As most of you know, we have three of our monks are on pilgrimage in India, departed December 5th, a little over three weeks. So right now they’re in the Kadakudi area heading for Thanjavoor and then for Chidambaram. They’ll have a three day stay at Chidambaram very soon and they timed it so that they’re there for the major festival day of the year Ardradarshanam which is January 3rd in India, or January 2nd here, the most important day for Nataraja of the year. So in our own temple we have twelve ceremonies–one a month on Ardra nakshatra but this one, the one in the month of December 15th to January 15th is the most important one.
So that’s January 2nd, and if you were here on January 2nd, that’s our 9:00 am puja on January 2nd. It’s the major one of the year. So I was thinking about Siva temples and in the daily Master Course lesson from Gurudeva, there’s been a couple of lessons about the Siva temple recently I thought I’d read and then comment on.
Sloka 101 from Dancing with Siva:
What is the nature of the Siva temple?
The Siva temple is the abode of God Siva and Gods and the precinct in which the three worlds consciously commune. It is specially sanctified, possessing a ray of spiritual energy connecting it to the celestial worlds.
The three pillars of Saivism are the temples, the scriptures and the Satgurus. These we revere, for they sustain and preserve the ancient wisdom. Siva temples, whether they be small village sanctuaries or towering citadels are esteemed as God’s home and consecrated abode. In the Siva temple we draw close to God Siva and find a refuge from the world. His grace permeating everywhere is most easily known within the precincts of the Siva temple. It is in the purified milieu of the temple that the three worlds can commune most perfectly, that devotees can establish harmony with inner plane spiritual beings. When this spiritual energy, shakti, invoked by the puja permeates the sanctum sanctorum and floods out to the world, Saivites know that they are in a most holy place, where God and the God’s commune with them. Within most Siva temples are private rooms, sanctums, for Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya and shrines for the many Gods and saints. The Vedas explain: Even as the radiance of the sun enlightens all regions above, below and slantwise, so that only God, glorious and worthy of worship, rules over all his creation. Aum Namasivaya.
How are Siva temples founded and built? Sloka 102.
Siva temples are founded by God himself often designated in a vision or a dream of a devout Saivite, then erected by temple craftsmen usually following Agamic law. In such a holy place, holiness itself can reside. Because of its holiness, a Siva temple is most often and properly established by God Siva through his devotees and not founded by men. Once the site is known, hereditary temple architects, known as Sthapahis, are commissioned to design and construct the temple. By tradition, every stone is set in place according to the sacred architecture found in the Agamic scriptures. When properly consecrated the temple becomes a place upon the earth in which the three worlds can communicate for the upliftment of mankind and the fulfillment of Siva’s dharmic law. Siva has deliberately established many temples to communicate his love to his children throughout the world who live in every country of the world and long for their Lord’s ever present love. They build temples in his name and install his image, chant his praises and thus invoke his presence. Lord Siva accepts all these temples as his own and sends a divine ray to vivify and vitalize them. Siva’s Vedas enunciate: Brahman is the priest. Brahman the sacrifice. By Brahman the posts are erected. From Brahman the officiating priest was born. In Brahman is concealed the oblation. Aum Namasivaya.
So, I was thinking about visions and as Gurudeva’s lesson says, Siva temples are most properly founded upon a vision. So when it comes to Chidambaram, the tradition says, “Siva is said to have revealed a vision of his cosmic dance to Patanjali, Vyagrapadar and to all the devas there.” So that’s the idea of Chidambaram. It’s founded upon the vision of Siva’s dancing to Patanjali and Vyagrapada. The web site said something interesting. I didn’t realize this: “The Devaram hymns were rediscovered here after a long hiatus, under the initiative of the monarch Raja-Raja Chola. The Chidambaram predates the Devaram hymns. The imperial Cholas considered Nataraja to be their tutelary deity and heaped patronage on this temple, and their tradition was continued by the Pandyas and the Vijayanagar kings.”
So I hadn’t realized that Cholas and Nataraja were so tightly bound together. So, in case of our own Iraivan Temple, of course we have Gurudeva’s vision. It took place, don’t tell me, February 15, 1975. Is that right? February 15, 1975 Gurudeva had a very powerful vision of Siva, where we now have our Swayambu lingam out there. It was early morning of February 15, 1975 and ever since that day we’ve done puja to the lingam to sustain the vibration, sustain the vision, sustain the hookup to the inner worlds. Recently we’ve added the sanctum of the nearby Iraivan Temple to it. So first we do the puja to the Swayambhu lingam and then we come over to the sanctum, of course which doesn’t have an image yet, and we do the puja there. So we’re starting to hook the two up. The idea is that we’ve been sustaining the power of the vision through our simple daily puja now since 1975. The temple will expand upon it, draw upon that vision, draw upon the power that we’ve been sustaining since 1975, so thirty-one some years, when the pujas start on a regular basis.
So it’s a very important vision and as the text says, Siva temples are properly founded upon a vision. So it’s to emphasize that we’ve decided to start a yearly puja on the day of the vision. So ceremonies are not done on the Western calendar. They’re done usually on the nakshatra or sometimes the tithis. So the nakshatra is Revati nakshatra so, Revati nakshatra in the month of Kumba is the day. This year we’re going to start February 20th and we’re going to have a ceremony out there at 6:00 am to commemorate Gurudeva’s vision and then start doing that every year. Those of us who were here in 1975, the vision is very much alive in our minds, but many of us weren’t here. So we want to impress the fact that this vision happened and it’s the founding vision for the Iraivan Temple which was quite powerful and is written up in Island Temple. If you haven’t read it, it describes it in detail there–very special. So we need a good name for that festival. I don’t have one at the moment, but one possibility is Parameshvara Anubhava. How’s that? Vision of the Primal Soul. Vision of Siva as the personal God. Parameshvara Anubhava. It’s a possibility.
So I’ve been doing some work in Gurudeva’s Shum language; the language of meditation. I thought I’d share some of that. So one of the write-ups that Gurudeva has done is on what he calls “The Four Perspectives,” or four ways of looking at things in terms of seeking knowledge. So we go through those. We have words in the Shum language for each of those. So we’re going through two examples which utilize these perspectives. The perspective on which the language is based is the shumeef perspective, or Shum perspective.
[Bodhinatha’s text that he reads from begins here.]
“The Shumeef perspective is that the mind is a solid, the inner mind, and awareness flows from one area of it to another, as the traveler would travel from one city to another. The cities do not move; the traveler does.
The Simneef perspective is that everything is moving in the inner mind within form and things, and that the awareness of the person watching does not move. One is stationary while looking into a microscope and seeing new forms of life. One is stationary when looking into an ocean or lake and seeing schools of fish moving here and there. These two perspectives (Shumeef and Simneef) are exactly opposite one from another.
The Muleef perspective is a philosophical one, metaphysical, psychological. It is the perspective of some of the religions of the world. It is the perspective that all realization, understanding is worked out within and among people and their minds. In this perspective, one is unaware of the Gods, the three perfections of lord Siva, the existence of people on other planets, spacecraft. It is more of a subjective, intellectual perspective as to the nature of the universe, God and man. Realization is often attained through simply understanding deep philosophical concepts. This would be an intellectual realization, not a spiritual one.
The Deemfee perspective is one that acknowledges, understands and communicates with God and Gods, beings on the astral plane, people from other planets. It is here that all psychic phenomena take place, and the mind is open to all kinds of possibilities, of the extraterrestrial, out-of-body experiences, etc. Here reincarnation is understood. These two perspectives, Muleef and Deemfee, are exactly opposite.
These four perspectives of consciousness are complete within themselves. Each one has its obvious limitations. Yet, each one is an area that people are caught up in and unable to move out of. There is a fifth perspective, Deenameef, one spiritually unfolds into, of being able to be totally in one or another of the four perspectives or all the four at once. This is to be striven for in the spiritual unfoldment Saivite meditations produce. Shankaran Vedanta is the moolef perspective. Dualistic Saiva Siddhanta is the Deemfee perspective, accepting everything, Gods, all life, the chariya, kriya path. The Shumeef perspective is basically yoga. The Simneef perspective is where people ordinarily are when not in Vedanta or Siddhanta.
To psychoanalyze your problems would be in the Muleef perspective. To take them to the feet of Lord Muruga would be the Deemfee perspective. To move awareness away from the problem into a happier state of mind and then look back and understand the karmas involved is the Shumeef perspective. To be injected by a psychiatrist with a chemical drug to alleviate the problem would be the Simneef perspective.”
So that’s a very interesting statement worth commenting on. So for example, let’s say we’re depressed. It’s a typical problem. How do we handle our depression? Well in a religious approach, we would come to the temple and pray, and try to be uplifted. That’s the religious perspective, which Gurudeva calls Deemfee. So we take our problem to the feet of the Deity and hope the Deity will take it away. The other approach is meditation, which is related, so we look at depression as an area of the mind that we’re stuck in and we find a way through meditation to move our awareness to another area of the mind that isn’t depressed. That’s the meditative approach to solving the problem of depression. Then there’s the way of talking it over–psychoanalysis. We talk it over with someone, a counselor of some kind and the counselor tries to move our awareness out of the problem through discussion. Then there’s the chemical, something like Prozac, that solves your problem. You’re no longer depressed. That’s the modern medical approach or Simneef way of solving the problem. So it’s a very interesting statement Gurudeva’s making of how there’s four totally different approaches to solving the same problem such as depression.
