Moderate Consistent Practice
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2013-07-09
Sustain consistent daily practice. "A Ten Minute Daily Religious Workout," includes: Worship, introspection, affirmation and study. Worship leads us closer to the Deity. Introspection moves energy up into the higher chakras. Affirmations remold the subconscious mind. Reading scripture increases knowledge and insight.
Master Course, Living With Siva, Lesson 88.
Good morning everyone.
Today we have Lesson 88 from Living With Siva. And it's talking about daily practice. I paraphrase the first part.
It's basically saying in Gurudeva's teachings he encourages everyone to have a daily practice. Something we do in the home and for it to start out at about 20 to 30 minutes a day. Then, for those who are super-serious, it can be stretched out to an hour. Is about as much time as most people have unless they're monks. Monks can do more. Our morning practice is roughly from 5:30 to 7:15. So it's almost two hours a day plus individual practice at other times. But that's our group practice.
Gurudeva says: "The keys are moderation and consistency."
The opposite of moderation is extremes. And in this case the extreme we're talking about is getting too enthusiastic. Usually someone has to be pretty young to be in that state of mind. Going from no practice at all to 3 or 4 hours a day. Really pushing hard. The problem with that is most people can't sustain it. Starting anything we're too enthusiastic. So, to be consistent we have to chose a moderate amount that fits into our schedule in a consistent way.
One of the groups we work with is the Hindu Students Association. It's an off shoot group of the Hindu Students Council. And it's comprised of University students and recent graduates, mainly in Texas and some surrounding states there. So, we've been working with them for a few years now and gotten to know them. And, they're typical of many sincere Hindu youth. I say sincere because they bother to come to the meetings and bother to join the association and attend the events we hold. So that shows a certain sincerity, a certain commitment is being expressed. So, they're a sincere group.
Then you ask them: "Well, what are you practicing on a daily basis."
And they say: "Nothing."
"Do you go to the temple once a week?"
But they're sincere about their Hinduism. So, it's a very interesting situation, shall we say. Somehow, they were never encouraged when they were younger to take up some kind of practice. And these are important years because if you go through, in the West we call high school, or pre-university studies. In Asia then the university studies. And for those seven plus years you don't have any practice. You've created a habit of not practicing from one direction. So, there you are; you're in your mid-twenties starting your career you're even busier than perhaps you were and it can become challenging to take up a practice.
So there's two obstacles I found to practice during the pre-university and the university years. Is one is trying to do something at the same time of day. Schedules are such that your schedule is constantly changing. Some nights you're up very late, other days you go to bed early. You get up early, you know. It changes depending on the nature of your activities. So, trying to do a practice at the same time every day itself can be a major obstacle to doing it. So, I think that has to be given up.
The other is for it to be long. A half an hour is probably too long. So, what I'm suggesting for a start, for those in that age group is 10 minutes. So, 10 minutes a day, any time of day is the kind of practice we're suggesting. Ideally, it would start around age 15 I think. Have to be old enough to be able to do it on your own on a regular basis. That's the point, that you're not just counting on your father or your mother to do something and you sit there and watch. You know, this is doing a practice on your own motivation.
I have written the Publisher's Desk on it for Hinduism Today. It's not edited yet. But I'll read a little bit of it.
It's called: "A Ten Minute Daily Religious Workout."
It starts out talking about a physical work.
"Now-a-days the ideas of performing a daily physical workout is wide-spread. The general concept is that there are three types of activities you need to do to keep your body healthy. Endurance activities, flexibility activities, and strength activities. Three kinds. Each of these activities have different benefits. Endurance activities such as walking, running or swimming help your heart, lungs and circulatory systems more healthy. Give you more energy. Flexibility activities such as Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi and dancing help you to move easily, keeping your muscles relaxed and your joints mobile. Strength activities such as abdominal curls and push-ups, weight, strength training routines and climbing stairs help you muscles and bones stay strong.
"The idea that Hindus should perform a daily set of religious activities to move them forward, toward the ultimate goal of experiencing God, Self Realization and the subsequent liberation from the cycle of re-birth or moksha is definitely stressed in scripture..."
And it goes, explains it. Lots of orthodox families still do it. And particularly if they're in India but the trend is, at least outside of India, for the daily practice to be minimal or non existent.
Then it goes through, it talks about four types of activities in our ten minutes: Worship, introspection, affirmation and study.
So, for worship: It suggests you offer a grain of rice to a picture of the Deity or Murti. Say, just repeat nine names and offer a grain of rice. Or alternatively, you could sing a short bhajan. That takes the whole two minutes.
Introspection: We chant the mantram Aum as Gurudeva teaches in Loving Ganesha. So, A, U and M in a very counted way. And we do that for two minutes.
Affirmations such as: "I'm all right right now. All my needs will always be met. I can I will I'm able to accomplish what I plan." Repeat an affirmation for one minute.
And then: There's five minutes of study of some Hindu scripture you can relate to. There's nothing worse than reading Hindu scripture you can't understand. So, this is Hindu scripture you can not only understand but you feel it's benefiting you. And at that age it might even be, say a biography. Swami Vivekananda or someone or something that's easy reading.
And then it goes through the benefits because part of the lack of understanding is that daily practice benefits you. Which is one reason the youth group I'm talking about doesn't do it. They don't realize the benefits they're missing. So that's why I compared it to the physical exercise. You know, there's three types of exercise. Each has it's own particular benefit. Very clear, if we want those benefits we do the exercises.
So what are the respective benefits of these four types of religious practices? The benefit of the worship portion is that it helps us increase our devotion to the Deity and therefore move closer in our relationship to the Deity. And it's a, leads naturally into when you're older, taking up doing puja and all. There's a shift there.
The Aum, as introspection, moves our energies up into the spiritual part of the mind or in the higher chakras and is a, so the benefit is we're more creative, more positive. And it's a natural process leading later on to meditation and pranayama.
Affirmation, self-evident. Affirmations we repeat them to remold the subconscious mind. And, as we know in Gurudeva's teachings, what happens to us is created by the subconscious mind. Which is another way of talking about karma. All our experiences go into the subconscious mind and its contents mold our future. So, as we change it our future changes. And there, so there, affirmations are good for being more self-confident and being more positive about life, worrying less.
And the benefit of reading scripture is that it gives us more knowledge and insight into Hindu philosophy and practices. The greater our knowledge the more motivated we are to keep up and eventually increase our daily practice.
That's the basic idea there. And then it quotes three verses from Patanjali. I'll just read one: "Whether one's practice is mild, medium or intense also makes a difference in achieving samadhi."
So that's the idea we're talking about, that it's the practice. You know, it's not just reading. You have to be practicing something. The example I always give for a Hindu group is dancing because everyone understands dance. You know, you can't become a good dancer by reading a book, you know. It's obvious it's the practice. I'm sure many dancers don't even read books about dancing. They just: I'm supposed to practice today; they go home and they practice a few hours.
So, progress in Hinduism is like that. It's not simply something we can acquire after reading Gurudeva's books once. Reading them once is good but then we have to take up some kind of daily practice routine and utilize the two principles of moderation and consistency. So, we chose an amount of practice that we can sustain and then we sustain it week to week. And just like learning dance that, over a period of years causes us to change, to improve and move forward spiritually.
Thank you very much.