From Darkness to Light
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2007-06-16
The light of understanding is the foundation for the bright light of spiritual perception. The self-concept of Divine Being is part of that foundation. Through a balanced approach of self-reliance, discipline, self-reflection, concentration playback, humility, temple worship; overcome obstacles to meditation. Utilize Shum to move awareness in and out of different states of consciousness. Yogaswami mahavakya bestowed for us to ponder.
We've moved into Chapter 10 in "Merging With Siva" darkness, "From Darkness to Light" so I'll read from that in a second.
One of the points I made at the recent retreat in Northern California was this: We had a group that was very diverse in it's background, shall we say. Those who'd been around forever, were there when our Shum language was first presented in 1970 or something, knew quite a bit about it; those who had studied it some and those who hadn't studied it at all. So we had all three kinds of individuals in the same satsang. So I asked them: "Well with such a diverse group, how do you think I can manage to present something and have all of you learn something?" Gave them that question. Then I answered it comparing the Shum study and in fact all of Gurudeva's teachings to dance. When you, when someone who knows dance goes to an advanced teacher, what does the teacher do? You know, does the teacher give them a lot of new steps? Probably not. The teacher helps them perform the steps they've already learned even better. You know refines the practice of what's already being done. Takes it a new, takes it up a notch in refinement and in understanding. So, Shum is the same way and in fact all of Gurudeva's teachings are the same way. There's a fixed number of ideas. It's not endless and once we've heard about those ideas and understand those ideas, the idea isn't then to want more ideas but to perfect putting the ideas we've already learned into practice. Put them into practice in an even more refined way, even more understanding and benefit.
So, having said that, read from portions of the lesson here.
"The Light of Understanding "People speak of the 'light of understanding.' Before the bright light of spiritual perception is experienced, the light of understanding must be laid as a foundation of philosophical training and appreciation -- learning to understand life, for example, through action rather than reaction. The purified, integrated mind, so perfected in its own understanding, lives in close communion with the soul radiance so that light becomes the constant experience of the mind. It is this to which the yoga student aspires. Living in the light, everything that formerly was hidden becomes revealed. Answers to questions that you had been pondering for many years become instantaneously unraveled in the light of the superconscious. But the mind has a way, in its instinctive, intellectual nature, of casting shadows over the natural radiance of the inner light."
So, the first point here that's really important is: "Before the bright light of spiritual perception is experienced, the light of understanding must be laid as a foundation of philosophical training and appreciation." So, that's one of the keys in Gurudeva's approach to making spiritual progress is a good philosophical understanding. And, there's one of his strong emphasis in the year 2000, 2001 was that the foundation should be laid of philosophical understanding and good conduct. And upon that foundation deeper practices can be given. But, if that foundation isn't there, you know, the person won't be able to sustain the practice. So, on some, there's a modern trend which is: How long does it take to get initiation in modern Hinduism? It takes about two days in some traditions. So, the first day you have your beginners course, which is Saturday, and then Sunday you get your advanced course and you get your initiation and you're usually, your wallet's a few hundred dollars lighter afterwards. But, it's a common practice in a number of traditions. So, when someone asks us: "Well, how long does it take to get initiation?" We say: "Well, I think about five years." You know it's a different approach obviously.
