Archive for the ‘Routine’ Category

Chaos

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

If I totter along, O wielder of thunder, like a puffed-up wineskin, forgive, Lord, have mercy! If by ill chance in the dullness of my wits I went straying, O Holy One, forgive, Lord, have mercy!


Chemical Consciousness

In the early ’60s I became conscious that more and more of the people who came to me for counseling wanted to talk over aspects of their experience in higher states of the mind, states of the mind that had been opened through psychedelic experience. Their interest was in relating these experiences to yoga and the consciousness attained through meditation. These people were highly enthusiastic about their new world, for it seemed like sort of a canned meditation, something they could get very quickly without entering into the sometimes tedious yoga training that may take years to open the individual to the within of himself. People all over the nation now are becoming awakened to the world within.

Around the same time, we had a seminar in San Diego attended by many seekers and LSD users. It seemed to us that the LSD people are almost like a new race, a race of people that have been reborn in bodies that already existed. Those who use psychedelics are different in many respects from those who have had no psychedelic experience. Their feelings are different. Their relationships are different. They are closer to some people, but at the same time they have created a gap between themselves and society. It is a gap of loneliness, because the breach between the inner consciousness and the external world has become so great that they have only themselves to depend upon. The degree of success of this dependence is another story, which brings us into the subject of yoga. We cannot say that the psychedelic experience in itself is either good or bad. It is enough to say that it is an experience that has occurred to thousands of people.

These ideas I am sharing with you are not so much for the psychedelic people as for those who have not had the psychedelic experience. I do not encourage you to go through it. Rather, I would encourage you to continue with the slower process of yoga. But I want to awaken you to the fact that there is this new group of people living with us. Their approach to life is entirely different from the one which you may have. Their perception generally is entirely different. Some of these people can look into your mind and even read your thoughts. Those who have not had psychedelic experiences will have to learn to adjust to the psychedelic consciousness. Likewise, those who use these drugs, if they ever stop, will have to learn to adjust their thinking again to the normal conscious-plane way of doing things.

I believe that the gap which has been created between “turned on people” and “turned off people” can best be bridged through meditation, gaining control of the mind so that the individual can become master of himself. When you become master of yourself, you truly stand alone in completeness, not in loneliness. In doing so, you are able to bring forth knowledge and wisdom from yourself through the process of meditation, through being able to sit down and think through a problem, ultimately seeing it in full, superconscious perspective and bring forth an answer, a workable answer filled with life. Meditation is a dynamic process. It is much more than just sitting around and waiting. It creates a highly individualistic type of mind.


Young and Old Souls

There are young souls in this world, and there are old souls. The young soul shows you how you can’t do something. The old soul shows you how you can. But a young soul can evolve in this very life in the same way that a weak, skinny man can go to a gym and become a husky bundle of muscle.

Spiritual unfoldment and the growth and development of the subtle nerve system are the same thing. Most of us are familiar with the structure of the body’s muscles, but how many of you are familiar with your nerve fibers? The life force flows through you along these nerve channels in a degree directly proportionate to the condition of your mind. We call this actinic force or cosmic force. This actinic force flowing out into the muscle and skin structure produces prana, or magnetism. The magnetic force in nature we call odic force. Have you ever had somebody suddenly call you up and say, “Come on, let’s go to a party,” when you feel tired and lacking in energy, and suddenly your nervous system floods a new force through you, rejuvenating your magnetic response? This is an involuntary response, a subsuperconscious release of actinic force.

The nervous system in a young soul is, shall we say, immature. The many, many incarnational experiences of the old soul have instilled in the subtle nervous system a strength of fiber, a spiritual maturation. Therefore, the older soul entering into meditation can sustain the force and unfoldment that one meditation carries over into another. This process is a steady building, an opening up, until finally, in a contemplative moment of cosmic consciousness, one opens to Self Realization, beyond the experience of the mind, and is able to sustain it because the nerve structure is very powerful.

So, this is the unfortunate aspect of psychedelic experience as I see it. It is especially damaging to the young soul and leads the older soul off track. If the individual taking LSD or some other psychotropic drug is an old soul, it has perhaps awakened him so that he is able to face the new situation of his consciousness with intelligence. But the reaction inhibits further spiritual unfoldments because lower chakras are wrenched open, causing severe mood swings. In the case of the young soul, he has not yet developed the nerve fiber to adjust to the awakening, to the intensity of the psychedelic experience, and his mind very often “turns off.”

I have interviewed seekers who have had a few psychedelic experiences and have come through them more vibrant, more alive, and more ready to face the challenges of a new world. I have met others who only stand and look at you blankly, who have lost their desire, even their self-respect. They have lost, shall we say, the structure through which their mind force previously flowed, and it has not been replaced.

What happens to a Hindu yogi when he enters a superconscious state of bliss in which his mind opens up, turns to light, and he sees the world revolving below the state of his suspended consciousness? He has arrived at this state through many years of practice in concentration, meditation and contemplation, many years of building strong nerve fiber. But in a momentary high on LSD or any other powerful psychedelic, such as mushrooms, peyote, ecstasy or DMT, the nerve structure is strained, in a sense which we can best describe as abnormal, to allow the individual to reach this exalted consciousness. Coming out of it, the result is often a kind of shock in which the person has a great difficulty in readjusting to any kind of normal routine. Because these drugs are illegal, the consciousness of fear also has been awakened within the seeker. Fear is the first step down into the lower worlds of darkness. The next is anger.


Maintaining Control

I don’t want to see a nationwide or worldwide movement built around a little bit of “acid.” I don’t want to see this, because of the young souls for whom this would be devastating. Some young souls who have been opened up without preparation stumble into psychic ability. They may read thought forms, see auras or travel astrally. In yoga we would say that this path of psychism must be avoided until you have attained Self Realization. This is because in opening up the mind to higher forces and beautiful experiences, we also open ourselves up to the unpleasant experiences of the shadow world of the chakras below the muladhara center at the base of the spine, areas of consciousness which we cannot control without preparation and training. In yoga, the guru knows how to protect his students in the opening-up process by closing off the lower realms as the higher ones open. He knows how to do this, but it is a steady training and does require time. I have met people who have had the psychedelic experience who but cannot walk down the street past certain houses because they have become so sensitive to the contention, the negative force field, emitted from a certain home. Some of these people are opened up to the more subtle forces of the lower mind.

The old soul, in wisdom, enters into the experience of meditation. Here he learns to control the lower forces even while he is awakening the higher forces. Therefore he can sustain himself in a higher state of consciousness. He has the strength of nerve fiber to do it.

So, I am asking the leaders of the LSD movement, the psychedelic movement, to stop it, for the sake of protecting souls on the path against the too abrupt awakening, against being opened up to obsession or possession. Most people who take drugs are followers. They’re not leaders, they’re followers. A leader takes a stand. A leader stands for what he believes and believes what he stands for. We need to train our children to be leaders and to stand up against that which they know is wrong and dangerous.

When a person is opened up, in a somewhat defenseless position, as in an LSD experience, he can be possessed or obsessed by an accumulation of thought power and impelled to do things that he would otherwise have no intention of doing, simply because his nervous system has become sensitive and open to the lower mind forces of hate, greed, mistrust, fear and malice that ooze out of some people who have no control.

If you have not been opened up in this manner, if you are just going along in an ordinary state of consciousness, you might feel, “I don’t like so-and-so and I won’t see him anymore,” and you place a mental barrier between yourself and this person. You are able to shut your mental door against people whose vibration does not blend with yours. But a prematurely opened soul cannot do this. He remains open to all influences. Therefore, I plead to the innate intelligence of the intellectuals and the old souls who can appreciate what is happening, to stop the indiscriminate use of dangerous drugs, to bring this movement to a halt.


Tapping the Superconscious

The youngsters in their late teens and early twenties who are going into LSD and other drugs are going to meet their karma in an unnatural sequence. The upset of their nervous system, if it continues, will be drastic and will even affect others’ personal lives, whether they have had LSD or not. I have traveled through India and the Orient where there are no laws against narcotics, and the people who live on narcotics there are absolutely deplorable. They have no spiritual impetus. They just sit and say, “Well, if I have food, that’s fine. If not, then I’ll probably die. So, let’s see, if I reincarnate, where would I like to go?” Whereas when the spiritual force, the actinic force, floods through your nervous system, permeating you with magnetism, and you see the light of your mind, you don’t have time for rationalizations like that.

When we are dealing with the nervous system, we are talking about three states of mind at the same time. The conscious, subconscious and superconscious all exist, alive and vibrant, within you at this moment. You could be “turned on” superconsciously without drugs at any instant. It is all there waiting for you. Your brain is basically an acid structure. When you learn to concentrate your mind, to concentrate the thinking force, you are turning on the “acid” of your brain. LSD is an acid, too, but it can do nothing for you that you cannot do for yourself. When you learn the subtle arts of meditation, you will learn how to tap into your spiritual force, your always-existing actinic power which transmits its energy through body and mind into the magnetic currents. This magnetic force can be stimulated also through food, through breathing or through the quality of thought.

Now is a marvelous time for people to tap their latent potential to unfold these higher states of consciousness. All of the activity and discussion of outer space contributes to this unfoldment, too, because every time you mentally project yourself with a rocket or a spaceship, your consciousness touches back on the Earth again, having undergone a definite change.

What is going to be the reaction over a period of time to the psychedelic movement? Meditating yogis have found that even in the integrated process of meditation, one’s karma is intensified, and experiences come to you thick and fast to work through. Under LSD and similar drugs, the wheels are spinning faster and faster until some drug takers will be spinning in consciousness completely away from any kind of stable living. I believe that with the continued use of LSD, the forces will slip over to the other side, past the point of no return. The spiritual unfoldment of the human soul can no more profitably be forced than can the growth of a plant in a hot house. Yoga is the path of control. If you go at it through yoga, you will be so much better off, and through your new radiant energy you will be able to help so many people.


The Power Of Decision

Many are the karmic consequences of using, selling and encouraging others to use illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, barbiturates and psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms. The karmic chain works like this. Suppose someone sold drugs to another and that person overdosed and killed himself. The karma would be murder. Maybe the law wouldn’t call it murder, but the karma would be murder. This means that the person who sold the drugs would be killed in his next life. One act creates another act and that act comes back on those who helped create it. Similarly, if movie actors cause others to hurt themselves or kill another person, commit robbery, anything like that, because of what they’re acting out, that karma comes back on them, as well as the director, as well as the writer. It’s pretty messy business to fool around with the law of karma.

I tell young people who are tempted to use drugs that the power of decision is a very great power. Very few people know how to use this power, but everybody has the power of decision. It takes a little bit of willpower, it takes a little bit of research, and we are going to give you some ammunition to help you make the decision to be free from drugs.

The consequences of illegal drug use are that the drug user becomes a criminal. His home or car can be confiscated under drug assets seizure laws. His parents’ home or car can be seized. He can be arrested for driving under the influence of controlled substances. People may steal drugs from him, putting him and his family in danger. Eventually, he can’t earn enough to buy the drugs he needs. He can’t even steal enough. He has to deal, to sell drugs, to support the habit. And to deal, he must recruit new users. Drugs make him meet people he would never meet otherwise, not-so-good people — sellers, dealers, junkies. It puts him into a lower realm of life. He may become violent. He has to get a gun to protect himself. More danger follows. The government has to deal with him, as he has become a criminal. It’s very expensive for society. He can’t behave normally. He does harm to his body. He does harm to his mind. He becomes paranoid, always looking over his shoulder, fearful that bad things are going to happen. As a student, he can’t study well anymore, and he probably won’t graduate — he gets no education, therefore no career and no steady job. He does things he never thought he would do: rob, steal, lie, forge, pull away from and humiliate his parents, pull away from his teachers, create abnormal relationships with friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, ruin his reputation, even go into prostitution.

I warn youths, you might think it won’t happen to you. Well, everybody who takes drugs says, “That won’t happen to me. I can handle it.” Every junkie on the street has said that at one time or another. Why do we have groups talking about how to handle drugs and drug rehabilitation centers, which are very expensive for states, counties and private organizations to run? Because you cannot handle it. No one can handle it. It all starts with that first puff of a joint, the first time you cross the line into what’s not legal. One drug leads to the next, which leads to the next and the next. It’s the Narakaloka, active every day in the lives of the people on this planet who use illegal substances. So don’t get started.

Drugs may seem like an escape from the problems of life, but it is not a solution to them. In Hindu, Jain and Buddhist thinking, all this adds up to bad karma, then a bad birth. You can’t escape from karma. It will always catch up with you — if not in this life then in the next. But we can’t just say no because somebody has told us to say no. We need to meditate, we need to think upon the consequences, of what will happen to us, of using these terribly dangerous, illegal substances.

Talk to young people in your community. Tell them, “Think about it. Only you can make the decision. No one else can make it for you.” You can’t convince a young person here on the island of Kauai to surf on a fifty foot wave. Youths also don’t drive a hundred miles an hour down the winding mountain road from Kokee. Why? Because they know the consequence. They are well educated. They know the consequence and, be they 12 years old, 16 years old, 20 years old, 24 years old, they make the proper decisions about such things.

The issue is training people to make the proper decisions so that they are law-abiding citizens because they have decided to be law-abiding citizens, so that they do not take drugs, because they do not want to alter their mind, because they do not want to lose their standing in the community, because they do not want to lose the functioning of their physical body. The power of decision is a great power to pass on to the next generation.


Alcohol in Moderation

Alcohol is a very misunderstood substance. Its original use in many cultures was limited to the priesthood, to enliven consciousness by restricting the activities of the conscious mind, so that the superconscious knowledge within the individual can flow freely, uninhibited by daily thought and concerns. In Japan, sake, a rice wine, is considered the potion of the poets and is served in Buddhist and Shinto monasteries to enhance the spiritual nature and diminish worldly attachments. The drinking of sake goes along with certain other practices of controlling the mind, based on a well-understood philosophy. In other cultures — Aztec, Mayan, Hindu, Christian and Jewish — wine is considered a holy sacrament.

