Posts Tagged ‘See God Everywhere’

Have your eating and drinking in common. I bind you together. Assemble for worship of the Lord, like spokes around a hub. Of one mind and one purpose I make you, following one leader. Be like the Gods, ever deathless! Never stop loving!

The Ideals Of Marriage

Marriage is an institution, a business, a spiritual partnership, a furtherance of humanity and a contract — a three-level contract involving body, mind and emotion. Marriage is a necessary commitment not only for the continuation of the human race but also for the furtherance of each individual soul’s spiritual unfoldment. The interaction on all levels between the couple, and later their children, molds the good, bad and confused karmas into new dimensions. Saivite marriages involve not only the bride and groom but also their parents, their priest, guru, astrologer, relatives on both sides and the entire community. The feeling of responsibility to the community is ever present. The community’s feeling of responsibility to make each of its marriages work out well is also always present.

Why are Saivite marriages different from other kinds of marriages? It is because of the ever-abiding belief in the ever-present oneness of God Siva within each one. God Siva is within you, and you are within God Siva. God Siva is the Life of our lives. This and more the Saivite saints sang. To forget that Siva is within the wife, to forget that Siva is within the husband is to forget Saivism itself. This basic Saivite belief lays the psychological foundation for the husband to see the wife as a Goddess and the wife to see the husband as a God. All other behavior comes out of this belief. Belief creates attitudes, and attitudes create actions.

The knowing that each one has come into life to work out certain karmas they brought with them in this birth, and that karmas are generally worked out through other people, gives a challenge and a goal — to resolve these karmas and receive the reward of mukti, freedom from rebirth. Because of this belief, this understanding, the husband and wife blend their energies more constructively. Their attitudes are naturally more generous, forgiving and understanding, their actions and interactions more harmonious and mutually supportive. A woman gives her prana, spiritual energy, to her husband, making him strong. Children give their prana to their parents, because to them the parents are Siva-Shakti, the first guru. The wife, always attending to her husband’s needs, sets the pattern for the children. By focusing her energies within her family, she builds up a great spiritual vibration in the home. In fulfilling his purusha dharma, the husband gives his prana, love and loyalty to his family, and he benefits the community through his service. He never, ever raises his voice in the home; nor does he show anger in any way. He is the model for the entire family. When his sons come of age, they join their pranas with his, and as a result, the family, the community and the country flourish.

Believing in reincarnation, the parents know that their relatives — and they themselves — will be born back into their family again and again to work out their unfinished karmas. A Saivite home is a karmic factory, a recycling of souls, a mill that grinds exceedingly fine the seed karmas of this and past lives.

Mysticism In the Home

The Saivite Hindu lifestyle is very special, very binding, strengthened by: the pancha nitya karmas; the Monday family home evening and the daily family meetings; the knowing that each child is and has been totally a part of the family, maybe for hundreds of years; the knowing that there is karma to be worked out within the family — feelings of happiness, unhappiness and misunderstandings, all to be resolved; and the knowing that there is a purpose for them all being together and that they may all be together until mukti, liberation from the cycle of rebirth. All this and more distinguishes the Saivite family from all other families on the planet.

It is on the astral plane, the inner world of this world, that twenty-four-hour life takes place. Beings there do not have to sleep. The positive activity of the astral world within the house or the apartment transforms it into a home, or if negative into a hotel room. To stabilize this astral activity and make sure it is positive, the home puja is performed by every Saivite family daily. Scriptures are read, the yamas and niyamas are fulfilled and all difficulties, large and small, are resolved before sleep. Divine ancestral devas are coaxed to live in the home, as well as devas from nearby temples where the family frequently worships. This magic makes the home into a spiritual abode, not unlike a temple itself.

Children are always treated with great respect and awe in a true Saivite home, for one does not always know who these young ones were in past lives. They may be incarnations of a grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, dearly beloved mother, sister, brother, respected father, distant related yogi or rishi. Who are they? What is their destiny to fulfill in this life?

The answers lie in the voice of the universe, the mystical Saivite astrological system laid down by the rishis of yore. The family’s astrologer carefully explains the nature of each child, and how it will develop, flourish and unfold year after year. This gives the parents knowledge and hope, courage and understanding, tolerance and forgiveness, and all the other fine qualities that all Saivites want to cultivate within themselves. In raising the children and simultaneously realizing that each is a part of Siva’s well-ordered universe and has entered the family with his or her own prarabdha karmas to be lived out, the parents are neither excited nor dismayed when the predicted characteristics begin to manifest within the child. Yes, the Saivite home is a factory, an intricate mechanism manufacturing spiritual unfoldment for every member of the family.

Bringing Up Children

Many families look at their children as intruders, as strangers. Saivites don’t. There is great power and wisdom in the knowledge of astrology in bringing the necessary information to the parents to know the nature of their new arrival. Non-Hindu families generally do not have this kind of insight into the nature and future of their offspring and are generally at a loss to understand or know how to deal with patterns and developments as they arise.

Hindu parents view each child as an adult in a very young body, growing up into the fulfillment of its potential. Using the knowledge gained through astrology, they work to strengthen the strong character traits and never aggravate the weaker or antagonistic ones. This is to say that should the child have a propensity toward anger, jealousy and argumentativeness, and another propensity toward generosity, creativity and acquisition of knowledge, the wise parents will, of course, never argue with the child, because they do not want to awaken and strengthen this quality; they would carefully refrain from angering the child and quickly quell the anger when it flares up. In order to avoid strengthening the tendency toward jealousy, they would seek to secure the child’s relationship with friends and things so that he never felt unloved or disadvantaged. They would praise his creativity, generosity and acquisition of knowledge. For all this he would be rewarded with kind words and gifts, because once these tendencies are strengthened, the negative ones will fall aside.

This example is given to explain the way in which mother and father must work together to formulate patterns of positive discipline that they will understand and implement in the same way, so as to bring out the best qualities within the child. When these best qualities are brought up and become a part of the child’s daily life, the worse qualities will naturally be subdued by the best qualities. It is an interactive mechanism within the child himself that brings him closer to perfection. Non-Saivite families often bring up the worst within their child, and the child has to, for his own salvation, leave home to be with people of a higher nature, a more expanded consciousness, who will strengthen his finer qualities, or be drawn to those of a lower nature, who will strengthen his lesser qualities. Everyone is on the path to perfection, and they are instinctively and superconsciously seeking out those who are capable and able to help them progress. Saivites want this to happen within the home itself, and hence welcome the involvement of the guru, the swamis and the entire community.

Because people are human, differences arise. If everyone were the same, humanity would be called a herd, with the instinctive nature the predominant functioning intelligence. But humans are not a herd; they are individuals, each and every one of them. Each has a destiny and on the path to fulfill that destiny must go through an intricate series of unique experiences. Saivites appreciate the differences. If any sameness exists, it is because of the shared understanding of the Saiva Dharma and each one’s ability to live up to it in his own way, helped or restricted by his prarabdha karmas. In our own Saivite organization — a worldwide family it has been called — a pilgrim can visit a mission in Canada, California, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius or India, and experience his brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles. This worldwide extended family exists because of their shared, basic Saiva beliefs and attitudes, and their striving to live up to the culture and sadhanas in their own way, only being helped or inhibited by their prarabdha karmas.

