March 29, 2017 - Lesson 351
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Sloka 41 from Dancing with Siva
Where Did This Universe Come from?
Supreme God Siva created the world and all things in it. He creates and sustains from moment to moment every atom of the seen physical and unseen spiritual universe. Everything is within Him. He is within everything. Aum.
God Siva created us. He created the earth and all things upon it, animate and inanimate. He created time and gravity, the vast spaces and the uncounted stars. He created night and day, joy and sorrow, love and hate, birth and death. He created the gross and the subtle, this world and the other worlds. There are three worlds of existence: the physical, subtle and causal, termed Bhuloka, Antarloka and Sivaloka. The Creator of all, Siva Himself is uncreated. As supreme Mahadeva, Siva wills into manifestation all souls and all form, issuing them from Himself like light from a fire or waves from an ocean. Rishis describe this perpetual process as the unfoldment of thirty-six tattvas, stages of manifestation, from the Siva tattva--Parashakti and nada--to the five elements. Creation is not the making of a separate thing, but an emanation of Himself. Lord Siva creates, constantly sustains the form of His creations and absorbs them back into Himself. The Vedas elucidate, "As a spider spins and withdraws its web, as herbs grow on the earth, as hair grows on the head and body of a person, so also from the Imperishable arises this universe." Aum Namah Sivaya.
Lesson 351 from Living with Siva
Hinduism In America
Namaste to each and every one here at this Cultural Center tonight in California. We invoke Lord Ganesha's blessings to guide us through our evening together. We are glad to see you all sitting on the floor on these beautiful carpets in the traditional way. You are obviously taking pride in bringing more and more of the great heritage of India to America.
Tonight we are going to discuss an issue that is essential to the future of Hinduism in America, I would even say in the world. It is a complex matter, but in brief it may be defined as the relationship of Hindus to Hindus, of Vaishnavites to Saivites, of northern traditions to southern. I call it Hindu solidarity, and I can assure you that there is no single more challenging or significant lesson that we as members of the world's oldest religion have to learn. If we can achieve this, and we can, many of our problems will be solved, and Hinduism will take a new place of pride in North America.
Hindu solidarity is not a new idea. Mahatma Gandhi literally gave his life to religious unity. Of course, his greatest efforts were focused on the more serious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, but he was a man for whom unity--but not uniformity--among Hindus was the rock upon which harmony between members of all religions must be based. To him this goal was considered a prerequisite for freedom and for prosperity. Gandhi took religious harmony so seriously that it became for him the fulfillment, the "ultimate triumph of Truth." Of course, from the 1982 film shown in major cities around the world, you know that Gandhi faced many disappointments, many setbacks. Yet he never despaired. Though we, too, encounter obstacles in this effort, we must not lose heart, but carry on with courage and determination.
Gandhi did not force his will on others, but used humility, penance, prayer and purity to convey his ideals to others, to awaken in them the same love, the same tolerance, the same dependence on God. Gandhi followed Swami Vivekananda in impressing America with principles of tolerance, understanding, forbearance and nonviolence--all Hindu ideals. While Swami Vivekananda became known to relatively few here in the West, Gandhi captured the imagination and hearts of all Americans, if not the whole world. He is really a hero in this country, and our own freedom fighters, Martin Luther King and others, took their guidance from him. When he failed, Gandhi would say, "Let us ask for help from God, the All-Powerful, and tell Him that we, His tiny creatures, have failed to do what we ought to do. We hate one another. We distrust one another. We fly at one another's throat, and we even become assassins. Let us ask Him to purge our hearts of all hatred in us. Let us ask God in all humility to give us sense, to give us wisdom."
The people of America sincerely want the Hindu religion here. And all the Asian Hindus who have come to America, now numbering in the millions, also want the Hindu religion here. They are not all in agreement as to what it is; nor do they even understand the deeper tenets of Hinduism. But the general feeling among them is, "We want Hinduism here in America." In a recent publication, I believe it was U.S. News and World Report, statistics were given showing that in American today one person in twenty-five is associated with Hinduism, yoga or meditation. Of course, we have millions of other Americans who are atheists, born without any religion at all. There are tens of millions who are Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. Buddhism is very popular in the United States, and Islam is the fastest growing religion. You can see that we are not really a Christian country. We are a mosaic of all races, all religions. The Founding Fathers of America arrived seeking a new world, a new hope, freedom from unenlightened European monarchies. They consciously did not create a Christian nation. Their freedom of religion policy was for all the religions of the world. Much of their symbolism and thinking was derived from the Masonic Lodge and the Deist movement of the times.
