Scriptural Study

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

O self-luminous Divine, remove the veil of ignorance from before me, that I may behold your light. Reveal to me the spirit of the scriptures. May the truth of the scriptures be ever present to me. May I seek day and night to realize what I learn from the sages.

Scriptural Listening

Siddhanta shravana, scriptural study, the sixth niyama, is the end of the search. Prior to this end, prior to finding the satguru, we are free to study all the scriptures of the world, of all religions, relate and interrelate them in our mind, manipulate their meanings and justify their final conclusions. We are free to study all of the sects and sampradayas, all denominations, lineages and teachings, everything under the banner of Hinduism — the Saivites, the Vaishnavites, the Smartas, Ganapatis, Ayyappans, Shaktas and Murugans and their branches.

Scriptures within Hinduism are voluminous. The methods of teaching are awesome in their multiplicity. As for teachers, there is one on every corner in India. Ask a simple question of an elder, and he is duty-bound to give a lengthy response from the window he is looking out of, opened by the sampradaya he or his family has subscribed to, maybe centuries ago, of one or another sect within this great pantheon we call Hinduism.

Before we come to the fullness of siddhanta shravana, we are also free to investigate psychologies, psychiatries, pseudo-sciences, ways of behavior of the human species, existentialism, humanism, secular humanism, materialism and the many other modern “-isms,” which are so multitudinous and still multiplying. Their spokesmen are many. Libraries are full of them. All the “-isms” and “-ologies” are there, and they beckon, hands outstretched to receive, to seduce, sometimes even seize, the seeker. The seeker on the path of siddhanta shravana who is at least relatively successful at the ten restraints must make a choice. He knows he has to. He knows he must. He has just entered the consciousness of the muladhara chakra and is becoming steadfast on the upward climb.

Have full faith that when your guru does appear, after you have made yourself ready through the ten restraints and the first five practices, you will know in every nerve current of your being that this is your guide on the path through the next five practices: 1) siddhanta shravana, scriptural study — following one verbal lineage and not pursuing any others; 2) mati, cognition — developing a spiritual will and intellect with a guru’s guidance; 3) vrata, sacred vows — fulfilling religious vows, rules, and observances faithfully; 4) japa, recitation of holy mantras — here we seek initiation from the guru to perform this practice and; 5) tapas, performing austerity, sadhana, penance and sacrifice, also under the guru’s guidance.

Siddhanta shravana is a discipline, an ancient traditional practice in satguru lineages, to carry the devotee from one chakra in consciousness to another. Each sampradaya defends its own teachings and principles against other sampradayas to maintain its pristine purity and admonishes followers from investigating any of them. Such exploration of other texts should all be done before seeking to fulfill siddhanta shravana. Once under the direction of and having been accepted by a guru, any further delving into extraneous doctrines would be disapproved and disallowed.

Siddhanta shravana is more than just focusing on a single doctrine. It is developing through scriptural study an entirely new mind fabric, subconsciously and consciously, which will entertain an explanation for all future prarabdha karmas and karmas created in this life to be experienced for the duration of the physical life of the disciple. Siddhanta shravana is even more. It lays the foundation for initiation within the fabric of the nerve system of the disciple. Even more, it portrays any differences in his thinking, the guru’s thought, the sampradaya’s principles, philosophy and underlying practices.
Transmitting Tradition

Siddhanta shravana literally means “scriptural listening.” It is one thing to read the Vedas, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras, but it is quite another to hear their teachings from one who knows, because it is through hearing that the transmission of subtle knowledge occurs, from knower to seeker. And that is why listening is preferred over intellectual study.

Because sound is the first creation, knowledge is transferred through sound of all kinds. It is important that one listen to the highest truths of a sampradaya from one who has realized them. The words, of course, will be familiar. They have been read by the devotee literally hundreds of times, but to hear them from the mouth of the enlightened rishi is to absorb his unspoken realization, as he re-realizes his realization while he reads them and speaks them out. This is Saiva Siddhanta. This is true sampradaya — thought, meaning and knowledge conveyed through words spoken by one who has realized the Ultimate. The words will be heard, the meaning the satguru understands as meaning will be absorbed by the subconscious mind of the devotee, and the superconscious, intuitive knowledge will impress the subsuperconscious mind of the devotees who absorb it, who milk it out of the satguru himself. This and only this changes the life pattern of the devotee. There is no other way. This is why one must come to the guru open, like a child, ready and willing to absorb, and to go through many tests. And this is why one must choose one’s guru wisely and be ready for such an event in one’s life.