The Roles of Man and Wife

Is there anything unique in the Saivite marriage that helps in dealing with the roles that men and women traditionally play? Are women always to be meek and dependent and men aggressive and in charge? Sometimes an aggressive woman marries a passive man. How does Saivism deal with this?” This totally depends on the education of both the husband and the wife. This has been my experience. When the modernization of education occurred, which taught people how to live in the world, run a business or work for someone else, family life began to evolve out of the village consciousness and into the technological age. In this change, traditional roles also changed.

Today there are five basic patterns of marriage. In an agricultural community, women take care of the house, and men take care of the farm, the business and industry; or in some other societies where women are stronger, they work side-by-side with the men. There, for a man to have his wife work side-by-side with him in the field is a sign of status, better meals for the family and more attention to himself. Also we must understand that in these marriages both husband and wife share a similar educational level, a similar understanding of how the world works. This is the first and oldest pattern.

However, as society changes because of technology and industrialization, people change and their relationships change. I have found that a Western-educated man who marries an Eastern village-educated girl will always be head of the house, and she will allow this. Basically, she does not understand the ways of urban life. This is the second type of marriage. The educated man marrying an uneducated girl will not expect her to understand what he is thinking about or feeling. And she would probably not understand even if he explained it all to her. She would naturally be submissive; he would be aggressive.

It has been my experience that it works exactly the same the other way around in cases where the woman is more highly educated than the man. The intellectually educated lady marrying an uneducated man would most likely be the principal wage-earner, and he would be submissive. She will naturally make the major decisions about how to spend her money. He will naturally concur. Or, they will fight. This third, more difficult, relationship will demand a leader and a follower, especially if she earns more money than he and has more job security and greater benefits, such as medical insurance and retirement.

The second and third types of marriage share a common factor. A village girl has no way of earning her own living, should her husband die or leave her, and would have no recourse but to return to her family, unless he left her a substantial bequest or alimony. A nonprofessional village man would have no other recourse than to seek his own level of income should his educated wife die or leave him without providing a generous support or inheritance.

Special Types Of Marriage

The fourth type of marriage, like the first, is between those of similar educational backgrounds. Here, though, each is sophisticated, has professional skills and could be a wage-earner in his or her own right. Within these marriages, even though the skills may not be used, they are a potential source of income and security. This fourth rule book, which has been written more recently by the actions and experiences of various couples and the societies in which they live, is most important to elaborate on. Two fairly equally educated people should work in unanimous agreement, in partnership, in all things regarding raising of the children and management of the home.

The first three rule books are fairly well set, and society understands them. They have been functioning for hundreds and thousands of years. In the fourth type of marriage, men and women meet in equality through intelligence developed and cultivated through Western education, Western experience and the equal ability to be wage earners. The intellect, intelligence, has no sex; it is equal. To apply agricultural village traditions to these marriages would be to foster contention, misunderstanding and feelings of rejection, leading to possible separation. Two potential wage earners living together must themselves reach consensus on every issue.

The fifth type of marriage is more religious, more spiritual. Here the couple has blended together for the purpose of fulfilling religious aspirations, for ministry, producing sons for the monastery or future priests and pandits. These lofty marriages have definite guru involvement and swami involvement. The couple is intent on practicing yoga and serving their religion selflessly as missionaries, exemplars and teachers. My Saiva Siddhanta Church encourages each couple to write a two-part marriage contract. Part one is the mutual agreement, laying out the overall purpose of the marriage and the aspirations and goals that the union hopes to fulfill. The other part is a statement of the duties and responsibilities of each of the partners. This semi-corporate approach has proven successful in stabilizing many marriages, as each partner clearly understands his or her role.

Any couple following any of the other four types of marriage could move to the fifth at the right time. They would ultimately take the brahmacharya vrata, later in life, after a decision was made to have no more children, and then live together as brother and sister. This is traditional within Saivite culture and consistent with community expectations.

Marital Harmony

One might ask about the traditional role of the husband as guru of the wife, whether he should give in equally to her views when difficulties arise or expect most of the compromise to come from her. In the ideal of the husband’s being the guru in the family, the word guru simply means teacher. So, to be a guru in the household means that he is a very religious, knowledgeable, understanding, humble husband who is kind, honest and respected in the community as an exemplar. Otherwise, the ideal of family guru does not apply, and more of a partnership arrangement between spouses is the default in today’s world.

People are held in bondage in many ways — physical bondage, emotional bondage, intellectual bondage. In India’s Hinduism, unfortunately, as in many other societies on the Earth, disproportionate numbers of women are still not educated, while the men more often are. Therefore, the woman is held in intellectual bondage, sometimes not even being able to count to a hundred and only being able to, and expected to, gossip in the marketplace and bargain for food. Naturally she would follow the religion of her husband. Naturally she would also depend on him fully for guidance in all other matters, financial and otherwise.

But times have now changed, and many Hindu women have been educated and can formulate their own opinions through the reasoning processes of their own minds, talk intelligently among themselves and arrive at pragmatic conclusions. The guru-disciple relationship does not exist in marriages of this kind. She does not need to learn anything from her husband. In most cases she has sufficient skills to be financially independent. Therefore, the relationship is not that of a guru and student, but is more like a business partnership, the fourth type of marriage.

Their business is birthing children and raising them to be good citizens, maintaining a harmonious home by reconciling differences before sleep, even if they are reconciled a few hours after dawn, maintaining the family budget, paying all of the bills on time, saving for their children’s higher level of education, seeing to the children’s being settled in a life of their own, paying off the mortgage on the house, preparing for retirement, seeing to the spiritual upliftment of the community by contributing to the local temple society, maintaining a shrine room in their home, and hiring a local priest to perform house ceremonies and certain samskaras within the home. To fulfill all of this, a fair, professional attitude toward one another must be maintained.

Professional people in large corporations do not argue endlessly before reconciliation, nor do they undermine each other, lest they soon find themselves looking for another place of employment. Divorce in this modern time is like being dismissed, fired, and then the search is on for another partner with whom the same unresolved karma will finally mature. This is because we are born with certain prarabdha karmas to be lived through, if not with one person, then with a surrogate. The way to avoid creating new kriyamana karmas is to face up to the karmas with the first spouse rather than with a second, third or fourth, which would create a kukarma, or bad karma, mess along the way to be later cleaned up, if not in this life, then hopefully in the next life.

It is said that the wife should see the husband as Siva and he should see her as Shakti, which is often misconstrued as putting him in a superior position. The only up-down situation is the educated husband married to an illiterate wife, yet even here the relationship should be one of love and mutual respect. Siva and Shakti are totally and equally interrelated as far as Saiva Siddhanta philosophy is concerned, and cannot exist without one another. Therefore, is the husband Siva, and is she Shakti? It’s a yes and no answer. In Saiva Siddhanta, Siva and Shakti are two aspects of a one Being, Siva being the unmanifest Absolute and Shakti being the manifest Divinity.

