The Difference in Practice of Theism and Monism

During a puja we're in Theism, to receive the blessings of the Deity. After a puja we can go within our self in meditation, giving up the idea of an external Deity, Monism. Monistic Theism: Advaita Ishvaravada. Advaita means the Monism; Ishvara means the Theism.

In Shum we use two words that relate to that: shumif and dimfi. First, perfect your Theism. Then become a monist. That's called Saiva Siddhanta; one leads to the other.

Master Course; Dancing with Siva, Sloka 144

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. Nice to be back.

Today's lesson from:

"Dancing with Siva, Sloka 144:

"What Is the View of Monistic Theism?

"Monistic theism is the synthesis of monism and dualism. It says God is transcendent and immanent, eternal and temporal, Being and becoming, Creator and created, Absolute and relative, efficient and material cause. Aum.


"Both strict monism and dualism are fatally flawed, for neither alone encompasses the whole of truth. In other words, it is not a choice between the God-is-man-and-world view of pantheistic monism and the God-is-separate-from-man-and-world view of theistic dualism. It is both. Panentheism, which describes 'all in God, and God in all,' and monistic theism are Western terms for Advaita Ishvaravada. It is the view that embraces the oneness of God and soul, monism, and the reality of the Personal God, theism. As panentheists, we believe in an eternal oneness of God and man at the level of Satchidananda and Parasiva. But a difference is acknowledged during the evolution of the soul body. Ultimately, even this difference merges in identity. Thus, there is perfectly beginningless oneness and a temporary difference which resolves itself in perfect identity. In the acceptance of this identity, monistic theists differ from most vishishtadvaitins. The Vedas declare, 'He moves and He moves not; He is far, yet is near. He is within all that is, yet is also outside.' (Second quote:) 'The man who sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings is free from [all fear] loathing."

Okay, so bit of a philosophical lesson, hmm? So, as you know I have a simple way of explaining it which is:

We have two temples not counting Iraivan; we have two temples Kadavul and the Guru Temple. Kadavul is the Theism and the Guru Peedam is for Monism. Keeps it simple, right? Separate rooms for each practice. So, we want to make sure we hold the right perspective in the right room. The one exception is after a puja. After a puja we can shift from Theism to Monism. But during the puja we're supposed to be in Theism. We're not supposed to be in Monism. We're not sitting here to go within our self during a puja. No! We're sitting here to receive the blessings of the Deity that's being worshiped. Theism.

So, here I am, the Deity's greater than I am. I'm sitting here; I want to get blessed; I want to get purified. That's Theism; that's what this room is all about. That's what puja and homa's all about. We should always have the Deity. Even when we're doing a homa we should have, you know, this is a Siva Homa so we should in some way be visualizing Siva as being in the homa. Otherwise, we're not, it's very hard to do Theism without visualizations. We need to visualize.

We visualize getting blessed, getting purified, the answers to our prayers. That's our Theism. Then we go around the corner to the Guru Peedam. which the monks do on every kula morning; we sit, we have a meditation in the Shum language. That's our Monism. We're going inside our self. We've given up the idea of being blessed; we've given up the idea of an external Deity. We're going inside our self; we're just seeing what's inside of us. There's no second person involved in the process.

So, of course, we're familiar with that. And that we might, you know, the terminology, we might trip on the terminology but the simple way is Monism and Theism. Two things, two English words: Monism and Theism. Sanskrit term is Advaita Ishvaravada: Vada means a doctrine. So Advaita means the Monism; Ishvara means the Theism. So, the doctrine of Monistic Theism: Advaita Ishvaravada.

On the trip, one of the conversations was interesting and reminded me of why I created a certain short keynote. Met a Hindu in Maryland and he was interested in pursuing meditation according to Gurudeva's concepts. And so he asked: "Should I be meditating on the Feet of Siva?"

Said to myself: I went: "Oh no! He's got his Theism and Monism mixed up there." Though you know, I didn't say no. I said I'd send him some information. But it reminded me of the keynote I did with some of, probably I think the monks didn't see but all the family people saw. Remember it was on meditation, six times of meditation? I'll read it off:

"In presenting Gurudeva's approach to med... (This is the text from the keynote.) In presenting Gurudeva's approach to meditation to individuals who are not familiar with it, I was initially surprised by what their current idea of meditation was (You know, accepting meditating on the Feet of Siva) and the variety of approaches being practiced. Understanding these different types of meditation gives us a clearer concept about Gurudeva's approach to meditation through the Shum language."

If you understand what something isn't it can help understand what it is, is what that is saying. You don't carry elements of what it isn't into the meditation practice. Cause, you know, this clearly has been described: "Well that's what it's not."

When Gurudeva was first defining Shum words he did so in a very systematic way. He would say what it wasn't. Then he would say what it was.

So, I ran into a, this was a Hindu in Fort Worth who was very, he was attached to the Blue Mountain Meditation Center. And he mentioned the Blue Mountain approach to meditation and I was really surprised. Called passive meditation. Eknath Easwaran is an exponent of this approach to meditation.

The Blue Mountain Meditation Center website describes it as: "Silent repetition in the mind of memorized inspirational passages from the world's great religions."

That's called meditation. You're remembering scripture and it doesn't have to be Hindu scripture, any scripture. You're just remembering scripture, thinking about scripture. Isn't that interesting? I never would have imagined that would have been called meditation. But, it's very popular. It's a popular meditation center.

