Swami Hamsananda shares this “Ode to Joy.” Joy, humor and childlike wonder characterize one of Integral Yoga’s most senior and beloved swamis!
Ode to This Glorious Day! I am filled with so much happiness right now that I am writing this to pass it on. I love to pieces the new Sri Swami Satchidananda Satsanga group on Facebook! I am so delighted and happy to read all the posts. I started with Bhaktan’s Teaching Events: How the Guru Dismantled My Illusions. I could hardly believe what was next: “The 1970 World Peace Tour” on video, with Sri Gurudev and 24 devotees traveling the globe! I haven’t finished either of these yet and I hope they never end!
There are no words to describe my feelings and experience seeing this video, and I am only up to Hong Kong on the world tour. I first saw Gurudev in 1971 at the San Francisco airport when he was returning from that tour. Reading all the stories about Gurudev that sangha have shared in this group is nothing short of divine! I never had their experiences and I am not jealous or envious—I just love to read them. I love to read them!
I thought I would share my morning, so far. Somehow my destiny was/is to be in Guru Bhavan (the Satchidananda Ashram’s meditation hall) almost every morning at 6 am to lead meditation via Zoom. I am the only one in the room—except for the invisibles who might be there with me. Which reminds me, to digress, of Maya Angelou and what she said in her poem: “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud.”
There’s an African American song, 19th century, which is so great. It says “When it looks like the sun will not shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.” Imagine. And I’ve had so many rainbows in my clouds. I’ve had a lot of clouds but I’ve had so many rainbows and one of the things that I do when I step up on a stage, when I stand up to translate, when I go to teach my classes, when I got to direct a movie, I bring everyone who has ever been kind to me with me; black, white, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, everybody. I say, “Come with me, I’m going on the stage. Come with me, I need you now.” Long dead, you see? So I don’t ever feel I have no help. I’ve had rainbows in my clouds. And the thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you, might not call God the same name that you call God, if, they call God at all, you see? And may not eat the same dishes prepared the way you, may not dance your dances, or speak your language, but be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.
Sometimes the morning meditation is moved to Sivananda Hall and I sit there looking at the photographs of the Great Ones up above on the walls and I address them with Maya Angelou’s words, “Come with me, I need you now.” And after the meditation this morning, I again marveled with complete and utter joy and happiness aloud, “Thank you. Thank you.” Often I say “thank you.” And I usually preface that by, “I don’t know what to say (because of some particular thing that just happened, usually something wonderful) except, “Thank you.”
So, this morning, to be one of Gurudev’s sannyasis, in that glorious room! I love Guru Bhavan so much. The altar is divine. There is just love filling the room with photographs and awards and gifts, all to or of Gurudev by those who love(d) him. And I didn’t have any of the grand and wonderful—to put it in simple words— experiences others did, but I get to be in that room, which has my reality and experience with Gurudev in one of the glass display cases. One of the displays has the wooden box that was next to Gurudev’s chair during satsang with questions for him to answer. And right now the box is there to see and it’s open with the questions from the last talk he gave at satsang in Sivananda Hall.
The nutcracker is there too; the one he used to crack walnuts that devotees would present to him on their birthdays. Cracking the walnut for them represented cracking their egos. And the tea mug, which was on the table next to his chair, is also on display along with the LOTUS coaster for it.
When I left the meditation hall today and entered into the lobby—in order to exit the building—I saw the “For Sake of Honour” Award from the Rotary Club in Coimbatore, India, that was presented to Sri Gurudev. The “For Sake of Honour” Award! The words are glorious. People who are born in India have the most wonderful, wonderful words when they speak and write. And I get to see that award and the others every morning, when I take the time to look at them.
Leaving the building today, it was a fabulous, clear and sunny day, cool and not too hot yet, and right there was a backhoe and this huge ditch. Eden (head of the maintenance department) has been digging underground looking for the leak in the pipe that conveys our water. The ditch is perfect, not some terrible mess. He has left the ditch and the backhoe so that it really looks like a work of art. There are bright orange cones around it so if you are in some blissful state you won’t fall in! I think if you get very close you could look into that ditch and see people in China waving at you.
The backhoe is there parked very nicely waiting to continue the job. That’s Yoga in action! I marvel at how wonderful Eden is and how lucky we are to have him in our midst. And I am looking at perfection in the way in which he has left the work area. As I turn the corner, I see a little bunny running behind a bush after being startled by my sudden appearance. The bunny comes out again and looks at me and starts eating whatever it was eating. I love bunnies.
Now it’s 7:15 am and Karuna Marcotte is there ready to prepare breakfast and lunch for us and she is outside for a few minutes and waves. I love my family at Yogaville and I love Yogaville so much and I will end with something I Googled last night, which was a listing of the winner and past winners along with their entry doodles for the Google contests each year. This year’s theme was “I am strong because . . .” And thousands and thousands of children contributed. Kiara Susana Ponce Virella, an 8th-9th grader from Puerto Rico was the National Finalist. She entered her doodle with the title: “Splash of Hope.” She explained her doodle, and this is part of it: “I am strong because . . . I may not seem strong (her doodle shows her back, with the scar from her scoliosis operation), but I am in my own special way, just like everyone else.”
And to end I will say what someone said—one of the Great Ones, perhaps Swami Sivananda. Anyway, I am paraphrasing: No matter what anyone says or does, the same Self (not the body or mind but the Immortal Self or Atman, Pure Consciousness, Bliss Absolute or words like that) is who we really are—all of us. So, Kiara got it right. What she said is the Truth. What a wonderful world!
About the Author:
Swami Hamsananda Ma is a senior disciple of Swami Satchidananda and sannyasin (monk) since 1975. She compiled The Golden Present, one of the most known books of Gurudev’s teachings. Swami Hamsananda is currently living and serving at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville where she often shares her humor and wisdom in inspirational and spiritual talks. Her advice to all is to, “Just have faith, and identify with the true self. That’s it!”