Well, why is five years there? You know, why don't we give initiation in two days like some modern teachers do? Well, because it takes time to create a foundation of philosophical understanding and good conduct. It doesn't happen overnight. Why? Because we're a creature of habit. We have our habits and it takes time to replace old habits with new ones. It takes time to replace negative habits with positive ones. It takes time to replace a negative self-concept with a positive one. And that is one of the most important parts of a foundation of philosophical understanding is to have a positive self concept about our self. And taking that one step further we need a divine self-concept of our self. We need to think of our self as a soul. We are a soul, a perfect being of light. That doesn't mean everything we do is perfect, but it means who we are is perfect and what we do does not change who we are. So, we need a spiritual identity. Otherwise, when we become more perceptive, you know, when some light starts to come into the mind, what we see can be quite discouraging. You know, we start to see certain negative trends in ourselves, certain negative patterns. We start to remember the past and all the things we did that we wish we didn't. And all that looms up in the mind and unless we have a concept, a strong philosophical concept that we are a Divine Being, we can be overwhelmed by the negativity in our own mind. By remembering things of the past. So, we don't want that. You know we're Diving Being and if there's any negativity in the mind, Gurudeva gives us tools to get rid of it. It doesn't need to be there. So, that's the idea and that's one reason philosophical training is so important. Because the light does, when inner light does or superconsciousness begins to manifest in you you see the positive as well as the negative. Sometimes people keep themselves constantly distracted in order to avoid seeing the negative within them. Silence is forbidden. You know, we always have to have music going or the television going or be doing something. You know, a quiet reflective moment is not permitted because we'll see certain things in ourselves that we don't want to, so, we keep ourselves constantly distracted. That's one form of life-style and it's based upon a self-concept that we are an impure being and we don't want to be reminded of that. But, of course, that's not the true Hindu approach. In Hinduism we're a soul, we're a Divine Being and we're trying to bring our actions up to that standard so that our outer actions reflect our inner divinity at all times.
"Doubt is the byproduct of the intellect's inability to cope with light. When a person depends upon memory or reason for meaningful answers, the mind will break down in doubt. Only when the higher elucidation of the intuition is sought is doubt dispelled."
So that's a good point. So, sometimes people ask me for advice: "What should I do?" Cause they have doubt and so, what I avoid is saying: "You should do this." You know, that's, what's that doing? It's making them dependent upon me. But, that's not what a guru is supposed to do. You know, a guru is supposed to make them more self-reliant. More dependent upon their own spine. So, you know, what I do is help them analyze the problem and think it through and look at all the pros and cons of each option. And when they've done that you know, the answer is usually self evident to the person. That process, instead of making them dependent on me is making them more self-reliant and better at figuring out problems on their own. So, people can of course do that, but sometimes the emotion that we have kind of keeps us from going through that process; we're upset, or we're discouraged. You know, we have that ability but we're not using it. So, it's important to be encouraged to use that ability.
"When the instinctive mind becomes lifted into the light, a person is strong enough to be kind when he could have become angry. He generates enough spiritual power to be generous when he might have reacted selfishly."
So, that's a good point to keep in mind and to constantly be self-reflective on our actions. And sometimes our instinctive nature expresses itself when it really shouldn't. So, when it does then we're being selfish instead of generous. We're being angry instead of compassionate. So, I think it was in last week's lesson -- Gurudeva made the point about concentration playback. It's a very useful practice particularly during the period if we're remolding any of our habits to, at the end of the day, reflect back on the day and see how we did. And if our mind is calm at that time, if we're not upset by something that happened during the day, quite often one or more things will stand out immediately. And as: "Oops I could have done that better," you know, kind of insight will take place. So, of course, that's the goal as we mentioned in the introduction is to keep doing things a little better. You know, keep being even more generous, even less selfish. You know, even more totally free of anger and full of compassion. So if we reflect back on the day, certain things will stand out and then we can, you know, the goal is not to feel bad because of it. You know that's missing the point. The goal is to learn from it and improve our behavior and through that kind of concentration playback.
"Disciplined periods of meditation nurture a magnanimous and benevolent nature. Such a being is naturally in the light of the supreme consciousness. His great strength is humility, a shock absorber for the malicious experiences in life. Humility makes one immune to resentment and places everything in proportion and balance within the mind. A person lacking in humility does not give the appearance of being firmly rooted and poised within himself. At the other extreme, the arrogant person who lives in the shadows of the mind presents a pitiful picture of insecurity and incompleteness."
So that's one of the things we can reflect on is, you know: Do we stand out in not being humble in certain circumstances during the day? And one of the advantages in the dual approach we have of the temple and meditation is that, temple worship is one way in which we can increase our humility. You know, some people do not do well at temple worship because it requires a certain degree of humility to worship the Deity as greater than you and to offer love and praise and all to the Deity as someone who's greater than yourself. You know, the great gesture which kind of gives someone away is this one. If someone's standing in the back of the temple like that, perhaps you've seen someone, you know, the wife's up front worshiping and the husband's in the back, you know kind of like that. So, you know that they're rejecting the whole premise of temple worship. You know they're there only because socially they have to be. But, they're not in the spirit of it all. But the spirit is a wonderful way of becoming a more humble person. You know, the better we are in our devotion both in the temple and in the home shrine then the more humble we become as a result. So. it's an excellent path to become humble. And then coupled with meditation, our meditation is deeper because we're humble. We're not stuck in our external self-concept. Sometimes individuals who meditate straight-on as their only discipline don't go in that deeply because they're not a humble person. Furthermore, they may be very intellectual in their concepts about what they're trying to experience and so they're stuck in a certain state of mind which isn't that profound because of lack of humility and over, being overly intellectual. So, when you have a balanced approach of temple worship combined with meditation it helps overcome those two obstacles to a purely meditative path.
