I set up this blog and first posted just over five weeks ago. In that time I've thought more about Gurumayi and Siddha Yoga than I have in years. I think. The problem is, when I actively practiced SY (for seventeen plus years) it was such a part of my mindset that when I drifted away (I never really "stopped") I reflexively continued to inhabit the same thought patterns. So, even when I wasn't consciously thinking of SY, I was thinking like a Siddha Yogi. The Guru I had welcomed into my heart had taken up residence in my head and wasn't disposed to leave, even after the love had gone and she herself had vanished.
For example; I once heard Gurumayi talk about her days as Baba's translator, how he would race off in those early morning hour in Ganeshpuri and she would have to run to keep up. One morning as she was running after him she spotted a one rupi note on the ground, but didn't take the moment to stoop and pick it up. Soon afterwards, she lost a one-hundred rupi note. I don't remember if Muktananda told her this, or if she did the math herself, but the point of Gurumayi's story was that money is Shakti, and you must respect it, or risk losing it. So, she continued, even if you see a penny in the street, bend down and pick it up, see it as Laksmi, put in on your puja at home and worship it as a manifestation of divine energy.
Of course, I took this as one of the Commands From The Guru that everyone was always so keen on getting. I began picking up coins off the street. Because I was always contemplating in those days, particularly when I was out walking, finding a penny quickly became a sign for me that whatever I had been thinking in relation to Gurumayi, or the path, the moment before I saw the coin was affirmed by the Shakti. I would lovingly pick the shiny penny up, repeat "Mahalaksmi Namostute" to myself and secretly smile as I slipped it into a separate pocket from my other change. Sometimes I would find a nickel or dime, maybe even a quarter, and these were particularly strong signs that the Guru knew what I was thinking and was blessing those thoughts with her support. Now, you may be quick to point out that Gurumayi didn't teach me this particular species of magical thinking. She never said, in public or private, that coins found in the street while contemplating were a sign of her grace. But, she did say that not picking a coin up was dissing the Shakti in such a way that it could come back to haunt you. In other words, a different kind of magical thinking. And there were so many of these in Siddha Yoga talks; "even a leaf falling from a tree can hold a mystical teaching for you, if you know how to look", etc. ad infinitum.
I liked this feedback loop that occurred in my contemplations and always rejoiced when I picked up a penny, even if it was dirty or in a puddle. Sometimes I really had to force myself to do it, especially if the coin was particularly nasty looking, as if it had been discarded by a homeless person. I didn't put those coins on my puja; sometimes they stayed in my jeans for a wash cycle before being liberated. Of course, I wasn't always contemplating the teachings when I picked them up; but I always re-traced my mental steps and felt better about whatever thought I was having at the time.
Eventually, I stopped doing even that, but still continued to pick up pennies and say my mantra to Laksmi anyway. Not because I thought it was a sign from the Guru, or that I would offend the Shakti if I didn't. It became a superstitious practice, like not walking under a ladder, or making the sign against the evil eye when passing by a church with red doors. In this, and in a million other ways, my thoughts remained stained by the sustained practice of years of contemplation.
What is contemplation as practiced in Siddha Yoga? Is it basting your experiences in the rasa of the teachings? Is it applying the teachings to every facet of your life? Is it a self-identification with the Guru that seeks to erase your small self and unfold your true Self? Or, is it a form of self-administered mind control? A closed mental loop that always deposits you back in the same place. A recipe that, whatever the ingredients, always ends up tasting exactly the same:
"Take one worrisome event in your life, or inconvenient fact about Siddha Yoga or the Guru. Add the first passage you find when randomly opening one of Gurumayi's or Baba's books. Mix thoroughly and bake for the length of time it takes you to go for a long walk in the woods. Take out of oven and allow to cool evenly before eating your own words."
Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just didn't know how to do it right, but I can't remember any of the amazing insights I had while practicing contemplation. None whatsoever. I do vividly remember the feeling of rightness that the practice engendered. The belief that I was testing the teachings in the laboratory of my own mind and finding that they held up wonderfully. Which is to say, when I applied the teachings to my life, I found that they always applied.
Eventually, I stopped picking up pennies from heaven. This happened just recently. I remember the feeling of transgression that dogged me when I first passed over a coin in the street. But you know what? It was laying in a puddle of puke in front of a bar down my street and I just couldn't stomach touching it. After that, not stooping to this particular superstition just got easier and easier.