Archive for the ‘Routine part 2’ Category

Birth

Posted: 28/11/2013 in Routine part 2

A slayer of an embryo is like the slayer of a priest.

Krishna Yajur Veda 6.5.10

Conception And Birth

I am often asked, “What is the point at which a soul enters into a new incarnation?” Many advanced souls choose their parents long before conception, electing to live in their homes, especially if the parents worship. Especially if they were relatives in a past life, they want to be born back into those families to work out their karmas. Therefore, a soul may become connected with his mother-to-be long before conception. An unreligious couple that does not seek the inner forces at the moment of conception or slightly before, depending on wherever they are — in a hospital or hotel — may attract and draw into the process of incarnation anybody who is magnetized to them. I call this “potluck off the astral plane,” even the lower astral. Someone could die in a hospital and, in a motel three blocks down the street, be immediately conceived. If the husband and wife had been fighting and arguing, this could magnetize a child that would not help the family, but instead would disrupt the household. The difference between the two situations is that one family is thinking of the Divine at the time of conception and the other is living an ordinary life with no contact with the inner, spiritual forces.

In either case, when the fetus starts to move in the womb, the soul simultaneously enters and occupies physical life, fully incarnates, or enters flesh. That’s when the soul is totally “hooked in,” around three or four months. It’s there before, hovering near the mother, but not fully connected. The 2,200-year-old Tirumantiram of Rishi Tirumular tells us in verses 453-455 that from the moment of conception a soul is associated with the growing physical form of the infant. He says that at the instant of conception, as vital fluids are released and flow from both parents, the embryo is formed; the twenty-five tattvas rush in and lie concealed within its third eye, ajna chakra. At this point, life begins. For nine months, the embryo, then fetus, develops physically, and the soul that will inhabit the physical form gradually awakens to First-World embodied consciousness, becoming more or less fully conscious of its new physical form at birth.

It is good to understand that the soul exists in the macrocosm within the microcosm. It has no need of traveling to or from; it is where its awareness is. Outward forms, even physical bodies, do not depend on the soul’s awareness being present constantly, just as you are not dead when you are asleep. As you might say, “I was not in my body,” after you find yourself day dreaming, in the same sense, the soul is not constantly in the infant body while it is growing in the womb.

The life of the body is odic, and it runs on by itself. The spiritual energies and presence of the soul dominating the physical, emotional and mental elements is what makes us human. As Rishi Tirumular says, the moment life departs the body, the cherished friend becomes merely a bad smell. The soul’s association with the body — the “nine-holed bag of skin” — is life. It begins at conception and continues until the moment of death. In summary, the soul is psychically connected and increasingly aware of its physical body in the womb throughout the pregnancy, just as the soul is connected with the physical body outside the womb until the moment of death.

At the time of birth, the previous astral body is still there. The new astral body grows within the child, and the old astral body is eventually sloughed off. It’s not immediate. Like moving into a new house, it takes time to get settled. A newborn baby sometimes looks like an old person right from the beginning. This is because it has an old astral body. As the child gains its new identity, a new astral body is formed from the ida of the mother and the pingala of the father, and that development is enhanced by harmony between the parents. It is a slow transition.

Just as the former physical body finally disintegrates, its old astral body does also. It takes time for these things to happen. For older souls it takes a shorter time. Still, it’s a gradual transition. As one astral body develops, the other goes. Once in Virginia City I inwardly saw a young girl running around dressed in the old Western style clothing as an adult, and I knew that this was her old astral body. A child may be able to remember who he was in his last life until the old astral body dissipates.

When Does Life Begin?

The question of when human life begins is often asked with the modern-day controversy over abortion in mind. In speaking of this delicate subject with my devotees, I have explained that conceiving a child is like planting a seed in the ground. Although you may not see anything for a while, there are life forces building which will one day appear before your physical eyes, emerging out of the microcosm into the macrocosm, or First World. If you interrupt or cut off that process, for whatever reason, the consequences fall to you, according to the law of karma propounded by our Saiva faith.

Abortion is definitely a concern, not only to wives and daughters but to husbands as well. The aborted child, if allowed to live, may have become the husband’s heir, a preeminent member of society, and tenderly cared for him and his wife in their elder years. But they will never know and will always wonder, wonder.

Abortion is a concern all over India, where it is legal. Doctors there and elsewhere have developed an inexpensive version of the French “abortion pill.” Many see this as a blessing for India’s population problem and a safer alternative to the thousands of surgical abortions performed each month, from which many women die or suffer infections. It is perhaps a good time to reflect on another side of this issue, on the karma and on dharma.

Wives often please their husbands by aborting an unwanted girl — which she is blamed for, when, in fact, it is the male sperm that determines the child’s gender — but secretly wonder, “Who is she? Who was she in her past life? Will she find another womb to incarnate through? Would she perhaps have become a Florence Nightingale, Madame Curie or Anandamayi Ma, a saint like Auvaiyar or Mirabai?” The subliminal subjective sadness that abortion brings, with all the “maybes” that lie unanswered, in itself is a sign from the soul that abortion is wrong; a new bad karma, a kukarmaphala, has been created. It did not have to be, but it was. After all, the still, small voice of the soul sometimes speaks loudly when a wrong is committed, and doesn’t stop talking until a counterbalancing punya, merit, is achieved and solace sought for.

Atonement For Abortion

Built within the great Hindu religion is the process of atonement. What is the prayashchitta, the penance, to be done to atone for abortion? One that works very well in this modern age is to adopt a child, raise it with tender loving care, believing this soul is akin to the aborted soul who sought to take refuge within one’s family. This, then, atones. Mahatma Gandhi utilized this principle when one day he counseled a Hindu man who said he had slain a Muslim in revenge for his son’s killing at the Muslim’s hands. He was deeply troubled about his crime. Gandhi advised him to adopt and raise a Muslim boy as penance for the deed.

One becomes his own psychiatrist by utilizing the psychology that when something has gone wrong, it has to be fixed. Why would it have to be resolved? Because the persons involved don’t feel good about the action, or karma. Resolution is not only mending and healing, it is eradicating the memory of the event — not actually a total forgetfulness, but the emotions that come up with the memory are eradicated. This can be done in various ways. Write to the person who was aborted and burn the letter in a fire. Explain how sorry you are, how miserable you are feeling, and attest that you will never do it again. This is a great way to unload a subconscious mind that is filled with guilt.

Accepting reincarnation, punarjanma, we acknowledge souls existing in subtle form in astral bodies waiting to incarnate through a womb. When that womb is disturbed, this is recorded as a sense of eviction for the conscious fetus; and it has similar empty effects on the potential mother’s life and all those connected to her in the family. It is a kukarma that affects all, is felt by all and must be paid for by all.

So, we can see the consequences. This does not mean that anyone is cursed or that there is any “mortal sin” involved. Hinduism is a free-flowing religion. It threatens no everlasting it preaches no mortal sin, as a transgression that, if unexpiated in this one and only life, would deprive the soul from closeness to God for eternity. Hinduism accepts life the way it is, even its flaws and frailties. It teaches us the right path but knows we may not always follow that path and thus gives the remedies to correct whatever bothers us at every stage of the great journey to moksha, liberation from rebirth.

Abortion brings with it a karmic force of destruction that will come back on the mother and father who set it in motion. They may be denied a dwelling. They may be denied a noble child. They may beget a child who will persecute them all the days of their life. The parents, the abortionist and the nurses will suffer difficulties in attaining another birth, perhaps by experiencing as many abortions as they participated in while on Earth. The price is high for abortion, much higher and more costly than giving birth, raising and educating the child and establishing him or her in life.

Life must go on. It is said that children often bring great fortune to their parents. They pay their own way. Nevertheless, abortions do happen, have happened and will happen in the future. Men and women who have participated, and their doctors and nurses, are involved in the deep kukarmic consequences. The action’s reaction, which is karma, must be resolved in some way for a peace of mind, a quiescent state, to persist. The Hindu religion forbids abortion because of the laws of personal dharma, social dharma and ahimsa — noninjury to any living creature, physically, mentally or emotionally.

Difficult Issues

The Sanatana Dharma states that abortion is sanctioned only if the life of the mother would be lost by the birth of the child. Hindu scripture speaks strongly against the deliberate attempt to kill a embryo/fetus, telling us life starts at conception, when the astral body of the newborn child-to-be in the Antarloka is hovering over the bodies of the mother and father. The Kaushitaki Upanishad (3.1) counts abortion among such heinous sins as killing one’s parents. The Atharva Veda (6.113.2) lists the fetus slayer, brunaghni, among the greatest of sinners.

Our research among scholars and swamis tells us there is nothing within Hinduism that opposes contraceptives or birth-control methods. However, if conception occurs, the man and woman have already taken on the karmic responsibility. It is dharma’s path to then open the doors of their hearts to receive the incarnating soul. A miscarriage is something different — an unintentional action of nature, shall we say. Try again and the same soul may come through.

What about rape, incest, adultery or premarital pregnancies? Mothers are the life-givers of the planet. Even in these most terrible conditions, scripture gives no permission to injure, and certainly not to kill. However, it would be a sin upon the child to be born and kill his mother in the process. This is why abortion to save the life of the mother is the one and only exception which tradition allows. Yet, even that exception must not be resorted to lightly by some clever doctor or a husband falsely saying, “She might die,” or “My wife’s life is in peril,” or by a devious wife herself claiming, “I am going to die if I don’t abort this child.” It must be an honest and competent diagnosis, not for the sake of money, not for the sake of saving face in the community, not for the sake of repudiating an infant girl. It must be an honest diagnosis made by compassionate, dharmic doctors.

The central principles at work here are ahimsa, noninjury; the energy of God everywhere; the action of the law of karma; the strict rules of dharma defined in our holy scriptures; and the belief in reincarnation. These five make a Hindu a Hindu and make not committing abortion an obvious decision.

Questions On Suicide

Another very serious issue faced today in every society is suicide. The percentages are too high to ignore the problem that exists in far too many Hindu communities. Well, we can advise, as many elders do: “Don’t kill yourself.” After all, they became elders by avoiding such extreme solutions. But do those who are all wrought up with emotion and confusion listen to such advice? No. Many die needlessly at their own hand. How selfish. How sad. But it is happening every day. Suicide does not solve problems. It only magnifies future problems in the Antarloka — the subtle, nonphysical astral world we live in before we incarnate — and in the next life. Suicide only accelerates the intensity of karma, bringing a series of immediate lesser births and requiring several lives for the soul to return to the evolutionary point that existed at the moment of suicide, at which time the still existing karmic entanglement that brought on the death must again be faced and resolved. Thus turns the slow wheel of samsara. To gain a fine birth, one must live according to the natural laws of dharma and live out the karma in this life positively and fully.

Suicide is termed pranatyaga in Sanskrit, “abandoning life force.” It is intentionally ending one’s own life through poisoning, drowning, burning, stabbing, jumping, shooting, etc. Suicide has traditionally been prohibited in Hindu scripture because, being an abrupt escape from life, it creates unseemly karma to be faced in the future.

However, in cases of terminal disease or great disability, religious self-willed death through fasting, prayopavesha, is sometimes permitted. Hinduism is not absolutely black and white in this matter. Rather, it takes into account the broader picture. How will this affect the soul? How will it affect humanity? How will it affect one’s future incarnations? All that must be taken into account if a wise and compassionate, right decision is to be made on so serious a matter.

There are very few extraordinary situations in which self-willed death is permitted. It is not enough that we are unhappy, disappointed, going through a temporary anguish, such as loss of loved ones, a physical injury, a financial loss or the failure to pass an exam and the fear of an angry thrashing from parents when they find out. That is called life. It is not enough that we are filled with sorrow. None of these reasons is enough to justify suicide, and thus it is in such cases an ignoble act. It is not necessarily even enough that we are suffering a serious, terminal illness, one of the thousands that beset human beings on this planet.

Expiring By Fasting

In their love, their wisdom of the meaning and purpose of life, the rishis, the divine lawmakers, provided an alternative for extraordinary human suffering. They knew that excruciating suffering with no possible end in view is not conducive to spiritual progress and that it is best to have a fully conscious death in a joyous, religious mood, meditating or listening to scripture and sacred songs to the Gods. So, the Vedic rishis gave, in rare circumstances, the anguished embodied soul a way to systematically, nobly and acceptably, even to loved ones, release itself from embodiment through fasting. They knew, too, that life is more than a body, that the soul is immortal, that a proper exit can, in fact, be elevating. Death for Hindus is a most exalted human experience, a grand and important departure, mahaprasthana.

The person making such a decision declares it publicly, which allows for community regulation and distinguishes the act from suicide committed privately in traumatic emotional states of anguish and despair. Ancient lawgivers cited various stipulations: inability to perform normal bodily purification; death appears imminent or the condition is so bad that life’s pleasures are nil; and such extraordinary action must be done under community regulation.

The gradual nature of prayopavesha is a key factor distinguishing it from sudden suicide, svadehaghata, for it allows time for the individual to settle all differences with others, to ponder life and draw close to God, even to change his mind and resume eating, as well as for loved ones to oversee his gradual exit from the physical world. One begins this highly ritualized practice by obtaining forgiveness and giving forgiveness. Next a formal vow, mahavrata marana, “great vow of death,” is taken before one’s guru, following a full discussion of all karmas of this life, especially confessing one’s wrongdoings fully and openly. Thereafter, attention is focused on scripture and the guru’s noble teachings. Meditation on the innermost, immortal Self becomes the full focus as one gradually abstains from food. At the very end, as the soul releases itself from the body, the sacred mantra is repeated as instructed by the preceptor.

To leave the body in the right frame of mind, in the right consciousness, through the highest possible chakra, is a key to spiritual progress. The seers did not want unrelenting pain and hopelessness to be the only possibilities facing a soul whose body was failing, whose only experience was pain without reprieve. So they prescribed a kindly way, a reasonable way, especially for the pain-riddled, disabled elderly and the terminally diseased, to choose a righteous release. What wonderful wisdom. No killer drugs. No violence. No involvement of another human being, with all the karmic entanglements that inevitably produces. No life-support systems. No loss of the family wealth for prolonged health care or into the hands of unscrupulous doctors. No lapsing into unconscious coma. No loss of dignity. No unbearable anguish. And no sudden or impulsive decision — instead, a quiet, slow, natural exit from the body, coupled with spiritual practices, with mantras and tantras, with scriptural readings, deep meditation, reflection and listening to favorite religious songs, with joyous release, with all affairs settled, with full self-awareness and with recognition and support from friends and relations. But don’t try it unless you meet up to the qualifications and, above all, have community support.

Thirty-One-Day Retreats

From our cyberspace congregation through the Internet came a question about the thirty-one-day period of seclusion that a family observes following a death or a birth in the family. The traditional practice is to not go to the temple, to not visit swamis and gurus, and to put white cloth over the Deities in the shrine room. An understanding of the esoterics behind traditions is very important in order to fulfill them. When someone is born or dies, a door, to either the higher or lower inner worlds, is opened for all who share a psychic bond, depending on where the soul has come from or has gone. For thirty-one days a psychic passageway of vulnerability persists, which is particularly magnetic in instances of death. “Still,” the devotee asked, “isn’t a birth especially a happy, sacred event? If so, why can’t we go into the shrine room? Why can’t we go into the temple?”

Yes, birth is a very sacred and happy event for the entire family and should be regarded as such. However, it is also a very inner time for the family. Inner worship, meditation, singing songs, doing japa are totally acceptable. A primary reason behind this tradition is to protect the health and well-being of the newborn. Secondly, it is observed so that the baby can become adjusted to the big experience of birth, which is a tremendous experience for the soul, to come into a physical body. During this first month, the astral body of the child is getting accustomed to its tiny new physical body and is experiencing leaving that body and reentering that body. This is an important time of astral, physical adjustment for the newly born. Often when a baby is crying uncontrollably, we can assume that the astral body is out of the physical body, trying to reenter. Also, to bring a newborn child during his first month to a temple would be unwise, as everyone would crowd around, relatives and strangers and friends, breathing into his face, and the baby could contract a disease. Thirty-one days is given to keep the child protected from disease and allow him or her full entrance into the physical body.

The observance of the thirty-one day period immediately after a death in the family is the same traditional practice: closing up the shrine room, putting white cloth over all the Deity pictures and refraining from visiting temples, and from approaching swamis or other holy persons. Cases of a birth and a death are mystically very similar, in that the door of the inner world is open. We want to help that door close, not keep it open by worshiping in the shrine or going to the temple. Spiritual practice is curtailed to avoid the pitfalls that could result in inadvertently drawing forth the energies of beings of the lower worlds rather than the higher.

Visiting the shrine room at this time would also open the door for uncontrollable crying by members of the family. Crying upsets the astral body of the departed one, because he or she is still connected to the loved ones, and yet is having happy experiences. So, during this particular time of thirty-one days after a birth or death, slowly the inner doors of the higher world as well as the lower worlds are allowed to close.

This does not restrict relatives and friends from bringing food to the family, which is very helpful, because the natural routine of the home has been disrupted. Especially in the event of the death of a dear family member, there are many, many things to do — funeral arrangements, disposing of clothing and belongings, attending to wills — so it helps if the family is free from its usual chores and religious duties. After the period of retreat, which does not exclude, of course, personal meditation and japa, worshiping within, normalcy may recommence.

Let there be no neglect of Truth. Let there be no neglect of dharma. Let there be no neglect of welfare. Let there be no neglect of prosperity. Let there be no neglect of study and teaching. Let there be no neglect of the duties to the Gods and the ancestors.

Krishna Yajur Veda, Taittiriya Upanishad, 1.11.1. BO UPR, P. 537

What Is Dharma?

One of the great joys of Hinduism is dharma. What is dharma? Dharma is to the individual what its normal development is to a seed — the orderly fulfillment of an inherent nature and destiny. Dharma means merit, morality, good conduct, religious duty and the way of life of the wise person. When people fulfill their dharma, they fulfill the very purpose of their life; and when they act against their dharma, they create new karmas. Just as we are born in a physical body with a certain outward appearance, our dharma is a certain accumulated pattern. We are expected to live through this dharma during a lifetime, understanding that all persons can be in their rightful place, doing their rightful dharma at the right time. The Hindu has this understanding. It’s inbred. It offers a certain contentment in knowing that there is a rightful place for each soul in this vast universe.

Dharma is determined by the accumulated patterns of karma, the samskaric reactions to the experiences of karma throughout all the past lives, the sum of impressions that make up the seeds yet to be sprouted, which must be worked out through prayer, meditation, sadhana or tapas if they are not beneficial, but allowed to sprout if they are beneficial. These seeds, all collected together, make up the dharma of each individual. There are some who do not yet have a precise dharma. They have not collected up into themselves enough merit or demerit. Their options are great. They are still making — through their actions — impressions within their own minds in order to gather them together, to firm up their own mind to form a dharma, to fall into a certain kind of pattern.

Dharma is the heritage of all Hindus. It is working for the divine beings in the Second World and the Gods within the Third World. Hindu Dharma is working for the Gods, as opposed to working and living for our own personal wants and needs. Performing one’s dharma properly is working in harmony with the divine plan of the universe, as laid out by the Gods.Working for the Gods, being their employee, their servant or their slave, and not working for one’s personal self, must be the prime occupation in life, whether the Hindu is a farmer, merchant, soldier or a king, a peasant, a sadhu or a rishi. All work done in the right consciousness, performing the right dharma, is in service of the Gods and is work of the Gods by the servants of the Gods. Working for one’s religion, for the Deities and the devas, should be our occupation twenty-four hours a day, every day, during our waking hours on the physical plane and on the inner astral plane and higher mental planes at night. We should continue this work with an unbroken continuity.

To better understand the vast concept of dharma, look upon it as the natural process by which the inherent perfection of the soul is unfolded and realized. An acorn’s natural pattern is to grow into a mighty oak, but the pattern for a rose is different. An acorn will never try to become a rose bush. Our good friend, Sita Ram Goel, once said, “Now I was made to see dharma as a multidimensional movement of man’s inner law of being, his psychic evolution, his spiritual growth and his spontaneous building of an outer life for himself and the community in which he lives.” In contrast, by performing an incorrect or adharmic pattern in life, the soul reaps more karma and is retarded for perhaps an entire lifetime. We call it righteousness and goodness and virtue when the dharma of a particular lifetime is performed correctly.

Unfolding a Clear Pattern

The dharma of a person’s life is set prior to birth according to the accumulated impressions of all previous lives. It is set as the most perfect path toward spiritual perfection in this life. A life spent in creating a new karma through not fulfilling the ordained pattern of dharma temporarily retards the soul’s evolution. This retardation may not appear until future births, seemingly bypassed but not actually bypassed.

To avoid the potential catastrophes of karma, each Hindu must perform his dharma, live according to the natural Godward path. By following this important pattern of spiritual unfoldment, the devotee benefits and, in turn, benefits all others and, most importantly, serves the Gods and earns good merit, earns their grace and then deserves their boons. When spiritually awakened, the Hindu offers his every thought, word and deed in a consciousness of the Divine. All work is done for that high purpose.

To know one’s dharma is a clear path. To be uncertain is a path of confusion. There is one God who knows the patterns of all humankind, whose superconscious mind is so intricate, encompassing and spanning the yugas of time, that each path for each individual is known, memorized and recorded indelibly in the inner ether of the akashic matter of His mind. Through the worship of this God, Lord Ganesha, the venerable pope of the Hindu religion, the individual’s dharmic pattern in this life is unfolded from within. It becomes clear. It becomes known. It is difficult for the modern, twenty-first-century Hindu to consciously know the correct dharma, but this can be made known to him through the worship of Lord Ganesha.

If someone is not fortunate enough to have been born into a family that perpetuates the Sanatana Dharma, then he must perform sadhana and offer repeated prayers to this first God, Lord Ganesha, whom all Hindus invoke before the other Gods and before any task is undertaken, this God whose knowledge remains supreme, penetrating most deeply through every avenue of the devotee’s mind. Once the dharma is clear, is known, it must be faithfully performed throughout the life most willingly, thus destroying the seeds of karma through living out the pattern without creating a new karma, through performing good service, accruing good merit in fulfillment of the totalities of all of our multiple life patterns. This then makes the next life and the one after that joyous, brings good births well earned and well lived, through the graces of Maha Ganapati, Lord Ganesha, who sits upon the four-petaled lotus muladhara chakra within the spine of every person.

As the divine being rises within and consciousness expands, a kundalini coil is released and a certain power awakens from deep within. At the same time, conscience awakens, and the mind emerges into the muladhara chakra, there to meet Maha Ganapati, Lord Ganesha, through whose eyes and mind the devotee enters into the joys and happinesses within the Hindu religion, the birthright of all humans. This is how the Sanatana Dharma perpetuates itself and progresses from generation to generation, from age to age. Of course, once well settled into dharma, through Lord Ganesha, we will meet the other Gods. They will help maintain and fulfill our life in all avenues of culture and appreciation of that culture. It is only when each individual finds his own particular pattern in life, and clings to this pattern, that good future births are assured.

