March 01, 2024 - Lesson 324

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Sloka 14 from Dancing with Siva

What Is the Nature of Life for Saivites?

To the Saivite Hindu, all of life is sacred. All of life is religion. Thus, Saivite art is sacred art, Saivite music is devotional music, and the Saivite's business is not only his livelihood, it is his service to man and God. Aum.


Each Saivite is unique in his or her quest, yet all seek the same things in life: to be happy and secure, loved and appreciated, creative and useful. Saivism has an established culture which fulfills these essential human wants and helps us understand the world and our place in it. To all devotees it gives guidance in the qualities of character so necessary in spiritual life: patience, compassion, broadmindedness, humility, industriousness and devotion. Saivism centers around the home and the temple. Monastic life is its core and its power. Family life is strong and precious. Saivism possesses a wealth of art and architecture, traditions of music, art, drama and dance, and a treasury of philosophy and scholarship. Saivite temples provide worship services daily. Scriptures give ethical guidelines. Satgurus offer advanced spiritual initiation. These three--temples, scriptures and satgurus--are our pillars of faith. The Vedas implore, "O learned people, may we with our ears listen to what is beneficial, may we see with our eyes what is beneficial. May we, engaged in your praises, enjoy with firm limbs and sound bodies, a full term of life dedicated to God." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 324 from Living with Siva

Continuity Of Spirit

Before books were invented, the traditional way of conveying information was through the spoken word. This is called sampradaya. Sampradaya, verbal teaching, was the method that all satgurus used. A satguru can only give his shishya as much as the shishya can hold in his mind at any one time. If the shishya comes with an empty cup, the cup is filled by the guru. But if the shishya comes with a cup that is already full, nothing more can be added by the guru.

Many satgurus work with their devotees in unseen ways. They have the ability to tune into the vibration of a devotee anywhere his physical body might be on the planet, feel how he is feeling and send blessings of protection and guidance. The guru-shishya system of training is personal and direct. Much is unspoken between them, so close is the mental attunement. The traditional observance of brahmacharya helps to stabilize this relationship.

An advanced shishya is one whose intuition is in absolute harmony with that of his satguru. This harmony does not occur in the beginning stages, however, when the devotee is probing the subject matter of the guru's teachings for answers. Only after he has conquered the fluctuating patterns of the thinking mind does an inner flow of harmony begin to become apparent to both guru and shishya. The shishya is expected to cultivate his inner life as well as his outer life. The more sincere and consistent he is with his inner work and his inner friends--God, Gods and guru--the more safe and secure and blessed he will be. Your relationship with your guru is growing stronger even now as you come to better know yourself and proceed in your study of these daily lessons.

Hindu temples sustain Hinduism around the world. Scriptures keep us always reminded of the path we are on and the path we are supposed to be on, but only from the satguru can you get the spirit, the shakti, the sustaining spirit, to make it all come to life in you, to make the temple meaningful and to complement the scriptures with your own sight, your own third-eye sight. Otherwise, it's just words.

Nathas are not on the path of words. The Rishi wandered down from the Himalayas to Bangalore. What did he say? Nobody knows. Whom did he talk to? Nobody knows. Did he influence crowds of people? Perhaps, but he only had to influence one individual, Kadaitswami, to speak out to the world. Kadaitswami caught the spirit of the Rishi, who had caught the spirit of the previous rishi, the previous rishi and all the ones that preceded him. It is that spirit of sampradaya that makes the traditional teachings meaningful, that gives you the power to discriminate between what is real within those teachings and what is superfluous or just plain nonsense, that gives you the power to blend Siddhanta with Vedanta, Vedas with Agamas.

The irreversible spirit of the guru carries through all of the shishyas. It is basically the only gift a guru can give--that sustaining spirit. He doesn't have to give knowledge, because that has already been written down. He doesn't have to build temples, because there are more than enough temples for everyone. The rare and precious gift that he can convey is the inner spirit of his religious heritage. That is his unique gift to the world.

Nathas do not follow the way of words. Kadaitswami spoke to a lot of people. Who knows what he said? They didn't have tape recorders in those days, and doubtless he never wrote anything down, but the spirit carried through him to Chellappaguru, who didn't say an awful lot. He wasn't following the way of words either. He spoke only divine essences of the philosophy. He didn't write 3,000 verses like Rishi Tirumular did. Nor did he give lectures to crowds like Kadaitswami did. His spirit was passed on to Satguru Siva Yogaswami, who passed his spirit on to a lot of devotees.

