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Tradition, Adaption for Modern Life, Karma Yoga

God comes when you chant in Sanskrit, the language of invocation; English wouldn't work. Hinduism needs to change tradition to keep up with the times. Do karma yoga to help others, ideally four hours a week, wherever you are throughout the day. Hindu principles can impact social situations. Division looks a little silly from a unity viewpoint of the Earth from space.

Master Course, Merging With Siva, Lesson 138.

Loving Ganesha, Introduction. Master Course, Living With Siva, Lesson 364.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning.

Reading from our daily Master Course Lessons, "Merging With Siva," Lesson 138: "The Potency of Tradition."

"This is one of the reasons that religious tradition is very, very important. Modern existential thought tells us that we can do anything we want to; we don't have to follow tradition. Out of such a belief comes a great sense of loneliness, a schism between the individual and all his ancestors, all the generations that preceded him on this planet. Out of such a belief comes the breaking up of culture, society, religion and families.

"Tradition allows you to go through life's experiences in a controlled way, rather than just throwing yourself into life and upon life without forethought and preparation. When you respect tradition, you call upon the collective wisdom of tens of thousands of years of experience. When you follow tradition, you share the solutions of untold problems, solved once perhaps before recorded history began in order that future generations might avoid them. Tradition is wisdom of the past inherited by the men and women in the present."

"...The Hindu tradition is initiated and and administrated from the inner worlds, from the Devaloka. The Deities are the source of most tradition. They ordain the proper way to chant and the mantras to be used. They establish the language, the music, the dance, the systems of worship. Following the Hindu traditions better and better over the years attunes your mind to the great, positive mind flow of over one billion people on our planet.

"Ours are the world's most ancient traditions. They are the most profound, based on an esoteric understanding of man and his purpose in life. Tradition guides experiences in life. It is a protective mind structure. Any experience that you have to go through is gently guided by this great mind structure. The old ways are world patterns that have come down through thousands upon thousands of years, which you have, in previous lives, lived through and known."

So I think our homa this morning is a nice example of tradition. You know it's been done this way for a long time and the Sanskrit mantras work. God comes when you chant in Sanskrit. It's a language of invocation. If we did it in English it wouldn't work.

So a simple example of tradition that we follow without even thinking about it that works. Temple tradition.

Now I'm going to read something which may seem like it's contradicting that. This is from Introduction to "Loving Ganesha."

"Hindus around the world pray to Ganesha for help and guidance as He leads us out of an agricultural age through the technological and information eras and on into the new age of space. Many are still on the farms; others are in the offices and in the factories; while others land on the moon and orbit through space. With a mind more intricate than the most complicated computers in the world all hooked together, but as simple as a on-and-off switch, Ganesha knows all aspects of these transitions, in unfailing continuity, from one era to another. He is totally aware, at every point in time, of the mother in her home, the farmer in his field, the astronaut orbiting this planet, the corporate worker at his desk and the factory technician performing his tasks."

So this is introducing the idea that we're all changing and that Hinduism needs to change as well to keep up with the times. The Hinduism of the agricultural age doesn't work in space, doesn't work in the technological age. We need to change it some. But how to change it?

Well Gurudeva gives a suggestion here in "Living With Siva," Chapter 52, Lesson 364.

"India and Sri Lanka are in between being agricultural countries and technological countries. We have to bring Hinduism into the technological age. It has to be reiterated, reedited and reexplained. We must teach how the worship of Lord Ganesha can help people run their computer better, help them become a better typist, help them handle the stress and strain that come from dealing with traffic and coping with people of all kinds. Hinduism has to be retranslated, updated into this industrial and technological era. Who can do that? Only the intelligent older people like yourselves. (He's talking to a group in Sri Lanka.) Intelligent older people can take this on and help me in this reformation, and then we will together pass it on to the next generation. Soon the Hindus of all sects will become strong and proud of their religion.

"The religion has to help people so that they become happy in an industrial society. And content and peaceful and so forth while riding in an airplane and using automobiles, using equipment and all of that stuff. This hasn't happened yet. So this sort of Hindu metaphysics, using the mind to experience Hinduism in an industrial age is what I'm going to be working on very hard in the next few years. To get it out to the world, we'll do it from a great international magazine."

So I think Gurudeva did a lot of that in the book "Merging With Siva," that is a Hindu metaphysics and it presents things in a very contemporary way.