Sampradaya actually means an orally transmitted tradition, unwritten and unrecorded in any other way. True, satgurus of sampradayas do write books nowadays, make tape recordings, videos and correspond. This is mini-sampradaya, the bud of a flower before opening, the shell of an egg before the bird hatches and flies off, the cocoon before the butterfly emerges. This is mini-sampradaya — just a taste, but it does lay a foundation within the shishya’s mind of who the guru is, what he thinks, what he represents, the beginning and ending of his path, the sampradaya he represents, carries forth and is bound to carry forth to the next generation, the next and the next. But really potent sampradaya is listening, actually listening to the guru’s words, his explanations. It stimulates thought. Once-remembered words take on new meanings. Old knowledge is burnt out and replaced with new. This is sampradaya.

Are you ready for a satguru? Perhaps not. When you are ready, and he comes into your life through a dream, a vision or a personal meeting, the process begins. The devotee takes one step toward the guru — a simple meeting, a simple dream. The guru is bound to take nine steps toward the devotee, not ten, not eleven or twelve, only nine, and then wait for the devotee to take one more step. Then another nine ensue. This is the dance. This is sampradaya.

When a spiritual experience comes, a real awakening of light, a flash of realization, a knowing that has never been seen in print, or if it had been is long-since forgotten, it gives great courage to the devotee to find that it had already been experienced and written about by others within his chosen sampradaya.

If all the temples were destroyed, the gurus would come forth and rebuild them. If all the scriptures were destroyed, the rishis would reincarnate and rewrite them. If all the gurus, swamis, rishis, sadhus, saints and sages were systematically destroyed, they would take births here and there around the globe and continue as if nothing had ever happened. So secure is the Eternal Truth on the planet, so unshakable, that it forges ahead undaunted through the mouths of many. It forges ahead undaunted through the temples’ open doors. It forges ahead undaunted in scriptures now lodged in nearly every library in the world. It forges ahead undaunted, mystically hidden from the unworthy, revealed only to the worthy, who restrain themselves by observing some or all of the yamas and who practice a few niyamas.

Coming under a satguru of one lineage, all scripture, temple and home tradition may be taken away from the eyes of the experience of the newly accepted devotee. In another tradition, scripture may be taken away and temple worship allowed to remain, so that only the words of the guru are heard. In still another tradition, the temple, the scripture and the voice of the guru are always there — but traditionally only the scripture which has the approval of the satguru and is totally in accord with his principles, practices and the underlying philosophy of the sampradaya.
One Focus Per Lifetime

Life is long; there are apparently many years ahead. But time is short. One never knows when he is going to die. The purpose of sampradaya is to restrict and narrow down, to reach out to an attainable goal. We must not consider our life and expected longevity as giving us the time and permission to do investigative comparisons of one sampradaya to another. This may be done before making up one’s mind to follow a traditional verbal lineage. After that, pursuing other paths, even in passing, would be totally unacceptable.

But it is also totally unacceptable to assume the attitude of denigration of other paths, or to assume the attitude that “our way is the only way.” There are fourteen currents in the sushumna. Each one is a valid way to escalate consciousness into the chakra at the top of the skull and beyond. And at every point in time, there is a living guru, possessing a physical body, ordained to control one or more of these nadis, currents, within the sushumna. All are valid paths. One should not present itself as superseding another. Let here be no mistake about this.

The yamas and niyamas are the core of Hindu disciplines and restraints for individuals, groups, communities and nations. In fact, they outline various stages of the path in the development of the soul, leading out of the marul pada into the arul pada, from confusion into grace, leading to the feet of the satguru, as the last five practices indicate — siddhanta shravana, mati, vrata, japa and tapas.

Since the sampradayas are all based on Hinduism, which is based on the Vedas, any teacher of Indian spirituality who rejects the Vedas is therefore not a Hindu and should not be considered as such. Anybody in his right mind will be able to accept the last section of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and see the truth therein. One at least has to accept that as the basis of siddhanta shravana. If even that is rejected, we must consider the teacher a promulgator of a new Indian religion, neo-American religion, neo-European religion, neo-New-Age religion, nonreligion, neo-sannyasi religion, or some other “neo-ism” or “neo-ology.” This is not sampradaya. This is not siddhanta shravana. This is what we speak against. These are not the eternal paths. Why? Because they have not been tried and tested. They are not based on traditional lineages; nor have they survived the ravages of time, changing societies, wars, famine and the infiltration of ignorance.

For sadhakas, yogis, swamis and mendicants who have freed themselves from the world, permanently or for a period of time according to their vows, these yamas and niyamas are not only restraints and practices, but mandatory controls. They are not only practices, but obligatory disciplines, and once performed with this belief and attitude, they will surely lead the mendicant to his chosen goal, which can only be the height that his prarabdha karmas in this life permit, unless those karmas are burned out under extreme tapas under the guidance of a satguru.

