The Ultimate Goals of Life
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2010-04-15
Walk the San Marga with the ultimate goal in mind. Five abysses, five darshans. Foundational work, harmonious relationships. The absence of awareness: Realization of Parasiva. The purusharthas culminate in moksha. Keep in mind the wondrous journey. Face what we have created joyously.
Good morning everyone. The Master Course is starting over. I chose Lesson One; it's actually yesterday's lesson.
There's a nice sense of what the Master Course is all about. This part is the Merging With Siva part first.
"Never have there been so many people living on the planet wondering, 'What is the real goal, the final purpose, of life?' However, man is blinded by his ignorance and his concern with the externalities of the world. He is caught, enthralled, bound by karma. The ultimate realizations available are beyond his understanding and remain to him obscure, even intellectually. Man's ultimate quest, the final evolutionary frontier, is within man himself. It is the Truth spoken by Vedic rishis as the Self within man, attainable through control of the mind and purification.
"It is karma that keeps us from knowing of and reaching life's final goal, yet it is wrong to even call it a goal. It is what is known by the knower to have always existed. It is not a matter of becoming the Self, but of realizing that you never were not the Self. And what is that Self? It is Parasiva. It is God. It is That which is beyond the mind, beyond thought, feeling and emotion, beyond time, form and space. That is what all men are seeking, looking for, longing for. When karma is controlled through yoga and dharma well performed, and the energies are transmuted to their ultimate state, the Vedic Truth of life discovered by the rishis so long ago becomes obvious.
"That goal is to realize God Siva in His absolute, or transcendent, state, which when realized is your own ultimate state -- timeless, formless, spaceless Truth. That Truth lies beyond the thinking mind, beyond the feeling nature, beyond action or any movement of the vrittis, the waves of the mind. Being, seeing, this Truth then gives the correct perspective, brings the external realities into perspective. They then are seen as truly unrealities, yet not discarded as such.
"This intimate experience must be experienced while in the physical body. One comes back and back again into flesh simply to realize Parasiva. Nothing more. Yet, the Self, or Parasiva, is an experience only after it has been experienced. Yet, it is not an experience at all, but the only possible non-experience, which registers in its aftermath upon the mind of man. Prior to that, it is a goal. After realization, one thing is lost, the desire for the Self."
So, that's a pretty high-minded way to start out. That's our first lesson, right? Obviously, it's talking about something that's very advanced but yet Gurudeva has put it at the beginning. So, in preparing for classes for the coming Inner search I ran across this in one of, some of the old material which explains the idea of putting such a high-minded goal first.
Gurudeva says: "Seeing God in the unmanifest state, the pure Advaita as I talk to you about in the Master Course is the end of the path after all of the other requirements have been met. That set the ultimate goal in your mind. But, now the arduous achieving of that goal must be continued as we lay the foundations to build the bridge across five abysses (that's an analogy to the San Marga Path) a platform at the top of the hill upon which to meditate in preparation to walk the third world San Marga, the straight path, and merge into God."
So, this is useful. The idea being that it's important to have the ultimate goal in mind even though it's a bit distant from us. Similar to starting the first grade and thinking we're going to graduate from high school. We have the goal in mind. We know that we're not there; what we're doing isn't totally related to the ultimate goal but we're headed in that direction.
And, the foundations are what or make sure, what we need to make sure are in place. Gurudeva says: "... as we lay the foundations to build the bridge across five abysses." Any of you don't recall, the concept of the five abysses: It's the opposite or the negative of the five darshans or Shaktis of Lord Ganesha. So you take the first shakti or darshan is harmony in the home or for the monks harmony in the monastery. So the abysses is inharmony in the home. Harmony among friends and relatives is the second shakti, inharmony among friends and relatives is the abyss, so forth. So, it's a talk in itself.
