Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 67
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.
Good morning everyone.
Reading this morning from our book Path to Siva, Lesson 67.
“How Can We Be Strong Saivite Hindus?
“Gurudeva taught, ‘Once we have chosen and accepted our faith, it is then our spiritual duty to learn it well and live by it as a wholeheartedly, contributing member of a faith community so that we pass it on in a vibrant way to those who come after us, the next generation. To be strong Hindus, first we must learn our religion well. This means gaining a good understanding of the philosophy, the culture and the subtle mysticism. Second, we must live by it fully. This means having a solid commitment, a good character, and putting its principles into practice. For us, this includes adopting the gestures, attitudes, customs ways of worship, dress and refinements of Tamil Saiva culture. The third step is passing our faith along to others. We all live in mixed societies, interrelating with people of varied backgrounds. You may find yourself being asked about your Hindu faith. Some questioners may have no religion. Others may reject religion and believe science has all the answers. You may be confronted by their questions: ‘Do you worship cows?’ ‘Why are there so many Hindu Gods?’ (Why not, right?) ‘Why are there so many Hindu Gods? ‘Why do you wear the dot on your forehead?’ Prepare yourself by studying the answers to such questions. Respond with confidence and kindness. Assume that the person really wants to learn. Yes, some may want to harass you, or turn you to their view. If you sense this is the case, smile and dismiss yourself without engaging further. You can also share your faith by conducting classes or sharing at public gatherings. In sum, we each stand strong for Hinduism by being good Hindus. Gurudeva has given us the tools in his Master Course Trilogy. Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva. Using these tools of philosophy, culture and yoga, we can defend, explain, protect, preserve and promote our Saiva faith.
And we have Gurudeva’s quote:
“The time has come for Hindus of all races, all nations, of all cultures of all sects to stand up and let the peoples of the world know of the great religion of which they are one of the staunch adherents.”
Here reflecting on that the first point of course was: “…first, we must learn our religion well…” I remember that Gurudeva made the point a number of times in the Master Course Trilogy that the first way of learning the religion is to memorize its tenants, particularly, for younger Hindus. Stressed that a number of times that you want to learn a lot by memory. So I looked up memory to see what I would come across in The Trilogy. Wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it, it had an interesting twist to it so we’ll take a look:
“One does not progress on the spiritual path by words, ideas or unused knowledge. (Sounds fiery already, right?) Memorized precepts, slokas, 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.”
So it jumps right in to the second point, second, we must live by it fully. That’s something that’s not always understood.
Tell a story from Mauritius: There was a young woman who relayed the story. It’s about her father. She said the father goes to the temple, he’s just such a devout person. So there he is worshiping in the temple and then he comes home and yells at his wife and his kids all the time.
She said: “I can’t understand a religion that allows for that kind of duplicity.” That double standard where you’re acting one way in the temple and you’re acting another way in the home.
So she kind of backed off of Hinduism for that reason, when she was younger. And then, when she got a little older she realized that Hinduism had some pretty good stuff in it after all and she shouldn’t let her father’s behavior keep her away from it forever. So she was old enough to kind of get beyond her reaction to her father. And that’s, that idea is what Gurudeva encompasses by the idea of living with Siva meaning we’re bringing the religion into the home; we’re bringing the religion into the family; we’re bringing the religion into our interactions with all other people. And, of course, that’s the challenge. Cause we don’t like some people, right? We don’t get along with other people. So how to bring that love that we feel in the temple into our interactions in our daily life, that of course is the challenge and that’s what Gurudeva is saying here that we need to live it. In moments of experiencing impatience we need to control it. We need to focus on self control.
Gurudeva goes on:
“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, Isvarapujana, cultivating devotion through daily worship and meditations.”
And I thought I’d go back to the beginning of it, the beginning of it’s also very good.
“The fifth yama, patience, or kshama, is as essential to the spiritual path as the spiritual path is to itself. (That means it’s pretty essential.) 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 already wants to accomplish…”
Reminds me of a story. One of our devotee families was flying from Sacramento to Hawaii and it was one of those situations where they boarded the plane but the plane couldn’t take off. So they were sitting in the plane for quite a while and they said that everyone except one couple on the plane was totally frustrated by the situation. But, you know, they were there, carrying on and doing something positive with their time. And the other couple was a Buddhist couple. Somehow they knew they were Buddhist but don’t remember how they knew. So the Buddhist couple and the Hindu couple on the plane were making good use of their time there on the runway and everyone else was totally frustrated. They’re feeling impatient by the intolerable delay, right. But they weren’t able to accept it and make use of the time in a positive way.
“…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–becoming 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, (Very important word, 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 deal patiently with the situation, not fight it or try to avoid it or be discouraged by 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.”
So that point of course is crucial, said another way: What ever happens to us is created by whom? By us, right? We’re attracting it. The people that come to us and they treat us well, they treat us poorly; the finances that come to us, abundant or meager, we’re attracting it all. Its not external to us. And as Gurudeva points out here we’re attracting it why? Because of our past actions in this and past lives. We set all of this in motion. Everything we experience we set in motion. So, if we want to blame someone the only person we can blame is ourself, obviously for some unwise actions in the past. Or, if we have a sense of humor we can say: I wonder what in the world I did to attract this to me now? Must have been something outlandish.
So, that’s acceptance. And some of you of course heard this point before but I think it’s an important point. I found that one of the greatest barriers to acceptance is labeling something a problem. Or even more so labeling something a big problem. I’ve got a big problem. What happens when you have a big problem? You procrastinate. You don’t want to face it, it’s so big, it’s so huge you don’t want to face it. So, you put it off a little bit, perhaps miss the timing of solving it. So I found a better label is: This is just the next thing to do. You don’t call it a problem, you don’t call it not a problem, you just: Everything is just the next thing to do. Some things are difficult, some things are easy. But they’re each there and we need to face them and do them well. If we have that attitude I find it’s easier to accept it and handle it, avoid labeling it in such a negative way, it’s a big problem.
So, those are some thoughts and the basic idea as is reflected in a simple way here in our lesson is: We learn the religion and then we live by it. And live by it means in the family, in our friendships with everyone we meet. We want to treat them in a friendly and inspiring way.
So, thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.
Aum Namah Sivaya.