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Bhashya on Chapter One: Merging with Siva

On the occasion of Gurudeva's Mahasamadhi observance Bodhinatha expands on Chapter One of Merging with Siva counseling devotees not to get caught up in the externalities of the world, explaining the dharmic response to karma, giving additional bhashya, meaning, to Gurudeva's lotus words.

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara: Gurusakshat ParaBrahma, Tasmai Srigurave Namaha.

Good morning everyone. Happy to have so many pilgrims from off island join us for Gurudeva's Mahasamadhi observance.

Happened to be looking in Merging With Siva, looking something up the other day, and I ended up in lesson one. Thought it would be a good lesson to read and comment on as part of our Mahasamadhi; it's such a central teaching of Gurudeva's.

"How to Realize God

Parasiva, Life's Ultimate Goal

Never have there been so many people living on the planet wondering, 'What is the real goal, the final purpose, of life?' However, man is blinded by his ignorance and his concern with the externalities of the world. He is caught, enthralled, bound by karma. The ultimate realizations available are beyond his understanding and remain to him obscure, even intellectually. Man's ultimate quest, the final evolutionary frontier, is within man himself. It is the Truth spoken by Vedic rishis as the Self within man, attainable through control of the mind and purification."


Bhashya: That means meaning, bhashya.

So I think that the point that stood out to me there is concern with the externalities of the world. It's one of the phenomena of our modern world is: we're bombarded with information. We have an eleven hour plane flight say. What happens on the plane flight? Six movies and couple of sports events and you know they don't let your conscious mind have nothing to do, even for ten minutes. No, as soon as they can turn it on they turn it on and all this information is, if you listen, pouring into your mind. Good example: when we go to the dentist office and what do you hear. The radio is blasting away, you know there's hardly a place that you don't have information poured into you. Lots of people, you know they watch the television as much as they can during the day, constantly inputting news and entertainment programs. So, all of that strengthens this tendency to get caught up in the externalities of the world.

So, clearly we need to limit how much of that we allow to happen. That's why I have my iPod, I take my iPod on the plane, listen to Sri Rudram and a few other things. Chant Sri Rudram, it's just so externalizing to be involved in that all the time. You know a little bit at night is good, what's Gurudeva say? Couple of hours of television I think it is, is enough. You know, we don't want to be bombarded all day long with information. Plus we have the internet too which is similarly externalizing.

So I think the key there is to control this modern flow of information coming at us from all directions and not to just get wrapped up in it too much, but control it, limit it, have fun with it, but don't allow it to get you totally externalized.

"It is karma that keeps us from knowing of and reaching life's final goal, yet it is wrong to even call it a goal. It is what is known by the knower to have always existed. It is not a matter of becoming the Self, but of realizing that you never were not the Self. And what is that Self? It is Parasiva. It is God. It is That which is beyond the mind, beyond thought, feeling and emotion, beyond time, form and space. That is what all men are seeking, looking for, longing for. When karma is controlled through yoga and dharma well performed, and the energies are transmuted to their ultimate state, the Vedic Truth of life discovered by the rishis so long ago becomes obvious."


Well Gurudeva brings up the idea of karma here in two sentences. He says: "It is karma that keeps us from knowing of and reaching life's final goal" and then he says: "When karma is controlled through yoga and dharma well performed."

So, obviously, the goal is to control karma, right? And it's right in Gurudeva's definition of moksha, two fold definition of liberation. "Moksha is achieved when all karmas are resolved and Parasiva has been attained."

Right? Two fold definition. So it's not enough just to attain Parasiva, we also have to resolve all karmas. So, one of the ways we resolve karmas is through dharma. As it says here meaning, right action. If we act correctly in the present, we won't create a new negative karma to be faced in the future. So, our actions in the present create our karmas of the future; what we face in the future. So, if we act in the right way in the present, then we're not creating a negative karma. The biggest opportunity we have to create new karma is when we're mistreated. People abuse us in one way or another and it's human nature to want to get back. So, or to hold onto it forever, and never forgive them. So, of course those are not dharmic responses. Those are just ordinary human responses. The dharmic response is to say: I wonder who I did this to in the past?

