Sadhana Path of Change

Good morning everyone.

This is from today’s Merging with Siva, Lesson, 343.

“Insisting On Sadhana

“Many gurus and swamis don’t insist on continued disciplines and sadhanas after a few inner accomplishments have been made. The beginning is the end of the course to them. These gurus and swamis are modern, and often take an easy approach of not putting excessive demands upon themselves or their devotees. Traditional Sanatana Dharma, however, insists on daily sadhana for the enlightened one who desires a greater on-going transformation and for the unenlightened who has little or no anticipation of becoming enlightened.”

Thus seems it’s for everyone.

So sadhana, of course, is our practice as this is pointing out should always be done and ideally on a daily basis. Well that’s where Gurudeva is strict. Want to follow Gurudeva’s teachings in a serious way you have to take up the daily vigil and supposed to be an hour long. So everybody has an excuse why an hour a day isn’t possible, right? If I do my hour a day vigil I’ll have to give up one of my three TV programs at night. Get to bed early. Have to give up this, give up that.

So, of course, some people actually don’t have an hour a day but fortunately most of us can fit it in.

Those of you who have read my “Ten Minute Daily Workout” know that the ideal is to start a daily practice during the teenage years and somehow this idea got left behind in India. It’s just so consistent when I talk to Hindus in their late teens and their early twenties, I say: “Are you doing a daily practice?” And I get the same answer which is no. You know, they’re not doing a daily practice. But if they were, had grown up in India you wouldn’t get so many no’s. You’d get some yes’s. It’s the idea of upanayana, you know, when there’s a ceremony to begin a daily practice. The idea of sandhya vandana, worshiping at the change of the days.

We have a bird here who practices sandhya vandana. It’s a thrush right, that’s the bird that sings? Thrush. So, doesn’t have to, could go right to work, you know. And start looking for worms; it seems to like worms. I don’t know how, how you can see a worm? You know you’re way up in the trees and he sees the worm and swoops down. Great eyesight. But he could start to work when he gets up but he takes time to sing, you know. Maybe five, sometimes ten minutes. Right at the beginning of the day before he does anything he sings away. Such beautiful songs. At then at the end of the day, we had a couple of them singing together for about five or ten minutes down there at the front office. The other day. So right when about the sun is about to set, stops early and sings. So even birds do sandhya vandana.

Our daily practice is important and, but the point I’m making is it’s not well understood in the U.S.A., Canada too. Whereas it is still in India understood.

We’re suggesting the teenagers take up a ten minute a day practice to start. And then when they finish schooling, whenever that is, expand it to half and hour. The hardest part is the irregularity of the academic schedule. It’s really hard to sustain something that long. So if we just say, well ten minutes, you can do that. And then afterwards a half an hour. And for those who are serious they can expand the half an hour up to an hour.

“Puja bells are heard ringing before sunrise throughout the homes of India in every city. In these early morning hours, men and women are priests and priestesses in their own home. Children learn shlokas; hatha yoga is a daily exercise; pranayama is done for maintaining a healthy mind and body. Discipline is the criterion of being a good citizen. In Hinduism it happens to be a religious discipline. The effects of abandoning the earlier yogas upon reaching a certain stage of spiritual unfoldment for gurus and swamis is reflected in the lives of their students. When they began to teach, they would not be inclined to take their devotees through the beginning stages; they would not impart the practices of the first two margas–charya and kriya. They would be more inclined to start the beginners out at the upper stages, where they themselves are now, and abandon the beginning stages. This would be, and is, a mistake, one which many gurus and swamis have lived to regret when their own disciples began to compete with them or turned sour when unable to attain the expected results. Traditionally, the character has to be built within the devotee as a first and foremost platform before even the hint of an initiation into inner teaching is given.”

One of the challenges that’s faced in today’s world is teachings of this nature and our modern impatience. We’re in a hurry. We don’t want to just do the basic practices year after year after; we feel we should be rushing, making some attainment in a faster way. But it takes time to change our character, “…character has to be built within the devotee as a first and foremost platform.” Can take years to really get the character up to a good standard.

To make that easier we’ve created our “Character Building Workbook.” It’s in the first edition as many of you know, has fifty-two character qualities. We’re in the process of editing it and adding a few, broadening it a bit, improving the language. The fifty-two that are there aren’t going to really change. It’s just the language will be upgraded. But we will be adding possibly twelve more. Approximately twelve more. We have about sixty-four at the moment.

