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How Do We Receive Guests?

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 52

Treat the guest as God; the guest's heart is more sensitive than the most sensitive flower. If we generously give to others, we will attract more wealth in this and future lives. Siva's followers serve holy men, honor elders, help each others families and grow together in Godliness. Giving to a temple builds punyam; you are helping the temple help humanity. "Charities merit cannot be measured by gifts given, it is measured by measuring the receiver's merit."

Master Course Trilogy, Nandinatha Sutras, Living With Siva.


Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

This morning we're reading from Path to Siva, Lesson 52:

"How Do We Receive Guests?""

"Hindus and their homes are known through-out the world for big-hearted hospitality. Treating the guest as God is the Hindu way. Even in the rush of modern life, we should never feel guests are keeping us from what we should be doing. We drop everything, no matter how important, to care for company. We know how it feels to be unwelcome, and would never want to send that message to visitors. When guests arrive, even without notice, they are greeted eagerly at the door by the entire family. We are generous with our time and kindly with our words. Our loving care makes each one feel special. This is our ancient and sacred duty. The Tirukural tells us, 'The whole purpose of earning wealth and maintaining a home is to provide hospitality to guests. ...The host should care for the guests he has. He should watch hopefully for more. He will then himself be a welcome guest in heaven.' Hindu shastras describe the ideal, saying the guest is to be honored by going out to meet him or her, offering water and a seat, lighting a lamp before them and providing food and lodging. There follows friendly conversation on subjects that interest them. Even the humblest home will never fail to honor a guest with food and beverage. The absolute minimum is a chair or mat to sit on and a glass of water to drink. The visit of a holy person to the home is given extra special attention and may involve days of preparation, garland and gift making, cleaning and decorating. As the guest departs, we offer good wishes and gifts, even if only a simple sweet. Then we walk with them to their transportation, palms together, watching until they are out of sight."

And we have Gurudeva's quote:

"Hospitality flows from Siva's followers like sweet music from a vina. Guests are treated as Gods. Friends, relatives, acquaintances, even strangers, are humbled by the overwhelming, ever-willing attention received."

Very nice.

There's a section in our Nandinatha Sutras on hospitality. Thought I'd read from that. The first sutra I don't need to read because it was just Gurudeva's quote.

"Siva's followers serve holy men and women of all lineages, providing food, money and clothes according to their means. They lovingly care for these living archives of Sanatana Dharma and treat them amicably."

And Gurudeva expands it a bit into families helping one another as well as hospitality.

"Siva's followers who are householders joyously visit one another's homes and grow together in Godliness. Some religious ceremony or karma yoga is a part of their every gathering. They live as one spiritual family."

"Siva's followers honor elders for their wisdom, guidance and compassion. Those who are younger, whatever their age, never disrespect those older than they. Those older nurture and encourage all who are younger."

And the last one:

"Siva's followers see that the spirit of helping and taking care of one another prevails between family and family, monastery and family. The group helps the individual, and the individual helps the group."

And we can count on the Tirukural; here's some advice on hospitality. As you know I explained the Tirukural before in its approach. In many verses, I mean in many chapters, it takes three approaches. Says it the way a high minded person would understand it and want to hear it; it says it for a reasonable kind of more materialist oriented person and then it says it for a someone who needs to be motivated by fear. Tries to scare them. Do this or you will suffer, kind of thing.

So that's, he started the chapter as we know, the whole purpose of earning wealth and maintaining a home is to provide hospitality to guests. So he's stating the high-minded. He doesn't give any benefit. He doesn't try and scare you, right? He just says: This is the right thing to do and I know you will do it because you want to do the right thing to do. Then he gets into a more benefit oriented one.

[Verse 83]

"If a man cares daily for those who come to him, his life will never suffer the grievous ruin of poverty."

So that's a good benefit. If I give then I won't be poor. I don't want to be poor, right? So I better give. Very reasonable. And he says it another way.

[Verse 88]

"Those who never sacrifice to care for guest will later lament: 'We hoarded wealth, estranged ourselves, now none will care for us.'"

Interesting, huh? So we end up not being cared for if we didn't care for anyone along the way. Very logical.

And of course, this is contrary to purely materialist thinking. This is, my text says: Materialistic thinking holds, that if we hoard all the wealth we get, we will end up with more riches. Right? isn't that logical. If we save everything we get, we just tuck it away, that's the best way to accumulate the most. But, of course, Hinduism isn't saying that nor does the Tirukural. Saying the opposite: If you use your wealth to help others and care for guests, you will prosper more than if you hoarded it. So, that's the law of karma, right? We're getting something extra because we gave. Very interesting way of looking at it.

Cause it says here: Because if we generously give to others, we will by karma's unfailing law attract more wealth in this and future lives.

This is from my Pub. Desk "Giving's Secret Gifts."

Says: The Tamil word puniyaran relates to this idea. It has a double meaning. A person of great religious merit and a lucky person. So it means two things. A person of great religious merit and a lucky person. And this concept also appears in astrological readings in which it is clear that an individual will easily attract abundance in this life because of the good he did in past incarnations. So this is one such statement from a computer chart.

It says:

"This is an intelligent devotee born to get money effortlessly due to past life merit."

So it's right in your astrology. Why are you going to get money effortlessly? Because of past life merit? What was past life merit? You helped others. So it's going to come right back to you. So, past life merit, puniyaran, also means a lucky person.

There's a very interesting verse, which, if you haven't heard it may be puzzling: "Cherokees merit cannot be measured by gifts given, it is measured by measuring the receivers's merits."

What in the world does that mean? Well normally you would think if you give ten dollars, or you give a hundred dollars, the fact that you gave a hundred dollars is going earn more puniyam than if you gave ten dollars, right? The more you give the more puniyam. But this says no, it's not the case, you're overlooking the merit of the recipient.

So, Gurudeva gives a good example on this:

"Karma is an unfailing natural law simply explained by this example. Give a beggar ten rupees. You are not giving; you are investing in your future. Somehow twenty rupees will find its way back to you. He has given you the opportunity to give. When we give expecting to receive, the law will still work but if we give ten rupees we get back ten rupees. Unselfish giving doubles the return. Giving to a temple is again different. Every ten rupees given brings back one hundred rupees in return. God pays a better interest. Giving is an investment in the future; it is not parting with something."

In other words, the temple has more merit than the beggar. So, it's doing more to help humanity. It's a more meritorious place. It's more deserving of your gift. So, that's one of the benefits of giving to situations such as a temple like this, is doing good work. Is, your giving is actually going to give you back more than just ordinary giving would. So there I'll read this verse one more time; it'll make more sense if you hadn't heard it before.

"Cherokees merit cannot be measured by gifts given, it is measured by measuring the receivers's merits."

And then the last verse which is my last thought here. It's about the Anicham flower.

"The delicate Anicham flower withers when merely smelled... (Okay, smell the flower, it's so delicate it withers.) ...but an unwelcome look is enough to wither a guest's heart."

So a guest's heart is so much more sensitive than the most sensitive flower just a look, that you really wish he wasn't or she wasn't in your home, withers the heart. Careful not to have the wrong look.

Have a wonderful day.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
If you take responsibility for all that happens to you, then you will have the power to deal with your karma through the grace of Lord Siva.