By Gurudevi Nirmalananda
Bittersweet chocolate is the best. The sage Narada agrees, describing the yearning for God as the most painful and most blissful of the 11 types of Divine Love.
Today, I honor my Guru on the anniversary of his departure from this earthly plane. It is a day of great grief and a day of great gratitude – both of which are based in Divine love.
Grief is when you feel you’ve lost something important to you. Yet the fact that it was important means you are grateful for what it gave. Thus, grief is the flip side of gratitude.
Wonderfully, this gives you a pathway out of grief — simply express your gratitude. When you put words to all you’ve received from that source, you are filled up inside and there’s no room left for grief.
I was in Spain when Baba left. At the pivotal time in India, it was sunset where I was, on private retreat in a small town overlooking the Mediterranean. That sunset lasted longer than any I’ve ever seen, with colors ranging from golden orange into deep purple.
As I sat and watched it, Baba spoke to me inside. For a long time. Mostly it was wordless communion, but sometimes a few words would come – deeply loving while giving me direction for my life.
He was my sunset. He was my sunrise. He was the sun that lit up my whole world, even my inner universe. Or I thought he was. As long as he was in his body, I could see only Baba. He took up the radar screen of my mind in an ecstatic and glorious way. It was a whole lot better than anything else I’d had on my radar.
It was only after he was gone (seemingly gone) that I could look past my mind and discover what he had given me. He gave me my own Self, the vast profundity and inner reality of Beingness being me. But frankly, I’d rather look at him than look at me.
That’s bhakti yoga, the science of Divine Love. Tukaram, a poet saint of India said it this way, “Please, please, dear God. Keep me just a little separate from you, so there’s still a ‘me’ to love you.” Yes, I love to love Baba. Which is why I indulge myself in sweet moments of Divine Grief – so I can feel the love, the longing, the yearning, while I know I am the One who was He.
There is only One Reality, the ultimate, ever-existent, present-right-here-and now Beingness. Called by many names, our tradition honors the One by the name Shiva, meaning the Auspicious One who plants his auspiciousness in all.
But it’s not like planting a seed in earth, with the seed being different from the earth. Instead, Shiva plants himself in you by being you. Shiva is being you while being me, while being all and beyond all. Oh, Shiva!
So when I look for Baba, I find him inside. I love to look at his photos, but it is always he who is looking through my eyes. I masquerade as a bhakta, lost in love of the Divine, while being the One who is being both the lover and the beloved. There’s no better way to live, always lost in Divine Love, yet knowing that it is me loving me – even when I am loving you.
Jai Muktananda! Hail to Muktananda! As he said about himself, I also proclaim to the world – I don’t care what anyone says about my Baba. He gave me everything.
And he sends me to share it with you. Does anyone want some bittersweet chocolate? We can laugh and cry together. It’s a glorious way to live!