Beer is a lesser potion, a drink for the common man, and does not fall into this category. Both beer and wine are produced from natural ingredients and through natural fermentation processes, whereas hard liquors are distilled. Another important difference is the concentration of alcohol. In beer the alcohol content is from 3 to 8 percent, and in wine from 9 to 18 percent, compared to hard liquors which are from 25 to nearly 100 percent. The latter our scriptures admonish us to not imbibe.

Man’s religious traditions provide different answers to the consumption of alcohol. The Muslim faith considers it the mother of all evils, the most basic of human sins. The Jews, Christians and others consider it acceptable in moderation, and, in fact, provide wine as sacraments in their places of worship. In Asian societies, propaganda against alcohol is severe, primarily directed toward hard liquors, meaning those of high alcohol content, which tend to quickly craze the mind, punish the body and let loose the lower emotions. These include distilled home brews, such as arrack, bathtub gin, homemade rum and vodka.

In Hinduism there are traditions that are strictly abstemious, and there are traditions that are open to the use of alcohol. Especially the Saivas and Shaktas are more lenient in this matter and have no objection to the moderate, wise use of alcohol. In North India, for example, it is traditional in certain orders for Saiva sannyasins to drink alcohol. This is the tradition that our particular parampara has adopted and it is the custom that we follow today. If you are in a tradition which has a heritage of complete abstention, then you should follow it. If you are in a tradition which does not look down on drinking wines or beers, then you should feel free to follow that tradition.

Hindus of the Jaffna community explain that hard liquor, known as kal in Tamil, are the intoxicants prohibited in the Tirukural and Tirumantiram and which are to be totally abstained from, and that beer and wine, including honey wine, are referred to in the Vedas and ayurveda texts as beneficial for spiritual and religious life under the restraint of mitahara.
Alcohol in Saiva Tradition

The time periods allotted for drinking wine and beer should be during a meal (lunch or dinner), or to relax after the day’s dharmic duties are fulfilled. Obviously, one should not drink during the work day, in the office, during puja or in the early morning hours.

Of course, this hardly need be said, but drinking and driving don’t mix. This extends also to other potentially dangerous activities. One would never drink while on the job, especially using industrial equipment, such as saws and drills, as alcohol slows down the reactions of the physical body and the conscious mind. While enjoying a glass or two of wine, one should be in good company. Drinking should bring up the higher nature, of creativity, good ideas, conversation, philosophy, intuitive solutions to the problems of the world, healthy encounters of all kinds. One should not drink when depressed, troubled or with a group that enters into confrontation, argument, contention and criticism, personal, mental and emotional abuse. Therefore, we emphasize good company, good conversation, creativity, relaxation, toward the advancement of humanity and of spirituality. That is what these two substances, wine and beer, have been created on Earth by Lord Siva Himself to produce. Of course, imbibing even wine and beer falls under the restraint of mitahara. To overindulge would be unacceptable.

One should not drink alone, not even a glass of wine or beer at a solitary dinner. All the social harnesses are absent when you drink in isolation. Then it becomes a subconscious instead of a subsuperconscious experience. Additionally, there are those who by their constitution or genetics cannot drink even moderately without catastrophic effects: physiological, psychological, sociological difficulties. Even a single beer can provoke extreme responses. When these reactions come, they suffer physically, their families suffer, their professions suffer, their spiritual unfoldment suffers. Therefore, these individuals must, under all circumstances, completely avoid alcohol for a healthy, happy life. Statistically it is estimated that some seven percent of people are in this category. A clear indication that an individual falls into this category is that his friends don’t want to drink with him because it inevitably becomes an unpleasant event for all. Friends and associates are duty-bound to monitor and sanction him. In such cases insisting on moderation is not sufficient. Total abstinence must be required.

In a similar vein, I am often asked about tobacco. My answer is, do you want to live a happy, healthy, productive and long life, or do you want to die early and suffer all the diseases that have been documented that smoking, the world’s worst health hazard, can bring up in your body to destroy it? If the answer is “I don’t mind dying early and I’m looking forward to all the diseases that are promised,” then go ahead and smoke. I should say here that not one of my sincere devotees smokes.

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Foods

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

When nourishment is pure, nature is pure. When nature is pure, memory becomes firm. When memory remains firm, there is release from all knots of the heart.


Examining Your Total Diet

Each day that we live, we are striving for the middle path, the balanced life, the existence which finds its strength beyond joy and sorrow, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond light and darkness. But in order to arrive at this state of contemplative awareness, we must begin at the beginning, and this week our study is diet: physical, mental and emotional foods. According to the ancient science of ayurveda, nature is a primordial force of life composed in three modes, qualities or principles of manifestation called gunas, meaning “strands” or “qualities.” The three gunas are: sattva, “beingness;” rajas, “dynamism;” and tamas, “darkness.” Sattva is tranquil energy, rajas is active energy and tamas is energy that is inert. The nature of sattva is quiescent, rarefied, translucent, pervasive. The nature of rajas is movement, action, emotion. The nature of tamas is inertia, denseness, contraction, resistance and dissolution. The tamasic tendency is descending, odic and instinctive. The rajasic tendency is expanding, actinodic, intellectual. The sattvic tendency is ascending, actinic, superconscious. The three gunas are not separate entities, but varied dimensions or frequencies of the single, essential life force.

The food we eat has one or more of these qualities of energy and affects our mind, body and emotions accordingly. Hence, what we eat is important. Sattvic food is especially good for a contemplative life.

Tamasic foods include heavy meats, and foods that are spoiled, treated, processed or refined to the point where the natural values are no longer present. Tamasic foods make the mind dull; they tend to build up the basic odic energies of the body and the instinctive subconscious mind. Tamasic foods also imbue the astral body with heavy, odic force.

Rajasic foods include hot or spicy foods, spices and stimulants. These increase the odic heat of the physical and astral bodies and stimulate physical and mental activity. Sattvic foods include whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables that grow above the ground. These foods help refine the astral and physical bodies, allowing the actinic, superconscious flow to permeate and invigorate the entire being.

People who are unfolding on the yoga path manifest the sattvic nature. Their path is one of peace and serenity. The rajasic nature is restless and manifests itself in physical and intellectual activities. It is predominant in the spirit of nationalism, sports and business competition, law enforcement and armed forces and other forms of aggressive activity. The tamasic nature is dull, fearful and heavy. It is the instinctive mind in its negative state and leads to laziness, habitual living, physical and mental inertia. As it is by cultivating the rajasic nature that tamas is overcome, so it is by evolving into the pure sattvic nature that the continual ramification of rajas is transcended. It is important to maintain a balance of our several natures, but to attain toward the expression of the rajasic and sattvic natures in as great a degree as possible.

As you examine a menu closely, you will find that you may allow your inner guidance to tell you what is most appropriate to eat. The desire body of the conscious mind may want one type of food, but the inner body of the subsuperconscious may realize another is better for you. It is up to you to make the decision that will allow a creative balance in your diet. This awakens the inner willpower, that strength from within that gives the capacity for discrimination.


Moderation Is The Keynote

I call our diet “nutrition for meditation.” We watch what we eat. Each type of food taken into the body tends to make us aware in one or another area of the nerve system. When we eat gross food, we become aware in the gross area of the nerve system, and less aware in the refined area of the nerve system. When we eat refined foods, such as fruit and vegetables that grow above the ground and absorb sunlight, this then makes us aware in the refined areas of the nerve system. When we are aware in the gross areas of the nerve system, over time the cells of the physical body begin to reflect this and cause the body to become gross in appearance. When we are aware in the refined areas of the inner nerve system predominantly — the psychic nerve system, the superconscious nerve system — the cells of the body also respond and we begin to look more refined. Therefore, ayurvedic nutrition for meditation and the practice of hatha yoga asanas are an aid in refining the physical body by allowing awareness to travel through the perceptive areas of the nerve system that are inner, refined and blissful.

However, we do not want to put too much emphasis on the consciousness of food, lest our entire nature become wrapped up in our stomach, and our subconscious and its astral body constantly involved in eating. To allow this would not only be detrimental to our own diet, but it would be an unnecessary disturbance as well to those about us, since we would be held in a strange emotional mold.

In deciding what foods you will buy and eat, listen to the voice of your intuition, which knows best what your current physical body needs are. It is possible that your forces might become too sattvic, too delicately refined, for the kind of activity and responsibilities you are engaged in. If this is the case, perhaps you should have a little rajasic food for balance. Likewise, you may become overstimulated from time to time through eating spicy foods, or foods with too high a concentration of sugar. In this case, you may need more fruits in your diet to raise the vibratory rate of your physical and astral bodies. Should your inner consciousness tell you that you are too rajasic, refrain from eating tamasic foods, those with lower rates of vibration. Eat more of the foods that grow naturally above the ground.

Of course, we have an emotional diet as well. Emotion is a condition or color of the mind. Emotions will always be with us as long as we have a physical body, but there is a difference between having emotion and being emotional. We have to balance our emotional activity. Our entertainment, our cultural pursuits, our social activities should be balanced and blended with everything else that we are doing. It would be a good idea to plan an entire month’s emotional diet along with your physical diet. Decide ahead of time what music you wish to hear, what plays, movies or concerts to attend. Think of your reading, the people you plan to be with, the traveling that may be involved. Make a list of those things which you conceive to be beneficial to your emotional diet, but proceed along the middle path, not too much to one side, not too much to the other. Look for a balanced emotional color in your life.


Choosing Your Mental Diet

Have you ever given thought to the diet of your mind? Of course, our physical diet and our emotional diet are also diets of the mind, because they affect our consciousness. But let’s now consider the intellectual processes. How much information, how many facts is it necessary and healthy for us to ingest in a single day? It’s a good idea for a devotee to budget his reading, to choose and discriminate what he wants to make a part of himself through the process of mental digestion. We have to discriminate to the nth degree whether or not we will have the time and the capacity to digest everything that we desire to place in our minds. For instance, quickly reading an article in a newspaper might stir your mind and emotions. If it is not properly digested, it could conceivably upset your whole day. In the realm of intellect, the commonsense rule “Don’t eat when you are already full” also applies.

You may read a book of philosophy, and if you have time to digest it, well and good, but many people don’t and suffer from philosophical indigestion. They have read so many things and only digested a small part of what has passed through the window of the mind. Then again, it is one thing to digest something, and it is still another to assimilate it and make it a part of you, for when it becomes fully a part of you, you have a hunger and room for something more.

Many people come to lectures and then tune themselves out and simply benefit from the vibration created by the teacher and others in the room. They tune themselves out so that what is said is not absorbed consciously, but rather subconsciously. This is a good method for those who are still digesting material received from previous lectures. Another practice that makes for a very good mental indigestion pill is that of opening a spiritual book and allowing your eye to fall upon a random sentence on the page. Often you will find it will accent ideas that you are currently concerned with.

Just as you would participate in a seminar, gaining from the interpersonal relationships, so can you learn from the intrapersonal relationship established between your perceptive state of mind and the conscious and subconscious states of mind. When you awaken to the point where your inner mind teaches your personality, you are involving yourself in the “innerversity” of your own being. But this will not occur until you have balanced your physical and emotional bodies to the point where they are functioning at a slightly higher rate of vibration.

Add to your contemplative lifestyle a hobby or craft. Working creatively with your hands, taking physical substance and turning it into something different, new and beautiful is important in remolding the subconscious mind. It is also symbolic. You are remolding something on the physical plane and by doing so educating yourself in the process of changing the appearance of a physical structure, thus making it easier to change the more subtle mental and emotional structures within your own subconscious mind. Energy, willpower and concentrated awareness are needed for both types of accomplishments — hard work, concentration and concerted effort to produce an effective and useful change in either the physical substance or the mental substance.


Balance and Discrimination

Observe your life objectively for a minute and decide how much of a working balance actually exists between your physical, emotional, mental and actinic aspects. Know that you have the power to begin to readjust this balance if you find you are taking in too much “food” at one time or another. Apply the concept of diet to all the areas of your life. Every experience that we ingest is going to produce its own reaction. In surveying our own internal balance of tamasic, rajasic and sattvic tendencies, we need to apply the power of discrimination so that everything we take into our mind and body can be easily and harmoniously digested and assimilated. Life becomes more beautiful in this way, and we become the master of our forces, because we have given the guiding power of our lives to actinic will. But no diet is of much value to anyone unless it can be consistently applied through the power of decision.

Life becomes overly complicated, a series of self-created and unnecessary involvements, when we live too much in the tamasic and rajasic natures. It is necessary to slow down the activity of everyday life by entering into sattvic awareness as a matter of practice. Life is tiring and overactive in the conscious, physical plane when it is not balanced and tempered by the sattvic nature. The greater the sattvic activity, the greater the activity of the spiritual being that man is.

Here is an internal concentration exercise. Allow the activity of your brain to relax. Let the muscles of your body relax. Let your eyes relax and easily shut. Visualize in your mind’s eye a menu with three panels. On the left panel of the menu are all the prepared and cooked foods of the tamasic nature, which are instinctive, heavy and often indigestible. These are the foods which would satisfy the purely instinctive man. In the middle panel are the rajasic foods, such as spices, garlic and onions, which provide physical energy and stimulation. On the right panel of the menu are the sattvic foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts, which calm, balance and prepare the body to hold the actinic vibration of a higher consciousness. Let’s examine the three parts of this menu and see where our consciousness is guided from within.

Let us visualize another menu now — which is the menu of our emotional diet. On the left panel are the instinctive, sensual pleasures of the moment and the more raucous forms of entertainment. On the middle panel are the routine emotional experiences of everyday life with family, friends and work associates. On the right panel are high cultural and artistic expressions. Fill in your own list of specifics and see where your consciousness leads you.

Visualize now another menu in three panels. On the left side of this menu are books, magazines, newspapers or websites that lead us into our tamasic, instinctive nature, be they novels, stories, articles or Hollywood exposes. On the middle panel are those intellectual studies, items of current interests and news which stimulate our rajasic mind and therefore require the close use of discrimination. At certain times, some of these readings might offer just the required understanding and intellectual clarity to elucidate important areas of your conscious-mind existence.

On the right side of this menu are the sattvic writings and studies, the scriptures of East and West, the great philosophical ideas of Socrates or Emerson, the dissertations of Plotinus or Kant, the sayings of Lao-Tzu and Confucius, Tiruvalluvar or the Upanishads, Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna or Gibran. Compose your own list and then balance out your mental diet by studying this menu from your inner consciousness.


