1959, The Self God, the First Temple in America - San Francisco

Merging with Siva


Gurudeva's creation of the first Hindu Temple in America where he gave, in 1959, an inspired talk "The Self God." "If you visualize above you nothing, below you nothing, to the right of you nothing, to the left of you nothing, in front of you nothing, in back of you nothing, and dissolve yourself into that nothingness, that would be the best way you could explain the realization of the Self." In the Shum Language the idea of dissolving yourself into that nothingness is the two words 'im' 'kaif.' In the realization of Parasiva awareness is not present, it is temporarily dissolved. Life in the world is needed to lead us to God but it is constantly changing whereas what's absolutely real never changes. The mind and maya, the relatively real.

Guru Chronicles", Master Course Trilogy, "Merging with Siva", "Dancing with Siva.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Continuing with our "Merging with Siva" series, resuming our lessons in the order in which Gurudeva gave the talks. And we're starting a new talk today which is "The Self God" given in 1959 at the Sacramento Street Temple, so we moved from the Sutter Street Temple up to the Sacramento Street Temple here. And we'll start with a little history on the purchase of the Sacramento Street Temple.

So Gurudeva's quote on this is:

"Then an anonymous somebody put a thousand dollars in the little offering box--a lot of money in those days. I had rented a little place in which I had a vision of Siva dancing on my head. I heard the drums and everything. And I saw a big door in that same vision. As soon as I saw the door on the Sacramento Street Temple, I knew that was the place. It was to become the first Hindu temple in the United States."

End of Gurudeva's quote. Guru Chronicles continues:

"He used the $1,000 as a down payment on a building at 3575 Sacramento Street, a narrow, two-story apartment with a small garden in the back, not far from Park Presidio. The surrounding neighborhood, called Laurel Heights, was populated with apartments and small businesses, florists, restaurants and small stores. It had been used as a photography studio and was in unsound condition. To meet the city fire codes, the building had to be almost totally renovated. His students spent the next year or two in karma yoga on the building, several hours a day and late into the evenings after leaving their regular jobs. In the end, they had created the first public Hindu temple in America. On its opening day in 1959, the temple hosted the world-famous Kandyan Dance Troupe of Ceylon, then on tour in America. "An altar was established in the main hall, and two massive doors, in the form of an archway, were made. One entered from the street through the giant doors, past two purple velvet curtains and into the small main chapel, complete with wooden pews, a rock altar and waterfall and pulpit made of a single stone. From this pulpit each Sunday morning Gurudeva, gave sermons on yoga, the states of mind and Hindu thought. He spoke of how to live well, how to awaken the inner light, how to overcome instinctive emotions and habits, and of spiritualism."

Now we get to "The Self God." So this is a description of "The Self God" from the back of "Merging with Siva" which is a chronology of talks. in the chronology of talks that gives a short statement about each talk.

"The Self God."

"An inspired talk given by Gurudeva at the San Francisco, Sacramento Street Temple to a group of karma yoga initiates on October 3, 1959, the day before he flew to Oahu, Hawaii, for the first time. In the original recording we can hear the waterfall splashing on the altar at which Gurudeva gave discourses from 1957 to 1969. In this temple, Swami Chinmayananda, just beginning his Hindu renaissance career, gave one of his earliest lectures."

And we get the text:

"The Self: you can't explain it. You can sense its existence through the refined state of your senses, but you can't explain it. To know it, you have to experience it. And the best you could say about it is that it is the depth of your Being, it's the very core of you. It is you.

"If you visualize above you nothing, below you nothing, to the right of you nothing, to the left of you nothing, in front of you nothing, in back of you nothing, and dissolve yourself into that nothingness, that would be the best way you could explain the realization of the Self."

So then we have my commentary on dissolving yourself.

In the Shum language, the idea of dissolving yourself into that nothingness is the two words im kaif. Im means no, refusal, close out or to negate. Kaif means pure awareness aware only of itself. The two words together have a five-fold definition:

1] Pure awareness aware only of itself dissolving; 2] the intense state of kaif when awareness withdraws all energies from al bodies into a peak experience; 3] kaif eliminates itself, or the locus of awareness dissolves, as the superconciousnes being of man, lamf, returns to its source; 4] this experience may be brief; 5] im kaif does not name what is found from the experience, it only names the entrance and what happens to kaif.

And we have a couple of quotes from Yogaswami about nothingness.

"At the top there is nothing. So you have to come down a little. Then you can enjoy."

"There is nothing. You are nothing. I am nothing. God is nothing."