If the wife is as capable as the husband in the external world and the intellectual world, emotional world and physical world, there is no up-down relationship between them, and they are Siva and Shakti, absolutely equal. The old system of male dominance originated in early human societies when physical strength — for war, hunting and heavy muscular effort — was a prime survival factor. It was perpetuated as the way of life in villages of preindustrial India, Europe and early America, where the man received the education and the woman, as a rule, did not. To apply this system in today’s sophisticated technological societies would be to plant the seedlings of the destruction of the marriage.

Commitment To Harmony

Traditionally, every Hindu family should have a family kulaguru, a preceptor who knows the flow of karma within all the family connections and the birth dharma of the family itself. To be without a kulaguru is likened to a child being without its parents.

One of the greatest disruptive forces in a marriage is the amateur psychiatrist or psychologist practicing on his or her spouse. This tactic for solving problems is totally unacceptable. Such efforts, however well-intended, to straighten out a spouse through subconscious analysis are antagonizing, disruptive and hurtful emotionally and mentally. All these psychiatric games are based on the principle, “Something is wrong with you, and I’m going to straighten it out. Come to me. I have all the solutions.” Saivism is different. It is based on the principle that you are perfect. The only problem is that you don’t know it. Let’s talk ourselves into our own perfection through reading scripture, praying, doing Sivathondu together, doing japa together, to lift our consciousness into the perfection that is always there.

If your spouse is trying to hurt you, protect yourself in the Sanatana Dharma as your first line of defense. Recognizing that this is your karma, fulfill your dharma fully, be it stri dharma or purusha dharma, the best you understand it. The Vedas assure us that truth always wins over evil (Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6). It is the wife’s duty to uplift the husband, the husband’s duty to uplift the wife. A husband bent on hurting his wife could not outlast — his hurtfulness could not survive — the wife’s chanting “Aum, Aum, Aum” all day long and placing spiritual vibrations into his food. In this way, good overcomes evil, ahimsa overcomes himsa, dharma overcomes adharma. This is why we are born on this planet, to evolve through such challenges. We are here for no other reason. But should the husband ever become physically violent, the wife should take the children and run to safety. She should stay in a safe place until he has undergone counseling, made amends to her and to the congregation, asked the family guru to prescribe a penance and fully performed that penance.

When families who are trying to meditate and unfold spiritually go through times of internal or external violence they should not practice raja yoga or other forms of meditation. This will only aggravate and worsen the situation. Yoga practices are not for them. What they should do is Sivathondu, or karma yoga, bhakti yoga and simple japa yoga. That is all. If a disharmonious situation comes up between husband and wife, they must resolve it before they go to bed, even if they must stay up all night into the light of day.

Sleep puts the problem to rest over a period of two or three nights, and it will eventually fade into the memory patterns of forgetfulness over a longer period of time. Having sex does not solve the problem. It puts the problem into seed, into the memory patterns of current forgetfulness, and these will definitely materialize at another time. Sex and sleep are not solutions to marital disputes. One is immediate postponement and the other is a slower postponement. To resolve a conflict between husband and wife, lest it affect the lives of the children by being postponed into forgetfulness, it must be done before sleep. There is no other way. This is the way husbands and wives catalyze their spiritual unfoldment on the path and develop themselves. Another reason sex is not a solution to disharmony is that babies that are conceived in a union that is supposed to settle a squabble are more often than not invoked from the Narakaloka. Such children might harass the family for the rest of their lives.

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Woman

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine part 2
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Be a queen to thy father-in-law, a queen to thy mother-in-law, a queen to thy husband’s sisters, and a queen to thy husband’s brothers.

Sanctity of The Home

From the point of view of the Second World, or astral plane, the home is the family temple, and the wife and mother is in charge of that spiritual environment. The husband can come into that sanctum sanctorum but should not bring the world into it. He will naturally find a refuge in the home if she is doing her duty. He will be able to regain his peace of mind there, renew himself for the next day in the stressful situations that the outside world is full of. In this technological age a man needs this refuge. He needs that inner balance in his life. When he comes home, she greets him at the entrance and performs a rite of purification and welcome, offering arati to cleanse his aura. This and other customs protect the sanctity of the home. When he enters that sanctuary and she is in her soul body and the child is in its soul body, then he becomes consciously conscious in his soul body, called anandamaya kosha in Sanskrit. He leaves the conscious mind, which is a limited, external state of mind and not a balanced state of mind. He enters the intuitive mind. He gets immediate and intuitive answers to his worldly problems.

How can he not be successful in his purusha dharma in the outside world when he has the backing of a good wife? She is naturally perceptive, naturally intuitive. She balances out his intellect, softens the impact of the forces which dash against his nervous system from morning to night. Encouragement and love naturally radiate out from her as she fulfills her stri dharma. Without these balancing elements in his life, a man becomes too externalized, too instinctive.

If a woman is working, she cannot provide this balance. She has to start thinking and acting like a man. She has to become a little tougher, create a protective shell around her emotions. Then the home loses its balance of the masculine and the feminine forces. Take for example the situation in which the wife rushes home from work fifteen minutes before the husband. She’s upset after an especially hard day at work. The children come over from Grandmother’s house or she tells the babysitter to go home. She scurries to prepare something for dinner before he comes home, then rushes to get herself looking halfway decent. Emotionally upset, she tries to calm herself, tries to relax and regain her composure. Her astral body is upset. The children’s astral bodies are upset. The husband enters this agitated environment — already upset by being in the world — and he becomes more disturbed. He was looking forward to a quiet evening. But is he going to get it? No. He begins to feel neglected, disappointed, and that leads him to become distraught, to say angry words that make everything even worse. The pranic forces are spinning out of control. It’s seems like a totally impossible situation for both of them. Furthermore, it’s not going to get better, but exceedingly worse, as the days wear on.

The Wife’s Special Power

The situation I have just described is one of the main reasons that marriages today have become less stable, that so many married couples — sixty to seventy percent, I’m told — are experiencing difficulties and breaking up. But couples never get married with the intent of breaking up. Never. The pranic forces do it. You put two magnets together one way and they attract one another. Turn one around, and they repel each other. The same force that brought the people together, when it is not handled right, makes them pull apart and hate each other. They can’t see eye to eye. Then to make up, they go out to dinner to talk it over — in another frustrating, asuric situation, as far out in the world as they can get — to try to make up. When that doesn’t help, they come home still frustrated. If they went to the nearby temple and worshiped the family Deity together, that would help. They would return home in a different state of mind and discover that their vibration had changed. Why does it help to go to the temple? Because the God is in the temple, the Deity is there to adjust the forces of the inner nerve system, to actually change the forces of mind and emotion.