Diet and Consciousness

It is wise to have a free mind, a clear, serene and relaxed attitude toward life before partaking of food. That is why people on the inner path traditionally meditate for a moment, chant a mantra or say a prayer before a meal. A simple practice is to intone “Aum.” This harmonizes the inner bodies with the external bodies and frees awareness from entangled areas. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot chant Aum aloud, then chant it mentally. Take several seconds before you begin your meal to recenter yourself in this way. You will find that your food profits you very well. There are many traditional Hindu ayurvedic guidelines for eating. A few rules that we have found especially important include giving thanks in a sacred prayer before meals; eating in a settled atmosphere, never when upset, always sitting down and only when hungry; avoiding ice-cold food and drink; not talking while chewing; eating at a moderate pace and never between meals; sipping warm water with meals; eating freshly cooked foods whenever possible; minimizing raw vegetables; avoiding white flour and refined sugar; not cooking with honey; drinking milk separately from meals; including a balance of protein and carbohydrates in all meals; cooking with ghee or olive oil only; experiencing all six tastes at least at the main meal (sweet, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter and salty); not overeating, leaving one-third to one-quarter of the stomach empty to aid digestion; and sitting quietly for a few minutes after meals. I might add that ginger root is a magical potion. Our ayurvedic doctor has taught us, and experience confirms, that fresh ginger can settle your stomach, relieve a headache, help you sleep if you are restless and keep the agni, fires of digestion, strong, especially while traveling. Grate two inches of fresh ginger, then hold the mash in your hand, add slowly an ounce of warm water and squeeze the juice into a glass. Repeat three times. Drink this extract fifteen or twenty minutes before meals. It is also quite necessary to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Inadequate water intake results in dehydration, giving rise to many common ailments.

Let us realize this law in our consciousness: we don’t want to place anything into our physical, emotional or mental being that cannot be digested, assimilated and used to the best advantage in giving birth to our highest consciousness. Let every second be a second of discrimination. Let every minute be a minute of realization. Let every hour be an hour of fulfillment. Let every day be a day of blessing, and every week a week of joy. Then, in a month’s time, look at the foundation that you have laid for those who will follow you. Let the past fade into the dream that it is. It is only experience, to be understood as such in the “now.” In keeping life simple through our powers of discrimination, we give our greatest gift to community, loved ones, country and the world, because we are beginning to vibrate in the superconscious realms of the mind. Your very presence is a blessing when you live in the eternal now, in full command of your life’s diet through the process of discrimination.


Restraining Television

Television provides so much of the mental diet of so many people today that it deserves special attention, lest it become a deterrent to a balanced, contemplative life. Television at its best is the extension of storytelling. We used to sit around and tell stories. The best storyteller, who could paint pictures in people’s minds, was the most popular person in town. Television is also the extension of the little theater, and as soon as it became popular, the little theater groups all over the country became unemployed. It is the extension of the stand-up comedian, of vaudeville, drama, opera, ballet, all of which have suffered since television has become a popular mode of entertainment. In every country, at every point in time, humans have sat down and been entertained, and entertainers have stood up and entertained them.

Today, television has become an instrument to convey knowledge and bring the world together, set new standards of living, language, styles of dress and hair, ways of walking, ways of standing, attitudes about people, ethics, morality, political systems, religions and all sorts of other things, from ecology to pornography. This vast facility unifies the thinking — and thus the actions — of the peoples of the world. Today, at the flick of a finger with the magic wand, one can change the mental flow and emotional experience of everyone watching for the entire evening.

Saivites know that our karmas are forces we send out from ourselves — creative forces, preserving forces, destroying forces, and a mixture of either two or the three — and they usually come back to us through other people or groups of people. Television has afforded us the ability to work through our karmas more quickly than we could in the agricultural age. On TV, the “other people” who play our past experiences back to us, for us to understand in hindsight, are actors and actresses, newscasters and the people in the news they broadcast. Saivites know nothing can happen, physically, mentally or emotionally, but that it is seeded in our prarabdha karmas, the action-reaction patterns brought with us to this birth. Therefore, on the positive side, we look at television as a tool for karmic cleansing.

Saivites know that the object of life is to go through our experiences joyously and kindly, always forgiving and compassionately understanding, thus avoiding making unseemly kriyamana karmas in the current life which, if enough were accumulated and added to the karmas we did not bring into this life, would bring us back into another birth, and the process would start all over again. The great boon that television has given humanity, which is especially appreciated by Saivites, is that we can soften our prarabdha karmas very quickly by analyzing, forgiving and compassionately understanding the happenings on the screen, as our past is portrayed before us, and as we work with our nerve system, which laughs and cries, resents, reacts to and avoids experiences on the TV.

Television can be very entertaining and helpful, or it can be insidiously detrimental, depending on how it is used. Therefore, fortify your mind with a thorough understanding of what you are watching. Television works on the subconscious mind. This is an area of the mind which we are not usually conscious of when it is functioning, but it is functioning nevertheless, constantly, twenty-four hours a day. Television works strongly on the subconscious minds of children. If they watch TV for long periods of time, they begin to think exactly as the programmers want them to think. Responsible parents have to choose just what goes into their children’s minds, as well as into their own minds. It is advisable to prerecord the shows you wish to watch, avoiding sexual scenes, obscene language and excessive violence; and even then be ready to fast-forward through inappropriate scenes that are found today even on PG-rated programs.
Insights from Astrology

Astrology explores the stars and planets as they move in the heavens and their subtle effects on our physical, mental and emotional condition, mapping the ebb and flow of our karma. Astrology plays a very important part in every Hindu’s life. An established family is not complete without their master of jyotisha. Guided by the stars from birth to death, devout Hindus choose a shubha muhurta, auspicious time, for every important experience of life. Astrology has been computerized through the efforts of brilliant jyotisha shastris of both the East and West. In our ashrama, we use jyotisha quite a lot to determine the best times to travel, meditate, begin new projects or just rest and let a harsh time pass. Experience assures us that astrology is a reliable tool for maintaining a balanced life and flowing with the forces of nature.

We take a metaphysical approach to the “good” or “bad” news or predictions that astrology brings from time to time. When unfavorable times arise which have to be lived through, as they all too frequently do, we do not carp or cringe, but look at these as most excellent periods for meditation and sadhana rather than worldly activities. Just the reverse is true for the positive periods. However, spiritual progress can be made during both kinds of periods. Both negative and positive times are, in fact, positive when used wisely. A competent jyotisha shastri is of help in forecasting the future, as to when propitious times will come along when advancements can be made. A positive mental attitude should be held during all the ups and downs that are predicted to happen. Be as the traveler in a 747 jet, flying high over the cities, rather than a pedestrian wandering the streets below.

For raising offspring, an astrological forecast can be of the utmost help. A baby predicted to have a fiery temper should be raised to always be kind and considerate of others’ feelings, taught to never argue with others. Of course, good examples must be set early on by parents. This will soften the inclination toward temper tantrums. Fighting the child’s natural impulses will just amplify them. A child of an independent nature should be taught early on to care for himself in all respects so that in the life ahead he will benefit society and bring honor to the family. So much can be gained by reading the chart when approached with the attitude that all that is in it is helpful and necessary to know, even if it seems to be bad news. Difficulties need not be bad news if they are approached as opportunities to grow in facing them.

We have for years in our monasteries lived by the Hindu calendar and system of time divisions known as Lahiri Ayanamsha Panchanga. All purnima, amavasya and ashtami days (full moon, new moon and the eighth day of the fortnight) are days of retreat. They are our weekends. To be in harmony with the universe, at least our little galaxy, it is important to observe these days for happy, healthy, productive living.

Celibacy & Fidelity

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

The brahmachari moves, strengthening both the worlds. In him the devas meet in concord; he upholds earth and heaven.

The Power Of Purity

Every culture acknowledges the power of relationships between men and women and seeks to direct it toward the highest good, both for individuals and for society. The masculine and feminine forces, partly sexual but more broadly tantric, can either create or destroy, bring peace or contention, foster happiness or misery, depending on how consciously they are understood and utilized.

Hindu ideals of manhood and womanhood and their interaction are among the most subtle, insightful and graceful in all the world. When followed, these principles strengthen man and woman, sustain a joyous and balanced marriage, stabilize the family and assist husband and wife in their mutual spiritual and worldly goals. Of course, such high ideals are rarely followed to perfection. But the soul’s inner perfection is naturally revealed in the attempt.

What is religious life? It is the balance of two forces, the odic force and the actinic force. In married life this means that there is a prevailing harmony between the man and the woman. This guides and governs the inner currents of the children up until the age of twenty-five. For the single person living a celibate life and performing sadhana, this means balancing those same forces — the masculine/aggressive force and the feminine/passive force — within himself or herself.

Brahmacharya, the yoga of celibacy, is a traditional practice in Saivite Hinduism. It allows the adolescent or young adult to use his vital energies to prepare for a rewarding life, to develop his mind and talents for his chosen vocation. The first of the four stages, or ashramas, of life is actually called the brahmacharya ashrama. Love, including sex, is one of the legitimate four goals of life, according to our religion. Sex is not bad. Its place, however, is properly within the confines of a sanctified marriage. Nor are sex drives unnatural. The goal of the brahmachari and brahmacharini is not to become fearful of sex, but to understand sex and the sexual impulses in a balanced way. During the time of brahmacharya, the goal is to control the sex urges and transmute those vital energies into the brain to gain a great mental and spiritual strength. Yes, this vital life force must be focused on studies and spiritual pursuits. Brahmacharya maintained until marriage, and faithfulness thereafter, helps enable the devotee to merit a good wife or husband, a happy, stable marriage and secure, well-adjusted children.

The spiritual value of celibacy has long been understood in the Hindu tradition. Most religions also provide a tradition of monastic life in which young men take lifetime vows of celibacy. Many of our greatest spiritual lights were celibate throughout their entire life, including Siva Yogaswami, Sankara and Swami Vivekananda. Others, such as Buddha, Gandhi and Aurobindo, became celibate after a period of marriage. For the individual preparing for monastic life, brahmacharya is essential in harnessing and transmuting the powerful sexual life energies into spiritual and religious concerns.

Psychic Tubes

It is said that when man first killed a kinsman, great strength came into the nerve system of the animal body of all upon this planet. Normal seasonal cycles of mating turned into promiscuity. The population increased and is increasing even now with this intensification of kundalini fire through the sexual nature of men and women.

Through the ancient traditions of Saivite monasticism, the inner laws of brahmacharya have been preserved down through the centuries to help guide humanity through the Kali Yuga. This knowledge records the methods of how to preserve the vital energy within the body of men and women so that Saivism, the remembrance of Siva and His crystal clear shakti, can be passed through the darkness of the Kali Yuga in unbroken continuity. For only through the power of the tapas of brahmacharya can His shakti be passed on from one to another until the individual’s shakti finally accrues enough intensity so that the brahmachari becomes as Lord Siva Himself.

It is when fear pervades a country or the planet that the impulses of the animal nerve system cause desires for mating to intensify for the prolongation of the species. During intercourse, the astral bodies of the man and woman merge together, and conception may occur, as a person in the Devaloka gains a body from the woman to enter this world. The connection formed between a man and a woman during intercourse makes a psychic, astral, umbilical-cord-like tube in the lower astral-plane world which lasts for twelve years or more. Providing no other connection with the same or other individual occurred in the meantime, the tube would slowly wear away during the ensuing years. This is provided that, at the same time, sadhana or tapas is performed and regular pilgrimages and visits to Saivite temples are made.

Brahmacharya is holding the power of the Divine within the core of the individual spine so that, as Lord Siva sends His power through the five great winds of the astral body within the physical body, the winds adjust among themselves and emanate a shakti strong enough to adjust the five great psychic fluids within everyone around. This power of brahmacharya is accrued and disseminated through sublimation, then transmutation, of the sexual force. Transmutation occurs automatically through regular daily sadhana, the rigors of positive living and adherence to the ceremonial customs of our religion. Ideally, brahmacharya begins at puberty for virgins and continues on until marriage. Otherwise, brahmacharya sadhana begins after the last sexual encounter with a member of the opposite sex has occurred and when a conscious decision is made to begin the practice of brahmacharya.

While “in the process” of brahmacharya, those who have had sexual encounters with one or more members of the opposite sex experience times of trial. Great temptation may occur on the physical plane as the astral matter of the animal nerve system and systems of fluids and odors that attract the opposite sex store up in great abundance. This creates a magnetism which attracts those of the opposite sex. Especially attracted will be those of a similar nature and deportment as those of past encounters.

Each person is born in a full state of brahmacharya. Upon reaching puberty, those boys and girls who remain virgins maintain the inherent state of brahmacharya. They are able to ward off, and may not even notice, many emotional and sexual temptations that would be troublesome to the nonvirgin. This is because the psychic shield surrounding the virgin’s aura has never been penetrated. They are the ones “who walk in the rain without getting wet, sit long in the sun without getting burned.” They are the ones for whom reading about worldly experiences nurtures only their curiosity, whereas had they established psychic tubular connections with a member of the opposite sex, the reading would nurture a much deeper sexual desire. It is the virgins performing brahmacharya sadhana since puberty who can, if they persist, live in “Brahm,” or God consciousness, most of the time, even without performing intense sadhanas. This is because they have never consciously entered into worldly consciousness. Instead they look out into it as if through a veil.

Astral Magnetism

The force of kundalini flows as a river through men and women. Sexual intercourse gives that river an outlet, creates a channel, a psychic-astral tube between their muladhara chakras. After the first intercourse, awareness is turned outward into the external world and the man or woman is more vulnerable to the forces of desire. The ramification of the intellect can now be experienced more than ever before. If the force is contained within the marriage covenant, with blessings from the Devaloka and Sivaloka, rays similar to the astral tube established between the couple are established between each of them through the higher chakras with the Mahadevas and their devas. A holy state of matrimony has been entered into. Dancing with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism states: “When a young virgin man and woman marry and share physical intimacy with each other, their union is very strong and their marriage stable. This is due to the subtle, psychic forces of the human nerve system. Their psychic forces, or nadis, grow together, and they form a one body and a one mind. This is the truest marriage and the strongest, seldom ending in separation or divorce. Conversely, if the man or woman has had intercourse before the marriage, the emotional/psychic closeness of the marriage will suffer, and this in proportion to the extent of promiscuity.”