The character building workbook,” some of it is just an extension of the yamas, the ten yama practices. But the yamas are very broad in description, whereas, the character book gives you specific examples and then gives an assignment. So, in having an assignment we think that’s particularly valuable for teenagers. This is what you do. It makes it very practical, very obvious. This is what you can do to strengthen this yama, this character quality.

So the exercises help make it practical and therefore, improve it. As the book says: It can be studied at any age. Parents with younger children can just teach the meaning of the word. Put it up on the fridge or something. And if it comes up in daily life, explain: Well, oh, that was an example of this concept. You’re just introducing the words at an early age in one way or another. And then in the teenage years it’s good to go through them all in systematic way. We suggest two weeks for each one; that’s enough time to practice it.

And for adults. Adults tend to have some of the character qualities really mastered. They’re very strong in some and weak in others. So, there’s no point in doing them all if you’re an adult. The goal is to focus on the one’s you’re the weakest in. So, we’re strengthening, building. It’s character building workbook. So we’re looking, as an adult, we’re looking for the one’s we’re weak in and we’re strengthening them. So, the character building workbook by being so systematic allows us to see those qualities and therefore focus on them in a systematic way.

“This purifying preparation involves repentance, confession and reconciliation through traditional prayashchitta, penance, to mitigate kukarmas. (Means negative karmas.) This crucial work often takes years to accomplish.”

Well, this is the idea of the past. The past hasn’t always gone that well. We’ve made mistakes, we’ve been treated in ways that we resent in growing up. All of this is still in our subconscious mind. Doesn’t go away just because we’re not thinking about it on a daily basis. So, Gurudeva’s saying: We need to work to purify the subconscious mind. So repentance, confession and reconciliation is one idea that relates to the first niyama which is remorse.

Thought we could look at that for a second. I’ll read a line and then comment on it.

“Remorse, hri

“Allow yourself the expression of remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds.”

If we don’t feel shame for misdeeds, we’re definitely out of touch with our conscience. So, not a good sign.

So, we should feel remorse for misdeeds. That motivates us to not do them again. It’s a natural feeling.

“Recognize your errors, confess and make amends. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds.”

So, as you know we have a whole write-up on making mistakes. And if you have a very strong ego, you don’t want to admit your mistakes. I didn’t make a mistake, that’s just another way of doing it.

Well, we have to admit our mistakes, have our ego soft enough that we don’t feel we have to defend it at all costs. “Recognize your errors, confess and make amends.” So that the process we use is a four step process, remember? For mistakes, the first is to pull ourselves up from the negativity. Usually, when we make a mistake it makes us feel bad. If it’s a big mistake we really feel bad. So, we need to pull ourselves out of that. How do we pull ourselves out of that? By having the concept that we will make mistakes. As I say, often you know, if you’re someone who’s perfect and doesn’t make mistakes, you wouldn’t have been born in the first place.

One of the qualifications to be born is the ability to make mistakes. If we don’t have that ability we wouldn’t be born and then there’s no point in being here if we won’t make mistakes. So, we’re going to make mistakes. We’ve going to feel bad about it and we need to pull ourselves out of that. And Gurudeva says: “Every experience is a good experience if we learn the lesson from it,” right?

So obviously, if we made a mistake, there’s something there for us to learn. We need to focus on the learning process and not on the negative feeling bad about it. And if we learn, with the idea in mind, the goal is if the same situation comes up again what can I do differently so that this doesn’t happen. That’s the goal of learning. So, the same situation comes up, we’ve figured out a different way of responding to it to avoid this outcome.

And then, as it says here: “Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds.” That’s very important part if others are involved. We need to smooth things over by apologizing. Even if they don’t accept the apology, that’s all right. On our side we apologized. And then, if it’s a really serious mistake we need to do some penance, some prayashchitta. That we still won’t feel good about it; that’s how we know we need to do prayaschitta. If we pull ourselves into a positive mood, if we’ve learned from the mistake and if we’ve apologized to those involved and we still don’t feel good about it, it means it was such a major mistake that we need to do a penance to make our selves feel good about what happened.

The next one is one that Gurudeva loves to stress: “Resolve all contention before sleep.”

