Excerpts from prior talks

Bodhinatha distills portions of talks he has given in the past to present various topics: an analogy between waking up from a dream state and the realization of Parashiva, three principles for handling difficult situations, harmonizing the flow of energy between individuals rather than descending to a lower level of human behavior.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. Got a few talks from a few years ago for this morning. This one relates to traveling. When you are traveling a lot, you come home and when you sleep quite often you dream about traveling, right? All done that. Specifically, in the subconscious mind you dream you are traveling and you are not yet home. You are dreaming and dreaming and working hard at getting home. And then you wake up in the conscious mind and say, "Oh, I was home the whole time. I was just dreaming that I was not home."

This is like the realization of the Self. You are going along in the conscious mind, in this case, and you are thinking, "I am not realized, I am not realized," and then all of a sudden you wake up and say, "Oh, you know, I've been the Self all the time!"

What does this mean? It means that there is more than one sense of reality. When we are dreaming, our dream is real. Totally real. We are certain that we are traveling and that as we get near waking up, we are certain that we are traveling and then as we get near waking up we start to doubt the reality of our dream: "Wait a minute, I think I have to go to work soon. Maybe I am dreaming."

We are quite accustomed to dealing with the two different realities of our dream state and our waking state. If we take the waking state as the dream and the realization of Parasiva as waking up, that is the analogy. We are going along in our normal waking state in the conscious mind and we are moving closer and closer to the Self, thinking that one day in the future we are going to get there. When you wake up by realizing Parasiva, you say: "Oh, you know, I was the Self all of the time and I was just dreaming that I was not." We just have to claim it. We have to step beyond time and space, step out of the concept that we have to do something, then something else and then something else, in order to realize it. It is like when we are traveling in a dream, we just have to wake up and find we were home all the time.

Well there's some advantage to traveling we've come up with a good analogy here. Gurudeva had a succinct way of saying that. "You are already that which you seek." Right? That was Gurudeva's statement: "You are already that which you seek."

OK here's another one. This one's from September 2003. That's three years ago. Still applies. Human nature hasn't changed in three years.

Facing difficult situations. Life hasn't changed either, right? Difficult situations still seem to come up.

As we all know life can give us difficult situations to face. We are treated unfairly. Our friends seem to turn against us and no longer be trustworthy. Our feelings are hurt by how we are spoken to and treated by another. It is easy to be happy and content when we are not facing difficult situations. The challenge is to find a way to be happy and content even in the midst of difficult situations.

Handling difficult situations without emotion and with wisdom is the key, and the principles of "Karma Management" can be quite valuable in doing so. Let's review the first three principles of "Karma Management."

First Principle: Forego Retaliation.

There is no need for us to be the instrument to return a karmic reaction to someone. For example, an individual is really nasty to us, so we feel the need to retaliate and be nasty to him. If we follow that tack, we create a new karma for us to face. Better to let someone else be the instrument to return that karma. Then we do not generate a new negative karma to face in the future.

Another example: There is a situation at school where some older boys are bullying us. Instead of retaliating we can tell a teacher and let him handle it. Because the teacher has the authority to correct the situation he can do so without making new karma. For a more serious matter, instead of retaliating, we can bring in the police and have them handle the matter. Again the police are empowered by society and therefore in doing their duty create no new karma.

So that's pretty easy to do, you know, forego retaliation.

(Second Principle:) Accept Responsibility.

This one's a little harder. Our karma manifests through other people and thus it is easy to see the other person as totally responsible for what happens to us. For example, you are attacked by a robber who strikes you and steals your valuables. You are quite upset with the malicious thief. However, the mystical perspective is to see yourself as responsible for whatever happens to you. You are, through your actions in the past, the creator of all that you experience in the present. You caused your loss; the thief is just the instrument for returning your karma to you.

Of course, it is easy to apply this principle when the effect is an enjoyable one and not so easy to apply it when it is not enjoyable, but in both cases we are equally responsible. In the end, you have no one to praise but yourself when your life is filled with successes and no one to blame but yourself when your life is filled with difficulties.

So my generalization here is: Sometimes we still fall short on this one and end up feeling sad when life is difficult and blame others when they mistreat us. Of course the better perspective is that everything that happens to me is created by me. No one else is responsible.

One key is that it is helpful to expect difficult situations to occur, expect misunderstanding and hard feelings to develop. This is a natural part of life and exists so that we can learn to overcome difficulties and resolve hard feelings.