We must remember that during the time of the British, all gurus had to keep a very low profile and that Yogaswami's great work started to flourish publically only after the British left Sri Lanka. He passed his spirit on to lots of devotees, including me. If I had not journeyed to the northern part of Sri Lanka and gone to Siva temples, worshiped there and received initiation from Yogaswami, would I have returned to America and built a Siva temple or helped found over fifty other Hindu temples scattered around the world? No. Would we have a monastic community? No. Would we have an international Saiva Siddhanta Church? No. Would we have a Himalayan Academy? No. Would we have a Hindu Heritage Endowment? No. Would we have a Hinduism Today magazine? No. Would we have family missions all over the world? No. Would we be sitting here right now? No. Only because of the existence of one satguru in this venerable line of gurus, I caught the spirit; and through this spirit the words manifest, the activities manifest, the devotees maintain that straight path, the disciplines bear fruit, the inner sight comes, and after it comes, it stays. Without satgurus, we would only have temples and scriptures. Without satgurus, we wouldn't have the spirit, and people would stop going to temples and stop reading the scriptures.

Sutra 324 of the Nandinatha Sutras

Selfless Service Leads To Self-mastery

Siva's monastic disciples regard themselves as the full-time slaves of Siva, servants of the servants of the Lord. They are masters of mind, body and emotion, divine rulers of their instinctive and intellectual forces. Aum.

Lesson 324 from Merging with Siva

Form and Formlessness

We must caution each and all not to think of the external mind as God, which would be a self-deception. Man's personality or individuality is not God--neither is the ego, the intellect, or the emotions. Though the unenlightened sometimes make this mistake, I believe you will readily ferret out the difference. Parasiva, the Self God, lies resident at the core of man's existence, far beyond the reach of the external phases of consciousness; yet these exist only because That exists, the timeless, causeless, spaceless God Siva beyond the mind.

The other perfection inherent in the soul of man is Satchidananda--Being, Consciousness and Bliss. When mind force, thought force and the vrittis, or waves of the mind, are quiescent, the outer mind subsides and the mind of the soul shines forth. We share the mind of God Siva at this superconscious depth of our being. In entering this quiescence, one first encounters a clear white light within the body, but only after sufficient mastery of the mind has been attained through the disciplined and protracted practices of yoga.

Hearing the vina, the mridangam, the tambura and all the psychic sounds is the awakening of the inner body, which, if sadhana is pursued, will finally grow and stabilize, opening the mind to the constant state of Satchidananda, where the holy inner mind of God Siva and our soul are one. I hold that Satchidananda--the light and consciousness ever permeating form, God in all things and everywhere--is form, though refined form, to be sure. Satchidananda is pure form, pure consciousness, pure blessedness or bliss, our soul's perfection in form. Parasiva is formless, timeless, causeless, spaceless, as the perfection of our soul beyond form.

Though it is supreme consciousness, Satchidananda is not the ultimate realization, which lies beyond consciousness or mind. This differs from popular interpretations of present-day Vedanta, which makes these two perfections virtually synonymous. Modern Vedanta scholars occasionally describe Satchidananda almost as a state of the intellect, as though the perfected intellect, through knowledge, could attain such depths, as though these depths were but a philosophical premise or collection of beliefs and insights. This is what I call "simplistic Vedanta."

To understand how these two perfections differ, visualize a vast sheath of light which permeates the walls of this monastery and the countryside around us, seeping in and through all particles of matter. The light could well be called formless, penetrating, as it does, all conceivable forms, never static, always changing. Actually, it is amorphous, not formless. Taking this one step farther, suppose there were a "something" so great, so intense in vibration that it could swallow up light as well as the forms it permeates. This cannot be described, but can be called Parasiva--the greatest of all of God Siva's Perfections to be realized. This, too, can be experienced by the yogi, in nirvikalpa samadhi. Thus, we understand Parasiva as the perfection known in nirvikalpa samadhi, and Satchidananda as the perfection experienced in savikalpa samadhi. By the word formless I do not describe that which can take any form or that which is of no definite shape and size. I mean without form altogether, beyond form, beyond the mind which conceives of form and space, for mind and consciousness, too, are form.