Some might still wonder, why limit oneself to listening to scripture of one particular lineage, especially if it has been practically memorized? The answer is that what has been learned must be experienced personally, and experience comes in many depths. This is the purpose of disregarding or rejecting all other sampradayas, -ism’s, -ologies and sects, or denominations, and of limiting scriptural listening to just one sampradaya, so that each subtle increment of the divine truths amplified within it is realized through personal experience. This and only this — experience, realization, illumination — can be carried on to the next birth. What one has merely memorized is not transforming and is forgotten perhaps shortly after death. Let there be no mistake that siddhanta shravana, scriptural listening, is the only way; and when the seeker is ready, the guru will appear and enter his life.
Cognition

Cognition, mati, is the seventh niyama. Cognition means understanding; but deeper than understanding, it is seeing through to the other side of the results that a thought, a word or an action would have in the future, before the thought, word or action has culminated. Mati is the development of a spiritual will and intellect through the grace of a satguru, an enlightened master. Mati can only come this way. It is a transference of divine energies from the satguru to the shishya, building a purified intellect honed down by the guru for the shishya, and a spiritual will developed by the shishya by following the religious sadhanas the guru has laid down until the desired results are attained to the guru’s satisfaction. Sadhana is always done under a guru’s direction. This is the worthy sadhana that bears fruit.

Mati, cognition, on a higher level is the awakening of the third eye, looking out through the heart chakra, seeing through the maya, the interacting creation, preservation and dissolution of the molecules of matter. Mati is all this and more, for within each one who is guided by the guru’s presence lies the ability to see not only with the two eyes but with all three simultaneously. The spiritual intellect described herein is none other than wisdom, or a “wise dome,” if you will. Wisdom is the timely application of knowledge, not merely the opinions of others, but knowledge gained through deep observation.

The guru’s guidance is supreme in the life of the dedicated devotee who is open for training. The verbal lineages of the many sampradayas have withstood the tests of time, turmoil, decay and ravage of external hostility. The sampradayas that have sustained man and lifted him above the substratum of ignorance are actually great nerve currents within the sushumna of the awakened satguru himself. To go further on the path of yoga, one will encounter within his own sushumna current — within one of the fourteen nadis within it — a satguru, a guru who preaches Truth. He will meet this guru in a dream or in his physical body, and through the guru’s grace and guidance will be allowed to continue the upward climb. These fourteen currents, at every point in time on the surface of the Earth, have a satguru attached to them, ready and waiting to open the portals of the beyond into the higher chakras, the throat, the third eye and the cranium.

To say, “I have awakened my throat chakra,” “I now live in my third eye” or “I am developing my sahasrara chakra,” without being able to admit to being under a guru, a satguru who knows and is personally directing the devotee, is foolishness, a matter of imagination. It is in the heart chakra, the chakra of cognition, that seekers see through the veils of ignorance, illusion, maya’s interacting preservation, creation and destruction, and gain a unity with and love for the universe — all those within it, creatures, peoples and all the various forms — feeling themselves a part of it.

Here, on this threshold of the anahata chakra, there are two choices. One is following the sampradaya of a satguru for the next upward climb into the vishuddha, ajna and sahasrara. The other is remaining guru-less, becoming one’s own guru, and possibly delving into various forms of psychism, astrology, some forms of modern science, psychic crime-detection, tarot cards, pendulums, crystal gazing, psychic healing, past-life reading or fortunetelling. These psychic abilities, when developed, can be an impediment, a deterrent, a barrier, a Berlin Wall to future spiritual development. They develop the anava, the ego, and are the first renunciations the satguru would ask a devotee to make prior to being accepted.

Coming under a satguru, one performs according to the guru’s direction with full faith and confidence. This is why scriptures say a guru must be carefully chosen, and when one is found, to follow him with all your heart, to obey and fulfill his every instruction better than he would have expected you to, and most importantly, even better than you would have expected of yourself.

Psychic abilities are not in themselves deterrents on the path. They are permitted to develop later, after Parashiva, nirvikalpa samadhi, has been attained and fully established within the individual. But this, too, would be under the guru’s grace and guidance, for these abilities are looked at as tools to fulfill certain works assigned by the guru to the devotee to fulfill until the end of the life of the physical body.

