We recently received these photos from the Santhirapala family who was here on pilgrimage last month. They had a wonderful time visiting the monastery's many special areas including our sacred garden paths, our giant banyan trees and of course, Iraivan Temple.
We recently received these photos. This delightful group of ladies is on pilgrimage through India, visiting many holy places, including Chidambaram and Varanasi.
Lesson 249 from Living With Siva:
In our religious life, one of the most fulfilling aspects is pilgrimage. We have a joy in looking forward to a spiritual journey, and we experience a contentment while on our pilgrimage and later bask in the glowing aftermath of the pujas. It is like going to see a great friend, a devotee's most loved friend--the Ishaa Devata. We travel to the far-off temple where this great friend is eminently present. At that particular temple, this personal God performs a certain function, offers a specific type of blessing to pilgrims who make the pilgrimage to that home. In this way, different temples become famous for answering certain types of prayers, such as requests for financial help, or prayers for the right mate in marriage, prayers to be entrusted with the raising of high-souled children, or help in matters of yoga, or help in inspiring bhakti and love. ¶The Hindu does not have the feeling of having to take a vacation to "get away from it all." We don't lead a life of mental confusions, religious contradictions and the frustrations that result from modern hurried living. We lead a moderate life, a religious life. In living a moderate life, we then look at our pilgrimage as a special moment, a cherished time of setting ordinary concerns aside and giving full stage to our religious longings. It is a time to take problems and prayers to our personal God. ¶Unlike the proud "free thinkers" who deem themselves emancipated, above the religious life, we Hindus feel that receiving the darsana from the Gods and the help that comes therein invigorates our being and inspires us to be even more diligent in our spiritual life. Unlike the rationalists who feel confident that within themselves lie all the resources to meet all needs, and that praying to Gods for help is a pathetic exercise in futility, the Hindu wisely submits to the Divine and thus avoids the abyss of disbelief. ¶All in life that one would want to "get away from" the Hindu takes with him on a pilgrimage to the temple, to the feet of his personal God, to the inner-plane being or Mahadeva, who needs no physical body with which to communicate with people--to the God who has a nerve system so sensitive and well developed that as it hovers over the stone image, which looks similar to how the Deity would look on the inner planes, this being of light can communicate with the pilgrims who visit the temple. This being of light, this Mahadeva, can and does absorb all of the dross the devotees have to offer, and gives back blessings which bring happiness and release to them. Thus, the pilgrimage is not travel in the ordinary sense of travel, but rather going to see a personal friend, one who is nearest and dearest, but does not live in a physical body. ¶The Hindu has another great joy--the certainty of liberation. Even in difficult times, we are solaced in the knowledge of our religion which tells us that no soul that ever existed or ever will exist in future extrapolations of time and space will ever fail to attain liberation. The Hindu knows that all souls will one day merge into God; and he knows that God, who created all souls, slowly guides our maturing into His likeness, brings us back to Himself, which is not separate from ourselves. The Hindu, through striving and personal development in this life on this planet, knows that liberation into God is the final goal. This knowing and this belief release us from any ego, from any superiority by which one person considers himself or herself as especially meriting God's grace while others are lost. For the Hindu, there is an assurance that all souls will eventually enjoy liberation, and that includes ourselves and all of our friends and family. We need never fear otherwise.
"God is with you all the time. There is no work to be done. Move in conformity with changes within your environment. Be steadfast in truth. Natural forces are countless. Be you, your own self, while at the same time recognizing all these. That is wisdom. We do not do anything. Everything happens of its own accord." Siva Yogaswami
Bodhinatha's Latest Upadesha: "The Summit of All Religions; Regular Meditation" (February 13, 2015)
Religion has a oneness in mysticism but has major differences in terms of beliefs and practices. Unrelenting effort, working on the outside with our faults and weaknesses, allows us to manifest actual experience as a mystic, intensify our purification. We are perfect on the inside. Condition the mind by practicing meditation daily; hold a meditative vibration, samskara of restraint.
Master Course, Living with Siva, Lesson 305
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras