November 1, 2013 Comments Off on Evenness of Vision
What is needed is to rightly understand and be continuously aware of the Lord as always present, everywhere present, and as present in everything and all. This is an expansion in understanding. Once this takes place, automatically the range and measure of worship also will instantly change. In place of having a chosen idol for worship, thereby separating the Lord from all else, the seeker will be able to identify Him properly as one and all, always, and ‘unmissable’. What a great correction, elevation and expansion will that be!
Instead of seeing the Lord in the idol alone, the seeker should continuously see the Lord in all the things the eyes glimpse around. The Lord does not have any parts, to make Himself an aggregate at all. He is everywhere, undividedly. Such a fine transparence is actually to be approached, felt and sensed in your heart, the centre and source of all sensations, rather than anywhere else.
The world hosts good and bad equally. Without bad, good will become irrelevant. So, have no undue clinging to either. Consider this attitude of evenness and ‘indifference’ to be the real worship of the Self within. This idea of worship will bring sublimity to your response to the opposites.
Lord Shiva adds that of all the things meant for worship of the Lord, this inner equalness, evenness in vision, is the best! See what a great place samya (evenness) has even in religious worship! This inner sublimity will transform everything into true nectar, ambrosia.
Any emotion or attitude is generated and displayed by the mind in the mind, and it is not the least different from the mind, its source. All are like multiple sparks, which are not different from the fire itself. Do not treat any emotion such as desire or hatred as different from the Self and hence do not heed or act upon it.
If at all you think of anything like worship, it should be the sublimation of all mind-modifications like desire, resentment, ease, unease and the like. The statement, though astounding to the core, is nevertheless the only truth! – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha (Excerpt from the book “Worshipping the Lord Within” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha)(c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
July 14, 2013 Comments Off on Kshama: 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 faÙade 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. – Lesson 20 from Living with Siva, by: Satguru Sivaya subramuniya Swami
June 19, 2013 Comments Off on Monistic Theism
In India’s spiritual traditions there have been for ten thousand years or more two major streams of thought, one called advaita in Sanskrit, or monism in English, and the other called dvaita or theism. Our own tradition, known by many names–monistic theism, Advaita Siddhanta, monistic Saiva Siddhanta or Advaita Ishvaravada–embraces them both fully. I discovered that the path of monism and theism is the whole of life. As my satguru explained, it is the entire path. He compared it to an orchestra and an audience. Playing in an orchestra and being in the audience are two different experiences. The audience without the orchestra is not complete. They would be just sitting hearing nothing. The orchestra without the audience is not complete. They would be entertaining no one. So it is in the plane of duality. We have to practice duality in an intelligent way. Satguru Yogaswami had the full advaitic realization of the Self, Parasiva, but at the same time he had the fullness of dvaitic devotion toward God, the Gods and his guru.
There was a Vedantin in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, who was very pompous and looked down his nose at duality and temple worship. He did not have a great relationship with Siva Yogaswami, who was always having fun with him in one way or another. One day Yogaswami saw the Vedantin in the marketplace and, coming up from behind, tapped him on the shoulder. The man spun around and asked, “Who’s there?” Yogaswami exclaimed, “What do you mean, ‘Who’s there?’ Didn’t you say there was only one!” Yogaswami had shown the Vedantin that he could not keep the top of the mountain–the highest realizations of truth–separated from the bottom of it, the day-to-day world. He was making the point that the man had reached the summit only intellectually, through reasoning out the Vedic truths. Therefore, according to the same reasoning process, he had to reject the bottom of the mountain to maintain his arguments. This is the simplistic Vedanta philosophy, sometimes called the path of words, the vak marga, expounded by people who can eloquently explain Vedanta but have had no personal spiritual experience. They have attained the power to live a completely ordinary life as philosophically perfect anava marga adepts.
By the example of his own life, Satguru Yogaswami showed that, having reached the top through realization, the seer cannot reject any part of the mountain, because he remembers his experiences at the bottom, his experiences in the middle and his experiences at the top. Yogaswami taught that we cannot reject direct experience. No one can take that away from us. It is recorded in the akasha forever. Therefore, realization is not synonymous with the word understanding.
When a musician is playing an instrument in an orchestra, he is having the experience of moving his fingers, arms and hands. The musician is hearing what he is playing and what everyone else is playing as well. Each player is realizing the unity of the entire orchestra. This is the experience of monism–that wonderful oneness. A member of the audience listening to the orchestra is not hearing just one instrument, but all playing together in unison. But he is only experiencing through his ears. That is the experience of theism–that wonderful twoness.
The orchestra can exist without the audience, but the audience cannot exist without the orchestra. That is why the monist can go on with his practices even if there is no temple close by to worship in. He can go on with his practices even without an image of God. The theist cannot do this. Without the image of God or a temple to worship within, he is lost.
Monistic theists are practical philosophers. They put the orchestra and the audience together. They have the grand experience of the fullness of life. They enjoy the top of the mountain and its bottom. They put monism into theism and bring theism into monism. They are the full persons on this planet. All the great yogis and sages wandered from temple to temple worshiping externally, and in their internal worship realized God and the Gods within themselves.
– Lesson 306 from Living with Siva, by Satguru sivaya Subrahmuniya SWami
June 10, 2013 Comments Off on SUPREME LOVE OF GOD
Life is complex nowadays. The struggle is very keen.
Here is an easy way of worshipping the Lord.
Consider your house as the temple of the Lord,
Your wife and children and others as the holy company of the bhaktas (devotees).
Consider every word you speak as the japa (repetition) of the Lord’s name and as praise of him.
