by Judy Goodkin
As I drove up the long winding, tree-shrouded driveway to the Temenos Retreat Center on Saturday evening, I realized my fear was absent. I’ve been looking at my fear a lot lately, seeing it as my knee-jerk reaction to so many of my life’s events, major and trivial. So when the announcement came about the celebration of Swami Nirmalananda’s Shaktipat anniversary which would include an extension of her sannyasa ceremony, as well as an honoring and celebration of administrative transitions, my fear began to set up roadblocks to doing what I knew I wanted and needed to do. I remembered Swamiji’s essay on what it meant to be here now, and knew I had to be in my guru’s presence.
So I acknowledged my fear & drove to West Chester anyway. Warmth enveloped me as soon as I stepped from my car. I joined a group of Svaroopis on the patio, some had driven down from 2 hours away and some were “locals”, like me. More would arrive to join those already in attendance for the Shaktipat weekend. Hugs, sparkling eyes, warm greetings all around. Everyone so filled with gratitude and relief to be here now.
The evening began. Chanting. Then the satsang: Swamiji telling us what we needed to hear, all of us hearing what we needed to hear. Swamiji talked about the guru disciple relationship, “a relationship beyond words”. I thought, yes, the need to be here now!
She spoke of Baba and illustrated with a story, his teaching, “Only he who obeys can command.” We were also there to celebrate Swamiji’s resignation from being President of both SVA and MYF , so she can return her focus to serving as Master Teacher. We also honored Amala and Shuchi, the new Presidents of the SVA and MYF Boards, who do what they are asked to do with full hearts. I couldn’t help but notice I was accepting this transition without a ripple of fear, only joy.
Shuchi and Amala, looking to me like two sisters, began abhishek, the bathing of the Nityananda murti as we, the onlookers, were bathed in the chanting. Chanting along with a recording of Baba’s voice! What a blessing to hear his slow, deep rumble, Om namah shivaya. Om namah shivaya. What a blessing to be here now.
The chanting continued as Swamiji had her head shaved. I was in the presence of an Enlightened being. What sheer joy.
Then came the opportunity to place flowers on Nityananda’s murti. The chanting of Om Guru Om vibrated quietly as we bowed before Nityananda and then before Swamiji.
Overwhelmed with gratitude, I bowed before Swamiji. How can I ever express my gratitude for her Grace, which she gives so freely? How to explain the sweet space that is present when my fear is absent? When I experience moments without fear, there is clarity, and I feel only love and joy. That night, for me, was a night without fear. There was only love and peace and the guru’s Grace.