No More Darshan
with Swami Chidvilasananda
On Sunday December 9, 1996 thousands of people listened to an audio broadcast from SYDA. Below is a summary from one person who attended:
Today a two-hour radio broadcast from South Fallsburg was transmitted to 58 centers worldwide. A woman swami was the voice of this broadcast. She announced a basic change in Siddha Yoga. What follows is a very abbreviated summary of the broadcast content and format.
EXCERPTS THAT CONVEY THE BASIC INFORMATION CONTENT OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT
(What follows is--except for inadvertent little errors I may have introduced from not being able to copy shorthand fast enough--the exact wording used in the broadcast.)
<<<Darshan is no longer going to be a regular or expected part of the siddha yoga programs, commencing with the Winter retreat. . . .This change is not a reaction to anything. It is for our own development. It is a natural change. This is a divine decision of the shakti made for divine reasons. It is not about Siddha Yoga policy as such . . . . At programs we will continue to come up to the chair when she is not in the chair. We can no longer expect that Gurumayi will receive us when she is in the chair. Chair darshan will continue at centers. . . . She will have more time to spend with the children's programs (broadcast applause followed this sentence). The darshan panel will continue and be expanded. . . . There will be satsangs about this change at the Winter retreat. . . . Look at your dreams and meditation experiences. You will find that you will be having darshans that way. . . .
Do this experiment: see in how many ways the guru's help comes to you. Really do this experiment. You will see how special you are, how truly loved you are. I actually got a parking space on E. 53rd street, a physical impossibility without the guru's grace. . . . She will find so many ways to give it to us. . . . >>>
THE CONTEMPLATION SEGMENT OF THE PROGRAM--"SILENTLY CONTEMPLATE, THEN WRITE, THEN DISCUSS IN GROUPS OF FIVE."
We were told to break into groups of five and perform three silent contemplation's of five minutes each, and write down what we contemplated. We were then to share our contemplation's, in these groups of five, for ten minutes per contemplation. I, participated in the sharing with great gusto. After we finished our timed group sharing, then shills at the London center were given the microphone and shared their contemplation's with all the centers receiving the broadcast. It was in the radio discussion between London and South Fallsburg of the contemplation's that the real message of how we are supposed to think was transmitted. AOL readers, if you wish, I can post exact details on the content of this discussion later.
The questions to contemplate were:
1. What is the essence of your experience of darshan, in all the ways you might know it, that moved you the most? (Not necessarily in the darshan line.)
2. What questions or concerns come up for you as you contemplate this change? (Look at darshan from many points of view.)
3. How do you see this change in the outer form of darshan deepening your own sadhana and the sadhana of others? (How can the shift uplift us?)
The program continued with an excerpt from a Gurumayi speech titled "God is your Constant Companion," and lengthy advertisements for 1) the upcoming satellite intensive, 2) the availability of the "Living Master" and the "beautiful ashram" for the "exquisite darshan and deep intimacy" of the Christmas/New Year's retreat, 3) the "Jnaneshwar Chapter 18" course, 4) the WE HAVE MET BEFORE book that includes sharings and photos from the last tour, and 5) a three-hour video of the tour titled MAHAYATRA.
The "God is Your Constant Companion" excerpt consisted basically of Gurumayi making a series of statements each followed by the refrain phrase "YOU WILL COME TO KNOW MY LOVE IS WITH YOU ALWAYS." That phrase was repeated innumerable times, over and over and over again. People around me were screaming with kriyas and gesticulating; some women were crying. One of the opening sentences was "Sweetness and fire of the guru's love reveal the true company you keep."
Gurumayi was referred to as a "Living Master" in the advert for the Christmas retreat. This was said in the advert portion: <<<Satellite intensives are important to Gurumayi herself to reach disciples and offer teachings we can hold and take with us. She blesses the satellite technology. Take the intensive when you feel dry, need a breakthrough, when confused or concerned. It is like INJECTING the grace of God into your heart.>>>
The recipients of the broadcast were told that the broadcast is "from her," though all we heard of her (Gurumayi) was a taped excerpt from a bookstore cassette. We were instructed to send our experiences of our sharings to the EXPERIENCE DEPARTMENT (?!).
The final musings of the announcer contained the following (clarifying statements are in parentheses):
<<<Keep sharing after the call (telephone broadcast) is over. Isn't it amazing how close to Gurumayi we feel when we share? (The announcer began to talk about a friend of hers.) She (the announcer's friend) thought Gurumayi was just around the corner and about to come into the room. Then she realized Gurumayi was here in the room, in her subtle form! That is what we (the disciples) can EXPECT, and watch for it! The more we become sensitized, and feel her (Gurumayi) walking beside us . . . . she is SO AVAILABLE like that!>>>
Commentary ... updated 13 Dec 96
So what's going on? Why has she stopped giving darshan? Darshan has been an intricate part of siddha yoga back to Nityananda of Ganeshpuri's time. Darshan is a major part of all traditional spiritual paths. However, if you look at the bigger picture, she has been withdrawing from the masses for years. When she first took the chair, darshans were plentiful and you could even talk to her directly. Then she came to less programs in any given week. Then you had to talk to a "secretary" and they simply took notes. Maybe they talked to her for you later and maybe not. Then the letters devotees sent her went to the temple instead of her. They were burned. Now she is not available for darshan.
The reason's given relate to "divine direction" of which we have no knowledge of what that means, just that is for the better. And she didn't even have the courtesy or the courage to tell people herself.
Maybe she can't tolerate all those people pulling at her anymore in darshan. Maybe it's simply become too much for her and she is pulling further away, again. Some people may argue that she is too busy and that there are too many devotees for her to do darshan. That it takes too long. Well I do know of other "Gurus" who spend up to 10 hours at a time giving darshan.
And of course I would expect that her darshan's for pay will continue. If you give enough money you will have "special consideration" which, in addtion to getting a free pass to Amrit and the 4 star rooms, you can still get a "private darshan". I wonder how much that will cost?
The whole purpose I thought of having a living guru was to receive person to person direction, to help keep people from getting lost in their minds and fantasies. Oh, I forgot, they can take a course or take an intensive, pay a lot of money and get some "truth"!
Is this the beginning of the end? Only time will tell. Until then, keep the faith.