Karma Management Seminar day 2 given to pilgrims and devotees at the 9th Annual Mahasamadhi Celebration preliminary to the presentation in Malaysia with questions and answers.
[This was a seminar in which participants "Q" were given the opportunity to ask questions. In all cases below Bodhinatha is giving the answer "A". Q occasionally is a participant comment verses a question and A is sometimes a response or confirmation verses an answer.]
Take a seat, you were all in temple, more complete?
Did we scare anyone away? Anyone here yesterday who didn't come back? I notice no one is sitting up front. Brave souls over there.
Okay, third question.
I've come across Hindu texts such as Yoga Vashishta that says that by effort one can overcome misconduct. The Kural in Verse 371 says:
"When destiny ordains wealth, it gives birth to industriousness. When it decrees a life of loss, it inspires only idleness."
Again I am wondering does one have the freedom or the ability to overcome or lessen the effects of his karma. For example, if a person has read about Gurudeva's teachings is he then able to control his thoughts and the way he reacts to situations? Is it the fact that he had the opportunity to read about Gurudeva's teachings, his karma? In contrast someone else is in a similar situation but according to his karma was not exposed to such teachings. Isn't there already an inherent limitation based on karma?
Discussion: What do you think? So its, the question is this quote from the Kural. It's saying that when we're successful we tend to be industrious and when we're not successful we tend to be not industrious. Can we overcome that or is it just up to our karma?
Q. [...??]don't think we have a choice; it happens to us. So we always have a choice how we deal with that.
A. Oh, okay, that's a very good point. We have a choice in how we respond. Okay. Yes?
Q. Then how you respond depends on how spiritually mature you are. So back up, another point, that the point of evolution of that particular soul, you know, would depend on how he or she reacts to ...
A. Might be. Anything else? Yes?
Q. One can use his will-power to do such superconscious things to keep his awareness moving forward, not for...
A. Um hmm. Yes, we have an interesting example of that, fortunately a long time ago. 1992 was our last hurricane. It was a strong one. So it blew away a lot of peoples' homes and we were without power for two or three months. How people reacted was very interesting. Some individuals had no choice but to leave the island it just upset them so, particularly if their home was damaged. And the only reaction they could muster up was to leave and re-group somewhere else. They weren't able to face the situation here. Others, it brought some people closer together because they were sharing resources and all. Totally different reaction. So, in extreme situations like that it brings out different aspects of people according to kind of emotional control and spiritual maturity they have. It doesn't bring out the same reaction in everyone which is what the Kural quote which everybody would react the same.
A. It didn't happen.
Okay, so lets take a look at our answer. Answer to question 3. The answer.
So the Kural quote is indicating a tendency, human nature, that when things are going well it's easy to be industrious but when there are not it's easy to slack off. So, it's human nature that way but spiritual evolution, desire, develop knowledge, carry over from past lives as well prarabdha karma carries over. But this is bringing in current influences as well. In other words, its one thing when you talk about childhood reactions, which was the first question. You don't have a lot of input from this life to work with when you're very young. Definitely carrying over from past lives and you're reacting to your family. But when you're an adult you have the opportunity for current life influences as well.
So as this says: You also have influences from the present life as additional influences. We just looked at the one about worship but other influences are coming up here.
The important way that our present life influences karma is that all our actions in the present are creating what we experience in the future, even in future lives. The point here is that when we think of karma we tend to think of the past. We reflect upon the rewards and punishments from the past that are yet to manifest and what we must have done to create them. However, we must also think about our future in this life and our lives to come. Our actions in the present are influencing the future making it a pleasant or unpleasant one. Therefore, before acting a wise person reflects on the actions, karmic consequences and thereby consciously molds his future.
So that's there to introduce the next point. We all know this idea.
A second [pervading??] concept is the idea of affirmations. The idea behind affirmation is that through the repetition of positive statements we can improve our self-concept, make greater progress on the spiritual path and in general increase our magnetism to success. Gurudeva elucidates the basis for affirmations in the Cognizantability Resource in the back of his book Merging with Siva. "The future is created by the impressions we have put into the subconscious in the past and those impressions we are facing there in the present. Many impressions that go into the subconscious mind are the actions of our life and are reactions to these actions both of which shape the future experience we have in a haphazard way. Affirmations on the other hand are carefully chosen impressions we are deliberately placing in our subconscious to produce specific results in the future."
So the idea is, what goes into our subconscious creates the future. The actions and those have reactions, be it affirmations, you know, whatever we put into the subconscious mind that's where the future comes from. And that carries forward from one life to the next. So the idea is, just as karma carries forward and is a result of what we've done through the subconscious, we can use the subconscious, through affirmations, to change what happens to us.
In other words, we're attracting our future based on what's in our subconscious mind. And we can deliberately harness our future better by the use of affirmations. For example, I was talking to a Hindu woman. Her son had been working in Singapore and was laid off. This would have been 2009, he was in the financial industry. And she was worried about him having a job.
So, what benefit is worry? If we worry all the time about something for ourselves or about something for someone else we're putting that impression into the subconscious, right? Cause whatever we think about on a repetitive basis is what's going in the mind in the strongest way. So, if it's worry, what does worry do?
Q. Creates what you're afraid of?
Q. Creates worry?
A. You can create what you're worried about. Yes. That's the worst side of it. You're worried about something enough you attract it to yourself. But in this case, what good does it do the mother to worry about her son getting a job? Does it do any good? No, in fact it's a negative influence to some degree. Because all our thoughts, when we think about somebody else, that thought goes to the other person. Be it a positive, a negative or a neutral thought; if we're thinking about somebody else our thought hits the other person. If they're sensitive they'll feel it. There's a quote in "Words of Our Master" Yogaswami says something like, you know, just thousands of thoughts are coming to him. He's aware of everyone who's thinking about him. Cause his own mind is so quiet and he knows how to do that. You can tell where the thought came from if you're good at that but that's a different subject.
