We welcome Swami Pragyanand from New Delhi, India. Merging with Siva talks about being thrown off center. Being off center is not a negative thing. It is a spiritual opportunity if we look at it properly. Being challenged is natural and necessary for spiritual unfoldment.
We are pleased and honored to have Swami Pragyanand with us here, this morning. When we were in New Delhi, about three or four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Swamiji's ashram and being hosted by him. He even cooked all the curries for lunch by himself. A real treat. He showed us his full facility, upstairs and down, including a special Lingam, was that a Mercury Lingam? A very special Siva Lingam there, made of Mercury. So, very fond memories of that experience. We are happy to be able to reciprocate and have Swami visit us and host him these few days.
I would like to read from one of Gurudeva's, 'Merging with Siva' lessons, Lesson 108.
"The entire spiritual unfoldment process, oddly enough, is designed to throw you off center, so that you have to work to pull yourself on center. First, life throws you off center. You have all kinds of experiences, you make mistakes and with your indomitable will have to control that fluctuating awareness to get it right on center and to be all right, right now. Feel that powerful energy flowing through every nerve current and be that energy, rather than the fluctuating nerve current. Then one day when you really get good at it, you find a guru. You are firmly on center and he tries to throw you off center. My guru, Yogaswami would always throw his disciples off center and set them spinning. They had to work hard with themselves to get on center again. That strengthens the sinews and the muscles of man's becoming himself, becoming totally aware that he is aware and then controlling his mind by not allowing his awareness to get caught up in the vast illusion of the externalities of the mind."
How is that? That is a good one- "the vast illusion of the externalities of the mind."
We had some very interesting e-mails come in this last week which we were answering. One of them told a story which I am sure, many of you have experienced. The story of encountering someone in the work place or in some situation where you are constantly interacting with them and this person totally upsets you. You find this person crude, antagonistic, low-minded. When you interact with the person, you get disturbed and you just wish that person wasn't there.
Have you ever found that kind of situation to be the one you are in? Of course, the first thought is, "I wish the person would go away. Boy, this person is a real bother. I was doing so well before this person came into the situation. Why don't I stay and they leave?" Right? A simple way of solving it.
But in this lesson, Gurudeva is pointing out, life is offering you a wonderful, spiritual opportunity. You don't want this person to go away. This person is a wonderful chance to have yourself thrown off center. This is a chance for great spiritual progress. Boy, you are so happy that this antagonistic, crude, upsetting person came into your life, that you can't believe it!
That is what we told in the e-mail to this individual. I hope he believes it, because it is really true. It is really true. Sometimes we think spiritual progress is just being in a quiet place, without being disturbed. That is how we make spiritual progress. "Let's go out and sit near the river, where it is quiet and then I can make spiritual progress.You know, when I am involved with all these antagonistic, low minded, crude people, there is no way I can make spiritual progress."
But, that is not the case and that is what Gurudeva is pointing out. Both situations are important for our spiritual progress. If we always sit in a quiet, peaceful, serene place, we are not challenged to control our emotions. We are not stirred by something instinctive to see if something instinctive in us pops back. We just learn to be peaceful if everything around us is peaceful. It is important to be able to be in a peaceful situation. But, it is also important to be challenged by life, to be challenged by the Guru and find ourselves thrown off center.
I remember a long time ago, Gurudeva once took me from one center to another. We had a very quiet retreat center in Northern California at that time. It was just so peaceful. You know you are out in nature all the time, so beautiful, water and everything. Just like here. So there I was, just so peaceful and happy and content. Then, we went to another place where Gurudeva was involved in sorting out some rather intense, interpersonal problems. That was just so unpleasant and so upsetting and so disturbing.
I said, "Gurudeva, you know it was just so nice where I was."
Gurudeva said, "Well, you have to learn to be able to be at peace in this situation as well. In the mists of disturbance you have to learn to be able to be peaceful, just like you were peaceful in a peaceful natural setting."
So that was a lesson, a lesson I never forgot. That is, of course, what this lesson is, that challenging times are good for us. If life challenges us, that is great. Then, the Guru doesn't have to because we are already challenged. But, looking at these antagonistic situations as a chance for spiritual growth, is a chance to get better control over our emotions. This is a wonderful perspective.
One other piece of advise Gurudeva gives in this kind of situation and if it is ongoing and you are really dealing with someone who is seriously antagonistic, is to be totally transparent. Just like you are not there. They throw all these antagonistic thoughts at you, these antagonistic words, antagonistic actions and it just goes right through you like you are not there. It doesn't touch you. That is the goal. It is like you don't even see them. They are there but you don't see them.
So, if you are able to do this, what happens? You don't get touched by this situation. It is like it didn't happen because you have remained totally transparent to it. Eventually, the karma will come back on the person who generated it, in a very simple way. We don't have to do anything. We just pretend he is not there, nothing happened and eventually the person will
reap the karma and hopefully, the lesson of that experience. We want everyone to progress. Just because someone is nasty to us, doesn't mean we don't want them to make spiritual progress. But, if we are able to remain transparent, then it is not dragging us down, not getting us involved, not creating unnecessary karma for us.
However, human nature is such, that it likes to get back at someone. If they are nasty to us, we should be nasty to them. Right? It is only fair, they made us unhappy, why shouldn't we make them unhappy? Well, of course if we do that then we are creating an unnecessary karma for ourselves. There is no need for us to be the vehicle for their nastiness to come back to them. If we allow ourselves to be that vehicle, then we are creating additional karma for ourselves. But if we can be transparent, not let it affect us at all, pretend they are not even there, everybody else sees them, but we don't. Everybody else hears them, but we don't. Then, it doesn't affect us, we don't create an additional karma for ourselves and we just let the law of karma work by itself. Their action will create a reaction which will show them the folly of their ways, eventually. It might take years. It might take even till the next life time. But, just leave it to the law of karma. Don't feel we need to be the ones to teach them the lesson.
So, that is what Gurudeva suggested and it works very, very well. Also, it helps you remain peaceful because then you don't get disturbed.
That is the thought for the day. That antagonistic person, that crude person that always upsets you and says the wrong thing, tries to disturb you, if you have one around, boy, you are in luck! You have a chance to make spiritual progress. So, don't chase them away, just learn to remain centered. Whatever they say doesn't affect you, you are the centered one, centered in your spiritual energy.