In the home, the mother is likened to the Shakti Deity. She is the power, the very soul of the home. None other. So she has to be there. She has to be treated sensitively and kindly, and with respect. She has to be given all the things she needs and everything she wants so she will release her shakti power to support her husband, so that he is successful in all his manly endeavors. When she is hurt, depressed, frustrated or disappointed, she automatically withdraws that power, compromising his success in the outside world along with it. People will draw away from him. His job, business or creative abilities will suffer. This is her great siddhi, her inborn power, which Hindu women know so well.

It is the man’s duty, his purusha dharma, to provide for her and for the children. The husband should provide her with all the fine things, with a good house which she then makes into a home, with adornments, gold and jewels and clothes, gold hanging down until her ears hurt, more bracelets, more things to keep her in the home so she is feeling secure and happy. In return she provides a refuge, a serene corner of the world where he can escape from the pressures of daily life, where he can regain his inner perspective, perform his religious sadhana and meditations, then enjoy his family. Thus, she brings happiness and peace of mind to her family, to the community and to the world.

The Home As a Temple

This working together of the home and the temple brings up the culture and the religion within the family. The family goes to the temple; the temple blesses the family’s next project. The mother returns home. She keeps an oil lamp burning in the shrine room on the altar to bring the shakti power of the God and devas into their home. This is only one of the beautiful practices of her religious stri dharma, so sensitive and so vital to the furtherance of the family and its faith. All this happens because her astral body is not fretted by the stresses and strains of a worldly life, not polluted by the lustful thoughts of other men directed toward her, causing her to live in the emotional astral body to ward them off, or be tempted by them. She is not living in the emotional astral body. She is living in her peaceful soul body of love, fulfilling her dharma and radiating the soulful presence called sannidhya. She was born to be a woman, and that’s how a woman should behave.

If she does not do her dharmic duty — this means the duty of birth — then she accrues bad karma. Every time she leaves the home to go out to work, she is making kukarma. Yes, she is. That negative karma will have its affect on her astral body and on her husband’s astral body and on the astral bodies of their children, causing them to become insecure.

The Judaic-Christian-Islamic idea of just one life, after which you either go to heaven or to hell gives the impression that time is running out. Some even think “you have to get everything out of this life, because when you’re gone, you’re gone, so grab all the gusto that you can.” This has given the modern Western woman the idea that she is not getting everything she should, and therefore the man’s world looks doubly attractive, because she is just passing through and will never come back. So, living a man’s life is very, very attractive. She doesn’t want to stay home all the time and not see anything, not meet anybody, go through the boredom of raising a family, taking care of the children. She wants to be out with life, functioning in a man’s world, because she is told that she is missing something. Therefore, you can understand her desire to get out and work, start seeing and experiencing life and mixing with people, meeting new people.

The traditional Hindu woman, however, does not look at life like that. She knows that she was born this time in a woman’s body — this soul has taken an incarnation for a time in a woman’s body — to perform a dharma, to perform a duty, for the evolution of the soul. The duty is to be a mother to her children, wife to her husband, to strengthen the home and the family, which are the linchpin of society. She knows that the rewards are greater for her in the home. She knows that all she is missing is a man’s strenuous work and responsibility, that her stri dharma is equally as great as a man’s purusha dharma, even though they are quite different by nature. Because she knows these things, she fulfills her dharma joyously.

Mother in The Home

Now, a woman may wonder, “If I don’t work, how are we going to pay the bills?” The stated reason that most women work is economic. The economy of the world is becoming more and more difficult, and the first answer to money problems, especially in the West, where the family unit is not too strong these days, is to have the wife go to work. This is an unhappy solution. Much too often the sacrifices are greater than the rewards. It is a false economy. Many times I have told young wives to stay home with their children. They worry. Their husbands worry. But with the wife at home, working to strengthen her husband, he soon becomes confident, creative, energetic and that makes him prosperous. He is reinspired and always finds a way to make ends meet.

As long as the mother is home, everything is fine. There is security. Without this security, a family begins to disintegrate. Just think how insecure a child is without its mother. When the mother is there, security reigns in the home. As long as the mother is home, doing whatever she naturally does as a mother — she doesn’t even have to read a book about how to do it — the husband has to support the home; he feels bound to support the home. Of course, religion must be the basis of the home to make it all work. When women leave the home to work in the world, they sacrifice the depth of their religion. Their religious life then simply becomes a social affair. This is true of both Eastern and Western religions. As long as the mother is home, the celestial devas are there, hovering in and around the home.

How many of you here this morning were raised with your mother staying at home? Well, then you know what I mean. Now, what if she wasn’t at home when you were a child? You had to fix your own snack in an empty house. You didn’t feel much cared for. You were alone in an empty house, perhaps frightened, and you went around seeing if someone was hiding in the closet. You didn’t feel that motherly, protective feeling.

When mother finally does come home, she has other things on her mind. She is tired. She has worked hard, and now she has to work even more. She is not thinking about the helpless kid who can’t take care of himself. She may get home and think to herself, “I just can’t forget about that good-looking man I met at the office. I even see him in my dreams. I have a husband and I shouldn’t be thinking about such things, but…” And on and on and on. Arguments begin to happen for the first time in the home. What do you do? You worry for awhile. You cry a little. As soon as you can, you start fending for yourself. You work out ways to take care of yourself, or even to get away from the unhappy situation as soon as you can. You end up out on your own in the world at a young age, before you are mature enough to cope with it.

A Feminine Incarnation

The Hindu woman knows that she is born in a woman’s body to fulfill a woman’s dharma, to perform her duty and not to emulate the men. The duty is to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, whom she looks to as her lord. She performs that duty willingly, as does the man perform his duty which arises out of being born in a man’s body. The Hindu woman is trained to perform her stri dharma from the time she is a little girl. She finds ways to express her natural creativity within the home itself. She may write poetry or become an artist. Perhaps she has a special talent for sewing or embroidery or gardening or music. She can learn to loom cloth and make the family’s clothing. If needed, she can use her skills to supplement the family income without leaving the home. There are so many ways for a Hindu wife and mother to fully use her creative energies, including being creative enough to never let her life become boring. It is her special blessing that she is free to pursue her religion fully, to study the scriptures, to sing bhajana and keep her own spiritual life strong inside.

Then there is the situation in which the wife is working for her husband in the home. This is not ideal, but it is far better than having her out away from her husband, under another man’s mind. At least the family is working together toward a single goal, and the mother is there to care for the child and answer questions. Of course, if working in the home does not allow for closeness of mother and children, then it is to be avoided — if, for instance, the work is so demanding that the mother is never free to play with the young ones or is so pressured by her other duties that she becomes tense and upset. Otherwise, it is a positive situation. From the child’s point of view, mother is home. She is there to answer questions, to make a dosai or say, “Go make yourself a nice dosai and I will help you.” She is there with a kiss and a band aid for a scratch. She is there to explain why the grass is green, to tell a story, to teach a simple lesson in why things are the way they are. Mother is home, and that is very important for a young child. Yes, her prana in the house makes the house a home.