So, our thoughts go out to other people. So, if they're worrisome it's a negative thought to some degree. So, I explain, well it's better to create a visualization. Positive visualization of your son finding a job. Think about that. Now that's more helpful. But still it's in her mind; it's not in his mind. So, the what we try and do to help someone else is much less effective then what the person, him or herself, tries to do. In other words, to really manifest something in a dynamic way you need to visualize it yourself. Can't visualize it for someone else. They need to do the visualization because it's their subconscious which is attracting life to them. Not your subconscious which is attracting life to them. You're sending a positive thought and that positive thought helps them to some degree. But if they want to do an affirmation they need to do it themselves.
So, an affirmation is making use of this principle that whatever goes into the subconscious mind that's where the future comes from. So when we use affirmations we can mold the subconscious mind or repair the gear. It doesn't take lifetimes. You can mold the subconscious over a period of years and therefore the tendencies we had have been changed in a positive way. We're more positive.
So, if we were tending this way, when life is difficult, we tend to slack off. If we had that tendency we can get rid of it by affirmation. We don't have to remain the same. We're not only are we influenced by these different aspects of our past besides karma, we're influenced by what we put into the subconscious mind in this life as well.
And, it's very important for those who are parents to watch out for the self-image. The self-image, call it a positive self-concept. One's self-concept is a crucial factor in how we respond to life. How we look at ourselves by what our parents told us, by what our teachers told us. Do we think of ourselves as talented and as good as everybody else or do we think of ourselves as flawed and less than everybody else? So, we want to think of ourselves as talented and as good as everybody else. Not superior, not trying to create a big ego, but we don't want to feel inferior, you know. And that's controlled by how we raise a child, how we discipline a child. All of that relates to their self-image.
And a few of you haven't heard this so I'll say it though many of you have. We distinguish between the behavior and the person. We never say: Oh you're stupid. What a stupid thing to do. You know, you're putting the wrong image in the child's mind that he or she is stupid. So, you want to distinguish the behavior from the person. You say: That was a very stupid thing to do but you're so smart I'm sure you'll never do it again. So, the child is smart; the behavior was stupid. It's a very subtle point but an important point. And you want to watch that self-image and create a positive self-concept.
When you have children it's the first of, first of nine qualities we want to develop in children but it's the most important one. Because if that's not there then the others are harder to develop. But they're in the [...??] of the nine qualities.
So this one relates to affirmations. And we can see, the answer is that even if that was our tendency because of past life experiences we can change through what we do in this life and affirmations is just one example. We can find other examples as well. But we can the change the "who we are" coming into this life by consciously using principles such as affirmations.
Okay that's number three. 15 minutes.
Questions on that? That's pretty straight-forward I think, more-so than some of the other ones.
Question number four.
Does our prarabdha karma only create situations for us or does it also influence our thinking? It is said that karma only impels but does not compel. I've noticed that sometimes one is compelled to act in a certain manner by his instincts and only years later he realizes the mistake. Then again can one's karma compel a person to react in a certain way? What do you think?
Discussion: Is it karma or something else that is compelling a person to react in a certain way? So what is it that compels us to react as we do?
Q. Instinctive mind?
A. Instinctive mind, yes. That's part of it.
A. Astrology, okay.
Q. Spiritual maturity?
A. Um hmm. Spiritual maturity.
Q. Personal experience?
A. Personal experience, yes those are all good.
Q. Where you flow in your awareness?
A. Yes, okay, well.
Q. The training we have received for example from our parents?
A. Yes, training. Well training is the one that's the closest to the answer we're giving. The answer we're giving, all the answers you've given are correct. But, we're looking at a specific one here for [cancer??]. Quite often this is a factor. Belief and attitude. Our beliefs create our attitudes, our attitudes are the basis upon which we act. So, you take, for example, what do you do to create a terrorist?
A. You have to change their beliefs, yes, you have to, and that's what happens first. You watch how someone becomes a terrorist, they show it sometimes on television, internet. They put a lot of energy into lecturing them, you know. They go places and listen to lectures and change the belief structures that they have in a serious way. And of course it helps if the person is dissatisfied in some way, you know, doesn't have employment or is poor or whatever. You know, isn't happy with the current life. But that's not enough to create a terrorist; you have create the belief structure of a terrorist. Likewise someone like Martin Luther King; he had to change the beliefs of some of the people that worked with him because they weren't naturally non-violent. You know, other way around. They had to reason with them. What'll happen if we're violent? Talk to them and show them the benefit of a belief of changing society through non-violent methods.
So, let's see what Gurudeva says here.
"Every belief creates certain attitudes. Attitudes govern our actions.. Our actions can thus be traced to our inmost beliefs about our self and the world around us. Belief in karma, reincarnation and the existence of all-pervasive Divinity throughout the universe creates an attitude of reverence, benevolence and compassion for all beings. The natural consequence of this belief is ahimsa, non-hurtfulness."
You can see how practicing ahimsa is based upon a number of beliefs, not even just one. And you know definitely the, what is coming up, you have to be careful of that. [...??] is coming up and then I can't read.
"However if our beliefs are erroneous our actions will not be in tune with the universal dharma. For instance, the beliefs in the duality of self and others, of eternal heaven and hell, victors and vanquished, light forces and dark forces create the attitudes that we must be on guard and are justified in giving injury physically, mentally and emotionally to those we judge as bad, pagan, alien or unworthy. Thus thinking leads to rationalizing so-called righteous wars and conflicts. As long as our beliefs are dualistic we will continue to generate antagonism and that will erupt here and there in violence."
So, that was very interesting when our former President Bush had to use this phrase "the axis of evil." You know, I cringe every time I heard that. Wait a minute. We don't believe that. You know, we can't label North Koreans evil just because they have a different belief system than we do. They believe differently; that doesn't make them evil, there's a difference. Beliefs can be changed over time. Beliefs are malleable.
So everyone, as you know we talked about it in the Sun 1 talk, that everyone is intrinsically a divine being. So evil doesn't relate to who anyone is. It relates to actions. If we're going to label someone evil it's because their actions are inappropriate for the society in which they're in. They're not acting as they're supposed to, therefore, they're considered evil. But, they're still a divine being. And the duty of religious people, such as all of us, to see everyone improving. Even want those who don't like us to improve. We want everyone to improve.
