Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay.
The holidays have long been a source of stress and disappointment for me; always feeling like an outcast, like I never fit in, like I’m never really wanted. This year’s holiday festivities were further dampened by the 1-year anniversary of the passing of two of my sisters. In speaking with my mother, she shared that she feels as if a light has gone out inside of her, and that she just goes through the days because she has to, saying that her heart will forever be broken.
Especially in moments like these, I thank God and my Guru for my Sadhana and spiritual practices that have allowed me to face such circumstances with an inner strength that has saved me from suffering and illusion. I know, without a doubt, that without the Grace and leadership of my Guru in embracing the Highest understanding, that God alone exists here, that I would absolutely feel the same way my mother does. I would be riddled with feelings of grief, loss, and sadness.
God Alone Exists
The first few weeks after the deaths of my sisters was definitely the hardest, but I kept reaching for the understanding that God alone exists here, that there are no “others,” and that it was God that took the form of my sisters, and that God takes the form of all others as well. In this way, I recognize that, while I may not be able to interact with God in the form of my sisters, I can still interact with God in all other forms.
It is only in times where I have allowed my restless mind to wander into reminiscing that I begin to feel sadness and loss, believing that I had “sisters” separate from myself, rather than embracing the understanding that I am God, and all others are that same God also– our first Primary Pillar of Understanding.
Surrender to Grace
When I surrender to the Grace of this Highest understanding, then any sadness or grief I feel is immediately replaced with Love, peace, and content. As someone who suffered her entire life with severe depression until crossing paths with Sadguru Kedarji, the power of Surrendering to the Grace of the Guru’s instruction and reaching for the Highest understandings in the moment, cannot be fully comprehended until you experience its Power for yourself – and you can, in an instant.
The Primary Pillars of Understanding
As Sadguru Kedarji tells us, the most important part of recognizing and imbibing Grace is to Surrender to the Truth – beginning with imbibing the 3 Primary Pillars of Understanding:
- I am the Self, and all others are that same Self also.
- The purpose of my human birth is to retrace my steps back to God, and I asked to be led in how to do this.
- After the receipt of Shaktipat, nothing exists that is outside of my Sadhana.
For health reasons, I wasn’t able to make the trip back home to spend the holidays with my family. While I was initially upset about this, I reminded myself of Primary Pillar #1. I also recognized that being around family would have made it harder for me to hold on to that understanding, as I would have been surrounded by people who would be grieving and sad, and would expect me to be feeling the same way.
While there was some disappointment that I wouldn’t get to see family members, I also felt relief that I wouldn’t be among poor company, causing me to contract, sinking into the rollercoaster of emotions, causing me to forget the Truth that God alone exists here.
An Offering of Love
Sadguru Kedarji gave a talk recently on worshipping at the Altar of Love, sharing that oftentimes, words can become obstacles to Love. He shared that Love should be shown through actions and deeds. Elucidating from the great sacred text, Narada’s Bhakti Sutras, he shared that when Love is experienced, the devotee doesn’t grieve over personal loss, for he has surrendered himself and everything he has to God.
Feeling filled with Love, and no longer grieving personal relationships or circumstances, I asked Kedarji if I could prepare Christmas dinner for him as an offering of Love to my Guru. He agreed and I was filled with joy!
Going with the Flow
I was excited and planned on making a vegetable lasagna, and proceeded to purchase all the necessary ingredients. As Christmas approached, I gathered all of my ingredients together to make sure I had everything I needed. That’s when I noticed that I didn’t have any lasagna noodles! I checked the local grocery stores and none were to be found! Well, I thought, looks like I’m not supposed to make lasagna! Going with the flow, I put on the chant, Mohe Lagi Lataka Guru Charanana Ki (My Mind is Entangled in my Guru’s Feet), and proceeded to make a vegetable soup and sides instead.
Driving Straight into Car-mas!
As I drove to Kedarji’s to deliver this Love offering, I was filled with Joy that I was going to see my Guru, even if just briefly. As I pulled in the driveway, I noticed a band of snow across a small section of the driveway that had blown from a storm we had the day prior. Despite seeing the snow in the driveway, I decided to drive over it anyway, and inevitably got stuck!
I got out of my car and took the food up to the side door and gave it to Kedarji, letting him know that I was going to borrow the snow shovel, as I had gotten stuck in the driveway. I proceeded to spend the next 20-30 minutes in -20 degree winds trying to shovel and dig my car from the snow bank I drove straight into.
I removed all the snow from around and behind my tires, but I was still stuck. No matter how much I tried, there was more keeping me stuck that I couldn’t see, because it was “under the surface” of my car – just like my karmas are just under the surface of my conscious awareness. Kedarji came out a short while later and, with my effort, and Kedarji’s effort at lifting the front of my car out of the snow, we were able to get my car unstuck.
Rescued by the Guru’s Grace
Once again, my Guru rescued me from staying stuck by forces I couldn’t see. I thought I knew what I was doing when I tried driving over the snow. I couldn’t see the entirety of the pitfall or obstacle that was right in front of me – just like my karmas. I tried getting unstuck myself, but I couldn’t see all of the obstacles. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get unstuck myself. It wasn’t until my Guru’s Grace stepped in and lifted me out of my mess, that I was able to get unstuck. If that wasn’t the greatest metaphor of my Guru’s work on my karmas, I don’t know what is!
Worshipping at the Altar of Love
I sent an email to Kedarji later that night thanking him; that just like my karmas, he lifted me out of the mess I drove straight into. I also mentioned that I hoped he enjoyed the meal. He replied back with a simple smile face and the message “I enjoyed the meal.” When I read his message, my heart was filled with so much love for my Guru that I began to cry. I just wanted to please my Guru, the physical embodiment of God.
Hearing that he enjoyed the meal I offered with Love filled me with so much Love and Bliss that it just overflowed through tears of Joy! In that moment, I surrendered everything, every thought, every notion, and was just present with the Self, worshipping at the Altar of Love! It was the greatest gift; a reminder of what happens when we fully surrender to Grace. Om Guru Om!
Shanti Harkness volunteers as the Secretary of The Bhakta School of Transformation. She sits on our Board of Directors and also volunteers as a certified staff teacher and program leader for Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga. She works in the marketing field.