The purpose of the Guru Purnima celebration is to turn back and review and see in this last one year how much one has progressed in life. For a seeker, Guru Purnima is a day of significance. It is the day to review one’s progress on the spiritual path and renew one’s determination and focus on the goal. As the full moon rises and sets, tears of gratitude arise and repose into the vastness of one’s own self.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Guru Purnima is the annual celebration of the lineage of the Vedic gurus. (If you would like to join us, RSVP here.)
The word ‘guru‘ means ‘the teacher who removes the shadow of ignorance.’ ‘Purnima‘ means ‘full moon.’
Sometimes, rather than ‘remover of shadows,’ guru will be defined as ‘bringer of light.’ These would seem to be the same thing, for indeed, a shadow is removed by the bringing of light. But ‘shadow’ means that the light is already there and merely being occluded. This is the teaching of the Veda. Light is. Consciousness is. All is consciousness. There is nothing but consciousness. All that we are is consciousness. Yet here we are, so many of us, looking everywhere for this thing we are, never realizing that what we are looking for, we are looking with.
So the guru, rather than bringing light to the student, is helping the student to remove what stands in the way of his own light. A fine distinction, but an important one.
What is it that is being removed? Ignorance. Ignorance is not the quality of not-knowing. To be ignorant of something means to ignore something we already know. So rather than teaching, at times, a guru is helping a student feel ready to know his own truth.
Guru Purnima really is a celebration of consciousness Itself, and of all the extraordinary expressions of consciousness who have passed down to us these teachings of through the centuries.
In our Vedic tradition, we celebrate this full moon night with stories, Indian sweets and chai tea, a moonlit stroll and, the height of the evening, a group performance of ‘puja’, that beautiful ceremony that we do in gratitude to these teachers who have given so much to us.
Also, it is part of the mythos of Guru Purnima that a boon is granted in response to a wish offered with one’s flower at the end of the puja. Some people like to write down their wish and sign it, offering it with their flower as a symbol of surrender to the organizing power of nature. Others prefer a silent & unmanifest (mental) offering.
It will be important to give our wish some worthy consideration. After all, this is an exercise in expansive thinking. What is it I actually want? How can I gain fulfillment of this desire in a way that helps the evolution of many others? What is a creative way to incorporate my own individual fulfillment into my wish and be mindful of the needs of all others, now and for the future?
Tonight I will walk in the light of the moon, soaking in the pure soma of consciousness represented by that light, grateful for all the growth that has come and for all that is yet to come. And as the moon moves to full over the next week, I will feel my spirit become full along with it.
Tuesday night, July 16
- 7:30 pm onward: arrive
- 9:00 pm: puja ceremony/meditation
- 10:00 pm: walk in the moonlight
Please bring a flower and, if you wish, a written boon request.
All meditators are welcome.