Guru Purnima: The Full Moon of July
Everybody has a birthright to enjoy abiding peace and unbounded joy, which is the essential nature of his own soul. And I hold everybody already possesses the capacity of enjoying it, because it is already there in the innermost recess of everybody’s heart. Nothing from outside can stop a man from experiencing the nature of his own soul. Nothing from outside can stop a man from enjoying lasting peace and permanent joy in life, for it is the essential nature of his own soul. The doors of Sat-Chit-Anandam are wide open alike for one and all. The path is straight and entry is free.
– HH Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – 23 October 1955, Spiritual Development Conference, Cochin, Kerala, India, from Beacon Light of the Himalayas (November 1955)
It is custom on this holy day known as Guru Purnima, to salute the highest principle of creation—that which reveals the fullness of life that is there at all times. It is the day where all teachers in any capacity are honored and given acknowledgement to, and it carries a special importance, potency even, in terms of the sentiment that is experienced by those who have any inward or outward connection to a being they consider their Guru.
On this Full Moon day of July, we offer all our gratitude, hearts and pranams to Vamadeva for what he embodies, facilitates and serves tirelessly—the Perennial teaching of the Oneness. The knowledge of the Self has been kept alive throughout the ages by the masters of the tradition, who have carried this principle to its utmost integrity, which has allowed countless beings to partake in the nectar of Being.
May everyone remember the guru principle which is eternal, ever-present, alive, and which reveals the deepest secret which underlies and unifies all of creation.
We wish to share these words below, spoken by Igor Vamadeva on the occasion of Guru Purnima. May they reveal in the cavern of the heart what is available on this sacred day. May you connect to the subtlety and vibrancy beneath the words and be nourished by its beauty.
With love and in service,
Team & Sangha Flowing Wakefulness
“Greetings everyone. I thought to speak few words to today’s event known as Guru Purnima, and an event which has been celebrated in India and the Indian subcontinent for perhaps thousands of years as that Full Moon of July. We can go into the historical roots of this celebration—and Guru Purnima has been also celebrated now in the West and around the globe since the counterculture of the 60s has embraced these oriental teachings that came from mainly India, but also from China and Japan, where this Full Moon of July has been observed in various cultures in relation to what it represents. And, of course, in India, it’s a national celebration where all teachers, all guides—not just spiritual guides—but all teachers who carry profession of imparting knowledge of any kind of any discipline are being given thanks, recognition, and gratitude.
So it’s a very straightforward, in a way, holiday, celebration. But I wanted to maybe bring about that which otherwise is somehow not easy to access as a culture from the Western perspective, simply because there is no direct analogy in terms of what this Full Moon of July—and occasionally it may fall on August—that is associated with also the legacy of a great Vedic sage, now known as Veda Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, who has purportedly set this celebration forth. And ever since, Guru Purnima has been celebrated as that fullness of all the laws of nature; in other words, the fullness of the Absolute, fullness of creation. So that term “Purnima,” “Purna,” simply means fullness. And “Guru,” here, as we know, stands for that aspect, that universal principle, responsible for the concealment and revelation of light. So in other words that “gu” is when that light is being concealed, that which obstructs, covers the light. And “ru” is that principle that brings that light forth. So Guru is that universal principle beyond just the epithet given to a particular living being—that’s what the universal principle really represents.
So, in reflecting on this, I thought, how to make it easier for the Westerners perhaps—or people who are not familiar with these unique specific intricacies of Vedic Indian culture—to approach this or understand or simply recognize the deeper dimension? And I thought to speak about something which maybe not everyone will relate to immediately, but this is an invitation to ponder on this, to sit with this, and reflect on this: and that is the importance of sentiment in our life. Because whether we are aware of it or not, there is this something that makes us do what we do. There is this something that directs and guides all our actions. And I’m not just talking about desire or a certain will to express ourselves and to leave a mark in the world, in whichever way that may be possible or within our capacity. But I’m speaking to that subtler dimension of what really makes us vibrate and move at a very subtle level—something that moves our heart. And that belongs to a certain sentiment, or rather comes from a certain sentiment, something which we often find an inexplicable affinity with. And due to that, this brings about this certain activation, certain invocation of this inner feeling, very fine feeling. And that is encapsulated in that sentiment. Sentiment is not here spoken in terms of sentimentality, towards something that we may express—although this may also contain some of these elements of how we relate to this or that event. But the sentiment here is spoken in terms of a deep underlying affinity with something. And that something then translates into how we envision ourselves—our role, our place—in what we do in this world, in what we do in terms of our social interactions, how we come across, how we come about, what is it that we are most responsive to, what moves our heart in certain waves of felicity, compassion, love, and recognition. All this is carried by that certain sentiment with which we, one way or another, began to identify and also create that possibility for having that feeling reinvoked again and again, whenever we are partaking, witnessing, reflecting on something, or have been met with something.
