How Can We Strengthen Our Temple?
Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 62
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2019-01-06
"Blessed with the knowledge that the temple is the home of God and the Gods, we visit often for they are our dear friends." Bhakti yoga is an important part of our practice. The more we visit the temple the more sensitive we become to the experience of the spiritual energy, the darshan, the presence of the divine beings. The message, the depth of meaning will unfold itself on reflection over time.
Guru Chronicles, Chapter 20, Finding God in a Cave.
Visiting a Hindu Temple. A beginner's Guide.
Master Course Trilogy, Merging with Siva, Lesson 129.
This morning we're reading from Path to Siva, Lesson 62.
"How Can We Strengthen Our Temple?
"Blessed with the knowledge that the temple is the home of God and the Gods, we visit often, for they are our dear friends. This is the first way to strengthen and become a valued part of our temple and its community, by keeping your spiritual life strong. The more we visit, the more sensitive we become to the spiritual energies. As our love, or bhakti, grows, the grace of the Gods makes us kinder, more cooperative and more generous with our time. The second way to strengthen and serve the temple is by participating in activities and helping with duties to make it beautiful and inviting. This uplifts our energies and keeps us close to other devotees. Service takes many forms. We can prepare decorations and assist the priest with puja items. We may like to help cook and serve prasadam to devotees. We can welcome temple visitors, organize activities, make garlands, clean lamps or direct parking. We can sing or dance during satsanga and festivals. We can help with mailings or contribute to the temple website. Festival times each year offer even more ways to help. By attending the temple on such auspicious days, when the shakti is strongest, we become attuned to the Deity's blessings. The temple is the center of Hindu spiritual life. Saivites consider it most important to live no farther than a day's journey from a holy temple, and we build one wherever we find ourselves in the world. Helping to build a temple earns blessings in this life and the next; plus it is a gift to future generations. Temple worship is for all men and women at every level of spiritual development. Its meaning and experience deepen as we unfold spiritually through the stages of service, devotion, yoga and enlightened wisdom. We never outgrow the practice of temple worship."
And then we have Gurudeva's quote:
"In Hinduism it is believed that the Gods are living, thinking, dynamic beings who live in a different world, in an inner world in the microcosm within this world in which there exists a greater macrocosm than this visible macrocosm... Through temple worship, the three worlds become open to one another, and the beings within them are able to communicate."
Two points here to develop. First one is on sensitivity which we'll come back to. And the second point is: At every level of spiritual development we attend the temple. That's pointing out how Saiva Siddhanta is different than many traditions within Hinduism. Many traditions within Hinduism look at bhakti yoga, the temple worship as something that's just done at the first stage. And so that's for beginners, well you're doing bhakti yoga; that's nice, that's nice, I'm studying scripture myself.
So Gurudeva's pointing out that Saiva Siddhanta doesn't look at it that way. With bhakti yoga is just for beginners. It's for everyone and in some places Gurudeva has said: When you're a great monist is when your eyes are closed, but as soon as you open your eyes you become a great theist, a great doer, a bhaktar. So we want to remember that that's an important part of our practice and it just gets deeper, has more meaning to it.
In the idea on sensitivity: The more we visit the more sensitive we become to the spiritual energies. That's one way of explaining why do we go to the temple regularly? Because we're learning to become more sensitive to the spiritual energy. Spiritual energy has to be experienced through our feeling nature. And to someone who's very intellectual won't feel anything, won't experience them because there's a thinking about them. If you're thinking about something you can't feel it. You have to stop thinking about it, to feel it. So we have to turn the intellect off and just use our hearing nature. We're not feeling something of an emotional nature but it's more refined than emotion. But it's similar to feeling an emotion; it's more refined. We're feeling spiritual energy.
While I was thinking about feeling spiritual energies, I remembered the story in Guru Chronicles where Gurudeva is explaining how he could feel what this day in the temple was auspicious for and not having to look into a calendar. He knew well this is the day in which we should do this. This is the story on that:
"My sixth catalyst introduced me to the esoteric worship done within the Hindu temple. He told me why they ring the bells and blow the horns and beat the drums. He explained intricately the role of the priests and what they do, why they wear the holy ash called vibuthi, on their forehead, arms and chest. All the whys and hows were explained to me. I saw it all from an inner perspective. I loved the temples. This experience brought the Gods to life in my mind, and we were like father and son. (That's the catalyst.) So we went everywhere together.
