Three Spiritual Goals of Life and Willpower
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2011-11-03
Three goals of life : realization, liberation and merger. Realization means we have a complete experience of the transcendent absolute. We have to realize God many times to achieve liberation. Control is seeing and understanding the patterns of the mind. We can change with willpower. Permeate life with Hindu beliefs. A story about Gurudeva being taught how to use willpower from The Guru Chronicles.
"Preparing for the next steps on the classical yoga path. Moksha freedom from rebirth and vishvagrasa, merging with Siva. You will soon realize that you create the mind in any way that you want, that you are master of your mind. To become master of your mind, you must realize that understanding is fifty percent of control of the mind, and you have to work at it as an accountant would work to balance his books, as a musician has to work to master his instrument."
There are two ideas in one paragraph. So I'm going to go back to the first one. Comment on that first.
In Gurudeva's teachings there's three distinct goals. In English realization, liberation and merger. Three distinct goals and in other teachings they're not so distinct. What's the difference?
Realization is an experience. But just because you have the experience of realization doesn't confer liberation. Realization means we have a complete experience of the transcendent absolute, Parasiva. We have that experience.
Liberation means after we pass on we don't come back. We're free from the cycle of rebirth. Oh it takes lots of realizations to create one liberation. That's the idea. We have to realize God many times in a life time in order at the end of life to achieve liberation. We also have to do something else which is called resolve all our karmas which can be equally challenging. If we have a few karmas left, even though we've realized God many times, we need to be reborn.
Liberation means we end up in the inner worlds. And being in the inner worlds, eventually that leads to merger.
Merger is when the individual soul returns to the primal soul or Siva. The image being the river flowing back into the sea. Once the river flows into the sea there's no way of reclaiming the water that was in the river. It's totally one with the ocean. So that's the eventual goal, merger.
So, we have realization, God realization. We need to achieve that many times. Leading to liberation from rebirth; leading to merger. So we'll reserve the Sanskrit words for another class.
"Understanding is fifty percent of control."
What does that mean? It means seeing the patterns of the mind. Seeing the forest instead of the trees. Not just going through the mind's reactions emotionally and mentally but understanding them. Seeing from an overview. In other words, if certain things upset us, if we don't have an overview we simply become upset by them. And then perhaps, if the upset gets big enough, we lash out and say something unkind to somebody else. So something upset us to the point where we speak unkind words. If we can see that pattern it's called understanding. We're seeing that this particular kind of event upsets us and it's cumulative and that upset builds. And then we release that upset by saying something unkind.
Control is: We can change that. We don't have to say: That's the way I am. This upsets me and I get so upset I just speak out and hurt somebody. That's the way I am. No, it's not the idea. That's the way I was. We can change it by understanding it. Maybe not the first time but by working on it. Seeing that pattern starting to manifest. This is starting to upset us again. I'm about to speak out. If we work with ourselves enough times we can break that pattern cause it's a negative pattern. It's not a pattern we want to keep. There's no benefit in having that habit pattern. That's the idea of "Understanding is fifty percent of control."
"To know yourself is why you are on Earth. You were born to realize the Self. You are not here to make money, to clothe yourself or to entertain yourself. These are incidentals."
Which means it's okay to do that, we want to have clothes, right? Not embarrass others. So these are incidentals that we don't want to make them the primary focus of our life. We need them in order to function. We need, most people need a car in order to function but having the fanciest car is not the primary goal. It's just incidental.
"You are here on this planet to realize the Self God, and the only way to experience Self Realization is to awaken within you a dynamic, indomitable, actinic will. To do this, the steps are: first, find out what and where the willpower is. Everyone has it. Willpower is that quietness within, that serenity that is likened to a light so bright that you cannot see it with the physical eyes. Second, learn to use this actinic will. Begin with little things that you do. Become satisfied with everything that you do. To you, it must be a work of art, even if it is just drying a dish, cleaning a floor or painting a picture. Your work must satisfy you, and if it does not satisfy the inner you one hundred percent, you must use your indomitable willpower and keep striving until it does."
This is a good example of the principle of integration of Hinduism with life. When we first study Hinduism we don't integrate it. Hinduism is over here. It's what we do when we're in the shrine room. It's what we do in the temple and when we leave the shrine room, when we leave the temple, it's just life. It's not a life permeated with Hinduism. That's what we need to learn. That's what we need to teach our kids. How do we permeate our everyday life with our Hindu beliefs? This is an example. We're doing something. We're doing the task anyway. We're drying a dish. Perhaps we're drying a dish and we're just letting our mind wander. Thinking about the past, this and that. And the dish gets dried adequately.
But Gurudeva's saying: No don't do that. Concentrate on what you're doing. Do an excellent job even if it is just drying a dish. So, that idea of doing something and doing it well, even a little better than you have to is one of the aspects of how Gurudeva says to cultivate willpower. The other one is, he says to finish every job that you start. If you finish it, if you start it you finish it. And in doing it you do it well even a little better than you have to. Those two qualities strengthen our willpower just by doing what we're doing. It doesn't require any extra time; it's just integrated with life, that Hindu practice.
"You must become a perfectionist unto yourself, but first decide what your standard for perfection is. You must control the quality of your work. Take on no responsibility that you cannot handle. By doing this, you will find that you have much more control over the physical body and emotions then you ever thought possible. You will begin to demonstrate to yourself your powers of control over material creations, the physical body and the emotions of the instinctive area of the mind. Demonstration comes as you use your indomitable willpower."
