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Resolving Difficult Situations - A Sadhana for the Jivana Ritau

The talk begins with an overview of the sadhanas for the Jivana Ritau, the second of the three seasons. This is a natural time for action and implementation follwoing the Nartana Ritau, the season for planning. The rest of the talk focuses on a special sadhana of this season - facing difficult situations. As Gurudeva points out - for those on the spiritual path, holding grudges is definitely not acceptable. Rather than being happy at being hurt and mistreated by another, we are unhappy. We need to understand that we caused it to happen to us and learn its lessons, so that our behavior improves as a result of it.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning, everyone!

Nice to be back at our Sun One Homa, feels like it has been quite a while.

So, starting out talking about the ritau change, talking about it for the tape because, of course, all of us are quite familiar with it.

Our year is divided into three seasons and we just began a new one, a few days ago, the Jivana Ritau which is from mid-August to mid-December. Each season is ceremoniously begun by raising a different colored flag, which flies throughout and the flag for the Jivana Ritau is rust-colored, symbolising according to Gurudeva, environmental care.

It is interesting to note, Yoginathaswami and I were recently in Toronto at the Vishnu Mandir. It was on Sunday, August 15. The flag raising was here on Monday, August 16. So, what did we end up doing? We ended up raising a flag! [laughs] Like, it was in the pattern, you know. We were supposed to raise a flag, no matter where we were, we were to raise a flag. Their ceremony wasn't for Jivana Ritau. It was for India Independence Day. So, we had the local Mayor was there, Mayor Bill. He had one flagpole with an assistant and Yoginathaswami and I had the other flagpole, pretty short by our standards, small flagpole. We got to raise the Canada flag first and then, Mayor Bill got to raise the flag for India. So, it shows that flag-raising is an important part of our pattern, because it is there no matter wherever you go, you are likely to raise a flag or attend a flag-raising, whenever we have one here.

So, as we know the Master Course book for this ritau is of course, 'Living with Siva', and gives us just by the title the general focus for this ritau, which is to think about our life, actions and conduct in the external world and strive to bring into it more refinement and more religion. Gurudeva describes this season as a natural time of work, that it is a physical time and a time of exercise and exertion in the physical world, a magnetic time for action and willpower. The focus is on preserving what has been created, manifesting goals and fulfulling plans made in the past, finishing jobs already started. It is natural time for caring for the practical details for the external world, including the environment.

So, said simply, the last ritau, the Nartana Ritau, Gurudeva looks at as a plan, as a time for planning. It is natural time, the astrology is good during that 4-month period for creating plans, both plans for the coming year as well as, for the years after that. So, we have planned during Nartana Ritau and during the Jivana ritau, what do we do? We execute some of those plans. We put in motion our plans. Natural time for the planning period to stop and for us to start implementing more. Of course, it is not totally black and white that we just stop planning all together but it shows that it is easier to generate productive plans during the first four months of the year and it is easier to manifest them during the second four months of our year which of course, begins - we are talking about the year which begins - at the beginning of April, astrologically.

So, we are given a number of general sadhanas for the Jivana Ritau. The main study is the Nandinatha Sutras, both at home and at the Mission satsang. Specifically going through the sutras as well reviewing your daily sadhanas, looking for the ones that have been neglected or totally ignored. Strive to make improvements in those areas. Bring upto date all the vratas and sadhanas in which you have gotten behind.

The Jivana Ritau is the season we emphasize culture. Thus, it is also a time for putting more emphasis on teaching the traditional sixty-four kalas to children, for learning new Natchintanai songs of Satguru Yogaswami and for improving our Sanskrit puja chants.

Interesting, we were just talking about that in the meeting, weren't we? Improving our Sanskrit puja chants. It is right in the Ritau. Some of these things we start to do, even though we forget they are there.

Finally, it is the time for honoring those in the vanaprastha ashrama, asking them to share their wisdom, which means they are just between 48 through 72.

These are general Jivana Ritau sadhanas which apply for all year. But, starting last year, I brought forth a special one and am continuing it this year. It is a kind of sadhana you don't really finish in one year. It is called, andquot;Facing Difficult Situations'.

Remember that? Facing difficult situations. It goes like this.