But the idea is we need our life in our harmonious condition. We need to have conquered these challenges. Challenges in life are getting along with other people, right? Somehow that's more difficult than it seems. But, having harmonious relationships with others is the foundation or what we need to have in place for the more advanced practices, practice of meditation for example, to be fruitful. Otherwise, we practice meditation and then something goes wrong in our relationship with others and our meditation falls apart. We're only as strong as our weakest point. So we need to make sure all our foundational work is in place in a good way before we can expect the more advanced work to be sustainable.
So that's what Gurudeva's talking about here. I always enjoy this one, the idea of a non-experience.
"The only possible non-experience which registers in it's aftermath upon the mind of man."
What does it mean to call something a non-experience. Well, it means the experiencer is temporarily not present. You can only have an experience if there's an experiencer, right? I am seeing the fire. So, if the "I am" isn't present there can't be any experience of the fire, right? So, the "I am" is the awareness. So, we need awareness to be present to have the experience. If awareness is not present then it's a non-experience. So that's one way of explaining the realization of Parasiva is it's the temporary absence of awareness. And then, when awareness reforms in the aftermath of the experience, you have a concept that there was a realization. But during the non-experience there's no concept for experience. There is something to think about for those who enjoy those kinds of reflections, right there in the first lesson, one of the most advanced concepts.
Looking at the Lesson One from Dancing With Siva it's not as high-minded, not as advanced.
"Rishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous journey. We came from God, live in God and are evolving into oneness with God. We are, in truth, the Truth we seek."
So I have a standard talk on the purusharthas -- the four goals of life: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Most of you have heard me give it. So I go through, usually go through kama and artha, wealth and love and then I go through dharma or virtue and then I make this point before I get to moksha.
I say: "I found a way to put an audience to sleep in five minutes. " You know what it is? And then I say: "It's to talk about moksha for five minutes." Guaranteed you know, we all know it's right there. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It's the fourth one, it's important right. It's one of those four purusharthas but, if a swami talks about it for five minutes the audience will lose interest. This always happens. So, why is that?
Well it's a fair thing, I mean that the audience loses interest. It's perfectly natural. It's not inappropriate. It's because it seems so distant; it seems so far away. It seems like something for monks in a cave that worry about moksha. Now here I am in the middle of life and I've got all these challenges, all these problems I'm dealing with: problems with the kids, problems at work and where do I have time to think about moksha? Good point! But, if we don't think about moksha we're missing the point of the whole process. Dharma, artha and kama are not ends in themselves they're supposed to lead to moksha. Or as we read in our first lesson we're supposed to -- from Merging With Siva -- we're supposed to lead up to realization of the Self is the goal.
So therefore, I say, one, instead of talking about moksha let's talk about the journey to moksha. And that catches everyone's interest. No one falls asleep. The idea being that we're on the journey toward moksha. So, you know, if we'd imagine a mountain with a winding path; winding paths are easier to walk up than straight ones, right? So, a winding path, the top is moksha and each lifetime ideally we're moving toward the top.
So what we do in life we're moving forward; we're not standing still or we're not going backwards. So, if during our lifetime we're moving forward in this journey toward moksha that's called spiritual progress. We're standing still, that's not spiritual progress and if we're involved in adharmic activities, if our karma is heavy and we're not seeing life right and we're doing things we shouldn't then we're actually going backwards. We're creating, we're leaving life with more karma than we came into life with and of course, that's not good. We want to move forward.
Well as long as we're moving forward as much as is natural to us in any one lifetime then we're doing what we should. We're making progress on the spiritual path. So that's what Gurudeva's talking about here.
"We are souls on a wondrous journey."
So that's what we need to always keep in mind, the journey. And make sure through reflection now and then that we're actually making progress by the way we're living our life. And then after I go through a long talk about spiritual progress and how we make progress which I'm not going to mention this morning but at the end I always say this:
"As it can take many lifetimes, remember to enjoy the journey. Life is meant to be lived joyously."
