Love, forgiveness

Bodhinatha talks about love and forgiveness illustrating these points through Yogaswami stories and Gurudeva's teachings. A Yogaswami story presents the precept that all are One, no one is separate. Gurudeva's lessons from Living with Siva describe love and it's opposite resentment, affectionate detachment and forgiveness and indicate that a pure heart knows God as Love. Bodhinatha teaches on forgiveness, reconciling, the flower penance and the vasana daha tantra.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. We welcome our guest this morning Mr. Walcott, so glad you could come. Give a short talk after our Homa. And recently we've been beginning with a story about our Guru's Guru Satguru Sivayogaswami who's from Northern Sri Lanka. A new story today, stories are always the best part, right? Like they say you know, eat desert first life is uncertain. [Laughter] So I'll tell the story first, start the talk with the story, so whatever reason.

Once a devotee of Yoga Swami had a bath, wore clean clothes and was getting ready to see Swami. However, he was saddened by the thought that his heart was not as clean as his body and clothes. He couldn't control his mind and was descending further into sinful ways. His thoughts were so despicable that he could not even discuss it with his friends. He felt that even his parents would despise him if they knew. He was ashamed to go before Swami with such, with such thoughts. But being an ardent devotee he couldn't keep away either. So, he decided he would prostrate himself before Swami and cry his heart out. On the way he hoped that Swami would not be in meditation because if He was then He would perceive his evil thoughts. As he entered the Ashram he found Swami happily conversing with His disciples. "I have escaped," thought the devotee as he worshipped Him. Then Swami looked at him with a smile and said, "I know everything from your head to your toes. Uh Oh! I know everything from your head to your toes. I know all your thoughts; not only yours but everybody's; I am in everybody. You do not know this, because you think of yourself as being separate from others. Learn to consider yourself as the same as others and not separate." Then taking the camphor tray that was burning before Him, He gave it to the devotee and said, "Take this light and considering everyone here to be Shiva, worship them."

Isn't that a nice story? Gets the point home quite nicely. There's a nice quote in Yogaswami's 'Words of our Master' which has the same idea in concise form it says: "Aham Brahmasmi, You are God. You are everyone. You are everywhere. Learn this. This is practice."

And then one last item from Yogaswami is a letter in this same regard, he writes to Yogendra there's a number of letters he wrote to Yogendra.

"To dear Yogendra, who is love itself, the following lines are sent -

I am with you and you are with me. There is no distance between us. I am you. You are I. What is there to fear? Look! I exist as you. Then what must you do? You must love. Whom? Everyone. To speak more clearly, your very nature is love. Not only you, but all are pervaded by love. But there is no "all", for you alone exist. All are you!

Study well. Be obedient. Hear and follow the advice of your father, mother, brothers and sisters, and your aunt and uncle. You alone always set a good example in obedience.

All is Siva's action. I am you."

So Yogaswami steps it down to a practical level there, he says what must you do? You must love, right? Who do you love? Everyone. Well that's quite a challenge if you think about it really so, so I'd look up in Gurudeva's lessons some material that relates to that and it's in the lesson from 'Living with Siva' called congested energies. He talks about love and what is love and what is the opposite of love. So he starts out by talking about the opposite of love which is resentment.

What is resentment? Resentment is pranic force, subtle energy, that is congested. What is love? Love is pranic force that is flowing and uncongested. When someone performs an injustice toward us, he is giving us a conglomerate of congested prana. If we were able to look at it in the astral world, we would see it as a confused mass of disharmonious colors and shapes. If we are unable to remain detached, we become upset and resentful. Instinctively this prana is held by us and only released when we find it in our heart to forgive the person. The moment of true forgiveness, the congested prana is transferred back to the person who harmed or insulted us.

Now we can see that when we resent or hold something against someone, we are actually astrally connected to him and, in fact, holding back the karma that will automatically come to him as a result of his harmful act. If we forgive the offender, on the other hand, we release the congested energy. Then the unfailing karmic law begins to work. In other words, his actions will cause a reaction back on him, and won't be involved in the process at all. And we won't be involved in the process at all. That is why the Tirukural, a wonderful book written 2,200 years ago, tells us, "Though unjustly aggrieved, it is best to suffer the suffering and refrain from unrighteous retaliation. Let a man conquer by forbearance those who in their arrogance have wronged him."

However, it would not be wise to accept the transgressor back in your life until true remorse is shown and resentment on his part is dissolved through apology and reconciliation. Otherwise, wisdom indicates he might just commit the same hurtful acts again. We forgive inwardly because we know the experience is the result of our karma that we have put into motion in the past, but we hold a friendly, firm wall between ourselves and the offenders, which means a friendly distance, because we know that it is their kukarma, too, which must be reconciled with apologies and with the assurance that the offense won't happen again.

To be affectionately detached--that is a power. That is a wisdom. But detachment does not mean running away from life or being insensitive or passively accepting harm to yourself or loved ones. When we have the ability to let go, through forgiveness, we are warmer, more friendly, more wholesome, more human and closer to our family and friends.

Just the opposite happens if we remain attached by resenting what happened in the past. Take the example of a teenager who sees a promising future ahead of him, then experiences begin to happen in his life, some of which are unpleasant. If these are not resolved, negative prana begins piling up within his subconscious mind, vasanas are made, and the future begins to diminish from view. Year after year, as he grows older, the past gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and the future gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Finally, there is so much resentment that the once joyful adolescent grows into a depressed and bitter adult.