As we all know, life can give us difficult situations to face. We are treated unfairly. Our friends seem to turn against us and no longer be trustworthy. Our feelings are hurt by how we are spoken to and treated by another. Sound familiar? It is easy to be happy and content when you are not facing difficult situations. The challenge is to find a way to be happy and content even in the midst of difficult situations. Handling difficult situations without emotion and with wisdom, is of course the key. The suggested response has three principles that we are familiar with, which are:

First principle. These are from 'Karma Management'. First principle - Forego retaliation. Second principle - Accept responsibility. And, the third principle - Forgive the offender.

Tirukural has a verse that encompasses all three of these principles in one verse. andquot;If you return kindness for injuries received and forget both, those who harmed you will be punished by their own shame.andquot;

That is an interesting way for someone to get punished - by their own shame. This Kural gives us an effective solution for the problem of the tendency for man to retaliate and not forgive. It shows that human nature is the same as it was 2,200 years ago when the verse was written.

Gurudeva also gives some useful advice in this area. He says, andquot;Sometimes we hold hard feelings against other people without letting these feelings go, in realizing that it is all in the experience of life itself. However, whatever happened to us is our own creation. To run away from the situation without solving the situation, without making amends, without harmonizing the pranic flow of energy between us and others or between us and ourselves is detrimental because it creates more karma.andquot;

Of course, one reason we may tend to hold grudges is that in growing up, our parents or other elders in our family, often did so. We tend to copy our parents' behavior much more than we realize. Therefore, we think this is acceptable behavior, an acceptable form of behavior. However, as Gurudeva points out, for those on the spiritual path, holding grudges is definitely not acceptable. Why? Because it keeps the lower chakras stimulated. It keeps the lower chakras stimulated, holding grudges.

Self-evaluation: A simple but effective way of self-evaluation is to look at the nature of our relationships with others. How many of our family and friends and acquaintances do we feel close to and speak freely with? How many do we dislike and only speak the minimum to? Of course, it is this latter group that is the basis for self-evaluation. For individuals to be in this group means that they said or did something to us in the past for which we have not forgiven them and forgotten the event. The larger the group, then the more that we are not following this principle in our lives. Once we have identified the individual we have not forgiven and forgotten, the task of course, is to forgive them fully. This can be hard to do, particularly when the individual hurt us deeply. Fortunately, Gurudeva gives us some effective guidelines in 'Living with Siva', in the section called 'The Art of Forgiveness'. Gurudeva points out that the key to the art of forgiveness is seeing the apparent injustices of life as the self-created reactions of our own past actions in this or former lives.

In other words, we created it. It is actually our creation. As we talked about, it looks like somebody else is doing it but they are only the vehicle for that coming to us. We are the one who set that karma in motion, to come through another person. So, we created it.

We must be grateful to others for playing back to us our previous actions, so that we can see our mistakes and experience the same feelings we must have caused in others. It is in this way that we are purified and trained not to commit the same adharmic acts again.

So, this is a very interesting point. Why does something happen to us that hurts us? Gurudeva says it is because we did it to someone else in the past. Why did we do it to someone else in the past? Because we didn't realize how much it would hurt them. How do we realize how much it would hurt them? By being hurt ourselves by the same action. So, finally, we will catch on. We will get hurt by the same action enough or deeply enough that we will say, andquot;Hey. This really hurts. I should not do this to someone else.andquot; So, it is coming back to us because we were insensitive enough to do it to someone else and it keeps coming back, until we become sensitive enough to realize that it hurts. We should not do it to someone else because it hurts them just like it hurts us. So that is what Gurudeva points out in this section.

Unfortunately, this response is not what usually occurs. Rather than being happy at being hurt and mistreated by another, we are unhappy. Right? How many people are happy when they get mistreated? Only a very few wise people. Only some who have just read Gurudeva a few minutes before! [laughs] Most of us, we get mistreated and boy! We are not happy at all. But, we are supposed to be happy. andquot;This is my karma that came back.andquot; Like, the story of Swami Sivananda. I think he was very happy when he got mistreated. He said, andquot;Maybe this is my last karma come back. Maybe I am free now.andquot; So, our reactions in life are backwards, you know. When things come to us and are pleasant, we are happy. When things come to us and we are mistreated, we are unhappy. We are looking at life in a backwards way. Because Gurudeva says we make the most progress during times of adversity, right? Not during times when everything is going well, it is the difficult times that cause spiritual progress. Likewise, it is the difficult reactions of others toward us that hurt us that cause the most progress because it causes us to refine our behavior and act toward others in a kinder way.

