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Need for Religion Part 1

Gurudeva said there is a need for religion. Gurudeva at first just taught meditation, but then later he started teaching devotion and had everyone building temples. Gurudeva realized his devotees needed a foundation of devotion without which meditation wouldn't really bear fruit. Devotion gives us something to fall back so we don't go down in consciousness. Chellapaswami said, "We do not know." This means that the deepest spiritual experience transcends the intellect, memory and reason. Prapatti, total surrender, softens the ego. We also need religion so we can get some help from the inner planes. [Today's audio is Part 1 of the above talk.]

Unedited Transcript:

Today in the drawing from the 'Lesson of the Day'. It seemed particularly relevant.

It starts out, "What are the differing views on evil?" We hear lots of talk about evil these days. Usually it is talking about Osama Bin Laden, something like that. President Bush loves to talk about evil. It is on evil. It is very interesting if you think about it. "For monistic theists, the world of maya is Siva's perfect creation containing each thing and its opposite. For pluralistic theists, the world is tarnished with evil. Thus maya could not be a creation of a perfect God." Look there, even in Saiva Siddhanta we have one school believing in evil.

There is a wonderful statement by Chellappaswami that I was drawn to this morning, "Oru pollappum illai. There is not one wrong thing." Not one wrong thing. I was reading. I found this and wanted to write the Tamil script and copied it from the introduction from Sandaswami's introduction in 'Natchintanai' and he reminded me that Chellappaswami would choose a Mahavakyam, a great statement like this and utter it for a year. Just keep saying it over and over and over again and reflecting upon it for a whole year.

What does that show us? It shows us maybe this statement is worth thinking about! Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye. Of course, we can apply it to the world when we say there is not one wrong thing. Whatever happened was destined to happen because of what happened in the past. The present is the effect of a previous cause, as Gurudeva says in describing karma. This is the effect of a previous cause and the previous cause was the effect of a previous cause and that previous cause was the effect of a previous cause and so forth. Whatever happens in the present was created in the past. So, to really be content with what is going on in the world, no matter how problematic, how difficult, is what this is about. Quite often, we are influenced, particularly when other people are influenced. We talk to them and they are all depressed, discouraged and afraid. We talk to them and we pick that up more than we realize. It influences our state of mind, it influences our perspective on life. It influences our long term plans, all of a sudden they get shorter. Why? Because we are dealing with people who have been significantly influenced by the events of the world. They are definitely worried, afraid and they see evil. They don't like to see evil.

So, "Oru pollappum illai. There is not one wrong thing." To really look at the world that way is a wonderful relief. Nothing wrong, everything is perfect. Everything is as it should be because that is what got created by what happened before. Not because it is the ideal that somebody wanted. But we all create it by what we did before.

It is good to reflect and look at our own thinking. Make sure we are not being unduly influenced by others who are reacting negatively and to keep our long term plans long, maybe even make them longer. Add a few more years on. Remember that life is what we make it. We create our future by how we act in the present.

Thus looking at the world we can also look at our own life. Apply this same idea, that there is not one wrong thing to our own life.

Recently, a number of devotees have mentioned difficult situations at work, of one kind or another. Having trouble dealing with a supervisor who is not at all religiously minded. Kind of low-minded person, gives them a difficult time, is constantly throwing them off center. They are in a situation at work where they are not being treated justly. Others are being favored, somehow they are getting unfavorable treatment. It is not a just situation.

Of course in that situation, what is easy to do? It is easy to feel that something is wrong. Right? "This is not how it should be. I should not be treated unjustly. It is not fair." Right? Wrong. Of course, we should be being treated unjustly if we are being treated unjustly because that is our karma. Right? We couldn't possibly be treated unjustly if it wasn't our karma to be treated unjustly. It just doesn't happen. There is not one wrong thing. So anything that happens in our life that we don't accept, that we feel should be otherwise, we are making it a wrong thing. We are saying life should not be treating us this way. This person should not be treating us this way, this should not be happening, this is a wrong thing.

Chellappaswami's sage advise is - Don't look at it that way. It is a right thing. Why is it right? Not because it is ideal but because we created it by our own past actions. Everything we face, we created. Looking at it as a wrong thing, wishing it would not happen might be prolonging its happening because we are not accepting it, not letting it go. If we can look at it in a way that, "Gee, I am being treated unjustly. How interesting! Who was I unjust to in a past life, I wonder! How many times was I unjust in a past life? Maybe I am being unjust to somebody in the present life. Maybe I haven't changed. Maybe I better think about that. Maybe I better be a little more just to everyone else just to be sure that I don't create this again in the future, once the current situation goes away."

So, we can reflect and use this wonderful principle, to be self-reflective upon what we have created in the past. Make sure we are not creating it again for the future, because we just might be.

The greatest example there was Swami Sivananda when he was attacked unjustly by someone in his ashram. Of course, as we know the story, he went the next day to the jail and garlanded the person and thanked him for bringing that karma back to him. Playing it out, getting rid of it. Maybe that was his last karma on the planet. That one came back and he was so happy, he said, "Oh, this is wonderful. I am so glad this person was unjust to me."

How many of us are able to say that when that happens? "I am so glad this person was unjust to me. I got rid of that karma. Because, there is not one wrong thing."

Anyway, we can see that it is a very profound statement and certainly worth repeating for a few years!

The next part of today's lesson is on 'Vedanta and Religious Unity'. The text focuses on how the truths of the Upanishads, the Oneness of God and man, is presented sometimes without getting into any particular religion. It sounds like anyone can successfully grab onto one of the yogas - karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga - and realize God. No problem, yoga and Vedanta.

Gurudeva points out that it does not necessarily work that way. There is a need for religion. As many of us know, who have been with Gurudeva for a long time, when Gurudeva first taught us, he taught us meditation. Focused on realization, meditation, seeing our inner light, going deeper and the monks realizing Parasiva. Then, something changed. He started teaching us devotion. All of a sudden, we were building temples, spending time in New York across the street from temples. Temples were important and Ganesha was everywhere.

What changed? Gurudeva realized that his devotees needed a foundation of devotion. To pursue meditation without a foundation of devotion might not bear fruit. Why is this? Because life throws us off center, because we have ups and downs. We have difficult times. Things don't always go well for us. We get upset. People we love have problems and so forth. Life can be very disturbing. So, if your only practice is meditation, it doesn't always work. It doesn't always work. Karma can be rough and get impossible to meditate. If your only practice is meditation, what happens when you cannot meditate? You are in trouble. You don't have anything else. You have nothing to fall back on. You have no foundation. You might get very depressed and go down in consciousness because your one religious practice doesn't work anymore.

One of the reasons Gurudeva brought forth devotion, is that it gives us something to fall back on if we cannot meditate. It is like the tight rope walker and the safety net. It gives us a safety net, so we don't hit the ground and break a leg or something. If we can't pursue what we are pursuing successfully, devotion always works. A net of devotion catches us from falling into a lower state of mind, a depressed state of mind, a suicidal state of mind. We are always caught by the net of devotion. We don't get anywhere near those negative areas. So it provides a wonderful stabilizer on the path. It keeps the emotions from swinging all over the place, the moods from swinging all over the place. One of the problems if you don't have that is you can have a really, really wonderful meditative experience, go very, very deep in consciousness and then go the opposite way, go down in consciousness just as far as you went up, if you don't have stability.

So Gurudeva brought us all into devotion and that is one of the reasons.