Importance of Associations; Hinduism In the Technological Era
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2012-01-17
The inner nature of every person is divine. We need a balance in recognizing the inner divinity but discriminating as to the outer relationship. We learn from own mistakes but through repetition. We become influenced by our companions. We need the influence of religious people to be constant in our practice. Everything in life makes sense because of the concept of reincarnation, a slow process of learning at first, until, through tradition, we are able to learn from others. Seva in the technological age. v
Good morning everyone.
Just have a few words to share this morning drawing from daily lesson of our guru.
First a quote from Paramaguru Yogaswami:
"See everyone as God. Don't say this man is a robber. That one is a womanizer. The man over there a drunkard. This man is God. That man is God. God is within everyone. The seed is there. See that and ignore the rest."
Paramaguru Yogaswami is stating in a very simple way a key concept of Hinduism, that everyone is a good person. There are no evil people in the sense of their inner nature. The inner nature of every person is divine. Even the terrorist, even the criminal, and as Yogaswami points out the drunkard, womanizer. The essential nature of every person is divine but that divinity isn't necessarily being expressed in their outer nature.
How do we account for that? We account for that through reincarnation, that everybody isn't at the same point in manifesting their inner divinity. Some are further ahead in the process. And others are further behind. But we never want to condemn someone as being different. Hinduism believes that the divinity will eventually come out through the process of reincarnation, will eventually express itself. So therefore, if someone acts as a criminal Hinduism believes we need to encourage them to improve their behavior not simply condemn them. But try and get them to upgrade it in their outer behavior. Express more of the inner divinity in their outer nature.
Today's lesson to quote:
"The problems of conflict reside within this low-minded group of people who only know retaliation as a way of life. To antagonize others is their sport. They must be curtained off and seen for what they are. Improvement has to come through their own self-effort. But they are always overly stimulated by doing so many mischievous acts and misdeeds that self-effort toward any kind of improvement is never even thought of. Yet, they must learn from their soul's evolution, and their own mistakes will be the teacher, for they are in a period of their evolution where they only learn from their own mistakes. "
So this is bringing reality to the other concept. Just because everyone is divine on the inside we don't have to become best friends with them. Cause some people don't like us; some people feel they are our enemies. Some people are out to bring us down. But, they are divine just the same. Therefore we need a balance in recognizing the inner divinity but discriminating as to the outer relationship. And certain people, who are of a low-minded nature, we just need to stay a distance from them. We don't want to interact with them, necessarily, but we don't dislike them. We want them to eventually come up in consciousness. We wish everyone well, right? That's the Hindu perspective. Even those who don't, even those who wish harm on us; we don't retaliate with harm; we wish them well but we don't make them our best friends.
It's also pointing out that people do learn but those in this stage of learning don't really learn from others. They're learning from their own mistakes. They make the same mistakes enough times, it starts to dawn on them the consequences of that kind of action. You rob a bank a hundred times and you end up in jail a hundred times, it dawns on you that there are consequences for that kind of action and finally you say: Well maybe I shouldn't do that. You know, this isn't really working out. It always ends up the same way. We learn from our own mistakes but through repetition.
"People of the lower nature cannot be made peaceful. They are not open to persuasion. They are sovereign in their own domain. There are many doors into lower consciousness, and if the Devaloka people get too involved with people of a lower nature, they may have violence awakened within them. Lower-consciousness people are always looking for recruits to bring into their world. This sounds like a sad story, but it is true nonetheless. You see it happening around you every day."
This is pointing out the effect of our companions upon us. For example in the work-place. Our companions in the work-place, our co-workers may not be religious. Their lack of religiousness we think isn't effecting us but it can rub off on us as well over time. Because we're susceptible to the influence of those we associate with regularly. Be it at work, at school, at home, neighborhood. It has more effect then we realize.
There's a verse in the Tirukural, I need to paraphrase, I haven't spoken it for a while. But, the idea is: Water takes on the nature of the soil through which it flows.
For example, on our island here, water comes from different wells and the water in different parts of the island tastes totally different. The water here tastes one way and the water in downtown Kapaa tastes another way. The water over on the west side will taste another way. Because it's coming from a different well; it's flowing through different soil. Same water, coming out of the clouds, coming down as rain, same water. But it tastes different. And then then the verse goes on: Even so does man take on the nature of his companions.
We become influenced by our companions just as water becomes different by the soil through which it flows. Therefore, we always need some religious companions, obviously. We want to be influenced by them.
A few times a year I get an email which talks about, I mean which asks a question like this: What can I do to get going in my religious practices again, to get going in my sadhana? I've really dropped off the spiritual path for a number of years. What do you suggest?
Well I make a number of suggestions but one of them is always: Find a satsang group. Find a group of religious people that gather regularly and participate in it. Because we need that influence in our life to be constant in our practices. Otherwise we'll drop off because there's so many people we inter-relate with who aren't interested in religious practices. That will influence us. Lessen our practice unless we mix with people who are interested. And that reinforces our interest and we manage to keep going ideally on a daily basis.