You know, it's like being the judge in the criminal law system. You're not trying to punish people because they're evil; you're trying to punish them so they improve their behavior. You're trying to motivate them to finally catch on: You know, you can't go around robbing banks. You know, there are consequences. You're not supposed to do it so we have this little punishment here every time you do. So, eventually, you're hoping they'll catch on and stop doing it. You're wanting them to improve their behavior. You're not condemning them; they're bad. You're good; they're bad. No, you want them to improve so that their behavior conforms to society.
So, that's the way knowledgeable Hindus should look at everyone. We want the whole world to improve. You don't leave anybody out. So that's the belief. Vasudhaiva kutumbakam: the whole world is family. We don't leave anybody out because they're of a different religion, a different ethnicity, a different nationality. No, we have to include everybody in our desire for people to be happy and peaceful.
And the prayer goes on, even the four legged, not just the two legged. Even the animals are supposed to be included it's a [...??] peace prayers. So, we're including everybody, everything.
Okay, so you can see I attempt to head to the nine qualities here, I told you this. So anyway the belief that is the core one is the belief about our self. The self-concept.
And the important thing is the self-concept can be changed. If it's an adult, on reflection we find our self-concept isn't as good as it should be, we can change it. (See if it says I can do so here.)
Yes? It's coming up. Okay. Stay tuned.
One's self concept can be changed through reading teachings such as Gurudeva's where he stresses you are a divine being, superconscious being. Says: We have to adjust our subconscious to the idea that we are a superconscious being rather than an instinctive being or an intellectual being driven by the impulses of the five senses. Awareness is the core of us. If we dropped off this physical body today we would be a superconscious being without a physical body.
So, that's a very important concept for at we are a divine being. And when you look at Dancing with Siva, a book about Siva, you would think the first sloka would be about Siva right? If you hadn't seen it. Gurudeva's going to start telling me about Siva. Siva's this, Siva's this, but he doesn't. How does he start?
Q. You are divine?
A. Yes. You are a divine being. Coming from God . Returning to God. This and that.
You know, starts with you. You are a divine being. So he doesn't start talking about God Siva he starts about you. And your divinity. So, it shows how important it is in the overall structure. And you can't think of yourself as a divine being if you have a negative self-concept. There's no way. You're not even a good human being let alone a divine being. I'm a worthless human being. How can I be a divine being? Too big a jump, right?
So, that's why the self, that's why part of the self-concept is so important. And, as we say, a lot of it doesn't all come from how you were raised it comes from past lives, some of it, but a lot of it is exposure we have in our younger years.
So reading Gurudeva's teaching can help us change our core belief, who we are.
And then, as we were talking about, another way to change concepts is through affirmations. We actually change the structure of the subconscious mind and life responds differently to us.
I'll put in the related point cause we may not get to it in the question we're going to do last at this time. (Let's start the clock here. 12 minutes.)
The New-age approach to affirmations, how many of you have seen that kind of thing, you know the secret, visualize, materialize. So, the point obviously is, is the same but it's being presented without certain subtleties shall we say, you know. And the point is correct. [...??] the point. But it gives the impression that everybody's equal in this ability. That we all, everyone in this room for example, could visualize the same thing and materialize the same thing. And we have no, it's an inherent ability we all have so let's just use it. We all have the same ability.
But that's ignoring karma. That's ignoring past lives. It's setting aside the fact that some of us have had more past lives than others; we've done different things in past lives; we have different carry forward from the past. We have different karmas in this life. Some are destined to be quite wealthy; some are destined not to be wealthy. Just from the astrology we can see that. So, it's ignoring all that subtlety. All the inherent differences we have and making it look like everyone's the same.
So that's misleading. It's also making it look like you can fix everything. You can fix disease; you can fix all disease just by visualization. Well some diseases can't be fixed by anything. You know, they're just incurable. And visualization can help with disease, but, you know, it's not, not a miracle. Doesn't rebuild the physical body, you know it's not a siddha. It's just just a power to, for the mind to influence matter to some degree. But it's not a cure-all for everything.
But, so it's an important point that I wanted to throw out there and you know the...
Q. It's very well said, you know the siddha stuff, something in the spirit [...??] what you just said. Very good and it doesn't change the core identity at all it just goes to, oh whatever you want. Just to visualize it or do know what I mean? You leave the whole foundation behind kinda?
A. Well yes, that it's making...
Q. Very very astute.
A. ... it's too simplified, you know. The principle is good, I mean, we're not speaking against it but it's too simplified. There's more to it than that and there's limitations that aren't being acknowledged and more importantly, there's differences between individuals. So just because someone else was successful at it doesn't mean you'll be successful at it to the same extent. But they would present it that way: If this person could do it you can do it. But no, that's like everyone can't be a great athlete, you know, we're different, right?
Just get someone, runs the, you know, I think in terms of a mile, someone runs the mile in less than 4 minutes, that used to be good, growing up. Just because someone could do that doesn't mean we could all do it even with training. Our physical bodies are different right? We know that. So we don't all [...??]. But, in this case there's differences and they're not being acknowledged. Terms of karma, in terms of past life experience and so forth. In terms of our prarabdha karmas, what we're going to experience in this life anyway. These are all differentiating factors in ...
So that relates to the question on health which, I say, we'll do that one last at this time.
Okay, this is, it's not a question it's just a discussion there, we need to make this heading better but, turn the question page over at the top.
It's a false concept about karma and it's really strong in Asia. I don't think it's strong in the U.S. here.
"My life is in a state of chaos. Everything is going wrong and it all started three months ago when Saturn enter Taurus and my karma changed. I've been advised that if I can successfully appease Saturn, Sani, through having a priest do regular Sani puja my problems will go away."
How many of you are familiar with that? Okay, about half.
So this is very large scale phenomena in Asia. And part of it is that the astrologer is quite often the priest. So, we call it, double, we call it double dipping. You've got two salaries going here. He can tell you the problem, how to solve it. And then he can be the one solves it for you.
Q. Your financial consultant is your stock broker.
A. Right, exactly, the same thing you get this where somehow what you recommend is exactly the service you provide, wearing another hat, you know.