Help From The Gods

What is a bad birth, one might wonder. It is being born into an area of the mind below the muladhara chakra where the instinctive nature reigns supreme, where the intellectual nature runs amuck by pursuing dead-end sequences of thought and desire. This is considered a bad birth. It is where no consciousness of God or of the Gods exists, where there is no known pattern for life, no dharma, and where little or no knowledge of the laws of karma and reincarnation survive. This is a bad birth when within the chakras of our being, the centers of nerve force, thought and emotion, values of external existence remain supreme, and the many, many pitfalls of suffering, anguish, confusion, tears and sorrow all exist. These areas of consciousness in the lower chakras below the muladhara can reap birth after birth and are considered by the Hindu as births to be avoided. They are avoided through finding and then following unrelentingly one’s dharma life after life.

The Hindu dharma is the clear pattern within the mind, earning the right to see the cumulative patterns of the karmas and the impressions of all past existences molded into a one pattern to be lived out in this life to the benefit of all patterns. Such a life is the fulfillment of all previous efforts and thus erases the uncomplimentary deeds and adds beneficial ones, so a next birth can be most rewardingly great and useful to the whole of mankind. This is the evolution of the soul, and the duty of the great God Ganesha and of the Mahadevas who protect the soul, of the devas who guard and guide the soul and of the rishis and seers, saints and satgurus who are the guardians of mankind in this First World existence.

They assure that, little by little, this pattern unfolds through the performance of good dharma, through earning good karma. It does not take a deep understanding or a tremendous intellect to find one’s perfect pattern among the many patterns of life. For Hindu souls, it does require being born into or gaining formal entrance into the Hindu religion, being properly introduced to the Gods and bearing the name of one of the Gods as one’s own legal name. Then authority is given to make clear the pattern for this life, to receive the blessings and the protection of the benevolent God Ganesha, protector of human evolution. This is one of the most basic benefits for all Hindus, for then we can serve the Gods well and work through our karma toward a greater dharma through working for the Gods.

We have one duty to perform, which is to pass our religion on to the next generation, the next and the next. And how do we do this? How is this done? It is done by causing the children to memorize the precepts of our scriptures. Our Saivite scriptures are the heritage of the children. They own those scriptures. It is our duty to give them the scriptures. Among others, we now have the Tirukural in the English language, entitled Weaver’s Wisdom. It must be memorized by them, by each and every one of them, along with the hundreds of Vedic verses in Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism, Dancing with Siva. The teachings of our other scriptures should be familiar as well. That establishes them in their dharma. The sooner we get our scriptures into the minds of the children, the better we build the children into fine citizens. Crime is very expensive for any nation. Crime is very expensive for any family, for they suffer and the individual suffers. Nothing is gained by crime. Good citizenship comes from a good religious education. A good religious education starts with memory, and it is fulfilled in the realms of reason when the child is older and able to discuss his religion with his elders. We must educate the youth. We must educate them well in the Saivite Hindu religion. Start with the Tirukural. Lord Murugan will help you. God Ganesha will open doors and give you wisdom of how to proceed. Lord Murugan will give you the willpower — He is the God of Will — to perform this one supreme duty, and duty is also dharma, to pass our Saivite religion on to the next generation, the next and the next.

Forces of Adharma

We all have our dharma to perform, each and every one of us. The child has his dharma to perform as a child. Unless the child has early training in his religious life, his religious patterns are not set firmly. It has to be taught to respect the dharmic mother and father as the first gurus. Parents teach mainly by example, and sadly some only teach what not to do rather than being religious models for their young. They don’t understand that example is the most powerful and lasting lesson a parent can give to a child. Later the schoolteacher is the guru, and still later the satguru is the guru in the strict sense. The satguru more than often has to undo the erroneous, often angry and violent, examples given by parents and schoolteachers to the young ones, who thus learn of hurtfulness and anti-religiousness and immoral practices. It is up to the satguru to help heal the minds of the young of the fear and suppressed anger they naturally hold against parents who have inflicted emotional and bodily injury on them until they were physically big enough to resist.

There are a lot of influences in the world which deny dharma, which deny the Gods and which ignore the temples. You must never allow these worldly forces to affect you or your family, now or in the future. Don’t let anyone take your religion away from you. We have to keep developing religion in our mind. We have to keep learning the language of our soul, which is one definition of religion. When religion leaves our mind, something comes in to replace it. What comes into our mind to replace the vacuum when religion goes? Greed, jealousy, hatred, anger, past regrets, despair, self-condemnation. We cease to feel good about ourselves. We are always discontented and restless, and we are always unhappy, jealous, angry and fretful. These are some of the lower emotions that replace religion when we allow religion to leave our mind.

There are many people in the world today intent on taking your religion away from you. Saivites have the greatest and philosophically most comprehensive and deeply experiential religion in the world. Saivites have moved their religion forward for five to ten thousand years. At no time in history has the Saivite religion not been on this planet. The Tamil people especially have moved the Saivite religion forward, year after year after year, through bhakti. And it is your religion. It is in your DNA, and no one can take that religion away from you. But you must steel your mind, make your mind strong through knowledge, through religious education.

Charting A Course

When we set our dharma through the personal course of selecting a profession, we have to be very sure what we want to do through life; and it has to be in accordance with either stri dharma or purusha dharma to the best of our knowledge, and all of our family and relatives have to agree. For when we follow dharma, we are content; everyone in the community is happy.

Now, in this technological era, we have many choices of dharma. What would be some of them? To become a doctor would be a dharma, which is helping people, healing people mentally, emotionally and physically. To perform the dharma of a doctor, not just eight hours a day, but twenty-four hours a day, we have to be healing. Then the great healing forces from the great Gods of our religion come pouring through us, whether we are a medical doctor, an ayurveda healer, a nutritionist, a surgeon, a psychiatrist, a neurologist, or whatever we choose in that field as our dharma. This becomes our total pattern to be lived out in this birth.

What upsets dharma and makes karma? When we make karma, we either make negative burdens for ourselves, or we make helpful and useful karmas that bring us merit. For a youth to choose to be a doctor and then, in the middle of his career, decide he doesn’t want to do that anymore, and make another choice in the middle of his life that he is going to now be a businessman and run a drugstore because it is more profitable to go into business — that would be abandoning dharma and making karma, karma which would have to be lived through, perhaps in another life. When that doctor made his decision to become a storekeeper, he started a new dharma, or a new karma, for which he was not trained from youth. He is, therefore, vulnerable to making many mistakes, because he has wandered off the pathway of dharma.

Why is the world in such a mess? Because people are not following dharma. They are adharmic. They are not following the path of dharma. They are following the path of karma, both bad karma and good karma. So, in our religion, the Saivite Hindu religion, we are bound to follow the path of dharma the best that we can understand it. We know it is unwise to do otherwise. And who teaches the wisdom of following the path of dharma? The grandfather, the grandmother, the father, the great uncle, the elders of the community, the family guru, the temple priest — they know how the dharma should be followed for a healthy, thriving society. When we make our choices in life, those choices should have the support of the family and the community. Then we are in the path of proper dharma, and it is easier for us to become successful in it since everyone is behind it. It is a difficult world in which we live, but we can go through it without being harmed by it by following the path of svadharma, the perfect personal pattern of an individual’s life.

Dharma is something that only the Hindu religion, the Buddhist religion, the Jain religion, the Sikh religion and other Eastern religions know about. They know about the path of dharma. The other religions don’t know too much about that path. But we know about the path of dharma — our duty to be fulfilled in this life, for family, friends, relatives, deceased relatives, community, guru and temple. We have, each and every one of us, a duty to this temple we are sitting in this morning, to see that it is cared for, supported and kept clean. That is one of the duties of our dharma. We have a duty to the community. We have a duty to our mother, duty to our father, duty to our guru, a duty to the world also. And good, religious people make good citizens of the world.

We hear a lot about human rights these days. It was in Sri Lanka in 1949 that I encountered the Eastern vision of human rights, learned that duty is greater than privilege, service is superior to security. Hindu Dharma is religion, duty and justice woven together, I discovered. I sometimes explain it as a simple box of controls which holds the actions of this life and those that preceded it and their corresponding reactions. Just what is the Hindu view on human rights? It is the right of all humans to be free enough to experience their experiences and learn from their ability to overcome, without holding resentments or indulging in anger, giving out harsh words, their misdeeds, sins and other wrongdoings and reactions to their former actions. From a mystical point of view, what happens to us is important, but not as important as how we react and respond to things, good or otherwise, that happen to us. The human rights of Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were terribly abused, yet they were not destroyed. Let us work for the most humane of human rights, but also teach that their absence in life need not destroy us. Greatness is in accepting whatever comes with open arms. All this abuse — which does exist despite the wishes of so many that it did not — can be a blessing when embraced by a pure soul. And we each have within us the power to accept, a power no one can deprive us of under any conditions.

The Caste System

I am often asked about varna dharma — the social structure of four classes and hundreds of subgroups — commonly known as the caste system, established in India in ancient times. Is the caste system still valid today? Caste — or at least discrimination on the basis of caste — has been thrown out of the culture of India, but people still hang on to it as an ego structure. The high caste people love to hurt the low caste people, so to speak, by ignoring them, treating them roughly. That’s not the way it should be. In many areas of the world the caste system is distorted, and also very strong. If you find the high caste people in your society ignoring and not wanting to speak with and associate with the lower castes, those are nasty people, and those are people you should avoid. Spiritual people, even ordinary kindly people, would never think of behaving that way.

The original caste system was based on behavior, as it is now in countries where there is no overt caste system in effect. Those who beat their children, those who become angry and jealous, those who live in fear and those who feign humility are all of the lowest caste. Those who value memory and reason and use their willpower to benefit others — who control themselves and run an orderly home, support the temples and are respected by the lowest castes — are of the business caste. Those who protect the dharma and preserve the scriptures — who protect the temples and all the people, those who are respected by the other castes — are of the princely caste. Those who commune with the Gods and are priests in the temples — who are the disseminators of the highest knowledge and respected by all the other castes — are the priestly caste. These four groups make up a complete society anywhere in the world and at anytime in history.

The original caste system had these four divisions. The divisions were all based on the ability of the individual to manage his body, his mind and his emotions properly. If he stopped fulfilling the dharma of his caste, society would recognize that he had moved from one caste and was now in another. The original caste system was based on self-discipline through education and through personal sadhana. The original caste system was based on the unfoldment of the consciousness within each individual through the fourteen chakras.

People everywhere naturally divide themselves up into castes. We have the workers. You go to work, you work under somebody else — that happens all over the world — that’s the shudra caste. We have the merchants, who are self-motivated. That’s the vaishya caste. We have the politicians and the lawmakers and the law-enforcement people. That’s the kshatriya caste. And then you have the priests, the ministers, the missionaries. That’s the brahmin caste. Every society has these four castes working within it in one way or another. In today’s world, if one is not fulfilling the dharma of his born caste, then he changes castes. For instance, if a brahmin husband and wife are working eight to fifteen hours a day in a hospital under others, they are no longer of the brahmin caste, because they are not performing the duties of the dharma of that caste. They are workers, in the shudra caste.

We can see around us the deterioration of the system which has been abused beyond the point of recognition. Members of the brahmin caste are now beating their children, abusing their wives. Members of the kshatriya caste disrespect the laws of the land. Members of the business caste are deceptive and dishonest. All are confused, living in anger and in jealousy. No wonder their families break apart and their businesses fail. In the eyes of the Gods, most of those who adhere to the caste system that exists today are low caste. This is because they live in lower consciousness. They look at the world through the windows of the chakras below the muladhara. These undeveloped humans are struggling through the lower chakras, trying to get out of the dark worlds of the mind. Let us not be deluded about what the sapta rishis had in mind when they casted humans according to the soul’s unfoldment in one or more of the fourteen chakras. We should totally ignore the Hindu caste system as lived in India today and, through example, show a better and more wholesome path for modern society.

Dharma’s Rewards

What happens if we follow dharma? The Gods, like our Supreme God Siva, Lord Murugan, Lord Ganesha and all the great Gods, reward us by giving us a good birth in the next life. A good birth is to be born into a family that follows dharma, that is loving and secure. We are also rewarded by being able to stay in the blissful Devaloka for a long time between births. We remain in that heaven world, in our etheric body, to enjoy, learn and gain knowledge and gain advancement for our soul as we prepare for the next birth on Earth.

So, there are great rewards for following the path of dharma, and there is equally great suffering for us if we follow the adharmic path, the path of adharma which creates kukarma. When we abandon dharma, we open ourselves to confusion, to self-condemnation. We are open to low-minded feelings, to jealousies and antagonisms and uncontrollable emotions. Dharma helps us to control our emotions, and our mind also. Do you want to live in these lower emotions, out of insecurity, to arouse hatred, jealousy, greed and all the negative states of mind? Of course not. By following the ancient path of dharma, we avoid all this suffering and mental pain and bring ourselves into positive, creative and productive states of consciousness, bringing us ever closer and closer to the holy feet of God Siva.

We are in a technological age now. This technological age is fast moving. There are many temptations. There is television. There is the Internet, and soon things beyond Internet. There are things to see that children should not perhaps see at a young age. We must get hold of their minds early, at five years old, at six years old, at seven years old and cause them to memorize, even if they do not understand, the couplets of the Tirukural and the shlokas and Vedic verses of Dancing with Siva. Later on, they will be grateful to you as parents and as elders. Still later on, these children will bless you, and the blessings of the children will be very comforting in your old age.

We must teach our children that the soul is immortal, created by Lord Siva and destined to merge into Him in its absolute fulfillment. We must teach them about this world we live in and how to make their religion strong and vibrant in a technological age every day and tomorrow in their life. This is especially important for those Saivite families who live beyond the borders of India and Sri Lanka. Those of you assembled here this morning are heirs to a rich and stable religious culture. If you stay with your religion, the future of your children is less uncertain. They will go to universities in other parts of the world. They will be exposed to the influence of other religions. They must be so sure of their religion, so knowledgeable in its tenets, that they can explain it intelligently to anyone and allow them to accept or reject the tenets of the Saivite Hindu religion. Send them as missionaries out into the world, fully informed about Saivism, our great God Siva, Lord Murugan and Lord Ganesha, and you will be doing a great benefit for the entire world.

All Saivites throughout the world, the united Saivites of the world, are linked together in a bond of love — Sivasambandham. God Siva is immanent love and transcendent reality. Our religion tells us that the mature soul must lift up and take care of the young soul. Our religion tells us that we must go through the natural experiences of life and be responsible for our actions. Our religion tells us that there is no mortal sin, only experience. Our religion tells us that if we have bad experiences, they are the result of previous actions we have caused. Our religion tells us that if we cause an action toward another that hurts another, we can atone by doing penance and cure the agonizing mind. Our religion tells us that we come back into physical bodies again and again until we are the master of our mind, body and emotions and realize that we are a brilliant soul filled with light. Our religion tells us that because we love God Siva, we love one another, for God Siva loves all of us. Our religion tells us that God Siva is like a father and a mother, not a vengeful God, but a God of love who helps us. Always come closer to Him. Right now among the young Hindus in Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka there is a big spiritual revival of the great love of God Siva. They know that they need their religion to help them on through life.

Just as a caterpillar, having reached the end of a blade of grass and approaching another one collects itself, even so this atman, having discarded the body and overcome ignorance, approaching another one collects itself. That to which the heart is attached, toward this the subtle body moves together with its action which still adheres. Attaining the goal of whatever actions he performed here on Earth, he goes once more from that world to this world of action.

Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.3 & 6 VE, P. 759

The Doorway Called Death

There is a lot to be said about death and reincarnation. Most people are afraid of death because it is the most dramatic experience that has happened to them during a lifetime, as it put a stop to a lot of aggressive prana going out through a physical body. At transition, this prana has to contract immediately and go to seed. What is death? The realization is that nobody dies. You can’t say a human dies because he must now live in his astral body rather than his physical body. We live in our astral body twenty-four hours a day and in our physical body only sixteen hours a day. That means for eight hours each day we are already “dead.” When the soul departs the physical body at death, one chapter of life has ended and another chapter of life has begun. It is a total continuum, except that after departing the physical body, the being is full time awake, because on the astral plane we don’t have to sleep.

There are helpers in the inner world who assist those who have departed their physical sheath through their new adjustments, as well as assist with preparations for their reentry into flesh — reincarnation. These helpers are well trained, efficient, courteous and kindly. They are similar to those found performing the same services in this physical world, the doctors, nurses, psychologists, religious workers — aiding souls as they enter or exit the earth plane. In the physical world, hospitals now even help you to die. Or accidents may occur or old age simply comes. In any case, the assistance is there through the medical profession, the mortuaries and so forth to care for the dying and take care of the remains. These are all well trained, kindly people doing their jobs. The soul meets them again at birth when reentering the flesh, in the hospital and in the home. It is the loving care of such workers that assists the mother through the many years ahead until the child is fully grown. A doctor or nurse will perform the same professional duties when disembodied, continuing along, doing the same kind of things they did during their last physical life. The process of reincarnation is a revolving cycle.

Those who abide permanently in their astral body are not alone. They are with other people, some who remain on the astral plane permanently, some who are just visiting. It is a fuller life, not lesser. People die on the astral plane, too. When they take a birth, their old astral body has to be disposed of. Those on the astral plane have to “die” there to come here, and later they have to “die” here to go there.

The mind does not need a physical body to function properly. Nor do the emotions. Nor does the soul. A disembodied person is totally functional in every respect. Suppose a seamstress dies. On the astral plane, she may keep making dresses, but with a difference: she would now have all the fabric she ever wanted. But she would probably continue this same activity. She would not become a carpenter. However, it is not possible to experience the karmas of this physical world in the inner worlds. For this, a physical body is needed. When the time comes for acquiring and entering a physical body, proper parents must be chosen, an environment and country. This can be time-consuming and is sometimes disappointing on the occasion of miscarriage or abortion. But negatives aside, when the first cry and mother’s gentle hug is experienced, this is reincarnation.

Mourning and Fear of Death

People wonder about their past lives, but it doesn’t really matter who you were in your past lives. It is the cumulative creation of what you’ve done in the past which has manifested in what you are in this life that should concern you. Knowing how these things are going to manifest in the future is a forewarning that can improve the quality of the next life. Therefore, though possible, it is irrelevant to know what nationality, station in life or occupation one was in the past. What is relevant is the knowledge of accumulated deeds of all the past lives, especially those that will manifest in this life.

People who don’t truly understand reincarnation fear death. Fear of the unknown is part of the human psyche. To understand reincarnation, you have to understand and accept the existence of the astral body and have an intuitive knowledge of the soul. Then you understand that reincarnation is as natural as a child becoming a teenager and a teenager becoming a young adult. Reincarnation records are kept in the sahasrara chakra of every individual. They are readable by inner-plane helpers and by trained psychics. The sahasrara chakra is in the akasha. Every soul is packing his dossier right along with him.

Devotees ask, “When someone dies, what should be the attitude of loved ones?” Because the fear of death is so much a part of social consciousness today, as ignorance prevails in these matters, sorrow rather than joy is often experienced. In not understanding life in its fullness, many cannot help but misunderstand death. The attitude should be one of joy based on beliefs that come from the knowledge of karma and samsara. Experience of joy and a total release of the loved one would come from a pure understanding of the processes of life.

A better word than death is transition, passing into a new form of life — life into life. It is similar to moving to a new country, having completed all of one’s tasks. Death is a closing of the door on deeds well done, on all beneficial karmas. Karmas performed in ignorance will be faced at a later time. Death is also the opening of a new door to a place where the good and the bad, the happy and the sad experiences are forgotten. Should we not be cheerful and joyous that our loved one has earned a new start, having completed another step on the path?

Inordinate grief, sorrow and loss are felt by those who do not understand the Sanatana Dharma. They are dwelling in the world of darkness. Those who live in the worlds of light understand intuitively. They are happy that the person’s karmic cycle has ended. You have to realize that the person who is dying is going on a joyous journey, and he knows it. He is still going to see his loved ones who are still connected to their physical bodies when they sleep at night, and he is not losing anybody. So, one or two close loved ones in the vicinity at the time of death is enough consolation. Even if no one is with him, he is fine. He is going on a journey. He has the fullness of everything. Why should you mourn for the person who is, at the death experience, having the highest moment of his life?

Mourning at death, for example, is not a part of the Chinese culture. They send money and paper houses and write letters to the departed through the fire ceremony. Morbid mourning is not a part of every culture, as it is among those heavily influenced by Christian beliefs. We must remember that Hindus are often so influenced. Dying is not a super traumatic experience anymore, as people move around the world so much, wives are working and families are not that close. But the fact is that the departed person does not go away, has two bodies besides the physical — astral and soul — and is always there, existent. Whether he is living in his astral body, his purusha body or is in San Francisco or Paris, he is always there.

Ancestor Worship

Ancestor worship is a form of communicating with departed ancestors, seeking to be guided by their advice because they have a broader vision, a superconscious vision. They are not bothered by the mundane affairs of eating and sleeping and family intrigues. They know how to bring the collective family along to its next phase of development. They will eventually, of course, seek to reincarnate in the same family to work out their prarabdha karmas. One reason for the Hindu shraddha ceremonies is to help the departed soul be reborn in the same family. Similarly, we would want our monks to come back to the same monastery and keep coming back until they fulfilled their highest aspirations. The Hindu wants to be born back into the same family, even in the same house, and families want to bring relatives back as well, so the karmas can be worked out consistently, lifetime after lifetime. This is one reason that on the nakshatra of the death, certain rites are performed to court the departed person back.

In many Hindu traditions, after the death of a loved one, shraddha ceremonies are performed on the death anniversary for twelve years. Therefore, each family that shares in ancestral worship or ancestral communication is, in a sense, a tribal group within a sectarian portion of the religion. Who better would know the solutions within a family than someone who has lived in it? If the ancestor has already reincarnated, the whole family would intuitively know it. Then they would seek advice from another ancestor, perhaps through a psychic channeler. If an ancestor reincarnated outside the family, they would also be told. Those who practice ancestor worship generally seek for channelers outside their community, from those who don’t know their family.

In the fifty years of our Saiva Church, we have documented birth to death to birth again within the lives of our devotees and close initiates. A continuum of birth to death to birth to death, a continuum of karmas in unbroken continuity — that makes up a spiritual, alive religious organization.

The greater the maturity of your soul, the longer you can stay in the inner planes. Some world-of-darkness people come back immediately. They die in one end of the hospital and are born in the other end. The average person would usually reincarnate somewhere within the twelve-year cycle. If the family realizes the person is coming back and prays for that to happen, he or she would have to come back within twelve years. Once they realized the person is back, they would stop doing the ceremony and be off doing other things.

At this time in the Kali Yuga, the races of the world are relocating to improve genetics and to recreate families with better genes by intermarrying between races and in different localities. It is a time of breaking up, a time of destruction. But the new race coming out of this into a good genetic body will be the industrious spiritual leaders for a better world which will recreate itself around them.

Life in the Inner Worlds

The world is quite blissful from the perspective of someone who has reached a high stage of maturity, and life on the inner planes for him is even more blissful. This is because all of the lower chakras, the instinctive and lower natures, are totally inoperable. So, it is a wonderful, self-perpetuating time, a time of rest and healing, of meeting others known on the Earth who have experienced the same level of bliss. For some it may be a time of communicating with those on the Earth, learning how to channel messages to them. This sojourn in the in-between is similar to sleep, which is an earned time of rest for the physical body. After death is a cosmic sleep for all the inner bodies.