So, that's an important point. Sometimes we get burdened by the journey, the difficulties we're facing along the way and we're not as joyous as we could be. We're not striving to face our karma in a joyous way. We're letting it discourage us; we're letting it take the joy out of life. But we don't want to; we want to live life joyously and enjoy the journey, smell the flowers, enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the friend, enjoy our family and then, then we're approaching it in the right way.
And our Living With Siva one fits right in, it's called "Awakening Comes Slowly." It fits right into the topic, right? So we have to be patient. So, I'll just read the last part.
"My satguru, Siva Yogaswami, was a great Siddha, a master and a knower of God. He would say, 'Liberation is within you.' He would order his seekers to 'See God in everything. You are in God. God is within you. To realize the Supreme Being within you, you must have a strong body and a pure mind.'
"As we go on through life, we see only parts of life. We don't see the whole. Yogaswami said, 'How can a part see the whole?' So, we live with a small part. We seek to avoid the painful areas and attract to us the joyous ones. Occasionally, someone breaks out of this cycle and asks a deeper question. 'Who is God? Where is God? How can I come to know God?'
"God has no names, but all names are the names of God. Whether you call Him this or that, He remains Who He is. But in our tradition we call God by the loving name Siva, which is one of His 1,008 traditional names. Supreme God Siva is both within us and outside of us. Even desire, the fulfillment of desire, the joy, the pain, the sorrow, birth and death -- this is all Siva, nothing but Siva. This is hard to believe for the unenlightened individual who cannot see how a good, kind and loving God could create pain and sorrow. Actually, we find that Siva did not -- not in the sense that is commonly thought. God gave the law of karma, decreeing that each energy sent into motion returns with equal force.
"In looking closely at this natural law, we can see that we create our own joy, our own pain, our own sorrow and our own release from sorrow. Yet we could not even do this except for the power and existence of our loving Lord.
"Siva is there as the Soul of each soul. You can open your inner eye and see Him in others, see Him in the world as the world. Little by little, discipline yourself to meditate at the same time each day. Meditate, discover the silent center of yourself and then go deep within, to the core of your real Being. Slowly the purity comes. Slowly the awakening comes"
So definitely, one of the challenges is facing that which comes to us in life. And certainly, the philosophical understanding of the nature of what comes to us is very helpful which is what we were just reading, that: We've created it. It's not anyone else's creation. What we're facing is the karmic reaction to something we did in the past in this life or a past life. There's no one to blame for what's going wrong except ourselves, there's no one to praise for what's going right except ourselves. But we know that philosophically, right? That's not a new statement. The hard part is when things are going wrong to remember it and to apply it. We tend not to. If things are going well it's easy to remember: Oh yes, this is my good karma. When things are going poorly we don't, in the same way, say: Oh yes, this is my negative karma. I wonder what in the world I did to create this mess?
We tend not to think that way. It's human nature to want to blame someone else, to think it must be somebody else's fault. Or, certainly, if someone else had done something differently or my parents had done something differently then this wouldn't have happened. It's my parents' fault, it must be. They're an easy scapegoat, right? But, of course, it's not our parents' fault it's our fault. And the easy thing, when someone mistreats us is we get upset with them but as I like to say: If it wasn't that person it would be someone else. That karma has to come through us, through somebody. If it wasn't our parent, if it wasn't our brother, our sister, if it wasn't our employer, our partner, it would be somebody else. We're destined to experience that unless we do extreme tapas and get rid of it which is rare. It can be gotten rid of but it's hard.
So, for most people it's easiest to say: We're destined to experience it in one form or another. And accept it as our karma. So, to accept it as our karma, as I say, is easy right now but in the middle of a difficulty it's, can be hard to do but that's what we need to do.
And then I found something interesting through experience. When we call something a problem, say: Oh I have a problem; I have a big problem. That makes it harder to deal with then if we didn't call it a problem. If we just said: Well I have, this is the next thing to deal with. Why call it a problem, make it harder to deal with? Call it a big problem we want to avoid it. Whereas, it's just the next thing we have to do. It's the next thing we have to do.
