Transcending anava

The bonds on the anava marga -- darkness, egoity and pride -- can be dissolved through temple worship of the Deity. A Yogaswami story illustrates that the experience of God, in His personal form and His all pervasive consciousness, lies in the superconscious mind. God as Absolute Reality is beyond even that. Transcend intellectual concepts and dive deeply within to experience God's holy presence.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Our current Master Course lesson from "Merging With Siva" has to do with the anava marga, which is term Gurudeva coined. You won't find that in someone else's book and it's a term he coined to describe the path of the egocentric person. Someone who has a very strong, someone who's very self centered and very concerned about themselves and proud person. Someone on the anava marga.

"A powerful businessman, a bum on the street, a highly educated scientist and the uneducated field worker could all be sharing the anava marga. It is a path of gratification of the ego, or the gratification of other persons' egos. These days egos get gratified by going to heads of corporations, meeting important people and bowing before heads of state. It is on the charya marga (the path of service) that we learn that rich and poor, the powerful and lowly are all purushas, pure souls, jivas encompassed in a physical body. And on this marga (the marga of service) we learn to bow before God and the Gods. We learn that their home, their officiating place, is the temple, the home shrine and under sacred trees. Being in their presence makes the charya margi feel small. The first glimmer of the feelings of smallness is the first footstep on the charya marga.

"The one who has little desires the most. He takes issues with the smallest things. The instinctive desire to save face is ever prevalent in his mind, for his face is all he's got. He doesn't have anything more. The rich and (there's a difficult word here) anavically (there we go, anava as an adverb, anavically) the rich and anavically powerful can buy new things, and when something goes wrong in life, change their image by retreating into their money, place, prestige and come out anew. Those full of anava who have satisfied, put to rest, the many desires of life, entering the charya, kriya and yoga margas gain a new spiritual face, a light in the eye and become looked up to even more than they were when they were sought out for donations for worthy causes." So, the idea there is (in our Saiva Siddhanta) before we become a religious person we're not religious. And one of the qualities of not being religious is we have a strong sense of ego, strong sense of pride, concept that we're right and others are wrong and it's just the way we are. It's a normal state of mind that you grow up in and unfortunately our education system, university system, quite often supports that and so someone goes into the university somewhat humble but they come out not at all humble. They manage to lose whatever humility they had in the process and they come out, you know, very argumentative, thinking they're smart, they're smarter than you are and they've learned how to defeat you in arguments. Even if you're right and they're wrong they still have the ability to make it look like they're right. Those are the skills you pick up in the university. So, it's natural when we get to that point in life that we have a challenge with the anava marga.

So that challenge is overcome in Saiva Siddhanta by worshiping in the temple. And that's the point that Gurudeva's making here. Just the act of going to the temple and worshiping the Deity, the Deity being greater than you are, acknowledging that the Deity is greater than you are is step off the anava marga; it's a step into religiousness. So, that's why Gurudeva emphasis in all of his writings the importance of developing devotion, the importance of going to the temple on a regular basis because it softens the ego. It lessens our, the ego that we've built up through life and through study in a natural way. So just to remind us what anava is, the lexicon defines anava as: "The impurity of smallness; finitizing principle," then goes on to say that, "Anava is the individualizing veil duality that enshrouds the soul. The presence of anava mala is what causes the misapprehension about the nature of God, soul and world, the notion of being separate and distinct from God and the universe. Anava obscures the natural wisdom, light, unity and humility of the soul and allows spiritual ignorance, darkness, egoity and pride to manifest." (That's what we were talking about, darkness, egoity and pride manifesting.) "It is inherent in a maturing soul, like the shell of a seed. When anava is ripe, anugraha, 'grace,' comes and anava falls away. Anava is the root mala and the last bond to be dissolved. "

So I created an analogy. A simple one. The simple way to grasp the concept of anava is to think of a bucket and the ocean's water -- that's something we can relate to in Hawaii. We can dip the bucket in the ocean and lift it up. The water that is now separate, the water that is in it is now separate from the ocean. The bucket is like anava. It has separated a small amount of water from the ocean's water. The water is consciousness, a small amount of which is now separate. So the bucket. a simple analogy to think of anava. There's a verse in the "Yajur Veda" which describes it, not through analogy but which gives the same concept.

"A part of Infinite Consciousness becomes our own finite consciousness with powers of discrimination and definition, and with false concepts...This spirit is consciousness and gives consciousness to the body."