The higher rays and lower astral-psychic tubes that are created between husband and wife can contain the forces of desire within them. They also control the instinctive curiosities of the intellect, allowing its full power to manifest and create a productive and abundant life for the family which has continuity and consistency. A life of dharma can be lived.

The release of the sacred seed into the woman during sexual intercourse establishes, through the first chakra, a connecting psychic astral tube which can be clearly seen on the astral plane. It is through this psychic tube that desires, feelings and even telepathic messages can be passed from one to another. This connecting tube is generally about six inches in diameter.

Nowadays, because of promiscuity, masses of people are connected one to another in this way. A great bed of astral matter envelops them as they go from one partner to another. This causes the forces of intense fear to persist. From an inner perspective, their soul bodies are obscured by this astral matter, and it is most difficult for those living in the Devaloka to contact anyone on the Earth plane who is thus involved. Such individuals must fend for themselves, with little or no protection from the Devaloka or the Sivaloka, as do the animals, who do not have benefit of the intellect to guide their actions.

Any two people touching in other ways — kissing, embracing — also establishes a temporary connecting link of astral matter which penetrates their auras and completely covers their forms. This is sometimes called the great magnetism, for it appears in the Second World as a psychic mass connecting the two of them as wide as the length of their bodies. This astral matter is created from the diverse expulsion of emotional energies, blending their auras together. The psychic connection is magnetic enough to repeatedly pull them back together or cause emotional pain if they are separated. But unless the encounter is repeated, the astral matter will wear away in three or four days, a month at the most. In this way, touching or caressing someone causes an abundant release of magnetic force to occur.

The Path To Perfection

It is the brahmachari’s duty to be the channel of the three worlds. In this way he can help stabilize humanity through the Kali Yuga so that the forces of promiscuous desire do not blot out our culture, creativity and all connection with the Sivaloka. This is why the sadhana of brahmacharya is so extremely important for each unmarried Saivite to understand and observe.

As a brahmachari or brahmacharini, you must endeavor to hold the force of the Sivaloka and the Devaloka in line with the higher forces of the Bhuloka, the Earth plane. This happens naturally through the transmutation process and living a contemplative life. Regular personal sadhana and noninvolvement in the emotional nature of others is the practice to be observed.

A great aid to the accomplishment of this is to invoke Lord Siva daily. Then the higher chakras open within your psychic body. Peace of mind comes unbidden, and bliss flows forth from your aura for all to feel. Regular puja invoking the assistance of Lord Murugan will also greatly aid in a premature banishing of connections with the external world and in severing the tubular connections with inhabitants in it. When Lord Murugan is reached through your puja, He will also give wisdom and the divine understanding of the transmutation process.

An occasional loss of the reproductive fluids does not “break” or interrupt brahmacharya sadhana, though this should be avoided and is minimal when the brahmacharya sadhana takes hold. If one does have a “wet dream,” this should not cause undue concern. Rather, this should be regarded as simply the natural release of excess energy, of which the vitality, or prana, goes up into the higher chakras as the physical fluid goes out. This does not happen during masturbation.

Those who have resolved to follow the path of brahmacharya, but are troubled by sexual fantasies and nightly encounters during their dream state, should not despair. These are simply indications that their creative energies are not being used to capacity. The brahmachari or brahmacharini should simultaneously resolve to work more diligently in guiding the flow of thought through the day. They should work harder, mentally and physically, get up early in the morning and do sadhana, go to bed early and seek the more refined areas of consciousness during the dream states. How can you seek these more refined areas during sleep? This is done through chanting and meditating before going to sleep, and through praying for guidance from Lord Ganesha.

There is a simple remedy or penance, self imposed, that we recommend for one who indulges briefly in a sexual fantasy: to have just rice and dal for lunch, rather than a full meal. If he indulges longer in such fantasies, he fasts for that meal with his empty plate before him to remind him of the need to control his inner forces. The instinctive mind will eventually get the idea that if you persist in these visualizations in moments of careless fascination you don’t get to eat. And what’s more important?

Psychic Ties With Parents

It is only sexual intercourse between a man and a woman that breaks brahmacharya sadhana, causing an astral umbilical-like psychic cord about six to twelve inches wide to form in the inner ether between them. It is within this psychic tube that the forces of energy and desire flow from one to another. These are the same forces between mother and father which culminate in the birth of a child and surround and protect him or her through earthly consciousness until age twenty-five. The psychic connection between mother and father emotionally stabilizes all children of the family. But if there are other tubes involved due to pre-marital promiscuity, or new ones being created with members of the opposite sex outside of the marriage, the children suffer emotionally while growing up. The unleashed forces of instinctiveness may often cause them to be disturbed or frustrated.

As a child grows to maturity, he gradually detaches himself, year by year, from the connection between his father and mother. The detachment is complete by the age of twenty-five. But if the son, or daughter, develops a psychic, astral tube with a member of the opposite sex before this age, he disconnects from his father and mother immediately at that point. From that time onward he no longer relates to them in the same way as he once did. Through the sexual act, he now has “left home” and entered the world. The mother and father can feel the difference, and so can the son.

Virgins also have strong temptations with the opposite sex from time to time, especially if they meet former spouses from past lives. Unless a strict understanding of brahmacharya is observed, these encounters with past-life lovers may move their fluids and emotions to the point of intercourse. All parents should explain to their children at an early age the importance of remaining virgin until married. They must be taught that the elations and the depressions that follow from disciplining oneself are a part of life on this planet. They can be gently but firmly taught the practice of mentally and physically “walking away” from temptation.

Learning to walk away from a situation in dignity is more effective than almost anything else in protecting the brahmachari and the brahmacharini from the overpowering temptation to allow their sacred power to flow out to those of the opposite sex. Walking away from temptation, mentally, emotionally and physically, is so easy to remember, so easy to practice. Teach it to the children. Practice it yourself. And through the grace of Lord Siva a new generation of knowledgeable people will walk the path to His holy feet.

Redirecting Sexual Desire

Brahmacharya literally means Godly conduct, which in practice and by tradition means celibacy, complete abstinence from sexual relations. Brahmacharya is practiced traditionally by: 1) monastics; 2) young persons living at home with parents prior to entering marriage or a monastery; 3) single persons living alone in the world; and 4) married couples who observe celibacy in later life, generally after age sixty. In our traditional and strict organization, the formal title brahmachari (or brahmacharini) is used only by single men (or women) who have taken lifetime vows of celibacy under the auspices of our Saivite Hindu Church.

To aid in fulfilling the principles of purity, the devotee commencing this discipline is encouraged to take a vow of celibacy and purity, known as brahmacharya vrata. In fulfillment of this solemn oath, the individual vows to value and protect purity in thought, word and deed, and chastity in body, and to sublimate and transmute the sexual energies and the instinctive impulses of anger, jealousy, greed, fear, hatred and selfishness. In our Hindu Church, all young persons take such a pledge and promise to remain virgin until such time as they are married, preferably to another Saivite Hindu by arrangement of the parents of both families and with the blessings of the satguru. The sacred cord is worn around the waist to betoken this solemn oath. The formal study of the Saivite religious teachings is begun under an authorized catalyst and with the supervision of parents. The parents share in his oath and accept full responsibility to see that it is fulfilled. As the fourth yama, or restraint, brahmacharya is emulated in married life in the sense of fidelity, confining all sexual thoughts and expressions to one’s spouse.

Brahmacharya is transmutation — the changing of a grosser form or force into a finer one. It can be likened to the boiling of water into steam to give a greater power. As the fluids are reabsorbed by the bloodstream, the actinic force of them feeds each of the seven chakras in turn. The Tirumantiram states, “If the sacred seed is retained, the body’s life does not ebb, and great strength, energy, intelligence and alertness are attained” (1948). Transmutation of the sacred fluids does not mean to suppress, repress or inhibit.

Just lift your arm. It took energy to lift it. If you were tired, it took even more energy than usual. This energy does not come from a power plant outside you. It comes from within you, of course. Your stamina, the actinic glow in your eyes, the radiance of your personality — these are all manifestations of energy, of your creative life force. And so are the male and female reproductive fluids. They comprise aggressive and passive forces drawn from the pingala and the ida currents within the soul body. They are sparked with pure spiritual force from the door of Brahman, at the core of the sahasrara chakra. When correctly channeled, the subtler forms of this creative energy are the essence of artistic, intellectual and spiritual expression. Those who practice transmutation awaken many latent talents from within. It becomes second nature for them to create and express, being in tune with the essence of creative energy.

Inner-Plane Education

The goal of perfect brahmacharya is the continual re-channeling of sexual desire. This is also the practice, for one does not suddenly reach a point where desire goes away. Desire is life. Desire can be directed according to the personal will. Living life according to basic spiritual principles is your sadhana. Through sadhana you can gain mastery over all the forces of your mind and body. As man leaves his instinctive-intellectual nature and unfolds spiritually, the forces of that nature must be brought under his conscious control.

We hope that you have been able to set aside half an hour a day, or at least fifteen minutes, for the study of these lessons. If not, don’t be discouraged. Keep trying. If nothing more, please try to read a little from your daily lesson each night before you retire to sleep. These holy teachings will then draw you naturally into the more spiritual areas of the Devaloka while you sleep. Many inner-plane people are there to help you. You are not alone in your study and desire for spiritual unfoldment. It is known by all mystically minded people that “As we think, so we become.” Thinking of the great Mahadevas and Deities of high evolution stimulates our own evolution. Our spiritual unfoldment is hastened.

Each night you are taught many wonderful things on the inner plane during sleep. You may not realize this upon awakening or even remember what you have learned. This is because the astral brain functions at a much higher rate of vibration than the physical brain. Most nights, you probably spend several hours learning from gurus and guides in Saivite schools within the spiritual areas of the Devaloka, the astral world. Sometimes dozens, even hundreds, of devotees with similar interests gather together to learn. They are all in their astral bodies, on the astral plane, while their physical bodies are asleep. When one is firm in the practice of brahmacharya, it is possible to remain for long periods of time in inner-plane schools and absorb much more of the teaching being given there. Those who are not strong in brahmacharya are often seen appearing and then disappearing from among the group as they are drawn back to their physical bodies by emotions and desires.

Remember, your own soul knows the reasons why you were born in this life. It knows what you need to accomplish in this birth. As a soul, you know what obstacles and challenges you need to face and overcome to grow stronger and conquer past karmic patterns through fulfilling your chosen dharma. These and other matters are examined by you and your teachers in the Devaloka schools while your physical body sleeps. The more fully established you are in bramacharya, the more religious you become and the more able to face the world with a positive mental attitude.

Sacred Recitation

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

By austerity, goodness is obtained. From goodness, understanding is reached. From understanding, the Self is obtained, and he who obtains the Self is freed from the cycle of birth and death.

Sacred Vows

Vrata, taking of sacred vows, is the eighth niyama and something every Hindu must do at one time or another during his lifetime. The brahmacharya vrata is the first, pledging to maintain virginity until marriage. The vivaha vrata, marriage vows, would generally be the next. Taking a vow is a sacred trust between yourself, your outer self, your inner self, your loved ones and closest friends. Even though they may not know of the vow you may have taken, it would be difficult to look them straight in the eye if you yourself know you have let yourself down. A vow is a sacred trust between you and your guardian devas, the devas that surround the temple you most frequent and the Mahadevas, who live within the Third World — which you live in, too, in your deep, innermost mind, in the radiant, self-luminous body of your soul.

Many people make little promises and break them. This is not a vrata, a sacred trust. A vrata is a sacred trust with God, Gods and guru made at a most auspicious time in one’s life. Vrata is a binding force, binding the external mind to the soul and the soul to the Divine, though vrata is sometimes defined generally as following religious virtues or observances, following the principles of the Vedas, of the Hindu Dharma. There are vratas of many kinds, on many different levels, from the simple promise we make to ourself and our religious community and guru to perform the basic spiritual obligations, to the most specific religious vows.

Vratas give the strength to withstand the temptations of the instinctive forces that naturally come up as one goes on through life — not to suppress them but to rechannel them into a lifestyle fully in accord with the yamas and niyamas. The yamas should be at least two-thirds perfected and the niyamas two-thirds in effect before vratas are taken.

We must remember that the yamas are restraints, ten clues as to what forces to restrain and how to restrain them. Some people are better than others at accomplishing this, depending on their prarabdha karmas, but the effort in trying is the important thing. The practices, niyamas, on the other hand, are progressive, according to the perfection of the restraints. Commitment to the first yama, noninjury, ahimsa, for example, makes the first niyama, remorse, or hri, a possibility in one’s life. And satya, truthfulness, brings santosha — contentment, joy and serenity in life. The first five practices, niyamas, are tools to keep working with yourself, to keep trying within the five major areas they outline.

If one wants to progress further, he does not have to take on a guru — to study scriptures or develop a spiritual will or intellect — that would come naturally, nor to take simple vratas, to chant Aum as japa and to perform certain sadhanas and penance. These are all available. But a guru naturally comes into one’s life when the last five yamas — steadfastness, compassion, honesty, a moderate appetite, and purity — give rise to the last five niyamas — siddhanta shravana (choice of lineage), mati (cognition and developing a spiritual will with the guru’s guidance), vrata (sacred vows before a guru), japa (recitation after initiation from guru) and tapas (austerities performed under the careful guidance of a guru). We can see that the last five practices are taken on two levels: guru involvement, and community and personal involvement.

Types Of Vows

Many people get together with modern-day gurus and want to rush ahead, and with feigned humility seek to “get on with it” and “be their own person,” but feel they need an initiation to do so. The gurus and swamis from India following a traditional path put initiation before them. Most gurus and swamis are dumbfounded by the devotion they see in these souls, perhaps not realizing they are stimulated by drugs and the desire to get something without earning it. The gurus presume they are already performing the yamas and niyamas and have dropped out of some higher inner world into Earth bodies. So, the initiations are given and vows are taken, but then when the reaction to the action comes within the mind of the devotee, and the swami begins to teach on a different level to this chosen group, because after initiation a new form of teaching and dissemination of inner knowledge occurs, and since it was only the initiation that was sought for (and he or she does not believe in God and the Gods and is not even part of the Hindu religion), once the devotee feels the pressure of responsibility, he or she responds by leaving, and even defaming the guru.