We are nowadays witnessing a big wave of change rushing to the shores of Hinduism in Colombo, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Durban and London. I have seen it coming. Hindu women no longer feel they have to adhere to the old traditions. They are changing traditions. They adopt new ways these days. Now a Hindu woman can go out and work, especially if she lives in the city, and she is encouraged by family and friends to do so. She can neglect her family, and that is deemed all right, too. She doesn’t have to fulfill her stri dharma. Staying home is old-fashioned, they say. I have been told that eighty percent of all Hindu women living in the West work in the world. Eighty percent! Apparently those who have worked for the demise of Hinduism have done their work quite well. Still, I am not worried. I know the nature of waves, and this one will ebb as soon as it reaches the height of its power, replaced by the greater power of returning to tradition.

Why Respect Tradition?

Let’s look at the word tradition. Webster defines tradition as “a story, belief, custom or proverb handed down from generation to generation, a long-established custom or practice that has the effect of an unwritten law.” We all know human nature, because we are people living on this planet. We are fickle; we are changeable. We are always curious to try new things. Change is a wonderful part of life, within certain bounds. We do not want to be too restrictive, yet we do want to be strict. Be strict without being restrictive, and life will be balanced between discipline and freedom. This has always been the Asian way. Take a look back into history, back to the time of Saint Tiruvalluvar, who lived 2,200 years ago. He would not have written the Tirukural if people were perfect, if they were, as a whole, strong, steady and self-disciplined. He wrote those sparkling gems of wisdom and advice for fickle, changeable people, so that they could keep their minds controlled and their lives in line with the basic principles of dharma for men and women clearly set forth in the Vedas six to eight thousand years ago.

Tradition adapts itself to culture and climate. The Hindu women raised in Western countries will not be able to follow all the traditions of the East. But they have to fulfill enough of those traditions to fulfill their stri dharma. And, of course, they will have to adjust slowly.

Scriptural advice is just as pertinent today, thousands of years later. Why? Because people are human, because they are little different today than they were then. Societies change, knowledge changes, language changes. But people do not change all that much. That is exactly the reason that traditions do not change much or change very slowly. They still apply. They are still valid. They are the wisdom of hundreds of generations assembled together. The wise always follow the ways of wisdom, always follow tradition. Does that mean they cannot be inventive? No. Does that mean they cannot use their mind and will to advance themselves and humanity? No. Does that mean they must avoid being creative, original, individualistic? No. It simply means that they express these fine qualities within the context of religious tradition, thus enhancing tradition instead of destroying it. Tradition, with its spoken and unspoken ways, is far too precious to throw out or tear down. The unwritten laws and customs of tradition are what has developed and proved out to be best for the peoples on this planet for centuries. We cannot casually change tradition. It takes centuries to build a tradition. We cannot sit at a meeting and arbitrate a change like that.

Take all of this that has been said into your meditations. Think deeply about the natural balance of masculine and feminine energies in the world and within yourselves. You will discover a new appreciation for the woman’s role and for the traditions which allow her to fulfill it.

A Personal Testimony

By way of illustration I will ask you now to read a fine message we received from a Saivite lady in Sri Lanka who follows beautifully the spirit of stri dharma.

“I am a Hindu wife and take pride and pleasure in being one. I am a graduate of the London University and was a teacher in a girls’ school before I got married in 1969. I belong to an orthodox Saivite Hindu family, and when I reached age twenty-six my parents proposed a marriage. My future husband, too, hailed from an orthodox Saivite family and was thirty years of age. After our parents discussed and decided upon details, an opportunity was afforded to us to meet. The venue was a Ganesha temple, and the time was 7AM. As each of us stepped into the temple from different directions almost simultaneously, the temple bells started ringing to herald the 7:00 puja. ‘A good omen,’ both of us thought independently. After the puja was over, we were introduced to each other by my mother. Out of inborn shyness and a certain amount of fear of meeting a stranger, I was hardly able to look up and even see the color of the man who was going to be the lord of my life. I heard him talk and even noticed him gazing meaningfully at me all the time. The ‘confrontation’ lasted about ten minutes, and we parted. Each of us approved the selection so carefully made by our parents and, to make a long story short, our marriage was solemnized in due course.

“From the date of marriage, I resigned my job as teacher because my duties as a housewife appeared more onerous and more responsible. My husband earned enough to maintain a family, and we started setting up a home of our own. I brought in some money by way of a dowry, and this helped us to furnish our home with all essential requirements. We loved each other very much and lived like Siva and Shakti. The most important corner of our house is the shrine room where our day-to-day life starts every morning.

“I get up from bed at 5AM every day. After a wash, I enter the shrine room and clean up the place. Remnants of flowers from the previous day’s puja are removed, the brass lamps and vessels are polished, water is sprinkled on the floor and the place kept ready for the day’s puja, performed by my husband. Then the kitchen is swept and the pots and pans washed. Water is kept on the gas to boil, and I go for a bath. Returning from the bath, I do a short prayer and pick flowers for my husband’s puja. By now it is 6AM — the time my husband awakens. I go to the bedroom and wait there ready to greet him for the day. He looks upon me as the Lakshmi of the home, and it pleases him a lot to wake in my presence — all gleaming with holy ash and kumkum pottu on my forehead. As soon as he gets up, he goes out for a half-hour walk and is back home by 6:30. A cup of coffee is now ready for him. He takes this and, after five minutes’ rest, enjoys a fine bath. He then makes the necessary preparations for the puja. I could do this myself, but my husband feels these preparations are also a part of the puja. Sharp at 7AM, the puja starts. I join him and so do our children (we now have two boys and a girl). It is a pleasure to watch my husband at puja, which he does very piously and meticulously. At 7:30 we come out of the shrine room for our breakfast. I personally serve my lord and the children meals prepared by my own hands and then get the two elder children ready for school. By 8:30 all the three are out of the house on their respective missions. I then clean up the house, put my little three-year-old son to sleep and by 9:30 I am back in the kitchen preparing lunch.

“In the evening I am dressed up and ready for an outing with my husband and children. Almost every day he takes us out, but occasionally he comes home tired and prefers to remain indoors. At 6PM I start cooking the dinner and at 7:00 we have a joint prayer in the shrine room. Dinner at 7:30, then a little bit of reading, listening to the radio, some chit chat and off to bed by 9:30. This has been my routine for the last eleven years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“In the house, I give first place to my husband. It has never been my custom to find fault with him for anything. He understands me so much and so well that he is always kind, loving, gentle and compassionate towards me. I reciprocate these a hundredfold, and we get on very well. My husband is the secretary of a religious organization, and I give him every help and encouragement in his work. My household duties keep me fully occupied, and so I don’t engage myself in other activities. I respect my husband’s leadership in the home, and so life goes on smoothly.”

Penance

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine
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Vasana is divided into two, the pure and the impure. If thou art led by the pure vasanas, thou shalt thereby soon reach by degrees My Seat. But should the old, impure vasanas land thee in danger, they should be overcome through various efforts.