You know, obviously whatever happens to us, we did this to someone else in the past. I wonder who I did this to; how many people did I treat this way in the past? Now I know how they feel. I certainly wouldn't do it again because, doesn't feel very pleasant to be the recipient of this action. So that's the dharmic response to being mistreated is to realize that we've done this to someone else in the past, that's why it's coming back to us. And the reason we did it to someone else in the past is we didn't fully grasp how it felt to be the recipient of the action. If we had, we wouldn't have done it. So that's important part of handling karma, when it comes back is to fully grasp how it feels to be the recipient, and pledge to ourselves: We're not going to cause someone else to feel that way. And then the karmas gone.

"That goal is to realize God Siva in His absolute, or transcendent, state, which when realized is your own ultimate state -- timeless, formless, spaceless Truth. That Truth lies beyond the thinking mind, beyond the feeling nature, beyond action or any movement of the vrittis, the waves of the mind. Being, seeing, this Truth then gives the correct perspective, brings the external realities into perspective. They are then seen as truly unreality's, yet not discarded as such."


So one of the beauties of Gurudeva's teachings is, he not only encourages us to realize Parasiva; he gives a description of Parasiva. Much easier to realize something if you have a concept of what it is. So, timeless, formless, spaceless. So how in the world can we understand something that's timeless, formless, spaceless? How do we grasp what that means? Well by thinking about time, form and space. We grasp it by thinking about the opposite: time, form, space. So, we're so accustomed to accepting the reality of time that it's hard to think about timelessness. But in time; there's a past, there's a present and there's a future. We're always in a state of becoming. We're always changing. Whereas you take away all of that, obviously there's no change, right? Things are as they always were. There's no becoming, there's no changing; it's outside of that whole realm, change.

Formless: Form is something we can see. Something that has shape. So this has no shape, has no form, we can't see it.

Spaceless: Well space and time are tied together so when you have one you have the other. And form is what is in space and time. So spaceless is there's no distance. Concept of distance isn't there. There's no distance between me and another person. When something is spaceless, it doesn't exist in that realm.

The other point here is that it's beyond the thinking mind. Which is an important part of our parampara, that the deepest truth, cannot be found by thinking. Yogaswami used to tell one of his closest disciples: "It's not in books you fool." Remember that? Meaning philosophical books. He's trying to approach the deeper realizations by reading about someone else's experience of the deeper realizations. Well that can be inspiring, but it doesn't cause you to have the realizations, just gives you a certain sense of them. Chellappaswami: one of his mahavakyams is 'Naam ariyom' we do not know. So, this is the only tradition in which; normally when you study, the end of a period of study, you say I know, right? I know this, I know that, I've learned all this information. So we spend years in school after which we're proud we know all this. We've gathered up all this information, we know all these techniques for analyzing, planning and so forth.

But, this is the only study where you study for years and years and years, and the conclusion is you don't know. How can that be, hmm? You don't know. That's the highest knowing here is to know that we don't know. So, meaning that the mind can't conceive of the reality which is timeless, formless and spaceless. There's nothing to do with what the mind can't conceive of. So taking that approach is a humble approach, it's a nonintellectual approach, and it's a necessary approach to the deepest realizations. "This intimate experience must be experienced while in the physical body. One comes back and back again into flesh simply to realize Parasiva. Nothing more. Yet, the Self, or Parasiva, is an experience only after it has been experienced. Yet, it is not an experience at all, but the only possible non experience, which registers in its aftermath upon the mind of man. Prior to that, it is a goal. After realization, one thing is lost, the desire for the Self."

So the idea being, a non-experience may not make sense at first, but an experience has two parts. The experiencer and what the experiencer is is experiencing. We have two parts: the experiencer and what's being experienced. I am happy. I see inner light. So there's two parts to all experiences. The awareness or the experiencer and then what is experiencing. These are seeing something in the world or seeing something in consciousness.

But the Self is beyond that because awareness isn't around. That's why it's called em.kaef. There's no pure awareness. The absence of pure awareness is the, is what's called the only non-experience. So, because there's no awareness, there's no experiencer, and of course, there's nothing to be experienced. So it's that non-experience that is a useful description of Parasiva.

So how do you know if you've had a non-experience? How do you know? I mean, there's no experiencer right? Kind of like, deep deep deep sleep. You don't know you were there because you were so asleep. It's not the same but it's close. There's no experiencer.

