Bhakti, Devotion, the Key to Meditation

It's easier to meditate after puja. If you try and practice meditation without devotional practice you can build up the ego and spiritual pride. External and internal worship. Give up pride, build up humility through devotion and worship; see Siva in everyone, even one Being. Good character is needed to be successful in bhakti yoga. Stay tuned for the release of our new book on this topic "Character Traits"

Master Course, Merging with Siva, Lesson 147.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

This is from today's Merging with Siva, Lesson 147, on:

"Unconditional Surrender

"What do we mean by internalizing worship? In external worship we are trying to see God and communicate with God with our two eyes and our physical nerve system. We enjoy His darshan and feel His shakti. In deep meditation, the external worship is deliberately internalized, and we are trying to see God with our third eye and feel God's all-pervasiveness through our psychic nerve system. Externalizing bhakti is really much easier than internalizing it. But once the externalized bhakti is perfected, it will be easy and natural to internalize bhakti right along. When this is accomplished, the most rigorous hurdles and time-consuming practices of yoga, which often lead the person onto anava marga, will have been side-stepped."

In other words, it's easier to meditate after you do puja than if you don't.

So this is another way of talking about our dual philosophy of Monistic Theism. In terms of external worship which is the theism, and internal worship which eventually leads to the monism. And Gurudeva's pointing out that if you just try and practice meditation without the devotional practices it can build up the ego.

When we start spiritual life we all have a good sized external ego, a sense of pride, who I am, I'm better than some people, some people are better than me. You know, we have a strong external sense of who we are. And if we are successful in our spiritual practices that naturally lessens and we don't feel so competitive with others. We're able to more view other people as Siva. That if that person is Siva, this person is Siva and I am Siva, which one is better than the other, you know?

That kind of approach doesn't work anymore. So we see Siva in everyone. Then of course, everyone is equal; they're the same. Or, one Being even.

But then, if we're not careful, we can develop a new ego, a new sense of pride. That's called spiritual pride. I know Saiva Siddhanta better than you do. My pranayama is better than your pranayama. All of a sudden we have a new way we can become proud.

I joke with, with those who give a tour. It used to be with Deva and now it's Vel. I say: You know before you started the tour you were such a humble person. Because actually the tour, everyone comes up and says how great you are, right? So you have a new source of pride that you have to overcome. Now all of a sudden you're a great spiritual tour guide, a new way to be proud of yourself. I'm a better spiritual tour guide than he is. So we have to give that up too.

And, as Gurudeva's pointing out here, the easy way to give up any sense of pride or ego that we have is to worship. Because the whole idea of worship is to acknowledge that the Deity is greater than you are. So just by acknowledging that fact at the beginning of worship gives you some humility. Very important way to acquire humility.

I include in some of my talks the story about the bharata natyam teacher; I've told it a few times; it fits in here nicely. Who met in the guru peedams, she's teaching students in the U.S. And she said they do bharata natyam very well and they do the different motions very well except for two of them: devotion and humility. From growing up in the U.S., right? Devotion and humility aren't qualities you naturally develop in growing up in the U.S. You develop courageousness and this and that. And devotion and humility are the qualities you develop through temple worship. That shows the importance of the temple in Hindu culture. These are very important qualities. Devotion and humility don't necessarily develop in individuals or develop in Hindus, so we used to say, without regular worship at the temple.

"To internalize worship, after the puja is over, sit before the Deity and draw into yourself all the pranas you feel around your body. Then draw those energies up the spine into the head. This is done with the mind and with the breath. It is very easy to do. it is especially easy when one is at the end of a major karmic cycle. The bhakti of uncompromising surrender, prapatti, to the God during a temple puja awakens the amrita. The amrita is the sweet essence from the sahasrara chakra. It is the binding yoke to the Divine. Bind yourself in the lotus posture after temple worship and simply internalize all the feeling that you had for the God during the worship. That's all there is to it. The yogi yoked within enjoys the amrita that flows from the cranium throughout his body. Devotees who want to awaken the higher chakras and sustain that awakening on the safe path will throw themselves into becoming uncompromising bhaktars. Then all the Gods of all three worlds will open their hearts and shower their blessings upon them."

There's a nice quote in here I have from Yogaswami:

"Enough of reading; make the promise arise."

Same idea right? "...Make the promise arise." So that's what Gurudeva's talking about is getting the prana in and then up. So he just says it very succinctly there, doesn't waste any words. Sounds like something that I say. Words are expensive so you try and use as few as possible.

So I wanted to jump ahead; just one last point here. Gurudeva then talks about the pancha nitya karmas.

"But on another level, one will not be able to fulfill the pancha nitya karmas if he or she is not fulfilling the yamas and the niyamas, for these are the character-builders. We must possess a good character to be successful in bhakti yoga. Therefore, begin at the beginning. Right thought produces right speech, which produces right action. Right thought is produced through the knowledge of dharma, karma, samsara and the all-pervasiveness of God. This knowledge correctly understood disallows the devotee from having wrong thoughts. He simply has right thought, and of course, right speech and right action follow naturally."

"...We must possess a good character to be successful in bhakti yoga..." Well that's one reason we developed the "Character Building Workbook" to make that easier. Because even in studying the yamas, you read them, sometimes it's not obvious how to apply it, how to live it. It's a little, Gurudeva wasn't writing it with that in mind. He was writing to explain it.

But what can I do to implement it in my life and what shouldn't I do which would be against it? So the "Character Building Workbook" helps see that in terms of the yamas and the first couple of niyamas as well as a number of other qualities and we're just coming out with a second edition. First edition had 52 character qualities. We've taken two of them out because they're too similar to two other qualities and we've put 14 in. So 52 minus two plus 14 is 64. You know, 64 character qualities, 14 new ones/ And we're going to take a look at those in Moksha Ritau. Take a look at the 14 new character qualities. The book has also been edited by our editing team and the quality of the language and the examples has come up quite a bit as well as there's a story that you can link to, for each one to illustrate it. Either one of our stories or a story from another source if we don't have one. So it's a higher quality expanded resource that we just developed and we'll be issuing soon. We're going to print it as well as issue it as a PDF file.

Have a wonderful day.

Aum Namah Sivaya.