To have a happy future with your family and friends, don't ignore difficulties that come up between you. Sit down with them and talk things over. Stand on your own two feet, head up and spine straight and bring it all out in the open. Let them know how you feel about what they said or what they did. So many times things are swept under the carpet, not talked about and left to smolder and mold there. But now, in today's world, we must clean up the mess in order to go along into a happy future. The basic foundation of Sanatana Dharma is ahimsa, non hurtfulness, physically, mentally and emotionally. We must always remember this.

Second lesson from Gurudeva continues:

Realize that God is Love. Siva is Love and Love is Siva. People often ask, "How can I worship God if I can't see God?" There was a young man who had formed an intense dislike for his father because his father disciplined him strongly when he was growing up. Every time the young man thought of his father, it was through feelings of resentment and confusion. Whenever his father was around, the son avoided him, and sharp words were often exchanged. However, his father put him through college, paying all the expenses. When the young man broke his leg playing football, the father visited him in the hospital every few days and paid the medical bills. But still the young man resented his father for what had happened years ago. He could not see that his father really loved him. His inner sight, feelings and emotion were blinded by his bitterness about the past. This story illustrates how mental barriers disable us from seeing people as they really are. And if we cannot correctly see the people around us, how can we expect to see God? We are often blinded by our ignore, "ignore-ance"--our great ability to ignore. Ignorance, our ability to ignore, Gurudeva's saying. We are often blinded by our ignorance, "ignor-ance"--our great ability to ignore. That's a new definition of ignorance. Our ability to ignore.

People who question the existence of God because they cannot see God must take the word of those who do see God. When they cannot do even this, they are obviously lost in their own delusions and confusions, unable to even see the love or accept the love of those who are closest to them. They most likely misjudge everything through their limited vision, clouded by resentments built up over the years.

We all see people with our two eyes, and we see into people with our hearts. That's an important one, I want to repeat that? We all see people with our two eyes, and we see into people with our hearts. When our heart is pure, holding no resentment, we can then see with our third eye. Someone having problems in seeing God should begin by worshiping his mother and father as divine. He can see them with his eyes and within his mind. This sadhana will clean up the person's heart and bring his thoughts, speech and actions into line with dharma. Then one day he will see that God Siva truly is the Life within the life of everyone--of the whole universe, in fact.

The word love describes the free-flowing interchange of spiritual energy between people, between people and their things, between people and God and the Gods. Our scriptures clearly tell us that "Siva is love, and love is Siva." Therefore, our free-flowing love, or bhakti, is our own Sivaness in manifestation. Expressing this love is a profoundly auspicious and beginning form of living with Siva that is complete, in and of itself.

That's the end of Gurudeva's lessons, so I have a comment on that.

The idea of reconciling all long-standing disputes, misunderstandings and hard feelings with others is often thought of as something that is important to do when we are at the end of our life and preparing to die in order to rid ourselves of those negative attachments, achieve as high a state of consciousness as possible at the moment of transition and attain the best birth possible in the next life. All of which makes for a truly spiritual transition. So we're all familiar with that idea.

However, reconciling all long-standing disputes, misunderstandings and hard feelings with others is equally important in the process of living to make for a truly spiritual life, a life in which living with Siva, seeing God in everyone, is not just a philosophy but a reality.

To catalyze the process of forgiving rather than resenting, we can ask ourselves the question, is there anyone we have hard feelings toward, anyone we are upset with whom we think treated us in the wrong way? If so, we need to rid ourselves of those feelings to truly see God Siva in all, to experience Yogaswami's statement. You are God. You are everyone. You are everything.

On a recent trip we spoke to a young women, a young woman in her mid twenties who had recently finished graduate school but yet had no plans for marriage. Her parents were quite concerned about this and focused a good deal of their communication with her on the topic of marriage. She was in a reactionary mood about this and a lot of her thoughts about life were colored by this reaction. Clearly, the ideal for her spiritual life would be to find a way to step out of the reactionary pattern of resenting her parents focusing on this issue and simply deal with her parents concern in a detached way.

Gurudeva has given us the remedy of the flower penance which is excellent for all situations where you are still upset or angry with a specific person for events that took place in the past. This applies to, this applies to resentment toward parents as to how they raised you, anger toward a spouse because of specific events that took place and for which you have definitely not forgiven him or her, serious problems between siblings, or resentment of how your employer is constantly mistreating you and so forth.

Put up a picture of the person toward which you are angry and for 31 days place a flower in front of the picture. While doing so sincerely forgive the person in heart and mind. When it becomes difficult to offer the flower of forgiveness, because hurtful memories come up from the subconscious mind, perform the vasana daha tantra, writing down the hurtful memories and burning the paper in a trash can. Say I forgive you for I know that that you gave back to me the karma that I set in motion.

Through this simple exercise of the flower penance we can transform feelings of resentment into forgiveness, see God in those we formally did not and move one step closer to Satguru Yogaswami's advise to Yogendra, which to repeat:

To dear Yogendra, who is love itself, the following lines are sent -

I am with you and you are with me. There is no distance between us. I am you. You are I. What is there to fear? Look! I exist as you. Then what must you do? You must love. Whom? Everyone. To speak more clearly, your very nature is love. Not only you, but all are pervaded by love. But there is no "all", for you alone exist. All are you!

Aum Namah Sivaya

Thank you.