Many people think that initiation is like a graduation, the end of study. This is not true. Initiation is the beginning of study, the beginning of sadhana, the beginning of learning. Therefore, think well before you become initiated, because your loyalty is expected, and you are expected to adhere to the teachings of the sampradaya, of the lineage, into which you are initiated. This does not mean you can’t attend temples or other religious activities of other sampradayas occasionally, such as festivals, or listen to music or chants of other traditions occasionally, but this should be minimized so that your focus and concentration is upon what you were initiated into, because you are expected to advance on the path of that particular lineage.

There are certain simple vows in Hinduism which are easy to take and often are taken, such as, “If I’m successful in this business dealing, I will give twenty percent of the profits to my temple.” Or, “If my spouse comes back to me, I shall always obey the stri dharma principles (or purusha dharma), be dedicated and devoted always.” “If my dear mother, who is so devoted to my children, lives through her cancer operation (and Lord Ganesha, the doctors have said the chances are not good), you will see me at the temple every Friday without fail. This is my vrata, Lord Ganesha, and I say no more.” We take vows to change our ways, vows to meditate daily, vows to desist from lying, vows to not eat meat, vows to remain celibate, vows to obey the guru and his tradition, vows to follow these yamas and niyamas.

Perhaps the most obvious and important vow, which can be taken most readily and renewed once a year on a day which you consider your most sacred day — such as Sivaratri, Ganesha Chaturthi, Skanda Shashthi or Dipavali — is the yama and niyama vrata. These twenty restraints and practices are easy to memorize. Commit them to memory. The vrata should go like this: “O Lord Ganesha, open the portals of my wisdom that I might take this vrata with open heart and clear mind. O Lord Murugan, give me the will, fortitude and renewed strength every step of the way to fulfill the vrata that I am taking. O Lord Siva, forgive me if I fail, for these twenty restraints and practices are truly beyond my ability to perfectly uphold. So, this first year, Lord Siva, I vow to fulfill these lofty ideals, to the best of my ability, at least fifty percent. I know I am weak. You know I am weak. I know you will make me strong. I know that you are drawing me ever patiently toward your holy feet. But, Lord Siva, next year I will faithfully renew this vrata, this sacred vow, to these rules, these observances. And if I have succeeded in fulfilling my meager fifty percent according to my conscience, that shall increase my dedication and devotion to you, Lord Siva, and I shall determine to fulfill the yamas and niyamas in my life and soul seventy-five percent or more.”

Success And Failure

Many people feel that when they don’t fulfill their vrata they have failed. One practical example to the contrary is Mahatma Gandhi, who took a vow to be celibate but broke it many times, yet continued the effort and ultimately conquered his instinctive nature. In taking a vrata, at the moment it is heard by priests, elders and all community members, when one hears oneself taking it, and all three worlds rejoice, a balanced scale has been created. Success is on one side, failure on the other. One or the other will win out. This is where the unreserved worship of Lord Murugan will help overbalance the scale on the success side. But if the scale teeters and wavers, the blessings and knowledge of the elders of the community should be sought: the mothers and fathers, the old aunties and uncles, the priests, the pandits and sages, the rishis and gurus. This and this alone will steady the balance. But if actual failure occurs, Lord Ganesha Himself will catch the fall in His four arms and trunk. He will hold the devotee from going into the abyss of remorse of the darkness of the lower worlds. He will speak softly into the right ear and encourage that the vrata be immediately renewed, lest time elapse and the asura of depression take over mind, body and emotion. Yes, the only failure is that experienced by the one who quits, gives up, turns his back on the path and walks the other way, into the realms of darkness, beyond even the reach of the Gods. As Tiruvalluvar said, it is better to strive to fulfill great aspirations, even if you fail, than to achieve minor goals in life. Yes, this is very true.

On the everyday level there are vratas or contracts made with people of the outside world whom you don’t even know. Buy a piece of property, and once you sign the contract you are bound to fulfill it. But a religious vrata is a contract between yourself, the religious community, the devas and the Gods and your guru, if you have one, all of whom know that human failure is a part of life; but striving is the fulfillment of life, and practice is the strengthening effect that the exercise of the human and spiritual will have over the baser elements.

Vows before the community, such as those of marriage and celibacy and other vows where community support is needed, are very important. Other, more personal vows are taken before the community, a temple priest, pandit, elder, swami, guru, or satguru if help is needed to strengthen the individual’s ability to fulfill them. For a certain type of person, a vow before Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan, Lord Siva or all three is enough for him to gain strength and fulfill it. A vow is never only to oneself. This is important to remember. A vow is always to God, Gods and guru, community and respected elders.

One cannot make one’s vow privately, to one’s own individual anava, external personal ego, thinking that no one is listening. This would be more of a promise to oneself, like a New Year’s resolution, a change in attitude based on a new belief, all of which has nothing to do with the yamas and niyamas or religion.

In speaking about the yama and niyama vrata, there is no difference in how the family person upholds it and the celibate monastic upholds it. The families are in their home, the monks are in their matha, monastery. In regards to the vrata of sexual purity, for example, the family man vows to be faithful to his wife and to treat all other women as either a mother or sister and to have no sexual thoughts, feelings or fantasies toward them. Sadhakas, yogis and swamis vow to look at all women as their mothers or sisters, and God Siva and their guru as their mother and father. There is no difference.

Recitation

Now we shall focus on japa, recitation of holy mantras, the ninth niyama. Here again, a guru is essential, unless only the simplest of mantras are recited. The simplest of mantras is Aum, pronounced “AA, OO, MMM.” The AA balances the physical forces when pronounced separately from the OO and the MMM, as the OO balances the astral and mental bodies. The MMM brings the spiritual body into the foreground. And when pronounced all together, AA-OO-MMM, all three bodies are harmonized. Aum is a safe mantra which may be performed without a guru’s guidance by anyone of any religious background living on this planet, as it is the primal sound of the universe itself. All sounds blended together make the sound “Aum.” The overtone of the sounds of an entire city would be “Aum.” In short, it harmonizes, purifies and uplifts the devotee.

One might ask why a guru is important to perform such a simple task as japa. It is the shakti of the guru, of the Gods and the devas that give power to the mantra. Two people, a civilian and a policeman, could say to a third person, “Stop in the name of the law.” The third person would only obey one of them. The one who had no authority would not be listened to. In this example, the policeman had been initiated and had full authority. Therefore, his mantra, “Stop in the name of the law,” seven words, had the desired effect. The person who had not been initiated said the same words, but nobody paid any attention to him. Now, this does not mean one can choose a guru, study with the guru, become accepted by the guru, feign humility, do all the right things and say all the right words, become initiated, receive the mantra and then be off into some kind of other activities or opt for a more liberal path. The guru’s disdain would diminish if not cancel the benefits of the initiation, which obviously had been deceptively achieved. This is why siddhanta shravana (choosing your path carefully) and mati (choosing your guru carefully, being loyal to the sampradaya, to your guru and his successor or successors and training your children to be loyal to the sampradaya) are the foundation of character that the first fifteen restraints and practices are supposed to produce.

Mantra initiation is guru diksha. Traditionally, the family guru would give mantra diksha to the mother and the father and then to the young people, making the guru part of the family itself. There is no way that mantras can be sold and be effective. There is no way that the diksha of mantra initiation, which permits japa, could be effective for someone who was not striving to fulfill the first seventeen of the yamas and niyamas. Any wise guru would test the devotee on these before granting initiation. There is no way a mantra can be learned from a book and be effective. Therefore, approach the guru cautiously and with a full heart. When asked if you are restraining yourself according to the ten yamas, know that perfection is not expected, but effort is. And if you are practicing the first seven niyamas, know that perfection is not expected here either, but regular attentiveness to them is. You, the guru, your family and your friends will all know when you are on the threshold of mantra diksha, which when performed by an established guru is called guru diksha.

Austerity

The tenth and final niyama is austerity, performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice. All religions of the world have their forms of austerity, conditions which one has to live up to — or which individuals are unable to live up to who are too lazy or too dull-minded to understand; and Hinduism is no exception. Our austerities start within the home in the form of daily sadhana. This is obligatory and includes puja, scriptural reading and chanting of holy mantras. This personal vigil takes about half an hour or more. Other sadhanas include pilgrimage to a far-off sacred place once a year, visiting a temple once a week, preferably on Friday or Monday, attending festivals and fulfilling samskaras, rites of passage, for the children especially, but all the family members as well. To atone for misdeeds, penance is obligatory. We must quickly mitigate future effects of the causes we have set into action. This is done through such acts as performing 108 prostrations before the God in the temple.

Tapas is even more austere. It may come early in a lifetime or later in life, unbidden or provoked by raja yoga practices. It is the fire that straightens the twisted life and mind of an individual, bringing him into pure being, giving a new start in life, awakening higher consciousness and a cosmic relationship with God and the Gods, friends, relatives and casual acquaintances. Tapas in Hinduism is sought for, feared, suffered through and loved. Its pain is greater than the pains of parturition, but in the aftermath is quickly forgotten, as the soul, in childlike purity, shines forth in the joys of rebirth that follow in the new life.

Tapas is walking through fire, being scorched, burnt to a crisp, crawling out the other side unburnt, without scars, with no pain. Tapas is walking through the rain, completely drenched, and when the storm stops, not being wet. Tapas is living in a hurricane, tossed about on a churning ocean in a small boat, and when the storm subsides, being landed on a peaceful beach unharmed but purified. Tapas is a mind in turmoil, insane unto its very self. A psychic surgery is being performed by the Gods themselves. When the operation is over, the patient has been cut loose of the dross of all past lives. Tapas is a landslide of mud, a psychic earthquake, coming upon the head and consuming the body of its victim, smothering him in the dross of his misdeeds, beneath which he is unable to breathe, see, speak or hear. He awakens from this hideous dream resting on a mat in a garden hut, smelling sweet jasmine, seeing pictures of Gods and devas adorning the mud walls and hearing the sound of a flute coming from a distant source.

Truly, tapas in its fullest form is sought for only by the renunciate under the guidance of a satguru, but this madness often comes unbidden to anyone on this planet whose dross of misdeeds spills over. The only difference for the Hindu is that he knows what is happening and how it is to be handled; or at least the gurus know, the swamis know, the elders know, the astrologers know. This knowledge is built into the Hindu mind flow as grout is built into a stone wall.

A Lesson In Sacrifice

Sacrifice may be the least-practiced austerity, and the most important. It is the act of giving up to a greater power a cherished possession (be it money, time, intelligence or a physical object) to manifest a greater good. There are many ways to teach sacrifice. My satguru taught sacrifice by cooking a great feast for several hundred people, which took all day to prepare. Their mouths were watering. They had not eaten all day, so as to prepare their bodies to receive this prasada from the satguru. The meal was scheduled to be served at high noon. But Satguru Yogaswami kept delaying, saying, “We have not yet reached the auspicious moment. Let us sing some more bhajanas and Natchintanai. Be patient.” At about 3PM, he said, “Before we can partake of our prasada, I shall ask eleven strong men here to dig a deep, square hole in the ground.” They stepped forward and he indicated the spot where they should dig. Shovels were obtained from homes nearby, and the digging commenced. All waited patiently for his will to be fulfilled, the stomachs growling, the mouths watering at the luscious fragrances of the hot curries, the rasam and the freshly-boiled rice, five sweet-smelling curries, mango chutneys, dal, yogurt and delicious sweet payasam. It was a real feast.

Finally, just before dusk, the pit was completed, and the great saint indicated that it was time to serve the food. “Come, children, surround this pit,” he said. Two or three hundred people stepped forward and surrounded the ten- by ten-foot hole. Women and children were sitting in the front and the men standing in the back, all wondering what he was going to say and hoping he would not delay any longer with the feast. He said, “Now we shall serve our prasada.” He called forward two of the huskiest of the eleven men, the strongest and biggest, and commanded, “Serve the rice. Bring the entire pot.” It was a huge brass pot containing nearly 400 pounds of rice. By this time, many had left, as they had been cooking all morning and singing all afternoon. Only the most devout had remained to see the outcome. When the day began, 1,000 had come. The preparations were for a very big crowd.

Now he said, “Pour the rice in the middle of the pit.” Banana leaves had been laid carefully at the bottom of the pit to form a giant serving plate. The crowd was aghast. “Pour it into the pit?” “Don’t hesitate,” he commanded. Though stunned, the men obeyed Yogaswami without question, dropping the huge mass of steaming rice onto the middle of the banana leaves. He told one man, “Bring the eggplant curry!” To another he said, “Go get the potato curry! We must make this is a full and auspicious offering.”

As all the curries were neatly placed around the rice, everyone was wondering, “Are we to all eat together out of the pit? Is this what the guru has in mind?” Then the kulambu sauce was poured over the middle of the rice. Five pounds of salt was added on the side. Sweet mango and ginger chutneys were placed in the proper way. One by one, each of the luscious preparations was placed in the pit, much to the dismay of those gathered.

Giving Back to Mother Earth

After all the food had been served, the satguru stood up and declared, “People, all of you, participate. Come forward.” They immediately thought, finishing his sentence in their minds, “to eat together this luscious meal you have been waiting for all day as a family of shishyas.” But he had something else in mind, and directed, “Pick up the eleven shovels, shovel some dirt over this delicious meal and then pass your shovel on to the next person. We have fed our Mother Earth, who has given so generously of her abundance all these many years to this large Saivite community. Now we are sacrifi cing our prasada as a precious, heartfelt gift. Mother Earth is hungry. She gets little back; we take all. Let this be a symbol to the world and to each of us that we must sacrifice what we want most.”

