Archive for the ‘Routine’ Category

Purity

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

That disciple is considered to be pure, capable and eligible for receiving the Siva initiation who never feels unhappy or annoyed, who is nonviolent, merciful, ever vigilant, egoless, wise, devoid of jealousy, sweet-tongued, simple-hearted, soft-spoken, pious, modest, decisive, neat and clean, humble, righteous and devoted to Siva.

Chandrajnana Agama, Kriyapada, 2.78-81. BO CJ P. 22

Monday
Shaucha: Purity

Purity, shaucha, number ten of the yamas, is the outcome of restraining ourselves in all the other nine. Purity is the natural heritage of men and women disciplined in mind and body, who think before they speak, speaking only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary. People whose thoughts are pure — and this means being in line with the yamas and niyamas — and whose bodies are free from incompatible alien obstructions, are naturally happy, content and ready to perform japa. Japa yoga lifts the spiritual energies and annihilates pride and arrogance by awakening within the superconscious areas of the mind an extraterrestrial intelligence, far surpassing the ordinary intellect one would encounter in the schools and universities of the present day. To be pure in mind means to have a bright, luminous aura filled with the pastel hues of the primary and secondary colors under every circumstance and life situation. Those who practice this restraint have realized that thoughts create and manifest into situations, actual physical happenings. Therefore, they are careful what they think and to whom they direct their thoughts.

A clean personal environment, wearing clean clothes, bathing often, keeping the room spotless where you meditate, breathing clean air, letting fresh air pass through your house, is all very important in the fulfillment of purity. Shaucha also includes partaking of clean food, which ideally is freshly picked food, cooked within minutes of the picking. There are creative forces, preservation forces and forces of dissolution. The preservation force is in the continued growing of a fruit or a leafy vegetable. It reaches its normal size and if not picked remains on the plant and is preserved by the life of that plant. As soon as it is picked, the force of dissolution, mumia, sets in. Therefore, the food should be cooked and eaten as soon after picking as possible, before the mumia force gets strong. Mumia, as it causes the breakdown of the cells, is an impure force. When we constantly eat food that is on the breakdown, the body is sluggish, the mind is sluggish and the tongue is loose, and we say things we don’t mean. Many unhappy, depressed situations result from people eating a predominance of frozen foods, processed foods, canned foods, convenience foods, which are all in the process of mumia.

Clean clothing is very important. One feels invigorated and happy wearing clean clothing. Even hanging clothing out in the sunlight for five minutes a day cleanses and refreshes it. An incredible amount of body waste is eliminated through the skin and absorbed by the clothing we wear. It is commonly thought that clothing does not need to be cleaned unless it has been dirtied or soiled with mud, dirt or stains. Very little concern is given to the body odors and wastes that are exuded through the pores, then caught and held by the fabric. Small wonder it’s so refreshing to put on clean clothing. The sun and fresh air can eliminate much of the body waste and freshen up any garment.

Tuesday
Keeping Pure Surroundings

Cleaning the house is an act of purifying one’s immediate environment. Each piece of furniture, as well as the doorways and the walls, catches and holds the emanations of the human aura of each individual in the home, as well as each of its visitors. This residue must be wiped away through dusting and cleaning. This regular attentiveness keeps each room sparkling clean and actinic. Unless this is done, the rooms of the home become overpowering to the consciousness of the individuals who live within them as their auras pick up the old accumulated feelings of days gone by. Small wonder that a dirty room can depress you, and one freshly cleaned can invigorate.

In these years, when both mother and father work in the outside world, the house is often simply where they sleep and eat. But if a home receives all of the daily attentions of cleaning it sparkly bright, both astrally and physically, it becomes a welcoming place and not an empty shell. The devas can live within a home that is clean and well regulated, where the routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner is upheld, where early morning devotionals are performed and respected, a home which the family lives together within, eats together within, talks together within, worships together within. Such a home is the abode of the devas. Other kinds of homes are the abodes of asuric forces and disincarnate entities bound to Earth by lower desires.

It is very important that the samskaras are performed properly within a shaucha abode, particularly the antyeshti, or funeral, ceremonies so as to restore purity in the home after a death. Birth and death require the family to observe a moratorium of at least thirty-one days during which they do not enter the temple or the shrine room. Such obligatory ritual customs are important to follow for those wishing to restrain their desires and perfect shaucha in body, mind and speech, keeping good company, keeping the mind pure and avoiding impure thoughts.

Purity and impurity can be discerned in the human aura. We see purity in the brilliancy of the aura of one who is restraining and disciplining the lower instinctive nature, as outlined in these yamas and niyamas. His aura is bright with white rays from his soul lightening up the various hues and colors of his moods and emotions. Impure people have black shading in the colors of their aura as they go through their moods and emotions. Black in the aura is from the lower worlds, the worlds of darkness, of the tala chakras below the muladhara.

Wednesday
Wholesome Company

It is unfortunate that at this time in the Kali Yuga there are more people on the Earth in important positions who have risen into physical birth from the Narakaloka, the world of darkness, than have descended from the Devaloka, the world of light. Therefore, they are strong as they band together in anger, corruption, deceit and contempt for the Devaloka people, who live in the chakras above the muladhara. It is important for the Devaloka people to ferret out who is good company and who is not. They should not presume that they can effect any sustainable changes in the Narakaloka people. And they need to know that the asuric people, bound in anger, greed, jealousy, contempt, covetousness and lust, can make and sustain a difference within the devonic people, bringing them down into their world, torturing and tormenting them with their callous, cruel and insensitive feelings. To sustain shaucha, it is important to surround oneself with good, devonic company, to have the discrimination to know one type of person from another. Too many foolish, sensitive souls, thinking their spirituality could lift a soul from the world of darkness, have walked in where even the Mahadevas do not tread and the devas fear to tread, only to find themselves caught in that very world, through the deceit and conniving of the cleverly cunning. Let’s not be foolish. Let’s discriminate between higher consciousness and lower consciousness. Higher-consciousness people should surround themselves with higher-consciousness people to fulfill shaucha.

Changing to a purer life can be so simple. You don’t have to give up anything. Just learn to like things that are better. That is the spirit of purity. When you give up something because you think you should give it up, that creates strain. Instead, search for a better life; search for shaucha. From tamasic eating we go to rajasic eating, and because sattvic food tastes better and makes us feel better, we also leave much of the rajasic food behind. Are not all persons on this planet driven by desire? Yes, indeed. Then let’s redirect desire and let our desires perfect us. Let us learn to desire the more tasty, sattvic foods, the more sublime sounds the most perfect things we can see, more than the gross, exciting and reprehensible, the desires for which will fade away when we attach ourselves to something better. Let our desires perfect us. The ultra-democratic dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we can use as a New-Age goal and pursue the happiness of something better than what we are doing now that is bad for us. Let’s go forward with the spirit of moving onward.

A devotee told me, “I gave up coffee because coffee is a stimulant and a depressant. I stopped eating meat because meat is a cholesterol-creating killer and forest decimator.” Another approach would be to give up coffee because you have found a beverage that is better. Test all beverages. Some have found that coffee gives you indigestion and green tea helps you digest your food, especially oily foods and foods that remain in your stomach undigested through the night. It also tastes good. Others have found that freshly picked, nutritious vegetables, especially when cooked within minutes of the picking, give more life and energy than eating dead meat that has been refrigerated or preserved. Still others have found that if you kill an animal and eat it fresh, it has more nutritive value than killing it, refrigerating it, preserving it, then cooking it to death again!

Be mature about it when you give something up. The immature spiritual person will want everyone else to give it up, too. The spiritually mature person quietly surrenders it because it is simply his personal choice and then goes on with his life. The spiritually immature person will make a big issue of giving anything up and want everyone to know about it.

Thursday
Hri: Remorse And Modesty

Hri, the first of the ten niyamas, or practices, is remorse: being modest and showing shame for misdeeds, seeking the guru’s grace to be released from sorrows through the understanding that he gives, based on the ancient sampradaya, doctrinal lineage, he preaches. Remorse could be the most misunderstood and difficult to practice of all of the niyamas, because we don’t have very many role models today for modesty or remorse. In fact, the role for imitation in today’s world is just the opposite. This is reflected in television, on film, in novels, magazines, newspapers and all other kinds of media. In today’s world, brash, presumptuous, prideful — that’s how one must be. That’s the role model we see everywhere. In today’s world, arrogant — that’s how one must be. That’s the role model we see everywhere. Therefore, to be remorseful or even to show modesty would be a sign of weakness to one’s peers, family and friends.

Modesty is portrayed in the media as a trait of people that are gauche, inhibited, undeveloped emotionally or not well educated. And remorse is portrayed in the world media as a characteristic of one who “doesn’t have his act together,” is unable to rationalize away wrongdoings, or who is not clever enough to find a scapegoat to pin the blame on. Though modesty and remorse are the natural qualities of the soul, when the soul does exhibit these qualities, there is a natural tendency to suppress them.

But let’s look on the brighter side. There is an old saying, “Some people teach us what to do, and other people teach us what not to do.” The modern media, at least most of it, is teaching us what not to do. Its behavior is based on other kinds of philosophy — secular humanism, materialism, existentialism, crime and punishment, terrorism — in its effort to report and record the stories of the day. Sometimes we can learn quite a lot by seeing the opposite of what we want to learn. The proud and arrogant people portrayed on TV nearly always have their fall. This is always portrayed extremely well and is very entertaining. In their heart of hearts, people really do not admire the prideful person or his display of arrogance, so they take joy in seeing him get his just due. People, in their heart of hearts, do admire the modest person, the truthful person, the patient person, the steadfast person, the compassionate person who shows contentment and the fullness of well-being on his face and in his behavioral patterns.

We Hindus who understand these things know that hri, remorse, is to be practiced at every opportunity. One of the most acceptable ways to practice hri, even in today’s society, is to say in a heartfelt way, “I’m sorry.” Everyone will accept this. Even the most despicable, prideful, arrogant, self-centered person will melt just a little under the two magic words “I’m sorry.”

When apologizing, explain to the person you hurt or wronged how you have realized that there was a better way and ask for his forgiveness. If the person is too proud or arrogant to forgive, you have done your part and can go your way. The burden of the quandary you have put him into now lies solely with him. He will think about it, justify how and why and what he should not forgive until the offense melts from his mind and his heart softens. It takes as much time for a hardened heart to soften as it does for a piece of ice to melt in a refrigerator. Even when it does, his pride may never let him give you the satisfaction of knowing he has forgiven you. But you can tell. Watch for softening in the eyes when you meet, a less rigid mouth and the tendency to suppress a wholesome smile.

Friday
Body Language And Conscience

There is another way to show remorse for misdeeds. That is by performing seva, religious service, for persons you have wronged. Give them gifts, cook them food. Some people are unreachable by words, too remote for an apology, which might even lead to an argument, and then the wrong would perpetuate itself. Be extra polite to such people. Hold the door open as they walk through. Never miss an opportunity to be kind and serve. Say kind words about them behind their back. The praise must be true and timely. Mere flattery would be unacceptable. This kind of silent behavior shows repentance, shows remorse, shows that you have reconsidered your actions and found that they need improvement, and the improvement is shown by your actions now and into the future.

Often people think that showing shame and modesty and remorse for misdeeds is simply hanging your head. Well, really, anyone can do this, but it’s not genuine if the head is not pulled down by the tightening of the strings of the heart, if shame is not felt so deeply that one cannot look another in the eye. When the hanging of the head is genuine, everyone will know it and seek to lift you up out of the predicament. But just to hang your head for a while and think you’re going to get away with it in today’s world, no. In today’s world, people are a little too perceptive, and will not admire you, as they will suspect pretense.

There is an analogy in the Saivite tradition that compares the unfolding soul to wheat. When young and growing, the stalks of wheat stand tall and proud, but when mature their heads bend low under the weight of the grains they yield. Similarly, man is self-assertive, arrogant and vain only in the early stages of his spiritual growth. As he matures and yields the harvest of divine knowledge, he too bends his head. Body language has to truly be the language of the body. It’s a dead giveaway. Body language is the language of the mind being expressed through the body. Let there be no doubt about this. To cry, expressing remorse — the crying should not be forced. Many people can cry on cue. We must not think that the soul of the observer is not perceptive enough to know the difference between real tears and a glandular disturbance causing watering of the eyes.

