Today’s full moon is my favourite moon of the year, because it is Guru Purnima.
Purnima means full moon in Sanskrit, and Guru means the remover (ru) of darkness (gu). This special full moon is also known as Buddha Purnima to Buddhists, and Vyasa Purnima in honour of Veda Vyasa, who was both the author and a character in the epic Mahabharata (“the great land of light”). For thousands of years, this has been a time of honouring the teacher and the teachings that lead us to enlightenment.
Regardless of the appearance or form or your guru, or whether there have been many or just one very special teacher, the guru’s purpose is to direct you to that which is permanent and formless. Often, our guru appears to us disguised as someone difficult, or as a challenging event. Through these tests we can find the courage and light in our heart that keeps us going. Jai guru dev!
As a teacher and a lifelong student, I owe everything I know to the gurus – living and dead – who have guided me. Their invisible yet powerful presence has guided me through confusion, loss and suffering, and always landed me safely on the other side. We chant the invocation between teacher and student at the beginning and the guru mantra at the end of each yoga class as a way of showing our debt of gratitude to those who have brought us to this place and time together.
I was delighted to be able to spend some time again last week at Plum Village near Bordeaux, the home of one of my most influential gurus, Thich Nhat Hanh. He is nearly 89, and immobilised by a 2014 stroke, yet still manages to join us when he can, bowing, smiling and winking at us with obvious joy at seeing such a powerful continuation of his and the Buddha’s teachings. What an inspiration!
Last Friday, July 14th, was the first anniversary of the passing – known as Maha Samadhi, the ultimate state of higher consciousness – of Swami Veda Bharati, another major influence in my life. Swami Veda was also very ill at the end of his long life, yet continued to teach, love and inspire people around him without complaint right up to his last breath.
Our greatest gurus teach us by example, and neither words nor even the body are necessary to transmit deep understanding. Swami Veda had been living in Silence (mauna) since the beginning of 2013 until he passed away last year, and Thay has been unable to speak more than a few words since his stroke in November 2014, yet their enlightening influence remains.
If you are suffering or in doubt, recall the energy of those who have guided you in the past – they have never left you. Become still, and listen to them speak through your own inner teacher – your sat guru. You will find everything you need through the silent wisdom that emanates from your heart.
The full moon astrology continues to emphasise the intensity and frustration that has been building over the past few weeks and months. We urgently need to face up to the physical world around us (individually and collectively) with innovative and radical change to rebuild anything that is out of balance. The potential for manipulation is heightened in 2016, and especially right now. Take nothing at face value! Are you operating from your own best judgement, or are you reacting to what is happening around you? Take your time to discern what really needs to be done then act only when the time and action feels right.
Turn your attention to the deeper truths of love and interconnection – and stay on your path. We are all here in this world at this precise moment for a reason – never doubt that! Each shocking emotional event going on around us brings up a personal emotional jolt from the past, wherever these emotions haven’t been examined or resolved. Beware of these emotional reactions – we aren’t able to take right action when we become too upset. Get to the root of strong emotions. Spend some time trying to understand where they are coming from, and whether or not they are even yours – perhaps they are a mirror of another person’s condition. Acknowledge your feelings and let them run their course without acting upon them. Don’t dwell on the emotions, don’t feed them – let them inform you of where you are in your life at this time. You might find that the urge to act is no longer there when the mind settles, and if it is, there will be a clarity of purpose.
With love and light as always,