"It would, of course, be wonderful to think that all people in the world are on the same level -- and certainly they are in the deepest sense. But our sages and rishis, and wisdom itself, tell us that we cannot expect the same of everyone in this birth. By recognizing the differences in each soul's maturity, we also recognize the process of reincarnation, which gives us young souls and old souls."
In early March going to Texas and one of the events that's scheduled is in Midland, an inter-faith event, and there's five participants. And each one gets to submit a question. I think there's a Baptist minister, a Catholic priest, Jewish rabbi, Moslem lay person and I for Hinduism. So, we each get to submit a question. The question I submitted, because I thought it would be interesting to hear the Hindu point of view for everyone, as well as to hear what others do is: How is your religion practiced in the home?
Hinduism has a lot more practices in the home, I believe, then any other religion. We have the shrine and you can learn to do your own puja. And puja can be quite lengthy particularly if you're retired. I know some individuals who've been here and who are retired and their puja is three hours long. You know, grandpa's puja. Three hours long, that's quite a practice in the home. So, I think that'll be interesting.
Add the question, one of the questions submitted is: What is the one most important belief in your religion?
Well there's so many in Hinduism but I was thinking of starting with reincarnation. One possibility. Because everything falls around that concept. And other religions, western religions don't have that concept. So, everything in their religion falls around the idea of one life. But the whole principle that we were just talking about only makes sense because of reincarnation. That everyone's essence is divine, that everyone is to be respected as a divine being. But that divinity is really hidden very well in some people and manifest extremely well in a few others. And in that everyone, most people are in the middle between the two extremes of being extremely divine or extremely non-divine in our outer nature.
And that slow increase in divinity in our outer nature relates to reincarnation. Because it's such a slow process.
We saw, when we went to New Zealand, we saw the Kauri tree. And some of them they were six-hundred years old. Tree six hundred years old. Just keeps growing and growing slowly and slowly. That gives a sense of reincarnation, that it's a very slow process. That improvement particularly during our initial lives is slow. Why? Because we're slow learners. We don't learn from others. We have to learn by repeating the same mistake, same misguided behavior a number of times. And finally it dawns on us, because the same problem results from it, that it doesn't work out very well. If someone told us that we wouldn't believe them.
Then later in reincarnation we move more quickly. Why is that? We are able to learn from others. And that's the beauty of tradition. When Paramaguru Yogaswami says: "A train needs to run on tracks." So, he's talking about tradition. That it's easier to move forward if the train is on tracks then if it's not. You know, it can't go anywhere without tracks. It's easier for mankind to move forward if they follow a tradition. For Hindus, to follow and understand the Hindu tradition allows us to move forward more quickly. We're learning from others. Tradition is learning from others. Science does that. We don't start over because all the scientists are under forty years old. No, they learn from everybody who preceded them. They're willing to learn from tradition and therefore science builds upon itself. It's more sophisticated each generation.
Well, religion is similar in that we keep adding to our tradition; we keep modifying it. But the essence of it stays the same.
Our guru has a statement in that regard. He says we need to bring Hinduism fully out of the agricultural age, into the industrial age, into the technological age and into the age of space. So right now we're in the technological age and religion needs to change.
I don't know how it's going to be in the age of space. I was talking to a family and there's about, 8 year old boy and a 5 year old boy. And the 8 year old liked that idea. Talking about building. How do you build a Hindu temple in space? What's it going to look like. So the two brothers started talking about building temples in space.
Well right now we're in the technological age. And how does it differ from the agricultural age? We're busier. We're very busy people. Agricultural age: You have a harvest season, you have a planting season, and you have lots of times during the year when there's nothing to do. You've planted, right? The rains are coming. You've got some free time. When you plant and when you harvest you're working very long days but there are months when you have lots of free time. But technological age doesn't work like that. Therefore, we get stressful because we have so little time.
One of the approaches we're taking in our talks is trying to explain Hinduism to fit that situation. So Hinduism doesn't have to be a separate practice. It can be done as our regular actions. For example: Children are at school. They're at school so many hours. At school you have the opportunity to perform seva. To help others. To help other students, to help the teacher to do service. Service earns punyam. Does it take any extra time to help others at school? No, you're at school the same number of hours no matter what you do there.
Well that's a simple example of how children can perform seva in our modern society without it taking any time. So fitting it in to their existing activity. Likewise, we can help others at work, do things for others we don't have to do. That's how seva is defined. If we do something for another person and we're not being paid to do it, we don't have to do it, that counts as seva no matter where the situation is be it at work, at home or in the community or at the temple.
We need to think differently to encompass our busy lives and find ways to fit in spiritual practices without them taking any time.
Thank you very much.
Aum Namah Sivaya