Okay, so if someone told you about this what would you suggest?
Q. I would suggest that they take Bodhinatha's karma management [...??].
A. And what does it say?
Q. It tells that real nature of karma and how it can be mitigated. Like the things you were saying yesterday.
A. Yes, well yes the point it makes it that in this approach, what's the problem?
Q. Putting the influence [...??] on something else.
A. Right. Sani is causing me the problem. Yesterday it wasn't, now today Sani is causing me a problem.
Q. Complaining that someone else is [...??]
A. It's like saying, you know, when you're grounded: My parents are causing the problem. You know. Not looking backwards to what caused them to ground you, you know. The parents are, they're causing me all this grief. Did you do something? Oh no I didn't do anything; it's just they arbitrarily grounded me.
So, yes it's pointing the finger at Sani and as we know from the analogy to the seeds, that different seeds, different prarabdha karmas manifest under different astrological conditions. But you created the seed, right? Sani didn't create the seed. You know, like putting seeds in the ground in the winter that'll sprout in the summer. And next summer you come out and they're sprouting and say well: Why are they sprouting? You know, you put them there, previously.
So it's, you did something in a past life created a reaction, a prarabdha karma that you're facing in this life. And you're blaming Sani. So, that's the [...??].
Any other suggestions on what you would say to someone if they asked you about this?
Q. Well you [...??] take responsibility, this is me, this is not a [...??]. There's something I can do and take responsibility and have a plan. Just deal with it and be honest with yourself and try to take this [...??].
A. Okay, that's good.
Q. Does, is it, like say, you know the, in astrology, a planet is in one of your houses and it brings up that karma? When you face the karma and but and hopefully you get, you do all the right things [...??] but it doesn't lighten up as the energy goes into a different house?
A. Oh, of course.
Q. It changes [...??] background?
A. Oh yes. That's the nice thing about the astrology: It doesn't put all the bad things in one part of your life. [...??]. It's like all the cold days in your life aren't back to back. The sun, it's kinda circular, you know.
Q. So even if you resolve or get through it it'll lighten up and go away and it'll come back around?
A. No it'll won't come back.
Q. It won't come back?
A. No, similar things will come back but not that particular one. That one is, unless you react to it that's gone. If you react to it then you're creating, you're making it come back in some form but, you know, in a future life, usually. It happens, you know, so say your house gets fully closed upon unfairly. You lose your house. It happened. So, you know, as long as you don't do something unfair as a result then it's gone. That karma's gone.
Okay well lets see what the answer says here. Answer to discussion of Sani. I'll read my story, I can tell my story; I remember it. This is what really put it in my mind. Realize [...??] long time ago.
And somehow, this young man was told I was there so he came up to see me and 25 or 30 year old and single, living out of town. So every day he would commute in, work long hours and then commute back. So, he didn't have much free time. And he had a Sani problem and the priest had told him: Well what you should do is, on Saturday cause that's Sani day, Saturday. And you should go to the temple and worship Sani. Sani puja on Saturday. So that's what he was doing. But that's all he was doing. His only worship was to Sani on Saturday. He didn't have any worship throughout the week. He didn't have time for much. So the one worship thought he had was [...??] up to Sani.
So I thought about that. I said: That's not right, you know. We're not on a campaign to say that no one should ever worship Sani. You know, it's not really the style that go out and change the entire Hindu world or something. But when it comes to you in that form then you need to say something.
So, the point is, a person's religious life was out of balance to give all his attention to Sani and no attention to a normal Deity. Siva, Vishnu, you know, in a sense of worship. But, that was the advice he received. So, you can see that it's problematic and not really traditional. It's not really traditional to give all your attention to one of the nine planets.
So, we have an excellent answer from Dr. Kay Ganeshalingham, which outlines Saivism:
"Most of the temples now-a-days have navagrahas or nine planets in their premises. These are not found in the ancient temples. According to Saivism or even astrology planets do not create events. They only indicate events which effect us according to our past karma."
(So far so good, right? Shows we're not alone in our opinion here.)
"To overcome the problems in life and to gain mental strength to face them we should worship God who's the indweller even in planets and causing their movement. (Isn't that powerful?) Giving a higher place than God to a planet and worshiping it is born out of ignorance.
"Thirugnanasambandhamurthy Nayanar (okay) in his Kolaru Pathikam. ( Okay, It's a famous song.) Says that the navagrahas indicate good to Siva's devotees. By singing his Kolaru Pathikam verses and praying to Siva, the evil effects indicated by planets will be removed."
So there's a nice story here. I'll just read it here, not tell it, tell it spontaneously.
"So 7th century, Tamil Nadu, Jainism was on the rise in the Pandya kingdom..."
Very easy for a religion to be on the rise, it just needs the king, becomes of that religion. Then everybody else is supposed to. When the king becomes Saivite then everybody else is supposed to. The king becomes Buddhist, you know, it was happening at that time, not so much Buddhist I think. But Jain was very strong, Jainism was very strong in South India. That's how Saivism got into places, you know that Saivism would go to Indonesia and it convert the local kings and then all the followers would become Saivites. Just took convincing one person.
So the king is a Jain.
"There was a lot of discrimination against Saivites. The queen (okay) Mangaiyarkkarasiyar and the chief minister Kulachiraiyar were perturbed by this. They learned about the greatness of Thirugnanasambandar and felt that he could show the right path to the Pandya king. Hence, they sent a message to Thirugnanasambandar explaining the situation, requested him to visit Madurai. When the request came Thirugnanasambandar was with Thirunavukkarasar in Thiruvengadu. Sambandar was only 7 years old at the time, agreed and decided to go to Madurai."
So he was only 7 years old when he sang this song. Amazing, you know, he's just, you know. Where does that come from in a past life, right? Seven year old who's wiser than a 70 year old.
