Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2001-12-03
Problems are important for spiritual progress. We need a Guru to help us see our problems. We need to accept what comes to us as our karma, we don't because of our ego--trying to look good in front of someone else. Gurudeva said, "Problems are not problems they are just a repetition of the past that needs to be adjusted." Whatever happens is in our karma. We can never blame someone else. When an external perspective is taken and a problem comes up then it takes away from who we are, makes us less of a person. But this doesn't happen if we take an inner perspective, such as we are a soul. Gurudeva has given us all the tools in Merging with Siva to fix the Subconscious Mind--to keep it clean.
Once, a long time ago, Gurudeva drove me from one part of California to the other. They had a retreat center in Northern California and it was so peaceful, out in nature, quiet and beautiful. You just go there and you feel happy and peaceful. So that is where I was, feeling happy and peaceful in this beautiful retreat center. Then, Gurudeva drove me down to our center in San Francisco and there was some personal problems amongst some people that were being discussed in a rather open way. It was a bit upsetting to go from this beautiful, peaceful place into this situation where you are involved in sorting out personal problems. My first response was, "Well, gee ... let us get back to this peaceful place, let us drive back to Northern California." Of course, I just thought it, you know. I didn't say anything.
Gurudeva said, "Well, peaceful places are nice. But, you have to learn how to handle problems and be able to find peace in a situation that has problems in it. It is easy to find peace when there aren't any problems anywhere, when you are out in nature in a beautiful place. But, you have to learn to control the mind and control the emotions, so that when you are in a situation which does have problems, you can still be peaceful."
I never forgot that. That was a very interesting lesson and helped give me a new perspective on problems. Our normal perspective is that we want to live and not encounter any problems, right? That is the goal. Let us just go along and everything will be totally smooth, problem-free - that is bliss, that is what we are trying for. Believe it or not, we don't necessarily make spiritual progress in that situation. Because were not changing our behavior. We are not seeing the areas in which we can improve ourselves. We are just going along, remaining the same. So it seems great, problem-free. But, we are not trying to remain the same, right?
All of us are here because we want to change, we want to improve ourselves, unfold more spiritually. So to change, to unfold more
spiritually, part of the process involves problems. We are improving our behavior.
Gurudeva defined problems for me once. He says, "Problems are not problems. They are a repetition of the past that needs to be adjusted." Read that one again. "Problems are not problems. They are a repetition of the past that needs to be adjusted."
What does that mean? It means, we are creatures of habit, subconsciously. We have certain habits like driving a car, always do things the same. The nature of the mind is to learn how to do something and repeat it. We are creatures of habit.
Plus, it is the nature of karma. We recreate similar situations for ourselves and keep recreating a similar situation. We recreate it. We create it when we are young, we create it in middle age, we create it when we are old. We keep facing the same situations, getting ourselves in the same difficulties. Why is that? Because, we have not figured out the lesson from the behavior. We have not seen how we can change the behavior.
For example, some men when they face problems in the office, how do they solve the problems? By drinking more alcohol. A common solution now, that seems to solve the problem because you forget about the problem. Forgetting about a problem is not really solving it. So, it is a common behavior pattern. You face a problem in the office and then, you drink a little too much. That is your way of solving the problem.
The behavior pattern continues until you change it. Sometimes, it requires someone else to help you change it. You don't really see it objectively enough. That is the advantage of a Guru. He can help you see. He can help you hold the mirror up to your own behavior at a time when you don't want to hold it up. You don't want to recognize this problem because you will lose face, lose some ego, to admit that you are not as perfect as you thought you were. Seeing the problem, admitting the problem and changing the behavior is the goal. So if we change the behavior, then we won't be repeating the past. So problems are good. Children misbehave. It is natural, it is good. It is not a problem in the sense of something that shouldn't happen. It is an opportunity for them to change their behavior with help, an opportunity to stop repeating the past.
So, it is a different look at problems. We are not trying to avoid problems. We are also not trying to create unnecessary problems. But, if a problem happens naturally and we are involved in it, is wonderful. Because, it gives us an opportunity to hold up a mirror to ourselves, to our behavior. Or, ask someone else for help to see our behavior, to see what it is that we are repeating that needs to be adjusted.