Hri is regret that one has done things against the dharma, or against conscience. There are three kinds of conscience — one built on right knowledge, one built on semi-right knowledge and one built on wrong knowledge. The soul has to work through these three gridworks within the subconscious mind to give its message. Those who have been raised with the idea that an injustice should be settled by giving back another injustice might actually feel a little guilty when they fail to do this. Those who are in a quandary of what to do, what is right and what is wrong, remain in confusion because they have only semi-right knowledge in their subconscious mind.

We cannot confuse guilt and its messages with the message that comes from the soul. Guilt is the message of the instinctive mind, the chakras below the muladhara. Many people who live in the lower worlds of darkness feel guilty and satisfy that guilt through retaliation. This is the eye for an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth approach. This is not right conscience; it is not the soul speaking. This is not higher consciousness, and it is certainly not the inner being of light looking out of the windows of the chakras above the muladhara. Why, even domesticated animals feel guilty. It is a quality of the instinctive mind.

True conscience is of the soul, an impulse rushing through a mind that has been impregnated with right knowledge, Vedic, Agamic knowledge, or the knowledge that is found in these yamas and niyamas, restraints and practices. When the true knowledge of karma is understood, reincarnation, samsara and Vedic dharma, then true remorse is felt, which is a corrective mechanism of the soul. This remorse immediately imprints upon the lower mind the right knowledge of the dharma — how, where and why the person has strayed and the methodology of getting quickly and happily back to the path and proceeding onward. There is no guilt felt here, but there is a sense of spiritual responsibility, and a driving urge to bring dharma, the sense of spiritual duty, more fully into one’s life, thus filling up the lack that the misdeeds manifested through adhering to these twenty restraints and practices and the Vedic path of dharma, which is already known within the bedrock of right knowledge, firmly planted within the inner mind of the individual.

Saturday
Compensating For Misdeeds

The soul’s response to wrong action comes of its own force, unbidden, when the person is a free soul, not bound by many materialistic duties — even while doing selfless service — which can temporarily veil and hold back the spontaneous actions of the soul if done for the expectant praise that may follow. The held-back, spontaneous action of the soul would, therefore, burst forth during personal times of sadhana, meditation or temple worship. The bursting forth would be totally unbidden, and resolutions would follow in the wake. For those immersed in heavy prarabdha karmas, going through a period of their life cycle when difficult karmic patterns are manifesting, it will be found that the soul’s spontaneity is triple-veiled even though the subconscious mind is impregnated with right knowledge. To gain absolution and release, to gain peace of mind, one should perform pilgrimage, spiritual retreat, the practice of mauna, recitation of mantras through japa, deep meditation and, best of all, the vasana daha tantra. These practices will temporarily pierce the veils of maya and let the light shine in, bringing understanding, solutions and direction for future behavior.

Having hurt another through wrongdoing, one has to pay back in proportion to the injury, not a rupee less and not a rupee more. The moment the healing is complete, the scar will mysteriously vanish. This is the law. It is a mystical law. And while there are any remaining scars, which are memories impregnated with emotion, much work has to be done. Each one must find a way to be nice if he has been not nice, say kind words if previous words have been unkind, issue forth good feelings if the feelings previously exuded were nasty, inharmonious and unacceptable. Just as a responsible doctor or nurse must bring the healing to culmination, so the wrongdoer must deal with his wrongdoing, his crime against dharma, his crime against right knowledge, Vedic-Agamic precepts, his crime against the yamas and niyamas, restraints and practices, which are in themselves right knowledge — a digest of the Vedas, we might say. He must deal with his wrongdoings, his errors, within himself until rightness, santosha, returns.

There are no magic formulas. Each one must find his own way to heal himself and others until the troublesome situation disappears from his own memory. This is why the practice called vasana daha tantra, writing down memories and burning them in a fire to release the emotion from the deep subconscious, has proven to be a solution uncomparable to any other. Only in this way will he know that, by whatever method he has applied, he has healed the one he wronged. True forgiveness is the greatest eraser, the greatest harmonizer. It is this process of misdeeds against dharma, followed by shame and remorse, as people interrelate with one another, that moves them forward in their evolution toward their ultimate goal of mukti.

The Japanese, unlike most of the rest of the world, have a great sense of loss of face, and a Japanese businessman will resign if he has shamed his family or his country. This is hri and is very much ingrained in the Japanese society, which is based on Buddhist precepts. Buddhism itself is the outgrowth into the family community from a vast monastic order; whereas Hinduism is a conglomerate of many smaller religions, some of which are not outgrowths of a monastic community. Therefore, hri is an integral part of the culture of Japan. They have maintained this and other cultural precepts, as the Buddhist monastic orders are still influential throughout Asia.

A materialist who loses face smiles and simply puts on another mask and continues as if nothing had ever happened. The saying goes, “Change your image and get on with life.” No shame, repentance or reconciliation is shown by such people, as is so often portrayed on American television, and much worse, as it actually happens all the time in public life.

Sunday
Humility, Shame And Shyness

The Hindu monastic has special disciplines in regard to remorse. If he doesn’t, he is an impostor. If he is seen struggling to observe it and unable to accomplish it all the time, he is still a good monastic. If he shows no remorse, modesty or shame for misdeeds for long periods of time, even though he continues apparently in the performance of no misdeeds, the abbot of the monastery would know that he is suppressing many things, living a personal life, avoiding confrontation and obscuring that which is obvious to himself with a smile and the words, “Yes, everything is all right with me. The meditations are going fine. I get along beautifully with all of my brothers.” You would know that this is a “mission impossible,” and that it is time to effect certain tests to break up the nest of the enjoyable routine and of keeping out of everybody’s way, of not participating creatively in the entire community, but just doing one’s job and keeping out of trouble. The test would bring him out in the open, into counseling sessions, so that he himself would see that his clever pride had led him to a spiritual standstill. A monastery is no place to settle down and live. It is a place to be on one’s toes and advance. One must always live as if on the eve of one’s departure.

Another side of hri is being bashful, shy, unpretentious. The undeveloped person and the fully developed, wise person may develop the same qualities of being bashful, shy, unpretentious cautious. In the former, these qualities are the products of ignorance produced by underexposure, and in the latter, they are the products of the wisdom or cleverness produced by overexposure. Genuine modesty and unpretentiousness are not what actors on the stage would portray, they are qualities that one cannot act out, qualities of the soul.

Shyness used to be thought of as a feminine quality, but not anymore, since the equality of men and women has been announced as the way that men and women should be. Both genders should be aggressive, forceful, to meet and deal with situations on equal terms. This is seen today in the West, in the East, in the North and the South. This is a fachade which covers the soul, producing stress in both men and women. A basically shy man or woman, feeling he or she has to be aggressive, works his or her way into a stressful condition. I long ago found that stress in itself is a byproduct of not being secure in what one is doing. But this is the world today, at this time in the Kali Yuga. If everything that is happening were reasonable and could be easily understood, it certainly wouldn’t be the Kali Yuga.

If people are taught and believe that their spiritual pursuits are foremost, then, yes, they should be actively aggressive — but as actively passive and modest as well, because of their spiritual pursuits. Obviously, if they are performing sadhanas, they will intuitively know the proper timing for each action. Remorse, or modesty, certainly does not mean one must divorce oneself from the ability to move the forces of the external world, or be a wimpy kind of impotent person. It does mean that there is a way of being remorseful, showing shame, being humble, of resolving situations when they do go wrong so that you can truly “get on with life” and not be bound by emotionally saturated memories of the past. Those who are bound by the past constantly remember the past and relive the emotions connected with it. Those who are free from the past remember the future and move the forces of all three worlds for a better life for themselves and for all mankind. This is the potent Vedic hri. This is true remorse, humility and modesty. This is hri, which is not a weakness but a spiritual strength. And all this is made practical and permanent by subconscious journaling, vasana daha tantra, which releases creative energy and does not inhibit it.

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Compassion and Honesty

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

Therefore, he who knows this, having become peaceful, controlled, detached, patient and concentrated, sees the atman in himself and sees all in the atman. Evil does not overcome him, but he overcomes all evil; evil does not consume him, but he consumes all evil. Free from evil, free from passion, free from doubt, he becomes a knower of Brahman.

Compassion

The seventh yama is daya, compassion. Sometimes it is kind to be cruel, and at other times it is cruel to be kind. This statement has come forward from religion to religion, generation to generation. Compassion tempers all decisions, gives clemency, absolution, forgiveness as a boon even for the most heinous misdeeds. This is a quality built on steadfastness. Daya comes from deep sadhana, prolonged santosha, contentment, scriptural study and listening to the wise. It is the outgrowth of the unfolded soul, the maturing of higher consciousness. A compassionate person transcends even forgiveness by caring for the suffering of the person he has forgiven. The compassionate person is like a God. He is the boon-giver. Boons, which are gifts from the Gods, come unexpectedly, unasked-for. And so it is with the grace of a compassionate person.

A devotee asked, “What should we think about those who are cruel toward creatures, who casually kill flies and step on cockroaches?” Compassion is defined as conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. A compassionate person would tell a plant verbally if he was going to pick from it, intuiting that the plant has feelings of its own. A compassionate person would seek to keep pests away rather than killing them. A callous person would tear the plant up by its roots. A cruel person would, as a child, pull one wing off a fly and, unless corrected, mature this cruelty on through life until he maimed a fellow human. Compassion is just the opposite to all this.

When we find callous, cruel and insensitive people in our midst, we should not take them into our inner circles, but make them feel they must improve before admittance onto the spiritual path. Compassion is the outgrowth of being forgiving. It is the outgrowth of truthfulness, and of noninjury. It is a product of asteya, of brahmacharya and of kshama. It is, in fact, higher consciousness, based in the vishuddha chakra of divine love.

One can’t command compassion. Before compassion comes love. Compassion is the outgrowth of love. Love is the outgrowth of understanding. Understanding is the outgrowth of reason. One must have sufficient memory to remember the various points of reason and enough willpower to follow them through to be able to psychically look into the core of existence to gain the reverence for all life, all living organisms, animate or inanimate. Compassion is a very advanced spiritual quality. When you see it exhibited in someone, you know he is very advanced spiritually — probably an old soul. It really can’t be taught. Daya goes with ananda. Compassion and bliss are a one big package.

What is the difference between ahimsa and daya, compassion, one might ask? There is a distinct difference. Not harming others by thought, word or deed is a cardinal law of Hinduism and cannot be avoided, discarded, ignored or replaced by the more subtle concept of compassion. Ahimsa, among the yamas and niyamas, could be considered the only explicit commandment Hinduism gives. Compassion comes from the heart, comes spontaneously. It is a total flow of spiritual, material, intellectual giving, coming unbidden to the receiver.

Compassion by no means is foolishness or pretense. It is an overflowing of soulfulness. It is an outpouring of spiritual energy that comes through the person despite his thoughts or his personal feelings or his reason or good judgment. The person experiencing compassion is often turned around emotionally and mentally as he is giving this clemency, this boon of absolution, despite his own instinctive or intellectual inclinations. This is a spiritual outpouring through a person. Rishi Tirumular used the word arul for this yama. Arul means grace in the ancient Tamil language.

A devotee once e-mailed me, saying, “Recently I was going through some suffering and had bad thoughts and bad feelings for those who caused that suffering. Now that I’m feeling better, can I erase those bad thoughts and feelings?” Thoughts and bad feelings you have sent into the future are bound to come back to you. But, yes, you can mitigate and change that karma by being extra-special nice to those who abused you, hurt you or caused you to have bad thoughts and feelings against them. Being extra-special nice means accepting them for who they are. Don’t have critical thoughts or try to change them. Have compassion. They are who they are, and only they can change themselves. Be extra-special nice. Go out of your way to say good words, give a gift and have good feelings toward them.

