Standing in God's Presence
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2007-08-22
In the normal process of prayer, sometimes, our thoughts are not that clear, concentrated or powerful. Written prayer is clear, easy to be received in the Inner Worlds. Benefits of prayer are not only material but purely spiritual as well in bringing the devotee closer to God. Consider the Ishta Devata as the perfect spiritual parent.
Good morning everyone. Wanted to share a few thoughts from today's lesson, Master Course lesson from Gurudeva from "Merging With Siva. " It's called: "Standing in God's Presence."
"In the beginning stages of worship, a Hindu soul may have to wrestle with disbelief in the Gods. He may wonder whether they really exist, especially if his own intuition is obscured by assimilation of Western, existentialist beliefs and attitudes. Yet, he senses their existence, and this sensing brings him back to the temple. He is looking for proof, immersed in the process of coming to know the Gods for himself. He is heartened and assured by hundreds of saints and rishis who have fathomed and found close and enduring relationships with the Gods, and who then extolled their greatness in pages of scripture and chronicle.
The devotee stands before the sanctum and telepathically tells the Gods a problem, and with hopeful faith leaves and waits. Days or weeks later, after he had forgotten about his prayer, he suddenly realizes the problem has disappeared. He attempts to trace the source of its solution and finds that a simple, favorable play of circumstance and events brought it about. Had the Gods answered his prayer, or would it have happened anyway? He brings another prayer to the Gods, and again in time an answer appears in the natural course of his life. It appears to him that the Gods are hearing and responding to his needs. Trust and love have taken root. He goes on, year after year, bringing the Gods into his secular affairs, while just as carefully the Gods are bringing him into their celestial spheres, enlivening his soul with energy, joy and intelligence."
Well that's a very insightful explanation of the process of prayer and having prayers answered. So, in addition to the traditional way, here Gurudeva describes it as (see if I can find that again): "Stands before the sanctum and telepathically tells the Gods a problem." So, that's a normal form of prayer; we just talk to God when we're in the temple, and hope he hears us and answers our prayer. So the other form we have that Gurudeva gave us is the written prayer which we were using this morning and it's a system whereby in established temples you can write down your prayers and burn them during auspicious times of the day and it's a surer way of getting your message into the inner worlds. Sometimes our thoughts aren't that clear or aren't that concentrated or powerful. So when we sit and pray to God mentally in the temple our prayer isn't that well heard. But, the written prayer doesn't have that problem; it's very clear and easy to be received in the Inner Worlds.
We have an interesting phenomena in the country of Mauritius. We have a ceremony there on our property in Mauritius. There's a large Ganesha. For those of you who don't know it's a very large Ganesha and they just, they have a monthly public ceremony. So it started a few years ago, it's simple fire ceremony, simple homa, not as elaborate as this one. And so they started a few years ago with a hundred people. And they kept growing and growing and growing and now it's up to about fifteen hundred people. They come every month for this ceremony which for the island of Mauritius is probably the largest turnout, you know, at a monthly event in the country of Mauritius. And for the major festival, Ganesha Chaturthi, which, it helps the fact that it's a public holiday in Mauritius. So everyone has the day off. About five or six thousand people come throughout the day to worship. So it's a very popular shrine and one of the reasons has to do with this paragraph, getting prayers answered. So, they follow this same tradition of writing and burning prayers. Of course, when you have fifteen hundred people doing it, creates a lot of prayers. To be outside, to burn all of that and dissipate that much smoke. But, it's a big event and then many of the devotees who come, stand up and give testimony. Meaning they state how they gave a prayer and how it was answered. And of course that inspires others also.
So, this whole process is described here and you know, sometimes it gets criticized. Well, isn't going to the temple and praying for your material needs, for your professional life to be successful; isn't that misuse of the temple. Shouldn't we be praying for purely spiritual matters. And sometimes that gets asked. And of course, the answer here is: Well whatever you pray for it has unintended consequences; it brings you closer to God. So, even if you're praying purely for material benefits the blessings aren't purely material because you become closer to God in the process. So in that way it is benefiting you in a purely spiritual way as well.
"The Hindu looks to the Gods for very practical assistance. He devoutly believes that the Gods from their dwelling in the Inner Worlds are capable of consciously working with the forces of evolution in the universe and they could then certainly manage a few simpler problems. He devoutly believes that the Gods are given to care for man on the planet and see him through his tenure on Earth, and that their decisions are vast in their implications. Their overview spans time itself, and yet their detailed focus upon the complicated fabric of human affairs is just as awesome.
When a devotee settles upon his Ishta Devata, the one God to whom his endearment and devotion will be directed, that Deity assumes the position of his spiritual parent. Many of you are parents and know the inestimable value that correction and timely discipline serve in the raising of children into responsible, mature adults. The Gods are our spiritual parents. When a devotee is not living up to his best, betraying his own silent vows taken unto himself, his Ishta Devata, or personal Deity, is present enough in his life, alive enough in his mind, to know this. The God has the ability to scan ahead in time and make a sharp and often painful adjustment in the life of the devotee to protect him from an even greater impending tragedy or mental abyss."
So it's an interesting process, the relationship of parents and God. Gurudeva often explained that as an adult our first relationship to God is based on our relationship we had to our parents. So, if we were raised in a family where there is a lot of punishment and a lot of fear when we first, as an adult, try and relate to God we project all of that on God. We're afraid of God. Just like we were afraid of our parents when we were a child. So, of course, that's a handicap. And ideally we don't start out with that problem. So, that's one of the reasons Gurudeva encouraged parents to be gentle in the raising of their children. It impacts more than the relationship to you, it impacts more than their relationship to you. It impacts their relationship to God as well.
But, a better concept of God and of course the ideal way to relate to God, is to consider God the perfect parent. In other words, the perfect parent is someone who loves their children at all times no matter what. You know that's perfect love -- so unconditioned. So, that's the way we want to think of God. And if we have to work through some other concepts first, fine. But eventually, you know, that's the way we want to relate to God and think of God as the perfect parent who loves his devotees no matter what and loves all of them equally.
So, thank you very much.
Aum Namah Sivaya
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