Even someone who has committed the most heinous sins and played the part of the destructive element of Siva’s great dance would, after death, experience the Narakaloka only for a limited period, until he again enters flesh and continues his mischief or repents, performs sadhanas and lifts himself up into the Devaloka. However, by no means should death necessarily be taken as a form of liberation from rebirth. It is for the vast majority an in-between period of preparation for the next life, a time to gain faith and strength to face the impact of the already-developed good, bad and mixed karmas of previous lives.

Within the inner worlds, there are realms far more subtle than the astral plane. Advanced souls residing on the astral plane are able to access those higher worlds at will, there to learn from and receive blessings from rishis and great devas. For most, in order to do this, the astral body would not “die,” but simply be left behind temporarily. Similarly, here on the physical plane, you can go into meditation and get “beamed up” into the higher world in your purusha body. Your physical body and astral body are temporarily left behind. However, there are beings in the inner world who reside fully in these higher planes in their mental body, having dropped off their lower astral body long ago. But the law is that after death you won’t be able to go any higher in the inner worlds than the level you had attained in a physical birth, because it is only in physical birth that all twenty-one chakras are available. In physical birth, the lowest ones become attainable, and the highest become attainable as well. Whatever your attainment on Earth is, you carry that with you into the astral worlds unchanged. Whatever your accomplishments are of living in the gamut of the chakras, lower or higher, you can’t go lower and you can’t go higher in the inner planes. That is why you need a physical birth.

I was once asked about atura sannyasa, renouncing the world at the moment of death? Personally, I think that is like icing a stale cake. People do it, it is possible, and it may quiet a person’s mind if he wanted to do that, but it does not mean a lot. Perhaps he will be a sannyasin in his next life, but maybe he will not. If you are going to be a sannyasin, you have to try to live the life.

Occasionally a great soul will know before his grand departure, his death, that he will not be reincarnating again. In this case the astral body has to be totally absorbed by the causal body while he is alive in his physical body. That means all the lower chakras have to be closed off. When this has occurred, the soul body takes over the physical body and there is very little astral body present, just a shell. Eliminating the astral body and the chakras it is attached to is accomplished through yoga and tapas in a physical birth. This is a process that goes on in the First World. To fulfill these various laws relating to the chakras and the soul’s unfoldment, it is very important that we have a physical planet at a certain distance from a sun, with edible vegetation, fertile soil, breathable atmosphere, a benign climate and gravity, all suitable for human life. You have seven chakras below the muladhara in the world of darkness. Through dharma and following the principles of Saivism, they are to be slowly closed off and systematically put to rest. The nature of the chakras is what makes one individual different from another, other than the personal vibratory rate.

Creating on The Astral Plane

The astral plane is within this world as its etheric counterpart, and when you drop off the physical body, you are in it. You are in it now but are not aware of it as yet. It is a world just like this one. You can travel from country to country on the astral plane. While I was studying in Sri Lanka in 1948, my teacher living in America used to come and visit me in the astral body. When I returned to America, people from Sri Lanka used to come on the astral plane and visit me in America, and I would see them in their astral bodies. While I was in Sri Lanka, I introduced a yogi from the Himalayas to my teacher in America, and they met on the astral plane. The next day, the yogi came back and described my teacher perfectly and told me of their conversation. After I returned to America, one day my teacher asked, “Who was that yogi that I met on the astral plane?” and then described him perfectly, and told of the same conversation as well.

If we did not use the astral body on a daily basis, we could not move the physical body. It is not the physical body that moves; it is the astral body that moves within it. When we step out of the physical body in the astral body, we cannot move the physical body until we get back inside it. While conscious in the astral body, we are more on the astral plane than on the physical plane. Only when the astral body and the physical body are connected do we seem to be in a physical world.

Because the astral plane is of a higher rate of vibration, or a more intense rate of vibration, prana flows within it a little freer and faster. We have everything there that we have on the physical plane. However, things there are manifested by the mind quickly, whereas on the physical plane they are created more slowly. This is because the physical body needs the muladhara chakra in order to function, and this brings us into a different dimension of time. The first chakra is not so dominant on the astral plane. Therefore, we are in reason and in will. If we want to build a house, we just think about it, and a house becomes constructed within a matter of minutes; whereas it takes a matter of months on the physical plane.

On the astral plane, we see other people — other people that have died and do not have a physical body and people that do have a physical body but have just left it for a time. They have left their physical body sleeping and they are traveling on the astral plane. Therefore, it is a more populated plane than this Earth, but there is more room in it, being of a lighter substance. Then, too, uninhabited land on Earth and the oceans are used on the astral plane.

Why do we sleep? The mental body, which we dream in, is within the astral body and functions through the astral brain of that body. Through certain hours of the day during the waking state, the astral body uses the physical body, and the mental body works through the astral-body brain and the brain of the physical body. There is also another body to be considered, and that is the soul body. This body is what we touch into at least once through the sleeping state, and that gives not only a release of the karmas, often karmas that have been concluded, but also a new flush of energy into the astral, mental and physical bodies. So, we touch into the Divine through sleep. We must remember that the astral body doesn’t need sleep; nor would the physical body need as much sleep if the Divine hookup were always perpetuating or flooding through the energy.

It is a twenty-four-hour cycle of consciousness. Our individual awareness simply moves from physical consciousness into mental, emotional or astral body consciousness, or soul consciousness in the case of deep sleep, where nothing is ever remembered. People wonder why they don’t recall their dreams. It is as difficult to recall a dream that happened last night as it is to recall what you were thinking about between 12 noon and 4PM three days ago. Now, should the dream last night have been a fantastic departure from your personal reality, you would recall it. If your thoughts three days ago between 12 noon and 4PM were a fantastic departure from your personal reality, you would certainly recall that. It is the process of recall that is being challenged, not the connection between the sleep state and the waking state.

We do not usually remember our astral experiences, because the astral brain and the physical brain are of two different rates of vibration. Therefore, when we return to the physical body after being in the astral body during sleep, any knowledge that we have gained on the astral plane begins to seep through into the physical plane during a period of four days afterwards. This knowledge accumulates, and we call it an inner knowing. Ideas seem to come to us from within, but actually we did learn and discuss them previously on the astral plane.

Awareness, The Traveler

Reading and analyzing dreams from the shumif perspective, of awareness flowing through the mind — the inner mind being stationary, and awareness being a mercury-like substance that is aware in various states — will keep the aspirant emotionally and intellectually detached from areas of consciousness, or mind, which he becomes conscious in as he travels here, there and everywhere, as he does through the day. We therefore know that we need not be emotionally or mentally attached within our dreams to everything that happens. In the very same way we are not mentally and emotionally attached to even two-thirds of what we see and experience in our waking state on television or when we are walking about in public. Therefore, the shumif perspective, once it is well set within the subconscious, aids in understanding dream consciousness juxtaposed to waking consciousness and seeing them as one and the same. Pure awareness, nif, never sleeps. This mercury, mirror-like substance travels here and there, guided by the will of the perceiver. It is the venerable eye of the purusha. It is constantly aware, from the moment of the creation of the soul; and at the soul’s final merger into Siva it experiences super, super, super, superconscious totality. Most people who meditate do not enter the astral plane during sleep. When they sleep at night, they go deeper within than the astral, into superconsciousness, in the beautiful body of the soul. There they communicate with other people who are also in their body of the soul.

On the astral plane, talking is done through thoughts. It is the world of thought. On the inner plane of the soul, intelligence is transferred from one to another through light vibrations. This is a beautiful form of communication. The body of the soul can also appear on the astral plane and communicate with those who are functioning in their astral bodies, even though the body of the soul is a more refined body. It is these two bodies that are predominantly used on the astral plane. The intellectual body is used primarily through the day when we are awake, as is the physical body. Man carries his intellect into the astral as well.

Modern man does not use his physical body as much as his ancestors used to. He sits and walks and occasionally exercises, and that is about all. That is why much of his energy has been transmuted into the intellect. Our astral body, body of the soul and intellectual body all are very definite forms in the inner ether. They are used most by the evolved, educated, modern man. To understand these bodies, we have to forget the way we usually think about things and think about them differently, from a new perspective. Then insights are gained.

Some people do at times see what we call ghosts and wonder what they are. They are astral beings without a physical body. Only rarely are they able to have any effect on anything in our world and are generally harmless. A ghost is a person, a soul, just like all of us, that has lived in a human body and died, and is now in the part of the astral plane called the Pretaloka.

The word ghost generally has unfavorable connotations attached to it such as scary, haunting, perhaps even fear, for most people do not fully understand what a ghost is. From the ghost’s point of view, he feels very much alive, living in the inner world which this outer world mirrors. Ghosts, more often than not, see us, but we don’t see them, except very rarely, and they feel hurt when not included in family gatherings, and sad at being mourned for. Often the realization that they have “departed” comes to them slowly, but comes especially when they find they can now walk through closed doors, even walls.

There are certain astrological times, such as Halloween, when ghosts are most easily seen. I was in Singapore on one of those days when all the Chinese people were in the street sending prayers through fires to the inner world. The prayers were printed and purchased and then burned in piles on nearly every street. The astral doubles of the prayers were collected by astral helpers trained for the job, then given to the departed relatives to be read by them. When we asked about the event, we were told that this was the time of year when ghosts make their visitations. And actually, in the early morning, upon awakening in our hotel, the mathavasis and myself saw ghosts walk through the walls, stare at us in our beds, then pass on through a wall into another room to investigate the other guests. This was a shared experience, for we all saw the same ghosts. We talked about it at breakfast. Some found it a little bit scary, as the astral beings were all draped in white, which was, of course, their pranic body covering their astral body. They looked white because they still maintained an odic body made of ectoplasmic substance.

Possession and Mediumship

Ghosts are mysterious, unknown and not understood by most people and therefore feared. They usually stay close to a familiar place in the physical world and are occasionally seen or felt by people who knew them, especially if they have just recently passed on. At the time of passing, their astral body hovers over their physical body until they become aware that they have died. Inner-world helpers eventually explain to them the facts of death and take them deeper into the Devaloka to do what they have to do to prepare for another physical birth. In unusual cases, the astral person remains in a favorite area of the physical world for an extended length of time, making his presence felt by people in the Bhuloka. This is what is meant by the word haunting.

On rare occasions, we may experience one or more ghosts in our presence. When this happens, we must project love, while visualizing pink and light blue. This will help them, and they will eventually realize that all is well with the life they left, and be able to continue their evolution, released from the static state they have been experiencing. This is the great siddhi of love. Everyone has this power. Few use it.

In one sense, we could say that the devas of the Devaloka are also ghosts, for they are discarnate entities, too, the difference being that they are helping the Gods of our religion and are fully functioning at their duties in-between physical births, completely aware of who and what they are. The places they inhabit most frequently are the hundreds of thousands of great temples of our religion, the homes of the Gods.

When an Earth-bound soul claims a body of a physical person, this is known as possession. In most cases that soul is very upset at not having a physical body, because he has things to do, desires. Such a soul finds somebody who is susceptible, who is on drugs or half out of his body for some reason, takes over that body and uses it for a while to satisfy his desires. In Asia they have dances, songs and temple rituals, and in America they have electrical shock treatment, to get rid of the unwanted astral entity. It’s the same primitive process, called exorcism.

Mediumship is another matter. There is no conflict. It is communication by arrangement and can be accomplished on many different levels. One is clairvoyantly, where pictures and impressions are received. Another is clairaudiently, where actual words are heard. Still another is vocally, where the entity temporarily uses the voice of the medium to speak out a message. Mediumship is a temporary arrangement and, to be safe, it should be a definite arrangement. This is to protect the medium from astral Earth-bound entities who might do harm to him or, through him, to others. Even once that arrangement is set up and certain inner codes are established, communication does not happen all the time, or even at will. My advice for those who are intrigued with channeling is, if you want to channel something, channel your own superconsciousness. Any channeling without the code and the authorization from your teacher is a sure road to the asylum. Without such precautions, if some trauma were to come up in your personal life, some emotional disorientation, you could have lower-plane people talking to you twenty-four hours a day and not be able to turn it off. The first person comes talking to you, then the next — people trying to talk you into committing suicide because they want to see you fully on the other side. Precautions are always taken by psychically trained occultists to protect themselves and others from such intrusions.

Adultery

Posted: 28/11/2013 in Routine part 2

Sin of the mind, depart far away! Why do you utter improper suggestions? Depart from this place! I do not want you! Go to the trees and the forests! My mind will remain here along with our homes and our cattle.

Atharva Veda 6.45.1. VE, P. 48

Controlling The Forces

There are three kinds of adultery: physical (the worst); emotional (very distressing); and mental (the secret kind). Physical adultery breaks up marriages, destroys homes and creates distraught children. Even if it is forgiven and the couple reunites, it is not forgotten. There is always wondering, “Will it happen again? Did it happen last night?” Emotional adultery is quite common. In the workaday world, husbands often become more attached to their female employees and associates than to their wives. Working wives become more emotionally attached to their boss and fellow workers than to their husbands. It is understandable. After all, she spends more waking hours with men at work than with her husband.

I was asked, “How should a Hindu man relate to women in the workplace and maintain his religious life?” Very carefully, very carefully. It’s important that you remember that you have a path to follow and you are in the workplace to do your job, be friendly to everyone equally, not having favorites nor any likes or dislikes. Behavior should be professional. Professional behavior is detached behavior yet friendly behavior. The Tirukural reminds us, “The chivalry that does not look upon another’s wife is not mere virtue — it is saintly conduct” (148).

Mental adultery — that’s the secret culprit. Who knows what anyone is thinking? But the feeling is one of drifting away into a fantasy world, of deciding to become or not become emotionally or physically involved with someone other than one’s spouse.

But most devastating, most insidiously devastating, is mental adultery through pornography. The visualizations, the fantasies, the changes in sexual habits it produces and the secrecy all bundled into one creates a distance between spouses, unless of course they are enjoying the same pornographic episodes. A verse in the Atharva Veda implores, “Sin of the mind, depart far away! Why do you utter improper suggestions? Depart from this place! I do not want you! Go to the trees and the forests! My mind will remain here along with our homes and our cattle” (6.45.1. VE, P. 489). It is hard to believe such verses were composed thousands of years ago. Human problems haven’t changed that much, have they?

The Sanatana Dharma is the oldest religion in the world. Therefore, its followers are the oldest people in the world, having fully explored sex (the Kama Sutra is the oldest known erotic text) and learned how to control it; established a system of sanctified marriages and found out how to keep interpersonal relations going unhindered. India’s culture spread all through Asia, and because of it one rarely sees any affection shown in public — kissing, hugging, hand-holding, touching or feeling. One might wonder how such a large population can be accounted for!

Hindus know that the sexual force is an energy, either under control or out of control. When controlled, it creates peace, well-being and health and provides a mental, emotional, physical balance. When out of control, just the opposite is the case: confusion, secrecy, stress, fear of discovery, lingering guilt, which creates misunderstandings and unresolvable situations.

The Psychic Ties of Intimacy

Adultery is in the news today, not only in national but also international scandals. Television plots give permission for “sneaking around.” It is not uncommon, and many don’t give it a thought, for husbands to visit “ladies of pleasure” and pay for their services during their wife’s monthly retreat or many months of pregnancy — and, of course, on business trips. Yes, those business trips!

The South Indian ethical masterpiece, Tirukural, advises, “Among those who stand outside virtue, there is no greater fool than he who stands with a lustful heart outside another’s gate. Hatred, sin, fear and disgrace — these four will never abandon one who commits adultery” (142, 146).

The adulteress has a karma to bear that affects many generations of her relatives and friends, for she is psychically connected to every man with whom she has had intercourse. A mystic could see a fog-like psychic tube connecting their astral bodies that will not disintegrate for many years. The adulteress may have many of these tubes, especially if she is a woman for hire. A man is connected in the same way to all women he has been with. It is through these psychic tubes, which are like the umbilical cord connecting a baby to its mother, that the energies flow, and the karmas as well — good, bad and mixed.

A husband and wife who were both virgins at marriage have only a singular psychic tube through which energies pass between them. If their relationship is pure and they are intellectually and emotionally compatible, they automatically control their karmas of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Their children are lovingly raised, because they are never entangled in family feuding. There is no fight involved, because no intruder has established a new psychic umbilical cord with either spouse, which would cause disruption between them and impending havoc to the children.

Once an astral-psychic tube is established between a man and a woman through sexual encounters, it becomes a telepathic channel, conveying thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is an important connection for married couples, tying them intimately together. Those who are married and stay faithful to their life companions know that it is possible to feel the spouse’s moods and emotions and even read his or her thoughts, all of which are conveyed through this psychic laser beam or subtle astral pranic channel. For those who have had sexual encounters with several of the opposite sex, the psychic connections become confusing. Small wonder they experience stress of which the cause eludes even the best psychiatrists. It would be like watching four, five or more TV programs at the same time, all day long and especially during the night.

The Costs Of Adultery

Now imagine a married woman working with men in a hospital or an engineering firm and a husband working as a computer programmer among women. Each is attracted to someone of the opposite sex, maybe because of karmas from a past life. Their emotional pranas move out of their bodies and connect with their workmates. Compatibility is established. Talking and laughing together become easy. When the “big happening” happens, as affairs so often do, the physical-mental-emotional-pranic exchange of energies forms an astral tube (nadi) which connects the two for a period of at least twelve years.

Through this nadi, the information conveyed is as subtle as: she sneezes and he coughs; he gets angry and she becomes pensive and sulks for no reason. Certainly no high-minded telepathic communication is happening as it maybe once did when the pranas were just forming a connection. Now, because they are psychically attached and pulling on each other in their secret affair, they become antagonistic toward each other. That’s why they say sexual intercourse outside wedlock ruins a relationship. They still have to work in the same office together and attend the same meetings, which were quite different when the flirting first began. Then when one, or both, turns a roving eye toward someone else, a feeling of jealousy comes up, and rejection. A good TV script, perhaps, but a disaster in real life.

Now let’s think of the adulterer’s wife, at home doing her daily chores, taking care of the children. How does she begin to feel? She becomes listless, uninspired, as he draws on her energies to feed the adulteress. The home becomes an empty place. She and the children are alone in a barracks, between walls that do not hold in love and compassion and kindness.

Indeed, adultery is one of the great wreckers of human relationships. Don’t dismiss it as irrelevant on the spiritual path, the path to liberation, or at least to getting a better birth in the next life. What is the healing when adultery has happened? It is necessary to perform some kind of penance that will sever the psychic tubes: maybe walking on fire or sleeping on a bed of nails for three days and nights, or performing kavadi with fifteen spears pierced through the flesh — three well-known public penances. One of Hinduism’s ancient lawbooks, the Manu Dharma Shastra, prescribes intense fasting, which in modern times would be fifteen to thirty-one days, under professional care. In the absence of true reconciliation, the best resolution is to live with the spouse like brother and sister under vows of celibacy. Those who don’t do something to mitigate the kukarmas and break the astral ties of adultery will suffer through the lives of their children, who will follow the patterns that they secretly set.

Adultery can be stopped on the mental plane. In fact, if it is not stopped there, watch out. It can be stopped on the emotional plane. Husbands, beware of secretaries more beautiful than your wife. Wives, beware of employers who may be more exciting than your husband. Pornography adulterers, you can turn off that computer and stop the pornography on the mental plane.

Finally, beware of the siren, the professional seducer, who is there, always there, when the wife is incapacitated or when the husband is on a business trip. They appear in many forms. There is always a price to pay. They may break up the marriage. Children may lose their mother or father. Guilt supersedes and far outlasts all temporary pleasure. Fidelity and infidelity are part of the human experience. The choice is yours which part of the human experience you want to experience

The Abyss of Pornography

Live and learn, live and learn. We learn something every day, and it is not always what we want to learn. Sometimes it is good for us to know, and other times not so good. It is difficult for us to speak of certain subjects. They are too sensitive, taboo, delicate and private, and so we avoid them. But it is necessary to understand and cope with these matters; and if father and grandmother are not speaking about them, then others must. Pornography is one. Not that it is bad in the sinful sense. Hinduism is too tolerant of sexuality to make such pronouncements. We can say it is neither good nor bad, but we can also say it does place big obstacles in relationships, including unexplainable misunderstandings leading to arguments. And it certainly can and does interfere with serious spiritual effort and progress. Those on the path of sadhana are admonished not to indulge in graphic, explicit sexual imagery, and if they are involved already, to give it up, just give it up. The porno path is a downhill path to be avoided. It is ever enticing but never fulfilling. I recently was told that pornography is addictive. I always understood that alcohol, tobacco and certain drugs are addictive, but to find out that pornography is addictive, that was something new for me.

Veterans on the porno path say it is more fun, more stimulating, more exciting and more satisfying than the wife waiting in the other room. This lonely life of low self-esteem centered around pornography slowly becomes habitual, an addiction that is difficult to overcome. Looking at the results in a porno addict’s life, we can see that sex on the Internet is engrossing, all consuming. They become reclusive, tight lipped, secretive, drawing away from humanity. After a cybersex session and expenditure of energies, the voyeur becomes sharp, even demanding, with his wife and the children. Guilt manifests in numerous ways. It has been my observation that addicts develop chronic lower back problems that cannot be cured by chiropractors or even be rightly diagnosed. When the lust, which is sex without love, takes over, the lower nature is unnaturally stimulated, not unlike a plague that has fallen upon us. I am told that one-third of those who use the Internet do so to view pornography, have phone sex and visit lewd chat rooms. “What is this world coming to?” elders exclaim. Well, cybersex has arrived for adults, young adults, children and, yes, some elders, too.

An even more serious problem is with sons and daughters who become addicted to this kind of vicarious stimulation. Most parents in the modern Hindu community work and get two paychecks every payday. They have little or no time at all to give to their children. The duty of watching after the children is often delegated to a baby-sitter, and the older children baby-sit when they are able. What goes on behind those closed doors, when the shades are down and the computer is on, nobody knows, and nobody is telling. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be the policy in most homes. Pornography is a secret thing, but all that is seen is carried forward in the mind as vivid images and then recreated in dreams and daytime fantasies long after the computer has been turned off.

Seductive Fantasies

During this past year, I have been delving into the lives of those among my international congregation who are addicted to blue movies, Internet sex sites and all the artificial modern means of stimulation. To say the least, interesting discoveries were made. The most hurtful of them all is a mature and sexually experienced man, accustomed to pornography, marrying an innocent virgin girl who absolutely cannot perform the way he expects and who is then humiliated, beaten or burned, divorced and traded in for another. This crisis is often blamed on dowry. Or it’s claimed she really wasn’t a virgin, so he had to send her back to her family. One would only know the truth about his actions from an unabashed and totally honest confession by the young man. There is much to be said for early marriage, before the boy is exposed to the sexual fantasy world and all its temptations, before he develops habit patterns that absolutely cannot be broken by the seven matrimonial steps around the sacred fire. Parents should question their children’s personal life before arranging a marriage.

Psychologically, pornography is closely linked to adultery. Maybe the other woman is not warm flesh and bones, but she is an unforgettable, reoccurring image within his mind, taking up the mental real estate. She appears quite alive in his dreams — more beautiful, more accomplished, more seductive, more enchanting, more alluring than his wife.