Thomas Jefferson himself said that the freedoms were to extend to the Hindus, the Muslims and others. He wrote in his autobiography, "[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom... was finally passed, a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the words Jesus Christ, so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.' The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination."
Sutra 351 of the Nandinatha Sutras
Remaining Aloof From Intrigue
My Saiva monastics stand apart from intrigue, corruption and cunning. They never act as go-betweens, spies, agents or bearers of false witness and cannot be bought, influenced, or obligated by the rich or powerful. Aum.
Lesson 351 from Merging with Siva
Preparations For Transition
People ask, "What should a person do to prepare to die?" Everyone is prepared to die, and whether it happens suddenly or slowly, intuitively each individual knows exactly what he is experiencing and about to experience. Death, like birth, has been repeated so many times that it is no mystery to the soul. The only problem comes with conflicting beliefs, which produce fear and anxiety about death. This temporary ignorance soon subsides when the failing forces of the physical body reach a certain level. At this point, the superconscious intelligence, the soul itself, is there. We can compare this to restless sleep and deep sleep.
When one knows he is going to depart the physical body, he should first let everybody know that he knows and give relatives security by explaining to them that soon they won't be seeing him in a physical body anymore. He should consciously go over his wealth, his properties, be the executor of his own will. From the Hindu point of view, the knowledge of one's immanent departure begins the sannyasa ashram for the individual. In this ashram, the devotee traditionally divests himself of all material belongings, effecting a conscious death before the actual death. He is the executor of his own will, taking care of everybody and not leaving these things to others to deal with after his passing.
After everything is settled, all personal possessions disposed of, then he begins meditation and awaits the fruitful hour, trying to exit through the highest chakra of the attainment of this life. Each chakra is a door through which we can depart. The dying should always remember that the place where one will reincarnate is the place that he is thinking about prior to death. So, choose your desires wisely. The last thoughts just before death are the most powerful thoughts in creating the next life. One must also realize that if he and others are aware that he will soon depart, others in the inner worlds also realize he will soon be making his transition and are busy making adjustments and preparations for his arrival.
With a sudden death--uncalled for, unbidden and unexpected--a totally different sequence of events occurs. There is no settlement of affairs, and the chaotic situation, emotional and otherwise, persists in the inner worlds and even into the next life. Property is not distributed, and nothing is settled. Negative karmas and positive karmas are all cut short. The situation can be summed up in one word, unfulfillment. Once in the inner world, the deceased feels this unfulfillment and is restless and anxious to get back. He is in a place he did not intend to be, and does not want to stay. So, in the inner world he is with a whole group of those who almost immediately reenter the flesh, for he is too agitated to stay very long on the inner planes. It's like an emergency ward or intensive care unit.
Chances are it would be difficult for such a soul to get a birth. Perhaps there would be an abortion or miscarriage a couple of times before there was a successful birth. These are the disturbed children we see, emotionally distraught, needing special care. They cry a lot. Some of the damage that occurred in the previous birth, some dramatic event experienced in the past life, perhaps the cause of death itself, may even show up in this life as a birthmark.
In preparation for death, one can soften the karmas of future births by making amends with others, settling scores, doing everything to tie up loose ends, seeking the forgiveness of those harmed, to get the mental-emotional matters of this life all worked out.
In some cases, this process may in itself prolong life, for with the release of old tensions and conflicts there comes a new freedom which may reflect even in the health of the body. But it is traditional for the householder to fulfill the natural term, then, as a renunciate, distribute to loved ones all worldly possessions and leave the community, go off to Varanasi or some other holy place and await the fruitful moment. It would be creating an unnecessary karma to return, taking everything back that one gave away and then continue on as before. If people he knew visit him at this time, he should not know them. He is like a sannyasin, free to give of his wisdom. His eyes see them; his mind does not. This traditional practice is for the attainment of moksha, or an exceptional birth of one's own choosing as a herald of dharma.