Means of Atonement

Vitalized by bhakti’s grace, a devotee’s conscience is aroused, bringing the desire to confess, repent and make up for misdeeds. Through divine sight, the soul perceives unwise actions, performed when in the lower nature, as a hindrance to spiritual progress. Tantras are many to release the soul from these burdensome bonds. Penance well performed propels the soul into its natural state of bliss.

Chakras look like lotus flowers. There are four petals on the muladhara chakra, which is situated at the base of the spine. These petals unfold one after another as a person’s consciousness emerges upward from jealousy, anger and fear into memory, reason and willpower. Only then awakens the consciousness of religiousness and the ability to admit the existence of God and angelic beings. This new humility causes the devotee to admit that grace is needed to progress on the spiritual path and resolve unwholesome karmas of the past, to admit that wisdom is needed to avoid making new unwholesome karmas in the future. The four petals of the muladhara can be described as unrestrained remorse, confession, repentance and reconciliation.

All help is given by the divine devas to those who admit their mistakes and are seen performing a sincere penance. These devas that oversee those in a penitent state of mind are similar to doctors and nurses gathered to help their patient become well again. The angelic helpers surround their “patient,” assisting in the relief of mental and emotional illness caused by transgression of dharma and the guilt that follows. When the penitent is undergoing penance, it is a form of tapas, described by some as psychic surgery performed by the devas working together to bring the soul from darkness into light. It truly is a happy event, but only long after it is over.

When penance is given, it must be fulfilled, especially when requested. Otherwise, the life of the penitent is vulnerable to the company of asuras. Penance is given after a certain degree of remorse is shown and the urgency is felt by the devotee to rid his mind of the plaguing matter. Admitting a transgression, I have discovered, is often preceded by one of three forms of denial: casual denial, soft denial or hard denial. Say a boy steals some candy from a store. Casual denial is making little of the matter, “Big deal! Why is everyone so upset?” Soft denial is rationalizing, “Yes, I took the candy, so what? It was only two dollars’ worth!” Hard denial is to say, “I didn’t do it. They have me mixed up with another boy!”

We all know the refined, uplifting feeling of bhakti. Every religious person in the world has experienced this at one time or another. It is the total surrendering of oneself to God and the Gods. As the soul emerges out of the lower aspects of the instinctive mind, the muladhara chakra begins to unfold because of the bhakti that has been awakened through daily worship and sadhana. Admission and honest confession then bring up repentant feelings through the subsuperconscious mind quite unbidden. When this happens within the devotee, it is truly a boon, marking progress on the spiritual path. Confession, the voice of the soul, can now be heard. As the intellect clears, the honest truths of experience, formerly hidden to oneself as well as to others, are revealed. The soul, the conscience, emerges in all honesty and remorsefully confesses the burdens it has been carrying. Yes, confession is truly the voice of the soul. Nothing is hidden to oneself when dharma supersedes adharma.

Confession And Penance

As a mature being in the higher nature, above the muladhara chakra, ever seeking higher plateaus through sadhana, the Saivite seeks peace whenever the mind is troubled. How does such a Saivite confess? How does one tell of the reactions to misdeeds performed in all innocence when but a child in the lower consciousness, living in the lower nature, below the muladhara chakra? How and whom does one tell of misdeeds performed during a lapse of conscience, even when living a life of dharma? A Saivite confesses to God Siva, the Gods or his guru. To confess to God Siva, go to His temple and mentally, psychically place your burden at the holy feet of the murti in the sanctum sanctorum. To confess to Gods Murugan or Ganesha, go to their temple and place your confession at their holy feet. Or go to your satguru and tell him of your inner plight, holding nothing back. This is how a Saivite confesses inner burdens as he emerges out of the instinctive mind of the lower nature into the purified intellect of the higher nature.

Yes, reconciliation is food for the soul. After the soul has unburdened itself of the dross of the lower mind through honest confession, a resolution must be made not to reenter the lower states or rekindle the flames of the chakras below the muladhara. To achieve reconciliation by apology for hurts caused another, or to atone by performing acts of penance if a long time has passed since the apology could have been made and received, is truly food for the soul.

There are many forms of penance, prayashchitta, such as 1,008 prostrations before Gods Ganesha, Murugan or Supreme God Siva, apologizing and showing shame for misdeeds; performing japa slowly 1,008 times on the holy rudraksha beads; giving of 108 handmade gifts to the temple; performing manual chores at the temple for 108 hours, such as cleaning, making garlands or arranging flowers; bringing offerings of cooked food; performing kavadi with miniature spears inserted in the flesh; making a pilgrimage by prostrating the body’s length again and again, or rolling around a temple. All these and more are major means of atonement after each individual confession has been made.

The keynote in serious cases is asking one’s satguru to give a specific penance once the problem has been revealed. Once the satguru is asked for penance, the penance must be performed exactly according to his instruction. It should be done with full energy and without delay. Deliberate delay or refusal to perform the penance shows the devotee has rejected the assistance of the satguru. Further advice and guidance will not be forthcoming until the instruction has been fulfilled. Therefore, a devotee in such a condition does not approach the satguru. He may, however, beseech the guru’s assistance and continued guidance if he is in the process of fulfilling the penance over a period of time.

The Esoterics Of Penance

The inner process of relieving unwanted karmic burdens occurs in this order: remorse and shame; confession (of which apology is one form); repentance; and finally reconciliation, which is making the situation right, so that good feelings abide all around. Therefore, each individual admission of a subconscious burden too heavy to carry must have its own reconciliation to clear the inner aura of negative samskaras and vasanas and replenish the inner bodies for the struggle the devotee will have to endure in unwinding from the coils of the lower, instinctive mind which block the intellect and obscure spiritual values. When no longer protected by its ignorance, the soul longs for release and cries out for solace. Prayashchitta, penance, is then the solution to dissolve the agony and bring shanti.

The guru has to know the devotee and his family karma over a long period of time before prayashchitta is given. Otherwise, it may have the wrong effect. Penance is for religious people, people who practice daily, know the philosophy and have a spiritual head of their family, people who genuinely want to reach a state of purity and grace. It is not for nonreligious people. Just as in the Catholic Church, penance, to be most effective, is given to you by the spiritual preceptor. It is not a “do-it-yourself,” New-Age kind of thing. Those who try to do it alone may overdo it. It takes a certain amount of talking and counseling to gain an understanding of what is involved. Before undertaking any of the physical prayashchittas, I have devotees do the maha vasana daha tantra — “great purification of the subconscious by fire” — writing down and then burning ten pages of memories, called samskaras, good and bad, for each year of their life to the present day.

Anything can be written down that concerns you: friends, home, family, relatives, sports, TV shows, vacations, work, pastimes, indulgences, anything that is in your mind. This may automatically clear up events of the past. The idea is to remove the emotions from the experience and bring yourself to the eternal now. Forgetting the past, concern yourself with the now, move with life day to day and create a glorious future for yourself and others. Also, I’ve experienced that sometimes just making the confession to the satguru is a sufficient prayashchitta and nothing else is necessary. What the troubled conscience thought was bad may not have been bad at all, just normal happenings, but the conscience suffers until that fact is known.