Let me give you some examples so as to make it more visceral. For instance, any profession, any occupation, any involvement in a certain way that demands a lot of our input, and kind of takes us completely, takes over all our being—and lucky are those who have known this kind of power that overtakes us, drives us, and gives us that sense of drive—will relate to this easier. For instance, it’s the sentiment that in this case is associated with a certain profession or occupation, which is nothing short of a calling: a sentiment that a musician shares in terms of that musicianship; a sentiment that every perhaps artist shares; painters know this sentiment; scientists know this sentiment; martial artists know the sentiment. Any person of any given involvement where something, somehow has demanded full, complete dedication on our part, invokes and produces that certain sense—in this case called a sentiment—and that sentiment then carries feeds, reinforces, and propitiates that what we have, willingly or unwillingly, consciously or not, given ourselves in service of; or in terms of the field where we find how we wish to express ourselves.
So, the religious sentiment or spiritual sentiment is not different. Just as that sentiment that may be carried by anyone who has ever gone through a certain hardship that is beyond just the ordinary level of everyday life. Anyone who has ever shared a battle, or has been in circumstances of cataclysmic events, anyone who has been given to the display of forces of nature, anyone who has went through something which, in a given set of circumstances, sets one face to face with the sheer sense of mortality, then this will bring that certain sentiment. Just as when people get together, and you can see that that sentiment is shared by a certain group, and that individually-held sentiment now is becoming a collectively shared, collectively-held sentiment,
Just as a warrior whose job is to ultimately give their life for what they’ve been trained to do as their duty—Iet’s say this extreme example of certain culturally rooted but also transferable even to our day and age settings and situations—then that sentiment would have that particular quality, that particular quality of that comradeship, that quality of someone who knows what it is like to face one’s mortality, not as a concept, not just as some kind of read-in-the-books or watched or seen in the movies, but the actual reality of a being. Even if we don’t go as far to such extremes as those who have gone through combat, but let’s say people who have went through military training, who were forced or called to go into military service, they all share that certain sentiment of what went into being there that is not open to those who have not been there. In a more day-to-day life [example] that we live now, this sentiment can be the sentiment of mothers who have raised more than just one child, mothers who have known what it is like to sacrifice their time, to sacrifice their interests, to go through that what motherhood demands of them. So that sentiment will also run through their being and would be invoked each time; there is this something that comes as a reminder. And of course, it will be a shared sentiment among these women.
So these examples are just to give us this direct taste and to make it relatable, as what I am trying to convey here in terms of how can Guru Purnima be understood outside of its cultural context which may be exclusively linked to the Vedic culture. Because after all, even Veda Vyasa was almost magically invoked, designed almost, by his father, sage Parasara, the compiler or author of the treaties on Vedic astrology; who was so versed in all this that he conceived his child in such way that he will arrive at an appointed day which falls on the July Full Moon. And therefore, hence, this July Full Moon has been celebrated ever since as Guru Purnima.
So outside of these cultural intricacies, how can we relate to this? And this is an invitation to simply ponder that which Indian culture, which is rooted in Vedic culture, as well as all other Oriental cultures that one way or another found their sources in Vedic sciences, in Vedic civilization, share—what is there that one can tap into and relate to as that sentiment? And it is this very sentiment of that ultimate heart-to-heart connection that Guru Purnima as a celebration also stands for and represents. It’s that connection to our utmost sense of who we are and utmost reality. So, the Guru here is not spoken of just lightly in terms of someone who imparts knowledge. But if we are to look into it in the deepest dimension of the term, it represents the reminder of the ultimate goal of life; that reminder that comes year after year, with every full moon of this particular season, which serves as that reminder of the utter fullness of life, without which, if one somehow misses, bypasses, ignores, or is oblivious to it, one, as it were, misses a precious opportunity of what it means to be alive, what it means to be a human being.
