Bodhinatha tells the story of the origin of the Karma Management seminar idea. Additionally he talks about enlightenment and dispels the common misconception that it happens instantaneously. He elaborates on where and how to experience God, such as through people like Gurudeva, looking deeply into people's eyes, and by worshiping God in the temple as well as inside of us in meditation.
One last story which is tied to the origin of the 'Karma Management' idea. The idea came at a lecture in Perth, Australia a few year ago. In conjunction with a ground breaking ceremony. The temple in Perth, Hindu temple there invited Gurudeva. But, Gurudeva was not traveling during that time. So Gurudeva had me go, instead.
We had a nice ground breaking ceremony for the temple and they also arranged a lecture at the University there. There was a second speaker at the lecture. I went first and gave my talk and the second speaker was a Hindu gentleman from Malaysia, Jagadeesan is his name, a wonderful speaker and an even better singer. A beautiful devotional singer and his goal is to one day come here and sing. Isn't that a sweet goal? To come to Kadavul, so he can sing to the Deity. He made the comment that Hindu wisdom when presented by Swamis, is lots of times, ignored. But the same wisdom is often repackaged into these modern management seminar approaches based on Hindu teachings and people go to it in great numbers. So, it is a very interesting time that you have to repackage your Hinduism in order to make it popular. That is where we got the idea of putting 'Karma Management' in the same terminology as the 'Stress Management' seminar. It is the same idea. Effectively manage your stress, effectively manage your karma.
I tried to choose a topic, which was broad and had a catch word in it, a word to generate interest. So I choose the word, 'enlightenment'. Well, let us get the word enlightenment in the talk and maybe we will get some people who want to learn about enlightenment. The subject was 'Worship, Meditation and Enlightenment'. The idea that was presented was that sometimes, what is preventing us from making spiritual progress is a false concept about enlightenment. We get the sense from stories and movies and whatever, that enlightenment or the experience of God in a profound way, happens all at once. Someone is sitting in a cave for a year and then one day enlightenment comes. Or they are sitting under a tree, nothing is happening, nothing is happening, nothing is happening and all of a sudden one morning they are enlightened. You know, it is coming out of nowhere. Enlightenment is like that, that is a false concept. It is going from zero consciousness of God to a 100% consciousness of God in one second. Right? That is the false concept. Somehow we have no consciousness of God at all, we don't have a clue what God is like, where to experience God and we are zero conscious of God and then we are a 100% conscious of God, the next second.
When you think of it that way, it is not that logical. Right? Why would it happen that way? Why wouldn't it be gradual? Most things are gradual. Most things don't go from no ability to full ability in one second. It is like learning a language. You can't learn a language in one second, it takes years. It is a gradual process.
We saw some beautiful dancing, Bharatanatyam dancing, during our festival. It was impressive. "Oh, I have been studying for 15 years. I've been studying for 10 years." The time frame in which they have been studying to achieve that level of skill which was considerable, was long. Right? It is a gradual process.
Why would enlightenment be any different? Well, it is not. But, because we don't have a good sense of it, we think it might be. It is wishful thinking. No one goes from zero consciousness of God to 100% consciousness of God in one second. It doesn't happen that way. It is a gradual experience.
If we set aside that false concept, that enlightenment is instantaneous that goes from zero to 100%, then we are making some progress right there. Because then, we can say okay well striving for a 100% consciousness of God, that is not the way to go. How about going from zero to five or from five to ten? Let us try for a more realistic goal here in terms of our experience of God.
So, when we start looking at it that way, then the question comes up - Where do we look? Where is God? How do we experience God? Where do we experience God?
Of course, the easiest place to experience God is in someone like Gurudeva, someone of great attainment. That is also what people are recognizing in him. The island people sense this person is different, their state of consciousness is different. So we can look to the great Satgurus if we are fortunate and experience God in them. That is actually the easiest way. Because initially, the idea that God is in us "God can't be in us, you don't know what I have done. You don't know what I think. You don't know how impure I am. You don't know how imperfect I am. God can't be in there."
It is hard to look inside because of the concepts we have, initially. We have to change that eventually. We want to look in someone else, that is easier. So we look in a great being. That is the place we can look and we can sense God. The most interesting part of that is, if we sense God in a great being, what does that mean?
Well, we can't experience anything that is not inside of us. That is Gurudeva's teaching. Whatever we see in someone else has to be in us. Otherwise, we could not see it there. The positive qualities and the negative qualities. If we sense God in someone else, that means the presence of God in us is there and not that hidden from us. It is just, we are not used to the idea. But lots of people can't see God in the Satguru and that means the consciousness of God in them isn't that close to the surface, shall we say. To sense God in someone else, God has to be close to the surface in us. That is a very interesting idea.
Of course, we know Gurudeva's teachings. If you look deeply into someone's eyes, you can see God. Right? God is the Life of your life. How do you experience God as the Life of your life? You look into someone else's eyes. You go past their personality, whether you like or dislike them whatever. You go past that outer personality, deeply into their soul and you can see God in any person. You just have to go deeply enough.
There is a beautiful word, as we know in the Tamil language called, 'uyirukkuyir'. God is the Life of your life. So, we can see God deeply in anyone. That is the idea, of course, of namaskar. When we greet someone, we try and see their soul, see God in them, not react to them outwardly but see their inside.
Of course, as we know, we can experience God in the temple. We focused on that during our Innersearch, Guru Purnima, explaining it carefully to everyone. How the mysticism of the temple works and that Hindus are not 'idol' worshippers, they are quite busy. Of course, we are worshipping the spiritual Being, the divine Being, the God that projects Himself through the image. We are not worshipping the image. The image is treated with respect. Still, it is the Being that is projecting Himself through the image that is getting the worship. The image is like the temporary physical body, as we know.
That is a way in which we can deepen our experience of God quite a bit, through the temple. It is a simple way that is effective for children, as well. Maybe we can add that to the list of 'Greatness of Hinduism', it has something for everyone. Some traditions are so narrow. If you are not an adult or a certain age, there is nothing for you to do, like groups where all that you do is meditate. What do the children do? They run around outside and play because there is nothing for them to do. They cannot meditate for an hour.
Hinduism has something for everyone. Everyone can experience God to one degree or another through temple worship. Then, of course, eventually we can worship God inside of us. We may have to clear up some concepts about who we are and get rid of some negativity and so forth, to feel that we are a worthy place for God to dwell. But once we get past that, we can through the practice of meditation, of course experience God even more profoundly inside of ourselves. Gurudeva gives us many, many tools for that.
There is a wonderful verse in the scriptures that govern the monastery , are called the 'Saivite Shastras', that was written in just about mid-1970s, somewhere around there, 1973. It is talking about the monks, when the monks are young and this and that and that the spiritual path. "Oh, by the way, the spiritual path you are following in this monastery, consists of thirty-six years of training." They just throw that out at you. So that gives you a sense of how gradual the process is. We don't want to think that things are going to happen quickly, they happen gradually. It is like, we are planting a tree that is going to be three thousand plus years old. How fast does it grow? It is going to grow slowly. Spiritual life is like that. It is a slow process. But if we work at it consistently, we do make progress. So that thirty-six year time frame gives a nice sense of how long a certain process can take. It takes many, many years in order for certain things to mature.
Aum Namah Sivaya.