Well, you know by a change in perspective. Because our normal perspective is that we are a being who exists in time, form and space. So, if we have another perspective, that we are reality that's outside of time, form and space; then you know you had a non-experience. It's in the aftermath.

"Look at a child standing before a mirror for the first time, feeling its nose and ears, eyes and mouth, looking at itself reflecting in the glass. Feeling and seeing what has always been there is a discovery in experience. Parasiva is the same. It is always there in each and every human being on the planet. But involvement in the externalities of material existence inhibits their turning inward. The clouding of the mirror of the mind -- that reflective pond of awareness which when calm sees clearly -- or the ripples of disturbance on the mind's surface distort seeing and confuse understanding. Without a clear mirror, the child lacks the seeing of what has always been there -- its own face. Parasiva is an experience that can be likened to the hand feeling and the eyes seeing one's own face for the first time. But it is not experience of one thing discovering another, as in the discovery of one's face. It is the Self experiencing itself. Experience, experienced and experiencer are one and the same. This is why it is only registered on the external mind in retrospect.

Most people try to experience God through other people. Disciples see a guru as God. Wives see their husband as God. Devotees see the Deity in the temple as God. But all the time, behind the eyes of their seeing, is God. The Self, Parasiva, can be realized only when the devotee turns away from the world and enters the cave within as a way of life through initiation and under vows. We know the Self within our self only when we fully turn into ourselves through concentration, meditation and contemplation and sustain the resulting samadhi of Satchidananda, pure consciousness, in hopes of finding, determined to find, That which cannot be described, That which was spoken about by the rishis, Parasiva, beyond a stilled mind, Parasiva that has stopped time, transcended space and dissolved all form."

So, the point Gurudeva's making here again is turns away from the world. Self can be realized only when the devotee turns away from the world. So the amount we can turn away from the world depends on our situation. Monks can obviously turn away from the world more than grihasthas. Grihastha turns away from the world too much, lose his job. Lose his house. All fall apart. So, we each turn away from the world as much as we can is the point. But the monk has the advantage in this case of being able to turn away from the world more, if he makes good use of his time in the monastery.

"How can we know when we're ready to know the Self?" This is a good question. "How do we know when the soul is spiritually mature? When we begin a journey and clearly define our destination, then we must begin from where we are, not elsewhere. Clearly defining our destination requires knowing where we are, requires determining whether or not we want to go there at this time. We must ask whether we have the means, the willpower, to get there. Are we ready to leave the world, or must we fulfill further obligations in the world and to the world? Have we paid all of our debts? We cannot leave the world with karmas still unresolved. Perhaps we desire something more, some further human fulfillment of affection, creativity, wealth, professional accomplishment, name and fame. In other words, do we still have worldly involvement's and attachments? Are we ready for the final journey life has to offer? Are we prepared to endure the hardships of sadhana, to suffer the death of the ego? Or would we prefer more pleasures in the world of "I" and "mine"? It is a matter of evolution, of what stage of life we have entered in this incarnation -- is it charya, kriya, yoga or jnana? When the soul is spiritually mature, we know when we're ready to know the Self.

When one is bound down by his past karmas, unhappy, confused and not performing with enthusiasm his dharma -- be it born or chosen -- making new karmas as a result, his lethargy results in despair. The camel walks slower with a heavy burden and stops if the burden is still heavier. The burdened have no sense of urgency, no expression of joy. They have stopped. They are standing on the path holding their troubles in their hands, unwilling and unable to let go."

So this is...


This brings up a few important points. The first point is the idea that even difficult situations can be improved. should be improved. In other words sometimes, and I'm sure you know people who don't study Gurudeva's teachings, they run into a very difficult situation and they just give up. They're overwhelmed, they're burdened. They don't have a philosophy which says they can handle it. They don't have a philosophy says, which says: to expect difficulties in life. So, they run into a difficulty, they run into some serious problem and they just get stuck as Gurudeva says: "They're standing on the path, holding their troubles in their hands, unwilling and unable to let go."

So, we need a philosophy that encompasses; ending up in difficulty, overcoming the difficulty, and moving on. Cause encountering difficulty makes us strong and we overcome it. If everything in life was easy we wouldn't get stronger. Because facing the difficulties in life, and handling them as best we can, then makes us stronger, strengthens us, causes us to evolve spiritually.

