, the jungle was cleared and a village formed.  Everyone who lives in Ganeshpuri or goes there is drawn because of that great being.

Ganeshpuri is like a geographical bindu of devotion.  A bindu is a point of concentrated energies and Ganeshpuri is all about a very powerful and concentrated devotion, all because of Nityananda. The devotion that he inspires is rooted deeply in Ganeshpuri and continues to pour forth, growing over the years.  Everyone and everything in Ganeshpuri — the stones, the trees, the bushes and buildings — all of it is saturated with devotion, and Grace too.

Nityananda didn’t say a whole lot, but he did say this: “The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”  Being in Ganeshpuri is like being inside the heart.  Walking around Ganeshpuri, roaming the places where the Gurus lived, taught and meditated, and sitting with Swami Nirmalananda in a variety of wonderful daily practices is an amazing opportunity to do just what Nityananda said, both on the outside and the inside.

If you are fortunate enough to go there, I hope you will find, as I did, that something very special happens with your heart.  Early in the India 2013 trip, I had a vividly sleepless night.  I lay in my bed awake for what seemed like hours. My awareness was immense.  I knew I should be sleeping, but I was more than wide awake.  I was awakeness itself.

At some point, I became acutely aware that something was happening in the area behind my heart.  A dramatic unraveling began, like a tight knot being gently but deliberately unfurled.  Then more unraveling, more than I knew could be.  I felt so free.  My heart had never felt so open before.  No walls, no barriers.  Open.

In the days that followed in Ganeshpuri, I settled into a new openness.  I wanted to give everything to That which had opened me, to the fullness within, to the Guru, to the One.  The rhythm of the days, the outside, supported the inner openings.  Our chanting and devotional practices, all done in the presence of the embodied One, our Guru, Swami Nirmalananda, had a powerful effect on the heart.  My wish for you is that you can spend time with your Guru in this City of Devotion.  Your heart will never be the same again.

For information on the India 2015 trip, click here for FAQs.

Personal Puja by Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

The small building is situated in an alleyway. We climb a few steps and enter a world of deities and ritual.  What a contrast between the noises on the streets of Ganeshpuri and the cool interior of the small temple where we held the pujas (rituals), officiated by Prasad, the charismatic Brahmin priest who arrives on his motorcycle and greets us with a warm, friendly smile.  We feel immediately at ease. The small room of the temple comes alive with the bustling of a young man who is helping Prasad set up the three separate pujas — to Ganesha, to Shiva and to the Guru.

We watch as Prasad bathes each deity, and we offer fruit, grains of rice, ground up spice and, of course, the flame of a candle, waved in circles —the light of consciousness in us bowing to the eternal light that makes up this universe and beyond.

Each puja takes about 30 minutes — the power of one builds upon the next one, and by the time we get to the Guru puja, to a small murti (statue) of Bhagavan Nityananda, the energy in the room has built to a crescendo.

I am waving a candle flame to Nityananda and we are singing, “Jaya, jaya ariti, Nityananda.”  I can no longer restrain the upwelling emotions of love and devotion that are overflowing in my heart, tears flowing down my face.  There is nothing but Bhagavan Nityananda.  In this village, in this room, Nityananda’s Presence is so palpable, so powerful, so overwhelming that the room is abuzz with a transcendent current of energy. I feel so “full”, so vibrant, so expanded.

The Brahmin serves as the ears and the mouth of Nityananda — through Prasad’s words, the Guru speaks to me and encourages me to stay on the path, to be devoted to Him and the path I am on.

Deep knowing and deep love arise from within. I am blessed and in bliss to share this moment with my daughter. We are both in awe of what we just experienced and witnessed, as we open to the inner realms of our being, allowing the beautiful ceremonial offering to open us from the inside, blossoming and overflowing with universal love.

This is the wonder and the beauty of a puja.  The power of the ritual ceremony performed on the outside propels us into the innermost depths of our being, leaving no place untouched.  It is about clearing and purifying this vessel, the container that is my individual body, mind and soul so that I know that I am That and so that nothing can shake the innate knowing of my own Divinity.

A complete surrender to the Self, to the Guru — that is what I experience during the puja to Nityananda.  There is no separation between me and the Self; duality dissolves into the eternality that is Nityananda.  The ecstatic, blissful state of that experience is transformative at multiple levels of my being.

The memory of this state is a cherished dharana (contemplation) that instantly propels me into the infinite vastness of the Self.  The vastness merges into me and I merge into it.

All I do is abide in That.

I am That.

When the Guru Received Shaktipat by Priya Kenney

289When the Guru received shaktipat, my future changed dramatically. So did yours.

When the Guru received shaktipat, a spark was lit from a long line of sparks, and it’s sparking still.

When the Guru received shaktipat, her Baba gave her everything, just like she is giving us.

When the Guru received shaktipat, I was 20 years old. Maybe my heart jumped for joy. Maybe a shiver of recognition ran up my spine, Kundalini taking a brief practice run for what was to come many years later.

When the Guru received shaktipat, she wasn’t a Guru and she wasn’t even Rama yet. She was a lot like us. A lost soul getting found. It’s hard to imagine what she must have been like 38 years ago because she is so established in herSelf now. I think she just might have been a lot like us.  Look where she is now.

If you are lucky enough to be near Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center, you might have joined Swamiji to celebrate her Shaktipat Anniversary on Saturday, May 31. I spent my day in contemplation and gratitude for my Guru’s shaktipat and mine and yours. It’s because of her shaktipat that we are all in this together. We were always our big Self, but she is the one who is bringing us the light of that knowing, just like her Baba did for her. She went through it all, just as we are doing now. She can take us there because she walked the path, every step of the way. Jaya Guru OM.

