Improving Our Behavior with the Help of the Guru Part 6

Part 6 of 7 - Continuing Bodhinatha's first Guru Purnima class on the role of the guru and his task of helping us improve our behavior, Bodhinatha talks about the importance of moving beyond belief and into experience in religion. Hinduism gives us the tools to experience what we believe in. Hinduism is all about becoming a more and more spiritual person. The second remedy for anger is to put $5 in a jar every time we get angry. This can get really expensive! If you can afford that, it might work better to fast the next meal instead. There is also a devotional remedy, to sincerely worship Lord Ganesha.

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Questions? Bodhinatha is the successor of "Gurudeva," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. If you have questions on subjects about spiritual life you will find answers in Gurudeva's books and teachings. Learn about ways to study these teachings by visiting The Master Course site or writing to mastercourse@hindu.org.

Unedited Transcript:

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Very calming and soothing, isn't it? It is like having a sore throat and taking a cough drop. It soothes everything, the nervous system.

Just a general comment, before we get back. We have a couple of more remedies here. I am reminded of Billy's group, what is Billy's last name? Topatantay, hard to remember. She comes every year with a metaphysical group and I have a chance to give a talk to them. They are not Hindus but they are interested in Hinduism. I try and find an appropriate way to explain Hinduism to them.

So last time, we started out with the point that in some religions the whole emphasis is upon belief. Moving someone from not believing in God to believing in God, that is the sum total of the religion. Someone who believes in God, that is great. They are religious. Whereas in Hinduism, that is only a start. We need to move beyond belief into experience and that is one of the key qualities of Hinduism. It encourages us and gives us the tools to experience what we learn to believe in. So, if Gurudeva teaches us about the clear white light, then eventually in meditation we can experience it. It is not something that we just have to accept on faith. Everything in Hinduism can sooner or later be experienced.

They liked that and then I explained that another way of looking at Hinduism is the idea that we are talking about today. It is the idea of becoming a more spiritual person. Again we are not looking at mere belief here, "Okay, I believe in God." We are working on our nature. We are changing who we are. We are refining ourselves. We are committed to a serious process here of becoming a more spiritual person. As Gurudeva says in this same lesson on 'Living with Siva', even if you are a guru, even Chellappaswami, Yogaswami, they never stopped becoming a more spiritual person. Even Gurudeva kept becoming a more and more spiritual person, developing new qualities, new abilities.

In Hinduism, it is this constant refining, constant refining. Not just saying, "I have arrived. I believe in God, I have arrived." Or, "I am following certain concepts. I am doing pretty good." No, we don't stop there. We keep working with ourselves to become more and more a spiritual being. So that is the whole essence of Hinduism.

You know, what is Hinduism? Hinduism is the religion that believes we should keep becoming a more spiritual being. It says it in a more complicated way, it says we strive for moksha. But that is hard to explain to Billy's group. What is moksha? What is liberation? What is karma? And, so forth. You get into more complicated terms. But the essence of that whole idea, moksha being one of the goals of life, is that to achieve moksha we have to become a very, very spiritual being. It is not easy to achieve moksha but that is our goal. So said the other way, it is easier to understand. We are just becoming more and more, a spiritual being every year by improving ourselves in different ways.

Back to anger, finishing up here.

Our first remedy was color. Some people are too angry to sit down or unable to sit down and visualize light blue. So you need other remedies as well.

Second remedy is to put a sum of money such as $5.00 in a jar, each time you become angry and then donate that money to an orphanage. It soon gets too expensive to get angry. We have a very large orphanage Endowment because of this remedy, one of our biggest Endowments.

For those that can't afford to put $5.00 in a jar frequently, there is an alternate penance which is fasting for the next meal after they get angry. Gurudeva assures us that this works. It does, people don't like to skip a meal when they are not wanting to. Maybe you are ready to skip a meal on Pradosha day, once or twice a month. But, every time you get angry, you have to skip the next meal? So, this really impresses the instinctive mind because the instinctive mind is the part of us that is both getting hungry and getting angry. It says, "If I get angry, I can't seem to eat here. Maybe I should focus on just being kind and then I get to eat."

There is also a devotional remedy which is to sincerely worship Lord Ganesha. His worship is helpful in overcoming all emotional problems including anger, as He is seated in the muladhara chakra. Tuning into His Shakti and Being through attending puja at the temple, worshiping Him in your home shrine or even just visualizing Him in your mind helps raise us up into the muladhara chakra. Therefore, out of anger and fear into a calm state of mind. In fact, you can slowly seal off these lower states of mind and keep awareness permanently lifted above the animal instincts of fear and anger through the regular worship of Lord Ganesha.

So that is a devotional remedy Gurudeva gives and in fact , I give it in any emotional remedy situation. Someone says, "I have trouble, I get fearful regularly." I say, "Worship Lord Ganesha." It is just an all-purpose remedy for emotions of that kind. It brings emotions below the muladhara - fear, anger, jealousy, envy, revenge, any of those emotions that are down there. We can conquer them all with the worship of Lord Ganesha. It has to be sincere though, sincere worship where we really strive to tune into Lord Ganesha's Shakti, Energy and Being. It can raise us above and if we have problems down there can seal it off, meaning we don't go down there, ever. That is what "seal off" means. Some people don't. Those lower emotions are sealed off. They never experience fear, they never experience anger.

Of course, how we raise children relates to that but that is a whole other subject. You can stimulate those qualities in children by raising them with corporal punishment. You can awaken their lower nature of fear and anger, something they would never have to experience if you raised them in another way.