Faith, Willpower and Self Realization
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2009-05-25
Faith based on intellectual understanding. Accepting the challenges of life as karma. Advanced faith. The qualities of the great teacher are within us. Channel everything in life toward the ultimate goal. "Satisfy the inner scrutiny of your inner being."
Today we're going to read from today's Master Course lesson. First from Living with Siva. It's on faith, fourth niyama.
"Faith is a substance, a collection of molecules, mind molecules, emotion molecules -- and some are even physical -- collected together, charged with the energies of the Divine and the anxieties of the undivine, made into an astral form of shape, color and sound."
That's Gurudeva. What a beautiful statement, huh. No one would say that except Gurudeva. So we have, it's actually a physical thing, it's very interesting. Astral to be more precise but it's a form with shape color and sound.
"Being a creation built up over time, faith can just as readily be destroyed, as the following phrases indicate: crisis of faith, loss of faith, dark night of the soul, and just plain confused disappointment leading to depression. Because of faith, groups of people are drawn together, cling together, remain together, intermarry and give birth, raising their children together in the substance of faith that their collective group is subconsciously committed to uphold.
"Anyone can strengthen another's faith through encouragement, personal example, good natured humoring, praise, flattery, adulation, or take it away by the opposite methods. Many people with more faith than intellect are pawns in the hands of those who hold great faith, or of those who have little faith, or of those who have no faith at all. Therefore, we can see that a clear intellectual understanding of the philosophy is the bedrock to sustaining faith. Faith is on many levels and of many facets. We have faith in a person, a family, a system of government, science, astronomy, astrology. Faith in philosophy, religion, is the most tenuous and delicate kind and, we must say, the most rewarding of all faiths, because once it is sustained in unbroken continuity, the pure soul of the individual begins to shine forth.
"Faith has eyes. It has three eyes. The seer who is looking at the world from the perspective of monistic Saiva Siddhanta and sees clearly the final conclusions for all mankind has faith in his perception, because what he sees and has seen becomes stronger in his mind as the years go by. We have the faith of those who have two eyes upraised. They look at the seer as Dakshinamurti, God Himself, and gain strength from His every word. There is also the faith of those who have two eyes lowered. They are reading the scriptures, the teachings of all the seers, and building the aura of faith within their inner psyche. Then there are those who have faith with their eyes closed, blind faith. They know not, read not and are not thinking, but are entranced by the spiritual leader in whom they have faith as a personality. They are nodding their head up and down on his every word and when questioned are not able to adequately explain even one or two of his profound thoughts.
"And then we have the others, who make up much of the world population today. They are also with eyes closed, but with heads down, shaking left and right, left and right. They see mostly the darker side of life. They are those who have no faith at all or suffer a semi-permanent loss of faith, who are disappointed in people, governments, systems, philosophies, religions. Their leaders they condemn. This is a sorry lot. Their home is the halls of depression, discouragement and confusion. Their upliftment is jealousy and anger."
So, that's very comprehensive statement about faith. Make a few comments.
One that stands out the most is that faith is very tenuous unless there's intellectual knowledge backing it up. So, that's the reason Gurudeva stressed studying, so that we understand intellectually clearly what we're doing. What the temple's all about. We just don't come to the temple and pray without understanding the mystical process involved in the temple. Gurudeva explains it quite beautifully in a number of his writings. So, faith based on a good intellectual understanding of the philosophy is a solid faith. It doesn't go away easily. One of the biggest challenges in life that challenges fate, faith, is a tragedy. One of the biggest tragedy in family life is when you lose a child. Because the whole psychology of family life is your children outlive you. And when that doesn't happen it's a crisis of faith for many people. A child dies, a young child in particular. Say you have a 6 year old child and the child dies. For many people it's a crisis of faith and they lose faith. "How could God cause this to happen?" is a common statement. So, what we need is a strong intellectual philosophy in place, so that, when crisis do come up of that kind or a lessor kind we don't lose our faith. We really, in our case, we really accept that all that happens is karma. And, everyone isn't destined to live to be 80 years old. You know, some will have a short life, some will have a long life, some will have a medium life; the length of life is not the measure of the worth of the value of the life. Sometimes, the greatest souls come and stick around for only 30 years and go. They came, they did what they were supposed to do and, you know, why hang around? This isn't the best loka, you know, so it's, you know, how many people hang around after work two or three hours just to be at work, you know: Oh, I don't want to go home, work is so nice. No, when your work is over you're very happy to leave and young children are very happy to leave school, you know: OK, I put in that school day I get to play.