I remember in counseling someone they apologized. They said: "I'm so sorry to bring you this big problem."
I said: "Well don't worry."
But you know, if you look at it mystically (I didn't want to tell them that because it wouldn't make sense at the time) it's in my karma to hear their problem, right? I wouldn't sit there and hear their problem unless it was in my karma to hear it. So, actually I should thank them for bringing that problem to me so I can hear it and get rid of that karma. We don't think that way, right? Our children misbehave and we have to figure out how to correct their behavior. We think it's a problem but it's in our karma to experience that misbehavior and to have to figure out how to respond to it. Otherwise, it would never happen. But we don't tend to look at it that way. We tend to label things problems or misbehaviors. And therefore, we don't face them with the same joy, the same enthusiasm; we face something that's not a problem. But, they're both there to face. So, if we can not go to such an emotional extreme and reacting negatively to some challenging situation and reacting too joyously in some abundant situation then we handle life better.
So definitely, next time you hear yourself saying the word problem, think about it. This is a problem. Why am I labeling it a problem? Why am I not just labeling it the next thing to do and facing it and working through it?
One last thought.
Liberation comes (This is one of two definitions Gurudeva gives for liberation.) "Liberation comes when all our karmas are resolved, dharma has been fulfilled and God has been realized."
So that's a wonderful definition because it's three-fold. Quite often when you talk about liberation you just talk about realizing God and you have this concept, you know. Someone's sitting under a tree, lightning strikes and they're realized and they've achieved moksha. This is the story book concept of moksha, liberation. Well, realization doesn't come in that way. Realization is gradual, just like anything else in life.
But, liberation, or moksha has two other parts to it. One is resolving karma and the other is fulfilling dharma. So, fulfilling dharma is the idea that, say for example: Going through school. You go through high school then you go through undergraduate study. After your undergraduate study you get a bachelors degree. What would happen it you tried to go back to high school? You wouldn't fit in, right?
Everyone would say: "You can't be here. You already did this. You already know this. You're too mature. This is for those who haven't gone through the university."
So, that's the idea of fulfilling all our dharma. Once you've done everything you really can't go back and try and do it again. It doesn't work. You've fulfilled dharma. So we need to fulfill joyously where we find ourselves in life as our dharma. Resolving karma, we talk about that a lot. That's, when karma comes to us we have the option of accepting it or not accepting it. When we don't accept it we retaliate. Someone mistreats us, so we mistreat them back. There's a retaliation, so we've created a new karma. I use the number system, you know. Coming to life with a hundred karmas, someone mistreats us, we're down to 99 right? This is good. Then we retaliate back, we're up to 100. We've missed an opportunity there to stay down at 99 by retaliating.
So, it's very important and Gurudeva stresses that and the Tirukural talks about that a lot is, you know. Don't retaliate! And it even gives a more high-minded approach.
It says: "If someone mistreats you return that mistreatment with kindness."
Punish the person by making them ashamed of what they did. Instead of punishing them in a retaliating sense, let them be punished or feel bad by realizing the mistake of what they did because you return their negative action with a positive one.
So that's why karma is so important. It relates to moksha.
Oh, there's a lot there in the first lesson of the year.
OK. We have a flag-raising in a few minutes I guess. It symbolizes starting a new season. So that this season starts with, the seasons start with where the sun is. So the sun, when the Sun goes into Aries it's a new season. It's a good time for planning, this time of year to plan this month. It's now time for creating new plans. Gurudeva suggests everyone have a multiple year plan and that this time of year you revise it; you add another year to it. So if your plan is three years you add another year. If it's six years you add another year this time of year.
OK, have a nice flag raising in a few minutes.
Aum Namah Sivaya Aum.
[End of transcript.]