Bodhinatha talks about the necessity of a proper foundation for spiritual progress, drawing on the example of how skyscrapers are built. This was Gurudeva's strong message when he returned from Europe last year, one of the importance of character building. Without character as a good foundation, progress can be lost when a bump of rough karma comes along.
Last week we enjoyed being with members in the San Francisco area. We drove through San Francisco over to Concord. We had a nice meeting too with Markandeya Peruman, got to visit him at his Rest Home there. He is very comfortable and he was very happy that we took the time to come by and see him.
One of the sites we passed the TransAmerican building which stimulated my muladhara. I remembered many years ago, watching it being built and specifically the foundation being built. I am not sure how many of us had that experience. First of all, they started out by digging a very, very deep hole. Much deeper than you would expect. Put steel in it and then filled it all up with concrete. They had this very long queue of cement trucks there, pouring all this concrete into the foundation. It was amazing, the size of the structure they created underground. Of course, they did that because the building was tall and subject to earthquakes and they didn't want it to fall down in an earthquake. So there it stands.
Likewise on the spiritual path, we need a strong foundation, just as a building needs one. Of course, as we have talked about before, on the spiritual path the foundation is good character. Strong character is being a disciplined, virtuous person. That is what provides us the foundation in our spiritual life. Some of you will remember, when Gurudeva returned from the European Innersearch, for one reason or another this was one of his core messages. He was saying particularly for new students, Master Course students should focus first on character building. In other words, let us start with the basics. Let us create the foundation first, which gives the stability.
If we don't have good character, if we have poor character and we try and pursue the sadhana marga, when we hit difficult times in our life - we could call them Karmic earthquakes, so to speak - if we have not created a foundation of good character, we are going to flounder. We are not going to be able to sustain our spiritual efforts. Our life is going to go into a state of disruption. We will start expressing some of our negative habits that we have not conquered. We will stop doing our sadhana and we will lose a good portion or possibly all of the spiritual progress we have made up to that point, simply because we don't have the foundation in place to sustain a bump, to sustain a difficult time. We have started not at the beginning of the path, we have started at the middle or the end of the path, in hopes of pursuing it with a shortcut. It takes a lot of patience to actually start where we should on the path, to start at the beginning.
We have been talking a lot about building character the last few months and the most common way we have stressed is, observing the Yamas and Niyamas. That is a very important way to build up good character.
Today, we wanted to look at another way in which good character is built and that is through Vratas, Vows, religious observances.