Dear Divine Souls,
I hope that — by God’s grace — this finds you and all of your families and loved ones in the best of health and happiness.
It is the sacred time of the year in which we give thanks and offer our humble gratitude, love and devotion to our Gurus. What is a Guru? A Guru is one who removes our darkness. In Sanskrit, Gu means “darkness” and ru is”that which removes,” so a Guru is one who removes the darkness in our lives, who shines the light of Truth on the illusions in which we live which cause our agony, our pain, and our grudges. The Guru brings the light of true understanding through which our egos,our insatiable desires, our fulfillable expectations and our illusions dissipate.
Guru Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Ashadha and marks the beginning of the holy period of Chaturmas. After the long, hot, dry months of summer in which innumerable people, animals and crops have perished, the rains come coinciding typically with the time of Guru Purnima, quenching our thirst and bringing us life. And, in India, when the rains come it is not a mere drizzle which lasts for 10 minutes. Rather, the rains are downpours of heavenly nectar, completely saturating the land which has been parched for months.
Similarly, on this day, as we find ourselves dying of thirst for knowledge, as we find our hearts and minds have become dry due to ignorance, anger and darkness, the Guru comes, pouring forth upon our lives the rain of wisdom, of love, of light and of life. Just as the flowers which have wilted and yellowed in the never-ending heat of summer, suddenly stand erect and succulent as soon as the rains come, so we, who have become ignorant and “dead” to the divinity within us are immediately born anew due to His grace in our lives.
Yet, just as the soil must allow the rain to penetrate its depths in order to reap the benefits of this life-giving nectar, so we must become porous vessels into which the divine nectar of the Guru can flow.
Guru Purnima is a day of renewing our faith, our shraddha, in He who bestows the light upon our lives. It is a day of re-opening our hearts, our souls and our lives to His divine presence and letting it penetrate and saturate every aspect of our being.
There is a beautiful story told about a man who wanted to walk on water. He begged his guru to give him a secret mantra or a special boon so he could complete this remarkable feat. The man was extremely pious and devoted, and he had been in his guru’s service for many years. Therefore, the guru gave him a leaf, folded many times until it was very small. He told his disciple, “Within this leaf is a secret formula which will enable you to walk on water. However, you must not open it because the formula inside is a secret.”
So the man agreed, and he takes the folded leaf carefully in his hands and begins his journey across the river. He is walking fine on the surface of the water, when suddenly he is overcome by curiosity. What could be this secret formula that has permitted him to accomplish this feat? Is there really a secret inside? Is it a powder or a stone or some holy mantra printed? Where did his guru get it? His doubts get the best of him and he begins slowly to open the leaf as he walks, careful lest any of the secret formula should spill out into the water. As soon as he unfolds the last piece to unveil the secret, he suddenly sinks into the water and drowns. Inside the leaf was written the simple word, “faith.”
It was not the leaf, nor any secret powder or mantra that enabled the devotee to accomplish a miracle. It was the strength of his faith in his guru and in the“boon” his guru had given him. As soon as that faith wavered and doubt crept in, his life was lost. This is the power of faith.
At this time of Guru Purnima, we must look at what really makes up the Guru-Disciple relationship – what makes it so special, so unique, so powerful and life-transforming? That answer is faith. Faith can work true miracles and without it, much of life is futile. The guru might be of infinite power, knowledge and compassion. Yet, without the faith of the disciple, the guru can do very little for him. There is a beautiful poem that says:
As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend I brought my broken dreams to God, because He was my friend. But, instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone, I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own. At last I snatched them back and cried, “How could you be so slow?”“My child,” He replied. “What could I do? You never did let go.”
That “letting go” is the faith. If we can surrender to the guru with complete faith, the guru will transform our lives. However, if we “hang around” with doubt and suspicions, then we gain nothing. So at this sacred time let us renew our faith, let us replant the seeds of devotion in our hearts and allow them to grow into beautiful blossoming fragrant flowers of love and devotion.
This year let us make our Guru Purnima a Green Guru Purnima. Just as the rain which falls brings greenery and life in the land, let our faith in our Guru bring greenery and life in our own hearts and lives. We are told in the Upanishads that the Divine pervades everything in the universe. So at this time in which we offer our love, our lives, our devotion to our divine gurus, let us remember that that same divine lives also in all of creation – all of the plants, the animals, the rivers, the mountains, the air and the earth. Therefore, let us tend and protect Mother Earth and Mother Nature with the same love and devotion that we prepare the flowers to offer our Guru on this day. The best gift we can give our Guru, the best way to show our devotion is to protect, preserve and serve the Guru’s reflection in all of creation.
As our Guru has brought us life, let us plant trees in the name and love of our Guru which will bring life to others. As our Guru has quenched our thirst for knowledge, understanding and light, let us work to ensure that all of our brothers and sisters on earth have safe and sufficient water to drink to quench the thirst of their bodies. As our Guru has brought us a new, divine life, let us work to help all of our family on earth – of all colors, all countries, all cultures and all creeds – have a life that is free from hunger, thirst and oppression.
Then, not only will we see the Light that our Guru shines on our lives but we will become reflectors of that light, bringing our Guru’s light, life, blessings and grace to so, so many on this earth.
My love and blessings are always with you. In the service of God and humanity,
Swami Chidanand Saraswati