Dad never shares his pornographic books, magazines or World Wide Web addresses with his teenager, and neither does mom. But the children are allowed to become addicted on their own, with free, unchaperoned time at the keyboard. Does this make any sense to you? It certainly doesn’t make sense to me.

Breaking the Addiction

I was told, and didn’t want to hear it, that pornography is here and there and everywhere on the Internet. Its advocates rationalize that it helps boys and girls establish their sexual identity even at a very young age. That, to say the least, is a very much debatable point. It robs them of their innocence, their childhood. That is for sure. Men and women, men and men, women with women, trois, quatre, cinq, how to kiss and how to do many other things — it’s all there. Question: do you know what your children are doing at home when you are both at work or out receiving an award for some social outreach beyond your family? Are they surfing porno sites on the Web? Even in the highly ethical families of my international congregation, this is sometimes happening.

In the old days, pornography was available in the big cities only. Separate areas with sex shops and prostitutes were called red light districts, areas decent people would never be seen in, and this alone kept pornography under control. During the First World War, soldiers were made to feel at home with posters of pin-up girls. These were girls in bathing suits, well covered up by today’s standards, but healthily endowed. In America before the turn of the century, the skirts did not show the ankles. Then they did. A big uproar! Moralists said showing ankles made women more sexually attractive to the men. Then up and up went the skirts, to way above the knees. Have you ever looked at knees? Some say they are the ugliest part of the human body.

I could go on and on. My job as satguru to so many souls in many countries is to break up addictions. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. The phenomenon of porno addiction was very new to me, and we needed a prayashchitta, penance. So, we asked Sri Sri Sri Pramukhswami’s senior sadhus the remedy to be used. His Swaminarayan Fellowship is one of the strictest orders in the world, if not the strictest. They said to look at a girl and follow her movement for five seconds as she walks would require a fast for twenty-four hours. This is a self-imposed penance among their 654 sadhus which can be applied to pornography. They well know, as our wise scriptures say, that sex manifests in eight levels, each one leading to the next: fantasy, glorification, flirtation, lustful glances, secret love talk, amorous longing, rendezvous and intercourse. So if the brothers see someone not eating breakfast, lunch and dinner for one or two days, they know he is trying to get control of the sexual forces and transmute them into tireless creativity

Regaining Perspective

When your husband seems distant, preoccupied, not at home even when he is there, sits pensively in his shrine room, won’t eat his dinner, breakfast or lunch for several days while consuming a sattvic diet of fruit and yogurt, do not live under the illusion that he is going to become a sadhu. He may just be trying to break the cycle of his addiction to pornographic viewing, thinking and dreaming. Know that he still loves you, and never, ever question him about his self-imposed sadhana. Rather, choose the best of fruits. And if you find all those unspeakable pictures in the garbage can, along with a couple of X-rated videos and CDs, don’t throw your findings up in his face, even if you are perturbed and angry with him. That might become his excuse to again pursue his addiction and perverse enjoyment, possibly without you in his life.

Pornography is not only on the Internet. In hotels, we are told, four- and five-star, there are channels on cable TV that guests buy to watch hard- and soft-core pornography. Is this fun for the whole family? No, it is not. The cable channels on regular TV also bring all this into every home. It even flows through the telephone. Watch the bills. They might be telling a story of buying fantasy sex.

It may be argued that Hindus invented pornography, considering the compromising images carved in certain ancient temples. But this is out in the open. The whole family can stand and see — the six-year-old, the ten-year-old, mom and dad. Recently the Spice Girls, a famous band from the UK known for their sassy, sexy ways, planned to perform in front of India’s Khajuraho Temple, known for its erotic imagery. Hindu activists responded that this was unthinkable because “Eroticism without spirituality is nothing but pornography.”

Defenders of free expression say pornography is a disease-free diversion. There is no danger of venereal disease. We might agree, but must say that the consequences mentally are even more devastating, bringing “dis-ease” that no doctor can cure, for which there are no quick remedies, no drugs. Enough said. A word to the wise is sufficient, but a thousand to the fool is not quite enough.

Money

Posted: 28/11/2013 in Routine part 2

O Lord, lead us along the right path to prosperity. O God, You know all our deeds. Take from us our deceitful sin. To you, then, we shall offer our prayers.

Shukla Yajur Veda, Isha Upanishad, 18. VE, P. 83

Good Money, Bad Money

My satguru, the venerable Sage Yogaswami, discriminated between good money and bad money and taught us all this lesson. Money coming from dharma’s honest labor was precious to him to receive, and he used it wisely in promoting the mission of the mission of his lineage. Money coming from adharmic activities was distasteful to him. He warned that such gifts would, when spent, bring the demons from the Narakaloka into the sanctum sanctorum of our shrines to create havoc in the minds of devotees. This has been the unsought reward for receiving bad money — funds gained through ill-gotten means — for many ashramas this last century. One day a rich merchant came to Yogaswami’s hut with a big silver tray piled with gold coins and other wealth. Yogaswami, knowing the man made his money in wrongful ways, kicked the tray on the ground and sent him away without accepting it.

Yes, there is such a thing as good and bad money, because after all, money is energy. Why is money energy? Money gives energy. Money is power. Money is a form of prana, captured in paper, in silver and most importantly in gold. Actually, gold is the real money, the basis of all paper money, coinage, checks and bank drafts. All the money in the world once fluctuated in value according to the price of gold. Mystically, if you have gold in your home or your corporation — I mean real gold — your real wealth will increase according to the quantity of gold that you have.

Good money is righteous money, funds derived from a righteous source, earned by helping people, not hurting people, serving people, not cheating them, making people happy, fulfilling their needs. This is righteous money. Righteous money does good things. When spent or invested, it yields right results that are long lasting and will always give fruit and many seeds to grow with its interest and dividends from the capital gains. On the contrary, bad money does bad things — money earned through selling arms or drugs, taking bribes, manipulating divorces, performing abortions, fraud, theft, riches gained through a hundred dark and devious ways. Bad money issues from a bad intent which precedes a wrongdoing for greed or profit. That is bad money. When spent or invested, it can be expected to bring unexpected negative consequences. Good money is suitable for building temples and other institutions that do good for people.

Bad money is sometimes gifted to build temples or other social institutions, but often only to ease the conscience of the person who committed sins to gain the money. Nothing good will come of it. The institution will fail. The temple will be a museum, its darshana nil. Its shakti, though expected to be present, will be nonexistent. Bad money provokes bad acts which are long lasting, and it sours good acts within a short span of time in the lives of the people who receive it. In 1991 I composed an aphorism to guide those who have sought my opinion on this matter. It says, “Siva’s devotees, knowing that bad money is cursed and can never do good deeds, refuse funds gained by fraud, bribery, theft, dealing arms or drugs, profiting from abortion or divorce, and all dark, devious means.”

Some postulate that using bad money for good purposes purifies it. That is a very unknowledgeable and improper concept, because prana, which is money, cannot be transformed so frivolously. Many among this group of misguided or naive individuals have lived to witness their own destruction through the use of tainted wealth. Also, this brings them into the illegality of laundering money. Money cannot be laundered by religious institutions. Money cannot be legally laundered by banks. Money cannot be laundered by individuals. Further, we know that those who give ill-gotten money to a religious institution will subtly but aggressively seek to infiltrate, dilute and eventually control the entire facility, including the swami, his monastic staff, members and students. If bad money is routinely accepted in abundance and depended upon, it will bring an avalanche of adharma leading to the dissolution of the fellowships that have succumbed, after which a new cycle would have to begin, of building back their fundamental policies to dharma once again.

Refusing Soiled Funds

My own satguru set a noble example of living simply, overnighting only in the homes of disciples who live up to their vows, and accepting only good money. He knew that accepting bad money brings in the asuras and binds the receiver, the ashrama or institution to the external world in a web of obligations. How does one know if he has received bad money? When feelings of psychological obligation to the giver arise. This feeling does not arise after receiving good money that is given freely for God’s work. Bad money is given with strings and guilt attached.

Our message to religious institutions, ashramas and colleges is: Don’t take bad money. Look for good, or white, money, known in Sanskrit as shukladana. Reject bad, or black, money, called krishnadana. If you don’t know where the money came from, then tactfully find out in some way. How does the donor earn his living? Did the money come from performing abortions, from gambling, accepting bribes, adharmic law practices or shady business dealings? Is it being given to ease the conscience?

Even today’s election candidates examine the source of donations exceeding US $10,000 — investigating how the donor lives and how the money was gotten — then either receive the gift wholeheartedly or turn it back. When the source is secret, the source of gain is suspect. When the source is freely divulged, it is freed from such apprehension. In the Devaloka, there are devas, angels, who monitor carefully, twenty-four hours a day, the sources of gain leading to wealth, because the pranic bonds are heavy for the wrongdoer and his accomplices.

Imagine, for instance, an arms dealer who buys his merchandise surreptitiously and then sells it, secretly or in a store — shotguns and pistols, machine guns, grenades and missiles, instruments of torture and death. Money from this enterprise invested in a religious institution or educational institution or anything that is doing good for people will eventually turn that institution sour, just like pouring vinegar into milk.

The spiritual leader’s duty is to turn his or her back to such a panderer of bad money and show him the door, just as an honest politician would turn back election donations coming from a subversive source, gained by hurtful practices, lest he suffer the censure of his constituency at a later time, which he hopes to avoid to hold his office. A politician has to protect his reputation. The spiritual leader will intuitively refuse bad money. He doesn’t need money. When money comes, he does things. If it doesn’t come, he also does things, but in a different way, perhaps on a smaller scale.

In Reno, Nevada, for many years the gambling casinos gave college scholarships to students at high schools. Then there came a time of conscience among educators when they could no longer accept these scholarships earned from gambling to send children forward into higher studies. They did not feel in their heart, mind and soul that it was right. Drawing from their example, we extend the boundaries of religion to education and to the human conscience of right conduct on this Earth.

Humans haven’t changed that much. Over 2,200 years ago, Saint Tiruvalluvar wrote in his Tirukural, perhaps the world’s greatest ethical scripture, still sworn on in Indian courts of law in Tamil Nadu: “A fortune amassed by fraud may appear to prosper but will all too soon perish altogether. Wealth acquired without compassion and love is to be cast off, not embraced. Protecting the country by wrongly garnered wealth is like preserving water in an unbaked clay pot” (283, 755, 660).

Three Kinds Of Bribery

Let me tell you a true story. A young man is riding his motor scooter in busy Kuala Lumpur. His tail light is out and he knows it. Hearing a siren behind him, he slows and is pulled over by a motorcycle policeman. In Malay, the officer informs him of the infraction, and pulls out his ticket book, then indicates through well-known gestures that a small bribe would take care of the matter. Heart pounding, palms sweating, the boy musters up his courage and says, “Officer, are you asking me to bribe you? I’m not paying you anything. What is your badge number? Take me to your superior!” Visibly shaken and seeing that the youth is no easy mark, the policeman spins around, mounts his bike and speeds away. There was a bad feeling about this real-life incident. The cop knew he was committing a crime. The youth was tempted to become the accomplice, but resisted, sidestepping for the moment one of society’s most sinister problems.

Yes, briber and bribed are bound together in their dishonest, dark deed. Reluctance, resignation, efficiency, disdain — none of these sentiments relieve a person from the guilt, the ever-accumulating kukarma, the bad karma, of the crime. There are three kinds of bribery. The first is the most common — withholding services one has been paid to perform until that additional, secret compensation is paid. The second kind is a little more subtle. Favors — contracts, concessions, legal immunity, etc. — are given to those who pay a bribe in cash or kind. The briber offers money, saying, “I am giving you this money, and this is what you can do for me,” and if the party accepts it, that is what he must do. It’s a purchase of secret, unauthorized use of influence, position or authority. The third form of bribery, even more subtle, is to provide a paid service and then exact an additional reward. This is, however, the most easily detected of all, because when asked for further service, it will be delayed or denied — that is, if the gift expected after the first service was performed was not given or was not large enough.

Bribe comes from an Old French word, meaning a morsel of bread given to a beggar. Says Webster’s Dictionary, a bribe is “1) anything, especially money, given or promised to induce a person to do something illegal or wrong; 2) anything given or promised to induce a person to do something against his or her wishes.” Bribery money when received, in cash or kind, is bad money, because it is wrongly gotten — in whatever of the three ways — by psychological force, the arousal of greed or by devious coercion.

In many countries, bribery has become a way of life. Bribes are demanded, and usually paid, for most anything, from getting a contract signed to buying a train ticket. A prominent politician in India told me he finds it impossible, simply impossible, to get anything done without it. Most, but not everyone, would agree. A successful, sophisticated Bangalore businesswoman, now in her forties, swears she has never, ever paid a bribe in her entire life

Bribery Is Corruption

Spiritual people and institutions sometimes feel compelled to accept or pay bribes because the alternative is so frustrating or because their sense of mission is so strong, and they want it to go forward at all costs. Still, it must be remembered that it is not only what you do that is important, but how you do it. Bad money cannot be purified by spending it on good projects. Rather, bad money sours and fails them.

In our spiritual fellowship, we have a rule that we do not engage in bribery, even when it means great sacrifice. In our efforts to carve a granite temple in Bangalore to be shipped to Hawaii — for which we established a village of a hundred workers and their families — we have been called upon time and time again to hand over a bribe. Yes, even a giant project can be hampered by a small bribe. We had to ask ourselves, shall we pay the petty pittance to keep the electricity on and the phones working? It was hard sometimes not to submit, but now it is well known that we don’t pay, and the bribe takers no longer ask. One previous bribe seeker actually apologized for his earlier demands.

By neither accepting nor paying bribes, my devotees are telling the community that bribery is unacceptable and ultimately unnecessary. If enough people follow this principle in any society, then bribery will go away. If enough people do not, then bribery becomes the accepted way of doing business, and everyone will accept bribes as a source of additional income, and pay bribes as a means of getting things done. The acceptance of a bribe is an affirmation of the practice. Every time a family, an individual, a community, a nation disavows or rejects the practice of bribery, then bribery is diminished. To walk away from a bribe, to reject a bribe or to refuse to pay is to fulfill Hindu Dharma.

Where does bribery begin? The same place as everything else — at home, often at a young age. Mothers bribe their children to behave and earn good grades. Fathers bribe youths to marry according to their race and financial position. Dowry, we could say, is another form of bribery. If it’s not given, the marriage does not take place. If it were really a gift, that would not be the case. Those who take bribes and pay bribes raise a corrupt family

Mercy, through personal prayashchitta, sincere penance, can help relieve the bad karma, but that, too, is all for naught unless one stops the practice. The power of decision rests on the character of each person in the family. If that power is used rightly, the kukarmas clear. If not, the family and all members go down and down and down, for bribery is stealing and being stolen from. It is similar to walking into someone’s house late at night, opening their cash box and taking money. Bribery has the same emotional and psychological impact. He who pays a bribe is an accomplice to the person who demands it. He who accepts a bribe proffered to buy his favors is likewise bound to his crafty benefactor. There are two criminals in each case, he who accepts and he who pays. Inwardly, karmically, astrally, they are bound together as one. Those who pay bribes for the sake of efficiency or accept gifts without examining the intent may deem themselves innocent, but they are not. Karmic law spares no one.

Steps Against Bribery

Bribery breeds an educated criminal generation. It blocks the free flow of business. Bribery disrupts positive projects. Bribery diverts creative energies to worries about who, if not paid, will disrupt the progress, cut the phone lines, turn off the electric power or otherwise cause delay after delay after delay. Bribery is devastating to a nation’s economy. No one knows how much anything really costs; and since it is illegal money, black money, the recipients don’t pay taxes on it. Two sets of books have to be kept. Honest companies are put out of business by dishonest competitors who give and accept bribes.

What can be done about bribery? On the governmental level, there are instructive examples from recent history. Twenty years ago in America, undercover FBI agents approached various politicians and offered them bribes to help a fictitious Arab company gain American business. A few politicians accepted the bribes and quickly found themselves jailed. Every politician got the message. A few years ago, New Orleans hired a new police chief to reform its notoriously corrupt police force. First he demanded and got the officers’ pay doubled. Then he arrested, prosecuted and fired the next sixty-five officers caught taking bribes. The rest, it’s said, no longer risk their now well-paying careers for bribe money.

Internationally, only the United States has a law preventing its companies from bribing foreign officials. As far as we know, other countries — including all of Europe — have refused to pass similar statutes on the excuse that it would put their business communities at a disadvantage. In fact, the bribes so paid are even tax-deductible. Yet, the same companies’ paying a bribe in their own country can result in prosecution. One organization, Transparency International in Berlin, is attempting to end this global double standard which makes it so difficult for individual countries to root out the scourge of bribery.

From a psychological point of view, bribery is a criminal consciousness of deceit, cheating, on the darker side of life. Guilt is always involved, secrecy, fear of being caught for extorting funds, fear of what might happen if bribes are not paid and worry over obligations incurred by accepting bribes. Such surreptitious dealings create an erosion of trust in society.

Bribery is basically stealing through intimidation. The able-bodied beggar demanding alms on the street is no different from the able-bodied businessman who withholds his services. The beggar shirks his legitimate work, and the businessman uses his position to exact payments not due. Both reap bad karma that will reflect on every generation in the future and a few in the past.

Bribery and Tipping

A healthy society is based on honesty, openness, love, trust and goodwill. It is at the grass roots level, in the home, in schools, in the marketplace, office and factory, that bribery should first be stopped. Hindu Dharma is the law enforcer. Simply don’t bribe. It really is OK not to bribe. More and more, not bribing is becoming acceptable behavior. It is difficult to step back from this practice, but you can live your whole life and not pay a one rupee bribe, even in a place where everyone pays bribes.

One might wonder if tipping is a form of bribery. It is legal in nearly every country to tip a waiter, busboy, carhop, valet, cab driver, maitre d’, and no one has ever been arrested and prosecuted for giving such a gratuity. True, a tip is expected, but services can’t be withheld if it is not given, lest the individual lose his or her job. Giving tips, or gratuities, is not bribery when it is the custom for paying waiters in restaurants, bell boys in hotels and valets who will get your car from the parking lot and drive it up to the door. Tips are expected, and because they are receiving tips, their salary from the hotel or restaurant is often very low. The giving of gratuities is an accepted custom. But the employees would be bound by the hotel or restaurant to perform the same service even if tips were not forthcoming. This is not to be extended to areas where this custom does not exist, such as to paid government servants who have a salary much higher than those who live by being tipped.

Similarly, the giving of gifts on auspicious occasions to anyone who has been of service is spreading goodwill, but is not expected and is completely voluntary. The service would not diminish if the gifts were not given. Our giving gifts to the shilpis several times a year at our temple worksite in Bangalore is an example. Even if we did not honor our carvers by a gift, they would still have to do their work up to specifications. This is the pure vibration we want to work into Iravian Temple — the vibration of dharma, not the vibration of giving something to someone for fear they will in the future withhold their services or do us some harm.

There are many other wrongs, too, such as prostitution, paying for sex — that’s sex without love, which is lust — that create kukarmas, that are also against the law. Then, we might ask, why don’t some countries in which bribery and prostitution have become part of the national culture make these practices legal, at least to protect the lawmakers, who would then pass legislation to control them?

There is small time bribery and big time bribery. In the Western world, bribery is big time. It’s at the top, involving millions of dollars. We’ve seen cases where a senator will put his family, his reputation or his life in jeopardy by accepting a $10,000 bribe — which is about seven percent of his yearly salary — and lose his office, lose his reputation. In India, bribery comes down to a few pennies to facilitate the little chores of life. We have heard of unspoken rules in different parts of India as to how bribery should be done if you want to get anything done, even buying a train ticket.

Why is it that people are willing to live in fear of being found out? Why is it that politicians who accept great bribes often finally bribe their way out of the situation with those who brought about their indictment? And why are they caught, but maybe to siphon off some of the wealth that they had garnered from bribery, which could be quite lucrative for law-enforcement people? Even after their punishment, those who have become wealthy through receiving bribes often maintain a higher standard of living than they would have before they mastered the art of bribery.

Bribery in The Home

Then there is bribery of children: “I’ll give you a sweet if you do what I want you to do. I’ll take the sweet away if you don’t.” Some call this discipline, but true discipline is training and teaching, learning to uphold a known rule. Anything else is punishment, which closes the lines of communication between the elder and the child. The child has to be clearly taught what the rules are and who is in charge. The child has to know what he is going to get and not get, according to his or her misdeeds. But to bribe the child who has not been educated in this way, to awaken his desire for something and not give it to him, that is a form of corruption. The child will carry that out into the community. He will not be a good citizen, and his kukarma will reflect upon the family and several generations back and several generations in the future. The blame is upon the father and the mother, because children follow the example of the parents. Bribing and beating go hand in hand. When it becomes a way of life, children are bribed to behave, to get good grades, to go to bed on time.

There is still another, even more insidious, form of bribery that happens within the home. This is emotional bribery: “I shall be unhappy unless you please me,” “I shall be happy to include you in my will if you do what I want, but if you don’t, you’re out of my will.” That is bribery. It inhibits the freedom of the individual. “Marry this girl and you will please your family. After all we have done for you, you have to marry the way we want you to marry, and you have to give up the girl you really, really love.” Even if the boy has been having an affair with that girl, even if she is pregnant, his family will bribe him to marry someone else by threatening exclusion from the family, disrespect and the ruin of his name in the community. Oh, that is a favorite form of bribery: “I shall blacken your name in the community, make up stories about your character. I shall ruin your reputation. Your name will look like mud in the minds of an ever-increasing group of people unless you buckle down and do what we say.” That is a form of intimidation or blackmail that is used quite often in today’s world. Blackmail is a kind of reverse bribery. While a briber demands money to do something for you, a blackmailer demands money to not do something against you. The blackmailer says, “Give me what I want or I’ll expose the secrets I know about you.” This demand for hush money is an ominous form of reverse bribery, but bribery nonetheless. There is serious karma involved in all forms of bribery, which are part of the negative culture which tears down a nation, which tears down a community, which tears down a family, which the younger generation, hopefully, will not put up with.

Of one heart and mind I make you, devoid of hate. Love one another as a cow loves the calf she has borne. Let the son be courteous to his father, of one mind with his mother. Let the wife speak words that are gentle and sweet to her husband. Never may brother hate brother or sister hurt sister. United in heart and in purpose, commune sweetly together.

Atharva Veda 3.30.1-3. VE, P. 85

Profanity

Many people, even those who consider themselves religious, go through life using profane language to express their frustrations at each difficulty they meet. Do they know the effect of these negative mantras? Apparently not. People who swear — even if it’s just under their breath — are cursing themselves. What does that mean? It means they are holding themselves back in life. They are demeaning themselves and making themselves unsuccessful. Their lack of success will create more frustrations within the home, and more swearing. Even thinking a swear word is a mantra.

Why do people repeat mantras? To generate a positive force for successful life. Why do people swear mentally, under their breath, or verbally, or at their children, or at their wives, or wives at their husbands? To vent their anger, spite or sarcasm, or just by mindless habit. But in the process they unleash a negative force that will ruin their lives and break up their homes. Every time you swear, that swearing goes into your subconscious and hooks up with all the other swear words you’ve said since you were a kid.