And back to the text:

"And yet that nothingness would not be the absence of something, like the nothingness inside an empty box, which would be like a void. That nothingness is the fullness of everything: the power, the sustaining power, of the existence of what appears to be everything."

We have a commentary on the idea of nothingness as a sustaining power:

The concept of the Self being a nothingness that is the sustaining power is a way of trying to sense it. So if we go in deep enough and then you sense something that is the sustaining power of everything, that's a way of getting a sense of the Self.

So we have Yogaswami:

"A jak fruit is large in size, but it hangs by a slender stalk. Its power to hang lies in the strength of the stalk. In the same way, the whole world depends on an unknowable energy for all its activities. It is all the same whether this is called God, or given any other name."

And we have commentary on why you can't explain the Self. The first sentence in "The Self God" is: "The Self, you can't explain it." Gurudeva elaborates on this idea in "Merging with Siva", Lesson One.

""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...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 my commentary:

In other words, awareness is what experiences. However. in the realization of Parasiva, awareness is not present, it is temporarily dissolved. Without the presence of the experiencer, awareness, no experience is possible. As Gurudeva, says: "...The event registers in its aftermath upon the mind of man."

So I have an analogy I use regularly for this, the skipping a stone. You have two people next to a pond of water. One closes his eyes; the other skips or does not skip a stone. Then the person opens his eyes. How does he know if the stone was skipped? He knows by the presence or absence of ripples on the surface of the water. He knows by observing the aftermath. Likewise, you can observe the aftermath in the superconscious energies, the actinic forces and see if there are the equivalent of ripples taking place.

Back to the text:

"But after you realize the Self, you see the mind for what it is--a self-created principle. That's the mind ever creating itself. The mind is ever form, ever creating form, preserving form, creating new forms and destroying old forms. That is the mind, the illusion, the great unreality, the part of you that in your thinking mind you dare to think is real. But after you realize the Self, you see the mind for what it is--a self-created principle. That is the mind ever creating itself. The mind is form ever creating form, preserving form, creating new forms and destroying old forms. That is the mind, the illusion, the great unreality, the part of you that in your thinking mind you dare to think is real."

So, commentary, is, this is from "Dancing with Siva:"

"This universe, and indeed all of existence, is maya, Siva's mirific energy. While God is absolutely real, His emanated world is relatively real. Being relatively real does not mean the universe is illusory or nonexistent, but that it is impermanent and subject to change. It is an error to say that the universe is mere illusion, for it is entirely real when experienced in ordinary consciousness, and its existence is required to lead us to God."

The way I interpret that is Gurudeva refined his way of explaining the unreality of the mind, the world. So in 1959 he was just saying it's an illusion, the great unreality, but in writing "Dancing with Siva" he's describing it as 'relatively real' verses absolutely real. In other words, it's easy if you think it's mere illusion to think it's unimportant. But it's important. Because life in the world is needed to lead us to God. But it's relatively real. It's constantly changing whereas what's absolutely real never changes.

[Text]

"What gives the mind that power? Does the mind have power if it is unreal? What difference whether it has power or hasn't power, or the very words that I am saying when the Self exists because of itself? You could live in the dream and become disturbed by it. (Easy to do these days.) Or you can seek and desire with a burning desire to cognize reality and be blissful be-cause of it. Man's destiny leads him back to himself. Man's destiny leads him into the cognition of his own Being; leads him further into the realization of his True Being. They say you must step onto the spiritual path to realize the Self. You only step on the spiritual path when you and you alone are ready, when what appears real to you loses its appearance of reality. Then and only then are you able to detach yourself enough to seek to find a new and permanent reality."

So my comment is:

A certain immersion in the world is needed before we are inwardly motivated to look beyond the material realm into the spiritual realm.

This came up, I had a Zoom Interfaith presentation yesterday on Saivism. And there was a question and answer period at the end. One of the slides I presented: "Concealing and Revealing Grace." Interesting concepts. So I got a question on that and one of my answers was, referred back to a previous slide which was a lotus flower that starts with roots in the mud, stem in the water, the bud on top of the water and then into a full blossom. So the mud is, can be symbolic of the instinctive mind, the water the intellectual mind and then the bud on the surface is starting to get an interest in the spiritual path. We've risen above the instinctive and intellectual mind by having enough instinctive and intellectual experiences over a number lifetimes to look deeper. And then of course, the bud eventually comes into full blossom which symbolizes the deeper realizations. So very interesting idea, you step on the spiritual path when you and you alone are ready.

Have a wonderful day.