Consider every action as service of the Lord;
And your lying in bed as prostrations before the Lord,
And your daily walk and moving about as perambulations of the Lord.
Consider the lights you burn in the evening as the waving of lights to the Lord.
Consider sleep as samadhi (super-conscious state).
Give food and drink as offering to the Lord, then take it as his prasad (gift).
This is an easy way to worship the Lord.
“How shall I wash thy feet with holy water, O Lord, when the very Ganges flows from thy feet?
How shall I give thee a seat, O Lord?
Thou art all pervading!
How shall I wave lights for thee O Lord?
The sun and the moon are thy eyes:
Shall I offer flowers to thee?
Thou art the very essence of the flowers.”
This attitude is called para puja (highest worship).
Feel the presence of the Lord everywhere.
He dwells in the chambers of your heart too.
He glitters in your eyes.
He is the breath in your nostrils.
He is nearer to you than your jugular vein.
Behold Him in every face.
You will attain happiness here and hereafter if you worship God in this way. Life is short and time is fleeting.
Start doing this right now.
Why should you roam hither and thither to find God, the supreme being? Why should you go in vain to the forests? Why? Even as in the flower, fragrance resides, even as in the fire, heat dwells – even so doth the Lord abide. Seek Him within, my friend. Seek Him earnestly too.
– Swami Sivananda
June 8, 2013 Comments Off on SERVICE OF GOD
Padasevana is serving the Lord’s feet. Actually this can be done only by Lakshmi or Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practise this method of bhakti (devotion), for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes.
However, it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and, better still, by taking the whole of humanity as God. Padasevana is service of the sick, service of the poor – service of the whole of humanity at large. Service of the Lord’s feet can be done through formal worship to murtis (or idols) or to a mental image of God.
Observing the sacred feet of the Lord, again and again, with devotional and eager eyes, worshipping them, serving them, sipping the sacred water with which the Lord’s feet have been washed, worshipping the wooden sandals of the Lord, meditating on them, praying to them, taking the dust of the Lord’s feet and applying it to the forehead, washing the heart with the dust of the Lord’s feet, respecting the holy shrines and places of pilgrimage and places where God incarnated himself for the good of humanity, regarding the Ganges as directly flowing from the feet of the Lord, worshipping, bathing in and drinking of such divine water of the Ganges – all these are different forms of serving the Lord’s feet. This kind of devotion destroys all worldly attachments and allows the mind to think exclusively of God.
Worship God. Praise him. Seek enlightenment. Realise divine bliss. Do not put any conditions to God – worship for worship’s sake. In worship the sense of individuality is lost in contemplation of the object worshipped.
To gaze at the divine pictures even for some moments daily is a great blessing. It will purify your mind. Meditation is mental worship of the Lord. Singing the Lord’s name (or kirtan) is vocal worship. Service of living beings with love and bhava, is physical worship. If the worshipper of the deity thinks that he is separate from the deity, he is a beast. Devout worship of the Lord’s lotus feet means perfect freedom from all fear. – Swami Sivananda
May 25, 2013 Comments Off on BENEFITS OF JAPA
Japa (repetition of the mantra) checks the force of the thought current moving towards objects. It forces the mind to move towards God, towards the attainment of eternal bliss. Eventually it helps us to have the darsana (vision) of God. The mantra-power is hidden in every mantra.
Whenever the spiritual aspirant shows lack of vigour in his sadhana (practice), the mantra sakti (power of the mantra) reinforces the sadhana sakti (energy) of the aspirant. Constant and prolonged repetition of the mantra (name of God) for some months cuts new grooves in the mind and the brain.
During japa all the divine qualities steadily flow into your mind from the Lord, just as oil flows from one vessel to another vessel. Japa transforms the nature of the mind. It fills the mind with satva (purity).
Japa changes the mental substance from passion to purity, from rajas to satva. It calms and strengthens the mind. It makes the mind introspective – it checks the outgoing tendencies. Japa eradicates all kinds of evil thoughts and inclinations. It induces determination, and austerity and eventually it leads to the direct darsana (vision) of God (the ishta devati or tutelary deity) or to God-realisation.
The mind is purified by constant japa and worship and it is filled with good and pure thoughts. Repetition of mantra and worship strengthen the good samskaras. “As a man thinks so he becomes” – this is the psychological law. The mind of the man who trains himself to think good, holy thoughts develops a tendency to think good thoughts. His character is moulded and transformed by the continuous flow of good thoughts.
When the mind thinks of the image of the Lord during japa and worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of the image. The impression of the object is left on the mind and this is called samskara. When the act is repeated very often, the samskara gains strength and a tendency or habit is formed in the mind.
He who entertains thoughts of divinity becomes transformed actually into divinity itself. This is the power of constant thinking and meditation. His disposition itself is divinised and purified.
The meditator and the meditated, the worshipper and the worshipped, the thinker and the thought, become one and the same thing. This is Samadhi. This is the fruit of worship (upasana) or of doing japa. – SWami Sivananda
May 4, 2013 Comments Off on Where there is respectability there is no order
Most parents unfortunately think they are responsible for their children and their sense of responsibility takes the form of telling them what they should do and what they should not do, what they should become and what they should not become. The parents want their children to have a secure position in society. What they call responsibility is part of that respectability they worship; and it seems to me that where there is respectability there is no order; they are concerned only with becoming a perfect bourgeois. When they prepare their children to fit into society they are perpetuating war, conflict and brutality. Do you call that care and love? – JKrishnamurti, Freedom from the Known,83