April 06, 2020 - Lesson 360
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Sloka 50 from Dancing with Siva
Should One Avoid Worldly Involvement?
The world is the bountiful creation of a benevolent God, who means for us to live positively in it, facing karma and fulfilling dharma. We must not despise or fear the world. Life is meant to be lived joyously. Aum Namah Sivaya.
The world is the place where our destiny is shaped, our desires fulfilled and our soul matured. In the world, we grow from ignorance into wisdom, from darkness into light and from a consciousness of death to immortality. The whole world is an ashrama in which all are doing sadhana. We must love the world, which is God's creation. Those who despise, hate and fear the world do not understand the intrinsic goodness of all. The world is a glorious place, not to be feared. It is a gracious gift from Siva Himself, a playground for His children in which to interrelate young souls with the old--the young experiencing their karma while the old hold firmly to their dharma. The young grow; the old know. Not fearing the world does not give us permission to become immersed in worldliness. To the contrary, it means remaining affectionately detached, like a drop of water on a lotus leaf, being in the world but not of it, walking in the rain without getting wet. The Vedas warn, "Behold the universe in the glory of God: and all that lives and moves on earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal. Set not your heart on another's possession." Aum Namah Sivaya.
Lesson 360 from Living with Siva
Vedanta and Christianity
Tens of thousands of America's and Europe's younger generation have come to believe in the basic tenets of Hinduism. There are hundreds of thousands of the older generation who believe in reincarnation and the laws of karma. These two beliefs have pulled them away from the Abrahamic religions. But unless the Hindu organizations in every country who teach reincarnation and karma take these fine, dedicated half-Hindu people one step further and convert them fully into the Hindu religion, a disservice through neglect has been committed.
Yes, native-born Americans want to know more about karma and reincarnation and God's all-pervasiveness. They have not been satisfied with the postulations taught by the Abrahamic faiths. They do not believe in a wrathful God who punishes souls in Hell for eternity. They do not believe that non-Christians will suffer forever for their "wrongful beliefs." Many Americans are adopting the Hindu view of life. Even scientists are looking to Hinduism for deeper understanding as to the nature of the universe. Ironically, born Hindus are trying to be like Western people just when Westerners are appreciating the beauties of Hinduism. Yes, hundreds of thousands of sincere seekers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and elsewhere are turning toward Hinduism, pulling away from their former religions and finding themselves in an in-between state, an abyss which offers them no further guidance from Indian swamis or community acceptance by Hindu groups.
It is postulated by some that Vedanta makes a Christian a better Christian. Because of that postulation Vedanta has been widely accepted throughout the world. "Study Vedanta," seekers are told, "and it will make you a more enlightened Christian." This is simply not true. When you study Vedanta, you learn about karma and reincarnation, you begin to understand that God is within you and within all things, and that the immortal soul of man is one with the Absolute God. These are not Christian beliefs. These beliefs are a strong threat to Catholic and Protestant Christian doctrine, so strong, in fact, that in 1870 the First Vatican Council condemned five beliefs as the single most sensitive area threatening the Catholic faith of the day, and even in recent times the Vatican has described their encroachment as a grave crisis. Among those condemned beliefs is the belief that God exists in the world, in all things. To believe that God is everywhere and that all things are His Sacred Being makes an individual an apostate to his religion, according to the mandates of the Catholics and most Christian churches.
Isn't that interesting? Certainly the Catholics do not agree that studying Vedanta makes one a better Catholic. Certainly the Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and evangelicals do not hold that the study of Vedanta makes one a better Christian. Quite the opposite, the study of Vedanta will make a Christian a heretic to his own religion. So successful were the Vedanta swamis in promulgating the notion that Vedanta can be studied by people of all religions, that they have become a threat to the existence of the Catholic and Protestant churches. That is how different Christianity is from traditional Hinduism.
Hinduism has come a long way in North America and Europe through the tireless efforts of the Vedanta swamis, the Sivananda swamis and others. They are to be commended for their efforts and insight, and for succeeding in putting the precepts of Hinduism on the map of the world's consciousness. However, one step further must be taken.
