Often devotees will write to Bodhinatha about emotional problems. To these he says he always gives the same advicespend extra time worshiping Lord Ganesha, especially in the temple. Bodhinatha elucidates this and more about the importance of our Hindu culture permeating every area of our lives.
Quite often individuals write in on e-mail or talk to me and there is some emotional problem that they are working through. Tending to get angry, tending to get upset, kind of depressed, fearful, whatever. I always give the same remedy, no matter what. I ask myself, "Is this an emotional problem?" If the answer is, "Yes", if their emotions are upset, then I say, "Well, spend extra time worshipping Lord Ganesha." Of course, if there is a temple nearby where they live I say, at the temple. That is the same idea as Gurudeva saying the temple is the psychiatrist.
In Western tradition, if you have problems you go talk to someone about them, you can help me solve my problems. It can be a psychiatrist, it can be a friend but you feel a need to talk over your emotional problems with someone. But in the Hindu tradition as presented by Gurudeva, we can talk it over with Lord Ganesha. It does not have to be a physical person.
Why does that work? Because Ganesha brings us up into the muladhara consciousness, if we are below it. He helps us center ourselves if we are disturbed. That centered, peaceful, contented consciousness is something we can all attain, if we lose it, through sincere worship of Lord Ganesha. In that sense, Ganesha is our psychiatrist as well as the temple.
Received some beautiful photos recently from Easan Katir, of his daughter Venita, dancing. Did we share that with everyone? She is very accomplished. Looked up her age and found it was eighteen and I said, "She is much older than I thought. I remember her when she was younger, in London with her British accent." Anyway, it was very nice and, of course, Bharatanatyam is one of the traditional forms of cultural accomplishments for Hindu girls in the Southern tradition. She a good example of that.
I don't know if we shared what Easan said. He seems to have had a chance to give a little talk there as well. He was promoting our pamphlet on the 'Nine Qualities to Cultivate in Children'. He stressed the point that if you follow these nine keys to raising children, then they become cultured people who when they are adults, don't argue and fight. That is how he was summarizing the cultured person. A cultured person is someone who does not argue and fight. If you argue and fight, you are not cultured, is what he was saying in a nice way.
He also made a statement, I don't know if he made it up or Gurudeva said it but it is really nice. "Culture is the integration of the Divine in everyday life." Isn't that nice? Culture is the integration of the Divine in everyday life. Meaning, sometimes we don't. There are parts of our life that we are integrating the Divine with, maybe everything we do at home. But, we go out the door, we forget that and become a different person. At school, at work, socializing, we are not following the same cultural practices we do when we are home. Or maybe we do it at one place when we are out but we don't do it at another place. We do it when we are at work but when we socialize we kind of forget about our cultural traditions.
So it is an interesting exercise to do, to look at the various areas of your life. Look at home, school, work, social situations and see, "Are there any parts of my life, where I am leaving out my Saivite culture? Just acting in an externalized, non-religious way, fitting in with the American non-culture. Are there any places?" You might find some and if so, you could give it some thought.
One idea that works very well in this sense is the idea of worshipping Lord Ganesha. The creed says, "Siva's followers all believe in the Mahadeva Lord Ganesha, son of Siva - Shakti, to whom they must first supplicate before beginning any worship or task."
So that means any task, right? Every single thing we start, we need to worship Lord Ganesha first. We are taking a test in school, we should be worshiping Lord Ganesha first. We are starting a new project at work, we worship Lord Ganesha. Of course, we don't have to do a half-an-hour puja before our test or at work, but at least in our minds, you know we are taking time to visualize Ganesha, in some way touch into His vibration to bless the project.
That is an example of integrating the Divine with everyday life. It is good to think about. This one particular belief is very helpful in that, lots of actions would never get instigated if we were worshipping Lord Ganesha first. You can't pick up the phone and scold somebody if you worship Lord Ganesha first. You just would not do it. You would think twice. You would say, "Gee! I can't do that. I want Lord Ganesha's blessings to call someone and scold them, who does not really deserve it."
You can see how integrating culture with life sometimes changes our actions for the better, which is the idea. There should not be part of our life that is ordinary and uncultured and other parts of our life which are cultured. We should try and put the religion, put the culture through all of our life in an appropriate way according to where we live, of course. We can't all wear three stripes and a pottu and traditional clothing and go downtown. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about acting in a refined way, following our religious beliefs and worshipping Ganesha and so forth, as is appropriate throughout whatever we are doing during the day.
Or said another way, we learn culture at the temple. Then, what we learn to do at the temple we repeat at home, at school and in the work place. We carry the culture out. Such as, worshipping Ganesha first, which we always do. For the puja, Tyaganatha starts with Ganesha, right? You can't start with anyone else, you have to start with Ganesha. So we learn in the temple about culture, through the pujas, through the traditional art forms of dance and music and everything. We try and take those principles out and make sure we are applying them to the rest of our life.
I really like that statement by Easan. "Culture is the integration of the Divine in everyday life." Integration is an excellent word, meaning the two are one, they are not separate. We have integrated it, we have made it absolutely part of everything we do throughout the day.
Have a wonderful week. Aum Namah Sivaya!