It is important to note that the vasana daha tantra must be done by hand, with pen and paper. Various devotees have tried it on the computer and found it not effective. Writing is uniquely effective because in the process the prana from the memory flows from your subconscious through your hand, through the pen and is embedded in the paper, bringing the memory out in the open to be understood, defused and released when the paper is burned. Some devotees have also tried sitting and pondering the past, meditating on it and even visualizing themselves writing down their recollections and burning them. This often does more harm than good, as it only stirs up the past.

Suitable Prescriptions

Anger, I have observed, is the most difficult fault for people to overcome, because it comes in so many different forms: pouting, long silences, shouting, yelling, swearing and more. Psychotherapist Ron Potter-Efron says in his book, Angry All the Time, that there are eight rungs of anger on the “violence ladder:” sneaky anger, the cold shoulder, blaming and shaming, swearing, screaming and yelling, demands and threats, chasing and holding, partly controlled violence, and blind rage. Some people are just angry all the time because they live in the lower nature, constantly engaged in mental criticism and arguments. Anger can eventually be controlled by putting a sum of money — five dollars, for example — in a jar each time one becomes angry and then donating that money to an orphanage. It soon gets too expensive to get angry. However, for devotees who are wealthy, that doesn’t work. For them, I’ve found the penance of fasting for the next meal after they get angry works.

The “flower penance” has proven useful especially to young people who have been beaten and abused by their parents. They put up a picture of the person who beat them — father, mother or teacher — and every day for thirty-one days place a flower in front of the picture. While doing so, they sincerely forgive the person in heart and mind. Some are able to see the experience as their own karma. They forgive their parents and experience a great deal of freedom. Others have so much hatred and resentment toward their parents that they can’t do it at all. This penance has also worked for those who have a mental conflict with their employer. There is a severe penance, too, for one who beats his children. It involves private self-punishment and giving public lectures against corporal punishment, as well as teaching classes on Positive Discipline to the public many times throughout the years.

For wife-beating, adultery and various collections of smaller transgressions, I advise the traditional, age-old penance of kavadi, putting small spears in the body, at least fifteen, and circumambulating the temple many times during a temple festival with the supervision of trained priests. Wife-beating and adultery are very serious matters; they break up homes astrally and often physically and create for the perpetrators a rotten birth in the next life. To atone for all that is very difficult.

Without resolve and remorse, no penance will work. People have an internal ego and an external ego, and for many, one is quite different from the other. For instance, someone may be smiling and joking all the time, but inside himself be angry and critical of those around him, though he lets no one see that he is. There are also those who are smiling and sociable on the outside but crying on the inside over hurts and memories of things that have happened in the past. The maha vasana daha tantra — writing down and burning all the emotion out of the memories of the past, the hurts of the past, the good things and the bad things that have happened to us since birth — harmonizes the internal and external ego so that we are the same person on the inside as on the outside. When we write down our hurts and fears and misunderstandings, as well as all the happy times, our loves and losses, our joys and sorrows — and then crumple up the paper, light it with a flame and watch it burn, thinking of it as the garbage of yesterday — we detach the emotion from the memories. Almost magically, the emotion that had held the memory vibrating within the subconscious mind, perhaps for years, goes away in the flame. There is nothing left but the quiet memory. As a result, finally the soul begins to shine forth within the person as the memory patterns of the deep past no longer bind awareness. The inner and outer become one and the same.

It is very easy to read the external personality of an individual by listening to what he says, looking at what he does and observing his various forms of communication. The internal personality of the person can be read by observing body language, facial expressions, movements of the eyes, movements of the feet and hands, the way a person walks, the hesitancy before he answers a question. All of this shows the workings of the internal ego, which generally blocks the natural joyousness of the soul. So, the first step in spiritual unfoldment is for the individual to harmonize the internal and the external ego so that he is a complete, integrated person twenty-four hours a day, and nothing is hidden, even to himself.

Releasing The Past

The older we get, the more memories we have, and those memories contain emotion — both positive emotion and negative emotion. Emotion takes many forms. We can have happy emotions, we can have sad emotions, we can have emotions of depression, we can have emotions of elation, we can have emotions of discouragement, we can have emotions of encouragement. As you go over your life, reliving it year by year, writing it all down from year one to the present, ten pages per year, you are the author of your own script. You are the star upon the stage of your own life. You may run into happy emotion, discouraging emotion, encouraging emotion. It’s good to get rid of it all. If you uncover a period of your life that makes you depressed, then you have been carrying that depression around with you for many, many years. Reliving the depression and the unhappy feelings as you write about the experiences in detail and burn the paper unwinds and releases the pranic emotional energy from each memory. You especially want to deal with the traumatic areas of the inner mind and release the discouragement, the regret, the depression, the loss of faith in humanity, the loss of faith in yourself and all those negative emotions that you’ve been carrying for so many years. They will go away like paper dragons. They will disappear.

You have three kinds of prana inside of you: spiritual, intellectual and instinctive. When you think, you make or cause a motion in that prana and create a form of prana. You speak, laugh, cry, think and interact with others; all this is the use and movement of one kind of prana or another, or a mixture of the three. In the inner mind, the subconscious pranic forms have a color and a corresponding sound when they vibrate with emotion, not unlike a Technicolor production. The purpose of this ancient tantra is to remove the color/sound from the memory pattern so that the memory would appear as a black-and-white silent movie when revisited, without the vivid, vibrating emotion. Your life, in moving and creating with the prana inside of you, can be like writing on water. An experience happens and it just goes away, without residue, without attachment, without lingering emotion. Or your life can be like carving in stone; each experience remains with you, embedded in memory by the impact of emotion. As you look back through the pages of your life, you want to melt the stone, break it up and make it go away. That’s the whole idea, regardless of what the motion is of the mind. The stones in your past are generally the surprise things that come along in life. Living a routine life — you go to work and you come home, and one day is pretty much the same as another — does not produce memories with emotions so much. But then you come to a major change, such as moving to a new home, or some new person coming into your life. That makes a big impact, and you have to deal with it. Like many people, you may deal with these things by packing them away: “I don’t want to think about that anymore.” “I don’t like that person” or, “I like that person,” but you are married so you can’t like him or her too much; so you just pack it away and try not to think about it anymore. Those are some of the things you want to dig up and discharge, to break up the patterns.

Each of us has a story. You are the major actor on the stage of your life, playing the script that you wrote. You are the director and you are the lighting engineer, the stage manager, costume designer and make-up artist. When a particular experience or pattern of experience is repeated over a long period, it creates in the sub of the subconscious mind a latent tendency or propensity in that same direction. This is a vasana, which may be positive, shubha, or negative, ashubha. A negative vasana is like a subconscious motor that makes you do things you later wish you had not done. A positive vasana brings success and good fortune. Through the vasana daha tantra, we withdraw the energy from the memories, and in so doing weaken, even destroy, the pathways or vasanas that led us to the experiences that created the negative memories and leave in place the pure, positive vasanas that will continue to create a positive future.