“The Deemfee perspective is very intriguing. It is definitely the path of bhakti, karma yoga, and there is always a God, deva, outer-space person to be beholden to. One does not need to know much philosophy to be in this perspective. People of all religions are here. The Deemfee perspective blended together with the Muleef perspective releases the powers of philosophy and creates a monistic and pluralistic Saiva Siddhantin in one person. Breaking through the barrier from the Deemfee to the Muleef is easy. It does take study, coaching from an accomplished adept. But when the two are blended, Vedanta and Siddhanta merge. When these two perspectives are blended with the Shumeef perspective, monistic Saiva Siddhanta bursts forth in all of its fullness. And when these three perspectives are blended with Simneef, monistic Saiva Siddhantins can then contribute to the betterment of this generation and the generations to come. The Simneef perspective sees into the mechanism of growing things–what’s in the earth making everything work, what’s in the egg, what’s in the DNA.”
So that’s that one. Then here’s a shorter one:
Gurudeva has given us a Bhasya to help us understand how these four perspectives apply to monistic Saiva Siddhanta. He states that, “In shumnam, meditation, the Shumeef perspective of the Three Worlds and the seven dimensions of the mind does not involve us in the knowledge of the devas and mahadevas who live in the inner worlds. You would be experiencing through the Shumeef perspective exactly what the devas would experience in the Second and Third World were they to meditate upon the Shum concepts. Shumeef is pure Advaita. When we become conscious of devas, mahadevas or our personal deity, we have transferred our perspective into what is called the Deemfee perspective, which is pure Dvaitist. The Siddhanta philosophy is approached from the Mooleef perspective when it is intellectually studied. And of course, hatha yoga, the knowledge of pranayamas and the currents of the physical body all related to the Simneef perspective.”
So that shows how all four perspectives can be encompassed in the Saiva Siddhanta. So sometimes the most common problem that you see is someone who’s deeply involved in either temple worship or meditation doesn’t understand the other approach. Temple makes sense. You go to the temple, you worship the deity, you get blessings; it makes perfect sense. But sitting in meditation, what are you trying to meditate upon? Sometimes I get asked the question, it’s a trick question asked by a Vaishnavite, because you have pictures of Siva meditating, and they say, “What is Siva meditating upon? And of course the answer is supposed to be Vishnu, right? Obviously Vishnu is superior to Siva because Siva is meditating on Vishnu. But I always say, “Well Siva is meditating upon himself.” And that stumps them because they’re not used to that perspective. But in the meditative perspective, everything is you. There is nothing outside of your self. It’s a different perspective than the devotional perspective and with the devotional perspective you’re separate from God. You’re worshipping the deity. You’re asking for blessings. But in the meditative perspective, you are everything, your permeating everything. There’s nothing outside of you. There’s nothing separate from you. So in the deepest meditative perspective you can only be meditating on yourself, because there is nothing separate from you. As Gurudeva says meditation is Advaita. There’s no other person.
So there’s a nice story about that which illustrates the point. Our paramaguru, Yogaswami, of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, would like to greet people with the statement, “I am in you.” So he would greet people that way. He would say, “I am in you,” and they would say, “Oh yes, Swami, yes.” But when our guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami first met Yogaswami, Yogaswami said that to him, “I am in you,” and Gurudeva responded back, “I am in you.” As far as I know, he is the only person who responded back that way. We’re still waiting to find out if there is anyone else, but they were both meditators. They both had this ability to see themselves in everyone and as everything. There wasn’t anything separate from either one of them. Yogaswami and Gurudeva weren’t separate. They didn’t see each other as separate. They saw each other as perceiving the one consciousness that permeated everyone.
So a very interesting study in perspective, those two. The perspective of worshipping in the temple and receiving God’s blessings is one perspective, but the perspective in meditation is that you are everything and you are everyone and that you permeate everything. There’s nothing outside of you. So there’s no second person. So that’s why in our philosophy, I call it monistic theism, meaning you have both approaches. You have the meditative or monistic approach, and the theistic or devotional approach. Both are encompassed, or we stress equally the practice of meditation and worship. We don’t just have one or the other. That’s one of the unusual qualities of our tradition–it has both. Usually a tradition only has one or the other practice; either devotional practice, such as Vaishnavism is devotional. You don’t find anyone in Vaishnavism meditating; and then meditation. Usually you don’t find those who are meditating also worshipping.
So, in our case we do both. In fact, in our morning routine, our usual routine, not today, but the other days, we worship first from 5:30 to 6:00 and then we meditate from about 6:10 to 7:00. So we have both practices in our morning routine.
Well thank you very much, Aum Namasivaya.
[End of Transcript]