So of course, if we know someone and they're studying Gurudeva's teachings and they kind of get burdened anyway, we can encourage them. Pull out a quote from Gurudeva somewhere and: "No experience in life that we encounter that we do not have the ability to overcome." That's a good one right? Very nice statement.

"Worship of Lord Ganesha sets the path of dharma. Go to His Feet. He alone can perform this miracle for you. He will release the mental and emotional obstructions to spiritual progress. He will remove the burdens of worldliness. To live the perfect life of the grihastha dharma, of family life, brings as its fulfillment the all-knowing bliss of Satchidananda, realizing our self not as formless Parasiva but as the pure consciousness that sustains and pervades all forms in the universe. Yes, there is a sense of urgency on the path of enlightenment, but only when we are unburdened of karma, only when we are walking the path of dharma. Only then can true yoga be practiced and perfected."

So fitting into dharma is very important. Cause that's how we avoid creating unnecessary karmas, by fitting into dharma, and as Gurudeva points out: The most effective way to do that is to worship Lord Ganesha. Then, we get into the dharma situation which causes us to make the most spiritual progress we can make in this lifetime. That's what dharma is. When we say swadharma -- one's natural dharma -- it's the situation which when adhered to; meaning when we fit, when we follow the dharma of it well, causes us to make the maximum spiritual progress we can make in this lifetime. So Lord Ganesha helps us find that.

Lots of wonderful comments from Yogaswami about Satchidananda. Pure consciousness, sustains and pervades all forms of the universe. One I like is: "Bliss, bliss, bliss. Here, there, everywhere am I." What a simple statement. But it captures it quite nicely.

"All Hindus without exception believe in reincarnation. In each birth we must fulfill more goals leading to the one ultimate goal which after many births well lived will loom before us as the only goal worthy of striving for in this lifetime. All other desires, all other aims and ambitions pale under the brilliance of even the thought of realization of Satchidananda and Parasiva.

In fulfillment of our duties to parents, relations and the community at large, become a good householder, be a good citizen, live a rewarding physical, emotional and intellectual existence. These are the natural goals of many. Once this is accomplished in a lifetime, it is easy in future lives to perpetuate this pattern and evolve toward more refined and more difficult goals, such as gaining a clear intellectual knowledge of the truths of the Agamas and Vedas, most especially the Upanishads, and establishing a personal contact with Lord Siva within His great temples through the fervor of worship."

So that's the idea of the purusharthas; the idea that we, when we pursue wealth and love, artha and kama within dharma, then we're moving forward. And the goals from one life to another naturally become; more refined, higher, more difficult to achieve. It's a natural process so all we have to do is follow dharma in everything we do and it'll happen in a natural way.

"Still other goals must be met: quieting the energies, the pranas, through pranayama, purifying or refining mind and emotion, quelling the ever-constant movement of the restless, external mind and its immediate subconscious, where memories are stored, preserved memories which give rise to fear, anger, hatred and jealousy. It is our past that colors and conditions, actually creates, the future. We purge the past in the present, and we fashion the future in the present."


So Gurudeva's saying still other goals must be met. Quieting the energies, the pranas. So this gets into the practice of meditation. Learning to control the pranas which allows us to control the thinking mind, which allows us to go deeper, to experience areas of the superconscious mind. All of that happens because of the practice of meditation, which is a goal we take up when we're ready to. To try and convince someone to take it up prematurely; they might practice it a little while and then they'll drop it. You have to be ready to take up whatever practice you're going to take up, otherwise you won't stick to it.

"All of these emotions are the powerful force that bursts the seals of the psychic chakras, four, five, six and seven. Once harnessed, turned inward and transmuted, this life force drives the spiritual process forward. Ours is the path of not only endeavoring to awaken the higher nature, but at the same time and toward the same end dealing positively and consciously with the remnants of the lower nature, replacing charity for greed and dealing with, rather than merely suppressing, jealousy, hatred and anger."

