To Benefit from Darshan, Open Your Eyes, Look at the Deity

Because you're sitting in the temple doesn't mean you actually receive the blessings of the Deity. Be not just physically present but mentally present as well. The idea of darshan: At the high point of the puja, look at the Deity, be open, receptive to the Deity's blessings. Imagine rays of light coming out from the murti and being absorbed by you. Commentary on: The Master Course, Lesson 313.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Today's Living with Siva Lesson 313.

"The priest's initial chants are basically letting God know the place and purpose of this day's worship. He intones, 'We hope we are pure enough in our performance of the puja that we sanctify the atmosphere here, so that you will come and be our honored guest in this temple.' Then he bathes the Deity image, dresses the Deity in fine clothes, and worships the Deity so that the God from the Third World will come into this finite body in the First World, this body made of stone. Our bodies are made with bones, but we are not our bones. The God's body in the temple is made of stone, but He is not that stone body. His Third-World form is a body of light. He is a great soul, just as we are also souls.

"During the height of puja, the God comes with all of His devas, His celestial helpers. They take the problems or concerns our of your mind, harmonize the currents of your body and dissolve all the problems for you. When that happens, you walk out of the temple feeling you have been blessed, having forgotten the concerns that you went in with."

That's our temple philosophy, nicely stated.

"They take the problems or concerns out of your mind." Well, as we talked about in the past, just cause you're sitting in the temple doesn't mean you actually receive the blessings of the Deity. And if the Deity takes the problems out of your mind there's more to it then that. We have to not just be physically present but be mentally present as well.

One of the reasons the murti is dressed up so beautifully is to hold our attention, to attract our attention in the first place and then to hold it. So a beautiful object -- the idea of darshan -- starts with the physical sight. So it's very helpful in this process of receiving the Deities blessings and the Deity taking impurities out of your mind to look at the Deity. To physically see the Deity, have the Deity capture your attention in some way. Particularly important during the high-point of the puja that we're looking at the Deity. The high-point is when the arati flame is passed And that is made very simple in the formal puja; it's when the puja gets the loudest. When you hear lots of extra noise you know you're supposed to pay attention. It says the important point.

So, we need to pay attention and the image I like to use is simple image of a sponge, that we use a sponge to absorb liquid. But if you want to absorb liquid and the sponge already has liquid in it it won't absorb any more, right? So we have to squeeze the sponge out and then it'll absorb something new. So likewise we have to empty our mind, just a sponge in this case. We have to just be open, be receptive to the Deity's blessings. Not have something there in our mind just kind of be open and imagine blessings or light, rays of light coming out from the murti and being absorbed by you.

As Gurudeva says: Visualization is the first step toward the actual experience. What may seem kind of silly to visualize it but visualizing it takes you closer to actually experiencing. So all of this need to be done through the power of sight, the idea of darshan. The temple experience is very much oriented around sight.

There is an important distinction between meditation and temple worship. Particularly when I'm talking to someone new I get all kinds of what you call wild ideas or a diversity of ideas about how you're supposed to meditate. Should I sit there and visualize Siva; should I repeat my mantra; should I do this, should I do that?

Well in Gurudeva's teachings, when you meditating you're going inside yourself. Just trying to find out what's there. So if you're doing a mantra that's not finding out what's there; you're busy creating something; you're exploring. It's like part of our property you haven't been to. You're looking around to see what's there. You're not creating something; you're not singing about something else. You're trying to see what's actually there. So, that is our approach to meditation. You're going inside yourself to see what's actually there in the spiritual part of you. So there's no second person involved. There's no Deity involved. There's no japa involved. Supposed to be silence; you're just trying to look like the observer walking around the property.

But in the temple you're focusing on the Deity; there's a second Being involved. So the two approaches are quite distinct. And in the temple as I say the factor of sight is very important. And that's why in Hindu tradition we make the Deity so beautiful. Jewelry, clothing, flowers to capture our attention through the faculty of sight.

Thank you very much. Have a great day.