Many people habitually say, “I’ll be damned,” “Damn you,” or “Damn it” as emphatic figures of speech. But all speech has its effect. Such mantras block their future and bind them to what they wish on others or crassly blurt out. This is a good way to curse oneself, to be sure — to build up a big balloon of negative energy. Under that negative force, they will never be able to relax or enjoy a vacation. Many people live together as a family, but their home is broken, their lives are broken, because they broke their own heart and forfeited their own courage simply by swearing a repeated mantra. Using profane language is a curse upon the system we call life.

What is even worse is knowing you shouldn’t do something and then doing it anyway, even knowing why you shouldn’t do it and doing it anyway — knowing why you shouldn’t swear, why you shouldn’t be abusive to the children, why you shouldn’t be abusive to the spouse, and then doing it anyway! It has a triple impact of negative force on the subconscious mind of the individual if he knows what he is doing to himself and to the minds of others, if he knows the law and yet ignores the law, the divine karmic law that he accepted.

Now, having heard this, if you continue to break the law, you bring a triple curse upon yourself! That is the built-in prayashchitta, the automatic penance or penalty. Those of you who know how the subconscious mind and the sub of the subconscious mind work can see the negative impact very, very clearly. And if you continue knowingly doing what you know is harmful to you, you will earn a bad birth. Do you want that? Maybe you do. Or maybe you don’t believe in reincarnation. Well, it’s going to happen anyway.

I was on a United Airlines flight. A stewardess spilled something. She didn’t use the “d” word or the “s” word. She kept a smile on her face and cleaned up the mess! Why didn’t she swear? Because if you’re an employee on a United Airlines flight you don’t swear, or else you don’t take the next flight! That’s why. This shows there is an integrity built within everyone by which they can break a habit cycle if it means some benefits to them. In this case it was financial benefit, also avoiding the embarrassment of losing her job.

The motivation to change isn’t that clear when, for example, someone is working at a construction site where everyone else is also swearing. But the motivation to stop swearing should be clear, because it takes its toll even if you don’t realize it. It is simply taking longer to lose your job, because swearing will make you less productive, less efficient, less liked by others. You’ll be cheated, you’ll make wrong financial decisions, and your income will go down. Your inspiration will go down. You can count on it, because you are repeating mantras to destroy everything that you have. You won’t be able to appreciate that sunset. You will be so confused on the inside that all you’ll see is your own mind. Avoiding all that should be the motivation; but the effect of swearing is slow, insidious, and in most cases not appreciated

The Courage To Change

It’s up to the individual to stand on his own two feet, take his life in his own hands, his karmas in his own hands, to bear his karma cheerfully and work with it. Nobody else can do that for you. Gurus and swamis can point the way and give certain sadhanas, but they cannot do it for you. They won’t do it for you. If they did do it for you, it wouldn’t do you any good!

People who are cynical are expressing their anger and contempt with snide remarks. They may seem to be joking, but their sharp feelings come across anyway, which stimulates that lower chakra until one day their cynicism will turn into really good anger. Then they build up new karmas they never had before, which they will live with until they are faced with those karmas.

Some devotees take pride in saying, “I’ve been with Gurudeva for forty-five years.” “I’ve been with Gurudeva for thirty years.” But if you ask them, “Do you still get angry?” “Yes,” they say. “What have you realized?” “Well, that I shouldn’t get angry.” “Do you still get angry?” “Uh-huh, yes, sometimes.” Those people haven’t been with Gurudeva at all! They’ve just been hanging around. Because the results of everything we have been teaching have not taken hold. Results have to manifest in the lives of each of you. Otherwise, you’re just bodies, sitting there listening to me talk, living your own private life, living a double standard. Just bodies. So, there can be a lack of sincerity. I want my shishyas to do a job, do it right, and be on to the next one, not this insincerity of playing with me, playing with my mind. I don’t like that

You can’t work at correcting something. You either do it or you don’t do it. You don’t work at not falling off a cliff, a big precipice that drops off a hundred feet. You just don’t step forward; that’s what you don’t do! When you come to the point where you hear about the Self, and you get interested in the Self, you’re at a point where you can break the cycle of certain karmas through sadhana. You’re either going to do it or you’re going to think, “Oh, that’s kind of silly, you know. It’s really nice to listen to Gurudeva, but to actually take these teachings seriously and make changes in my life, well…ho hum. That kind of attitude, that kind of ho-hum, lazy attitude, also results in making new karmas, because others look at you as an example and take up your example. It’s living a double life that I am talking about. It depends on the strength of the person’s soul whether he actually makes some definite changes in his character or not.

Verbal Abuse Of Children

It’s one thing to hurt yourself through swearing, but it’s a double hurt of yourself if you hurt another person. We wrote quite extensively on the widespread problem of corporal punishment and child abuse last year in HINDUISM TODAY. We explained that those who abuse their children, their spouse — even husbands get abused and hit and scratched — are hurting themselves five to ten times worse than if they simply hit themselves once instead of hitting their child. We find that in some homes the advice to stop was taken very seriously. Scaring children by threatening them has also ceased, at least in the homes that I am aware of in the broad Hindu community. But verbal abuse of children has increased, calling children bad names in order to put them down, expressing anger by viciously badgering them: “You’re stupid!” “You’re worthless!” There’s a long list that apparently nearly every mother and every father has memorized. It goes on and on and on, this constant downgrading and demeaning, expressed in the name of discipline, starting at five or six years of age and continuing until youths are old enough to leave home on their own.

The verbally abused child’s self-image is terrible, but the pain and humiliation is locked away in his subconscious. He covers it up and forgets it, but it continues festering there, and one day bursts forth. If he is a kind-hearted child, he will protect his own children in the future from verbal abuse. If he is a mean-spirited child, he will release what his parents put upon him and into his mind, all of that hatred, upon his children. So, the verbal abuse continues generation after generation. Its pain and hurt long outlasts that of a slap or a beating.

In some parts of the Hindu community we hear a lot about curses. The more intellectual, Western-educated Hindu doesn’t believe in curses at all. But what is a curse? A curse is negative energy gathered together and pointed at someone you don’t like. Those priests who are able to conjure up a curse — and are often paid for it — take careful precautions to protect themselves from being cursed by their own curse! Sometimes that protection doesn’t work, and they become ill, occasionally even die, or become tremendously confused as long as the curse is working.

To freely hurl mental harassment and abuse at a child who can’t talk back — lest he be slapped down, dragged across the floor and slammed against the wall — is cursing the child as well as oneself. It is also cursing the home, as well as the entire family, because this tremendous force of negative, angry energy that has been suppressed leaches out and fills the room and the entire house. Call a child one bad name and you are calling yourself ten bad names. And that goes into your subconscious mind, because the perpetrator of the crime also hears what he has said.

Many people verbally abuse children in order to motivate them, to make them courageous, to make them stand up straight, to make them do better in school. Any psychiatrist or psychologist will tell you that to tell a child he’s stupid is no motivation to do better in school! To tell him that he’s a pig, he’s a dog — and then there are the four-letter words, the “f” word and the “b” word — is no motivation whatsoever. But the children have to take it, because they are dependent for housing, clothing and food. The verbal abuse goes into their subconscious mind. But it goes double, triple, quadruple into the subconscious mind of the mother — and the father also if he hears the mother cursing the kid — and on and on until finally the whole family has cursed itself, become filled with the hatred, the scorn and the filthy meanings of the words they have spoken to one another a thousand times.

Will that family be successful? Never. Will that family enjoy vacations? No way. Will they be totally frustrated on the inside? Yes. Will disease come to that family? Of course! They are creating disease by the disease they are putting into their own subconscious mind, and the harm to the astral body will eventually affect the physical body

Making Up For Abuse

Of course, parents who curse their children can’t hug them, can’t show the same love for them. That would be counterproductive! In fact, many families think it’s weakening to the child to hug a child and to show love or to congratulate the child. Thus we have whole societies and entire countries that hold themselves down, generation after generation and do not flourish, and therefore are held down by other communities who are doing the same thing, and that are held down by other communities.

What is the prayashchitta, what is the penance, for foul or abusive languagefor language that hurts? If you call a child stupid, or call him a little bastard, counteract it by telling him he is intelligent, wanted in the family, loved. Counteract the abuse by saying five good words for every bad word. Otherwise, the parents will have a bad birth. What is a bad birth? Being born diseased. A bad birth is being born without parents. A bad birth is being born in a land that has no room for children. There are lots of suffering kids these days who abused their children in a past life without mercy, taking out their frustrations on them. Which is worse, beating the child physically or berating him with words? The pain of the beating will go away, even the memory, somehow. But the words will ring deep in the mind of the child throughout his lifetime.

Now, if the child performs certain sadhanas and is able to forgive the family for the verbal beatings, what then happens? It breaks the curse. Then what happens? The whole force of that curse goes back on the mother and the father. The child walks away free, healed, and his parents take the impact of their impropriety. They take the impact of their bad words. To young people who are cursed by your families, I say take your life in your own hands and plan for your own future. After all, why would parents curse and call bad words and put down a child but to control him, use him as a meal ticket, social security, make him so afraid that he can’t talk to them!

In many homes parents are not beating their children anymore, but they still raise their hand in the threat to hit them! The child knows that if he persists, he’s going to get it right in the head. Physical threats and verbal abuse turn a child into a person who is weak, discouraged, without courage — without courage enough to have a con-versation with his mother, without courage enough to have a conversation with his father, without courage enough to have a conversation with himself, to develop any initiative, to stand on his own two feet, to be a leader. If your kids cannot or will not talk to you and have a conversation with you, you have probably hurt those kids and scared those kids so much that they don’t want to be hurt by you anymore. It’s as simple as that.

There are awful stories we hear about slavery, how slaves were brought to America, Europe and all over the world, beaten and whipped to bring them down to abject servitude so they wouldn’t cause any problems lest they be beaten without mercy for the slightest thing — beaten even if they did nothing wrong, just to keep them in their place. That’s what verbal beating does, too. It keeps kids “in their place” so they become useless slaves in the family, earning money to give to parents who still curse them, and then feigning love toward the parents lest they get more verbal abuse. We see this happening all the time. I hear and receive by e-mail desperate testimonies from children and young adults on how they have been abused, physically and with words, in their own home. From the many experiences I know about, I can assure you that words can hurt a child as much or more than a bamboo switch, a belt or a fist.

Advice for Abused Youth

We want to talk to the next generation that’s coming up. Fourteen-year-olds, eighteen-year-olds, twenty-year-olds, stand on your own two feet! Make your decisions according to dharma. What is the book of dharma? Weaver’s Wisdom, the famous Tirukural. It gives you all the tools you need to live a very good life. If your parents are verbally abusing you, don’t let their words affect you. Try to have compassion by appreciating what led them to the point where they could say these cruel things to you; but realize that they can offer you nothing but more abuse, because they are in the process of cursing themselves. The message is to “stand on your own two feet, take your life in your own hands, claim your independence,” once you realize that life at home is not going to get any better.

In certain shops in Asian cities, parents can buy bamboo switches, belts and other instruments of torture made just for punishing kids. Few realize that their mean words can cause just as much hurt, if not more. Parents have developed long lists of words used to demean and belittle. It has become an unspoken rulebook of how to bring their child down to feeling like he’s a big nothing, willing to do anything you say, because he inwardly begs: “Don’t hurt me anymore. Don’t hit me with your words. Don’t hurt me with your long silences and by turning your head away from me. Don’t hurt me that way anymore. I’ll do anything. I’ll get a dumb job and work at it fourteen hours a day to give you some money, to pay you for not hurting me anymore.” That’s what we have in the Hindu community around the world. And that’s what we don’t want to have in the Hindu community around the world.

What can a child of eight, ten or twelve do who is being verbally and physically beaten at home and in school? Nothing. It’s a sad situation. I’ve received lists of abuses from children of that age, just exactly what their mothers have said and what their fathers have said. It’s a tremendous pain in their mind. We’ve given young people the prayashchitta, the remedy, of putting a flower in front of their parents’ picture for thirty-one days. Most can’t do it. They just can’t do it. We ask them to say each day, “I forgive you for playing my karma back to me,” but they just can’t do it. The hate, the mistrust, the disappointment, the hurt, is so great, they’ve been put down so low, that they just cannot do it.

My counsel to Hindu families is: Stop the physical abuse. Stop the verbal abuse. Stop the war in the home. Use positive discipline. Praise your children. Discover the good things that they do and tell them how well they have done. Celebrate their Divinity. Enjoy them and enjoy good times with them. This is the family tradition and the ideal of Sanatana Dharma, the Hindu Dharma of the past, before the Church of England reigned over India for 150 years and changed education to their way of thinking, making beating a must in schools and homes in accordance with the many biblical verses that highly recommend “not to spare the rod,” and the theological rationale to “beat the devil out of them.” Hindus of today’s world have begun working together to stop the abuse, passing and enforcing laws to bring us back to the true meaning of discipline, which is to teach, train and patiently guide. We must remember that ahimsa, nonhurting, physically, mentally or emotionally, is the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma.

My advice to verbally abusive parents: stop tearing them down by telling them they’re stupid, that they’re too small, too fat, too lazy, too ugly or too naughty. If you constantly tell a child he is naughty, he will become naughtier. If you constantly tell a child he’s nice, he will be nicer. It just works like that. All the psychiatrists agree with this approach, to be sure, as do mothers and fathers who really love their children and take an interest in their children

Backbiting And Gossip

There are two very great religious laws, and you have heard me talk about them before, and if you follow them and obey them, you will have the spiritual protection of your own intuitive mind. Your intuitive mind will be available to you all of the time.

One of these great laws is the law of dashamamsha, tithing, and the other great law is shaucha kriya, doing good. Now, what is doing good? Doing good is controlling your mind, really, because when the mind is out of control or when you allow it to be out of control, you are really under the control of the instinctive mind of other people. You are more or less like a puppet in their hands. Therefore, we teach, “Think before you speak, and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary.” This is very, very difficult for most people to do. If you carry each thought on the tip of your tongue, quite often it won’t be your thought at all. It may be what is seething in the instinctive mind of people around you. That’s what makes for backbiting and gossip. Like those who swear, those who gossip do not think. They pick up the low, seething vibrations of the instinctive mind of everyone around and, like stovepipes, emanate the smoke of the fire that is burning or smoldering or fuming or raging underneath. Many undeveloped people believe and repeat the last thing they hear spoken by someone they consider higher than themselves. They gossip freely, hurt freely and are often the pawns of strong-minded, unscrupulous individuals who use their ignorance and weakness to further their own selfish ends.

Do you know what gossiping is like? It’s like scratching an itch. Something is antagonizing your mind, so you gossip, and you go on and on and on until somebody changes the subject for you, or until somebody does something else that you can gossip about. Shall we say that backbiting and hurtful gossip are the dissipation of the creative, spiritual force? That’s all they are, dissipation of your great, God-given inner power. Anyone will tell you that to dissipate your energy is bad for you, but you do that when you gossip. By doing that, you are only the chimney, the dirty smokestack, of the seething instinctive mind, the ugly state of mind, of other people. You are not in control of your own mind. Have I painted a picture that is bad enough, hideous enough, gruesome enough, for you all to stop gossiping and control your mind a little bit? Gossip invokes the asuric beings on the lower astral plane and makes new karmas for the gossiper, who will be gossiped about in the future when the karmas return

Let’s paint another picture. When you defile others, mentally and verbally, through backbiting gossip about the happenings in their lives, you are hurting them. You are actually making it difficult for them to succeed, to even persist where they are. They sense, they feel, the ugliness that you are projecting toward them. Many women gossip about their husbands over the telephone to other women while their husbands are at work. How can the husband be successful with the wife’s mind, in which he presumably trusts, working and plotting against him in such a chaotic condition? Gossip and backbiting, like verbal abuse, hurt another. You know what happens according to spiritual law when you hurt another. You are only hurting yourself in the future. Of course, you don’t meet the hurt right away, but in a few months you will find that it will come to you. You are hurting yourself in the future if you hurt another in the present.

It takes great sincerity in life to control the mind. And the power to be sincere is based on honesty. Honesty, arjava, gives a great boon to you. It gives you stability. It makes you strong. It makes every atom in your being vibrate with an inner power. It gives you perspective; it gives you the eye to justice. But you must first be honest with yourself. Then the next time you see something happening in the life of another person that you would just love to sit down and gossip about, stop the menacing wheel of your mind and think about the experience and feelings the other person is going through.

Thoughts Have Power

Each thought and each word has a form, an etheric form. That is why when a room is happy and you walk into it, you feel joyous. When a house is sad and you walk into it, you can sense that misery, for every thought you think and every word you speak takes form and shape in the ether.

Prana is mental energy. When you use mental energy, you make mental creations. When you use physical energy, you can create physically. With your hands, you can build a house, you can cook a dinner; you can do many things with your physical energy and your physical body. With your mind, through the use of prana, you can also create for yourself. How many understand the meaning of the words prana and mental energy? You would be surprised at the power that you have in your mind as an individual.

Every positive thought that you have manifests in a subtle world and remains there for the length of time that it took you to generate it. Everything that you make with your physical energy on the physical plane will remain on the physical plane in physical form according to the time and effort that you took to generate it. If you have done a very fine job, it may remain over a hundred years. If you didn’t put much effort into it, it will not remain long on the physical plane.

Let’s think about the mental world for a moment. Suppose you are generating a thought for something good to happen, a positive circumstance you want to come your way. You concentrate upon it, and you generate it and you make the picture just the way you want to see it. Then you are happy and joyous. You feel as if it has already happened. Now suppose you drop into a lower state of consciousness. You begin to gossip. You use foul language and backbite. You lose control of your mind. You don’t put your intuitive mind first. You put the instinctive mind first and begin to think: “Oh, that can’t possibly happen because of this…” or “I can’t possibly do this because of that….” You are building a negative pattern of fear, worry and doubt that covers up the beautiful picture and snuffs it out. Then, when it does not manifest, you say: “My prayers were not answered. God was too busy helping somebody else. He couldn’t help me.” But you were the creator. You preserved it on the mental plane for as long as you could, and without knowing it you destroyed it before it manifested physically. That is one way you can go on through life, as so many, many Hindus do — blaming others for their own self-created failures.

Do you know what all of that is? Confusion of the mind! So, we have two alternatives: confusion or control. And we have all the spiritual laws to follow that help you control your mind. When the external mind is controlled, then the spirit or inner being, the Reality of you, can shine forth. Shall we say that a confused mind is like a cloud the sun cannot shine through? A controlled mind is like clear ether which the radiance of the sun can shine through

Teenage

Posted: 16/07/2013 in Routine part 2

Be one to whom the mother is a God. Be one to whom the father is a God. Be one to whom the teacher is a God. Be one to whom the guest is a God

Keep Teaching, Keep Loving

The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems. Children are perfect devas until puberty, when so many changes come, when prarabdha karmas — the results of past actions they bring with them to live through in this birth — begin to manifest and the growing-up process intensifies. Is there a set way, a rule book, for raising Hindu children in our contemporary society? I think not. But the basic principles of Hinduism have not failed. No, not at all. Teach the young adults to look ahead mentally into the future before making a decision, and to base their decisions for life on the value judgments of Sanatana Dharma as well explained in Dancing with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism, here in Living with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Culture and in Merging with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Metaphysics. This Master Course trilogy is all that’s needed for a fine future for young adults. What are these values? Peace; harmony within the home; tolerance for others; appreciation of the wisdom of those who have gone before us and of those who are older; purity of thought, word and deed; chastity until marriage; and, above all, cooperation and patience in choosing the right partner in life, for marriage is actually the joining of two families.

Marriage is not merely an individual decision between two people who are sexually attracted to each other. No,not at all. A marriage, to be successful, needs the support both of the young man’s family and the young lady’s. The days are going away very fast when, through the dowry system, the girl buys herself a husband or the boy commands a price to take her into his home as a servant girl for his mother. All this should be explained time and time again to children who are growing up with mixed values. After all, they spend more time with their peers than they do with their parents in today’s world! This means that the parents have to actively teach them as well, and talk and talk and talk on well-rehearsed subjects to keep their children in the home, out of harm’s way and guided into a substantial, happy marriage in which the bride and the groom’s parents get along famously. It is a circle of love when two families marry along with their children.

These matters must be discussed when children are young, before puberty. Give many examples from your life and the successful lives of others they and you know. Later, when they reach the stage of puberty, watch out, for they may reject everything they have heard. But the knowledge is in there, deeply buried in their subconscious mind, just waiting to burst out when the right moment comes. So, even when they are not inclined to listen or discuss, you can know they are hearing. And you can be sure they are listening when you gossip about someone who is experiencing a similar problem they are facing — a high school senior you read of in the paper who is in dire circumstances, or a story with a moral that you have creatively thought up to put across the point that you are trying to make. Yes, they are listening, because who is it on planet Earth that does not just really, really love to hear a good story. Your well-placed parable will lift up the vasanas you implanted early on.

Tapas of the The Teen Years

When your adolescents make the decision that you want them to make, never, ever say, “I told you so.” Just bow your head and say, “Darling, you are making a wise decision.” Believe it or not, when they are not listening and you are talking, they are hearing, and what you are saying is going deep into their subconscious state of mind, which never sleeps. So, be tactful in what you say, and say it always with a smile and plenty of healthy ayurvedic sweets (not made with white sugar, but with jaggery or honey, or raw sugar if these are not available). We don’t want tooth decay and diabetic conditions from highly processed white sugar. It is too expensive and time-consuming to treat these home-created ailments. Don’t you agree? Good health — mental and physical — begins or ends in the home.

Teenagers are suffering the pangs of sex, desire and distrust, independence and all sorts of other things. They are as if sick during this time. In Moscow one cold 1990 winter, astrophysicist Carl Sagan once told me they are poisoned by their own hormones. This is nothing new. Over two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato lamented, “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders. They disobey their parents. They riot in the street, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Not much has changed, has it? So, be the mother, father, nurse, and doctor. Talk together and work out a strategy for the seven years from age thirteen to nineteen. It will be over in only seven years. Does this seem like a long haul? Does getting through it seem like an impossible dream? It surely does, but teenage trials are a natural part of the extended family, the joint family, the nuclear family and even of the no-family-at-all. Most of all, realize that you will surely win out if you persist in love and understanding. Before long, they will be raising their children in the very same way and loving you for how you had the patience, willpower, forbearance and love — mainly love — to see them through. Proceed with confidence. Get a strategy, a battle plan, if it’s all that bad. Stand up straight, be willing to take insult, disobedience and be shamed in the very home in which you have raised them. Similarly, a nurse does not pay all that much attention to the ranting and raving of a patient who is delirious. Reason does not rank that high as a quality for the teenager. But to tell them that would be to alienate them, for in their view they are so, so much more intelligent than you are in the ways of the world. And that may well be true, as they, we must never forget, spend more time with their peers than at home. You, the parents, bear the handicap of this and must in all fairness compensate.