My Spiritual Birthday by Swami Nirmalananda

289My life is full of milestones, yet they all began on the day I received Shaktipat from my Baba. Everything followed so naturally, like water flows down a river. I rafted the river of Grace.

Before Shaktipat, I explored the outer universe, but to no avail. I tried everything that was available in the 60’s and 70’s, a wide variety of offerings! I came to the inescapable conclusion that nothing really worked. I began to question the value of life itself, but continued searching for something that had meaning.

After Shaktipat, I explored the inner universe under my Guru’s guiding hand. I found that the entire outer world is nestled within and all of it has meaning! Every single grain of sand, every single person and even every single problem has meaning. But I had to find it within before I could see the meaning-full-ness that was staring me in the face.

Now my life is full of Grace, every moment saturated with the Divinity that was hidden within. All revealed by my Guru’s Grace. Please join me in celebrating my 38th anniversary of receiving Baba’s gift, Saturday May 31 at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center from 7:30-9:00 pm. Click here to register.

NOTE: Swamiji asks that you refrain from giving her personal gifts, but instead (if you wish) please support her sharing of the gift that she received with others. Click here to donate in honor of Swamiji’s Shaktipat Anniversary.

Prepare To Dive Deep! by Marlene Gast

47No matter where you live, Swamiji makes it possible for you to dive deep. You have just two weeks to register for “Guru & Self” — our new yearlong programme.  Over the span of an academic year, Swamiji explains, the teachings will help you “make sense of the experiences you are having. They also open you up to deeper levels of experience because the teachings help you understand where you’re going inside.” Swamiji recalls, “Baba gave these teachings every night, a piece at a time,” and says, “If everyone lived nearby and came to satsang weekly, these teachings would be presented in a less concentrated form.”

But we don’t all live near the Ashram. Through multimedia distance learning programmes, we who don’t live in or near Downingtown can receive these priceless teachings through our virtual Ashram. So take advantage of the great good fortune of yearlong study with your teacher and fellow yogis. Day by day, as well as on calls, this will enhance your experience and understanding of the teachings, yourself and your Self. Once you are on a call, even in your own home, you will feel an immediate closeness to your teacher and bond with your group. While the wide world shrinks into a virtual classroom, your access to Self will vastly expand.

You have just two weeks to register for “Guru & Self” — Swami Nirmalananda’s new yearlong programme, with two enrollment options:

  •  Option #1 — Friday or Saturday — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (about 2 weeks apart)
  • Option #2 — Friday or Saturday — all of the above PLUS a weekend retreat October 24-26, 2014 with Swamiji.

The two call-in times are Friday mornings or Saturday afternoons (links are above). Enroll for the Friday calls through April 10th and Saturday calls through April 18th.

If you haven’t taken a phone course before, you’ll probably be surprised by the intimacy of the experience. True, you cannot see everyone, but crystal clear voices and authentic discussion ease you into the experience of Swamiji’s teachings with your fellow yogis.  Call our Enrollment Advisors for registration or information at (610) 806-2119.

Easy Access to Deeper Teachings by Marlene Gast

swami4Have you registered yet for Swami Nirmalananda’s free phone call on Saturday?  Call in for a taste of her year-long Guru & Self programme, which starts soon.  You are eligible if you have either of the prerequisites: Shaktipat Retreat or Shishya Membership. The FREE Introductory Phone Call is Saturday, March 15, 4:30 pm to 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time.  Register today for a preview of the deep learning you will experience in the nine-month “distance learning” course, the length of a traditional school year.

I asked Swamiji, “If you are a long-time Svaroopa® yoga teacher, why would you want to take this course?  Didn’t you get all the teachings in your YTT philosophy talks?”  I have to say, her answer gave me pause.  She said, “This is the stuff that I left out of Svaroopa® yoga teacher training.”

A moment later I was propelled to make plans for this next step as a yogi.  Now I have just one lingering question: how could it have taken me so long to recognize the importance of registering for a year-long programme with my teacher? I don’t yet have an answer, but I suspect that it will come through this programme along with personal yogic growth — and, as always with Swamiji, more than I could ever have imagined.

Here’s the course description:

“You need a Guru, yoga says, repeatedly emphasizing this in the ancient texts. Why? Explore the mystery of the Guru with Swami Nirmalananda, teaching from the Sanskrit texts, as well as classical teaching stories and personal experiences. Swamiji explains the pivotal importance of the Guru in our Shaktipat tradition and illumines the secrets hidden in the traditional ceremonies and practices. Learn how your Guru serves you as a teacher, as a guide, as a mentor, as a role model, as an exemplar and as a mirror in which you see your Self.

“Your stories and experiences are an integral part of this course, through the group discussions with Swamiji. She helps you discover how to serve as an agent of Grace, uplifting others through your sharings, while deepening your understanding of your own experiences. With each personal story, Swamiji offers teachings and insights that enhance your inner blossoming. Extra phone conference calls are included in the schedule so you find a time that works for you.

Two enrollment options are available:

Option #1 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (you get something about every 2 weeks)

Option #2 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls PLUS a weekend retreat Oct 24-26 2014

Not only do you have two course content options, you also have two days of the week from which to choose the call that you want to join:

Fridays from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

OR Saturdays from 4 pm to 5:30 pm.

Register now for the March 15th FREE Introductory Phone Call.

You may go straight to full registration:

Option 1, Fridays

Option 2, Fridays

Option 1, Saturdays

Option 2, Saturdays