Honesty

The eighth yama is arjava, honesty. The most important rule of honesty is to be honest to oneself, to be able to face up to our problems and admit that we have been the creator of them. To be able to then reason them through, make soulfully honest decisions toward their solutions, is a boon, a gift from the Gods. To be honest with oneself brings peace of mind. Those who are frustrated, discontent, are now and have been dishonest with themselves. They blame others for their own faults and predicaments. They are always looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame something on. To deceive oneself is truly the ultimate of wrongdoing. To deceive oneself is truly ignorance in its truest form. Honesty begins within one’s own heart and soul and works its way out from there into dealing with other people. Polonius wisely said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to your own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, you cannot then be false to any man.”

The adage, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” should be heard again and again by the youth, middle-aged and elderly alike. Sir Walter Scott once said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Mark Twain observed, “The advantage of telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said.” Another philosopher, wise in human nature, noted, “You can watch a thief, but you cannot watch a liar.” To be deceptive and not straightforward is thieving time from those you are deceiving. They are giving you their heart and mind, and you are twisting their thoughts to your own selfish ends, endeavoring to play them out, to take what they have, in favors or in kind, for your personal gain.

Deception is the cruelest of acts. A deceptive person is an insidious disease to society. Many parents, we are told, teach their children to be deceptive and cunning in order to get on in the world. They are not building good citizens. They are creating potential criminals who will eventually, if they perfect the art, ravage humankind. To be straightforward is the solution, no matter how difficult it is. To show remorse, be modest and show shame for misdeeds is the way to win back the faith, though maybe not the total trust, and a smidgen of respect from those who have discovered and exposed your deception. Arjava is straightness with neighbors, family and with your government. You pay your taxes. You observe the laws. You don’t fudge, bribe, cheat, steal or participate in fraud and other forms of manipulation.

Bribery corrupts the giver, the taker and the nation. It would be better not to have, not to do, and to live the simple life, if bribery were the alternative. To participate in bribery is to go into a deceptive, illegal partnership between the briber and the bribed. If and when discovered, embarrassment no end would fall on both parties involved in the crime, and even if not discovered, someone knows, someone is watching, your own conscience is watching. There is no law in any legal code of any government that says bribery is acceptable.

There are those who feel it is sufficient to be honest and straightforward with their friends and family, but feel justified to be dishonest with business associates, corporations, governments and strangers. These are the most despicable people. Obviously they have no knowledge of the laws of karma and no desire to obtain a better, or even a similar, birth. They may experience several abortions before obtaining a new physical body and then be an unwanted child. They may suffer child abuse, neglect, beatings, perhaps even be killed at a young age. These two-faced persons — honest to immediate friends and relatives, but dishonest and deceptive and involved in wrongdoings with business associates and in public life — deserve the punishment that only the lords of karma are able to deal out. These persons are training their sons and daughters to be like themselves and pull down humanity rather than uplift mankind.
Honesty in Monastic Life

We can say that sadhakas, yogis and swamis upholding their vows are the prism of honesty. The rays of their auras radiate out through all areas of life. They are the protectors, the stabilizers, the uplifters, the consolers, the sympathizers. They have the solution to all human problems and all human ills, or they know where to find those solutions, to whom to go or what scripture to read. To be a sadhaka, yogi or swami, honesty is the primal qualification, yes, primal qualification — honesty, arjava. No satguru would accept a monastic candidate who persists in patterns of deception, wrongdoing and outright lies and who shows no shame for misdeeds.

Human relations, especially the guru-disciple relationship, derive their strength from trust, which each shares and expresses. The breaking of the yama of arjava is the severing of that trust, which thereby provokes the destruction or demise of the relationship. When the relationship falls into distrust, suspicion, anger, hate, confusion and retaliation, this gives birth to argument.

Countries that have weak leadership and unstable governments that allow wrongdoing to become a way of life, deception to be the way of thinking, are participating in dividing the masses in this very way. People begin to distrust one another. Because they are involved in wrongdoing, they suspect others of being involved in wrongdoings. People become angry because they are involved in wrongdoing. And finally the country fails and goes into war or succumbs to innumerable internal problems. We see this happening all over the world. A strong democratic country is constantly showing up politicians who take bribes and presidents who are involved in deception and wrongdoing, who set a poor example for the masses as to how things should be. Higher-consciousness governments are able to maintain their economy and feed their people. Lower-consciousness governments are not.

Even large, successful corporate monopolies deem honesty as the first necessary qualification for an employee. When his deception and wrongdoing are discovered, he is irrevocably terminated. There are many religious organizations today that have deceptive, dishonest people within them who connive wrongdoings, and these religious groups are failing and reaping the rewards of failing through loss and confusion. It is up to the heads of those organizations to weed out the deceptive, corruptive, virus-like persons to maintain the spirituality and fulfill the original intent of the founders.

Arjava could well be interpreted as simplicity, as many commentators have done. It is easier to remember the truth than remember lies — white lies, gray lies or black lies. It is easier to be straightforward than conniving and deceptive, dishonest. A simple life is an honest life. An honest life is a simple life. When our wants which produce our needs are simple, there is no need to be deceptive or participate in wrongdoing. It’s as simple as that. Arjava means not complicating things, not ramifying concerns and anxieties. This is to say, when a situation occurs, handle the situation within the situation itself. Don’t use the emotion involved in the situation to motivate or manipulate for personal gain in another situation. Don’t owe people favors, and don’t allow people to owe you favors. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and do deliver what you promise. This is the Sanatana Dharma way. If the neo-Indian religion is teaching differently, pay no attention. It is all political, and it has no kinship to dharma.
Moderate Diet

The tenth yama is mitahara, moderate appetite. Similarly, mitavyayin is little or moderate spending, being economical or frugal, and mitasayan is sleeping little. Gorging oneself has always been a form of decadence in every culture and is considered unacceptable behavior. It is the behavior of people who gain wealth and luxuries from the miseries of others. Decadence, which is a dance of decay, has been the downfall of many governments, empires, kingdoms and principalities. Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, made the famous decadent statement just before the French Revolution: “If the people have no bread, let them eat cake.” Nearly everyone who heard that imperious insult, including its authoress, completely lost their heads. Decadence is a form of decay that the masses have riled against century upon century, millennium after millennium.

All this and more shows us that mitahara is a restraint that we must all obey and which is one of the most difficult. The body knows no wisdom as to shoulds and should-nots. It would eat and drink itself to death if it had its way, given its own instinctive intelligence. It is the mind that controls the body and emotions and must effect this restraint for its own preservation, health and wellness of being, to avoid the emptiness of “sick-being.”

According to ayurveda, not eating too much is the greatest thing you can do for health if you want a long life, ease in meditation and a balanced, happy mind. That is why, for thousands of years, yogis, sadhus and meditators have eaten moderately. There is almost nothing, apart from smoking and drugs, that hurts the body more than excessive eating, and excessive eating has to be defined in both the amount of food and the quality of food. If you are regularly eating rich, processed, dead foods, then you are not following mitahara, and you will have rich, finely processed, dead, dredged-up-from-the-past karmic experiences that will ruin your marriage, wreak havoc on your children and send you early to the funeral pyre.

For the twenty-first century, mitahara has still another meaning. Our rishis may have anticipated that the economy of mitahara makes it a global discipline — eating frugally, not squandering your wealth to overindulge yourself, not using the wealth of a nation to pamper the nation’s most prosperous, not using the resources of the Earth to satiate excessive appetites. If all are following mitahara, we will be able to better feed everyone on the planet; fewer will be hungry. We won’t have such extreme inequalities of excessive diet and inadequate diet, the incongruity of gluttony and malnutrition. We will have global moderation. The Hindu view is that we are part of ecology, an intricate part of the planet. Our physical body is a species here with rights equal to a flea, cockroach, bird, snake, a fish, a small animal or an elephant.
Diet and Good Health

By following mitahara you can be healthier, and you can be wealthier. A lot of money is wasted in the average family on food that could go toward many other things the family needs or wants. If you are healthier, you save on doctor bills, and because this also helps in sadhana and meditation, you will be healthy, happy and holy. Overeating repels one from spiritual sadhana, because the body becomes slothful and lazy, having to digest so much food and run it through its system. Eating is meant to nourish the body with vitamins and minerals to keep it functioning. It is not meant for mere personal, sensual pleasure. A slothful person naturally does not have the inclination to advance himself through education and meditation, and is unable to do anything but a simple, routine job.

We recently heard of a Western science lab study that fed two groups of rats different portions of food. Those who were allowed to have any amount of food they could eat lived a normal rat life span. Those who were given half that much lived twice as long. This so impressed the scientists that they immediately dropped their own calorie input and lost many pounds, realizing that a long, healthy life could be attained by not eating so much.

People on this planet are divided in two groups, as delineated by states of consciousness. The most obvious group is those ruled by lower consciousness, which proliferates deceit and dishonesty and the confusion in life that these bring, along with fear, anger, jealousy and the subsequent remorseful emotions that follow. On the purer side are those in higher consciousness, ruled by the powers of reason and memory, willpower, good judgment, universal love, compassion and more. A vegetarian diet helps to open the inner man to the outer person and brings forth higher consciousness. Eating meat, fish, fowl and eggs opens the doors to lower consciousness. It’s as simple as that. A vegetarian diet creates the right chemistry for spiritual life. Other diets create a different chemistry, which affects your endocrine glands and your entire system all day long. A vegetarian diet helps your system all day long. Food is chemistry, and chemistry affects consciousness; and if our goal is higher consciousness, we have to provide the chemistry that evokes it.
Take Charge Of Your Body

There is a wonderful breathing exercise you can perform to aid the digestion and elimination of food by stimulating the internal fire. Breathe in through your nose a normal breath, and out through your nose very fast while pulling the stomach in. Then relax your stomach and again breathe in naturally and then out quickly by pulling the stomach in to force the air out of the lungs. Do this for one minute, then rest for one minute, then do it again. Then rest for a minute and do it again. About three repetitions is generally enough to conquer indigestion or constipation. This pranayama amplifies the heat of the body and stimulates the fire that digests food and eliminates waste. It is especially good for those who are rather sedentary and do a lot of intellectual work, whose energies are in the intellect and may not be addressing their digestive needs adequately.

Take charge of your own body and see that it is working right, is healthy and you are eating right. If you do overindulge, then compensate by fasting occasionally and performing physical disciplines. Most people have certain cravings and desires which they permit themselves to indulge in, whether it be sweets or rich, exotic foods or overly spiced foods. Discovering and moderating such personal preferences and desires is part of the spiritual path. If you find you overindulge in jelly beans, cashew nuts, licorice, chocolate, varieties of softdrinks or exotic imported coffee, moderate those appetites. Then you are controlling the entire desire nature of the instinctive mind in the process. That is a central process of spiritual unfoldment — to control and moderate such desires.

The rishis of yore taught us to restrain desire. They used the words restrain and moderate rather than suppress or eliminate. We must remember that to restrain and moderate desire allows the energy which is restrained and moderated to enliven higher chakras, giving rise to creativity and intuition that will actually better mankind, one’s own household and the surrounding community.

The rishis have given us great knowledge to help us know what to do. Study your body and your diet and find out what works for you. Find out what foods give you indigestion and stop eating those things. But remember that eating right, in itself, is not spiritual life. In the early stages seekers often become obsessed with finding the perfect diet. That is a stage they have to go through in learning. They have to find out what is right for them. But it should balance out to a simple routine of eating to live, not living to eat.
Reasons for Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism has for thousands of years been a principle of health and environmental ethics throughout India. Though Muslim and Christian colonization radically undermined and eroded this ideal, it remains to this day a cardinal ethic of Hindu thought and practice. A subtle sense of guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and there exists an ongoing controversy on this issue. The Sanskrit for vegetarianism is shakahara, and one following a vegetarian diet is a shakahari. The term for meat-eating is mansahara, and the meat-eater is called mansahari. Ahara means “food” or “diet,” shaka means “vegetable,” and mansa means “meat” or “flesh.”

Amazingly, I have heard people define vegetarian as a diet which excludes the meat of animals but does permit fish and eggs. But what really is vegetarianism? It is living only on foods produced by plants, with the addition of dairy products. Vegetarian foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk, yogurt, cheese and butter. The strictest vegetarians, known as vegans, exclude all dairy products. Natural, fresh foods, locally grown without insecticides or chemical fertilizers are preferred. A vegetarian diet does not include meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. For good health, even certain vegetarian foods are minimized: frozen and canned foods, highly processed foods, such as white rice, white sugar and white flour; and “junk” foods and beverages — those with abundant chemical additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings and preservatives.