It is the personal ego, the anava, that is developed through the practice of palmistry, astrology, tarot cards, fortunetelling, past-life reading, crystal gazing, crystal healing, prana transference, etc., etc., etc. This personal ego enhancement is a gift from those who are healed, who are helped, who are encouraged and who are in awe of the psychic power awakened in the heart chakra of this most perfect person of the higher consciousness who doesn’t anger, display fear or exhibit any lower qualities.
Untying The Bonds

The three malas that bind us are: maya, the ever-perpetuating dance of creation, preservation and dissolution; karma (our prarabdha karma, brought with us to face in this life, along with the karma we are creating now and will create in the future); and anava, the ego, ignorance or sense of separateness. Maya can be understood, seen through and adjusted to through the heart-chakra powers of cognition, contentment and compassion. Karmas can be harnessed through regular forms of disciplinary practices of body, mind and emotions, and the understanding of the law of karma itself as a force that is sent out through thought, feeling and action and most often returns to us through other peoples’ thought, feeling and action. But it is the anava mala, the mala of personal ego, that is the binding chain which cannot be so easily dealt with. It is the last to go. It is only at the point of death, before the greatest mahasamadhi of the greatest rishi, that the anava mala chain is finally broken.

If we compare this anava mala, personal ego, to an actual mala, a string of rudraksha beads, the purpose on the path at this stage, of mati, is to begin eliminating the beads, making the chain shorter and shorter. The mala should be getting shorter and shorter rather than our adding beads to it so that it gets longer and longer. A warning: if the anava mala — symbolically a garland of rudraksha beads — has thirty-six beads and it steadily grows to 1,008 because of practices and the adulation connected with them within the psychic realms of the pseudoscience of parapsychology — such as bending spoons, telepathy, channeling and ectoplasmic manifestations — this 1,008 strand of rudraksha beads could become so heavy, so dangerous to the wearer, that eventually he would trip and fall on his nose. The wise say, “Pride goes before a fall.” And the still wiser know that “spiritual pride is the most difficult pride to deal with, to eliminate, to rise above in a lifetime.” The spiritually proud never open themselves to a satguru. The mystically humble do.

Mati has also been interpreted as “good intellect, acute intelligence, a mind directed toward right knowledge, or Vedic knowledge.” Good intellect, in the context of a Hindu seer, would be right knowledge based on siddhanta shravana, scriptural study. Acute intelligence, of course, means “see-through” or panoramic intelligence which cognizes the entire picture rather than only being aware of one of its parts. “A mind directed toward right knowledge or Vedic knowledge” refers to the intellect developed through siddhanta shravana. The study of the Vedas and other scriptures purifies the intellect, as belief creates attitude, and attitude creates action. An intellect based on truths of the Sanatana Dharma is intelligent to the divine laws of the universe and harnessed into fulfilling them as a part of it. To this end, all the prarabdha karmas of this life and the action-reaction conglomerates formed in this life are directed. The intellect, like the emotions, is a force, disciplined or undisciplined, propelled by right knowledge or wrong knowledge. It, of itself, processes, logically or illogically, both kinds of knowledge or their mix. What harnesses the intellect is siddhanta shravana, study of the teachings and listening to the wise of an established, traditional lineage that has stood the test of time, ravage and all attempts at conversion.

The intellect is a neutral tool which can be used for bad or for good purposes. But unlike the emotions, which are warm, and also neutral, the intellect is cold. It is the fire of the kundalini force — impregnating the intellect, purifying it, burning out the ignorance of wrong concepts, thought forms, beliefs, connected attitudes, causing an aversion to certain actions — that forges the purified intellect and spiritual will of cognition, known as mati. Mati, in summary, is the harnessing of the intellect by the soul to live a spiritual life.
Purifying The Intellect

There are many things which have their claim on people’s minds. For many it is the physical body. The hypochondriac thinks about it all the time. Then there is the employer who has bought the intellect of the employee. The emotions consume the intellect with hurt feelings and the rhetorical questions that ensue, elated feelings and the continued praise that is expected. And then there is television, the modern vishvaguru that guides the intellect into confusion. As a dream leads only to waking up, television leads only to turning it off. Yes, there are many things that claim the intellect, many more than we have spoken about already.

The intellect is guided by the physical; the intellect is guided by the emotions, by other people, and by mechanical devices. And the intellect is guided by the intellect itself, like a computer processing and reprocessing knowledge without really understanding any of it. It is at the stage when anger has subsided, jealousy is unacceptable behavior and fear is a distant feeling, when memory is intact, the processes of reason are working well, the willpower is strong and the integrity is stable, when one is looking out from the anahata chakra window of consciousness, when instinctive-intellectual thought meets the superconscious of the purusha, the soul, that the inner person lays claim on the outer person.