So of course, the:
" Thirunavukkarasar was protected. He'd been persecuted by the Jains in the past; he felt that Sambandar being a very young boy, was vulnerable to being harmed. Further, he concluded that, astrologically, it was not an auspicious period for Sambandar to undertake this venture. Hence, he tried to dissuade Sambandar from going to Madurai. Thirugnanasambandar responded to him Thirunavukkarasar that no harm will come to an ardent Siva devotee like him. He then sang Kolaru Pathikam. The song's title can be translated as removing the negative effects of the planets. "
That's what it means.
So the first verse. These capitals and all it's a way of transliterating [damara??].
"Being (he means Siva) who has as his equal half the woman, the Umai of bamboo-like frame has implanted Himself within me in the archetypal forms as the One who plays the faultless Veena, and as the One wearing the pure half-moon and the Ganges on His tuft. And because of this for devout people like me, the forces of the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the Snakes Rahu and Ketu will not do anything evil but only good, the really good."
So what, what is he saying there. Hard to sort it out if you haven't seen the verse before. He's telling, of course, we don't pray to the planet itself to remove it's evil effects but rather we pray to Siva. Our prayers should be to Siva and if our prayers are to Siva, if we're really devoted to Siva, then nothing can harm us. That's what it's saying. So of course, in our tradition, you know, back in those days everything was Siva but we have Ganesha and Muruga too so we can figure that as well.
So that's the idea and, very very nicely said by the Dr. Ganeshalingham. He says it just like we would, right? You know, if I had showed you that and said did Gurudeva write that? You'd say: Oh sure Gurudeva wrote that; that's Gurudeva's teachings. But of course, he didn't. But it's an important point that someone who understands the tradition, and he's very knowledgeable person, Ganeshalingham, and understands what's going on in the modern world in Saivism would naturally comment on it in that way that we're off track here. We're not following what Thirugnanasambandar said. We're giving acknowledgement. We're singing his songs but we're not following what they tell us to do which is, you know, the worship should be to Siva. Then that protects you. You don't have to worship the planet.
Well that's an aside but it's a fun one.
(Okay, 14 minutes.)
And the fifth one is the one we'll skip. Okay the sixth one. Let's go to the 8th one; I think it's about the right length of time.
Gurudeva says that the conquest of karma is through regular sadhana. I request Bodhinatha to elaborate on the important concept.
Okay so we got two discussions here.
What does Gurudeva mean when he says sadhana and how does it differ from say just well going to the temple once in a while or basic Hindu practices? Gurudeva's use of the word sadhana.
Q. Daily worship? Daily worship?
A. Daily, yes okay, daily. Some kind of daily practice is important. What else?
Q. Same time?
A. Same time, okay.
Q. Should include puja, japa and meditation?
A. Umm hmm, right. So we're talking about the daily sadhana vigil. Performing of daily sadhana vigil is a core aspect of Gurudeva's concept of sadhana. In fact sometimes when he uses the word sadhana that's what he means. He says sadhana but he means a daily sadhana vigil. And so it's such an important part of sadhana to him that he uses it synonymously in his writings, not always, but synonymously.
What else is important about sadhana? How does it differ from just going to the temple regularly? Yes?
Q. The repetition, the repetition of discipline?
A. Right. Doing the same thing over and over. Yes?
Q. Regulated penance.
A. Regulated penance. Yes, penance is part of it. What else?
Q. Karma yoga, karma yoga?
A. Karma yoga. Well karma yoga doesn't really fit in this, what we're developing. It's important but it's a little different.
Q. Spiritual study. Spiritual study and studying Master Course?
A. Um hmm. There's another aspect to it altogether.
Q. [...??] the Deities and inner awareness [...??] connection?
A. That's part of it.
Q. Practicing [...??] practicing the affirmation?
A. Um hmm.
Q. [...??] instructions are given by the Guru?
A. Um hmm.
Q. Living 24/7 in ...
A. That's getting closer to what I'm looking for.
Q. Bringing forth one's inner being?
A. Um hmm. It's over there yes?
Q. [...??] time [...??]
A. Um hmm. Yes. You're trying to make some kind of progress. You're not trying to just do the same thing every day and you know, fifty years later you're the same person right? There's this idea of making progress. So it's like exercising to build muscle. You're trying to, there's a goal there. You're not just exercising every day for the sake of exercising. You have a goal. You're trying to increase your muscle mass, for example. You're trying to increase your stamina. We're doing this to increase our control over awareness; you can say that. We're doing this to improve our control of the instinctive and intellectual mind. We're doing it to be more spiritual, you know. Those are the results we're looking for by repeating the same thing over and over again we're trying to improve, you know.
It's, the example I give sometimes in efforts to improve individuals set the goal too high. We had an argument; we failed. You know, what argument. We failed, you know. Doesn't matter that they use to argue every month and now argue once a year, you know. But looking at it not supposed to argue at all somehow. Going from one argument a month to no arguments might be setting the goal too high.
So what we're looking for is improvement. And if we fall short, I don't want to say failure, we fall short; there's failure. You know, really that doesn't help your self-image. If you say you failed, that's not good for self-concept. We made a mistake. That's a better one. So we can learn from our mistakes, right? And try not to do it the next time around. So the idea is improvement in various aspects of our life. We're trying to make our life more spiritual. We're trying to improve in these various ways. And it's all different ways of saying the same thing.
I stress to the monks, or meditation isn't just, you know, we sit here for an hour in the morning and meditate. That's not, meditation doesn't stop when you go out the door then throughout the day you need to control awareness. So I had to say: "Meditation is controlling awareness throughout the day." Not just during the hour of meditation period. That's what meditation is. Cause we not supposed to distinguish the inner from the outer. It's a western concept. But that's a long talk in itself.
Q. We like it.
A. Do that one tomorrow, if we run out of topics we'll do that one tomorrow.
That's the idea of sadhana. Sadhana is the, daily sadhana vigil is the core practice. But its, there's the endeavor to improve that goes with it. To improve in these various ways.We described improvement and that's, someone who's doing that Gurudeva says they're on the path of, what is it? Path of personal transformation. What's on our renewal form? Something like that. Upper right hand corner it's got: Sadhana, marga, the path of personal transformation.