I get a chance to use that a few times a year. It’s Gurudeva’s advice to newlyweds. He puts a shall around them. Says: “This is to symbolize your staying together forever and I have one piece of advice for you: Resolve all contention before sleep even if it means staying up all night.” And then I explain why. Because, you know, as there is a positive attraction at the time of marriage if we let disagreements pile up in the subconscious mind over year after year after year, that positive magnetism turns negative. You’ve probably seen couples they just get in the same room with one another and they have to start to argue. They have no choice. They have so much unresolved issues in the subconscious mind that it’s just being near each other stirs things up. So, obviously, you want to present that as best you can by resolving everything as you go along.

“Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits.”

So, we covered that one in a sense of learning from our lessons.

“Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself.”

So this, this is true, that once you’ve taken on a parampara that correction is going to happen. And that’s why some people prefer a guru who has passed on. You know, they put his picture up on the wall Ramana Maharshi. You know, he’s what I call a safe guru because he’ll never tell you to do anything you don’t want to do. And of course, a living guru, that’s exactly what he’s going to do. Tell you things to do that you don’t want to do. And therefore, this question comes up about wanting to change about.

Again it’s all in the perspective. Being on the spiritual path really means being on the path of change. Spirituality means we want to improve. Doesn’t mean we want to stay the same. The non-spiritual path is: I want to be as I am. I’ve got mistakes but that’s fine; I’m not, I mean I have faults, that’s fine. I’m not trying to improve them. That’s who I am. But that’s not the spiritual path. The spiritual path is: I have faults I want to improve them; I have weak areas, I want to strengthen them. So, we’re committed to change.

So if something gets pointed out, you want to say: Thank you. That’s something I need to change.

“Do not boast.”

That’s self evident. Cause this relates to humility as well.

“Shun pride and pretension.”

So the way you can see where someone stands on that is you compliment them. Oh, you sang so beautifully. See what happens. And they say; “Oh I’m a great singer. Thank you for recognizing that.” That’s one answer. Another one is, this is what we’re looking for. “Well it’s all due to my teacher. I have such a great teacher. You know, my teacher is so much better singer than I am. I’m just a small reflection of the greatness of my teacher.”

Or, there’s some sishya, if you compliment them, they’ll say: “Oh, it’s all Gurudeva’s grace.” You know nothing, they won’t take any credit. So, that kind of reflection, deflection rather of praise is what we’re looking for. That’s the spiritual quality. When praise comes your way you deflect it; you don’t accept it. And, it needs to be genuine. And that comes from worship.

Okay, see what else we can do. Maybe all we can cover.

One more quick idea.

“Once some level of enlightenment has been attained, this is the time…”

What do you think it’s the time to do? Put your feet up and claim victory? Claim enlightenment. I’ve arrived.

“Once some level of enlightenment has been attained, this is the time to intensify the sadhana, not to let up.”

Well that means things are going well. You’ve got some attainment so try and put even more time into your practice.

What happens if we let up?

“When we let up on ourselves, the instinctive mind takes over. We are still living in a physical body. Therefore, one foot must always be kept firmly on the head of the snake of the instinctive-intellectual nature.

“The higher we go the lower we can fall if precaution is not taken. Therefore, we must prepare devotees for a sudden or slow fall…”

That’s a new idea; we don’t have time for that one but lets focus on this one, one more time.

“When we let up on ourselves, the instinctive mind takes over.”

So this is something I mention more than once to new monks. We have two or three days off every week called retreat days. And at least one of them there’s not much scheduled. So, it’s a great opportunity, if you’re a new monk, to let down. Oh this is great day to rest; I’ll just sleep, you know. And so what happens if you let down and don’t do any sadhana at all? You end up in the instinctive mind. Cause you don’t have the built in ability to start out the day in a high state of mind. You have to do your daily practice to get there. So, if you don’t do anything on your day off, you don’t do any sadhana, your consciousness is going to drop and it’s going to strengthen the instinctive mind. So, your biggest concern is: What’s for dinner? Food, right? So you go around asking: What’s for dinner tonight?

So, that’s just for a first couple of years, I remind the monks and then it’s not a point after that. But the same applies in regular life, you know. If we have extended vacation, of course, we need to catch up on our rest but we also need to challenge ourselves. We always need a challenge to lift up our energy on a daily basis. And then it stays high and the instinctive and the intellectual mind don’t strengthen on us unknowingly.

Oh, have a wonderful day.

Categories: Sadhana
Tags: Upadesha
Author: Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Scroll to Top