"I became so sensitive to the vibratory rate of the astrological configurations of stars and the power that they effected upon the Earth during certain times of the year that I was able to tell my catalyst exactly what Hindu Deity would be worshiped at a temple and the very day that particular service would be conducted. (Pretty impressive; he's got sensitivity.) I would tell him, 'Come on, we have to go quickly to the temple. Lord Ganesha is being worshiped today.'
"My catalyst was amazed and enthralled that, without the calendar used exclusively by the priests, I could sense the vibration of the day accurately, thus proving that the old calendars establishing temple worship on the many Hindu Deities were superconsciously calculated thousands of years ago.
"These are certain faculties one finds within himself. They are within every human being. I merely learned to use them, to be sensitive to what is already there. It came so easily. My experience at the caves of Jailani began to grow within me after subsequent experiences of the same type. "
Very nice. So that's on sensitivity. Gurudeva story on sensitivity.
Here I remembered one more. Tell the story first. Had a number of individuals who attended our Ardra Darshanam annual ceremony who talked to me afterwards in a darshan session either the same day or two days later and they said: "When the curtain opened I was just overwhelmed by the Deity's power. So, interesting, we get used to it but, for someone who hasn't been here before a different and very powerful experience, all the energy they're feeling. This one gentleman, he was very direct. He said, he said that, and then he said: "And then Siva spoke to me and told me to come back next year on my birthday. It's matter of fact, you know, the curtain opened, I got blessed and then Siva spoke to me and told me this. Well he was taking the idea of being sensitive to the vibration a step deeper. He was sensitive to the vibration to the point that he got a message. So this is about messages contained within the vibration.
"Chanting in satsanga, in ceremonial rituals, all contribute to this sanctifying process, creating an atmosphere to which the Gods are drawn and in which they can manifest. By the word manifest, I mean they actually come and dwell there and can stay for periods of time, providing the vibration is kept pure and undisturbed. The altar takes on a certain power. In our religion there are altars in temples all over the world inhabited by the devas and the great Gods. When you enter these holy places, you can sense their sanctity. You can feel the presence of these divine beings, and this radiation from them is known as darshan.
"The reality of the Mahadevas and their darshan can be experienced by the devotee through his awakened ajna vision, or more often as the physical sight of the image in the sanctum coupled with the inner knowing that He is there within the microcosm. This darshan can be felt by all devotees, becoming stronger and more defined as devotion is perfected. Through this darshan, messages can be channeled along the vibratory emanations that radiate out from the Mahadevas, as well as from their representatives, the Second World devas who carry out their work for them in shrines and altars."
Gurudeva's going on to explain the message may not be immediately apparent. That doesn't mean it wasn't received. Similar to a dream in which you went deep in the inner worlds and learned something. When you wake up you don't necessarily remember what you learned but it comes to you slowly in different ways over the next few days. The knowledge is coming out indirectly. So similarly a message can come out but indirectly. That's what's explained next.
"To understand darshan, consider that every day in your subtle communication of language. You are hearing the tones of my voice through the sensitive organ, your ear. Meaning comes into your mind, for you have been trained to translate these vibrations into meaning through the knowing of the language that I am speaking. Darshan is a vibration, too. It is first experienced in the simple physical glimpse of the form of the Deity in the sanctum. Later, the physical sight gives way to a clairvoyant vision or to a refined cognition received through the sensitive ganglia within your nerve system, the chakras. Through these receptors, a subtle message is received, often not consciously. Perhaps not immediately, but the message that the darshan carries, direct from the Mahadeva--direct from Lord Ganesha, direct from Lord Murugan, direct from Lord Siva Himself--manifests in your life. This is the way the Gods converse. It is a communication more real than the communication of language that you experience each day. It is not necessary to understand the communication immediately. The devotee may go away from the temple outwardly feeling that there was no particular message, or not knowing in his intellectual mind exactly what the darshan meant. Even the words you are now reading may not be fully cognized for days, weeks or even months. The depth of meaning will unfold itself on reflection."
Becoming sensitive. The wonderful [...??].
Have a great day.