When you have successfully performed your seven-year tapas of bearing up under the pain of the teenage trials, truly you will enjoy great satisfaction and be able to sit back and smile. Remember and be assured that it won’t last forever. It truly won’t. Have compassion and give some leniency, for during this time they are all mixed up inside; they are, they surely are. They are facing an uncertain future in an unsure world, becoming adults, keeping in with their peers, keeping in with their parents, facing marriage, job, career and community expectations. No wonder so many ki ll themselves because their parents just did not understand and were not there for them at a time when they truly, truly needed them. Such a death of a child is on the heads of the parents. Don’t let this happen in your family. Please don’t. Be a mom. Be a dad. Be a nurse. Be a doctor. And, most of all, be a friend — their friend, their closest friend — during this tumultuous, turbulent, troublesome time called teenage.

A Story of Heartbreak

Here is a letter a discouraged Malaysian Hindu girl wrote to her parents just before she attempted to end her life at age eighteen. One of the main reasons she cited for this attempt was too much pressure coming from her parents. It was published in the Malaysia edition of HINDUISM TODAY.

“Dear Mom and Dad: You’ll never understand why I did this. Never. In your opinion, you always did what was best for me. You always knew what was best for me. You always believed I was your naive, irresponsible little girl who always needed your hand to hold on to. You thought it was necessary to use the sharp edge of your tongue to keep me on the right track.

“But that was the biggest problem — you were the ones who chose that track for me. I never had any say in my own life. Did you realize that that right track became a psychological prison for me? That your leading hand became a set of chains for me? That the sharp side of your tongue got to be a barbed wire that was continuously lashing out at me? No, you never did.

“You have said many things to me when you were angry, and you always excused yourself by saying that you weren’t in your senses when you said them. But did you realize how much those things could have hurt me? No. You never even thought about it. How about if I called you a b . . . . when I was angry? Would you excuse that with the same reasoning? I think not.

“Didn’t you ever stop to think that maybe I should have some say in what I wanted to do with my life? You decided which college would be the right one for me to attend and what academic field I should go into. The college, of course, had to be the most prestigious and elite one, so you could brag to your friends about it. You never thought that maybe I wanted something more than school and books, but that was never important to you. You only wanted me to achieve academically so your friends would be duly impressed. That was the same reason that you wanted me to become a doctor. I didn’t want anything to do with it.

“You never realized that maybe I had wanted a social life, to make real friends for once in my life. When I told you that, you scoffed at me and told me that we Indians were so much superior that we didn’t need to deal with them. There was never anything in my life that you let me have any control over. When I finally met someone who meant something to me, you two couldn’t handle the fact that maybe someday I would learn to control my own life and rid myself of your manipulations. So, then you decided who it was that I was going to see and who it was that I didn’t. You forced me to break the first real relationship that I ever had in my life. I was constantly harassed by you about him. You told me that I was disgracing the family name. ‘…what would everyone say?’ You destroyed everything for me. This ‘relationship’ between us is nothing but a farce. And there is no reason to continue it. I have searched for some way to escape you, but I have come up empty handed. And now, unable to do anything else, I want you to understand the meaning of ’empty handed.’ Always remember that you can only control someone for so long. Now you must live with this guilt. I hope you will never be able to forgive yourself.”

“You never realized that maybe I had wanted a social life, to make real friends for once in my life. When I told you that, you scoffed at me and told me that we Indians were so much superior that we didn’t need to deal with them. There was never anything in my life that you let me have any control over. When I finally met someone who meant something to me, you two couldn’t handle the fact that maybe someday I would learn to control my own life and rid myself of your manipulations. So, then you decided who it was that I was going to see and who it was that I didn’t. You forced me to break the first real relationship that I ever had in my life. I was constantly harassed by you about him. You told me that I was disgracing the family name. ‘…what would everyone say?’ You destroyed everything for me. This ‘relationship’ between us is nothing but a farce. And there is no reason to continue it. I have searched for some way to escape you, but I have come up empty handed. And now, unable to do anything else, I want you to understand the meaning of ’empty handed.’ Always remember that you can only control someone for so long. Now you must live with this guilt. I hope you will never be able to forgive yourself.”

 

Keep the Doors Open

Many parents hesitate teaching Hinduism to their children as they do not want to make them different than their school chums. But it is only a “storybook Hinduism” that would do that. We do not need stories these days that were created for a society that no longer exists. We do need the philosophical, metaphysical and psychological Truths which are as eternal as space, time and gravity. These should be well implanted into their minds. One is never too young or too old to learn the Eternal Truths that never fail. World thinking is built on only a few Truths and more than a few false concepts. Never give up on your young adults, whatever the problems that arise. They will be just fine with you, their parents, by their side all along the way.

Yes, your children need both of you as friends, someone to come home to when the going gets rough, someone who accepts and loves and, in heartfelt tolerance, tries to understand. It is possible, you know, to close the door on them in your hearts and minds, especially when they are not obeying. Remember that there are others out there who will take them in and may lead them even further astray. Be a friend. Don’t force them out of your hearts and minds. Always keep the doors of a compassionate heart, loving arms and an understanding mind open. Listen to their problems and come forward for their needs, even when you may not agree with them or approve of what they are going through. Remember, three hugs a day keeps trouble away. This is modern Hindu Dharma. This is ancient Hindu Dharma. This is living Siva’s contemporary culture.

Young people have to prove for themselves the basic principles of Sanatana Dharma. Some go at it in a straightforward way and others go about it in a roundabout way, trying to disprove everything, and therefore proving it. What is the straightforward way? Accepting it as it is and trying to prove it also by relating it to your own life experience. We should not be discouraged with young people if we find they reach a certain age and pull away a little bit. They can come to understand the law of karma by going through a few experiences and finding out how they themselves created those experiences. They have to have those basic realizations in this life if they didn’t have them in a previous life. If they had these basic realizations in a previous life very, very strongly, their confidence in the teachings would be very strong. Those things carry over from life to life, and in the end the soul builds on them.

The new breed of swamis that have come up in the past three decades relate well to the young adults who were born as Hindus but raised as modern youth with little knowledge of their hereditary religion. These swamis know the problems, the pitfalls and some of the solutions. They, too, were raised “modern” and by their own conviction learned Eternal Truths and now preach them with a vigor and practical clarity that is unsurpassed. Introduce your young adult to them, and he or she will find an understanding friend and religious mentor.

When we are young, the old ways can seem stiff, old-fashioned or just plain silly. Help your young adult see into the reasons and discover the meaning in our culture, philosophy and religion. Then the Sanatana Dharma will belong to them, too, never to be lost, but to be preserved and passed along to their children when the time comes and the cycle begins again.

 

Education and Career

Many youth are pushed into professions by their family, even if they are not suited to that profession. They graduate and ask themselves, “What do I do next? Do I get a job near my family home? Do I go to a far-off country and seek employment?” Family pressure is on, and comments, sometimes hurtful, are made to motivate the youth. But in today’s world youth have to think on their feet, take their life into their own hands and make their own goals for their future, especially if they have been abused by senseless beatings from angry parents whose cruel hearts drive them from their home.

The long-term goals of education and career should be planned out ahead of graduation. Ideally the planning takes place with the family, but only if it is a cooperative, reasonable family that has enough love to foresee their youth fulfilling happy lives with productive futures. As we saw earlier, too harsh an upbringing can lead to their taking their life with their own hands.

In the United States before the First and Second World Wars, people were committed — committed to their family, to their community, to their country, to the growth of the nation and to their business. Everyone knew what they were going to do with the rest of their life by the time they were eighteen or nineteen years of age. They went forward and lived out their life as planned. When I was seventeen, I knew what I would be doing right now. That is commitment, clarity of mind, the ability to see a direct path into the future and then to have the character and the willpower to live to make that path manifest. Society was stable, society was strong, and there were simpler problems.

After the First World War and Second World War, the family unit began to break up, and people were no longer committed. The word of the times was not commitment, but one that also started with a “c.” It was choices. “I’ll make a choice and see where it leads me. Then I will make another choice and see where that leads.” People didn’t stick with one occupation and perfect it. They dabbled half-heartedly at ten occupations which they didn’t perfect, and the quality of work suffered as a result. The opportunities of choice were so grand. Parents would encourage their children “Make your own choice of what you are going to do with your life. We just want you to be happy.” The same child was not allowed to make his own choice about what clothes to wear or what foods to eat. But he was allowed to make the really important choices, including: “What are you going to do with your entire life?” and “Whom are you going to marry?” Of course, to buy a car he was taught by his parents to read Consumer Reports and pick just the right one. But he could take up any career and marry anyone he wanted to, just on a whim and fancy.

So Many Choices

Society drastically changed after the two world wars, and the country’s crime rate went up. Mental institutions became overpopulated, hospitals overcrowded. People who have no commitment to family, friends, community and religion end up making the wrong choices in life. And today we have a new group called the New Age which, ironically, is totally committed to being uncommitted.

Many people are not committed to anything. They take a vow, they take a pledge, but it doesn’t mean anything. Even a marriage vow or pledge doesn’t mean anything anymore. But that is not religion. That may be secular humanism. That may be existentialism. That may be just a big nothingism; but it is not religion. Religion is the acceptance of spiritual laws that guide our life. We have to make decisions and make commitments, and live up to those commitments so that we can look in the mirror every morning and say, “You did a good job with yesterday. Now what about today?” This is the ethic we need to instill in teenagers. Then the strength of the soul comes forward. When the strength of the soul comes forward, it permeates the intellectual mind. Creativity comes forth. New, inspiring, insightful thoughts that you didn’t even know you were able to think come into your mind from your superconscious, and many wonderful things begin to manifest in your life.

Nowadays the mind seems to be confused for young people and older people alike. There is too much television, too much surfing, too much input, and not enough planning, not enough talking, not enough camaraderie to sit down and plan out what you are going to do this year, next year, the year after and the year after that. But that’s how you keep your karma under control: short-term goals and long-term goals planned out according to Saiva Dharma.

Families have been asking me about careers for their maturing youth. What courses should they pursue in college? Higher education should prepare a youth for what he is going to do in life. This applies to women as well. That is why we are educated, to prepare ourselves for our future. There is no other point of being educated but for that. If a young lady is going to be a homemaker, it would be wise to be educated to be a homemaker. Many women these days are married and can’t cook, don’t know how to put on a band-aid, don’t know how to take care of the children when they come, because they’ve never been educated to be a wife. Women who foresee another kind of life for themselves should choose an education that will prepare them for that. It is also wise these days for a woman who is a homemaker to have an education in a profession, such as nursing, that she can fall back on in case misfortune befalls the family, a death or a divorce, so she can get a job to support the children and herself. Education is for the future career, whether it be a homemaking career or another kind of career. That is the purpose of it. There is much education now available that is just general education. It goes on and on and on. You go in wanting to know, and you come out confused at the end of it. We see this happening all the time. This type of education should definitely be avoided.

Families have been asking me about careers for their maturing youth. What courses should they pursue in college? Higher education should prepare a youth for what he is going to do in life. This applies to women as well. That is why we are educated, to prepare ourselves for our future. There is no other point of being educated but for that. If a young lady is going to be a homemaker, it would be wise to be educated to be a homemaker. Many women these days are married and can’t cook, don’t know how to put on a band-aid, don’t know how to take care of the children when they come, because they’ve never been educated to be a wife. Women who foresee another kind of life for themselves should choose an education that will prepare them for that. It is also wise these days for a woman who is a homemaker to have an education in a profession, such as nursing, that she can fall back on in case misfortune befalls the family, a death or a divorce, so she can get a job to support the children and herself. Education is for the future career, whether it be a homemaking career or another kind of career. That is the purpose of it. There is much education now available that is just general education. It goes on and on and on. You go in wanting to know, and you come out confused at the end of it. We see this happening all the time. This type of education should definitely be avoided.

The Family Profession

Nowadays many people believe that somehow it was an accident that one was born in a family of a certain profession and that the youth deserves a so-called better profession than that of the parents. But the traditional wisdom is that a person is born into a family to fulfill the profession of that family, and ideally to stay within that family business. Being raised in the family business, the person learns from a young age, even prenatally. Going into another profession, he leaves the family dharma and goes into worldly adharma. It then takes two or three generations to establish a new family dharma in that profession.

Now, of course, if the father and mother do not have a formal profession or business when their offspring are babies, from prenatal to six, whatever they are doing is absorbed and becomes the children’s habit pattern of how they should live their lives on Earth. In such conditions, the chances for the son or daughter to follow the father’s or mother’s footsteps in a formal profession at a later age, such as at puberty, lessens because the children have already been programmed, from ages one to six, to live from day to day without a goal, without strong material security, without a profession, as their mother and father did, as casual, temporary employees or students, often unemployed or seeking employment Now, of course, if the father and mother do not have a formal profession or business when their offspring are babies, from prenatal to six, whatever they are doing is absorbed and becomes the children’s habit pattern of how they should live their lives on Earth. In such conditions, the chances for the son or daughter to follow the father’s or mother’s footsteps in a formal profession at a later age, such as at puberty, lessens because the children have already been programmed, from ages one to six, to live from day to day without a goal, without strong material security, without a profession, as their mother and father did, as casual, temporary employees or students, often unemployed or seeking employment.

Then there are others who will shy away from the family profession, whatever the rationale. There are many reasons that youth reject the family profession, but the point is that it is the duty of the family to make that profession available to them, knowing this can stabilize them throughout life. Therefore, we should encourage the traditional family ideal in any case, at any age. There is great mental, emotional and physical security for the son or the daughter to follow the family vocation. Such children have observed their parents, learned from them, slowly become partners with them in life. It is not always wise to allow your children to make the decision of what they want to do, allowing them to leave the home and make a stranger wealthy in another profession because of their service to him. Lovingly encourage them to do what you do and to become an extension of yourself. The ideas of “do your own thing,” “satisfy your own desires,” “wander into a career,” “move from one career to another midway in life” are modern adharmic concepts. It may work out, but there is a fifty percent chance of failure and crippling debt. Then, too, the family has lost a great asset. The children have lost half their family connection, as they no longer have a shared interest in what mom and dad are doing, and vice versa. And the stranger, way out there, benefits. A family should not end at the puberty of its children, who then go off into other spheres of interest. It should continue and mature into father-and-son corporations, father-and-daughter

corporations, with mother and father, sons and daughters all sharing the same interests, all working to increase the family assets.

The dharma of the householder is to build up wealth and knowledge, and to pass these on to the children, generation after generation. If they are in the jewelry profession, the wealth should go to the jewelers of the next generation, not to the musicians or computer programmers. Family wealth equals community wealth. Community wealth equals national wealth. National wealth equals global abundance. Hindu elders say that by following the occupation of the father and mother one will never go hungry, even if the occupation is a meager one. This is what I learned in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, at an early age. One might not become rich, but security is virtually assured.

So, don’t be afraid to bring your sons and daughters into the family business deliberately. Get them interested. Get them working with you. Your business or occupation is what feeds them. Naturally they should be interested in it. The simple answer for modern Hindu families following the traditional grihastha dharma is to form a family corporation and bring sons and daughters at an early age into what mom and dad are doing. Educate them in the family occupation from age six to thirteen and then engage them as partners all through life. What better partners could one have? Who would be more honest and loyal than your own children? Need we say more? You have caught the idea.

Positive Discipline

Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2

Disputes, worldly associations and quarrels should be avoided. Not even spiritual disputations should be indulged in, whether good or bad. Jealousy, slander, pomp, passion, envy, love, anger, fear and misery should all disappear gradually and entirely.

The Bane Of Battering

The whole world is reevaluating how we treat women, children, the aged and infirm. Ways of behaving toward our fellow human beings that were normal and acceptable a hundred years ago are no longer acceptable. We now comprehend, as never before, the tragedy of a battered wife or an abused infant. Shamefully, we do not always live up to the Hindu ideal in these areas.

What is that ideal? It is this: Never injure others. Hindu children are always treated with great respect and awe, for one does not always know who they are. They may be incarnations of a grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, dearly beloved mother, sister, brother, respected father, a yogi or rishi returned to flesh to help mankind spiritually. We must ask, “Who are these souls? What is their destiny in this life? How can I help?”

Parents love their children, or at least they should, and the principle of ahimsa, nonviolence and nonhurtfulness — physically, mentally or emotionally — does apply in the parent-child relationship, as well as in the husband-wife relationship. Children must be nurtured prenatally without being hurt in the process. Children must be allowed to develop physically, emotionally and mentally without being hurt in the process. We know they are sometimes mischievous and can get on your nerves, but the religious parents who are avowed to ahimsa are in truth more mature than their children and are able to handle situations as they come up without recourse to pinching, hitting or verbal abuse. Only in an ahimsa home can we bring children from one stage of physical, emotional, mental growth to another and still nurture spiritual qualities.

To hurt a child in any way is to drive that child into fear and cause the development of anger and resentment at an early age. Parents are supposed to lift their offspring into the higher nature, of love, forgiveness, friendliness and security, not to drive them into the lower nature, of hate, mistrust, resentment, offishness and insecurity. Obedience through fear is not a desirable obedience.

Psychologically, parents breed guilt by telling their children they sacrificed everything for them, gave them so much, saying, “Look what we are getting in return. You are worthless and ungrateful.” Guilty people are not creative, often not reasonable and are lacking willpower, for their inspiration has been destroyed. Their self-image is at the bottom of the bottom, like rust on the soul. “I’m nobody, I’m nothing. She is right. I don’t appreciate anything, I’m worthless.” These are the thoughts of those who live in this state of mind. True, this is the Kali Yuga in which mothers give birth and then destroy their young. They do it through beating them when they are young and later through defamation of character through cutting insults to keep them “in their place.”

Conformity through threats does not build a loving family or a strong society. To bribe children into submission with sweets or promises that are never meant to be fulfilled is to engender in them an eventual mistrust of their parents and foster rebelliousness coupled with selfish expectations about life. To anger a child at an early age is to place him on the path of retribution toward others later in life. To strike or pinch a child may seem expedient in the confusion of the moment. It may provide a short-term solution. But never forget the long-term karmic price that must be paid. The “I own you, you owe me” attitude is no longer acceptable, and is being replaced by “I love you, you love me,” in the homes of righteous Hindu families who realize that the hurtful methods do not bring positive results.


The Sad Truth Of Hurtfulness

I have been asked, “Should parents never spank a child?” Of course, one should never spank children, ever. Those who are spanked are taught to later punish their children, and this is a vicious cycle. Have you ever seen an animal in its natural habitat abuse its offspring? Does a lion cause blood to flow from its cub, a bird brutally peck its own chick, a cow trample its calf, a whale beach a disobedient calf? How about a dolphin, a dog, a butterfly, a cat? It is only humans who become angered by and hurtfully, sometimes lethally, aggressive toward their offspring.

The wife-husband relationship is where it all begins. The mother and father are karmically responsible for the tenor of society that follows them. An ahimsa couple produces the protectors of the race. Himsa, hurtful, couples produce the destroyers of the race. They are a shame upon humanity. It’s as simple as that. It’s so crucial that it needs to be said more than once. “Himsa, hurtful, couples produce the destroyers of the race. They are a shame upon humanity.”

A five-foot-ten-inch adult beating on a tiny child — what cowardliness. A muscular man slapping a woman who cannot fight back. What cowardliness! Yet another kind of cowardliness belongs to those who stand by, doing nothing to stop known instances of harm and injury in their community. Such crimes, even if the law does not punish, earn a lifetime of imprisonment in the criminal’s karma, because they always know that they watched or knew and said nothing. This sin earns lifetime imprisonment in their own mind. Beating a child destroys his or her faith. It destroys faith in humanity and therefore in religion and in God. If their father and mother beat them, whom are they going to trust throughout their whole life? Child beating is very destructive.

Innocent children who see their father beating their mother or their mother spitefully scratching their father’s body after she emotionally shattered his manhood by provocative insinuations, threats and tongue lashing have at those very moments been given permission to do the same. Of course, we can excuse all of this as being simply karma — the karma of the parents as taught by their parents and the karma of the children born into the family who abuses them. But the divine law of karma cannot be used as permission or an opportunity to be hurtful. Simply speaking, if hurtfulness has been done to you, this does not give you permission to perform the same act upon another. It is dharma that controls karma. It is not the other way around. In Hinduism, the parents are to be the spiritual leaders of their children, not the mental, emotional and physical abusers of their children.

Those sensitive children who see their mother and father working out their differences in mature discussion or in the shrine room through prayer and meditation are at that moment given permission to do the same in their own life when they are older. They become the elite of society, the pillars of strength to the community during times of stress and hardship. These children, when older, will surely uphold the principles of dharma and will not succumb to the temptations of the lower mind.


Instilling No Fear

There is no greater good than a child. Children are entrusted to their parents to be loved, guided and protected, for they are the future of the future. However, children can be a challenge to raise up into good citizenship. There are many positive ways to guide them, such as hugging, kindness, time spent explaining, giving wise direction and setting the example of what you want them to become. Most children were adults not so many years ago, in previous births. The mind they worked to develop through the great school of experience is still there, as are the results of their accomplishments and failures. They have been reborn to continue to know, to understand and to improve themselves and the community they are born into. Parents can help or inhibit this process of evolution. They have a choice.

There are six chakras, or centers of consciousness, above the muladhara chakra, which is the center of memory, at the base of the spine. Above the muladhara lies the chakra of reason. Above that is willpower. There are seven chakras below the muladhara, the first being fear, below it anger and below that jealousy. The choice of each individual parent is to discipline the child to advance him or her upward into reason, willpower, profound understanding and divine love, or downward into fear, anger, distrust, jealousy and selfishness — personal preservation without regard for the welfare of others.

Children have an abundance of energy, and sometimes it can make them rather wild, and this can be extreme if they are consuming too much sugar. How should this be controlled by the parents? When children run around excitedly, refer to their energy as Siva’s prana within them. Congratulate them each time they exercise control over it, but don’t punish them when they don’t. Instead, explain that it is important that they learn to control and use their energies in positive ways. Have them sit with you and breathe deeply. Teach them to feel energy. Go into the shrine room and sit with them until their pranas become quiet, and then help them observe the difference. To hit them or to yell at them when they are rowdy is only sending more aggravated prana into them from you. Another technique is to withdraw your prana from them and tell them you are retiring to another room until they calm down.

Beating, spanking, pinching, slapping children and inflicting upon their astral bodies the vibration of angry words are all sinfully destructive to their spiritual unfoldment and their future. Parents who thus force their child to fear and hate them have lost their chance to make him or her a better person by talking, because they have closed the child’s ears. Those who beat or pinch or hurt or slap or whip their children are the enemies to religion, because they are pushing the next generation into lower consciousness. Is that religious society? No! Such behavior is not even common in the animal kingdom. It’s below the animal kingdom. But that is what we face in the world today. That helps explain why there are so many problems in this modern age.

Sadly, in this day and age, beating the kids is just a way of life in many families. Nearly everyone was beaten as a child, so they beat their kids, and their kids will beat their kids, and those kids will beat their kids. Older brothers will beat younger brothers. Brothers will beat sisters. You can see what families are creating in this endless cycle of violence: little warriors. One day a war will come up, and it will be easy for a young person who has been beaten without mercy to pick up a gun and kill somebody without conscience, and even take pleasure in doing so. What kind of society do we have? In the US today, a murder is committed every thirty-three minutes, an assault every five seconds, a rape every ninety seconds. A man beats his wife every fifty-one seconds. A woman beats her husband every five and a half minutes. A 12- to 15-year-old child is assaulted every thirty-one seconds, and one is raped every eight minutes. Will the violence ever stop? No. It can’t, unless a radical change is made. We must stop the war in the home. It is as simple as that.