So that's an interesting point. Sometimes our biggest problem in dealing with a situation is that we are not expecting it. Even though it's happened to us fifty times, we still aren't expecting it. You know we haven't made up our mind to expect it to happen again. So, the example I remember in this regard is one of our members in Malaysia is a school teacher and think her grade is about ten year olds. So of course, ten year olds have lots of energy and particularly toward the end of the school day they're hard to manage. And so she found herself getting upset with them when they misbehaved. So I explained to her: "Well the reason you're getting upset is, you're not expecting them to misbehave and you don't have a plan for when they do." So she thought about that, you know. And that turned out to be right. You know she hadn't worked out--well this kind of misbehavior's happened forty times this year and therefore it's likely to happen again and this is what I'm going to do. This is less likely but happened twenty times this year and this is my contingency plan when that happens. So she worked out that part of it to expect certain misbehaviors which are common and to have a contingency plan for handling them, and then when it came up she wasn't upset. Because the upset had to do with a lack of plan. There was no plan in place to handle the difficult situation. So, if you find yourself getting upset with something think: "Is it happening regularly." And if it is happening regularly then develop a contingency plan for handling it and then when it happens next time you just pull out your plan and use it you'll find you won't get upset.

Third Principle: Forgive the Offender.

We know Swami Sivananda's story, that's the one that's here. In case anyone doesn't recall Gurudeva liked to tell this story that: Swami Sivananda was at a satsang at his Rishikesh Ashram and someone came up and tried to hit him on the head with an ax. And fortunately they weren't successful. And cause his devotees grabbed the person and threw him in jail. So the next day Swami went to the jail and thanked the man. He said: "Thank you very much for bringing this karma back to me. Maybe it was the last karma holding me to Earth." And he gave him some money and some books and sent him on his way. So, he really had no resentment toward the man for trying to mistreat him because he saw the action as being created by himself. So he totally forgave the offender, that's the point.

So this is the hard one. Specifically how many times do we get our feelings hurt by the insensitive actions of our family, friends or other shishya and harbor that feeling without resolving it? How often do we get into a disagreement and let the matter drop without talking it through? So, it's easy to not retaliate. You know that one's pretty easy, but we can still be grumbling on the inside, you know, and feel bad about it. And we can accept the intellectual idea; well it must be my karma. But the hard one is to forgive the offender. How do we know if we've forgiven the offender or not? We don't think about it anymore. That's how we know. If we still think about an incident where someone mistreated us we haven't forgiven the person. That's the measure. And if we think about it a lot, you know once every three days, then we're really upset about it. So the subconscious mind is very helpful in that way. It throws back to us what it hasn't worked out. So if we can watch what we think about regularly we can see what we need to adjust in our life. So in this case if we think about certain event in the past where we were mistreated and we think about it a lot we really haven't resolved the matter.

Gurudeva says: "Situations between people and people. mental arguments between people that never can be won. Holding hard feelings against other people, without letting them go and realizing that it is all in the experience of life itself. Whatever happened to us is our own creation. To run away from the situation without solving the situation, without making amends, without harmonizing the prana flow of energy between us and others, or between us and ourselves is detrimental because it creates more karma."

So how can we forgive someone for mistreating us? Good question, you know. Intellectually we can say, well we can accept it as my karma, but sometimes that doesn't work, right? It doesn't seem to get rid of the sense that they shouldn't have done it. Well, one approach is that that's all they know. They didn't know another way of handling it. So we can't really get upset with someone for doing the best they can, you know, for acting out things according to their understanding of life. We have to accept it and try and uplift them and certainly forgive. So there's a "Tirukural" verse on that, I was trying to remember it, it's slightly vague. Anybody remember it? When you are mistreated you punish the person by their own shame and forget both. Anybody remember the verse? (One is: "When injured it is good to forgive but it's far better to forget.") Um hmm, yes. (The other one is: When injured by another return forgiveness and kindness to...for the) Punished by his own shame. That's, yes, return I think with kindness, that must be it. When mistreated by another respond with kindness and the person will be punished by their own sense of shame. So, the idea is you know if you go down to someone else's level and get into retaliation then it's endless. But if you can bring them up to another level, show them how there's another way, if you get mistreated that you don't mistreat them back. Rather you say something kindly to them, then you can start to wake them up that there's another way of doing this, a more cultured way of handling disagreements than retaliation.

So to summarize that last point, forgive the offender, our subconscious mind can be useful in that regard it throws up unresolved experiences. And the more frequently we think about past experience then the bigger a problem it really is to us. It's like, in other words, the more emotion is really packed into that experience that we're just clinging to. And of course that emotion disturbs the mind and we get enough of those going and we're a very disturbed person. So, the key is to try and resolve them as we go through life, don't let them all pile up.

So just monitor your thoughts and if you find yourself thinking about it, then do something. Sometimes if we're at fault or partially at fault we can apologize and that clears the problem from the mind. Sometimes if we've retaliated we should do a penance as well as apologize because we know we've done something wrong.

[End of transcript]

Photo of  Gurudeva
It is by means of worship of and meditation on God that our self-created sufferings are softened and assuaged. God is the God of all--of the believers within all religions, and of the nonbelievers, too.