So, that's the idea is that there's not a huge emphasis on study, you know. We need a clear intellectual knowledge of what we're doing but it's the self-effort that transforms us over time and we're striving for improvement not perfection. We're striving for improvement. As long as improvement is there then we need to be content. Because if we're not content it's creating an obstacle in our own progress. Because. if anyone was perfect they wouldn't have been born in the first place, right? The fact that we're all here shows at least one thing was not yet perfect. Maybe more. At least one. So, we came back to work on that one and maybe some others.
Okay, that's the first one.
Second one: In what way does regular sadhana influence karma?
Does regular sadhana influence karma? If so how?
Q. It comes smoother rather than...?
A. It comes more smoothly, yes.
Q. So we're holding ourselves accountable. Every was set for sadhana, you know, holding yourself accountable for the daily for or what ever?
A. Right. You're more willing to accept what happens is your own creation.
A. Right. And therefore react less.
Q. In, in knowledge that we gain both from reading and that comes from within during our meditations in our regular sadhana our beliefs improve and that improves our reactions to things which then ...?
A. Yes, right, the word for changing. Our beliefs and understandings are getting closer to what they should be.
Q. [...??] sadhana challenges come along like mild sickness or something happens that puts up blockage or a challenge after your daily sadhana. And what I thought, what is your advice in regard to how to handle that situation?
A. Well, we have to regroup afterwards. You know, things when, when life really gets way too busy, way too problematic then the sadhana will fall away for a while but the important thing is to not let it fall away longer then it needs to. You know, you regroup afterwards and start over again. It's just like an exercise program. You know, things come up. You're really good you know, half an hour every day, hour a day and then the routine gets all of for some reason. So then you have to start over and go back up to where you were.
It's that speed with which you start over is the key thing and that's the advantage of being, of having a group. You know, associating with a group who's doing sadhana because it's hard to start over if no one else you know is doing sadhana. It's easy to let it go and you know so much easier to not get up an hour earlier and do your sadhana and then to sleep in. Sleep in is a lot easier. I sure need that extra hour of sleep.
Okay so let's see what the answers are.
Eight. Eighth answer: Religious duty verses sadhana.
Living with Siva [Lesson 85] Gurudeva says: "When we study and practice our religion we are not necessarily performing deep sadhana. We are simply dispatching our religious duties. These duties are concisely outlined in the pancha nitya karmas, the five minimal religious obligations of Hindus."
Elsewhere it says: "The performance of personal sadhana, discipline for self-transformation, is one step deeper in making religion real in one's life. Through sadhana we learn to control the energies of the body and nerve system, and we experience that through the control of the breath, and we experience that through the control of the breath the mind becomes peaceful. Sadhana is practiced in the home, in the forest, by a flowing river, under a favorite tree, in the temple, in gurukulas or wherever a pure, serene atmosphere can be found. A vrata, vow, is often taken before serious sadhana is begun. The vrata is a personal pledge between oneself, one's guru and the angelic beings of the inner worlds to perform the disciplines regularly, conscientiously, at the same time each day. "
I think we hit all those points, didn't we in our discussion? Summarizes them nicely and part of the reason this is here so you can remember. Otherwise, you go away, and if it wasn't written down it'd be hard to remember a month from now what we were talking about. It's a reference to back up the verbal statements. (Thank you).
Okay, and we, all that was covered.
This is a nice statement by Adi Sankara that our in our Insight Section on sadhana in the next Hinduism Today. January  issue.
This is a quote from it. "That benefit which is superseded by no other benefit, that joy which is superseded by no other joy, that knowledge which is superseded by no other knowledge--the attainment of that bliss comes through sadhana."
Okay, that's motivating. Put that up on your wall.
Then there's some definitions of sadhana that, from the insight section:
"Sadhana means to achieve by effort."
"Sadhana refers to disciplines undertaken to reach a specific spiritual goal--steady and persevering practice of a method or exercise prescribed for spiritual ends.
"By disciplining your mind, body and emotions through sadhana, you come more and more into the inner knowing of yourself."
Okay, that's been consistent with what we said. Then this is the daily sadhana vigil.
Living with Siva [Lesson 87] says: "Yes, sadhana begins in the home, and it begins with you. It must be practiced regularly, at the same time each day -- not two hours one day, one hour the next and then forgetting about it for three or four days because you are too busy with external affairs, but every day, at the same time. Meeting this appointment with yourself is in itself a sadhana. In the technological age nearly everyone finds it difficult to set one hour aside in which to perform sadhana. "
So this is the, in Living with Siva Gurudeva just suggests half an hour to start with but in the sutras he outlines it for an hour. He's trying to get someone to start here in his statement.
"That is why in your sadhana vrata, or vow, you promise to dedicate only one half hour a day. In the agricultural era, it was easy to find time to perform sadhana two to three hours a day. Why? The demands of external life were not as great as they are now, in the technological age. Half an hour a day, therefore, is the amount of time we dedicate for our sadhana.
In the Nandinatha Sutras [21-22] Gurudeva's more demanding for sishiyas states that the vigil should be one hour.
"Worshipers of Siva perform a one-hour daily vigil, ideally before sunrise, in a clean, quiet place, after bathing and donning fresh clothing and holy ash. This vigil is optional on weekends and when traveling or ill."
"Worshipers of Siva, during their daily sadhana vigil, conduct or attend puja, chant the Guru Mantra and 108 repetitions of their mantra, study scripture and perform hatha yoga, concentration and meditation."
Okay, that was the first part. What is sadhana and how does it differ from just simple Hindu practices?
So this is the second part talking about how sadhana impacts karma. This is on the web-site audio file [Gurudeva February13, 1999] with a transcript.
"We were talking yesterday about karma. There is big confusion about fate and karma. Karma is not fate and fate is not karma. Fate is pre-destined action caused by something else."
So that's western idea of fate. You haven't created it. The word fate means it's been created not by you but it's going to happen to you.
"Fate is pre-destined action caused by something else. You have no control of it. It actually comes from the Abrahamic religions, not from Sanatana Dharma. Karma you do have control of it. You actually do because dharma is the controlling element of karma. Right action, right speech, right thought controls karma. Even the worst kinds of karma that you have created in the past and are now facing in the future can be mitigated. That means, not actually eliminated, but eliminated enough so that they are gentle karmas rather than rough karmas as they could have been if they were not mitigated through prayashchitta, which is penance and through sadhana, which is performing a religious practice at the same time every day.