In the past fifty years millions of meat-eaters have made the decision to stop eating the flesh of other creatures. There are five major motivations for such a decision. 1) Many become vegetarian purely to uphold dharma, as the first duty to God and God’s creation as defined by Vedic scripture. 2) Some abjure meat-eating because of the karmic consequences, knowing that by involving oneself, even indirectly, in the cycle of inflicting injury, pain and death by eating other creatures, one must in the future experience in equal measure the suffering caused. 3) Spiritual consciousness is another reason. Food is the source of the body’s chemistry, and what we ingest affects our consciousness, emotions and experiential patterns. If one wants to live in higher consciousness, in peace and happiness and love for all creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, one introduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, suspicion and a terrible fear of death, all of which are locked into the flesh of butchered creatures. 4) Medical studies prove that a vegetarian diet is easier to digest, provides a wider range of nutrients and imposes fewer burdens and impurities on the body. Vegetarians are less susceptible to all the major diseases that afflict contemporary humanity, and thus live longer, healthier, more productive lives. They have fewer physical complaints, less frequent visits to the doctor, fewer dental problems and smaller medical bills. Their immune system is stronger, their bodies purer and more refined, and their skin clearer, more supple and smooth. 5) Finally, there is the ecological reason. Planet Earth is suffering. In large measure, the escalating loss of species, destruction of ancient rainforests to create pasture lands for livestock, loss of topsoil and the consequent increase of water impurities and air pollution have all been traced to the single fact of meat in the human diet. No single decision that we can make as individuals or as a race can have such a dramatic effect on the improvement of our planetary ecology as the decision to not eat meat. Many conscious of the need to save the planet for future generations have made this decision for this reason and this reason alone.

Honest life

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

Behold the universe in the glory of God: and in all that lives and moves on Earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal. Set not your heart on another’s possession.

Nonstealing

The third yama is asteya, neither stealing, nor coveting nor entering into debt. We all know what stealing is. But now let’s define covetousness. It could well be defined as owning something mentally and emotionally but not actually owning it physically. This is not good. It puts a hidden psychological strain on all parties concerned and brings up the lower emotions from the tala chakras. It must be avoided at all cost. Coveting is desiring things that are not your own. Coveting leads to jealousy, and it leads to stealing. The first impulse toward stealing is coveting, wanting. If you can control the impulse to covet, then you will not steal. Coveting is mental stealing.

Of course, stealing must never ever happen. Even a penny, a peso, a rupee, a lira or a yen should not be misappropriated or stolen. Defaulting on debts is also a form of stealing. But avoiding debt in principle does not mean that one cannot buy things on credit or through other contractual arrangements. It does mean that payments must be made at the expected time, that credit be given in trust and be eliminated when the time has expired, that contracts be honored to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. Running one’s affairs on other peoples’ money must be restrained. To control this is the sadhana ofasteyaBrahmacharis and sannyasins, of course, must scrupulously obey these restraints relating to debt, stealing and covetousness. These are certainly not in their code of living.

To perfect asteya, we must practice dana, charity, the third niyama; we must take the dashama bhaga vrata, promising to tithe, pay dashamamsha, to our favorite religious organization and, on top of that, give creatively, without thought of reward. Stealing is selfishness. Giving is unselfishness. Any lapse of asteya is corrected by dana.

It is important to realize that one cannot simply obey the yamas without actively practicing the niyamas. To restrain one’s current tendencies successfully, each must be replaced by a positive observance. For each of the yamas, there is a positive replacement of doing something else. Theniyamas must totally overshadow the qualities controlled by the yamas for the perfect person to emerge. It is also important to remember that doing what should not be done — and not doing what should be done — does have its consequences. These can be many, depending upon the evolution of the soul of each individual; but all such acts bring about the lowering of consciousness into the instinctive nature, and inevitable suffering is the result. Each Hindu guru has his own ways of mitigating the negative karmasthat result as a consequence of not living up to the high ideals of these precepts. But the world is also a guru, in a sense, and its devotees learn by their own mistakes, often repeating the same lessons many, many times.

Debt, Gambling And Grief

I was asked, “Is borrowing money to finance one’s business in accord with the yama of nonstealing? When can you use other peoples’ money and when should you not?” When the creditors start calling you for their money back, sending demand notices indicating that they only extended you thirty days’, sixty days’ or ninety days’ credit, then if you fail to pay, or pay only a quarter or half of it just to keep them at arm’s length because you still need their money to keep doing what you are doing, this is a violation of thisyama.

There are several kinds of debt that are disallowed by this yama. One is spending beyond your means and accumulating bills you can’t pay. We are reminded of Tirukural verse 478 which says that the way to avoid poverty is to spend within your means: “A small income is no cause for failure, provided expenditures do not exceed it.” We can see that false wealth, or the mere appearance of wealth, is using other peoples’ money, either against their will or by paying a premium price for it. Many people today are addicted to abusing credit. It’s like being addicted to the drug opium. People addicted to O.P.M. — other people’s money — compulsively spend beyond their means. They don’t even think twice about handing over their last credit card to pay for that $500 sari after all the other credit cards have been “maxed out.” When the bill arrives, it gets added to the stack of other bills that can’t possibly be paid.

Another kind of debt is contracting resources beyond your ability to pay back the loan. This is depending on a frail, uncertain future. Opportunities may occur to pay the debt, but then again they may not. The desire was so great for the commodity which caused the debt that a chance was taken. Essentially, this is gambling with someone else’s money; and it is no way to run one’s life.

Gambling and speculation are also forms of entering into debt. Speculation could be a proper form of acquiring wealth if one has the wealth to maintain the same standard of living he is accustomed to even if the speculation failed. Much of business is speculation; and high-risk speculations do come along occasionally; but one should never risk more than one can afford to lose.

Gambling is different, because the games are fun, a means of entertainment and releasing stress; though even in the casinos one should not gamble more than he could afford to lose. However, unlike speculation, when one is in the excitement of gambling and begins to lose, the greed and desire to win it all back arises, and the flustered gambler may risk his and his family’s wealth and well-being. Stress builds. The disastrous consequences of gambling were admonished in the oldest scripture, the Rig Veda, in the famous fourteen-verse “Gambler’s Lament” (10.34. VE, P. 501). Verse ten summarizes: “Abandoned, the wife of the gambler grieves. Grieved, too, is his mother, as he wanders vaguely. Afraid and in debt, ever greedy for money, he steals in the night to the home of another.” This is not fun; nor is it entertainment.

These are the grave concerns behind our sutra that prohibits gambling for my shishyas: “Siva’s devotees are forbidden to indulge in gambling or games of chance with payment or risk, even through others or for employment. Gambling erodes society, assuring the loss of many for the gain of a few”(sutra 76). Everyone really knows that the secret to winning at gambling is to own a casino.

Compulsive gambling and reckless, unfounded speculation are like stealing from your own family, risking the family wealth. More than that, it is stealing from yourself, because the remorse felt when an inevitable loss comes could cause a loss of faith in your abilities and your judgment. And if the loss affects the other members of the family, their estimation and respect and confidence in your good judgment goes way down.

Many people justify stealing by saying that life is unfair and therefore it’s OK to take from the rich. They feel it’s OK to steal from a rich corporation, for example: “They will never miss it, and we need it more.” Financial speculation can easily slide into unfair maneuvering, where a person is actually stealing from a small or large company, thereby making it fail. The credibility of the person will go down, and businesses will beware of this speculative investor who would bring a company to ruin to fatten his own pockets. Entering into debt is a modern convenience and a modern temptation. But this convenience must be honored within the time allotted. If you are paying a higher interest rate because of late or partial payments, you have abused your credit and your creditors.

At the Global Forum for Human Survival in 1990 in Moscow, the participants began worrying about the kids, the next generation. “What are they going to think of us?” they asked. Is it fair to fulfill a need now, spoil the environment and hand the bill over to the next generation? No, it is not. This is another form of stealing. We can’t say, “We have to have chlorofluorocarbons now, and the next generation has to face the consequences.” The yamas and niyamas are thus not just a personal matter but also a national, communal and global matter. Yes, this takes asteya and all the restraints and observances to another dimension.

Sexual Purity

B rahmacharya, sexual purity, is a very important restraint among the ancient Saivite ethical principles known as yamas and niyamas, because it sets the pattern for one’s entire life. Following this principle, the vital energies are used before marriage in study rather than in sexual fantasy, e-pornography, masturbation, necking, petting or sexual intercourse. After marriage, the vital energies are concentrated on business, livelihood, fulfilling one’s duties, serving the community, improving oneself and one’s family, and performing sadhana. For those who do not believe in God, Gods, guru or the path to enlightenment, this is a difficult restraint to fulfill, and such people tend to be promiscuous when single and therefore unfaithful in marriage.

The rewards for maintaining this restraint are many. Those who practicebrahmacharya before marriage and apply its principles throughout married life are free from encumbrances — mentally, emotionally and physically. They get a good start on life, have long-lasting, mature family relationships, and their children are emotionally sound, mentally firm and physically strong.

Those who are promiscuous and unreligious are susceptible to impulses of anger, have undefined fears, experience jealousy and the other instinctive emotions. The doors of the higher world are open to them, but the doors of the lower world are also open. Even the virgin brahmachari who believes firmly in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment and has a strict family must be watched and carefully guided to maintain his brahmacharya.Without this careful attention, the virginity may easily be lost.

Brahmacharya for the monastic means complete sexual abstinence and is, of course, an understood requirement to maintain this position in life. This applies as well to any single individual who has taken the celibacy vow, known as brahmacharya vrata. If brahmacharya is compromised by thebrahmachari, he must face the consequences and reaffirm his original intent. Having lost faith in himself because of breaking his vrata, his self-confidence must be rebuilt.

It should be perfectly clear that it is totally unacceptable for men or women who have taken up the celibate monastic life to live a double standard and surround themselves with those of the opposite sex — be they fellow ashramites, personal aides, secretaries or close devotees — or with their former family. Nowadays there are pseudo-sannyasins who are married and call themselves swamis, but, if pressed, they might admit that they are simply yoga teachers dressed in orange robes, bearing the title “swami” to attract the attention of the uninformed public for commercial reasons.

There is great power in the practice of brahmacharya, literally “Godly conduct.” Containing the sacred fluids within the body builds up a bank account through the years that makes the realization of God on the path to enlightenment a reality within the life of the individual who is single. Whenbrahmacharya is broken through sexual intercourse, this power goes away. It just goes away.

Brahmacharya In Family Life

The observance of brahmacharya is perhaps the most essential aspect of a sound, spiritual culture. This is why in Saivism, boys and girls are taught the importance of remaining celibate until they are married. This creates healthy individuals, physically, emotionally and spiritually, generation after generation. There is a mystical reason. In virgin boys and girls, the psychicnadis, the astral nerve currents that extend out into and through their aura, have small hooks at the end. When a boy and girl marry, the hooks straighten out and the nadis are tied one to another, and they actually grow together. If the first sexual experience is premarital and virginity is broken, the hooks at the end of the nadis also straighten out, but there is nothing to grow onto if the partners do not marry. Then, when either partner marries someone else, the relationship is never as close as when a virgin boy and girl marry, because their nadis don’t grow together in the same way. In cases such as this, they feel the need for intellectual stimuli and emotional stimuli to keep the marriage going.

Youth ask, “How should we regard members of the opposite sex?” Do not look at members of the opposite sex with any idea of sex or lust in mind. Do not indulge in admiring those of the opposite sex, or seeing one as more beautiful than another. Boys must foster the inner attitude that all young women are their sisters and all older women are their mother. Girls must foster the inner attitude that all young men are their brothers and all older men are their father. Do not attend movies that depict the base instincts of humans, nor read books or magazines of this nature. Above all, avoid pornography on the Internet, on TV and in any other media.

To be successful in brahmacharya, one naturally wants to avoid arousing the sex instincts. This is done by understanding and avoiding the eight successive phases: fantasy, glorification, flirtation, lustful glances, secret love talk, amorous longing, rendezvous and finally intercourse. Be very careful to mix only with good company — those who think and speak in a cultured way — so that the mind and emotions are not led astray and vital energies needed for study used up. Get plenty of physical exercise. This is very important, because exercise sublimates your instinctive drives and directs excess energy and the flow of blood into all parts of the body.