So, this brings up the idea that in addition to a soul, there's also other parts of us; all the instinctive nature and the intellectual nature as well as the ego. So here Gurudeva's focusing on the need to learn to control the instinctive nature. Harness greed, jealousy, hatred and anger. And of course we all wouldn't be here if we weren't fairly successful at that. But as we know, just because we're fairly successful doesn't mean we should give up, or feel there's no need to become further successful. To get it even in more refined areas of our life such as our speech and our thoughts. As I always say: The groups I speak to don't go around hitting one another. You know anger doesn't come out in that way, but maybe they're not that kind in their words all the time. Some unkind words pop out of the mouth or some unkind thoughts even. So, refining this process of controlling the instinctive nature, relates to not only our actions but our words and even thoughts as well. "Most people do not understand that they have a mind, that they have a body and emotions, that what they are is something far more lasting and profound. They think they are a mind and they presume they are a body and they feel they are a given set of emotions, positive and negative. To progress on the spiritual path, they must learn that they are not these things but are, in fact, a radiant, conscious soul that never dies, that can control the mind and directs the emotion toward fulfillment of dharma and resolution of karma. While living in a normal agitated state of fears, worries and doubts, seeing the deeper truths is impossible. To such a person, there is doubt about it: 'I am fearful. I am worried. I am confused. I am sick.' He says such things daily, thinking of himself in a very limited way."

So that is a key teaching.


That is a key teaching of Gurudeva and has it's natural place as our first lesson in living with Siva right? We are a divine being a soul on a wondrous journey. So it's a very important point not to, to identify with the soul. To realize that we have a body, we have emotions and the intellect and an ego, but we are the soul. Soul is our essential nature and the rest just comes along with having a physical body and eventually drops away.

"This wrong identification of who we are must be unlearned. Before we actually begin serious sadhana, we must understand ourselves better, understand the three phases of the mind: instinctive, intellectual, superconscious. This takes time, meditation and study -- study that must culminate in actual experience of the instinctive mind, the intellectual mind and the transcendent subsuperconscious state of the mind. Seeing the mind in its totality convinces the seeker that he is something else, he is the witness who observes the mind and cannot, therefore, be the mind itself. Then we realize that the mind in its superconsciousness is pure. We do not have to purify it, except to carry out its native purity into life, into the intellect by obtaining right knowledge and transmuting the instinctive or animal qualities. This is accomplished from within out. It is not as difficult as it may seem."


So this is getting to the idea of distinguishing between the experiencer and the experience, or in Gurudeva' terminology, awareness and consciousness. So, most people think they are what they are experiencing. And our language is set up on that basis: I am happy, I am sad. So language has a problem in that regard, fall into that trap. Whereas, when it comes to the senses, we don't have that problem in our language. I see the paper, I hear the bird. You know we don't say: I am the paper, I am the bird, though we could. I mean there's no difference really but language makes it different. It makes what's mental us, and what's physical not us. But, there's no difference. I hear the bird, I see the paper, I see happiness. You know. The awareness is not the happiness. So that's what Gurudeva is stressing here. That we need to distinguish between the experiencer and what it experiences. Identify with the experiencer and then we can see more clearly what we are experiencing. And of course as we all know then we take that one step further and say: I don't want to experience that. That's a terrible state of mind. Why don't I move my awareness over here and experience something different. You know we start to get proactive with what we're experiencing. Because we don't identify with it, we don't say: I am unhappy. We say: I am experiencing unhappiness. Do I want to experience unhappiness? Why am I experiencing unhappiness? Well so and so was nasty to me last night. I didn't get much sleep. Had a small cold. That's why I'm unhappy. But we don't have to be unhappy. Say: Well do I want to be unhappy? Do I have to be unhappy because these external events influence me in this way or should I just claim happiness? So that's when we get into the concepts of the Shum language, is to be pro-active in terms of what we're experiencing.

Like Gurudeva when he used to come in the temple in the morning, there's a greeting in Shum:, which means, you know, it's a greeting, but it also means contentment. So one of the practices I used to follow, cause Gurudeva would do that:, I'd say: " Well am I, this morning, am I in a content area of the mind? Am I totally accepting of everything that is?" You know if I found I wasn't, I'd just move a little bit over here to the left into contentment, move out of discontentment a little bit, until you end up being content with things up that are. So that's the idea of the Shum language, to be pro-active and you know, chose what you experience. Don't feel just because certain things happen to you in the external you have to end up in certain state of mind. You have to power to move to another state of mind because you're the experiencer and not what is experienced. You're awareness and not consciousness.

[End of transcript]

Photo of  Gurudeva
Harmony is the first and foremost rule of living in all spheres, but particularly in spiritual work, where it is an absolute must.