In this way, our satguru, Siva Yogaswami, began the first Earth worship ceremony in northern Sri Lanka. He taught a lesson of tapas and sacrifice, of fasting and giving, and giving and fasting. By now the hour was late, very late. After touching his feet and receiving the mark of Siva from him in the form of vibhuti, holy ash, on their forehead, the devotees returned to their homes. It was too late to cook a hot meal, lest the neighbors smell the smoke and know that mischief was afoot. We are sure that a few, if not many, satisfied themselves with a few ripe bananas, while pondering the singular lesson the satguru had taught.

Let’s worship the Earth. It is a being — intelligent and always giving. Our physical bodies are sustained by her abundance. When her abundance is withdrawn, our physical bodies are no more. The ecology of this planet is an intricate intelligence. Through sacrifice, which results in tapas and sadhana, we nurture Mother Earth’s goodwill, friendliness and sustenance. Instill in yourself appreciation, recognition. We should not take advantage of all of this generosity, as a predator does of those he preys upon.

Yes, austerities are a vital part of all sects of Hinduism. They are a call of the soul to bring the outer person into the perfection that the soul is now, has always been and will always be. Austerities should be assigned by a guru, a swami or a qualified elder of the community. One should submit to wise guidance, because these sadhanas, penances, tapas and sacrifices lift our consciousness so that we can deal with, learn to live with, the perfection of the self-luminous, radiant, eternal being of the soul within. Austerity is the powerful bath of fire and bright rays of showering light that washes the soul clean of the dross of its many past lives, and of the current life, which have held it in the bondage of ignorance, misgiving, unforgivingness and the self-perpetuating ignorance of the truths of the Sanatana Dharma. “As the intense fire of the furnace refines gold to brilliance, so does the burning suffering of austerity purify the soul to resplendence” (Weaver’s Wisdom/Tirukural, 267).

Scriptural Study

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

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

Scriptural Listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

The Gods, led by the spirit, honor faith in their worship. Faith is composed of the heart’s intention. Light comes through faith. Through faith men come to prayer, faith in the morning, faith at noon and at the setting of the sun. O faith, give us faith!

Faith

Faith, astikya, is the fourth niyama. Faith is a substance, a collection of molecules, mind molecules, emotion molecules — and some are even physical — collected together, charged with the energies of the Divine and the anxieties of the undivine, made into an astral form of shape, color and sound. Being a creation built up over time, faith can just as readily be destroyed, as the following phrases indicate: crisis of faith, loss of faith, dark night of the soul, and just plain confused disappointment leading to depression. Because of faith, groups of people are drawn together, cling together, remain together, intermarry and give birth, raising their children together in the substance of faith that their collective group is subconsciously committed to uphold.

Anyone can strengthen another’s faith through encouragement, personal example, good natured humoring, praise, flattery, adulation, or take it away by the opposite methods. Many people with more faith than intellect are pawns in the hands of those who hold great faith, or of those who have little faith, or of those who have no faith at all. Therefore, we can see that a clear intellectual understanding of the philosophy is the bedrock to sustaining faith. Faith is on many levels and of many facets. We have faith in a person, a family, a system of government, science, astronomy, astrology. Faith in philosophy, religion, is the most tenuous and delicate kind and, we must say, the most rewarding of all faiths, because once it is sustained in unbroken continuity, the pure soul of the individual begins to shine forth.

Faith has eyes. It has three eyes. The seer who is looking at the world from the perspective of monistic Saiva Siddhanta and sees clearly the final conclusions for all mankind has faith in his perception, because what he sees and has seen becomes stronger in his mind as the years go by. We have the faith of those who have two eyes upraised. They look at the seer as Dakshinamurti, God Himself, and gain strength from His every word. There is also the faith of those who have two eyes lowered. They are reading the scriptures, the teachings of all the seers, and building the aura of faith within their inner psyche. Then there are those who have faith with their eyes closed, blind faith. They know not, read not and are not thinking, but are entranced by the spiritual leader in whom they have faith as a personality. They are nodding their head up and down on his every word and when questioned are not able to adequately explain even one or two of his profound thoughts.

And then we have the others, who make up much of the world population today. They are also with eyes closed, but with heads down, shaking left and right, left and right. They see mostly the darker side of life. They are those who have no faith at all or suffer a semi-permanent loss of faith, who are disappointed in people, governments, systems, philosophies, religions. Their leaders they condemn. This is a sorry lot. Their home is the halls of depression, discouragement and confusion. Their upliftment is jealousy and anger.

Faith Is on Many Levels

Faith extends to another level, too, of pleasure for the sake of pleasure. Here we have the jet-set, the hedonists, the sensualists, the pornographers and their customers. All these groups have developed their own individual mindset and mix and interrelate among themselves, as the astral molecules of this amorphous substance of thought, emotion and belief that we call faith creates their attitudes toward the world, other people and their possessions.

The Hindu, therefore, is admonished by the sapta rishis themselves to believe firmly in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment, lest he stray from the path of dharma — for faith is a powerful force. It can be given; it can be taken away. It is a national force, a community force, a group force, a family force. And it is more than that, as far as the Sanatana Dharma is concerned, which can be translated as the “eternal faith,” the most strengthening and illuminating of all, for it gives courage to all to apply these twenty yamas and niyamas, which represent the final conclusions of the deepest deliverers of eternal wisdom who ever resided on this planet.

Some people have faith only when things are going right and lose faith when things go wrong. These are the ones who are looking up at their leaders, whom they really do not know, who are looking up at the scriptures, which they really do not understand. Because their eyes are closed, they are seeking to be sustained and constantly uplifted by others. “Do my sadhana for me” is their plea. And when some inconsistency arises or some expectation, unbeknownst to their leader and maybe never even recorded in the scriptures, does not manifest, a crisis of faith occurs. Then, more than often, they are off to another leader, another philosophy, to inevitably repeat the same experience. Devotees of this kind, who are called “groupies” in rock and roll, go from group to group, teacher to teacher, philosophy to philosophy. Fortunately for them, the rent is not expensive, the bhajanas are long and the food is good. The only embarrassing situation, which has to be manipulated, is the tactic of leaving one group without totally closing the door, and manipulatively opening the door of another group.

When that uplifted face with eyes closed has the spiritual experience of the eyes opening, the third eye flashing, he or she would have then found at last his or her sampradaya, traditional lineage of verbal teaching, and now be on the unshakable path. The molecules of faith have been converted and secured. They shall never turn back, because they have seen through the third eye the beginning and ending of the path, the traditional lineage ordained to carry them forth generation after generation. These souls become the articulate ones, masters of the philosophy. Their faith is so strong, they can share their molecules with others and mold others’ faith molecules into traditional standards of the whys and wherefores that we all need on this planet, of how we should believe and think, where we go when we die, and all the eternal truths of the ultimate attainments of mankind.

Stages of Evolution

Faith is the intellect of the soul at its various stages of unfoldment. The soul comes forth from Lord Siva as an embryo and progresses through three stages (avastha) of existence: kevala avastha, sakala avastha and shuddha avastha. During kevala avastha, the soul is likened to a seed hidden in the ground or a spark of the Divine hidden in a cloud of unknowing called anava, the primal fetter of individuality, the first aspect of Lord Siva’s concealing grace, tirodhana shakti. Sakala avastha, the next stage in the soul’s journey, is the period of bodily existence, the cyclic evolution through transmigration from body to body, under the additional powers of maya and karma, the second and third aspects of the Lord’s concealing grace.

The journey through sakala avastha is also in three stages. The first is called irul pada, “stage of darkness,” where the soul’s impetus is toward pasha-jnanam, knowledge and experience of the world. The next period is marul pada, “stage of confusion,” where the soul begins to take account of its situation and finds itself caught between the world and God, not knowing which way to turn. This is called pashu-jnanam, the soul seeking to know its true nature. The last period is arul pada, “stage of grace,” when the soul yearns for the grace of God. Now it has begun its true religious evolution with the constant aid of the Lord.

For the soul in darkness, irul, faith is primitive, illogical. In its childlike endeavors it clings to this faith. There is no intellect present in this young soul, only primitive faith and instinctive mind and body. But it is this faith in the unseen, the unknown, the words of the elders and its ability to adjust to community without ruffling everyone’s feathers that matures the soul to the next pada — marul, wherein faith becomes faith in oneself, close friends and associates, faith in one’s intellectual remembrance of the opinions of others, even if they are wrong.

It is not very quickly that the soul gets out of this syndrome, because it is here that the karmas are made that bind the soul, surround the soul, the karmas of ignorance which must be gone through for the wisdom to emerge. Someone who is wise got that way by facing up to all the increments of ignorance. The marul pada is very binding and tenacious, tenaciously binding. But as the external shell of anava is being built, the soul exercises itself in its own endeavor to break through. Its “still small voice” falls on deaf ears.

Yoga brings the soul into its next experiential pattern. The soul comes to find that if he performs good and virtuous deeds, life always seems to take a positive turn. Whereas in negative, unvirtuous acts he slowly becomes lost in a foreboding abyss of confusion. Thus, in faith, he turns toward the good and holy. A balance emerges in his life, called iruvinaioppu.

Whether he is conscious of it or not, he is bringing the three malas — anava, karma and maya — under control. Maya is less and less an enchanting temptress. Karma no longer controls his state of mind, tormenting him through battering experiences. And anava, his self-centered nature, is easing its hold, allowing him to feel a more universal compassion in life. This grows into a state called malaparipakam, the ripening of the malas.

This will allow, at the right moment in his life, arul to set in. This is known as the descent of grace, shaktinipata. The internal descent is recognized as a tremendous yearning for Siva. More and more, he wants to devote himself to all that is spiritual and holy. The outer descent of grace is the appearance of a satguru. There is no question as to who he is, for he sheds the same clear, spiritual vibration as that unknown something the soul feels emanating from his deepest self. It is when the soul has reached malaparipakam that the Lord’s tirodhana function, His concealing grace, has accomplished its work and gives way to anugraha, revealing grace, and the descent of grace, shaktinipata, occurs.

At this stage, knowledge comes unbidden. Insights into human affairs are mere readings of past experiences, for those experiences that are being explained to others were actually lived through by the person himself. This is no mystery. It is the threshold of shuddha avastha. Lord Siva is at the top, Lord Ganesha is at the bottom, and Lord Murugan is in the heart of it, in the center.

Faith in Tradition

The intellect in its capacity to contain truth is a very limited tool, while faith is a very broad, accommodating and embracing faculty. The mystery of life and beyond life, of Siva, is really better understood through faith than through intellectual reasoning. The intellect is a memory/reason conglomerate from the lower nadi/chakra complex. Its refined ability to juggle information around is uncanny in some instances. Nevertheless, the intellect is built upon what we hear and remember, what we experience and remember, what we explain to others who are refined or gross in reasoning faculties. What we remember of it all and the portions that have been forgotten may be greatly beneficial to those listening, or it may be confusing, but it is certainly not Truth with a capital “T.”

There are two kinds of faith. The first kind is faith in those masters, adepts, yogis and rishis who have had similar experiences and have spoken about them in similar ways, unedited by the ignorant. We, therefore, can have faith that some Truth was revealed from within themselves, from some deep, inner or higher source. The second aspect of faith is in one’s own spiritual, unsought-for, unbidden flashes of intuition, revelations or visions, which one remembers even stronger as the months go by, more vividly than something read from a book, seen on television or heard from a friend or a philosopher. These personal revelations create a new, superconscious intellect when verified by what yogis and rishis and the sadhus have seen and heard and whose explanations centuries have preserved. These are the old souls of the shuddha avastha, being educated from within out, building a new intellect from superconscious insights. Their faith is unshakable, undaunted, for it is themself. It is just who they are at this stage of the evolution, the maturation, of their soul in the shuddha avastha.

One of the aspects of faith is the acceptance of tradition rather than the questioning or doubting of traditions. Another is trust in the process of spiritual unfoldment, so that when one is going through an experience, one always believes that the process is happening, instead of thinking that today’s negative experience is outside the process. However, it is not possible for souls in the irul pada, stage of darkness, to trust in the process of anything except their need for food, a few bodily comforts and their gaining the abilities to adjust transparently into a community without committing too many crimes for which they would be severely punished. They gain their lessons through the action-and-painful-reaction ways.

It is difficult and nearly impossible for those in the marul pada, stage of confusion, to have faith in the process of spiritual unfoldment and trust in tradition, because they are developing their personal ego, manufacturing karmas, good, bad and mixed, to sustain their physical existence for hundreds of lives. They will listen to sermons with a deaf ear and, after they are over, enjoy the food and the idle chatter the most. They will read books on philosophy and rationalize their teachings as relevant only to the past. The great knowledge of the past tradition, even the wisdom their grandparents might hold, is an encroachment on their proud sovereignty.

It is only when the soul reaches the maturity to enter the arul pada, the stage of grace, that the ability will come from within to lean on the past and on tradition, perform the present sadhanas, live within dharma and carve a future for themselves and others by bringing the best of the past, which is tradition, forward into the future. This transition is a happy one. Truth now has a capital “T” and is always told. The restraints, the yamas, truly have been perfected and are a vital part of the DNA system of individual living beings. Now, as he enters the arul pada, the niyamas, spiritual practices, stand out strongly in his mind.

The Sanskrit word astikya means “that which is,” or “that which exists.” Thus, for Hindus faith means believing in what is. Astikya refers to one who believes in what is, one who is pious and faithful. We can see that these two words, faith and astikya, are similar in nature. Faith is the spiritual-intellectual mind, developed through many superconscious insights blended together through cognition, not through reason. The insights do not have to be remembered, because they are firmly impressed as samskaras within the inner mind.

There is an old saying favored by practical, experiential intellectuals, “Seeing is believing.” A more profound adage is “Believing is seeing.” The scientists and the educators of today live in the marul pada. They see with their two eyes and pass judgments based on what they currently believe. The rishis of the past and the rishis of the now and those yet to come in the future also are seers. There is a thin thread through the history of China, Japan, India, England and all of Europe, Africa, the Americas, Polynesia and all the countries of the world connecting seers and what they have seen. This seeing is not with the two eyes. It is with the third eye, the eye of the soul. One cannot erase through argument or coercion that which has been seen. The seer relates his seeing to the soul of the one who hears. This is sampradaya. This is guru-shishya transference. This is Truth. This is shuddha. This is the end of this upadesha.