Brahmacharya means sexual continence, as was observed by Mahatma Gandhi in his later years and by other great souls throughout life. There is another form of sexual purity, though not truly brahmacharya, followed by faithful family people who have a normal sex life while raising a family. They are working toward the stage when they will take their brahmacharya vrata after sixty years of age. Thereafter they would live together as brother and sister, sleeping in separate bedrooms. During their married life, they control the forces of lust and regulate instinctive energies and thus prepare to take that vrata. But if they are unfaithful, flirtatious and loose in their thinking through life, they will not be inclined to take the vrata in later life.

Faithfulness in marriage means fidelity and much more. It includes mental faithfulness, non-flirtatiousness and modesty toward the opposite sex. A married man, for instance, should not hire a secretary who is more magnetic or more beautiful than his wife. Metaphysically, in the perfect family relationship, man and wife are, in a sense, creating a one nervous system for their joint spiritual progress, and all of their nadis are growing together over the years. If they break that faithfulness, they break the psychic, soul connections that are developing for their personal inner achievements. If one or the other of the partners does have an affair, this creates a psychic tug and pull on the nerve system of both spouses that will continue until the affair ends and long afterwards. Therefore, the principle of the containment of the sexual force and mental and emotional impulses is the spirit ofbrahmacharya, both for the single and married person.

Rules for Serious People

For virtuous individuals who marry, their experiences with their partner are, again, free from lustful fantasies; and emotional involvement is only with their spouse. Yes, a normal sex life should be had between husband and wife, and no one else should be included in either one’s mind or emotions. Never hugging, touching another’s spouse or exciting the emotions; always dressing modestly, not in a sexually arousing way; not viewing sexually oriented or pornographic videos; not telling dirty jokes — all of these simple customs are traditional ways of upholding sexual purity. The yama ofbrahmacharya works in concert with asteya, nonstealing. Stealing or coveting another’s spouse, even mentally, creates a force that, once generated, is difficult to stop.

In this day and age, when promiscuity is a way of life, there is great strength in married couples’ understanding and applying the principles of sexual purity. If they obey these principles and are on the path of enlightenment, they will again become celibate later in life, as they were when they were young. These principles persist through life, and when their children are raised and the forces naturally become quiet, around age sixty, husband and wife take the brahmacharya vrata, live in separate rooms and prepare themselves for greater spiritual experiences.

Married persons uphold sexual purity by observing the eightfold celibacy toward everyone but their spouse. These are ideals for serious, spiritual people. For those who have nothing to do with spirituality, these laws are meaningless. We are assuming a situation of a couple where everything they do and all that happens in their life is oriented toward spiritual life and spiritual goals and, therefore, these principles do apply. For sexual purity, individuals must believe firmly in the path to enlightenment. They must have faith in higher powers than themselves. Without this, sexual purity is nearly impossible.

One of the fastest ways to destroy the stability of families and societies is through promiscuity, mental and/or physical, and the best way to maintain stability is through self-control. The world today has become increasingly unstable because of the mental, physical, emotional license that people have given to themselves. The generation that follows an era of promiscuity has a dearth of examples to follow and are even more unstable than their parents were when they began their promiscuous living. Stability for human society is based on morality, and morality is based on harnessing and controlling sexuality. The principles of brahmacharya should be learned well before puberty, so that the sexual feelings the young person then begins to experience are free of mental fantasies and emotional involvement. Once established in a young person, this control is expected to be carried out all through life. When a virgin boy and girl marry, they transfer the love they have for their parents to one another. The boy’s attachment to his mother is transferred to his wife, and the girl’s attachment to her father is transferred to her husband. She now becomes the mother. He now becomes the father. This does not mean they love their parents any less. This is why the parents have to be in good shape, to create the next generation of stable families. This is their dharmic duty. If they don’t do it, they create all kinds of uncomely karmas for themselves to be faced at a later time.

Patience

The fifth yama, patience, or kshama, is as essential to the spiritual path as the spiritual path is to itself. Impatience is a sign of desirousness to fulfill unfulfilled desires, having no time for any interruptions or delays from anything that seems irrelevant to what one really wants to accomplish.

We must restrain our desires by regulating our life with daily worship and meditation. Daily worship and meditation are difficult to accomplish without a break in continuity. However, impatience and frustration come automatically in continuity, day after day, often at the same time — being impatient before breakfast because it is not served on time, feeling intolerant and abusive with children because they are not behaving as adults, and on and on. Everything has its timing and its regularity in life. Focusing on living in the eternity of the moment overcomes impatience. It produces the feeling that one has nothing to do, no future to work toward and no past to rely on. This excellent spiritual practice can be performed now and again during the day by anyone.

Patience is having the power of acceptance, accepting people, accepting events as they are happening. One of the great spiritual powers that people can have is to accept things as they are. That forestalls impatience and intolerance. Acceptance is developed in a person by understanding the law of karma and in seeing God Siva and His work everywhere, accepting the perfection of the timing of the creation, preservation and absorption of the entire universe. Acceptance does not mean being resigned to one’s situation and avoiding challenges. We know that we ourselves created our own situation, our own challenges, in a former time by sending forth our energies, thoughts, words and deeds. As these energies, on their cycle-back, manifest through people, happenings and circumstances, we must patiently deal with the situation, not fight it or try to avoid it or be discouraged because of it. This is kshama in the raw. This is pure kshama. Patience cannot be acquired in depth in any other way. This is why meditation upon the truths of the Sanatana Dharma is so important.

It is also extremely important to maintain patience with oneself — especially with oneself. Many people are masters of the fachade of being patient with others but take their frustrations out on themselves. This can be corrected and must be corrected for spiritual unfoldment to continue through an unbroken routine of daily worship and meditation and a yearly routine of attending festivals and of pilgrimage, tirthayatra.

Most people today are intolerant with one another and impatient with their circumstances. This breeds an irreverent attitude. Nothing is sacred to them, nothing holy. But through daily exercising anger, malice and the other lower emotions, they do, without knowing, invoke the demonic forces of the Narakaloka. Then they must suffer the backlash: have nightmares, confusions, separations and even perform heinous acts. Let all people of the world restrain themselves and be patient through the practice of daily worship and meditation, which retroactively invokes the divine forces from the Devaloka. May a great peace pervade the planet as the well-earned result of these practices.

The next time you find yourself becoming impatient, just stop for a moment and remember that you are on the upward path, now facing a rare opportunity to take one more step upward by overcoming these feelings, putting all that you have previously learned into practice. One does not progress on the spiritual path by words, ideas or unused knowledge. Memorized precepts, shlokas, all the shoulds and should-nots, are good, but unless used they will not propel you one inch further than you already are. It is putting what you have learned into practice in these moments of experiencing impatience and controlling it through command of your spiritual will, that moves you forward. These steps forward can never be retracted. When a test comes, prevail.

Sadhakas and sannyasins must be perfect in kshama, forbearing with people and patient under all circumstances, as they have harnessed their karmas of this life and the lives before, compressed them to be experienced in this one lifetime. There is no cause for them, if they are to succeed, to harbor intolerance or experience any kind of impatience with people or circumstances. Their instinctive, intellectual nature should be caught up in daily devotion, unreserved worship, meditation and deep self-inquiry. Therefore, the practice, niyama, that mitigates intolerance is devotion, Ishvarapujana, cultivating devotion through daily worship and meditation.

Steadfastness

The sixth yama is dhriti, steadfastness. To be steadfast, you have to use your willpower. Willpower is developed easily in a person who has an adequate memory and good reasoning faculties. To be steadfast as we go through life, we must have a purpose, a plan, persistence and push. Then nothing is impossible within the circumference of our prarabdha karmas.

It is impossible to be steadfast if we are not obeying the other restraints that the rishis of the Himalayas laid down for us as the fruits of their wisdom. All of these restraints build character, and dhriti, steadfastness, rests on the foundation of good character. Character — the ability to “act with care” — is built slowly, over time, with the help of relatives, preceptors and good-hearted friends. Observe those who are steadfast. You will learn from them. Observe those who are not, and they, too, will teach you. They will teach what you should not do. To be indecisive and changeable is not how we should be on the path to enlightenment, nor to be successful in any other pursuit. Nonperseverance and fear must be overcome, and much effort is required to accomplish this. Daily sadhana, preferably under a guru’sguidance, is suggested here to develop a spiritual will and intellect.

In the Shandilya Upanishad (UPM, P. 173-174), dhriti has been described as preserving firmness of mind during the period of gain or loss of relatives. This implies that during times of sorrow, difficult karmas, loss and temptation, when in mental pain and anguish, feeling alone and neglected, we can persevere, be decisive and bring forth the dhriti strength within us and thus prevail. One translator of the Varuha Upanishad used the wordcourage to translate dhriti. Courageous and fearless people who are just and honest prevail over all karmas — benevolent, terrible and confused. This virtue is much like the monk’s vow of humility, part of which is enduring hardship with equanimity, ease of mind, which means not panicking. TheTirukural reminds us, “It is the nature of asceticism to patiently endure hardship and to not harm living creatures” (261). And we can say that dhritiitself is a “hard ship” — a ship that can endure and persevere on its course even when tossed about on the waves of a turbulent sea.

Some might wonder why it is good to passively endure hardship. To persevere through hardship one must understand, as all Hindus do, that any hardship coming to us we ourselves participated in setting into motion in the past. To endure hardship and rise above it in consciousness is to overcome that karma forever. To resent hardship, to fight it, is to have it return later at a most inconvenient time.

An essential part of steadfastness is overcoming changeableness. Changeableness means indecision, not being decisive, changing one’s mind after making a deliberate, positive decision. Changing one’s mind can be a positive thing, but making a firm, well-considered decision and not following it through would gain one the reputation of not being dependable, even of being weak-minded. No one wants a reputation like this.

How can we discriminate between this and the strength of a person who changes his or her mind in wisdom because of changes of circumstance? A person who is changeable is fickle and unsure of himself, changing without purpose or reason. Dhriti, steadfastness, describes the mind that is willing to change for mature reasons based on new information but holds steady to its determinations through thick and thin in the absence of such good reasons. Its decisions are based on wise discrimination. A person who is patient and truthful, who would not harm others by thought, word or deed and who is compassionate and honest has the strong nature of one who is firm in dhriti,steadfastness. He is the prevailer over obstacles. One firm in dhriti can be leaned upon by others, depended upon. He is charitable, has faith in God, Gods and guru, worships daily and manifests in his life a spiritual will and intellect. In relaxed moments he experiences santosha, contentment, not being preoccupied by feelings of responsibility, duty or things left undone.

The spiritual path is a long, enduring process. It does not reach fruition in a year or two years. The spiritual path brings lots of ups and downs, and the greatest challenges will come to the greatest souls. With this in mind, it becomes clear that steadiness and perseverance are absolutely essential on the spiritual path.

Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.

How to Live With God

Religion teaches us how to become better people, how to live as spiritual beings on this Earth. This happens through living virtuously, following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma. For Hindus, these guidelines are recorded in the yamas and niyamas, ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. In Indian spiritual life, these Vedic restraints and observances are built into the character of children from a very early age. For adults who have been subjected to opposite behavioral patterns, these guidelines may seem to be like commandments. However, even they can, with great dedication and effort, remold their character and create the foundation necessary for a sustained spiritual life. Through following the yamas and niyamas, we cultivate our refined, spiritual being while keeping the instinctive nature in check. We lift ourself into the consciousness of the higher chakras — of love, compassion, intelligence and bliss — and naturally invoke the blessings of the divine devas and Mahadevas.

Yama means “reining in” or “control.” The yamas include such injunctions as noninjury (ahimsa), nonstealing (asteya) and moderation in eating (mitahara), which harness the base, instinctive nature. Niyama, literally “unleashing,” indicates the expression of refined, soul qualities through such disciplines as charity (dana), contentment (santosha) and incantation (japa).