So, similarly the quality of a life is not measured by the length of it and we need a strong philosophy to get us through. As Gurudeva says: It's one thing to intellectually accept the concept of karma but it's quite another, the challenges that life gives to us, to accept the events in our life, the life of our family, the life of our friends, is really karma and is meant to be. It was not a mistake. Somehow, it's a logical fulfillment of what they created in their past lives. Well, it's very interesting and people come into life and they receive from their family. So, the family gives what it can and and who knows, maybe that's why they came into life, just for that, for what they get from their parents. So, we're definitely challenged by these kind of events in our life, life of our family, life of our friends. So, we need a strong intellectual understanding that really works, that really doesn't go away, not just a text book, you know, understanding where we can get an A on the test. What is karma? It's a real acceptance of what karma is in our life, in the life of our family and friends, and how we can see that it's really, whatever happens is supposed to happen. As Gurudeva himself said: Everything is meant to be. Everything that happens is meant to be.
Faith, Gurudeva in another place, maybe it's in the next lesson, we'll see if it's there tomorrow. Advanced faith, he talks about advanced faith, faith and advanced faith. So, in Hinduism, acceptance of reality without having experienced it is the first stage of faith. There's an inner light within us, a brilliant inner light which we can experience in meditation. So, say OK. But, if we haven't experienced it, we're accepting it as truth in the sense of faith, in the common sense of faith. But that is supposed to lead to the eventual experience. Even in this life or a future life. Everything we talk about we can eventually experience. That's the Hindu point of view. So, knowing that it's there, we don't stop there. That knowing is the basis for eventually experiencing it ourselves. Well, that's what Gurudeva calls advanced faith, is the actual experience. There's a related concept which is, you look at Gurudeva, those of you who had the fortune, good fortune to know him. You see certain qualities in Gurudeva. You say: Oh, Gurudeva's great; he has this quality, this quality, this quality. But, Gurudeva's teachings stress: Everything you see in another has to be in you, otherwise, you couldn't see it. Yes! Young children can't see certain things in adults because they're young. They have to get up to a certain age in their teenage years to see certain things about the adult world that they just don't understand, certain things about the adult world. Because it's not awakened in them yet. They're too young. So, anything we see in another person, whether we admire it, whether we like it, whether we dislike it even, whether we hate it; it has to be in us. Otherwise, we can't see it. So, in terms of faith, if we see a quality in Gurudeva, that's wonderful, it means it has to be awakened in us in some degree otherwise we couldn't even see it. Now, isn't that encouraging? We have more wonderful things in us than we realize. So, we just have to nurture them. You know, it's there, but it's not fully developed. The quality is there. So, that's why we do spiritual practice is to develop the qualities within us, make it bigger so to speak, make it bigger part of us. So, that's the idea of faith too, it's experiential. What we see is experiential and in Hinduism we never want to be: He is great, I am not great, concept. Sometimes I run into this. Well, I always run into it when I give talks about Yogaswami to Yogaswami devotees. Yogaswami is way up on this pedestal. This pedestal is so tall, you know, you can barely see the top of it. Here I am way down here, there's this big pedestal and Yogaswami's up on top. So, I say, the wonderful qualities you see in Yogaswami are in you. Yogaswami was a great meditator; eventually you'll become a great mediator. So, we don't want to, you know, get this, we want to admire someone and put them up on a pedestal and see ourselves always down at the base of the pedestal. That's not the idea. The distance should shrink. You know, the pedestal should, we should be coming up or it should be getting down or something. That's the whole purpose is: The difference between the great teacher and us needs to shrink. Because, all the qualities in the great teacher are in us; every person is the same. The soul is the same in everyone. The soul will eventually go through the same experiences in everyone. So, that's encouraging and that's faith.
OK, that was good, this one's different. "Finish what you start." Good advice, right? Gurudeva explains why which is not always done.
"We are not always sitting down concentrating on a flower in the search for the Self. Once you have decided that Self Realization is the ultimate goal for you, go on living your normal life. Everything that you do in life can collectively be channeled toward the ultimate goal, for what you need is a dynamic will."
