I know a few folks were wondering about Guru Purnima — the full moon in July that falls on the day dedicated to the guru — as we posted around Monday’s full moon, and now Tim Miller, not surprisingly, has summed the day up in his latest blog post:
[The] full moon called Guru Purnima in the Nakshatra known as Uttarashada–the “latter invincible one—with Mars and Jupiter conjunct and a grand trine in the heavens composed of Mars/Jupiter trine Saturn and also trine Neptune. Jupiter conjunct Mars is associated with “fortunate action.” In Planets in Transit, Robert Hand says, “Mars-Jupiter has a strong effect upon muscular action. In fact, Mars transiting Jupiter or vice versa is an extremely good childbirth transit, helping to make labor easy and short and guaranteeing a successful delivery.”
Tim also notes — given he just vacationed/taught in Great Britain — that the royal baby was born on Guru Purnima:
If ever there was an auspicious day for a future king to be born, this was the day. Other notable figures to be born on the full moon in July include the great Indian Sage and writer Veda Vyasa and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Vyasa was the author of the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Bhagavatta Puranas, Guru Gita, and the Brahma Sutras. In addition, he reorganized the Vedas into four parts—hence he was called Veda Vyasa, “the divider of the Vedas.” He is a towering and brilliant figure in the realm of Indian philosophy, and perhaps the single most influential writer of spiritual texts. Guru Purnima was originally known as Vyasa Purnima. Pattabhi Jois was another powerhouse born on this day. His unflagging strength, passion, perseverance, wisdom, and charisma provided the impetus for Ashtanga Yoga to spread throughout the world and attract thousands of practitioners.
Sounds like we should keep our eye on England in about 50 years or so.
Tim adds more about Guru Purnima, including details about the guardians of all that’s good in the universe — yes, it sounds like the makings of a new superhero movie franchise. If you have any questions about the day, this post answers them.
The post also offers a surprise: there is one, king-sized bed room left for the second week of Tim’s Mt. Shasta retreat. It does have Bobbie and my name all over it, but I’m already booked solid at work the week of Aug. 10. But if you’re not, you may want to click on that link and not let the opportunity to bask in the wonder of the mountain escape. We’ve written a bit about it.
I know we’ve posted this video before, but it is an appropriate one for Guru Purnima — bring both our gurus together. Thanks to both Guruji and Timji, and all the other teachers who’ve affected our yoga journeys.
Monday’s full moon is Guru Purnima and the birthday of Pattabhi Jois. Eddie Stern has a celebration planned — with a promised surprise — and Tim Miller also has said he’ll be putting something together.
We’ll begin our celebration now, with a video remembrance of one version of the infamous neti story. Enjoy.
The Fourth of July and Guru Purnima collide today.
Well, while reading Tim Miller’s post this week — which comes directly from Paris — they do for me. As you might guess, he talks about the meaning and value of Guru Purnima and Pattabhi Jois. As you might also guess, that means you kind of have to read it:
Today’s full moon occurs at 11:52amPDT in the nakshatra called Purvashada. The Vedic Deity that rules this nakshatra is called Apas, the Goddess of the Waters, and the type of energy associated with it is called Varchograhana Shakti—the power of invigoration—similar to what we feel when we bathe. The great yogi and philosopher, Adi Shankaracharya, equated water with Sattva–the spiritual quality of life. The primary motivation of Purvashada is Moksha, or liberation. This is an excellent time to reconnect with our inherent spiritual potential.
The full moon of July is Guru Purnima—the celebration of the spiritual teacher. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was born on the full moon of July in 1915, and it was his destiny to become the Guru to thousands of Ashtanga Yoga practitioners all over the world, and to be known simply as “Guruji”.
I would probably wax poetic about Tim’s role as Guru to so many, but, well, I just did that.
I will note, and perhaps you’ve seen this, that Tim has this wonderful, simple T-shirt that reads, in block letters: GURU. He wears it — at least in my experience — on Thursdays, the day dominated by Jupiter, by the “heavy” planet in our solar system. As with much of Tim’s actions, it is both ironic and true. And it makes for great photo opps.
That’s the most persistent reflection I’ve been having during our extended Guru Purnima here at the Confluence Countdown.
Perhaps I can boil it down to its essence: “What?”
My “yoga journey” is dotted with moments of pure disbelief: I’m singing the Hanuman Chalisa? I’m driving 200 miles to get to Tim Miller’s? I’m getting up at 5 a.m. for asana practice? My feet are getting somewhere near the back of my head in Supta Kurmasana?
I’ve scheduled an appointment with a Rolfer?
We’re going on a Yatra?
These moments of disbelief are, I think, crucial. Each time, they force me back to “beginner’s mind” and keep me from taking any of the journey too seriously, for granted or too lightly.
I have a guru? is another.
On Monday, a friend who was hoping to get to Ashtanga Yoga New York for its Guru Purnima celebration asked me, “Who’s your guru?”
I didn’t even have to hesitate.
“Tim,” I responded. (Full disclosure, I really “texted.” Our cross-country conversation was on our smart phones.)
On reflection, the immediacy, the ease, of the answer becomes more shocking.
I have a guru?
The question stumps me because, if I’m anything, I’d think it would be “grounded.” And I don’t mean that in the way you hear it in yoga studios. You hear it said there because yoga tends to enable a bit of levity or, too put a Western pejorative on it, flightiness. In asana, you’re trying to stay a bit rooted, a bit “seated,” a bit counter to that desire to fly away to the land of Siva.
I’m “grounded” in the practical. (I’m also grounded in my body, I suppose, which manifests itself in stiffness. Thus, the Rolfer.) I’m grounded in making sure what needs to get accomplished does. I’m realistic. I’m no dreamer.
Having a guru argues otherwise. It is perhaps the greatest moment of disbelief. And thus, it keeps the yoga journey always fresh and new, each step a first one.
But it of course does something more. If there was never any progress beyond the first step, the journey wouldn’t be very successful. You wouldn’t get anywhere. The guru makes sure of the progress, nurturing things — self, practice, engagement with the world, interaction with others — along one first step after the last.
At least, that’s how it is for me. Results, I’m sure, may vary. But one thing shouldn’t:
Having the guru.
It’s easy — easier than ever? — these days to have a teacher, or teachers, even virtual ones. They might show you online how to do an asana or offer insights in at-your-convenience recorded talks. They can offer thoughts, encouragement, direction, knowledge.
But there still is something missing, something different in having a guru and not just a teacher. Is it deeper? Does it involve more surrender? Is it the historical significance?
I guess I’m just not grounded enough to put it in words.
Instead, I’ll try to demonstrate what I mean by saying: “Thanks, Timji.”