It is true that bliss comes from meditation, and it is true that higher consciousness is the heritage of all mankind. However, the ten restraints and their corresponding practices are necessary to maintain bliss consciousness, as well as all of the good feelings toward oneself and others attainable in any incarnation. These restraints and practices build character. Character is the foundation for spiritual unfoldment.

The fact is, the higher we go, the lower we can fall. The top chakras spin fast; the lowest one available to us spins even faster. The platform of character must be built within our lifestyle to maintain the total contentment needed to persevere on the path. These great rishis saw the frailty of human nature and gave these guidelines, or disciplines, to make it strong. They said, “Strive!” Let’s strive to not hurt others, to be truthful and honor all the rest of the virtues they outlined.

The ten yamas are: 1) ahimsa, “noninjury,” not harming others by thought, word or deed; 2) satya, “truthfulness,” refraining from lying and betraying promises; 3) asteya, “nonstealing,” neither stealing nor coveting nor entering into debt; 4) brahmacharya, “divine conduct,” controlling lust by remaining celibate when single, leading to faithfulness in marriage; 5) kshama, “patience,” restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances; 6) dhriti, “steadfastness,” overcoming nonperseverance, fear, indecision, inconstancy and changeableness; 7) daya, “compassion,” conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings; 8) arjava, “honesty, straightforwardness,” renouncing deception and wrongdoing; 9) mitahara, “moderate appetite,” neither eating too much nor consuming meat, fish, fowl or eggs; 10) shaucha, “purity,” avoiding impurity in body, mind and speech.

Twenty Disciplines

The niyamas are: 1) hri, “remorse,” being modest and showing shame for misdeeds; 2) santosha, “contentment,” seeking joy and serenity in life; 3) dana, “giving,” tithing and giving generously without thought of reward; 4) astikya, “faith,” believing firmly in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment; 5) Ishvarapujana, “worship of the Lord,” the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation; 6) siddhanta shravana, “scriptural listening,” studying the teachings and listening to the wise of one’s lineage; 7) mati, “cognition,” developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru’s guidance; 8) vrata, “sacred vows,” fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully; 9) japa, “recitation,” chanting mantras daily; 10) tapas, “austerity,” performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice.

In comparing the yamas to the niyamas, we find the restraint of noninjury, ahimsa, makes it possible to practice hri, remorse. Truthfulness brings on the state of santosha, contentment. And the third yama, asteya, nonstealing, must be perfected before the third niyama, giving without any thought of reward, is even possible. Sexual purity brings faith in God, Gods and guru. Kshama, patience, is the foundation for Ishvarapujana, worship, as is dhriti, steadfastness, the foundation for siddhanta shravana. The yama of daya, compassion, definitely brings mati, cognition. Arjava, honesty — renouncing deception and all wrongdoing — is the foundation for vrata, taking sacred vows and faithfully fulfilling them. Mitahara, moderate appetite, is where yoga begins, and vegetarianism is essential before the practice of japa, recitation of holy mantras, can reap its true benefit in one’s life. Shaucha, purity in body, mind and speech, is the foundation and the protection for all austerities.

The twenty restraints and observances are the first two of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga, constituting Hinduism’s fundamental ethical code. Because it is brief, the entire code can be easily memorized and reviewed daily at the family meetings in each home. The yamas and niyamas are the essential foundation for all spiritual progress. They are cited in numerous scriptures, including the Shandilya and Varaha Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, the Tirumantiram of Rishi Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. All of these ancient texts list ten yamas and ten niyamas, with the exception of Patanjali’s classic work, which lists just five of each. Patanjali lists the yamas as: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha (noncovetousness); and the niyamas as: shaucha, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya (self-reflection, scriptural study) and Ishvarapranidhana (worship).

In the Hindu tradition, it is primarily the mother’s job to build character within the children, and thereby to continually improve society. Mothers can study and teach these guidelines to uplift their children as well as themselves. Each discipline focuses on a different aspect of human nature, its strengths and weaknesses. Taken as a sum total, they encompass the whole of human experience and spirituality. You may do well in upholding some of these but not so well in others. That is to be expected. That defines the sadhana, therefore, to be perfected.

Your Divine Chariot

The yamas and niyamas and their function in our life can be likened to a chariot pulled by ten horses. The passenger inside the chariot is your soul. The chariot itself represents your physical, astral and mental bodies. The driver of the chariot is your external ego, your personal will. The wheels are your divine energies. The niyamas, or spiritual practices, represent the spirited horses, named Hri, Santosha, Dana, Astikya, Ishvarapujana, Siddhanta Shravana, Mati, Vrata, Japa, and Tapas. The yamas, or restraints, are the reins, called Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Kshama, Dhriti, Daya, Arjava, Mitahara and Shaucha. By holding tight to the reins, the charioteer, your will, guides the strong horses so they can run forward swiftly and gallantly as a dynamic unit. So, as we restrain the lower, instinctive qualities through upholding the yamas, the soul moves forward to its destination in the state of santosha. Santosha, peace, is the eternal satisfaction of the soul. At the deepest level, the soul is always in the state of santosha. But outwardly, the propensity of the soul is to be clouded by lack of restraint of the instinctive nature, lack of restraint of the intellectual nature, lack of restraint of the emotional nature, lack of restraint of the physical body itself. Therefore, hold tight the reins.

It is important to realize that the yamas, restraints, are not out of the reach of the lowliest among us. No matter where we are in the scale of life, we all started from the beginning, at the bottom, didn’t we? This is our philosophy. This is our religion. This is the evolution of the soul. We improve, life after life, and these guidelines, yamas and niyamas, restraints and practices, are gifts from our rishis, from God Siva Himself through them, to allow us to judge ourself against these pillars of virtue as to how far we have progressed or strayed. In the early births, we are like children. We do not stray from anything. We run here and there and everywhere, disobey every rule, which when told of we cannot remember. We ignore any admonishment. As adolescents, we force our will on society, want to change it, because we don’t like the hold it has on us. Wanting to express themselves in most creative ways, rebellious youths separate themselves from other people, children and the adults. They do make changes, but not always for the best. As an adult, we see both — the past and the impending future of old age — and, heads down, we are concerned with accumulating enough to see life through to its uncertain end. When the accumulations have become adequate, we will look back at the undisciplined children, the headstrong, unruly adolescents and the self-possessed, concentrated adults and try to motivate all three groups. In our great religion, the Sanatana Dharma, known today as Hinduism, twenty precepts, the yamas and niyamas, restraints and observances, are the guidelines we use to motivate these three groups. These are the guidelines they use to motivate themselves, for each group is mystically independent of the others; so it seems.

Non injury

The first yama is ahimsa, noninjury. To practice ahimsa, one has to practice santosha, contentment. The sadhana is to seek joy and serenity in life, remaining content with what one has, knows, is doing and those with whom he associates. Bear your karma cheerfully. Live within your situation contentedly. Himsa, or injury, and the desire to harm, comes from discontent.

The rishis who revealed the principles of dharma or divine law in Hindu scripture knew full well the potential for human suffering and the path which could avert it. To them a one spiritual power flowed in and through all things in this universe, animate and inanimate, conferring existence by its presence. To them life was a coherent process leading all souls without exception to enlightenment, and no violence could be carried to the higher reaches of that ascent. These rishis were mystics whose revelation disclosed a cosmos in which all beings exist in interlaced dependence. The whole is contained in the part, and the part in the whole. Based on this cognition, they taught a philosophy of nondifference of self and other, asserting that in the final analysis we are not separate from the world and its manifest forms, nor from the Divine which shines forth in all things, all beings, all peoples. From this understanding of oneness arose the philosophical basis for the practice of noninjury and Hinduism’s ancient commitment to it.

We all know that Hindus, who are one-sixth of the human race today, believe in the existence of God everywhere, as an all-pervasive, self-effulgent energy and consciousness. This basic belief creates the attitude of sublime tolerance and acceptance toward others. Even tolerance is insufficient to describe the compassion and reverence the Hindu holds for the intrinsic sacredness within all things. Therefore, the actions of all Hindus are rendered benign, or ahimsa. One would not want to hurt something which one revered.

On the other hand, when the fundamentalists of any religion teach an unrelenting duality based on good and evil, man and nature or God and Devil, this creates friends and enemies. This belief is a sacrilege to Hindus, because they know that the attitudes which are the by-product are totally dualistic, and for good to triumph over that which is alien or evil, it must kill out that which is considered to be evil.

The Hindu looks at nothing as intrinsically evil. To him the ground is sacred. The sky is sacred. The sun is sacred. His wife is a Goddess. Her husband is a God. Their children are devas. Their home is a shrine. Life is a pilgrimage to mukti, or liberation from rebirth, which once attained is the end to reincarnation in a physical body. When on a holy pilgrimage, one would not want to hurt anyone along the way, knowing full well the experiences on this path are of one’s own creation, though maybe acted out through others.

Non injury for Renunciate’s

Ahimsa is the first and foremost virtue, presiding over truthfulness, nonstealing, sexual purity, patience, steadfastness, compassion, honesty and moderate appetite. The brahmachari and sannyasin must take ahimsa, noninjury, one step further. He has mutated himself, escalated himself, by stopping the abilities of being able to harm another by thought, word or deed, physically, mentally or emotionally. The one step further is that he must not harm his own self with his own thoughts, his own feelings, his own actions toward his own body, toward his own emotions, toward his own mind. This is very important to remember. And here, at this juncture, ahimsa has a tie with satya, truthfulness. The sannyasin must be totally truthful to himself, to his guru, to the Gods and to Lord Siva, who resides within him every minute of every hour of every day. But for him to truly know this and express it through his life and be a living religious example of the Sanatana Dharma, all tendencies toward himsa, injuriousness, must always be definitely harnessed in chains of steel. The mystical reason is this. Because of the brahmachari’s or sannyasin’s spiritual power, he really has more ability to hurt someone than he or that person may know, and therefore his observance of noninjury is even more vital. Yes, this is true. A brahmachari or sannyasin who does not live the highest level of ahimsa is not a brahmachari.

Words are expressions of thoughts, thoughts created from prana. Words coupled with thoughts backed up by the transmuted pranas, or the accumulated bank account of energies held back within the brahmachari and the sannyasin, become powerful thoughts, and when expressed through words go deep into the mind, creating impressions, samskaras, that last a long time, maybe forever. It is truly unfortunate if a brahmachari or sannyasin loses control of himself and betrays ahimsa by becoming himsa, an injurious person — unfortunate for those involved, but more unfortunate for himself. When we hurt another, we scar the inside of ourself; we clone the image. The scar would never leave the sannyasin until it left the person that he hurt. This is because the pranas, the transmuted energies, give so much force to the thought. Thus the words penetrate to the very core of the being. Therefore, angry people should get married and should not practice brahmacharya.

Truthfulness

The second yama is satya, truthfulness. It seems that little children are naturally truthful, open and honest. Their lives are uncomplicated, and they have no secrets. National studies show that children, even at an early age, learn to lie from their parents. They are taught to keep family secrets, whom to like, whom to dislike, whom to hate and whom to love, right within the home itself. Their minds become complicated and their judgments of what to say and what not to say are often influenced by the possibility of a punishment, perhaps a beating. Therefore, to fully encompass satya and incorporate it in one’s life as a teenager or an adult, it is quite necessary to dredge the subconscious mind and in some cases reject much of what mother or father, relatives and elders had placed into it at an early age. Only by rejecting the apparent opposites, likes and dislikes, hates and loves, can true truthfulness, which is a quality of the soul, burst forth again and be there in full force as it is within an innocent child. A child practices truthfulness without wisdom. Wisdom, which is the timely application of knowledge, guides truthfulness for the adult. To attain wisdom, the adult must be conversant with the soul nature.

What is it that keeps us from practicing truthfulness? Fear, mainly. Fear of discovery, fear of punishment or loss of status. This is the most honest untruthfulness. The next layer of untruthfulness would be the mischievous person willing to take a chance of not being caught and deliberately inventing stories about another, deliberately lying when the truth would do just as well. The third and worst layer is calculated deception and breaking of promises.