However, those committed to the spiritual path do need to take the high-minded approach by gracefully accepting the event, understanding that we caused it to happen to us and learning its lessons, so that our behavior improves as a result of it. There is an insightful quote from Gurudeva on the importance of resolving misunderstandings. andquot;To have a happy future with your family and friends, don't ignore difficulties that come up between you. Sit down with them and talk things over. Stand on your own two feet, head up and spine straight. Bring it all out in the open. Let them know how you feel about what they said or what they did. Sometimes so many things are swept under the carpet, not talked about and left to smolder and mold there. But now, in today's world we must clean up the mess in order to go along into a happy future. The basic foundation of Sanatana Dharma is ahimsa, non-hurtfulness physically, mentally and emotionally. We must always remember this.andquot;

So, this is a very important point that Gurudeva is bringing out, the importance of talking things over. He is saying, If things go wrong, if there is hard feelings, unkind words are spoken, the solution is not to pretend that didn't happen. That is not a solution, which is sometimes what we do, right? We just, the next day, pretend that it didn't happen and we start over. Gurudeva calls that, andquot;sweeping things under the carpet.andquot; Doesn't really resolve them. They are still in the subconscious and therefore, they are likely to happen again because they are not resolved, They are still energised. Even though it is difficult, the proper thing to do is to sit down and talk them over. Of course, in a very kind way and not create another problem by talking them over in an angry way, in an aggressive way. That doesn't solve things, that creates a second problem.

There is a very nice statement. I think it was in the last week's calendar. About reaction? Remember that in last week's Gurudeva calendar? It says something like, I can only paraphrase it. It says, don't act if you are still reacting. Wait for the reaction to calm down and go away and then act. Likewise, the same principle applies here. You don't want to sit down and talk something over necessarily if there is a lot of anger going on, if you are still reacting and you are going to say the wrong thing. You don't want to say the wrong thing and make the problem worse. You do want to bring it up, as soon as everything is calmed down. Hopefully, the same day. Bring it up and resolve it, not just forget about it.

In summary, the important part of making progress on the spiritual path is resolving misunderstanding, hard feelings and disagreements as soon as they occur. Don't give in to the tendency to classify someone as a person we dislike and hold and even take delight in holding a grudge against him or her for how they treated you or what they said to you. Set as a goal, having all of your relationships in the category of those we feel close to and none in the category of people we dislike. Have zero in the dislike category.

So, that is a nice - as we say, the Olympics just went by, I was thinking of that - a nice analogy for setting the bar high. [laughs] That is pulling yourself up, setting the bar high. It sets the bar high. It sets a nice standard of resolving things and not allowing yourself to dislike people. Saying, andquot;I can't get along with that person.andquot; or holding on to a grudge is not a spiritual approach to life. It is an ordinary approach to life. It is just being ordinary. It is building up a subconscious mind, which limits our state of consciousness in this life and limits who we are in our next life. So, Gurudeva's advice is get going in this ritau, think about our relationships with others. Are we tending to just dislike certain people because of what they did to us so many years ago? We are never going to resolve it, right, because they did that. That person is in the dislike category. Gurudeva says, don't allow yourself to think like that. Empty that category. Forgive the person. Realize that whatever they did to you, you only did to yourself through them. That is the key to adjusting the karma. Instead of thinking they did it to you, realize the deeper truth that you did it to yourself through them. And, why did you do it to yourself? Because you are still learning not to do it to others. You haven't quite caught on. You still have the tendency to do it to others. Otherwise, it would not have been done to you.

OK. Gurudeva's great wisdom for Jivana Ritau. Have a wonderful phase!

Aum Namah Sivaya!

Photo of  Gurudeva
Attachment, for instance, holds our cells together; it is also the root of much suffering, for attachment to material objects or people keeps man's awareness externalized, incapable of expressing itself in full freedom.