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Niyama 1 - Hri, Remorse and Modesty

Bodhinatha speaks on hri, the niyama of remorse, which is needed to resolve problems. Niyamas focus on helping us to express our divine qualities. Criminals will repeat crimes unless they come to sincerely feel remorse for their deeds. Hri is being modest, not boastful, being humble and giving credit to others and to God. A simple way to be remorseful is to say your sorry. Seva can also lead one to resolve disagreements when the other person does not offer forgiveness. Just serve them, help them, and in that way undo the effects of a negative act or word. If there is still guilt even after apologizing, vasana daha tantra can be practiced.

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Good Morning, everyone! Happy to have some special guests with us this morning. A special welcome to all of you.

The talk this morning is a continuation of our series on 'Good Conduct'. Developing some 25 to 30 lessons on good conduct based upon Gurudeva's presentation of the 'Yamas and Niyamas', the twenty principles that comprise the Hindu code of conduct. We are developing these for use out in the field, not just to store on our computer. We have live people out there wanting them. We have some classes going on at the Hindu Center in Singapore that are using this material. As well as, we have a number of our younger members in Malaysia starting their own classes, teaching Gurudeva's Master Course Trilogy and they will be using this material as well.

Today's lesson is on Remorse, Hri, which is the first niyama and which is to allow yourself the expression of remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds. Recognize your errors, confess and make amends. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. Resolve all contention before sleep. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself. Do not boast. Shun pride and pretention.

Let us look at some examples illustrating the practice of this niyama.

First example - The husband and wife have a disagreement at breakfast that is not resolved. The husband thinks about it during the day and concludes that the disagreement was his fault. He buys some flowers for his wife on the way home and the first thing upon greeting her, he apologizes to her for the disagreement, stating it was his fault and gives her the flowers. Happy ending.

Second example - The husband and wife have been arguing regularly for years and never resolved their differences before sleep. One day a friend tells them about the practice of resolving all contention before sleep and how it has improved his marriage. They start the practice and find that after a year they are arguing much less.

Third example - A music teacher compliments a student on how well she sang the song today. The student thanks the teacher for the compliment and adds that she only did that well because she has such an excellent teacher.

Fourth example - A teenage boy shoplifts a book from a bookstore just for the excitement of it. Afterwards, he feels bad about his action, takes the book back to the store, apologizes to the owner and promises to not shoplift again.

All of the niyamas focus on expressing the refined soul qualities within each of us. In the case of Hri, Remorse, the divine quality we are expressing is admitting when we have made a mistake, pledging to ourselves to improving our behavior and rectifying the situation with the other people involved. Hri also includes having a self-image that is humble and self-effacing.

Here is a story to further illustrate Hri.

A few years ago, there was an incident in the News. A woman's son had been murdered and in revenge the woman killed her son's murderer. In sentencing the woman, the Judge made a point that throughout the trial she had shown no remorse whatsoever for the action. Therefore, he was giving her the maximum sentence he could.

Another story comes from our recent visit to our local county jail, Kauai Community Correctional Facility, as part of the island wide Vision group. The purpose of our group's visit was to learn more about the special efforts the warden and his staff are making to rehabilitate the inmates. The warden made a number of interesting statements. One of them was that those in the correctional center will definitely repeat the crimes that put them there, unless they have a strong sense of remorse.

The Tirukural in Chapter 102, 'Possession of Modesty' echoes this perspective in Verse 1012.

"Food, clothing and such do not differ much among people. What distinguishes good men from others is modesty."

The chapter states that, "Those who live in shamelessness will destroy everything that is good, while great men would not breach modesty, even to acquire the world."

The Kural describes the height of modesty in Verse 1015. "The world decrees that men who are as ashamed by other's disgrace as by their own are modesty's fondest home."

Hri is regret that one has done things against the dharma or against conscience. True conscience is of the soul, an impulse rushing through a mind that has been impregnated with the knowledge that is found in these yamas and niyamas, restraints and practices. When the true knowledge of karma is understood, reincarnation, samsara and Vedic dharma, then true remorse is felt which is a corrective mechanism of the soul. This remorse immediately imprints upon the lower mind, the right knowledge of dharma, how, where and why the person has strayed and the methodology of getting quickly and happily back to the path and proceeding onward.

A simple way to show remorse is to apologize, to say with sincerity, "I am sorry." When apologizing, explain to the person you hurt or wronged how you have realized that there was a better way and ask for his or her forgiveness. If the person is too proud or arrogant to forgive, you have done your part and can go on your way.

There is another way to show remorse for misdeeds. This is by performing seva, religious service for persons you have wronged. Give them gifts, cook them food. Some people are unreachable by words, too remote for apology which might even lead to an argument and then the wrong would perpetuate itself. Sincere expressions of remorse show repentance, show that you have reconsidered your actions and found that they need improvement. This improvement is shown by your actions now and into the future.

The business and burdens of life have the ability to delay feeling remorseful for our mistakes. When these burdens are set aside during worship or meditation, remorse for past actions can burst forth. If we are going through particularly difficult times for remorse to express itself, we need to intensify our religious practices through a pilgrimage or a few days on a religious retreat.

Even though we have followed the guidelines of Hri and have admitted we have made a mistake, pledged to ourselves to improve our behavior and rectify the situation with the other people involved, we can still feel burdened by the mistake we made. The most effective practice to eliminate this sense of burden is the practice called Vasana Daha Tantra, writing down memories and burning them in a fire to release the emotion from the deep, subconscious mind. If we continue to constantly remember the past and relive the emotions connected with it, our Vasana Daha Tantra practice is not complete. Keep doing it until you no longer constantly think of these events.

Gurudeva describes those who have successfully done this as, "free from the past, remember the future and move the forces of all three worlds for a better life for themselves and for all mankind."

In summarizing this aspect of Hri, it is in fact this process of misdeeds against dharma followed by shame and remorse as people interrelate with one another that moves them forward in their evolution toward their ultimate goal of mukti. Clearly, Hri is an important practice to master. The better we are at it, the faster our spiritual progress.

Let us look now at another aspect of Hri, which is a self-image that is modest, free of pride of the sense that, "I am the best."

Pride comes from our instinctive-intellectual nature, the sense of modesty is in itself an expression of our soul nature. It is a self-effacing humility that attribute success to God, Gods and Guru rather than to the fact that, "I am the best". It is a humility that attributes true knowledge to the soul and not our intellect.

Even though today our world is filled with role models that are arrogant and unremorseful, we need to be courageous and manifest modesty in our life. Let us strive to achieve the lofty perspectives so beautifully stated in the Kural, "The world decrees that men who are as ashamed by other's disgrace as by their own, are modesty's fondest home."

In conclusion, allow yourself the expression of remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds and recognize your errors, confess and make amends. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. Resolve all contention before sleep. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. Welcome correction as a means of bettering yourself. Do not boast. Shun pride and pretention.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Thank you.