Satya is a restraint, and as one of the ten restraints it ranks in importance as number two. When we restrain our tendencies to deceive, to lie and break promises, our external life is uncomplicated, as is our subconscious mind. Honesty is the foundation of truth. It is ecologically, psychologically purifying. However, many people are not truthful with themselves, to themselves, let alone to others. And the calculated, subconscious built-in program of these clever, cunning, two-faced individuals keeps them in the inner worlds of darkness. To emerge from those worlds, the practice of truthfulness, satya, is in itself a healing and purifying sadhana.

What is breaking a promise? Breaking a promise is, for example, when someone confides in you, asks you to keep it to yourself and not to tell anyone, and then you tell. You have betrayed your promise. Confidences must be kept at all costs in the practice of satya.

There are certainly times when withholding the truth is permitted. The Tirukural, Weaver’s Wisdom, explains that “Even falsehood is of the nature of truth if it renders good results, free from fault” (292). An astrologer, for instance, while reviewing a chart would refrain from telling of a heartbreak that might come to a person at a certain time in his life. This is wisdom. In fact, astrologers are admonished by their gurus to hold back information that might be harmful or deeply discouraging. A doctor might not tell his patient that he will die in three days when he sees the vital signs weakening. Instead, he may encourage positive thinking, give hope, knowing that life is eternal and that to invoke fear might create depression and hopelessness in the mind of the ill person.

When pure truthfulness would injure or cause harm, then the first yama, ahimsa, would come into effect. You would not want to harm that person, even with the truth. But we must not look at this verse from the Tirukural as giving permission for deception. The spirit of the verse is wisdom, good judgment, not the subterfuge of telling someone you are going to Mumbai when your actual destination is Kalikot. That is not truthful. It would be much better to avoid answering the question at all in some way if one wanted to conceal the destination of his journey. This would be wisdom. You would not complicate your own subconscious mind by telling an untruth, nor be labeled deceptive in the mind of the informed person when he eventually discovers the actual truth.

Honesty with Your Guru

Some people use the excuse of truthfulness to nag their spouse about what they don’t like about him or her, or to gossip about other people’s flaws. This is not the spirit of satya. We do not want to expose others’ faults. Such confrontations could become argumentative and combative. No one knows one’s faults better than oneself. But fear and weakness often prevail, while motivation and a clear plan to correct the situation are absent. Therefore, to give a clear plan, a positive outlook, a new way of thinking, diverts the attention of the individual and allows internal healing to take place. This is wisdom. This is ahimsa, noninjury. This is satya, truthfulness. The wise devotee is careful to never insult or humiliate others, even under the pretext of telling the truth, which is an excuse that people sometimes use to tell others what they don’t like about them. Wise devotees realize that there is good and bad in everyone. There are emotional ups and downs, mental elations and depressions, encouragements and discouragements. Let’s focus on the positive. This is ahimsa and satya working together.

The brahmachari and the sannyasin must be absolutely truthful with their satguru. They must be absolutely diplomatic, wise and always accentuate the good qualities within the sannyasin and brahmachari communities. The guru has the right to discuss, rebuke or discipline the uncomely qualities in raising up the brahmachari and sannyasin. Only he has this right, because it was given to him by the brahmacharis and sannyasins when they took him as their satguru. This means that brahmacharis and sannyasins cannot discipline one another, psychoanalyze and correct in the name of truthfulness, without violation of the number one yama — ahimsa, noninjury.

Mothers and fathers have rights with their own children, as do gurus with their shishyas. These rights are limited according to wisdom. They are not all-inclusive and should not inhibit free will and well-rounded growth within an individual. This is why a guru is looked upon as the mother and father by the mother and father and by the disciple who is sent to the guru’s ashrama to study and learn. It is the guru’s responsibility to mold the aspirant into a solid member of the monastic community, just as it is the mother’s and father’s duty to mold the youth to be a responsible, looked-up-to member of the family community. This is how society progresses.

The practice, niyama, to strengthen one’s satya qualities is tapas, austerity — performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice. If you find you have not been truthful, if you have betrayed promises, then put yourself under the tapas sadhana. Perform a lengthy penance. Atone, repent, perform austerities. You will soon find that being truthful is much easier than what tapas and austerities will make you go through if you fail to restrain yourself.

Truthfulness is the fullness of truth. Truth itself is fullness. May fullness prevail, truth prevail, and the spirit of satya and ahimsa permeate humanity.

Liberation

Posted: 30/12/2012 in Routine
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He who knows God as the Life of life, the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind, he indeed comprehends fully the Cause of all causes.

 

The Self God Within

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

If you visualize above you nothing; below you nothing; to the right of you nothing; to the left of you nothing; in front of you nothing; in back of you nothing; and dissolve yourself into that nothingness, that would be the best way you could explain the realization of the Self. And yet that nothingness would not be the absence of something, like the nothingness inside an empty box, which would be like a void. That nothingness is the fullness of everything: the power, the sustaining power, of the existence of what appears to be everything.

After you realize the Self, you see the mind for what it is — a self-created principle. That is the mind ever creating itself. The mind is form ever creating form, preserving form, creating new forms and destroying old forms. That is the mind, the illusion, the great unreality, the part of you that in your thinking mind you dare to think is real. What gives the mind that power? Does the mind have power if it is unreal? What difference whether it has power or hasn’t power, or the very words that I am saying when the Self exists because of itself? You could live in the dream and become disturbed by it. Or you can seek and desire with a burning desire to cognize reality and be blissful because of it. Man’s destiny leads him back to himself. Man’s destiny leads him into the cognition of his own Being; leads him further into the realization of his True Being. They say you must step onto the spiritual path to realize the Self. You only step on the spiritual path when you and you alone are ready, when what appears real to you loses its appearance of reality. Then and only then are you able to detach yourself enough to seek to find a new and permanent reality.

Have you ever noticed that something you think is permanent, you and you alone give permanence to that thing through your protection of it?

Have you ever stopped to even think and get a clear intellectual concept that the Spirit within you is the only permanent thing? That everything else is changing? That everything else has a direct wire connecting it to the realms of joy and sorrow? That is the mind.

As the Self, your Effulgent Being, comes to life in you, joy and sorrow become a study to you. You do not have to think to tell yourself that each in its own place is unreal. You know from the innermost depths of your being that form itself is not real.

The subtlety of the joys that you experience as you come into your Effulgent Being cannot be described. They can only be projected to you if you are refined enough to pick up the subtlety of vibration. If you are in harmony enough, you can sense the great joy, the subtlety of the bliss that you will feel as you come closer and closer to your real Self.

If you strive to find the Self by using your mind, you will strive and strive in vain, because the mind cannot give you Truth; a lie cannot give you the truth. A lie can only entangle you in a web of deceit. But if you sensitize yourself, awaken your true, fine, beautiful qualities that all of you have, then you become a channel, a chalice in which your Effulgent Being will begin to shine. You will first think that a light is shining within you. You will seek to find that light. You will seek to hold it, like you cherish and hold a beautiful gem. You will later find that the light that you found within you is in every pore, every cell of your being. You will later find that that light permeates every atom of the universe. You will later find that you are that light and what it permeates is the unreal illusion created by the mind.

Awakening comes slowly

Siva Yogaswami, was a great siddha, a master and a knower of God. He would say, “Liberation is within you.” He would order his seekers to “See God in everything. You are in God. God is within you. To realize the Supreme Being within you, you must have a strong body and a pure mind.” He was a powerful mystic from Sri Lanka, near India — perhaps the greatest to live in the twentieth century. His words drove deeply into the hearts of all who heard them. “God is in everyone. See Him there. God is overwhelmingly present everywhere. Regard everything as a manifestation of God, and you will realize the Truth” were his words. Simple words for a simple truth, but very, very difficult to practice.

As we go on through life, we see only parts of life. We don’t see the whole. We can’t see the whole. Yogaswami said, “How can a part see the whole?” So, we live with a small part, our small part. We seek to avoid the painful areas and attract to us the joyous ones. Most people live in this duality life after life, bound in the forces of desire and the fulfillment of it. Occasionally a more mature soul breaks away from this cycle of desire-fulfillment-pleasure-loss-pain-suffering-and-joy and asks questions such as: “Who is God? Where is God? How can I come to know God?”

God has no names, but all names are the names of God. Whether you call Him this or that, He remains Who He is. But in our tradition we call God by the loving name Siva, which is only one of His 1,008 traditional names. Supreme God Siva is both within us and outside of us. Even desire, the fulfillment of desire, the joy, the pain, the sorrow, birth and death — this is all Siva, nothing but Siva. This is hard to believe for the unenlightened individual who cannot see how a good, kind and loving God could create pain and sorrow. Actually, we find that Siva did not — not in the sense that is commonly thought. God gave the law of karma, decreeing that each energy sent into motion returns with equal force.

In looking closely at this natural law, we can see that we create our own joy, our own pain, our own sorrow and our own release from sorrow. Yet we could not even do this except for the power and existence of our loving Lord. It takes much meditation to find God Siva in all things, through all things. In this striving — as in perfecting any art or science — regular daily disciplines must be faithfully adhered to.

Siva is the immanent personal Lord, and He is transcendent Reality. Siva is a God of love, boundless love. He loves each and every one. Each soul is created by Him and guided by Him through life. God Siva is everywhere. There is no place where Siva is not. He is in you. He is in this temple. He is in the trees. He is in the sky, in the clouds, in the planets. He is the galaxies swirling in space and the space between galaxies, too. He is the universe. His cosmic dance of creation, preservation and dissolution is happening this very moment in every atom of the universe. God Siva is, and is in all things. He permeates all things. He is immanent, with a beautiful form, a human-like form which can actually be seen and has been seen by many people in visions. He is also transcendent, beyond time, cause and space.

That is almost too much for the mind to comprehend, isn’t it? Therefore, we have to meditate on these things. God Siva is so close to us. Where does He live? In the Third World. And in this form He can talk and think and love and receive our prayers and guide our karma. He commands vast numbers of devas who go forth to do His will all over the world, all over the galaxy, throughout the universe. These are matters told to us by the rishis; and we have discovered them in our own meditations. So always worship this great God. Never fear Him. He is the Self of your self. He is closer than your own breath. His nature is love, and if you worship Him with devotion you will know love and be loving toward others. Devotees of God Siva love everyone.

This is how God Siva can be seen everywhere and in everyone. He is there as the Soul of each soul. You can open your inner eye and see Him in others, see Him in the world as the world. Little by little, discipline yourself to meditate at the same time each day. Meditate, discover the silent center of yourself, then go deep within, to the core of your real Being. Slowly the purity comes. Slowly the awakening comes.

Spiritual Retreat

Does this seem too difficult? Can you just contemplate what it would take to seek the all-pervasive Siva from hour to hour, throughout the day? One would have to be detached from all worldly responsibilities to a great extent in order to begin to bring this natural internal process through and into the external mind. The external mind is built up by an intellect formed from other people’s knowledge and opinions. This borrowed knowledge shrouds the soul, and the natural, childlike intelligence often does not filter through. Therefore, a period of detachment and regular spiritual retreat or separation from the external world is necessary.

On a pilgrimage we strive to see God around us, to intuit Him in the events that happen. During worship in the temple, we strive to feel Him, to experience Him more profoundly than during our normal activities. Eventually, as our spiritual efforts progress, we bring that same attention, that same one-pointedness, right into the everyday experiences that life presents to us, whether seemingly good or bad, whether causing pleasure or pain. This is the experience of the mature soul who performs regular sadhana after taking certain vows strong enough to cause a detachment of the intellect from seeing the external world as the absolute reality. All seekers hope for an occasional glimpse of Siva during their yearly pilgrimage at some venerable temple. If they develop that little glimpse, it will grow.

Many have asked me whether everyone should worship Siva both inside and out. Yes, that is the ideal according to our Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, but which of these two comes more naturally depends on the nature of the disciple. The more introverted will meditate on Siva within through their yogas, and the more extroverted will be inclined to worship in a temple or through music or religious service. The most awakened of seekers will do both with equal joy and ease.

God Siva is within each and every soul. He is there as the unmanifest Reality, which we call Parashiva. He is there as the pure light and consciousness that pervades every atom of the universe, which we call Satchidananda. We also know that He is Creator of all that exists, and that He is His creation. All this we know. Yes, all this we know. Thus, we intellectually know that Siva is within and without. This is yet to be experienced by the majority of people.