Well the idea I wanted to stress is the two, putting these two ideas together. We want to follow tradition and yet we want to adapt Hinduism to the industrial, technological and on into the age of space eras. So, the two points can look contradictory.

Well I think, I'll give an example of a simple way I suggested. We adapt to the change. One of the basic changes Gurudeva mentions is in the agricultural times we had more free time. Explains why, you know. You work really hard, you plant, you weed a while. And then you just watch the crop grow till you harvest. You know you have a little time there once you get it going. And then you work real hard when you harvest and then you have some free time.

So there's, in an agricultural cycle, you have periods where you don't have a lot to do. And I think that's one reason Hindu pujas are so long. We used to have more free time. You go to the temple and the puja starts at 6 and ends at 11 or something at night. Why? Cause you have nothing to do the next day. So Hindu pujas tend to seem a bit long in modern times.

One of the suggestions I've made is if you look in the write-ups on karma yoga or in the Saiva Siddhanta terminology, the practice of charya, it focuses a lot on being at the temple. Doing the chores at the temple and helping clean the temple, ringing the bell at the temple and so forth. And one of the challenges we have is, unless you're still in a country like India or Sri Lanka, there isn't necessarily a temple nearby. You know, can be a big chore to get to a temple. Can take, you know, it used to be before they build a temple in north part of greater Houston it would take them two hours to drive to the temple in the southern part, each way. Two hours each way. So that's four hours just to get to the temple. How many days a week are you going to put in four hours to drive to the temple? Maybe not even one. It's so, you may not have four hours.

So, you don't get to the temple and because your concept of karma yoga is, you do it at the temple, what happens? You don't do karma yoga, right? Well cause it relates only to the temple. That's the way it's written. Well that needs to change. You know, we need to look at it a different way. We're not supposed to stop karma yoga because we live two hours away from a temple.

So, Gurudeva's written it up quite nicely in saying we need to be of service wherever we are throughout the day. A simple way of defining karma yoga is doing something you're not paid to do. It's voluntary. Whether you're at school, whether you're at work, whether you're in the community doing things that you don't have to do to help others. Then that's karma yoga. Very simple way of looking at it and a very necessary part for those who don't live within a short distance from a temple. Cause we want them to do service. Gurudeva suggests four hours a week karma yoga for someone who's in the grihastha period of life. When you're retired and older then you might even do more. But, in the active period of your life he's suggesting four hours a week. You can't do that if you're living two hours a way from the temple. You won't get your four hours in. So you need to find creative ways.

Another point I make is don't create an obstacle by making it too complex. Try and figure out a way to be of service in the places you'll already will be. Cause just going to another place can make it impossible. You don't really have time to get there. You want to get there, you want to do something but you don't. That, conceive of it as okay, where will I be this week? How can I be of service in those situations. Be practical about it. In that way you can actually get in what Gurudeva considers the ideal of four hours of service a week. That's just one simple example.

I think the reason Gurudeva stresses metaphysics is the nature of, of the contemporary mind. It's more involved in philosophy and abstraction than it used to be. I notice that among older teenagers whose exposure to Hinduism has been that Hinduism means temple worship. Period! There's no other parts of Hinduism. It's not our values, it's not our concept of service, it's not meditation. It's none of that. It's just going to the temple. It's been reduced to that. And doesn't feel like enough to the older teenagers. You know, they're looking for something more.

It's important that Hinduism be explained in it's broader form even at teenage level so that those who are more abstract in their thinking look into that part of Hinduism and find value there. For example the principle of non-violence. You know with the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's talk, famous talk. You know he was a great exemplar of non-violence in his following the Gandhian principles in the U.S.

It's a very important side of HInduism to present how you can take Hindu principles and impact social situations. That's how Gandhi won the freedom of India. That was a pretty big impact. So Dr. Martin Luther King helped change the laws in the U.S. fifty years ago. So those are some examples of how Hinduism needs to be presented in modern times in a technological-industrial situation and I'm sure once we get more in space we'll also see different ways to perceive religion in the whole planet.

Because once you get into space you start to, I think you have a more unity viewpoint of the Earth. Whereas all the divisions of countries and languages and religions look, and the conflicts look a little silly. You know some are: Why don't we get along better and why aren't we more alike? Would seem to be an obvious result.

Thank you very much.

Photo of  Gurudeva
We should be uplifting to our fellow man, not critical or injurious. We should be loving and kind, not hateful or mean.