"Silent repetition in the mind of memorized inspirational passages from the world's great religions."

"Visualizing the form of the Deity."

That's what the person in Maryland wanted to do. The approach here is that, for example, we are meditating on Lord Siva by mentally visualizing the murti of Nataraja. So to us that's Theism. That's not Monism. That's what we do when we attend puja. We can visualize. Visualizing as I mentioned can be helpful with the homa. So we remember the Deity's there.

"Vision of the Deity.

"This approach is to use the sixth chakra of divine sight to have an actual vision of the Deity."

Sounds great right? That doesn't count as meditation. We've all had that experience but that's not meditation. That's striving for a vision of the Deity.

"Repeating a Mantra.

"The approach is to mentally repeat a mantra over and over again."

So, that's not what we're doing.

"Repeating a Mantra Combined with Pranayama.

"This approach adds to the previous mantra repetition doing a pranayama at the same time."

So that's not it either.

"Experiencing An Aspect of the Superconsciousness Realms.

"This approach is to, for example, listen to the high, listen to inner high pitched ee should or to see the inner clear white light."

That's us, right there. We're experiencing something that's inside of us. We're using our inner sight, our ability to see within, our ability to hear within, to experience something that's there. That's the practice of Shum Meditation.

So Gurudeva gives a simple description of this approach: Sivachaitanya which sometimes we do:

"Inner light (jyoti): Observe the light that illumines the thoughts. Concentrate only on that light as you might practice being more aware of the light of a TV screen than it's pictures.

"Sacred Sound (nada):

"Listen to the constant high-pitched ee sounding in the head. It is like the tone of an electrical transformer, a hundred tamburas distantly playing or a humming swarm of bees."

So that's our approach. And then, in Shum we use two words that relates to that: shumif and dimfi.

Shumif of course we remember:

"Shumif: 1) One of four perspectives, the meditative viewpoint of being awareness flowing from one area of the inner mind to another, the mind itself being stationary; 2) the perspective of the Shum-tyeif language; 3) it is also simply called the Shum perspective; 4) in Saiva Siddhanta it includes the deeper meditative practices; 5) it is advaita or a monistic viewpoint.

"Dimfi: 1) One of four perspectives, the metaphysical viewpoint of looking into inner and outer space; 2) it is a perspective that acknowledges, understands and communicates with God and Gods, beings on the astral plane, people from other planets; 3) it is here that all psychic phenomena take place; 4) in Saiva Siddhanta it includes the consciousness of the devas, Mahadevas and God Siva experienced in the temple; 5) it is dvaita or a dualistic viewpoint."

And there's a nice bhashya on this from Gurudeva:

"In Shumnam (meditation) the shumif perspective of the three worlds and seven dimensions of the mind does not involve us in the knowledge of the devas and Mahadevas who live in the inner worlds. You would be experiencing through the shumif perspective exactly what the devas would experience in the Second and Third world were they to meditate upon the Shum concepts. Shumif is pure advaita. When we become conscious of devas, Mahadevas or our personal Deity, we have transferred our perspective into what is called the dimfi which is pure dvaitist."

A very nice explanation there.

So, as I mentioned the only exception is after the puja. In the situation where it's quiet after the puja, which isn't the 9AM puja in the morning but say our 6AM puja. Then it's, Gurudeva says: It's nice to sit afterwards and go within yourself. So you're shifting perspectives if you do that. Even though you're in Kadavul after the puja you can sit and meditate; shift to the monistic perspective. One can lead you into the other.

Sometimes individuals want to start with deep meditation but most people aren't able to do that. Theism leads into the Monism. Easier to approach the Monism by first perfecting your Theism and then becoming a monist. That's called Saiva Siddhanta.

I was, on the trip, I was using the three temples approach. That is not well understood out there. We understand it. It talks about the use of name Pura Mandira, Sanskrit word Pura Mandira for the community temple where we go and worship and supposed to go once a week; Gurudeva encourages. And learn how to feel the blessings of the Deity through the murti and so forth. But if that's going well and as the text says: Don't stop there. Consider moving on to the Grihya Mandira, the home shrine. Grihya family. Grihya Mandira. So the second step is doing the puja our self in the home. We're not supposed to just stop in attending a puja and call it good. No it's supposed to encourage us to take up doing a puja on a daily basis after particularly if we receive initiation then it's a firm commitment.

In other words we can get more out of the puja when we do it ourselves than we can by just by attending. The difference between this and someone else sing a bhajan and singing it yourself, right? Can get so much out of listening but when you sing it yourself you put your heart into it more and it's a deeper, deeper experience.

But we're not even supposed to stop there; that's supposed to lead us into the Atma Mandira or the temple of the body or meditation. So, Yogaswami has a nice quote on that which I don't recall.

So, that's the idea. It's the three step which again in Saiva Siddhanta one leads to the other which leads to the other. And the first two of course are Theism in our description and the last one is Monism.

So, said another way, when we go inside our self to end up in Theism we have to just come out. Have a vision of the Deity you have to come out. But if you're just trying to stay in then that won't happen. You go into the inner light and the inner sound. So we're just trying to go in; we're not trying to go in and then come out. That's just the way visions are perceived.

OK, well thank you very much. Have a great phase.

Photo of  Gurudeva
The great, Supreme God of all the Gods is limited in one respect: He cannot take Himself out of you or anyone else.