Gurudeva said you can either use these tools, or hang them on the wall. The Yamas and Niyamas are two of these tools. When you get to these chapters in Living With Siva as you do the daily sadhanas, try and apply these tools to your life. Noninjury is a good one to think about. Debt is a form of stealing. Another important tool is to improve and review, at least once a year, family relationships as we read them in Living with Siva. Don't leave the tools on the wall. Put them to use.
One of Gurudeva's messages on the last Innersearch, was about tools. The kind of tools he was talking about wasn't carpentry tools or software tools or plumbing tools or gardening tools, they were spiritual tools. He was talking about spiritual tools that he had given us. The phrase he used was, "I've given you all these tools. You can either put them to use in life or hang them up on the wall. The choice is yours."
One of the tools he gave us was the 'Yamas and Niyamas'. There are a number of beautiful chapters on the Yamas and Niyamas in 'Living with Siva'. So it is part of our ongoing study for 'The Master Course'. Every year we end up going through these chapters on the Yamas and Niyamas.
In Gurudeva's spirit of using the tools, the idea is we don't necessarily need to learn something new to make additional spiritual progress. We don't have to necessarily acquire a new tool, learn a new technique. We can make additional progress just by utilizing more the tools we have already been given, applying them more to our life, applying them in a new way to our life.
The suggestion is when we encounter them each year in going through 'Living with Siva' daily lessons to apply the Yamas and Niyamas to our life and ask the question, "Am I really fulfilling this as fully as could be?" Think of it in the subtle aspect because the grosser aspects are probably well under control.
For example, non-injury. None of us goes around hitting people. Injury isn't a problem in the physical sense. But maybe we are injuring people with our words. Maybe we are joking around too much and some of that joking can hurt people. Particularly if they are in a time of life where they are not feeling secure. Even our thoughts can hurt people. Maybe there is someone at work who we really dislike. We would never tell them that but we come home and we think about it at length. We are sending all these negative thoughts to somebody on a regular basis. That is injuring someone.
We may not think about these principles in a subtle form. But it is good to when we read them each year. We can upgrade, upgrade our performance.
Another one that stood out when I was looking through the list was non-stealing. Of course, none of us steals. We don't go into a store, take something and not pay for it. But the last part of non-stealing is defined as "entering into debt". Of course by that Gurudeva means excessive debt. It is okay to buy a house on mortgage, enter into debt in that form. But this is entering into debt in the sense that you buy things on credit cards with no real plan on how you are going to pay for them. "Well, I can afford the monthly minimum payment, it will only be fifty more dollars. I can buy this new fancy stereo system, just fifty dollars more a month."
Debt can really be a problem when you loose the ability to pay for things at all and that happens. Credit is so easy to acquire. In our modern world,. credit cards come in the mail every month, unsolicited. "Here is a new credit card. Have fun!" Eighteen percent interest, twenty four percent interest.
Buying something without the ability to pay for it in the terms we are supposed to pay for it, is stealing. If we are supposed to pay for something in thirty days, you buy it knowing you can't pay for it in thirty days, then you are stealing. So it is a subtle form of stealing but it is stealing and it has consequences. Because we get upset when we have to juggle debts. When we make a commitment which we really don't intend to uphold, it is upsetting. It upsets our lives, disturbs our lives, disturbs the life of others in the family, as well. So it is something to watch out for.
Those are a few examples of how we can look for the subtle ways in which we might not be upholding the principles of the Yamas in our lives. We look through that once a year, it is a worthwhile practice. We don't have to worry about it everyday, pull out the list every morning and say, "What am I not doing right?" We don't want to get that critical of ourselves. But once a year, it is a healthy review and they are beautifully described in 'Living with Siva'.
Another tool we can use that Gurudeva has given us and try and update once a year is how we are relating to others who we are related to. Children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents. Life is such that our relationships change regularly with all the individuals who weare related to, because circumstances change within our lives, circumstances change within their lives, some things happen. So it is not a static situation. It is certainly worthy of review once a year as to how we are doing and again the chapters in 'Living with Siva', when we come across them the different family relationships, the husband-wife relationships, the parents-children relationships, the parents taking care of their parents relationships. There are chapters on all of this. Again as we encounter those chapters on a yearly basis, we can reflect and say, "Is there anything I need to do better? Is there anything I am omitting? Is there some negative pattern I am stuck in here in this relationship, that really needs to be looked at and improved upon?" We will probably find something. The situations are always changing. Needs are changing and you may not have changed how we are responding to them exactly as we need to.
We certainly don't want to leave all these tools on the wall. We want to put them to use. So this morning we looked at some of the practical ways we can utilize the tools that have already been given and make additional spiritual progress without the need to learn anything new or receive a new tool, a tool chest.
Aum Namah Sivaya!