The nature of the worshiper develops through sadhana and tapas, performed either in this life or in previous lives. We must worship Siva externally until compelled — as were the great rishis of yore — to sit down, to settle down, to turn within ourself, to stop talking, to stop thinking and thus to internalize our great energy of bhakti, devotion. This is how we evolve, how we progress along the path toward Siva, diving deeper and deeper within. Everyone must worship Siva externally prior to internalizing that worship fully and perfectly. We cannot internalize the worship that has not first been mastered externally.

When problems come in the family or workplace and emotions arise, it is only natural to forget Siva. It’s so much easier to be involved in twoness rather than oneness. It takes a lot of inner strength to remember Siva all of the time, to keep the love for Siva flowing. We forget. We get involved in ourselves and others. It is impossible when our ego is attacked or our feelings hurt. So it’s easier, much easier, to forget Siva and even regard Him as a God to be feared; whereas it is our own instinctive mind and our preprogrammed, nonreligious intellect that should be feared. That’s the demon in our house, the mischief-maker who causes all the trouble. If you want to remember God, then first learn to forget yourself a little.

By Experience We Evolve

A family provides toys for the children to make them happy. Siva provides karma and dharma to all of us to make us happy, to bring us closer to Him. He created an expanding and contracting universe and eventually absorbs all in the great dissolution of the cosmos. He gave birth to all souls, our rishi-saints tell us; and we are evolving back into His image and likeness, they further explain. The toys of experience help us in our evolution, keeping us entertained so that we can learn and grow and experience our karma, dharma and other basic cosmic laws. Just as the children can laugh joyously as they play with their toys, or break them and cry or throw them at one another, hitting and hurting each other, we too can avoid duty and dharma, make karma, hurt ourselves and others, or help ourselves and others as we play with our own evolution, strengthening ourselves, learning and growing wise.

It is natural to forget about God, but there are many helpful ways that we can avoid distraction, that we can remember to keep seeing God Siva everywhere. One of the practical ways to bring God Siva into the midst of all this is to keep repeating His name. Do japa when you find yourself forgetting, when you just can’t see God at all, let alone everywhere. Repeat “Aum Namah Sivaya.” When life becomes difficult or strained, say to yourself “Siva Siva” or “Aum Sivaya” or “Namah Sivaya.” Mentally put it all at His feet. See Him in everyone that you meet or confront, regardless of the circumstances. He is there as their life force, but you just need to quiet the mind to see. Smile when you feel unhappy with someone and say to yourself, “How nice to see you, Siva, in this form.” Animals, beggars, princes, politicians, friends and enemies, holy men, saints and sages are all Siva to the soul that loves God. He smiles and thinks to himself, “How nice to see you, Siva, in this, another of your many forms.”

Nobody can think of Siva in His formlessness. This, above all, has to be realized, and then the realizer has to realize that he has realized the Formless. The truth is that precious few will realize Parashiva, though many can and will realize Satchidananda, even in their later years or at the moment of death. The fullness of lives of experience experienced, the performance of prior goals perfected, would lead a soul to the burning desire to accomplish the ultimate goal. For each person on the planet, the immediate pattern is clear. Once it is fulfilled, the next step appears naturally. It is the same force of desire that accomplishes all of this. The desire of a mother to take care of her children and to be a good wife, the desire of the father to support his family, the desire of a scientist to discover, the desire of an athlete to excel, the desire of the yogi to merge in oneness with Siva — it is the same force of desire, transmuted through the chakras as they awaken, as the soul evolves. It is that same desire that finally draws the seeker to know That which is timeless and formless, That which is spaceless and causeless. Be patient. It comes in the course of time to all. It comes. It will come. Be patient.

Knowing Self by Self

In the earlier stages, before sadhana is undertaken, the mind is agitated by current karmas and perhaps discouraged by its inability to know or to fulfill dharma. In this agitated state the world looks bleak and terrible, and it would be inconceivable to him for God to be any place but in the temple. “Certainly God could not reside within myself,” the unenlightened concludes.

In the second stage, when the mind rests peacefully in the fulfillment of a life’s pattern, dharma, when it has sufficient maturity to control and to dispatch past and current karmas through meditation, prayer and penance, then indeed God is seen as a helping hand within, but most potently felt within His temple.

In the third stage, the helping hand within becomes more than an aid to the troubled mind; it becomes pure consciousness itself. Rather than seeking God outside, God is enjoyed as a vital, integral dimension of the person, the Life of life, the power and radiant energy of the universe. The calm within is greater than the outside disturbance. In this stage of bliss-consciousness, it is clearly seen and exuberantly experienced that God is indeed within us. The experiencer’s perceptions become acute, and in his daily life he becomes a witness, observing that others do not see God within themselves. He has a secret that he has discovered. God within becomes soul-realized as Truth-Knowledge-Bliss, Satchidananda, the pervasive energy that glues all things together. Mind becomes serene, peace is seen to be everywhere, and the bliss so strong. A deeper inner eye opens at this stage, and it is truly perceived that this same presence of Siva is in each and every living being, permeates every atom of the universe as the great, sustaining substratum of all that exists. Only when this is experienced can one truly say that God is within man and man is within God.

To know philosophy without experience is like going on a vacation to a distant and wonderful place by simply reading a book about the destination, hearing what others claim is to be enjoyed there. It is not true experience at all. The only spiritual experience is personal experience. My satguru, Siva Yogaswami, made it clear that “You will not attain jnana, wisdom, even if you read a thousand scriptures. You must know your Self by yourself.”

How can we with our finite mind come to understand Infinity, come to understand God? How can we intellectually encompass something as great as God? Our scriptures tell us that God Himself is Shankara, the author of all knowledge, creator of the intellect. He is the great architect of the universe. Then if God created the intellect, how can the intellect understand Him? Well, it is possible. It has been done. The intellect has to expand, and awareness has to transcend the rational mind and see directly from superconscious knowing. That is why we worship Siva in His highest form, symbolized by the Sivalinga, the simple elliptical stone.

It is good that you are trying to see Siva everywhere. Keep trying. It will come. Who else can give your Self to you? The unfoldment of the Self within you is but Siva. He can give you wealth. He can give you health. He can bestow everything that you would ever need or even desire. But to worship Him as formless, as we are doing tonight, carries the mind into infinity. Mind can only encompass what it identifies with. Mind cannot identify Truth in this subtle form which represents Siva as beyond the mind — formless, timeless and spaceless. Yet, within you this very instant, only shrouded by your ignorance, only shrouded by the ego, which is the sense of personal identity and separation, is Siva. He is there right now, not at some fictitious future time. Just get rid of the maya, the anava and resolve the karma, and there He will be. The ego is the last thing to go. It is the last bond to break.

Once the bondage of personal ego is broken, it is seen that this mysterious God is all-pervading. He is what He has created. Think about that. It is very deep. Siva pervades His creation constantly as ever-present Love and Light of the mind of everyone, as Intelligence and Being; and yet God also has a form.

In the subtle worlds, Siva has the most beautiful form, not unlike a human form, but an absolutely perfect human form. He thinks. He talks. He walks. He makes decisions. We are fortunate to worship such a great God who pervades everything and yet transcends it, who is both form and beyond form, who is the Self within your very self at this very moment. So, all of you seekers of nondual Truth, you have a truly great path that offers God experience in form and beyond form. How fortunate you are!

Working with Your Karma

Seekers more than often ask, “Why has Siva given us karma to go through? Could He just have made us perfect from the beginning and avoided all the pain?” My answer is: accept your karma as your own, as a healing medicine and not a poison. As you go through your self-created experiences in daily life and seed karmas awaken, as your actions come back through your emotions, even in this life, not in a future one, resolve each and every experience so that you do not react and create new cycles to be lived through. Whether it is happy karma, sad karma, miserable karma or ecstatic karma, it is your karma. But it is not you, not the real you. It is the experience that you go through in order to evolve, in order to grow and to learn and to attain, eventually, wisdom. This is all Siva’s mysterious work, His way of bringing along devotees, His way to bring you close and closer to Himself.

The great Vedic rishis have explained that Siva has created the body of the soul, permeated that body with His being, His essence. All souls are evolving back to His holy feet, and there are many lessons to be learned along the way. The lessons learned in the karma classroom are part of the process of evolution, the mechanism of evolution, the tool of evolution. Why did He do all of this? The rishis give no reason. They call it His dance. That is why we worship God Siva as Nataraja, the King of Dance. Why does one dance? Because one is full of joy. One is full of life. Siva is all life, God of life, God of death that brings new life, God of birth that brings through life. He is all life and He is everything. He danced with the rishis. He is dancing for you. You are dancing with Siva. Every single atom in this room is dancing His dance. He is every part of you this very moment. By seeing Him, you see yourself. By drawing near to Him, you are drawing nearer to yourself. Our great satguru, Siva Yogaswami, made a most perceptive remark. He said, “There is one thing only that God Siva cannot do. He cannot separate Himself from me.” He cannot separate Himself from you, because He permeates you. He is you. He created the soul, the Vedas and Agamas tell us. He created your soul, and your soul is evolving, maturing through karma, through life, on its way back to Him. That is the goal of life, to know Siva, to love Siva and to find union in Him, to dance with Siva, live with Siva and merge with Siva. This is what the oldest religion on the Earth teaches and believes.

Siva is the God of love and nothing else but love. He fills this universe with love. He fills you with love. Siva is fire. Siva is earth. Siva is air. Siva is water. Siva is ether. Siva’s cosmic energy permeates everything and gives light and life to your mind. Siva is everywhere and all things. Siva is your small, insignificant worry, the concern that you have been holding in your mind for so many years. See God Siva everywhere and His life energy in all things. First we dance with Siva. Then we live with Siva. The end of the path is to merge with Siva, the Self God within.

Every Temple Made of Brick

How strong you must be to find this Truth. You must become very, very strong. How do you become strong? Exercise. You must exercise every muscle and sinew of your nature by obeying the dictates of the law, of the spiritual laws. It will be very difficult. A weak muscle is very difficult to make strong, but if you exercise over a period of time and do what you should do, it will respond. Your nature will respond, too. But you must work at it. You must try. You must try. You must try very, very hard. Very diligently. How often? Ten minutes a day? No. Two hours a day? No. Twenty-four hours a day! Every day! You must try very, very hard. Preparing you for the realization of the Self is like tuning up a violin, tightening up each string so it harmonizes with every other string. The more sensitive you are to tone, the better you can tune a violin, and the better the violin is tuned, the better the music. The stronger you are in your nature, the more you can bring through your real nature; the more you can enjoy the bliss of your true being. It is well worth working for. It is well worth craving for. It is well worth denying yourself many, many things for — to curb your nature. It is well worth struggling with your mind, to bring your mind under the dominion of your will.

Those of you who have experienced contemplation know the depth from which I am speaking. You have had a taste of your true Self. It has tasted like nothing that you have ever come in contact with before. It has filled and thrilled and permeated your whole being, even if you have only remained in that state of contemplation not longer than sixty seconds. Out of it you have gained a great knowing, a knowing that you could refer back to, a knowing that will bear the fruit of wisdom if you relate future life experiences to that knowing, a knowing greater than you could acquire at any university or institute of higher learning. Can you only try to gain a clear intellectual concept of realizing this Self that you felt permeating through you and through all form in your state of contemplation? That is your next step.

Those of you who are wrestling with the mind in your many endeavors to try to concentrate the mind, to try to meditate, to try to become quiet, to try to relax, keep trying. Every positive effort that you make is not in vain. Every single brick added to a temple made of brick brings that temple closer to completion. So keep trying and one day, all of a sudden, you will pierce the lower realms of your mind and enter into contemplation. Then you will be able to say: “Yes, I know, I have seen. Now I know fully the path that I am on.” Keep trying. You have to start somewhere.

The Self you cannot speak of. You can only try to think about it, if you care to, in one way: feel your mind, body and emotions, and know that you are the Spirit permeating through mind, which is all form; body, which you inhabit; and emotions, which you either control or are controlled by. Think on that, ponder on that, and you will find you are the light within your eyes. You are the feel within your fingers. “You are more radiant than the sun, purer than the snow, more subtle than the ether.” Keep trying. Each time you try you are one step closer to your true Effulgent Being.