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Seeing Siva in Everyone

Here Bodhinatha reads from the daily Living with Siva lesson 323 on The Guru Tradition. After reading a section on developing the ability to see Siva in everything, Satguru expounds on this passage by citing examples form a family in Malaysia who had trouble seeing Siva in their uncle. He quotes from Yogaswami and then does so from Einstein who gives his own ideas that the idea of separation among humans is a kind of optical delusion. We have to keep widening our circle of inclusion.

Unedited Transcript:

Bodhinatha says:

Share a few thoughts from yesterday's lesson from Living with Siva?

"Families that have a satguru will often choose the most promising religious young son to go to his ashrama, to study and learn the religion and become a sannyasin or a family pandit in later years, depending on how his life works out. In this case, the mother and father, the first gurus, turn the entire direction of their son over to the satguru, the second guru, who then becomes mother and father in the eyes of the son, and in the eyes of his parents as well.

Hindu children are traditionally brought up respecting their parents. They follow certain in-house protocols of culture and conduct. Therefore, it is not difficult for an Asian man to live in an ashrama and follow the protocols of respect that monastic life demands. True bhakti, devotion, starts with your mother and father. You have to start there if you want a relationship with God and the Gods. Once the problems with mom and dad are resolved, then that love for the mother and father is transferred or extended to God, Gods and guru. It certainly doesn't mean that you no longer love your mother and father. It's just the opposite. You have more love, a deeper love, for everyone. Transferring the love of your family to your guru doesn't mean they no longer have your love, but that you've included your guru in the family. Love is inclusive, not exclusive, on the spiritual path.

To the traditional Saivite, the guru is everything. As Satguru Siva Yogaswami sang, "Mother and father are Siva. Sisters and brother are Siva." Therefore, the guru is Siva; and that is everything, because Siva is everything.""

So there is a nice test in that regard, of being able to look at everyone as Siva, or look at everyone as God. We can ask ourselves the question, "Who am I upset with today?" That's a very, good way of bringing it down to earth. In other words, who am I unable to see as Siva? Who am I upset with today? And hopefully the list isn't too long. But it's a practical way of trying to bring this teaching into our life, because if we're upset with someone, it means we're not able to accept them for who they are. That's why we're upset with them. We want them to be different than they are. So we're upset. We want them to treat us differently than they're capable of treating us.

There's a nice story in this regard of a family in Malaysia had the duty every year at Deepavali to visit an uncle, and the uncle was a real difficult person to get along with. They would always get terribly upset. So they'd bring the uncle a present and he wouldn't even open it. He wouldn't even say a kind word to them during the whole visit. So they'd go away upset. So they talked to me about it and I said, "Well you're expecting your uncle to be someone other than who he is. You're not able to accept him for the person he is. This is what the experiences of this life and past lives have brought him to be--this particular person, and most people don't function with the concept, "I can change who I am. Oh, I'm this person today. I think in a month I'll become a different person. Most people don't think that way. They think, "Well I am who I am. This is who I am." Particularly if you're older, you tend to get very attached to the person who you are, and somewhat rigid. This is who I am. I'm a grumpy person liable to scold you before I have my morning coffee. Whatever.

So anyway, we talked to this family and explained and said, "Well, accept the person, accept your uncle as the person he is. He's trapped in this state of consciousness of being nasty to other people, being unappreciative. He really doesn't want to be there, but he doesn't know how to get out of it. So just accept him as he is, and don't let who he is ruin your day. Don't let who he is upset your Deepavali. So they tried that and it worked. So now when they give him a present they have no expectations. If he ignores the present and doesn't open it like he probably will, they're prepared for that and it doesn't upset them, because they are able to accept the person as he is. So they're not upset with that person because they've accepted him who he is.

So, there is a nice statement by Yogaswami in this regard, in terms of not being able to see someone as Siva. Yogaswami says, "See everyone as God. Don't say, "This man is a robber, that one is a womanizer; the man over there a drunkard." This man is God. That man is God. God is within everyone. The seed is there. See that and ignore the rest." So the key idea is the seed is there. The potential is there. It's not manifest. We don't see it in their outer being. Well this person is so spiritual that it's overwhelming. No, we're not seeing God in that sense, but the seed is there--the potential, which eventually will get stronger and stronger over a period of many lifetimes. So to see that seed, that future potential in the present, is what Yogaswami is pointing out.

It's like looking at a child, one of your children who is three years old. You see certain potential that hasn't manifested yet. You just see it in little things that happen. So you're seeing a potential, something that will happen in the future and recognizing it. So likewise within everyone is the potential to become a divine being. Why? Because that's what the soul naturally does. It's like the seed sprouts and becomes the plant that it is, right? It just does that. It's waiting for the right time to sprout, the right conditions. So the soul is the same way. The soul is like a seed. It sprouts, or it matures under the right conditions. So it's just waiting for the right time to do that.

So in terms of this idea of accepting everyone and reaching out and including everyone, one of the best quotes that I ever found, isn't a Hindu quote, but it's totally Hindu teachings. It's from Albert Einstein of all people. Well you would think, "What would he be doing in this realm?" But he really hits the point so precisely. So what he says is, "A human being is a part of the whole, called by us universe--a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, as a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness," meaning the separation is an optical delusion. "This delusion is a king of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures, and the whole nature in its beauty."

Isn't that nice? You just have to widen the circle. Keep widening it. Keep embracing more and more people. Of course the challenge is, you embrace someone and then they mistreat you and you want to cut back on the circle. Maybe I embraced the wrong person. Anyway I got carried away. But that's part of it. You know just because they mistreat you, just because they're not living they way you would like them to live, doesn't mean we can embrace them for who they are, and treat them. We don't want to get too close to someone who's going to give us a really bad time of course. It doesn't mean we're naive. By embracing people it doesn't mean we try and become best friends with everyone, because some people will give us a lot of grief if get that close to them. It means we embrace them. We accept them for who they are. We see God in them, but we treat them in an appropriate way, so they're not upsetting us or our family.

Aum Namasivaya.

[End of Dictation]

Photo of  Gurudeva
There is a way of being remorseful, showing shame, being humble, of resolving situations when they do go wrong so that you can truly "get on with life" and not be bound by emotionally saturated memories of the past.