Worship

Worship, Ishvarapujana, is the fifth niyama. Let us declare, in the last analysis, that human life is either worship or warship, higher nature or lower nature. We need say no more. But we will. The brief explanation for Ishvarapujana is to cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation. The soul’s evolution from its conception is based solely on Ishvarapujana, the return to the source. In the irul pada, the stage of darkness, its return to the source is more imminent than actual. The burning desire is there, driven by the instinctive feelings and emotions of living within the seven chakras below the muladhara. There is a natural seeking on the way up. People here will worship almost anything to get out of this predicament. Bound in blind faith, with the absence of a coherent intellect guided by reason, and the absence of a matured intellect developed by superconscious experience, they struggle out of their shell of ignorance, through worship, to a better life. The small thread of intuition keeps assuring them it is there, within their reach if they but strive. They call God, they fear God, seek to be close to Him and see Him as oh-so-far away.

When they are matured and stepping into adolescence in the marul pada, where confusion prevails, worship and the trappings and traditions that go with it seem to be primitive, unreasonable and can all well be dispensed with. It is here that a young lady looks into the mirror and says, “What a fine person! I am more beautiful than all the other girls I know.” A young man may likewise be conceited about his looks or physique. Worship still exists, but is tied closely to narcissism. It is only in the stage of grace, arul, and on its doorstep that true worship arises, which is invoking and opening up to the great beings, God, Gods and devas, in order to commune with them.

Faith, astikya, creates the attitudes for the action of worship. We can see that from the soul’s conception to its fullness of maturity into the final merger with God Siva Himself, worship, communication, looking up, blending with, is truly monistic Saiva Siddhanta, the final conclusions for all mankind. We can conclude that in Sanatana Dharma faith is in What Is, and in the Abrahamic religions faith is in What Is Yet to Be.

Worship could be defined as communication on a very high level: a truly sophisticated form of “channeling,” as New-Age people might say; clairvoyant or clairaudient experience, as mystics would describe it; or heart-felt love interchanged between Deity and devotee, as the ordinary person would describe it. Worship for the Hindu is on many levels and of many kinds. In the home, children worship their father and mother as God and Goddess because they love them. The husband worships his wife as a Goddess. The wife worships her husband as a God. In the shrine room, the entire family together worships images of Gods, Goddesses and saints, beseeching them as their dear friends. The family goes to the temple daily, or at least once a week, attends seasonal festivals and takes a far-off pilgrimage once a year. Worship is the binding force that keeps the Hindu family together. On a deeper level, external worship is internalized, worshiping God within through meditation and contemplation. This form of worship leads into yoga and profound mystical experiences.

Rites of Worship

Many people are afraid to do puja, specific, traditional rites of worship, because they feel they don’t have enough training or don’t understand the mystical principles behind it well enough. To this concern I would say that the priesthood in Hinduism is sincere, devout and dedicated. Most Hindus depend on the priests to perform the pujas and sacraments for them, or to train them to perform home puja and give them permission to do so through initiation, called diksha. However, simple pujas may be performed by anyone wishing to invoke grace from God, Mahadevas and devas.

Love and dedication and the outpouring from the highest chakras of spiritual energies of the lay devotee are often greater than any professional priest could summon within himself. Devotees of this caliber have come up in Hindu society throughout the ages with natural powers to invoke the Gods and manifest in the lives of temple devotees many wondrous miracles.

There is also an informal order of priests called pandara, which is essentially the self-appointed priest who is accepted by the community to perform pujas at a sacred tree, a simple shrine or an abandoned temple. He may start with the mantra Aum and learn a few more mantras as he goes along. His efficaciousness can equal that of the most advanced Sanskrit shastri, performing in the grandest temple. Mothers, daughters, aunts, fathers, sons, uncles, all may perform puja within their own home, and do, as the Hindu home is considered to be nothing less than an extension of the nearby temple. In the Hindu religion, unlike the Western religions, there is no one who stands between man and God.

Years ago, in the late 1950S, I taught beginning seekers how to offer the minimal, simplest form of puja at a simple altar with fresh water, flowers, a small candle, incense, a bell and a stone. This brings together the four elements, earth, air, fire and water — and your own mind is akasha, the fifth element. The liturgy is simply chanting “Aum.” This is the generic puja which anyone can do before proper initiation comes from the right sources. People of any religion can perform Hindu puja in this way.

All Hindus have guardian devas who live on the astral plane and guide, guard and protect their lives. The great Mahadevas in the temple that the devotees frequent send their deva ambassadors into the homes to live with the devotees. A room is set aside for these permanent unseen guests, a room that the whole family can enter and sit in and commune inwardly with these refined beings who are dedicated to protecting the family generation after generation. Some of them are their own ancestors. A token shrine in a bedroom or a closet or a niche in a kitchen is not enough to attract these Divinities. One would not host an honored guest in one’s closet or have him or her sleep in the kitchen and expect the guest to feel welcome, appreciated, loved. All Hindus are taught from childhood that the guest is God, and they treat any guest royally who comes to visit. Hindus also treat God as God and devas as Gods when they come to live permanently in the home.

But liberal sects of Hinduism teach that God and devas are only figments of one’s imagination. These sects are responsible for producing a more materialistic and superficial group of followers. Not so the deep, mystical Hindu, who dedicates his home to God and sets a room aside for God. To him and the family, they are moving into God’s house and living with God. Materialistic, superficial Hindus feel that God might be living, sometimes, maybe, in their house. Their homes are fraught with confusion, deceptive dealings, back-biting, anger, even rage, and their marriages nowadays often end in divorce.

They and all those who live in the lower nature are restricted from performing puja, because when and if they do puja, the invocation calls up the demons rather than calling down the devas. The asuric beings invoked into the home by angry people, and into the temple by angry priests, or by contentious, argumentative, sometimes rageful boards of directors, take great satisfaction in creating more confusion and escalating simple misunderstandings into arguments leading to angry words, hurt feelings and more. With this in mind, once anger is experienced, thirty-one days should pass to close the door on the chakras below the muladhara before puja may again be performed by that individual. Simple waving of incense before the icons is permissible, but not the passing of flames, ringing of bells or the chanting of any mantra, other than the simple recitation of Aum.

Living in God’s Home

The ideal of Ishvarapujana, worship, is to always be living with God, living with Siva, in God’s house, which is also your house, and regularly going to God’s temple. This lays the foundation for finding God within. How can someone find God within if he doesn’t live in God’s house as a companion to God in his daily life? The answer is obvious. It would only be a theoretical pretense, based mainly on egoism. If one really believes that God is in his house, what kinds of attitudes does this create? First of all, since family life is based around food, the family would feed God in His own room at least three times a day, place the food lovingly before His picture, leave, close the door and let God and His devas eat in peace. God and the devas do enjoy the food, but they do so by absorbing the pranas, the energies, of the food. When the meal is over, and after the family has eaten, God’s plates are picked up, too. What is left on God’s plate is eaten as prasada, as a blessing. God should be served as much as the hungriest member of the family, not just a token amount. Of course, God, Gods and the devas do not always remain in the shrine room. They wander freely throughout the house, listening to and observing the entire family, guests and friends. Since the family is living in God’s house, and God is not living in their house, the voice of God is easily heard as their conscience.

When we are living in God’s house, it is easy to see God as pure energy and life within every living form, the trees, the flowers, the plants, the fire, the Earth, humans, animals and all creatures. When we see this life, which is manifest most in living beings, we are seeing God Siva. Many families are too selfish to set aside a room for God. Though they have their personal libraries, rumpus rooms, two living rooms, multiple bedrooms, their superficial religion borders on a new Indian religion. Their shrine is a closet, or pictures of God and Goddesses on the vanity mirror of their dressing table. The results of such worship are nil, and their life reflects the chaos that we see in the world today.

The psychology and the decision and the religion is, “Do we live with God, or does God occasionally visit us?” Who is the authority in the home, an unreligious, ignorant, domineering elder? Or is it God Siva Himself, or Lord Murugan or Lord Ganesha, whom the entire family, including elders, bow down to because they have resigned themselves to the fact that they are living in the ashrama of Mahadevas? This is religion. This is Ishvarapujana.

It is often said that worship is not only a performance at a certain time of day in a certain place, but a state of being in which every act, morning to night, is done in Siva consciousness, in which life becomes an offering to God. Then we can begin to see Siva in everyone we meet. When we try, just try — and we don’t have to be successful all the time — to separate the life of the individual from his personality, immediately we are in higher consciousness and can reflect contentment and faith, compassion, steadfastness and all the higher qualities, which is sometimes not possible to do if we are only looking at the external person. This practice, of Ishvarapujana sadhana, can be performed all through the day and even in one’s dreams at night.

Meditation, too, in the Hindu way is based on worship. It is true that Hindus do teach meditation techniques to those who have Western backgrounds as a mind-manipulative experience. However, a Hindu adept, rishi or jnani, even an experienced elder, knows that meditation is a natural outgrowth of the charya, kriya and yoga paths. It is based on a religious foundation, as trigonometry is based on geometry, algebra and arithmetic.

If you are worshiping properly, if you take worship to its pinnacle, you are in perfect meditation. We have seen many devotees going through the form of worship with no communication with the God they are worshiping or even the stone that the God uses as a temporary body. They don’t even have a smile on their face. They are going through the motions because they have been taught that meditation is the ultimate, and worship can be dispensed with after a certain time. Small wonder that when they are in meditation, their minds are confused and subconscious overloads harass them. Breathing is irregular, and if made regular has to be forced. Their materialistic outlook on life — of seeing God everywhere, yet not in those places they rationalize God can never possibly be — contradicts their professed dedication to the Hindu way of life.

Yes, truly, worship unreservedly. Perfect this. Then, after initiation, internalize that worship through yoga practices given by a satguru. Through that same internal worship, unreservedly, you will eventually attain the highest goal. These are the Saiva Siddhanta conclusions of the seven rishis who live within the sahasrara chakra of all souls.

Happiness And Giving

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

The liberal man is he who gives to the beggar who wanders in search of food, lean and forlorn; the one who helps the passerby, when asked, makes of this same a friend for days to come.

Santosha: Contentment

Contentment, santosha, is the second niyama. How do we practice contentment? Simply do not harm others by thought, word or deed. As a practitioner of ahimsa, noninjury, you can sleep contentedly at night and experience santosha then and through the day. Contentment is a quality that everyone wants, and buys things to obtain — “Oh, if I only had my house redecorated, I would be content.” “A new wardrobe would content me, give me joy and serenity.” “To be content, I must have a vacation and get away from it all. There I can live the serene life and have joyous experiences.”

The dharmic way is to look within and bring out the latent contentment that is already there by doing nothing to inhibit its natural expression, as santosha, the mood of the soul, permeates out through every cell of the physical body. Contentment is one of the most difficult qualities to obtain, and is well summed up within our food blessing mantra, from the Shukla Yajur Veda, Isa Upanishad invocation, “That is fullness. Creation is fullness. From that fullness flows this world’s fullness. This fullness issues from that fullness, yet that fullness remains full.” This joy we seek is the joy of fullness, lacking nothing.

Life is meant to be lived joyously. There is in much of the world the belief that life is a burden, a feeling of penitence, that it is good to suffer, good for the soul. In fact, spiritual life is not that way at all. The existentialist would have you believe that depression, rage, fear and anguish are the foremost qualities of the human temper and expression. The communists used to have us believe that joy and serenity as the outgrowth of religion are just an opiate of the people, a narcotic of unreality. The Semitic religions of the Near East would have us believe that suffering is good for the soul, and there is not much you can do about it. The Saivite Hindu perspective is that contentment is a reflection of centeredness, and discontentment is a reflection of externalized consciousness and ramified desire.

Maintaining joy and serenity in life means being content with your surroundings, be they meager or lavish. Be content with your money, be it a small amount or a large amount. Be content with your health. Bear up under ailments and be thankful that they are not worse than they are. Protect your health if it is good. It is a valuable treasure. Be content with your friends. Be loyal to those who are your long-time, trusted companions. Basically, contentment, santosha, is freedom from desire gained by redirecting the forces of desire and making a beautiful life within what one already has in life.

The rich seeking more riches are not content. The famous seeking more fame are not content. The learned seeking more knowledge are not content. Being content with what you have does not mean you cannot discriminate and seek to progress in life. It doesn’t mean you should not use your willpower and fulfill your plans.

It does mean you should not become upset while you are striving toward your goals, frustrated or unhappy if you do not get what you want. The best striving is to keep pushing along the natural unfoldment of positive trends and events in your life, your family life and your business. Contentment is working within your means with what is available to you, living within your income, being grateful for what you have, and not unhappy over what you lack.

There are many frustrated souls on the path who torment themselves no end and walk around with long faces because they estimate they are not unfolding spiritually fast enough. They have set goals of Self Realization for themselves far beyond their abilities to immediately obtain. If people say, “I am not going to do anything that will not make me peaceful or that will threaten my peace of mind,” how will they get anywhere? That is not the idea of santosha. True santosha is seeing all-pervasiveness of the one divine power everywhere. The light within the eyes of each person is that divine power. With this in mind, you can go anywhere and do anything. Contentment is there, inside you, and needs to be brought out. It is a spiritual power. So, yes, do what makes you content. But know that contentment really transcends worrying about the challenges that face you. Santosha is being peaceful in any situation. The stronger you are in santosha, the greater the challenges you can face and still remain quiet on the inside, peaceful and content, poised like a hummingbird hovering over a flower.

Keeping Peace In the Home

Santosha is the goal; dharma, good conduct, remains the director of how you should act and respond to fulfill your karma. This goal is attainable by following the ten Vedic restraints: not harming others by thought, word or deed, refraining from lying, not entering into debt, being tolerant with people and circumstance, overcoming changeableness and indecision, not being callous, cruel or insensitive to other people’s feelings. Above all, never practice deception. Don’t eat too much. Maintain a vegetarian diet for purity and clarity of mind. Watch carefully what you think and how you express it through words. All of these restraints must be captured and practiced within the lifestyle before the natural contentment, the santosha, the pure, serene nature, of the soul can shine forth. Therefore, the practice to attain santosha is to fulfill the yamas. Proceed with confidence; failure is an impossibility.

