March 01, 2015 - Lesson 323

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Sloka 13 from Dancing with Siva

How Does Saivism Stay Contemporary?

Inner truths never change, but outer forms of practice and observance do evolve. Saivism seeks to preserve its mystical teachings while adapting to the cultural, social and technological changes of each recurrent age. Aum.


Saivism is an orthodox religion, conservative in its ways and yet pliant and understanding. It is simultaneously the most demanding spiritual path and the most forgiving. Saivites have persisted through many ages through successfully adapting work, service and skills according to the times while internalizing worship and holding firmly to the eternal values. The outer form of service or occupation does not change the spiritual search. Be he a skilled farmer, factory worker, village merchant, computer programmer or corporate executive, the Saivite is served well by his religion. Saivism has all of the facilities for the education of humankind back to the Source. Each futuristic age does not reflect a difference in the Saivite's relationship with his family, kula guru, teacher, satguru, Gods or God in his daily religious life. The Saiva Dharma: it is now as it always was. The Vedas implore: "O self-luminous Divine, remove the veil of ignorance from before me, that I may behold your light. Reveal to me the spirit of the scriptures. May the truth of the scriptures be ever present to me. May I seek day and night to realize what I learn from the sages." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 323 from Living with Siva

The Guru Tradition

In a traditional Saivite family, the mother and the father are the first teachers, or gurus, of their children, teaching by example, explanation, giving advice and direction until their children are old enough to be sent to their next guru, in the arts, sciences, medicine and general education. Families that have a satguru will often choose the most promising religious young son to go to his ashrama, to study and learn the religion and become a sannyasin or a family pandit in later years, depending on how his life works out. In this case, the mother and father, the first gurus, turn the entire direction of their son over to the satguru, the second guru, who then becomes mother and father in the eyes of the son, and in the eyes of his parents as well.

Hindu children are traditionally brought up respecting their parents. They follow certain in-house protocols of culture and conduct. Therefore, it is not difficult for an Asian man to live in an ashrama and follow the protocols of respect that monastic life demands. True bhakti, devotion, starts with your mother and father. You have to start there if you want a relationship with God and the Gods. Once the problems with mom and dad are resolved, then that love for the mother and father is transferred or extended to God, Gods and guru. It certainly doesn't mean that you no longer love your mother and father. It's just the opposite. You have more love, a deeper love, for everyone. Transferring the love of your family to your guru doesn't mean they no longer have your love, but that you've included your guru in the family. Love is inclusive, not exclusive, on the spiritual path.

To the traditional Saivite, the guru is everything. As Satguru Siva Yogaswami sang, "Mother and father are Siva. Sisters and brother are Siva." Therefore, the guru is Siva; and that is everything, because Siva is everything. But the satguru is not your business partner, not your psychiatrist, not your psychologist, not your older brother, as Western persons may regard him. Western people who do not follow any protocol in their homes satisfactory for harmonious living should be careful not to transfer to the guru any disobedience and antagonism that they might have had for their parents. Many Western homes, in teaching by example, do so through reverse psychology, teaching what you shouldn't do rather than what you should do. Relating to a traditional guru is difficult for those brought up in this way. Respect for elders is not there. Neither is responsiveness.

From my monastic devotees especially I expect the razor's edge of attentiveness. I expect anticipated responses. This means that the shishya should read the mind of the guru, give the answer without forethought when a question is put. He must be sensitive and anticipate. It is not a schoolhouse relationship: five hours of study and then homework. It is a twenty-four-hour relationship. I expect to see the monastic in my dreams. The relationship with the grihastha devotees is different. My expectancy is that they will maintain the Saiva Dharma as it is understood to be in the eyes of the community they are associating with. I also expect each of their male offspring to serve for at least six months, up to two years, at Kauai Aadheenam, in preparation for adult life. And I expect all members to perform four hours of karma yoga per week throughout life.

We are all involved in the Nandinatha Sutras, which are the combined effort of all the gurus of our parampara, with blessings from Maharishi Nandinatha himself. These aphorisms reflect the patterns of belief and behavior of every aspect of life for all those on the Kailasa path. Nandinatha's great disciple, Rishi Tirumular, shows us in the Tirumantiram how well he was taught by his guru and how well he fulfilled his mission by going to South India to revive the monistic theism of Saiva Siddhanta. The vast amount of knowledge in the Tirumantiram, which digests the Agamas and Vedas and weaves them together in such an ingenious way, indicates a lot of deep meditation, training and yoga practice. It also indicates a great spirit, because he actually did what he was sent to do, so we actually have that great treatise today, over 2,200 years later. That shows us an unbroken continuity of what? Intellectual knowledge? No. Of spirit, the spirit of the guru.

Sutra 323 of the Nandinatha Sutras

Fearless Defenders Of Hinduism

Siva's monastics are unfettered and fearless, wholeheartedly and boldly supporting the ancient Sanatana Dharma against all who would infiltrate, dilute and destroy it. Yea, they are defenders of all Hindu sects. Aum.

Lesson 323 from Merging with Siva

Siva's Three Perfections

We shall now discuss the three perfections of our Supreme God Siva: Parasiva, Satchidananda and Maheshvara. Isn't it wonderful to know that two of God's three perfections are inherent in the soul of man? What are those three perfections? The great God Siva has form and is formless. He is the immanent Pure Consciousness or pure form; He is the Personal Lord manifesting Himself as innumerable forms; and He is the impersonal, transcendent Absolute beyond all form. We know Siva in His three perfections, two of form and one formless. First, we worship His manifest form as Pure Love and Consciousness, called Satchidananda in Sanskrit. Second, we worship Him as our Personal Lord, Maheshvara, the Primal Soul who tenderly loves and cares for His devotees--a Being whose resplendent body may be seen in mystic vision. In our daily lives we love, honor, worship and serve God in these manifest perfections. Ultimately, in perfectly simple, yet awesomely austere nirvikalpa samadhi, we realize Him as the formless Parasiva, sought for and known only by yogis and jnanis. We cannot speak of His Absolute Reality which is beyond qualities and description, yet knowable to the fully matured soul who seeks God within through yoga under the guidance of a satguru.

For the sake of understanding the mysteries of the soul, we distinguish between the soul body and its essence. As a soul body, we are individual and unique, different from all others. Our soul is a self-effulgent body of light which evolves and matures through an evolutionary process. This soul body is of the nature of God Siva, but is different from Him in that it is less resplendent than the Primal Soul and still evolving, while He is unevolutionary Perfection. We may liken the soul body to an acorn, which contains the mighty oak but is a small seed yet to develop. Even when God Realization is attained, the soul body continues to evolve in this and other worlds until it merges with the Primal Soul, as a drop of water merges with its source, the ocean. This is the destiny of all souls without exception.

At the core of the subtle soul body is Satchidananda, or immanent Love, and at the core of that is Parasiva, or transcendent Reality. At this depth of our being there exists no separate identity or difference--all are one. Thus, deep within our soul we are identical with God this very moment, for within us are the unmanifest Parasiva and the manifest Satchidananda. These are not aspects of the evolving soul, but the nucleus of the soul, which does not change or evolve. They are eternally perfect and one with God Siva. From an absolute perspective, our soul is already in nondual union with God in His two perfections of Satchidananda and Parasiva, but to be realized to be known. Satchidananda is the superconscious mind of the soul--the mind of God Siva. Parasiva is the inmost core of the soul. We are That. We do not become That. There exists no relation between Satchidananda, which is pure form and consciousness, and Parasiva, which is without form. Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami taught us, "You are Siva. I am Siva. All are Siva. Even as Siva is immortal, so too are we."