So, therefore, Guru Purnima is being celebrated as that continued reminder of one’s essence, which is being brought about by that sentiment of connection that one has made to a being who represents both that universal aspect, as well as that which is one’s own innermost reality—because here that Guru within and Guru without are one and the same reality. So of course, in the day and age we live in when there is so much insecurity, so much uncertainty in terms of what the role of the Guru in the West, in the context of the Western culture or Western civilization at large, now presents—since this ongoing crisis almost of what that position is—whether that position has outlived itself, and whether we are better off without that which, to some people, seems to be an anachronism of an age gone by; whilst at the same time, there is this greater and greater, in a sense of being lost further and further to that what this life is for. So, therefore, it’s paradoxical that there is this almost denial in Western spiritual circles in the core, in some of the most what, on one hand, could be considered the most progressive circles in Western spiritual communities, the term “guru” has this undeniably edgy, uncomfortable feel to it. And I’m not strictly speaking about why that is, because we have touched on this over the last several years: that this is inevitable because the culture we live in itself doesn’t allow for the possibility of a spiritual authority, in the face of what this so-called age of pluralism, age of democracy, is all about. So of course, sooner or later that contradiction will come face to face with the reality of that which is being represented here by the undoubtedly unprocessed and very often dismissed fact that that sense of spiritual authority here is squarely being projected onto certain living beings in order to withdraw from any sense of responsibility for one’s own well being, for one’s own happiness, and for one’s own fulfillment. So in other words, that’s the downside of what and how this whole relationship is being represented, which in this case, of course, is a misrepresentation of that relationship.
So therefore, culturally speaking, and whenever we are equipped with direct examples where there are some manipulations and there are some possibilities of this role being jeopardized, in whichever way, this leads to a further rupture in terms of how this role is being understood. But this is a reminder—it’s more like a kind of outspoken reflection in terms of that sentiment that I wanted to emphasize, so as to tap into this what it really represents. Because, as I have said earlier, this is what runs through our life, and in very large ways, instructs, directs our actions—and our attitudes certainly come from what sentiments do we share? What sentiments do we share culturally, with any part of the particular culture, with any of its pockets? And how then is that reflecting our own lived experiences, because that’s what is the most important part here? Because a sentiment can only be a sentiment when it is shared in the heart. Therefore, one cannot adopt the sentiment; it will be an artificial act. This sentiment can only make sense or can only actually work when it comes from that acuity of direct relation and connection that one has made through something. Through something. Through this myriad of very intricate ways of how we’ve learned to be here in the sense of what we consider this whole world to be, ourselves, our place, our role. Even if these questions don’t come to us on a daily basis, it doesn’t matter. We are carrying these sentiments throughout life. And these sentiments, in turn, propitiate the quality, the quality of our heart, the quality of the feeling, which then fills that sense of fulfillment, without which there is no fullness; that fullness cannot be experienced.
And Guru Purnima is that reminder—the whole celebration of Guru Purnima is the reminder of the fullness of the moon, which reflects in its full measure the light of the sun, as it bounces back and gives that glory of the full disk of the circle. In the same way, that fullness of the Absolute is reflected through the relative, reflected through the qualities of our being, here, lived directly. And that comes from the quality of the heart. That heart here is dependent very much on what waves awash—what waves, what frequencies, what makes us move—what makes this whole life into something tangibly meaningful.
Even if we completely may turn this the other way around, even if we recognize that all this is meaningless, that in itself steeped, yet again, in the sentiment, a certain sentiment, which then moves the heart. And we don’t want to live this life without carrying these responses. We don’t want to become aloof and numb. This is the last thing we want. It doesn’t matter whether we fully understand this or not. It doesn’t matter what spiritual philosophies and methodologies we embrace and feel affinity with. One thing we certainly don’t want is that aloofness and complete numbness.
So therefore, this Guru Purnima is also a reminder that the fullness of the Absolute is in the fullness of this life, where that Absolute is an embodiment here—that life here is the body of that which known as One without the second. So tap into that sentiment and then that meaning of the Guru Purnima is being shared, recognized within yourself, the possibility of tapping into that which somehow may have felt culturally remote.”
Happy Guru Purnima everyone.
Jai Guru Deva
— Igor Kufayev, Guru Purnima Darshan in July 2021
Photos: Courtesy of Flowing Wakefulness.