Spiritual Journaling

The maha vasana daha tantra, a once in a lifetime experience, is the practice of writing down ten pages of memories on lettersize lined paper (about ten words per line, twenty-eight lines, totaling 250-280 words per page) for each year of your life to date and burning them in an ordinary, nonauspicious fire. To begin, put together a collection of ten blank pages for each year of your life. Each page must be carefully marked with the page number, the year and your age at that time. Then set aside at least fifty pages for each of the other four parts of this tantra. As you proceed in your journaling, you will find it necessary from time to time to backtrack or jump ahead to a year when memories pop up related to a certain period. In other words, it’s okay to write about years out of order, especially when old memories arise naturally, but do so on the designated pages. This is the reason for numbering each page in the way suggested above. Each time a page on one of the years has been completed, it must be immediately burned.

After your journaling of ten pages per year is complete, there are five more steps, making six in all. Step two, the “spot check,” is to scan back through the years of your life and see if there are memories you missed in your previous journaling. These, of course, would be the happy and unhappy experiences, and anything else that comes to mind. The mere remembrance of an experience coming unbidden proves there is still color/sound emotion attached to it. Pay close attention to times when you did not apply the eternal laws of karma, reincarnation and the acknowledgment that Siva is everywhere and in all things. Note the times when you blamed others for what happened to you, when you did not acknowledge all happenings in life as your own creations accomplished in one life or another in the past. Be honest here. It is important to acknowledge when we do and do not put Sanatana Dharma into action in our lives. Be honest; no one is looking. You are the actor on the stage of your own experience, having written the script yourself. Write down those experiences and burn them up as garbage.

Step three is the “people check” — to write about each person who had an influence in your life, including family, friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers and casual acquaintances. Write about your interaction with them, happy times, misunderstandings, upsets and apologies. Ask for forgiveness, forgive and give best wishes for a long life and positive future. Call each face before you and write a letter expressing appreciation, dismay, hatred, anguish, misunderstanding. Get it all out. Don’t hold anything back. No one will read it. It is a letter you do not mail, e-mail or leave lying around. Just burn it as garbage. The effect of the “people check” is to harmonize the pranas that flow from one to another. We are all connected, for we are a one human race. Those we know and whose faces and names we can remember are the closest, whether they be friends or enemies. Sometimes enemies are closer, because they are thought about more than friends. During the “people check,” bring up the love, the forgiveness, the acceptance that whatever happened in the relationship was part of the birth karmas, the prarabdha karmas, of each of you. Once the letter or series of letters has been written, the memories fade into the silent, colorless past. Then you should truly be able to bring up each face in your mind and mentally say the six magic words, the magic mantra, “I love you. You love me.”

Three More Steps to Clarity

Step four is “sex check” — to go over any past sexual experiences, including visual images such as pornography in adult movies, on the Internet, television or in magazines, dreams and fantasies. This is quite an obsession for some people, often called an addiction. Also be sure to write about youthful experimentation and, yes, masturbation and the thoughts before, during and afterwards. Include sexual repressions, regrets that you have had throughout your life up to the present day, especially any that are currently bothering you, then write them down and burn the emotion out of the memories as the garbage of the mind. This area is very important, as repeated experiences that have produced guilt or ended in sadness, and those that no one knows about but you and your partner — and happy, satisfying, longing-to-be-repeated experiences — do leave colorful memories. Some are brightly colored and sing happy songs in the memory patterns, while others are bathed in darkness and resound with dull tones. Both need to be reduced to black-and-white pictures. The modern notion of “Let’s put this behind us and go on with life” is held hostage here as color/sounds pile up in the inner aura and inhibit creativity, productivity, energy flows and even health. The “sex check” should be written in many pages of explicit detail, including letters to the partner or partners, which are not saved or mailed, of course, but immediately burned. Be open and honest with yourself; you may be writing the best porno novel of all times. Include on your last page of “sex check” some new resolves for the future in regard to sexual matters.

Step five, the “teacher check,” is to write about your relationship with your satguru, teachers, mentors or advisors, including your first meetings, initiations, encounters, instructions and any misunderstandings, large or small. Again, letters may be written, descriptions in detail, about whatever need be said. Of course, the person’s face and name should always be present in your mind when writing, as if a conversation were being held. Appreciation can be shown that was never shown, misunderstandings settled and hurts on both sides healed. As you complete each writing session, burn the pages as garbage.

The sixth stage is the “penance check.” Penance, prayashchitta, is of three kinds: mental, emotional and physical. In completing parts one through five of this tantra, you have completed the mental and emotional prayashchitta. Now we must deal with the physical in a different way. There will be a few emotional memories that writing will never cause to go away, such as not paying full taxes several years ago, stealing something, killing birds or animals for sport, or beating children, wives or husbands. These and other transgressions require resolution through actually physically doing something to mitigate these karmas made in this life. You can not write them away. Should there be in your life any of these kinds of experiences that require a physical prayashchitta, tell your spiritual teacher about them, and if ordained to do so, he or she will give you a penance to perform to put to rest those specific karmas. If I happen to be your satguru, write a letter of rededication and mail or e-mail it to me at prayas@hindu.org before beginning this sixth and final stage of the maha vasana daha tantra.

After these six steps of the maha vasana daha tantra have been completed, rejoice. Now you are ready to begin the serious practice of traditional meditation, as you dance with Siva, live with Siva and merge with Siva.

The maha vasana daha tantra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thereafter, you continue your subconscious spiritual journaling, vasana daha tantra, when needed to maintain the clarity and inner freedom that you have achieved. I encourage everyone to write at least ten pages at the end of every year about the just-completed year in the same way, ten pages for the year, followed by the other steps, including the sixth one. This annual journaling is called the vatsarika vasana daha tantra.

Those who have performed and continue to perform this lifetime, yearly and when-needed sadhana have testified to remarkable transformations. They find that they are free of burdens, clear of mind, joyously alive in the eternal now, eager to serve and able to enjoy sublime, penetrating meditations. Unlike before, their past is now small and their future, once limited, looms large and inviting. They enjoy new-found harmony with family and friends. They find it easy and natural to fulfill the Hindu restraints and observances, the yamas and niyamas. Why? They are not burdened by vasanas created by past experiences that have not been understood, resolved and released.

Of course, at the time of death it is the memories of all the emotional happenings that pop up before one’s inner vision, and which have the power to bring you back in a future birth to be faced. Those that have been resolved and released in understanding are no longer strong in the mind. So, you are effecting a near-death experience, in a sense, upon yourself by doing this tantra, because you are putting to rest the memories of the past that you might not otherwise face until you actually die. This doesn’t mean that you forget your past. It just isn’t bothersome to you anymore. It seems almost as though it all happened to someone else.