Sutra 360 of the Nandinatha Sutras
The Brotherhood Of Renunciates
All those in saffron robes who have braved death to the world are the brethren of my swamis, who appropriately honor authentic male swamis older than themselves and touch their feet in homage. Aum Namah Sivaya.
Lesson 360 from Merging with Siva
The Process Of Evolution
When a beginning devotee comes to the temple to worship Siva, he sees Siva as a man, a person not unlike himself, yet more than a man, for He is a God, the God of Gods, so powerful, so aware and complete within Himself that He is the center of endless universes. In coming to worship Siva, this devotee prostrates himself before the Deity just as if he were in the presence of the grandest potentate or majesty imaginable. Siva is that to him. We know how wonderful it can be to approach a distinguished and honored personage. It makes us feel special. It brings out the best within us. The same thing happens to this man. He feels himself in the presence of the Supreme Lord, and he brings the best of himself to the temple.
If he has a problem, if something is not going well in his family or in his business, he will come to the temple with special offerings. The priest takes that offering into the inner sanctum for the puja. During the puja it is blessed and then some of it is returned to the worshiper to take back to his home, carrying the vibration of the temple into his everyday life. During puja he will concentrate his efforts on opening himself to the divine influence of Lord Siva. And as he leaves the temple, he will look for a break in the problem, for a new perspective to arise as a result of his worship in the temple. He will look for some telling signs from his environment--the way the lizard chirps, how many crows come down, and even what kind of people walk by his house. Perhaps the solution to his problem is simply a new way of seeing it, a different perspective that gives him the insight to handle the matter, or there may be a change in his external circumstances.
As this man worships, he grows more and more devoted, becomes capable of a profound understanding of the rituals and practices of his early samskaras. From the practice of putting holy ash on his forehead and the feeling that goes through his nervous system whenever he does that, he begins to discover sound reasons for doing it, reasons he can confidently tell his children. His worship leads him little by little into new realms of consciousness.
Another man, more refined and awakened, may have worshiped during the exact same puja. This devotee came to worship the same Deity, but to him it was not only an ethereal being external to himself. He perceived it also as an essence pervading the universe, a oneness of pure consciousness flowing through all form, and he worshiped that Satchidananda in the sanctum and equally within himself. As the energies of the puja reached their crescendo, he could feel that pure essence of consciousness as himself. After the puja, he went to a secluded corner of the temple, there to meditate, to bask in the kundalini energy awakened in him through his temple worship until he knew himself as one with that vast sea of pure life energy and light. He went home feeling peaceful and calm and just at one with everyone and everything that came along in his life. He has no awareness of time and just lives fully in the intensity of the moment. When he applies holy ash at the temple or in his shrine room at home before he sits down to meditate, he sees it as the ash of those forces which hold him in individual consciousness--the forces of karma and ego and desire. He applies the ash so that it makes three distinct lines across his forehead. They are lines to impress him with the need to keep these three forces subdued in his life.
This man lives in tune with the worship of Lord Siva and the darshan he receives, and opens up within himself from that worship. Everything in his life flows smoothly and harmoniously. He is in touch with a divine voice within himself and he follows it as his own will. His life is simple. And he feels himself complete. Neither fretting over the past nor worrying about the future, he lives totally in the present. His evolution is steady and graceful. He grows greater in his capacity to hold those moments of darshan he feels until he carries that darshan steadily through every aspect of his life. That is his only experience. He is a witness to what goes on around him--doing it perfectly but detached from the doing. He sees light within his head when he meditates. And that grows until he knows that the light is more real than anything he considers himself. That way his unfoldment continues. He comes to be purer and purer, more and more aware of the real.
A third man, living under strict vows and the guidance of his satguru, having long ago perfected the harmony and discipline that allowed him to see himself as the Pure Consciousness within all beings, is immersed within states of contemplation, whether in a mountain cave or before a temple sanctum. His goal is to find the source of that energy, and the source of that source, and the source of that, until he realizes That, Parasiva, the Absolute beyond all form. He experiences himself and Siva as one.