Problems are not problems. They are a repetition of the past that needs to be adjusted.
Another aspect of problems is to accept whatever happens when a problem comes up, whatever happens is in our karma. Nothing can happen to us that is not in our karma.
Here is an interesting incident. When the plane hit the Pentagon, they miscounted the number of people dead because one of the people who is normally in the office was in the plane that hit the Pentagon. So, they counted him twice. Even though he was not in the office, he still died as if he was in the office. It was a very interesting reflection, you know. He ended up in that incident, even though he was flying somewhere else on that day. He could not avoid it.
Whereas, we know someone else. A Mr. Patel who worked in the World Trade Center, whose office was hit by the plane. He normally would be there, but he came here on pilgrimage. Some of his friends talked him into coming here on pilgrimage. So, instead of sitting in the office which got hit by the plane, he was here. Very interesting!
So, whatever happens has to be in our karma. We cannot experience anything that is not in our karma. Accepting what comes to us as our karma is philosophically easy to do, right? Now you say, "Oh yeah ... I believe that, that is karma, that is what karma means." But, when it actually happens to us, when we get in the middle of some miserable problem that we are just really suffering from and just wish that it never happened, how in the world did everything go wrong, who can I blame, then it does not emotionally necessarily register that we can blame ourselves. We really can never blame someone else. Whatever happens to us is in our karma, came to us.
In handling these types of situations, it is helpful to have an inner perspective on who we are. If we only have an outer perspective on who we are, we think we are the ego. "I am this person. I am a little better than this person but not quite as smart as that person, earn more money than that person. I am a better social class than that person." If we are looking at ourselves in a totally external way then when problems come up, it takes away from who we are, makes us less of a person. So we tend to try and hide the problem, ignore the problem, not deal with the problem, not learn from the problem, not change our behavior because of the problem, not accept it as our karma. Why? Because we are busy holding our ego together, looking good for someone else. Obviously, we are not going to benefit from it. We are putting all our energy into some other way of reacting to it.
If we have an inner perspective on who we are, we don't do that. Gurudeva gives a beautiful inner perspective in 'Merging with Siva' on who we are. The first one being we are the soul, we are a pure and perfect soul. We are just as good as anyone else because there is really only one soul. It is like water. Is this water better than that water? No, it is water. Take air out of the room, put air in this jar, put air in that jar. Is this air better than that air? No, it is just air, right? So, is one soul better than another soul? No. It is like, grab a little soul here, put it in this person, put it in that person. Is one better than another? No, it is all soul. It is like air, it is all air. It is not better, it is just individuated in one place and individuated in another place. But it is really the same.
So, we can really look at ourselves as a spiritual being when we clear the subconscious of impressions of not being a spiritual being, through all the tools that Gurudeva has given us.
A lot of the tools in 'Merging with Siva' are for the purpose of straightening out the subconscious. Erroneous thoughts went into the subconscious, problems went in that were not resolved at the time, hard feelings went in that have not been worked out. All of that
gets packed away from years and years of living and eventually can make us feel that we are not the soul. The children start out okay, they are happy. Tell them that they are a spiritual being. They say, "Well okay, sounds good to me, I must be." They don't have any impressions in the mind that make them think otherwise.
So, Gurudeva gives us all these wonderful tools in 'Merging with Siva' to fix the subconscious mind, if we use them. Using them just once is not enough. Doing the 'Maha Vasana Daha Tantra' when you are age forty and not doing it again, is not enough. We need to do it every year, because events come up every year, experiences come up every year, emotions come up every year and go into the subconscious mind. It is like cleaning the house. You can not clean the house once every forty years. Dirt comes in everyday, right? You have got to clean it regularly.
The subconscious mind is the same way. You just have to maintain it, do your maintenance. We call that 'ashram sadhana' here, the sadhana to keep the physical place clean. Likewise, the tools in 'Merging with Siva are a sadhana to keep the subconscious mind clean.