I recently attended a ceremony in which criminals being released from the Kauai jail gave testimony before leaders of the community that they would not repeat their crime. With tears in their eyes, all said they had been beaten by their family in early life, driven out of the home, into drugs, excessive alcohol and into crime and finally jail. Each one had the same sad story to tell.

I instruct the lay missionaries of my international Hindu church: “Talk to the children. Ask if their parents beat them, and then talk to the parents. At first they will say, ‘Oh, once or twice,’ but if you persist, you may find it’s much worse than that.” Think about it, even if a child is only hit once a month, that adds up to nearly two hundred beatings over fifteen years. I challenge child-beaters, “Would you beat somebody your same weight and your same height with the same readiness?” They would say no, because that’s against the law. It’s called assault. But hitting a little kid, is that also not against the law? More and more, it is.


Laws Against Child-Beating

In England, in 1996, a twelve-year-old boy who had been caned by his stepfather made headlines in a human rights court by challenging British laws that permit parents to “use corporal punishment, but only to the extent of reasonable chastisement.” Hundreds of children marched through central London on April 15, 2000, to demand an end to smacking. They ended their protest at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the Prime Minister, where they handed in a letter urging him to ban all physical punishment of children.

Smacking children under any circumstance has been banned in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Croatia, Latvia, Italy, Israel, Cyprus and Germany. Progress toward legal reforms are underway elsewhere: in the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, Scotland, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Mexico, Namibia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Republic of Ireland and Belgium. In India battering is widely considered perfectly acceptable and is encouraged in homes, as well as in schools, ashramas and gurukulas, among all castes and classes. However, the Supreme Court of Delhi has recently banned physical punishment of children in the state. In the US, all states except Minnesota permit parents to use “reasonable” corporal punishment on children, and the law for schools, institutions, foster care and day care facilities varies from state to state, with even caning still allowed in some.

In schools, happily, the trend is away from corporal punishment. Almost every industrialized country in the world, and many pre-industrial countries as well, now prohibit it in school. See http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org for an up-to-date list. In the US, twenty-seven states plus the District of Columbia have bans, with legislation underway in many more. The national newspaper USA Today wrote in 1990, “As millions of children across the USA prepare to go back to school, teachers are laying down their weapons — the paddles they use to dole out corporal punishment. A teacher does best armed only with knowledge. Corporal punishment is a cruel and obsolete weapon.” In Canada, only the provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick and the Territory of Yukon have banned corporal punishment in schools.

In London, in response to a move to reinstitute beating, public school teachers said they would not cane even if lobbying by conservative members of parliament was successful, while Christian bishops and priests are trying very hard to reinstitute beating in their schools. Abolition of corporal punishment in African schools is also quickly spreading. A high-level Zambian court declared corporal punishment in schools to be unconstitutional, and the Kenyan Minister of Education, in March, 2001, discarded sections of the law that permitted corporal punishment. Laws, however, are no guarantee of protection. Consider the nation of Mauritius, where laws have prohibited battering of children since 1957 but have never been enforced, and children are mercilessly abused in schools to this very day.

I’ve had Hindus tell me, “Slapping or caning children to make them obey is just part of our culture.” I don’t think so. Hindu culture is a culture of kindness. Hindu culture teaches ahimsa, noninjury, physically, mentally and emotionally. It preaches against himsa, hurtfulness. It may be British Christian culture — which for 150 years taught Hindus in India the Biblical adage “To spare the rod is to spoil the child” — but it’s not Hindu culture to beat the light out of the eyes of children, to beat the trust out of them, to beat the intelligence out of them and force them to go along with everything in a mindless way and wind up doing a routine, uncreative job the rest of their life, then take their built-up anger out on their children and beat that generation down to nothingness. This is certainly not the culture of an intelligent future.

Nor is an overly permissive approach. A senior sadhu from the Swaminarayan Fellowship’s 654-member order of sadhus, who visited us recently echoed our thoughts on child-beating and emphasized the need for firm, even stern, correction and teaching right from wrong. “Parents these days fail to impart what is good and what is not good,” he said. “As a result, a very crude society is being developed.”

I advise parents: if you are guilty of beating your children, apologize to them, show remorse and perform the child-beating penance, bala tadayati prayashchitta, to atone. Gain their friendship back, open their heart and never hit them again. Open channels of communication, show affection. Even if you never beat your children, be alert in your community to those who do and bring them to your understanding that a happy, secure family is free from violence.


Penance and Reconciliation

Those who have been physically abused are as much in need of penance to mitigate the experience as are those who abused them. The penance, or prayashchitta, for abusees is called the flower penance, or pushpa prayashchitta. It has been successfully performed by many children and adults to mitigate the hate, fear, resentment and dislike toward the parents, teachers or other adults who beat them, by hitting, pinching, slapping, caning, spanking or other methods of corporal punishment. This penance is very simple to perform, but often very difficult to carry out. Each person — child or adult — who has been beaten at any time, no matter how long ago, is enjoined to put up in the shrine room a picture of the person or persons by whom they were beaten, be it a father, mother or teacher. Then, every day for thirty-one consecutive days, without missing a single day, he or she must place a flower in front of each picture, and sincerely forgive the person in heart and mind. If no picture is available, then some symbol or possession can be substituted, or even a paper with his or her name written on it.

When it becomes difficult to offer the flower of forgiveness, because hurtful memories come up from the subconscious mind, the abused individual must perform the vasana daha tantra, writing down the hurtful memories and burning the paper in a trash can. This tantra releases the deep emotions within the individual who finds that he or she does not like or deeply resents the parent or other relative, school teacher or principal. After writing about these experiences, expressing in words the emotions felt on many pieces of paper, the area of the subconscious mind holding the suppressed anger and resentment gradually disappears as the papers are seen burning to ashes in a garbage can.

Upon recognizing and admitting their fear or hatred of their abuser, they must deal with the pangs of pain that arise each day by mystically turning the slap, beating or spanking into a beautiful flow of prana by placing a flower before the picture with a heart full of love. Each day while performing the “flowers of forgiveness prayashchitta,” the individual should mentally approach the tormentor — the person or persons who beat him or her — and say, “I forgive you. I don’t hold anything against you, for I know that you gave back to me the karma that I set in motion by committing similar misdeeds at a prior time.” If possible, this act of verbal forgiveness should be done in person at least once during the thirty-one days, ideally face to face, but at least by phone, if the person is still on this Earth plane.

Of course, for most it’s much easier to pass on the slap or beating to someone else. Parents often hit their own child, or abuse another person in order to “get it out of their system.” That slap has to go someplace, and turning it into a flower is very, very difficult. This prayashchitta brings up all those awful memories. This discipline brings up all the pain. It brings all the injustice to the surface of the mind. Nevertheless, this tantra, or method, has been a great help to many. It is difficult to forgive, and some had to work very diligently within themselves to face up to being able to place that little flower lovingly before the picture of a parent or a teacher. Many have tried and failed again and again when deep-seated resentment emerged, but finally succeeded in true forgiveness, whose byproduct is forgetfulness. They all feel so much better today. Now they are responsive, creative and happy inside. Yes, hitting people is wrong — and children are people, too.
In Defense Of Battering!

There is an old saying in Tamil that is often recited before or after slapping or beating a child: Adium uthaium uthavu vathu pol annan thambi uthava maddar. It means, “Even the help of one’s younger and older brothers cannot compare to the benefit of being kicked and beaten.” It seems this proverb, printed in certain school books, is taught to students.

This makes me ask the Hindu community worldwide: What fearful expectations are we nurturing in young minds by repeating such a cruel, stupid edict? Study until midnight to avoid a plastic rod across the back? Obey the teacher or get hit with a strap or cane, then slapped in the face at home for getting beaten in school? Are there more shlokas promoting himsa, violence, in the home, more guidelines for corporal punishment? Is it our intention to pass this despicable attitude from generation to generation? Unfortunately it seems to be so. My young Asian monks can recite the above verse from childhood memories. Parents seeking to defend corporal punishment of children will also quote a saying from Manu Dharma Shastra (7.198), “Sama, dana, bheda, danda,” which means “using kind words (or negotiation), bribery, sowing dissension, and punishment (or striking).” These are the four successive steps in achieving success against an enemy of the realm. It is advice for kings, not parents. I, for one, hope the rules will change in this nuclear-family age, for there are more seeming reasons to hit and fewer places where a beaten child can find solace and love, without the presence of grandma, auntie and others.

The working mother slaps her children at home because they add stress to her already stressed-out nerve system. Father has a tough day on the job and takes it out on his son’s back or face with the hand, strap or cane. Does it give a sadistic joy to hear young children cry in pain and humiliation? Does it enhance the feeling of “I’m in charge here; you are not!”?

In the past century we’ve had two world wars and hundreds of smaller ones. Killers come from among those who have been beaten. The slap and pinch, the sting of the paddle, the lash of the strap, the blows of a cane must manifest through those who receive them into the lives of others. But there is a price to pay. The abuser one day becomes the abused. This is a law of life seen manifesting every day. It is called karma. Action gives an equal or more intense reaction, depending on the intent and the emotion behind it. Corporal punishment is arguably a prelude to gangs on the streets, those who will riot on call, and others who suffer in silence and hide behind a desk or in a routine profession, fearing reprimand and punishment, never talking back or offering an opinion.
Time Out And Time In

Is there a covert consciousness that accounts for the fact that for forty-eight years, until early 1996, I didn’t even know that children of my international congregation were being beaten? Perhaps. Hindus know it’s wrong in their heart of hearts, but are blindly obeying the cultural attitude expressed in this himsa, violent, senseless proverb, and thoughtlessly reacting to their own stress and anger. They don’t even look for a better way. Well, there is a better way.

It has been over fifty years since my ministry started, way back in 1949. Now, in its maturity, there are uncounted encounters to rely upon, much experience to guide the fellowship and much energy to march into the future of futures. Among the concerns, one has become crucial to parents, who ask, “Are there better ways to raise our children? We are entirely dedicated to ahimsa, noninjury, physically, emotionally and mentally. But how is this lofty ideal possible to follow when troubled by emotions that are too easily released by taking them out, in the fire of the moment, on those we love? How can misdeeds that happen in the home be absolved, and examples set that prevent their repetition generation after generation?”

For parents seeking effective nonviolent alternatives, they are readily available today in excellent books. One strategy educators recommend is called time out, one minute for each year of the child’s age; hence ten minutes for a ten-year-old. This tells the child that if he doesn’t behave in a reasonable way, he will be separated from other people. Time out, sitting quietly in a room, works best in conjunction with its opposite, time in. Time in is quality time spent with the child in an activity he enjoys, and just being together. Time in includes letting children share their feelings, positive or negative, with parents lending a receptive, understanding ear.

There are new methods and new principles, such as in Nandinatha Sutra 138: “Siva’s followers never govern youth through fear. They are forbidden to spank or hit them, use harsh or angry words, neglect or abuse them. They know you can’t make children do better by making them feel worse.” This goes along with the innovative approach being taken by psychologists, sociologists and educators, in consideration of the turmoil that engulfs today’s world. The truth is being accepted that methods that rely on what experts call “punishment power” — scolding, taking away privileges, spanking — do not elicit more desirable behavior in children or adults. Rather, they produce hostility, resentment and the desire for retaliation. In communities around the world, our family missionaries are conducting study groups on Dr. Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline as a public service to help parents raise their children without violence.

Raising Children

Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2

I will utter a prayer for such concord among family members as binds together the Gods, among whom is no hatred. Be courteous, planning and working in harness together. Approach, conversing pleasantly, like-minded, united.


Be Patient And Caring

There is an old saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and this is wise in certain respects. We are thinking of the young adults who will not follow the traditional family patterns of their well-raised Hindu parents. Admittedly, they can be made to fear their parents and be forced to obey for a time. The problem with such an approach is that it usually ends up with the sons or daughters losing respect for them and leaving home as soon as they are able. Often parents take the authoritarian approach, not realizing there are alternatives, well-proven techniques of a more positive discipline. In actual practice, it is more useful to work with children little by little as they grow and mature. They can be reasoned with and will be very open if the parents show a definite interest in their cross-cultural way of life and their natural inclinations, one of which is to keep in with their peers. To lament the modern young adult’s behavior, to merely criticize it, is not going to help, and may cause, in the case of sensitive children, irreparable damage.

My advice to parents has always been to stay close to their children, but at the same time give them some space to grow and mature in today’s world. Today’s world is not all that bad. But children must be taught how to live in it — what to be wary of, whom to trust, whom to befriend and marry, how to proceed in business, social life, education, career upscaling, religious life and on into the raising of their own family. So, keep the communication lines open.

True, today’s world has its challenges, its temptations and definite drawbacks, but it is today’s world and the world of tomorrow. We can’t ignore that fact. We cannot recreate yesterday’s world or wish for the return of olden days. We have to move forward and teach the children to move the forces of the outside world for a better world in the tomorrows that are to come. So, be wise and pass your deeply profound Hindu culture and wisdom along to the children so they can make proper decisions for themselves. This is what they will do anyway, make their own decisions, so they might as well be trained early on how to do it right. Who better to teach them this than their own parents? True, times have changed, and things may never be as they were, but the religious and cultural traditions of the former generation are still valid and must be passed on gently yet firmly to the modern children, educated to think for themselves rather than simply carry out orders from elders. Don’t close the doors on them. This will not help society or the family unit. Nor will it fulfill the dharma of parenthood.

Parents of all ages and all cultures have always worried about their teenagers, so take heart. Don’t give up on them. They are the future. Some must learn by their own mistakes, while others, more sensitive, thoughtful and loving, who are polite enough to at least listen, can learn by the mistakes and successes of their parents. So, communicate your wisdom to them; whether they listen or not makes no difference for the time being. Your message, given with conviction but without anger or resentment, sinks deep into their subconscious mind, making a positive samskara. To accomplish this best, give it just before bedtime, when they are more open and less defensive. It will be their last thought before sleep. Don’t rant and rail during the day. That will simply sow the seeds of long-lasting animosity and create division within the family. At night before sleep — this is the key to getting your message through. Also, before sleep, all differences must be resolved, lest they become unwanted vasanas to be worked through later in this life or the next.


Training in Energy Use

Another way to communicate is when mom serves her children meals. While they are eating their favorite food served by their favorite person, she gently speaks some loving advice for their deportment, or a gentle correction, in the right ear, not the left. These timely suggestions, well implanted at that very human psychological moment, are absorbed in the subconscious as the meal digests. Five decades ago in Sri Lanka, I learned of this shrewd Hindu ingenuity by which women have been known to turn an election by whispering in their husband’s ear whom he should vote for, just as he is putting into his mouth his favorite morsels of food. This wisdom is one of the positive laws behind Nandinatha Sutra 99, which requires the wife to serve her husband food, enjoying her own meal only after he and the children have been well satisfied. Politicking? Well, yes! of the highest womanly order. She has her ways. Yes, the clever wife is indeed the queen of her castle. The rishis tell us there are eighty-four ways a woman can influence her man and keep him on — or lead him off — the path of dharma. Some call these wiles; others know them as the feminine siddhis.

It is the parents’ duty to provide a sound education in the use and misuse of the life forces, the sexual energies, and teach their children how to control them as they grow into adulthood. Only in this way will they have the knowledge required to face the challenges of their own instinctive/intellectual nature.

There are two main areas that parents can feel free to speak about with their boys and girls as they are growing up from a very young age. These are prana and the chakras. Once your children have a clear idea of what prana actually is and what the chakras actually are, they will be confident in lifting up the sexual pranas into the higher chakras when puberty is upon them.

You who are parents know that this prana will increase within your physical body until you are about forty years of age. After that, the prana increases in power within the mental body until you are about the age of seventy. Then the prana continues to increase within the spiritual body of the soul. Carefully explain time and time again to your children that it is up to them to control their prana, their life force, which is the total energy of their body. Until forty years of age, this is done through education, exercise and hard work. After forty until seventy, this is done through study, caring for those younger than themselves, community service and additional education. After seventy this is done through worship, sadhana, tapas and deep meditation.

When explaining the chakras to your children, refer to these force centers as lovely flowers within them that need to be fed by their vital energies. Teach them to breathe deeply and lift the sexual energy from the lower chakras to the higher ones and hold it there, as if to feed and water these flowers. Teach them that chakras are also rooms of consciousness, and the energy we put into the chakras awakens this consciousness and makes us very alert and intelligent.

In other words, as soon as your children can understand, you can begin teaching them about their energies. In this way, you give them the tools to handle their sexual nature so that their forces do not run away with their mind during puberty. In this way, you will open channels to talk freely with them about sex when the time comes. Many parents give absolutely no guidance in this area to their children, who then have to learn from other children or from the Internet, alone in a room, about this natural function of their life. So, be a wise parent and begin early. Remember, there are only two basic areas to cover: prana and chakras. Your own intuition will guide you as to how to proceed.


Be Firm But Kind

Children respond well to correction, discipline, talking and explaining, and being treated like the intelligent beings that they are. Many parents these days are afraid of their children and dance around them, as if they were things to be avoided. They bribe them with toys and sweets, bow before their every whim and appoint them, by default, the head of the house. Truly, children these days like to be told what to do, but also to be told the reasons why.

The “Obey me because I said so” stance will not work anymore for the Western-educated child. What will work is, “Obey me because this is what our family needs and wants you to do, because we love you and want you to remain a member of this family, and these are the reasons why….” This approach even a truant kid will accept, because he or she still needs to eat, still wants a roof over head, clothes to wear and, in the future, maybe a paid-for education. Less obstinate children will conform because they love their family and intuitively know how to fit in when they are urged to and have been given clear directions, explanations and expectations. Yes, there are children in the Western world who do not throw temper tantrums at home, who are still nice to their elders, who will turn off the TV when asked and even show appreciation for all that their parents have done for them.

Who are the mentors of the home, the kids or the parents? Children raised on bribery or raised in fear will in their future bribe others, subjugate others by instilling fear of their wrath and unruly ways. If you are ambivalent and insecure, your children will not listen to you. This may be embarrassing, but nonetheless true. It is not necessary to let your children go headlong into Western ways. It is not necessary or even helpful to leave them alone to find their own values in life, from the streets, from peers, from people more confused than they are. What is most helpful is for you to share with them the Eternal Path, with all of its values, all of its insight into humanity and Divinity. What is most helpful is for you to spend lots of time with your children. Many parents these days minimize the hours they spend with their kids and don’t even have time for an in-depth conversation anymore. Just “Hello” and “Good-bye” and “Why did you get a low grade on your report card?” Kids need more, more of you, more of your time, more direction and more guidance. Don’t be afraid to give to them what they need most — all of you, not just a token part. Teach them traditional religious and cultural values at an early age. Don’t be afraid that they will be different from the other children. They are already different. They are Hindus, inheritors of India’s fountainhead of mystery and Truth.

An all-pervasive mental disease has come to the planet. It started in the West and is spreading worldwide. It is the modern way that parents talk to their children, by stating a question when actually giving direction or instruction, such as, “Why don’t we all get in the car now?” “Why don’t you put on your coat?” “Don’t you think it’s time for you children to turn off the TV and go to bed?” These kinds of phrases are used in the family homes and in offices throughout the modern world. Children given the choice “Why don’t you?” before the instruction of what to do are disadvantaged. They are forced to make a yes-or-no decision before complying with the request, and sometimes it might be “no.” When undecided, children comply reluctantly. Giving these kinds of choices to young people, which is being done today even at the five-year-old level and younger, is a new way of raising them which puts parents at a disadvantage. They become beholden to their child’s every mood, thought and preference.


The “Why Don’t You” Approach

It does not take long for even very young children raised in the “why don’t you” method to catch on and understand that they are permitted, indeed expected, to make a personal choice in all that happens in family life. An aggressive few of these children will take over the home and begin giving orders to the parents, unkindly, abusively. Most often, when choices are given, they take the opposite point of view. When you ask a child, “Why don’t we turn off the TV?” he may answer, “No, I’m not turning off the television, because the program I’m watching has not ended yet.” When you suggest, “Shall we all get into the car?” he will respond, “I am not getting in the car. You all go. I’m staying home.” If you then force him to change his decision after asking him to make a choice, you are considered unreasonable. When this happens, respect is lost and is hard to regain.

Is the child being disobedient? Well, yes! And well, no. Yes, by responding in opposition to the expected answers, and no because the question itself invites them to decide, and one possible response is to refuse. Such questions from adults tell the child that each one in the household is an independent entity, free to go his or her own way. The child is being taught how to do this by the parents themselves, by the way they phrase their directions. Some parents want their kids out of the home, on their own, supporting themselves. Others don’t.

There are only two ways: teach dependence or teach independence. Independence should be taught when the child has become an adult and is educated well enough to make it on his own, not before. Then he is responsible and will do right by his parents when they are older, because he understands dharma, duty, because he depended upon and flourished under their direction, their love and their wisdom for oh-so-many years. Don’t let them leave home too early and then continue to learn by their own mistakes. What a sad and often painful way to learn. Don’t let them face up to this. Protect them while you can. Simply don’t give choices. They will never notice the change in your approach and will appreciate the security of positive direction: “Let’s all get into the car. Come along.” “It is time now to turn off the TV. We are all going to bed.” Keep affirming that “Our family is a team. We move together. We are loyal to each other and tell each other everything, keeping no secrets. We will always stay together and care for one another.” This should come up at every opportunity, at least three times a week.

What is the binding force that keeps youths in the home? Love. If you love your children completely, they won’t want to leave. You won’t be able to force them out of the house, even if you try. You are bound together by bands of steel made of love. Within this loving relationship, you can guide them and watch over them and help them to live a good life without getting into trouble. Three hugs a day keeps trouble away. How can you apparently practice Hindu bhakti, which is love of God, Gods and guru, and not have enough love in your heart for your son or daughter to make them want to be close to you? If you don’t love your children, they will find someone else to love them.


Financial Independence

In summary, Hindu parents should make decisions for their children and refrain from giving them choices until they are educated and about to leave the home. Offering children freedom with money has similar problems. By giving adolescents financial independence too soon, parents breach the protective atmosphere of the home and invite exploration of who knows what in the world. It begins with an allowance that they can squander any way they want. They soon learn that by putting heavy demands upon parents they can get more. Then parents add gifts for good behavior, a form of bribery not recommended. In training adolescents, any money they handle should be accounted for and the change returned to and counted by the caring parents. This teaches honesty, accuracy and cooperation with the core group, the parents.

Many times I have seen an allowance lead to a desire for a summer job or to work after school, more independence, more time away from home and family. The summer job taxes the child when he or she should be playing, resting, going to school or doing wholesome extracurricular reading. The early-morning paper route or the job after school takes precious time away from education. Adolescents should not be allowed to handle their own money or to earn an income until their high school education is nearly complete. Then any money earned, the full amount, should be given to the parents, and all spending money accounted for. This will mold the young adult into a frugal, income-producing person.