So that's a nice way of saying it. Part of the infinite becomes finite or water in the ocean gets in a bucket, becomes finite.

Last part's the best, a story. This is one the Yogaswami stories. I started at the end because it's a pretty long story.

"After breakfast Yogaswami asked us not to throw away the banana skins which were for the cow. (So that's true recycling right, when the banana skins are used in a useful way.) He spoke loudly to the cow that was grazing in the garden. The cow clumsily walked right into the hut. (The advantage of not having doors.) And he fed her with the banana skins. She licked his hand gratefully and tried to sit on the floor. Yogaswami held out the last remaining banana skin to the cow and said, 'Now leave us alone. Don't disturb us, Valli. (The cow's name.) I'm having some visitors.' The cow nodded her head in obeisance and faithfully carried out his instructions.

"After the cow had left us Yogaswami closed his eyes again and he seemed once more to be lost in a world of his own. I was indeed curious to know what exactly Yogaswami did on these occasions by closing his eyes. I wondered whether he was meditating. (Obviously this person doesn't know a lot about meditation.) It was an apropos moment to broach the subject but before I could ask any questions he suddenly started speaking.

"'Look at those trees. The trees are meditating. Meditation is silence. If you realize that you really know nothing then you would be truly meditating. Such truthfulness is the right soil for silence. Silence is meditation.'

"Yogaswami bent forward eagerly and continued. 'You must be simple. You must be utterly naked in your consciousness. When you have reduced yourself to nothing - when your self has disappeared - when you have become nothing then you are yourself God. The man who is nothing knows God for God is nothing. Nothing is everything. Because I am nothing, you see, because I am a beggar - I own everything. So nothing means everything. Understand?'

"'Tell me about this state of nothingness,' requested my friend with eager anticipation.

"'It means that you genuinely desire nothing. It means that you can honestly say that you know nothing. It also means that you are not interested in doing anything about this state of nothingness.'

"What, I speculated, did he mean by 'know nothing' - the state of 'pure being' in contrast to 'becoming'?

"Yogaswami continued:

"'You think you know but in fact you are ignorant. When you see that you know nothing about yourself then you are yourself God.'"

That's the end of the story. So here's my Bhashya.

This is certainly an informative story and its shares a number of important points about Yogaswami's teachings. The most dominant point made has to do with nothingness and not knowing. In life, the normal emphasis is on acquiring knowledge, that is replacing a lack of knowledge on a subject with knowledge. For example, we purchase a new computer and know little about its operating system. Therefore, we need to read the manuals, talk to experts and end up acquiring enough knowledge to operate the computer. We have replaced a lack of intellectual knowledge on a subject with knowledge.

However, Yogaswami's approach is the opposite. We start with intellectual knowledge about God and strive to rid ourselves of this knowledge. When we succeed we end up experiencing God. Why is this? It is because the intellect cannot experience God. The experience of God in His personal form and His all pervasive consciousness lies in the superconscious or intuitive mind. And the experience of God as Absolute Reality is even beyond the superconscious mind.

Yogaswami had a simple phrase that captures the essence of this approach to God realization which is: "It's not in books you fool." Acquiring clear intellectual concepts of the nature of God is good, but these concepts must be eventually transcended to actually experience God.

One of Chellappaswami's mahavakyam, great sayings, also emphasizes the same idea. It is Naam ariyom, which translates as "We do not know."

In Gurudeva's writings the same idea appears in his Cognizant Ability aphorisms as "The intellect strengthened with opinionated knowledge is the only barrier to the superconscious." Gurudeva goes on to explain that a mystic generally does not talk very much, for his intuition works through reason, but does not use the processes of reason. Any intuitive breakthrough will be quite reasonable, but it does not use the processes of reason. Reason takes time. Superconsciousness acts in the now. All superconscious knowing comes in a flash, out of the nowhere. Intuition is more direct than reason, and far more accurate.

Thus we can clearly see that the same idea is being expressed by all three gurus of our Kailasa Parampara which is that the experience of God is only possible when we have transcend the limited faculties of our intellect and the concepts it has about God and dive more deeply into our superconscious, intuitive mind and beyond. Said another way, clearly the experience of emptying ourselves of our intellectual concepts about God needs to precede filling ourselves with the experience of God's holy presence within us.

So, thank you very much.

[End of transcript.]

Photo of  Gurudeva
Goodness and mercy, compassion and caring are the intrinsic, inherent or indwelling nature of the soul. Wisdom and pure knowledge, happiness and joy are the intrinsic nature of the soul.