Now we have a story, have to read the story cause I haven't memorized the story. Story from "The Guru Chronicles." This is Gurudeva when he first arrived in Colombo working with his catalyst Dayananda. So Buddhist teacher. And due to time constraints I won't explain who Dayananda is.
"I was happy and awed to meet my fourth catalyst on the island of Sri Lanka, a Buddhist. He was a strong, active Sinhalese man dedicated to spiritual awakening and bringing this through in a vitally helpful way to all of humanity. He had been in Ceylonese government and was practical and forceful as a teacher. I studied with him for one year and a half.
"In earlier years, Dayananda attained enlightenment in a cave in Thailand by sitting in the morning, eyes fixed upon the sun, following its travel across the sky all day until it set at night. He practiced under his guru this most difficult sadhana. Then one night while meditating in a cave, the cave turned to brilliant light, and a great being appeared to him, giving him his mission and instructions for his service to the world."
That's pretty good, huh? That's quite a sadhana; he deserves something for that. Imagine sitting all day just watching the sun.
"My fourth catalyst taught me how to use my willpower..."
Well that's how it ties in. We were just talking about willpower, right? So this is a charming story about Gurudeva being taught how to use willpower.
"... how to get things done in the material world. He was a real father to me. I needed this at twenty-one years of age. I wanted to meditate, but he wanted me to work to help the village people in reconstructing the rural areas. He assigned me to do different duties, sometimes several at a time, which I had to work out from within myself. One was seeing that a new village bridge was put up that had been washed out in a flood, bringing into another village modern saws and carpentry equipment to replace traditional tools used in building furniture."
Imagine if you were given that assignment when you're 21 years old. Go out and get all the carpenters to replace their hand saws with electric saws. When you finish come back and let me know. Well that's what he was told. That's pretty challenging. Which is part of the guru shishya relationship is the guru needs to challenge the shishya. It's also true for parents; they need to challenge their older children. Gives them something that stretches their ability. Something a little more difficult to do than they've done before. And what happens? Your willpower increases.
"I had to take a survey of all the carpenters using handsaws on the west coast of Sri Lanka. I went around with a notebook and listed all their names and addresses and the types of saws they were using, for my assignment was to see that they all would eventually be provided with electric saws. Getting modern equipment into the Moratuwa area was one of the biggest assignments I had ever had, and I had no idea how to begin, for I had never done anything of this nature in my life. Occasionally my catalyst would ask, 'Well, have they gotten their saws yet?' All I could say was, 'Well, I'm working on it.'
"Executing governmental changes was strange to me. My life had been quiet, with no exposure to methods of business. But even worse, I was in a foreign country that had different customs, subtle ways of relating and suggesting. Most of the educated could speak English beautifully. In the villages, however, only the native languages, Sinhalese and Tamil, were spoken and understood. The craftsmen were accustomed to the old ways, their fathers' ways, of making furniture, and were not easily persuaded that electric saws would improve their work. Some had grown up in remote regions where there was no electricity, no running water. So naturally they resisted such a massive change. They made good, sturdy furniture already. Why complicate life further, they must have thought.
"My natural shyness was the biggest barrier though."
(Imagine Gurudeva shy? Shy at age 21.)
"My natural shyness was the biggest barrier though. I had to interview people, do research and convince people of the practicality of electric equipment. Finally, it unfolded to me from the inside how to go about it. I drew up an elaborate proposal, long and wordy, with myriad details, diagrams, names and addresses. I gave it to my catalyst. He was pleased and said, 'Now what I want you to do is take this fine proposal to the head of the Department of Rural Reconstruction. You give it to him, and I will do the rest. But while you are in his office, sit down with him and tell him how fast work is done in your country by using modern equipment to make furniture.'
"I was happy. At last I had something definite to do that would bring this project to a successful end. I went into Colombo to the Office of Rural Reconstruction and presented the proposal. The government was convinced, and not many months later the modern electric saw became available and popular in the villages for any carpenter who needed one. Sri Lanka had just that year received its independent dominion status from the Crown, and there was a lot to do to bring the rural areas up to better standards. I did my part in the best way I knew how and was glad to do it. One assignment like this after another was given to me. This fourth catalyst of mine worked on the philosophy that you do what you're told. If you are given an assignment, do it to perfection. Finish it. And don't come back with excuses. If he sent you on a mission, you wouldn't dare return until you had completed that mission, not to your satisfaction but to his. He might have nothing more to do with you if you failed. I knew that, so I was very, very careful. Inside myself, as I struggled to do tasks that seemed impossible, I could hear him saying, 'Don't fail, don't fall short. You create the obstacles. You can overcome anything, do anything, be anything.' He challenged me to work problems out from within myself, offering little advice and often assigning a task and then just leaving.
"He was quick to point out my mistakes, even though he knew I was sensitive and couldn't stand being scolded."
(Again it's interesting to visualize Gurudeva not being able to stand being scolded.)
"Still, he scolded and criticized harshly. This was good for me, and I am still thankful for his direct and powerful ways. He made me use my own inner intelligence to complete each assignment, and most of them were of a worldly nature. At this time in my life that is exactly what I needed, to strengthen the outer shell, to learn to accomplish duties in the world. It was invaluable in later years."
Aum Namah Sivaya
[End of transcript.]