Right action, that means doing kindly things, not mean things. Right speech, that means no back-biting. Right thought, no sexual fantasies, no mental arguments, no plans to hurt somebody behind their back or to their face. Because, what you think you might like to do to someone else, you are doing that to yourself through somebody else at some future time. That is the way it works, and that is the way it works. (That's a way of empathizing.) Most importantly daily sadhana harnesses the instinctive-intellectual mind and opens the door to superconsciousness. The key of proper sadhana is that and you only have to remember one thing; one thing only. That it is performed at the same time. The exact time. No fudging. No telling yourself, 'I can't do my sadhana, it is six o'clock. I have to do it at seven.' It doesn't work that way. The same time every day creates a habit pattern within the sub-conscious mind that is indelibly impressed there and that offers great control of the instinctive mind. Great control of the intellectual mind. Your instinctive mind and your intellectual mind are your tools of the soul to function on planet Earth and as you sleep at night on the astral plane."
So, that's worth a comment. Tools.
Gurudeva says the intellectual mind is the greatest barrier to the superconscious also, right? And here, he's saying it's a tool of the soul. How can both be right? Well it's similar to a computer. What's a computer? A computer is whatever you make of it, right? It can be the greatest barrier to your whole life if you end up misusing it. Or, if you're using it in the way you should it can make your job much more efficient. So, if it's a tool to you and not a toy, you know, not something you're abusing. They're two different things.
So, the intellect is the same way. You want it to be a tool just like a computer. You turn it on, you turn it off. Okay I can make sending my intellect on to solve this problem, acquires some competition here. My intuition may not give me the right answer. Turn on the intellect, be your competition. You turn it off. You know, it shouldn't dominate us all the time which it tends to. It tends to dominate.
Likewise the instinctive mind. Okay, I'm going to digest my lunch. Fortunately, we don't have to do it with our conscious mind, you know. In fact I'm surprised we can digest so many diverse types of food at the same time. Cows eat grass, you know, that's all they can do. They eat one food but you know we store ten different kinds of food down there and expect the instinctive mind to handle it.
So, the instinctive mind is a tool of the soul. It keeps the body functioning when it's, when it's right. We don't want it to dominate the soul. So it's an important little point there that can be thought about.
So this is for cyberspace. Remember, Gurudeva used to get questions in? That's what cyberspace means. People used to write in questions and then he would answer them at the Sun 1 talk. So, it was just starting. So he calls that cyberspace.
[February 13, 1999 continued]
" If all of you in cyberspace who have been tuning in, in over 59 countries, if you are performing sadhana, and if you are performing sadhana now and again, here and there, at different times during the day, get it regulated so that it is a daily practice at the same time every day. Preferably in the early morning, I mean, you have nothing to do in the early morning. Get out of bed, take a bath, perform your sadhana. You've got the alarm clock to tell you to get out of bed. You've got your willpower to get out of that bed and take a bath and perform the sadhana. No excuses in the morning. Be sure that it is the same time every morning without fail. Now, if you don't want to do sadhana on Saturday and Sunday and sleep in, that is alright. But Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, same time every day."
We can see Gurudeva's very consistent in the way he describes it.
And here is, the idea is mitigation. He's telling us that the practice of sadhana won't get rid of the karma. It's not a strong enough practice to burn it away. It's not intense. Anything we do every day isn't intense. We can't sustain something intense every day. You know, we can only generate intensity now and then in a religious way. Even monastics that can't sustain intensity every single day unless they're maybe an older person. You can get intense now and then. But otherwise you have to drop back to a more normal practice.
So, sadhana, when it's done every day, is not intense enough to get rid of the karma. The only thing we talked about so far that will get rid of the karma is the Grace of the Deity. When it's through intense worship you get a big blast of the Grace of the Deity; it can actually eliminate the karma.
Otherwise we're just mitigating it. We're making it flow more smoothly as you said, you know. Not as rough. It doesn't disrupt our life. It's not as bad an event so to speak.
Okay, so this is a little more...molten.
[Merging with Siva Lesson 252]
"However, it must be understood that your past negative karma can be altered into a smoother, easier state then the loving heart-chakra nature, through the loving, heart-chakra nature, through dharma and sadhana. That is the key of karmic wisdom. Live religiously well and you will create positive karma for the future and soften negative karma of the past.
"Right knowledge, right decision and right action imperceptibly straighten out, unkink and unwind ignorantly devised or contrived past actions. The key word is reform. Re-form, re-make, re-cast and put into a molten state and be reformed is what happens to our karma when we enter dharma. Adharma is creating karma, good, not so good, terrible, mixed and confused. Dharma reforms all of this--reshapes and molds, allowing the devotee to do good and think good, to be clearly perceptive. Putting all the karma in a molten state is bhakti. Happy karma, sad karma, bad karma, when consciously or unconsciously wanted to be held onto, inhibits bhakti. Bhakti brings grace, and the sustaining grace melts and blends the karmas in the heart. In the heart chakra the karmas are in a molten state. The throat chakra molds the karmas through sadhana, regular religious practices. The third-eye chakra sees the karmas, past, present and future as a singular oneness. And the crown chakra absorbs, burns clean, enough of the karmas to open the gate, the Door of Brahman, revealing the straight path to merging with Siva."
So that doesn't all have to make 100% sense but the idea is that as we awaken these higher chakras through our practice of sadhana, that actually changing the karmas. Just as if you were taking objects, melting them and putting them into new objects. And then, the crown chakra can actually get rid of the object. But that's intensity again in another form.
So that's how it looks from Gurudeva's point of view. The energy is released from the higher chakras into the external consciousness that one of the ways they effect us is remolding the karma. It doesn't get rid of it usually; it just mitigates it. Makes it flow out more easily.
Okay, conquest of karma. There's a story here. Most of you have heard this story. Story makes the point.
[DWS Sloka 31]
"The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate reaction."