There is a struggle, to be sure, as the “I Am” struggles to take over the “was then.” It’s simple. The last mala, the anava “mala,” has to start losing its beads. The personal ego must go for universal cosmic identity, Satchidananda, to be maintained. This, then, is the platform of the throat chakra, the vishuddha chakra, of a true, all-pervasive, never-relenting spiritual identity. Here guru and shishya live in oneness in divine communication. Even if never a word is spoken, the understanding in the devotee begins to grow and grow and grow.

Some people think of the intellect as informing the superconscious or soul nature, instructing or educating it. Some people even think that they can command the Gods to do their bidding. These are the people that also think that their wife is a slave, that children are their servants, and who cleverly deceive their employers and governments through learned arts of deception.

These are the prototypes of the well-developed ignorant person, even though he might feign humility and proclaim religiousness. It is the religion that he professes, if he keeps doing so, that will pull him out of this darkness. When the first beam of light comes through the muladhara chakra, he will start instructing his own soul as to what it should do for him, yet he still habitually dominates his wife, inhibiting her own feelings as a woman, and his children, inhibiting their feelings in experiencing themselves being young.

But the soul responds in a curious way, unlike the wife and children, or the employer and government who have been deceived through his wrong dealings. The soul responds by creating a pin which pricks his conscience, and this gnawing, antagonistic force within him he seeks to get rid of. He hides himself in jealousy, in the sutala chakra, until this becomes unacceptable. The confusion of the talatala chakra is no longer his pleasure. He can’t hide there. So, he hides himself in anger and resentment — a cozy place within the vitala chakra — until this becomes unbearable. Then he hides himself in fear, in the atala chakra, fear of his own purusha, his own soul, his own psyche, his own seeing, until this becomes intolerable. Then he hides himself in memory and reason, and the being puts down its roots. The change in this individual can only be seen by the mellowness within his eyes and a new-born wisdom that is slowly developing in his conversations among those who knew him before.
Transmuting Willpower

Willpower is a pranic force which exudes out of the manipura chakra. This energy, when directed downward, can be used up through excessive reason, excessive memorization, fear and amplification of fears, anger, the perpetuation of resentment without resolution, amplified by instinctive jealousies, all of which eventually dissipate the semi-divine energy of willpower and eventually close the manipura chakra. But when this same energy of willpower is upwardly directed, it pulls memory into a purified memory, making it forget what has to be forgotten, namely wrong knowledge, and remember what has to be remembered — siddhanta, the final conclusions of the rishis who live within the sahasrara chakra, the siddhas who are contacted through great tapas.

There is no reason to believe that developing and unfolding the ten petals of the manipura chakra comes easily. To develop an indomitable will capable of the accomplishments needed as a prerequisite to make the upward climb to the anahata, vishuddha, ajna and sahasrara chakras, and to sustain the benign attitudes of humility, is certainly not an easy task. But it comes naturally to one who has attained such in prior lifetimes, an older soul, I would say. Fulfilling each task one has begun, putting the cap back on the toothpaste tube after squeezing the toothpaste on the brush, the little things, and perfecting the yamas and the niyamas, especially contentment, austerity, giving, faith and regular worship, builds this indomitable will. These are mini-sadhanas one can perform on his own without the guidance of a guru. Yes, it is the little things that build the indomitable will that dominates the external intellect, its memory and reason abilities, and the instinctive impulses of fear, anger and jealousy. Doing this is just becoming a good person.

Willpower is the muscle of the mind. We lift weights, exercise, run a mile, all to develop the muscles of the physical body. The more we perform these practices, the more muscular we become. The process of strain reshapes the cellular properties and the structure of the muscles. Intermittent rest allows them to build up double. Strong muscles appear on the body as a result. The manipura chakra is the sun center of the physical body and of the astral body, the place where all nerve currents of these two bodies meet and merge. It emanates the power of life. It is the seat of fire, the agni homa. It is the bridge between the ultimate illumination and a prolonged, ongoing, intellectual processing of ideas, coupled with instinctive willfulness. Let there be no mistake, we must get beyond that by transmuting this tool, willpower, into mati, cognition, where its energies are usable yet benign. Therefore, the more you use your personal, individual willpower in your religious service, in your business life, your personal life, your home life, your temple life, in fulfilling all the yamas and niyamas, the more willpower you have. It is an accumulative, ever-growing bank account.

Of course, you can lose some of it through lapses into fear, anger and jealousy, just as in an economic depression one loses money. But you can also court an inflation by seeking higher consciousness in the vishuddha chakra of divine love through the anahata chakra of direct cognition, through understanding the oneness of a well-ordered, just universe, both inner and outer.

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  1. daphney says:

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