One choice young people can and must participate in is their profession. A jyotisha shastri, Vedic astrologer, will help in this. In principle, the karma of the child is to accept the profession of the parent. He had a choice and could have been born into another family. He chose you. So, don’t compromise him or her, and be sure that you have unanimous agreement with all members of the family when the choice of profession or occupation is made. The ideal, of course, is for the children to work in the family business and develop the wealth that can be passed along to others in the family, generation after generation. This is the way Hinduism has persisted through trial and tribulation, siege and battle, oppression and subjugation for the past 10,000 years. Let’s not allow it to stop now. It is all up to you, the mom and dad, and how you phrase your direction, how you discipline with love and patience as their growing-up process continues. Raise your children right, and you will be rewarded by the justly fair law of karma when you are on the other side of life, about to experience moksha. Don’t raise your children correctly, and you will be born again into an unwholesome, adharmic household and learn by feeling how they felt under your neglect.


Responsible Chaperoning

I described the importance of chaperoning in Nandinatha Sutra 149: “Siva’s followers accept the serious responsibility of guiding the private and social life of their children. They chaperone and monitor friendships to help ensure that young ones grow up safe and celibate.” An Indian lady once told me what she considered to be her most important duty in life: that she would never, ever let her daughter out of her sight until she was married and well settled. Someone asked, “Don’t you trust her?” The lady’s answer was, “No.”

Why do swamis of traditional orders like ours go out only in pairs? Is it because we don’t trust them? We trust the soul and we trust them individually, but we don’t trust worldly people they might encounter who would love nothing more than to deter them from their dharma. We follow the ancient traditions so that problems don’t arise.

Many parents are faced with the dilemma of sending children off to college for a higher education at the risk of their exposure to undesirable influences. I tell my devotees, if you want your son and daughter to attend the university, you should, if at all possible, move into a home near that campus so you can be close to them and keep them from getting into trouble, share meals with them, monitor their friendships. You will be investing a lot of money to put them through school, and if you are not there, you will be investing a lot of worry.

If sending them to a far-off school is unavoidable, and you cannot move to a home nearby, remind them to at least perform simple puja every day and tune into a picture of you, and of the family guru and the Gods of our beautiful religion. The object of going to college, you can explain, is to learn what they need to learn and come out the other side as a professional, able to make their way in the world. So, explain to them that they are not going to college to make friends, to join sororities or fraternities, or to get side-tracked in any way by the temptations of the world as it is today. Encourage them to treat everyone the same, with a happy smile, to not take sides, to not like one person more than another.

There is a wonderful lady from the Tamilian community who sent her two sons off to the University of California, and every day, to stay close, she cooked a meal for them, packaged that meal and sent it by courier to their apartment 400 miles away. Another pattern that has worked in our congregation is for young people to marry and then, as a married couple, move near a university for the husband to attend school. Then he is naturally chaperoned by his wife as they grow up together.

Many children don’t follow their parents’ religion, don’t want to be sheltered or restricted and want to leave home in their teens and go off on their own. I say that if you have really made the religious teachings a part of your life, you will naturally be able to convince your family and friends of those wonderful truths. Your youth will see the wisdom of not going out without a chaperone, be it an adult or a trusted peer. If you can’t convince your family of the teachings, that shows that they are just intellectual thoughts that in practice don’t mean anything to you.

I watch for those in my international congregation who can do this, who are deeply involved, active and committed members who can bring others along the path that they themselves have trod. And I watch for those, indifferent and apathetic, who can’t and are just hanging on because of the social benefits or the mystique.


Our Young Missionaries

All of the young people here today, each and every one of you, must be proud that you are living the Saiva Dharma. You must be proud to be Saivites, proud that you know this great God personally. Now, this is not an egotistical kind of pride which sets you apart from everyone. It is a pride of humility which makes you very compassionate toward all. Stand strong for Saivism. It is your duty to help spread the Saiva Dharma throughout the world, to let each one hear about Siva, about the great Mahadeva Ganesha, about the great Mahadeva Murugan. Let them accept or reject, as they choose, but first they must hear your message. You are all the young missionaries of our religion, the young missionaries of Saivite Hinduism. You must study this religion most diligently. Study hard so that you can turn the minds of others towards goodness, towards selflessness, toward Godliness. You must study very, very hard, very diligently, committing the Saiva Dharma to memory so that when you are asked questions about your religion you have a ready and convincing answer and can give forth that answer with confidence. You must be strong, for there are many more temptations in the world today than when your parents and grandparents were raised. Those who are young nowadays face far more temptations than ever before, especially from the Western world.

Proceed with confidence and with courage, and your life will be a strength to others who are waiting and longing for your message. I ask each of you young adults and children here tonight to grow up tall and proud of our Saivite religion. How do you do this? Through discipline and obedience. Nothing was ever accomplished on this Earth without these two qualities. Be self-disciplined, cultivate self-control. Obey your gurus. Obey your mothers. Obey your fathers. Obey your elders. Obey your Saivite teachers. Don’t be influenced by Western ways. Western ways are based on a Christian belief structure. If you do all of this, you will become the leaders of the Saivite Hindu temple tradition.

Religious learning is the greatest learning, the only permanent learning. All else is transitory and changing. Religion is the knowledge of the soul. God Siva created your soul. Your mother and father created your body, brought you into this world. But you create your own experiences in this life from the sum total of experiences in your past lives. You came to this Earth for one purpose: to learn of your religion. You are on this Earth for the evolution of your soul. You are not here to earn money. You are not here to gratify yourself through excesses. You are not here to fight with each other. You are not here to accumulate material conveniences. You are here to learn of and then to fulfill your religion. It is knowledge of religion in your life that makes the soul evolve. So, learn your religion fully, properly, intelligently, and it will guide you through this life into a better birth or on into moksha, liberation from earthly existence.

Divorce

Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2
Tags: , , ,

Dwell in this home; never be parted! Enjoy the full duration of your days, with sons and grandsons playing to the end, rejoicing in your home to your heart’s content.


Marriage Is Forever

There is a breakdown that has been under way among all of us some time all over the world. Complaints as well as suggestions come in daily to my publisher’s desk. These are some of the typical problems: mothers are no longer teaching righteousness, Vedic Dharma, worship and puja to their children, for fear their little ones won’t fit into the alien cultures in which they are living. That’s one. Fathers are no longer taking their sons into the family business or profession, but giving them choices of their own, for fear of being regarded as the “dominant” parent figure and not fitting in with the society in which they are living. That’s another. There are more.

Children are orphaned in their own homes because the minds of both mother and father are in the work-a-day world in which the children play no part. Kids content themselves within the asuric realms of video arcades and TV. Families have given up dharma and even the hope of moksha, liberation from rebirth. Instead, they are immersed in the insatiable search for artha (wealth) and kama (enjoyment) and the many other magnetic pulls, so that they, too, are able to blend into modern society.

Hindu people, we are told in many e-mails, have almost all become passive followers, with few active leaders among them. No one wants to stand out over another, lest he be harshly criticized and put down. Many moderners fear openly affirming the dharma if it conflicts with modern society. Society as we know it today is the doctrine of materialism governed by anarchy. Lay down a rule, and someone will break it, no matter what it is. Are we in the Kali Yuga?

There is one institution that there is still hope in saving. It has been cherished in scripture, in living cultures, in all the major religions for thousands of years. It is the precious institution of marriage. It is the binding, contractual agreement between a man and woman who have come together to take on the responsibility of birthing, raising and educating a new generation. How are we going to have a brave new world, a new world order, a new age, based on anarchy within the family itself?

Yet, here, too, Hindus are taking their examples from those who do not understand or observe dharma; they are seeing divorce as a solution instead of a problem.

When the institution of marriage breaks down, everyone suffers. We see this happening all around us. A husband and wife bound by holy sacraments are psychically attached to each other. To separate for a month, a week or even for a day can be painful on the part of one or both. They reach out to one another during the time of physical absence in dreams and longing. How painful then is their permanent separation? How much anguish does it bring to their beloved children, whose wounds never really heal? And how is it that only the priest, a person who invokes God and the Gods, can sanctify a marriage, and that a court judge, a man of the world, can cancel that divine contractual agreement? Impossible. Only in the Kali Yuga.

A long and joyous life is theirs who remain firmly on the faultless path of the control of the five senses. There are still a few elders left today who speak out, whether listened to or not. Their fire of righteous indignation, their love for dharma, is making an impression upon the younger generation and their parents alike. We appeal to these elders to take courage and proclaim the ancient values, whether their children and grandchildren listen to them or not. Some part of them will be hearing. Preach the dharma. There is little to lose and much to gain. We appeal to elders to speak against divorce, to patiently work to harmonize matrimonial tensions and diffuse difficult family situations.


Drawbacks Of Divorce

Divorce only begins new problems. Is a divorce similar to going out of business? Or bankruptcy? Yes, because in both cases everyone is the loser. The employees are losers, the children are losers, the suppliers are losers; everyone is a loser, and everyone takes sides. In the case of the failing business, the employees take sides, the partnership breaks up, the partners take sides, and their friends take sides. In case of a marriage, the friends of a husband take his side, the friends of a wife take her side, and there is a permanent division. Sometimes the courts take the side of the children, and the children are divided. It is the breakdown of the community, it is the breakdown of society, and it is the creation of a lot of kukarma that has to be worked out in this or probably in a future life. There’s another great loss in the case of a marriage that breaks up or a business that breaks up, and the loss is trust in the individuals concerned. They lose their ability to trust each other, to trust themselves; and, of course, no one trusts them.

Couples have been taught to look to psychiatrists, psychologists, family counselors and attorneys for solutions to marital problems. But who can give better solutions than our qualified elders who know the karmas, who know the adharma involved in divorce? Their experience has great value. Find a swami, sadhu, guru, a jyotisha shastri, someone who can help tighten the bonds of family love and trust and make this person an integral part of your family. Every family needs its spiritual preceptor to strengthen the support group, who in turn hold the family together when hard times come. The plea is to hang on to one thing: the family life. Marriage is forever.

Indian culture has within it all the solutions to maintain proper relationships of a man being manly and a woman being womanly. Today men are confronted by women who have, often out of necessity, nurtured their masculine qualities. Naturally, such couples will fight, compete and suffer. In my life-long ministry, those who are not getting along well in marriage come occasionally for advice. We work it out according to ancient shastric principles that transcend the immediate problems. Marriage is like a voyage by ship. Sometimes the going is easy and sunny, and sometimes there is bad weather to endure. But at all times it’s advisable to stay with the ship and not jump overboard. My experience is that the bad karmas, or kukarmas, as well as harsh astrology and difficult attitudes, are always finally overcome, so long as no one gives up the hope and the effort. The marriage continues. The word divorce is never uttered or seen as a solution in the hundreds of extended families who look to me as preceptor.

Those who don’t take such advice are overwhelmed by the tugs and pulls of pranic forces between them stimulated by hatred and confusion, tears, remorse, unresolvable misunderstandings which have gone on unattended for fifteen or twenty years. Couples who did not listen to my advice to not end their marriage ten years ago still speak to me today of their separation as though it all happened a week ago. They admit that divorce was no solution, only a postponement of problems that still linger, which could have been solved and still have to be. Those who have gone through the experience know that divorce and remarriage is just trading one set of problems for another. We have seen that divorcees remarry others with the same traits, temperament, faults, failings and even looks as their previous spouse. No one, however clever they may be, can run away from their birth karmas. No, divorce is no solution. Separation, though better, is still not the solution. Both are only the beginning of new problems.


Unofficial Divorce

In Hinduism marriage is still highly respected, and so divorce is a sign of failure, because life is a spiritual journey and failing to fulfill that journey is a weakness. In a sense, it is a crime against one’s own karma and dharma in this life. It is like saying, “I can’t do what I came here to do.” Divorce brings loss of social position and respect in the community. By getting divorced, one betrays a sacred covenant, a betrayal that weakens the whole of society.

There is divorce, and there is divorce. I have observed through the years that a modern form of Hindu divorce has become a part of Indian culture. It is a clever way to not hurt the feelings of elders, parents and relatives, or to avoid incurring the community stigma of divorce. A modern form of Hindu divorce, it seems, has cleverly been conceived in the following way. The husband is under great stress, a stress that is not natural for a human being, a stress based on living up to materialistic expectations. He comes home psychically wounded, tired, worried. If things do not go well at home, he may verbally or even physically abuse his wife and family, blaming her for everything bad that happens to him. Sensing his failure to cope with all of this, he secretly wishes he did not have to face his weakness.

He learns from compatriots that the Big Solution to the marriage problem is to get away from the wife and the kids. He is advised to accept a job in another part of the world, knowing that his association with his family will become distant and tenuous, and he will no longer have to confront his wife, who has become his conscience. He knows he will hardly have to speak with her, rarely visit her and will be able to avoid, most of the time, the challenges the marriage has brought to him which he is unwittingly unable or unwilling to resolve. He knows, too, that he won’t have to face the community’s disdain that a formal divorce would bring, and that he can avoid the financial pains of alimony.

After reorganizing his professional life, the husband takes a job in a far-off land. He returns home for brief periods and only occasionally, thus effecting a separation without the expensive inconvenience and social stigma of formal divorce proceedings. He assures everyone, mostly himself, that this is the right thing to do, since he is making more money. Of course, money will never make up for his absence, never buy the children their childhood back. Lacking in fatherly guidance, the children, are running wild, turning promiscuous, later to repeat the example of neglect that dad is teaching them. No one wins.

Husband and wife should always be together. If there is an unavoidable separation, he should call her daily, ask how her day was, inquire about the children. After all, it is the harmonizing of their pranas that will create through their children a brave new world, a new world order and a new age.


Whom to Hold Responsible?

HINDUISM TODAY ran a quiz about divorce on the women’s page. The subject struck a nerve among readers. Here’s a question that a young Hindu asked about coping with divorce.

Question: My mother and father got a divorce, and I really resent it. It happened seven years ago when I was sixteen, and almost every day I regret what I missed by not having my mom and dad together in a loving home. How can I deal with the resentment, Gurudeva?

Answer: It’s not easy experiencing the separation and divorce of one’s mom and dad, at any age — six, sixteen or thirty-one. There is a feeling of emptiness; something is lost, never to be regained. The feelings and thoughts of blame grow, they do not diminish, as the years go by. But look at it this way. Any marriage, yours maybe, needs a loving, strong support group that wants to help the young couple, or the older couple, work out their problems rather than avoid them through separation and finally divorce. Basically, when there are children involved as a result of a marriage, there really is no divorce — only separation. Every marriage is truly irrevocable, carved in the akashic records when the first child’s umbilical cord is cut. Thereafter, there can be no separation without a great deal of pain and unforeseen karmic repercussions.

Upon whom should the children put the blame? Put it where it truly belongs. Put it on the support groups — the mothers, the grandmothers, the grandfathers, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the next-door neighbors, the business partners and friends of the family. Everyone in the community shares the tragedy of the home’s breaking up — the members of the temple society, the marriage counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, the hairdresser, the gym instructor and the attorney were all responsible to become part of the solution rather than part of the dissolution of the marriage. Put the blame on them, not on your mom and dad.

An extended family that loves one another and looks out for the good of all, a religious group of loving souls who pride themselves on low percentage of divorce in their community or congregation — these and more are all the people who can or should see the tension growing between husband and wife and who have the ability to diffuse it at the early stages. Don’t blame your mother and father. If blame is to be cast, blame all those people that surrounded your family who were not alert enough, good souls that they may be, to help diffuse the tension between your parents.

Obviously, the support group has failed their marriage. You must admit that failure, lest it drag you down to its own depth. Be part of the solution. Don’t perpetuate the problem. Don’t make them feel guilty. For your own peace of mind, transfer the blame, the hurt feelings, the pain and resentment over to the relatives, the community and national value system. Become an agent of goodwill. Have kind words to say about dad to mom and kind words to say about mom to dad. Resist the impulse to criticize one to the other and cause an even greater separation within the family. They are not to blame. Society is.

If you take sides, you are creating bad karma, kukarma, for yourself, to be faced later. So treat each one the same. Don’t make deals, don’t deceive them or keep secrets from them, lest you psychically alienate yourself from the home. Maybe, just maybe, you can help them to understand and reconcile their differences if you follow this advice. Maybe, just maybe, time and the forces of nature will all come to your aid, and your parents will remarry and you will all become a family again. Don’t perpetuate the problem. Be part of the solution. Work with it. You, their child, may be their very best hope.


Support at Crucial Times

When the tensions of the burdens of life begin to build, if friends, relatives and community begin to pull away rather than come forward to help, mom and dad are rendered helpless, absolutely helpless. Certain crises are predictable in the course of a marriage. When the first child is born, everything changes. This is the first crisis in their life. He lost his sweetheart and lover when she gave birth to her first child and became a mother. She lost her lover, too, when he became a father. Their roles first began to change during the time of her pregnancy. He had to watch very closely his thoughts toward other women, while feeling neglect because she was thinking about their baby soon to be born more than she was thinking about him. She used to think only of him.

Moving into another home is another crisis time. It’s easy for dad because he is involved in new employment and new friends, but hard for mom because she has to adjust to the change of her entire environment. Is this a time for her to be emotionally upset? Yes it is.

At middle age, around forty, mom goes through menopause — another big crisis. Dad doesn’t admit it — no man ever does — but he goes through a corresponding change at that time, too. At that time they both begin to think how it would have been if they had married somebody else. Dad, maybe, especially is ready for one last fling. They both have a desire to return to the surroundings of their youth. This is another intense crisis time. If dad reaches fortyish first and mom later, then they experience two crisis times instead of one. When their daughter entered puberty, another crisis time occurred for the family. They didn’t know what she was going to do next, and they often blamed themselves and each other for her erratic and sometimes erotic behavior. Another crisis time.

Grandma, Grandpa, great aunts and uncles, the neighbor next door, even the deliveryman, can help in times of crisis. The temple community, the church congregation, the priest, the minister, friends, Rotary Club members, executive at the office, if they don’t help, are all negligent. We can blame them for the failure. Don’t blame mom and dad. They are helpless. Do we blame somebody who is sick for being ill? Of course not. Do we blame a person who is emotionally distraught for being emotional distraught? Of course not. We try to understand. We try to help. If the help is offered or is not offered, we blame those who do not help.

Therefore, I tell troubled youth, for your own peace of mind, dear child, love your mother and your father. Keep them as one in your mind. Don’t separate them in your mind. You yourself are the greatest marriage counselor. It is only you who at this juncture can become a binding force for the family. Rise above the accepted standards of the nonculture of today, which advise divorce to solve the problem. Remember, don’t take sides.


The Dreadful First Slap

Though divorce is not an acceptable solution to family problems according to Hindu Dharma, there is one regrettable exception to maintaining a divine union, and that is in the case of domestic violence. We’ve encountered much talk lately in Time, Newsweek, Hinduism Today and on TV about the taboo subjects of wife beating, date rape and even sexual abuse of children. Things once not even whispered about behind closed doors are now out in the open. No more secrets.

Of course, domestic violence never was much of a secret, for all those involved knew: husbands and wives, their friends, the kids, close relatives and neighbors. Knew but said nothing. If the neighbors are making too much noise at a party, no one hesitates to complain. But if that same neighbor is beating his wife and she is screaming and crying, nothing is done. No knock on the door. No call to authorities. We never allow a fist fight in a public place, but we do permit, by our silence, such heinous violence in the home.

In the spirit of standing for ahimsa and not permitting violence, when you see a man slapping his wife or a parent hitting his child, call the police! Don’t protect the wrongdoer. Don’t be a party to the crime by remaining passive. Don’t think that no karma is attached to inaction. It is no longer acceptable to turn up the TV to drown out the screams and sobs of a wife being beaten.

Recently, the California case of O.J. Simpson released an immense outpouring of sympathy for abused women. It took a world-famous athlete to bring forward an infamous worldly behavior. It is an admirable trait that an uncensored press can come forward to awaken a nation’s conscience. In a way, the images and stories that are appearing are not unlike Indian epics or Greek stage plays that seek to establish morals by depicting tragic happenings, or Italian operas which conceal morals in melodrama. All in all, the world has not changed that much.

As hard as it is to discuss wife abuse and why it happens, people are discussing it openly and without shame. We see graphic, real-life pictures of this violence and battered wives speaking out in magazines and on television. The big question is, will it ever end? Maybe not, but we can end the cultural sanction of the sport where father and mother watch their son slap down his wife and then drag her across the room by her hair.

A man who strikes his wife in an effort to make her cower, to control her, actually karmically does the opposite. His brutality turns against him, becomes his disadvantage. Her love and dependence weaken, and her psychic bonds to him unravel. After that, she has the spiritual upper hand, is more free from him than ever, less under his control than before that first slap. Yes, it all begins with the first slap.

It does not matter as much when they fight with words — the name-calling, insinuations, insults and arguments. That’s all part of the play of married life and may be fairly intense when their astrological compatibility is not as perfect as it might be. But that first slap changes everything! It is that first slap that brings dire kukarma, that degrades and demeans, that makes her his enemy and not his friend. This is not acceptable. Kids cannot accept it. Wives will never forgive it. Families should not endure it, even to defend beloved sons. It is not less violent just because it happens behind closed doors, just because we know the people so well. All who know of this crime and who do not speak up for dharma, for ahimsa, are accomplices. Like a thief or rapist, they are enemies of a stable society.
What Can Be Done?

“What can I do about domestic violence?” you may ask. You can refuse to remain silent. You can object, as I did recently upon finding in my own community three cases of wife abuse. Imagine, if devotees performing sadhana can succumb, how easy it must be for others. There is help available. Peer pressure, elders, police, counselors and shelters are there, and much more. It’s like the olden days when people first started objecting to slavery. Everyone knew in their heart it was wrong, but no one dared go against the conventional wisdom that it was “necessary.” Finally, mankind came to its senses and stopped it. It was no longer acceptable. In that same way, we are now coming to our senses about spouse abuse and child abuse.

What is the difference between beating a woman and raping her? Not much, really. Violent harm is done. Her body has been violated, moved by his body against her will. A sin has been committed, equally as psychologically serious. Kukarma for the man, bad consequences, results from that first slap. Prayashchitta, penance, must be performed to mitigate the backlash of his actions, lest they seriously affect his next birth.

The first push, bruised wrist, pinch without mercy, slap or bleeding lip tells her nerve system that “this is no place for me to be.” Her fear takes over, and the process of breaking up the family nest begins. His future is jeopardized as she instinctively withdraws her shakti. Perhaps he struck her to show that he’s the boss and that she cannot control him. But, in fact, he thereby appointed her as another boss that may well torment his consciousness the rest of his life and bring to him sorrows to equal her own, now or in his next birth.

Of course, it is the birth dharma of Hindu elders to rule society with a firm hand and demand of their younger male generation that they never defile themselves by giving that first slap. When a domestic situation is brought before me that involves violence, my immediate response is to advise the wife to run for safety. Unless counseling, if ever accepted, brings about an actual change in the offender, and there are actual apologies, remorse and genuine efforts to mend ways and transform that are acceptable to relatives and the congregation at large, I know it is my responsibility to step in and advise separation. Yes, this may lead to divorce, unless, of course, a deeply sincere correction has taken place and a new marriage covenant has been written by the couple. Continued physical violence is the singular justification for divorce in modern Hindu culture — a regrettable exception to the life-long covenant of marriage. This is comparable to an abortion performed to save the life of the mother, which is dharmically permissible because it is an even worse kukarma for a child to kill his mother. All concerned will accept the wisdom of these exceptions, both of which save the life of the mother.