Intelligent action is easier, actually. Intelligent action means something new we're doing is well conceived. It's conceived based upon correct belief. Correct belief in, that if we harm others, we're going to harm ourselves; if we help others we're going to help ourselves. So, that's easier to do because we're the one generating the action. But when actions happen to us what we do is reaction. We're responding. So, Gurudeva's saying we need a dispassionate reaction or reaction free from retaliation. Reaction free from retaliatory sense or emotion. Reaction which is willing to accept what happens is our karma. And ideally, even forgive the person who is the channel for that. You know, it's one thing not to, if somebody hits you, you don't hit them back. You know, that's good. But if you want to hit them back, you know, that's not perfect. So, you know, not hitting them back is a good dispassionate reaction, first step. But not wanting to hit them back is a goal we're striving for.
We don't want to retaliate. The sense of retaliation, ideally, isn't there because there's a sense of retaliation that means part of us doesn't accept the fact that we created this. Part of us thinks the other person is at fault. But the point is: If it wasn't that person, it would be another person. The person is really the channel, you know. It's that idea of don't shoot the messenger. If it wasn't that person bringing the bad news it'd be another one. Well, you know, it's gotta be some messenger in the old days. So in this case the karma has to come back to us almost always through another person. It's rare for karma not to come through another person and that's why interacting with people is an important part of making progress.
Most people can't lock themselves up in a cave and make the spiritual progress you think they could. Why? Because the karma doesn't have a chance to come. You know, they don't have a chance to dispassionately react. It's putting things on hold. It's not gonna happen in the mind. You know, it takes a certain nature to make spiritual progress in a cave. Most of us we need reaction, you know. And that's the other part that we didn't touch on.
You know, we talked about the world being an ashram. What do we need to do in the world in order to make spiritual progress, to really use it as and ashram? And we said: fulfill dharma, resolve karma and be of service. Those are the few things. So this is the resolve karma form, we're touching on. So, being out in the world is an opportunity to resolve our karma.
In other words, we come into life with 100 prarabdha karmas. Someone mistreats us, we're down to 99. And then if we retaliate, then guess what? We're back up to 100, right. That doesn't make any sense from a score keeping point of view. An emotional point of view really feels good. But as a deal, they say, it's in the Kural. The joy of retaliation lasts for a day but the something of something lasts forever. You know, when you don't retaliate. But, it's human nature to want to retaliate. To feel you should, you know: If I don't retaliate I'm not upholding the honor of my family. You know, but that's missing the point. That's why we have police. That's why we have principles at school. You know. There's a way of retaliating where you're not doing it personally. You're using the system. And if you use the system to retaliate then there's no karma.
You know, if the kids at school beat up on your son, you don't tell the son well you beat them up. You know. No, that son has to be told talk to the teacher, talk to the principle and fix it that way. Because retaliation just creates a new problem.
So, that's the idea there. "Conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate reaction."
Okay, so we kind of did, did what's here. I paraphrased it all.
So sadhana is, it says here, the last line, gives us greater control of our emotions, instinctive mind and lessons our chances of retaliating. And the beliefs reinforce that we are not supposed to. You know, we're not supposed to harm others. It creates a karma. There's no way of retaliating without creating a karma.
Q. Could you explain say you react to a karma that came to you. At the beginning you didn't expect or you didn't get it and you had a reaction. But as it kept coming at you and you eventually stopped reacting [...??]. Did it resolve or do all those reactions you've had before you looked at it?
A. It resolves if you don't retal.. I mean it's gone if you don't retaliate.
Q. When you finally stop...?
A. But if you hold a resentment then that's a new problem. More subtle problem. It's not a karma, the karma's gone. But then you have a resentment in your mind. And we all resentment in our mind. The more resentment we have the less place there is for devotion, you know. It's only that we're filling up our mind with resentment instead of filling up our mind with devotion. So, and also there's a practical point. Gurudeva says is, the karma won't go back on the other person until you stop resenting.
So, if you really want them... [laughing] I'm not going to retaliate; I'll just let the law of karma take care of it, right? Anyway, that's what he says. I don't know if it's supposed to be a motivator [...??] karma. That make sense? There's two different things.
So, back here, karma management first principle and [...??] in India that's the way we used to do it in the old days. You know the classic movie would be someone kills your brother and then you spend the rest of the movie tracking them down and kill them, right?
Q. [...??] in that, [...??] little.
A. [...??] you know.
So, obviously when you kill them you create a new karma and then the whole thing starts over.
Q. The sequel.
A. Yeah, the sequel right. So you're just creating reruns after reruns you know, remake after remake I guess of the same cloth by retaliating. So, the point is, as we said, you don't want to do nothing but you, in that scenario, you have to involve the sheriff. You know that's the sheriff's job. He's taken an oath. So only violence if necessary. But he tries to catch the person and bring them to justice. So you use the system. You don't want to do nothing. You have to respond, protect your family, respond to the honor of your family and so forth but utilizing the system in a way that doesn't create any karma.
Tirukural, so this is the point I made, yes it's actually easier to do this one. Intelligent action.
Fifth principle. Create no negative karmas. Once we understand the law of karma and it's a belief that really reflects who we are, it's not just something in our mind, but reflects who we are. Then there's a strong, natural strong tendency to do the right thing.
As Gurudeva says: "Wise handling of karma begins with the decision to carry the karma we now have cheerfully and not add to it. A firm decision decision to live in such a way as to create no new negative karmas is a sound basis for living a religious life, for following the precepts of dharma and avoiding that which is adharmic."
So that's the point and it's actually easier to do than not reacting. Cause reacting, our emotions get stirred. And when we have sense of pride and so forth, saving face and all of that comes up. Whereas, when we're just acting it's easier to be calm and do the right thing.
(Okay well that's, let's take a look. 36 minutes. That's a long one. Got two parts to it, that's probably why.)
Okay, well thank you very much. Five, six , and seven are left, right?
Aum saha na vavatu, saha nau bhunaktu, Saha viryam karavavahai, Tejasvinav adhitamastu, ma vidvishavahai, Aum shantih, shantih, shantih.