"Seeking for God in the depths of one's being through control of the mind, control of one's thoughts, feelings and emotions, gives birth to the highest qualities of nature. This transformation begins to take place as the light of the soul becomes more and more apparent within the mind.
"The spiritual path is a constant turning within, turning the light of the superconscious into the dark corners and recesses of the mind. 'What is hidden shall be revealed,' and so it is on this path as man reveals his Self (capitol S) to himself. As you sit in meditation in a darkened room, practice directing your consciousness inward, to the center of your brain. If you are able to perceive light within your body, you are on the path to immortality. But should darkness prevail, work diligently each day to clear out resentment, jealousy, fear, worry and doubt from your nature. Then you can sit in a darkened room and be a being of light.
"The next time you are in a state of worldliness -- jealous, angry or feeling sorry for yourself -- sit down and seek for the light."
So, that's an important concept there is it's very easy to get stuck in those states of emotion. And rather than seeking the light we're just kind of stuck in them. And despite any spiritual study we've done you know, we're able to move. We're, we can't get out of resentment, jealousy, fear, worry and doubt. So, the key there of course is the philosophical understanding that these are just areas of the mind, areas of consciousness and any area of consciousness; we can move into or out of it, if we just figure out how. Quite often in our non-philosophical approach we say: "Well this is, this is I. This is who I am. This is, I'm stuck in these things. This is who I am." But, of course it's not. It's just an area of consciousness that we're experiencing. We need to remember that and then remember some of the keys given to us in our Shum studies for moving out of an area of the mind and then we can. So again, that's another philosophical point, it's an important part of our foundation is to be the awareness that travels through the different states of consciousness. Which means, when we get stuck in a negative state of consciousness, meaning we're stuck there for a day or something, a day or more, you know; figuring out how to get out of it by first of all affirming the philosophical point that we are the awareness which is stuck in this state of consciousness. We're not the state of consciousness. Now, how can I get out of it? I managed to get in it, I wasn't in it before, so I must be able to get out of it. It's like a big house. You know, getting lost in a big house. You get into a room you don't want to be in and you have to remember, how did I get here? Let's see I went there, then you can trace yourself backwards, get back to the room you want to be in.
O.K. well there's a lot more here but it's probably a good place to stop. Just want to share a few quotes from Paramaguru Yogaswami. I was looking at his "Words of Our Master" this morning. So, I chose a few. So, the first few are on the idea that, of being God and being everyone.
"You are God, I am God. Only one-no separation. You cannot separate me from you."
"Aham Brahmasmi. You are God. You are everyone. You are everywhere. Learn this. This is practice."
"You don't want to see God. You must feel God. God is you. Just be that."
So that's one that may not be self-explanatory. But quite often we're stuck in an external concept and we're thinking about something and so we're thinking about God being all pervasive. OK. God's all pervasive. So, but we're stuck in the thought of it. We're stuck in the thinking process. So, Yogaswami is saying: Step out of the thinking process into the feeling process. You know, let go of the intellectual thought process and just try and feel yourself as being everywhere. So that's a key also in meditation you know, just to not to get stuck in the thought about something but just to experience the feeling of it.
And this last one is an interesting one to ponder. Something to take home.
"If you don't want anything, everything comes."
OK, something to ponder. And the other half:
"If you reject something, that thing will come."
So, anyway I won't try and explain it. You can ponder it. Find your own understanding in it. I'll repeat it one more time.
"If you don't want anything, everything comes. If you reject something, that thing will come."
O.K., have a wonderful week.
[End of transcript.]