I was asked by a cyberspace cadet among our Internet congregation, “Where do we let off steam? Mom works, dad works, the kids are in school, and when everyone comes home, everyone lets off a little steam, and everyone understands.” My answer is don’t let off steam in the home. The home is a sanctuary of the entire family. It should have an even higher standard of propriety than the office, the factory or the corporate workplace. When we start being too casual at home and letting off steam, we say things that perhaps we shouldn’t. We may think the rest of the family understands, but they don’t. Feelings get hurt. We break up the vibration of the home. Young people also let off steam in school, thus inhibiting their own education. They behave in a way in the classroom that they would not in a corporate office, and who is hurt but themselves? It’s amazing how quickly people shape up their behavior when they sign a contract, when they get a job in a corporate office. They read the manual, they obey it and they are nice to everyone. This is the way it should be within the home. The home should be maintained at a higher standard than the corporate office.

The wonderful thing about Hinduism is that we don’t let off steam at home; we let our emotions pour out within the Hindu temple. The Hindu temple is the place where we can relate to the Gods and the Goddesses and express ourselves within ourselves. It’s just between ourselves and the Deity. In a Hindu temple there may be, all at the same time, a woman worshiper crying in a corner, not far away a young couple laughing among themselves with their children, and nearby someone else arguing with the Gods. The Hindu temple allows the individual to let off steam but it is a controlled situation, controlled by the pujas, the ceremony, the priesthood.

So as to not make more karma in this life by saying things we don’t mean, having inflections in our voice that are hurtful to others, we must control the home, control ourselves in the workplace, keep the home at a higher vibration of culture and protocol than the workplace, and include the temple in our lives as a place to release our emotions and regain our composure.

It is making a lot of really bad karma that will come back in its stronger reaction later on in life for someone, the husband or wife or teenager, to upset the vibration of the home because of stress at school or in the workplace. It is counterproductive to work all day in a nice office, control the emotions and be productive, and then go home and upset the vibration within the home. After all, why is someone working? It’s to create the home. Why is someone going to school? It’s to eventually create a home. It is counterproductive to destroy that which one works all day to create. That’s why I advise the professional mother, the professional father, the professional son and the professional daughter to use in the home the same good manners that are learned in the workplace, and build the vibration of the home even stronger than the vibration of the workplace, so that there is something inviting to come home to.

We have seen so many times, professionals, men and women, behave exquisitely in the workplace, but not so exquisitely at home, upset the home vibration, eventually destroying the home, breaking up the home. And we have seen, through the years, a very unhappy person in retirement, a very bitter person in retirement. No one wants him around, no one wants to have him in their home. Therefore, he winds up in some nursing home, and he dies forgotten.

The Sanatana Dharma and Saiva Samayam must be alive in the home, must be alive in the office, must be alive in the temple, for us to have a full life. Where, then, do we vent our emotions, where do we let off steam, if not in our own home? The answer is, within the temple.

Giving

Giving, dana, is the third great religious practice, or niyama. It is important to remember that giving freely of one’s goods in fulfilling needs, making someone happy or putting a smile on his face, mitigates selfishness, greed, avarice and hoarding. But the most important factor is “without thought of reward.” The reward of joy and the fullness you feel is immediate as the gift passes from your two hands into the outstretched hands of the receiver. Dana is often translated as “charity.” But charity in modern context is a special kind of giving by those who have to those who have not. This is not the true spirit of dana. The word fulfillment might describe dana better. The fulfillment of giving that wells up within the giver as the gift is being prepared and as the gift is being presented and released, the fulfillment of the expectancy of the receiver or the surprise of the receiver, and the fullness that exists afterwards are all a part of dana.

Dashamamsha, tithing, too, is a worthy form of dana — giving God’s money to a religious institution to fulfill with it God’s work. One who is really fulfilling dana gives dashamamsha, never goes to visit a friend or relative with empty hands, gives freely to relatives, children, friends, neighbors and business associates, all without thought of reward. The devotee who practices dana knows fully that “you cannot give anything away.” The law of karma will return it to you full measure at an appropriate and most needed time. The freer the gift is given, the faster it will return.

What is the proportionate giving after dashamamsha, ten percent, has been deducted. It would be another two to five percent of one’s gross income, which would be equally divided between cash and kind if someone wanted to discipline his dana to that extent. That would be fifteen percent, approximately one sixth, which is the makimai established in South India by the Chettiar community around the Palani Temple and now practiced by the Malaka Chettiars of Malaysia.

If one were to take a hard look at the true spirit of dana in today’s society, the rich giving to religious institutions for a tax deduction are certainly giving with a thought of reward. Therefore, giving after the tax deductions are received and with no material benefits or rewards of any kind other than the fulfillment of giving is considered by the wise to be a true expression of dana. Making something with one’s own hands, giving in kind, is also a true expression of dana. Giving a gift begrudgingly in return for another gift is, of course, mere barter. Many families barter their way through life in this way, thinking they are giving. But such gifts are cold, the fulfillment is empty, and the law of karma pays discounted returns.

Hospitality And Fullness

Hospitality is a vital part of fulfilling dana. When guests come, they must be given hospitality, at least a mat to sit on and a glass of water to drink. These are obligatory gifts. You must never leave your guest standing, and you must never leave your guest thirsty. If a guest were to smell even one whiff from the kitchen of the scented curries of a meal being prepared, he must be asked four times to stay for the meal. He will politely refuse three times and accept on the fourth invitation. This is also an obligatory giving, for the guest is treated as God. God Siva’s veiling grace hides Siva as He dresses in many costumes. He is a dancer, you know, and dancers wear many costumes. He will come as a guest to your home, unrecognizable. You might think it is your dear friend from a far-off place. That, too, is Siva in another costume, and you must treat that guest as Siva. Giving to Siva Siva’s own creation in your mind brings the highest rewards through the law of karma.

Even if you think you are giving creatively, generously, looking for no rewards, but you are giving for a purpose, that karma will still pay you back with full interest and dividends. This is a positive use of the law of karma. It pays higher interest than any bank. This is not a selfish form of giving. It is the giving of the wise, because you know the law of karma, because you know the Sanatana Dharma — the divine, eternal laws. If you see a need that you can fill and have the impulse to give but recoil from giving, later, when you are in need, there will be someone who has the impulse to give to you but will recoil from giving. The wheels of karma grind slowly but exceedingly well the grains of actions, be they in thought, emotion or those of a physical nature. So, one can be quite selfish and greedy about wanting to practice dana to accumulate the punya for the balance of this life, the life in-between lives, in the astral world, and for a good birth in the next incarnation. The practice of dana is an investment in a better life, an investment that pays great dividends.

We are not limited by our poverty or wealth in practicing giving. No matter how poor you are, you can still practice it. You can give according to your means, your inspiration, your ability. When the fullness has reached its peak within you while preparing the gift, be it arranging a bouquet of freshly picked flowers, a tray of fruit, counting out coins, sorting a pile of bills or putting zeros on a check that you’re writing, then you know that the gift is within your means. Gifts within your means and from your heart are the proper gifts.

The Selfish And Miserly

The virtue of dana deals with the pragmatic physical transference of cash or kind. It is the foundation and the life blood of any other form of religious giving, such as giving of one’s time. Many people rationalize, “I’ll give my time to the temple. I’ll wash the pots, scrub the floor and tidy up. But I can’t afford to give of my limited wealth proportionate to what would be total fulfillment of giving.” Basically, they have nothing better to do with their time, and to ease their own conscience, they volunteer a little work. There is no merit, no punya, in this, only demerit, papa. No, it’s just the other way around. One who has perfected dana in cash and in kind and is satisfied within this practice, this niyama, will then be able and willing to give of his time, to tithe ten percent of his time, and then give time over and above that to religious and other worthy causes. Shall we say that the perfection of dana precedes seva, service?

What can be said of someone who is all wrapped up in his personal self: concealing his personal ego with a pleasant smile, gentle deeds, soft words, but who just takes care of “number one”? For instance, if living with ten people, he will cook for himself and not cook for the others. He gets situations confused, entertains mental arguments within himself and is always worried about the progress in his religious life. We would say he is still trying to work on the restraints — compassion, patience, sexual purity, moderate appetite — and has not yet arrived at number three on the chart of the practices called niyamas. Modern psychology would categorize him as self-centered, selfish, egotistical. To overcome this selfishness, assuming he gets the restraints in order, doing things for others would be the practice, seeing that everyone is fed first before he eats, helping out in every way he can, performing anonymous acts of kindness at every opportunity.

In an orthodox Hindu home, the traditional wife will follow the practice of arising in the morning before her husband, preparing his hot meal, serving him and eating only after he is finished; preparing his lunch, serving him and eating after he is finished; preparing his dinner, serving him and eating after he is finished, even if he returns home late. Giving to her husband is her fulfillment, three times a day. This is built into Hindu society, into Saivite culture.

Wives should be allowed by their husbands to perform giving outside the home, too, but many are not. All too often, they are held down, embarrassed and treated almost like domestic slaves — given no money, given no things to give, disallowed to practice dana, to tithe and give creatively without thought of reward. Such domineering, miserly and ignorant males will get their just due in the courts of karma at the moment of death and shortly after. The divine law is that the wife’s shakti power, once released, makes her husband magnetic and successful in his worldly affairs, and their wealth accumulates. He knows from tradition that to release this shakti he must always fulfill all of the needs of his beloved wife and give her generously everything she wants.

Many Ways Of Giving

There are so many ways of giving. Arising before the Sun comes up, greeting and giving namaskara to the Sun is a part of Saivite culture. Dana is built into all aspects of Hindu life — giving to the holy man, giving to the astrologer, giving to the teacher, giving dakshina to a swami or a satguru for his support, over and above all giving to his institution, over and above dashamamsha, over and above giving to the temple. If the satguru has satisfied you with the fullness of his presence, you must satisfy yourself in equal fullness in giving back. You can be happily fat as these two fullnesses merge within you. By giving to the satguru, you give him the satisfaction of giving to another, for he has no needs except the need to practice dana.

Great souls have always taught that, among all the forms of giving, imparting the spiritual teachings is the highest. You can give money or food and provide for the physical aspects of the being, but if you can find a way to give the dharma, the illumined wisdom of the traditions of the Sanatana Dharma, then you are giving to the spirit of the person, to the soul. Many Hindus buy religious literature to give away, because jnana dana, giving wisdom, is the highest giving. Several groups in Malaysia and Mauritius gave away over 70,000 pieces of literature in a twenty-month period. Another group in the United States gave away 300,000 pieces of literature in the same period. Many pieces of that literature changed the lives of individuals and brought them into a great fullness of soul satisfaction. An electric-shock blessing would go out from them at the peak of their fulfillment and fill the hearts of all the givers. Giving through education is a glorious fulfillment for the giver, as well as for the receiver.

Wealthy men in India will feed twenty thousand people in the hopes that one enlightened soul who was truly hungry at that time might partake of this dana and the shakti that arises within him at the peak of his satisfaction will prepare for the giver a better birth in his next life. This is the great spirit of anna yajna, feeding the masses.

Along with the gift comes a portion of the karma of the giver. There was an astrologer who when given more than his due for a jyotisha consultation would always give the excess to a nearby temple, as he did not want to assume any additional karma by receiving more than the worth of his predictions. Another wise person said, “I don’t do the antyeshti samskara, funeral rites, because I can’t receive the dana coming from that source of sadness. It would affect my family.” Giving is also a way of balancing karma, of expressing gratitude for blessings received. A devotee explained, “I cannot leave the temple without giving to the hundi, offering box, according to the fullness I have received as fullness from the temple.” A gourmet once said, “I cannot leave the restaurant until I give gratuity to the waiter equaling the satisfaction I felt from the service he gave.” This is dana, this is giving, in a different form.

Children should be taught giving at a very young age. They don’t yet have the ten restraints, the yamas, to worry about. They have not been corrupted by the impact of their own prarabdha karmas. Little children, even babies, can be taught dana — giving to the temple, to holy ones, to one another, to their parents. They can be taught worship, recitation and, of course, contentment — told how beautiful they are when they are quiet and experiencing the joy of serenity. Institutions should also give, according to their means, to other institutions.

How Monks Fulfill Dana

It is very important for sadhus, sannyasins, swamis, sadhakas, any mendicant under vows, to perform dana. True, they are giving all of their time, but that is fulfillment of their vrata. True, they are not giving dashamamsha, because they are not employed and have no income. For them, dana is giving the unexpected in unexpected ways — serving tea for seven days to the tyrannical sadhu that assisted them by causing an attack of anava, of personal ego, within them, in thanks to him for being the channel of their prarabdha karmas and helping them in the next step of their spiritual unfoldment. Dana is making an unexpected wreath of sacred leaves and flowers for one’s guru and giving it at an unexpected time. Dana is cooking for the entire group and not just for a few or for oneself alone.

When one has reached an advanced stage on the spiritual path, in order to go further, the law requires giving back what one has been given. Hearing oneself speak the divine teachings and being uplifted and fulfilled by filling up and uplifting others allows the budding adept to go through the next portal. Those who have no desire to counsel others, teach or pass on what they have learned are still in the learning stages themselves, traumatically dealing with one or more of the restraints and practices. The passing on of jnana, wisdom, through counseling, consoling, teaching Sanatana Dharma and the only one final conclusion, monistic Saiva Siddhanta, Advaita Ishvaravada, is a fulfillment and completion of the cycle of learning for every monastic. This does not mean that he mouths indiscriminately what he has been told and memorized, but rather that he uses his philosophical knowledge in a timely way according the immediate needs of the listener, for wisdom is the timely application of knowledge.

The dana sadhana, of course, for sadhakas, sadhus, yogis and swamis, as they have no cash, is to practice dana in kind, physical doing, until they are finally able to release the Sanatana Dharma from their own lips, as a natural outgrowth of their spirituality, spirit, shakti, bolt-of-lightening outpouring, because they are so filled up. Those who are filled up with the divine truths, in whom when that fullness is pressed down, compacted, locked in, it still oozes out and runs over, are those who pass on the Sanatana Dharma. They are the catalysts not only of this adult generation, but the one before it still living, and of children and the generations yet to come.