So, that's the important statement here. "Everything that you do in life can collectively be channeled toward the ultimate goal, for what you need is a dynamic will." So, you've heard me talk about this before. It's the idea that we don't make this division between the spiritual time of day when we're in the shrine room or in the temple and the rest of the day when we're awake. We don't divide it so that what we do in the spiritual time of day is what gives us our spiritual progress and what we do during the rest of the day has nothing to do with our spiritual progress. That's a western concept. You know, you go to church on Sunday. That's when we're religious and the rest of the week we're not. There's a division between secular and sacred that Hinduism doesn't have. And one of the aspects of it is this idea of willpower. "Everything that you do in your life can collectively be channeled toward the ultimate goal, for what you need is a dynamic will." So, the willpower that we develop in our normal tasks during the day is the same willpower that's available when we sit and try to meditate. It's not another willpower. The same ability to concentrate that we have or don't have during our daily tasks, that we develop or don't develop when we go to school, is the same ability to concentrate that we try and use in meditation. So, you can see, the outer tasks, when we try and do them to the best of our ability, help us do the inner work to the best of our ability, as well. So, therefore, it's important to develop skills of concentration and willpower. And that's what the schooling system does, it teaches concentration and willpower up to a certain age.
"You need a strong willpower. Willpower is the channeling of all energies toward one given point for a given length of time. This will can be brought out from within in everything that we do through the day. It's a powerful will. It's available to everyone. It is channeling the rarefied energies of the body, of awareness itself, into attention and concentration upon everything that we do through the day."
"Attention and concentration upon everything that we do through the day." Meaning we don't want to do something and just let the mind wander. When it's a simple task, you know, we can do that, we do the task and when the mind's wandering then we look down and we say: Oh, we finished. Or, we're driving along, we're thinking about something, all of a sudden we arrive at home. Oh, I'm glad I didn't hit something. It's amazing how we can drive with so little mind on the task. You'd think it would require a little more. But, it's a habit. So, the habit mind is actually quite intelligent as long as it doesn't experience something it's not expecting. It can carry along quite well. But, we don't, there's nothing wrong with thinking about something while you're doing something else; we're not saying that. When you're driving you have to look at the steering wheel and not think about something else. But, we're saying: Don't let the mind wander aimlessly without purpose. It's fine to have an intelligent conversation with someone; it's fine to be thinking about some part of your life. But, you don't just want to let the mind wander as in a daydream while you're doing some simple task that doesn't require your mind; that's not attention and concentration on what you're doing.
"It is channeling the rarefied energies of the body, of awareness itself, into attention and concentration upon everything that we do through the day.
"How do we cultivate the willpower? What do we mean by will? Will means that if you're going to complete something, you complete it. Finish that which you begin. Finish it well, beyond your expectations, no matter how long it takes."
Well, that's the key there. Sometimes Gurudeva states it in the sense that's there's two keys to cultivating willpower. One is to finish everything you start and the other is to do it well, even better than you need to, even better than expected; really do a good job, put a little extra into it. So, finish it and do it well. And if we do that with all the tasks we're doing then we're cultivating willpower. So, we have to be careful not to create a task that's beyond our ability. For example, we say: Well I'm going to survive on four hours sleep and get up every morning at two and do this, this and this. We manage to sustain that for three days then we sleep in. So, we have to choose a task that's reasonable, that's accomplish, accomplishable. Otherwise, we can get discouraged and then we don't do well. So, just choose something that's a little more difficult than what you've done before, not five times more difficult and when you try and set goals.
"If you're going to read a book and intend to finish the book, then read the book, finish the book, and understand what it had to offer, for that was the purpose for reading it. It is not developing a strong will by having a lot of half-finished jobs. It is not developing a strong will by starting out with a bang on a project and then fizzling out. These only attach awareness to that which it is aware of and lead us into the distraction of thinking the external mind is real. Then we forget our inner goal of Self Realization because the subconscious becomes too ramified with, basically, our being disappointed in ourselves, or the willpower being so diversified, or awareness being so divided in many different ways that whatever we want to do never works out because there is not enough will, or shove, or centralization of energy, or awareness is not at attention over the project enough, to make it come into completion. "
So, Gurudeva's showing the problems of cumulating a lot of tasks that aren't finished. It eventually divides the mind quite a bit in a permanent way. The subconscious is divided and it's hard to do any task well. So, we need to be careful not to accumulate a lot of tasks over a number of years that are unfinished.
"A tremendous will is needed on the path of Self Realization, of drawing the forces of energy together, of drawing awareness away from that which it is aware of constantly, of finishing each job that we begin in the material world, and doing it well, so that we are content within ourselves. Make everything that you do satisfy the inner scrutiny of your inner being. Do a little more than you think that you are able to do. That brings forth just a little more will."
Those are very practical aren't they? Good lesson today. Wonderful week.
[End of transcript.]