Nine Ways to Merge with Siva, Part 2

Bodhinatha urged us not to put off our efforts to merge, but begin striving today, not waiting until you think you are ready or worthy. He asked all to make a temple of the home, to do puja daily and visit the Hindu temple each week, and pilgrimage at least once each year. He then spoke of the purpose of the temple bell and flame.

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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:

Another aspect of the deeper realizations are not to put it off. This is always something that comes up around this time of year, moksha ritau. The idea that we sometimes put off having a deeper realization by feeling we are not ready. "I am not ready, I am too imperfect, I have all these flaws. Therefore I cannot possibly have these realizations today."

We put them off into the future by our own self concepts about ourselves. But that isn't necessary and Gurudeva certainly didn't teach that if you have this problem, this problem and this problem, you are not ready for a deeper realization. No, he didn't say that at all. He said, "Go in as deeply as you can. Strive to realize the Self. Claim it as your true nature."

So if we work at it in a diligent way, maybe we will have that realization today. Why wait till tomorrow? Why put it off?

Moving on to another topic in our Lesson of the Day. "There are three things we must do. Perform or attend puja everyday in the home, attend a temple once a week and make a pilgrimage once a year. These three are the foundation of our Saiva Siddhanta. Plus, for those who are able, meditation and certain sadhanas are part of this worship.

External worship builds a vibration within us and that vibration is taken within into deep meditation. Internalizing the worship and worshipping God and the Gods within you and contacting them within the higher chakras until you realize that you also have always been the all pervasive energy that pervades the universe."

I think we had a nice example of that the night before last. For Maha Sivaratri, we had a nice external worship, a powerful external worship. We could see how the vibration was so strong and the sense of loving God was generated through that external worship. It was so strong that you could not help but turn within. It was like the next step was so natural. Successful and powerful external worship naturally turns you within to internal worship. It is a natural process and a natural thing to do next.

Gurudeva says in his lessons, one of the best times to meditate is after the puja. Why is that? Because it is so natural, it is so easy. It is like going from one chakra to the next. We are right here and we just go up a little bit and we are meditating very profoundly.

We noticed that also in India. We just came back from a pilgrimage to India and had a group of 90 people. Some of them had never been to the temples in India before and certainly had powerful experiences. Some of them are emailing in and sharing their thoughts about coming back to the western world. One of them came in recently talking about Madurai Meenakshi Temple and saying how she and her husband were just so filled with the love of God and bliss there, that they couldn't believe it. Just so very, very powerful an experience, Something they have never experienced like that before in their whole life.

It shows what external worship can do. It can really create a powerful experience for the love of God that naturally can deepen into inner meditation.

One of the nice themes that Gurudeva develops in 'Living with Siva', is the home shrine room. He goes into detail in describing the home shrine room and how ideally every home has a separate room that is dedicated as a shrine room. It is just not a corner in the hallway or a closet in the bedroom. Ideally we have a separate room. If we are able to have a separate room as a shrine room, then it can build up more spiritual power, than it can if it is not separate. We can really bring the blessings we receive from the temple into the home. That is the idea why Gurudeva says we need the two factors working together. First the daily worship in the home shrine and then going to the temple once a week. Going to the temple once a week helps us strengthen the shrine room, keep it alive on a regular basis. Also, having a major pilgrimage once a year does this same thing even more.

The shrine room and the local temple work together in a very nice, inner way, particularly when the shrine is a separate room. One of the topics on the Innersearch was Ishvarapujana. We went through the yamas and niyamas, the ten basic restraints and ten basic observances in Hinduism. One of the niyamas is Ishvarapujana, worship of the Lord which focuses on doing puja in the home.

One of the points I made, I hadn't really thought about it before but it came out in presenting the material was, what Ishvarapuja is encouraging you to do is to turn your home into a temple and become the priest in your own temple, which is your home. It is a very interesting idea.

In how many of the religions do the devotees become a priest in their own temple? Probably not very many. Certainly Hinduism qualifies and that is the goal. To learn to do the atmartha puja and do it well and do it in your home, thereby create the a vibration of a temple in your home by doing the puja. That is a very interesting part of Hindu practice.

Moving on to the sutra. "My devotees practice the ancient rite of sending prayers to the devas and Gods through the sacred fire, but only during auspicious times at the Church missions and temples designated by the Preceptor."

This is a very interesting practice that Gurudeva gives us of writing prayers and burning them and it is a wonderful way of communicating with the inner world. One of the ways that Gurudeva taught the monks to look at this practice is to make the devas a partner in your life. In other words, the inner plane beings are there and you share your life with them, just like you would with your friends. Talk it over and keep them informed as to what is going on. If you share your life on a regular basis with them, then they can help because they are familiar with what you are doing and particularly can help when you are making important decisions or important changes in your life.

One of the problems is that sometimes devotees are not consistent in this practice and sometimes the problem lies in the really big decisions. They don't use the practice at all. Just go and make the big decision. Okay, we are moving from California to Florida and just do it. They don't even share the fact with the devas ahead of time or ask for guidance and suggestions if this is a good practice or not.

The point I am leading up to is, it is a useful practice and it is good to be consistent at it. Particularly for large decisions, make sure you are sharing them all with the inner worlds and seeking their blessings and help.

One of the principles Gurudeva gives us is to think ahead. In other words, sometimes we don't plan ahead enough. Something is happening today. So we send a note for blessings and help on it. But Gurudeva's guidance is that you need to work 72 hours ahead of time. In other words, plan three days ahead, at least three days ahead, if you are writing notes to the devas asking for help and blessings and support in your life.

The reason for that is that there is a time delay. An action happens in the inner world that doesn't happen here for 72 hours. That is the way Gurudeva explained it. A simple way I have of understanding that is the stars. You are looking up at the stars and you are looking into the past. There is a time delay. In the case of the stars, it is a long time delay. But what you are seeing is really the past and it took a certain amount of time to get to Earth, so there is a time delay. Something happens on a star and you see it quite a while later.

Similarly, something happens in the inner worlds and it comes to this plane with a time delay. So we need to plan ahead for 72 hours at least.

There is a nice section on bells in today's lesson.

"The Great Devas or Gods visit temples and participate in keeping the darshan vibration going strong. They help the Satgurus too. They help the disciples of the Satgurus by giving a wonderful psychic protection. They can usually be contacted by ringing a bell."

There are many Hindu temples you go in and the first thing you do is ring the bell. There is a bell right there near the shrine. In fact we have a bell down there by our Ganesha shrine. Why do you ring the bell?

Well, you are letting the inner worlds know that you are there. They can hear the bell, they know someone is there and they pay attention and send blessings. So, the bell is getting their attention. The bell is one of the things that penetrates in vibration into the akasha. In other religions the bell and the flame are very common to all of them. Bells are rung to begin the service, at the high points of various services in various religions and as well as the flame is used inside in some way on the altar. So Gurudeva is pointing out that there is no accident that these elements are used, because the bell can be heard and the flame can be seen from the inner worlds. The bell and the flame help attract and hold spiritual beings from the inner world in the temple or church like structure, so they can bless the people.

Have a wonderful day!