Vows (Parampara) part 3 of 4

Part 3 of 4Bodhinatha continues his talk on vratas, vows, with the parampara vrata, vowing loyalty to one's lineage and not studying the teachings of other lineages. This powerful vrata can harness the the intellectual mind when fulfilled.

Unedited Transcript:

Parampara Vrata is very interesting and again we may not fully cognize all the depths of it. Of course we know it means studying Gurudeva's teachings, not studying somebody else's teachings. That is easy, Parampara Vrata. As it says, it is control of mental and philosophical ramifications, which is control of the intellect. Giving loyalties to a lineage. Precludes all extraneous training and requires closing off intellectual inroads to all other lineages, not reading their books, not taking their courses.

Gurudeva has a nice description of this. "This commitment is a total focus demanded of the sishya by the sishya himself, so that learning of one unique path may mature past intellectual states into completely experiential knowing."

In thinking about this, I remembered a conversation I had with a Hindu doctor, a few months ago. A young Doctor from Canada, very interested in spiritual life and he was a bit disappointed with the way his profession was working out. It wasn't all he envisioned it to be when he started Medical School in his younger days. It wasn't as fulfilling as he thought it would be. One of the reasons was, the patients didn't follow his advise. He would give very sound advise and they would not follow it and therefore they would not improve. Usually when you go to a doctor, you get advise like - eat less fatty foods, that is a common one, exercise more and take certain medicines. Of course, what usually happens? You usually don't do it all. Well, you go at it a little bit. You cut back on the foods for a while. But exercise? That takes too much time, I don't have time to exercise. Medications? Well, as soon as they run out you let them go, too much trouble to keep them in stock and take them at all.

So, after a few months you are not following what was suggested at all. You just gradually back off of it and of course, the medical problem does not improve. So you get concerned about the medical problem and you try another doctor and they give similar advise. Maybe a little bit different, different kinds of exercises, different kind of diet restrictions, different medications. You follow it for a while, slack off. A year later, the problem is still there. You go to a third doctor. This is what people do. Consequently, they are getting different advise but they are never fully applying it to their life and consequently, the problem is not solved.

This is like the spiritual path and it is very easy for people who are wanting to have a spiritual life, to do the same thing. They start studying these teachings with this Swami. It is going along just great. Really, really fascinating. There is all this new intellectual material they are learning and so forth. But then they are asked to do a few things and some of the things they are asked to do, they don't like to do. So what do you do? Well, you start another study. You go over to another Swami over here, another set of intellectual teachings. You learn it, it is very fascinating. You get up to the point of having to do things you don't want to do and again you don't do them. Just like going to the doctor, you don't do what you are supposed to do. Consequently, jumping around from study to study, without making full progress.

Gurudeva describes the New Age in that way. "They are committed to being non-committed!" I am sure we have all heard him speak to many New Age people in that way. Stop shopping around, choose a path and follow it. You can't really make progress, if you just dabble here for a while, for a few years and then just over here and dabble there for a few years and go over there. You are not really going to make any spiritual progress. You are just entertaining the intellect. You are refusing to refrain the intellect from ramifying.

That is the essence of the Parampara Vrata, which harnesses the intellect. Of course, as the intellect is harnessed in his spiritual studies, it tends to ramify less in other areas as well. Just automatically carries over. We don't jump around in other areas unnecessarily ramifying but are naturally focused more on what we should.

In thinking this through, I remembered the analogy with the doctor here. It reminded me of Markanduswami's description of Yogaswami. Maybe some of you have had the privilege of hearing him. He even used the phrase, in describing Yogaswami. Of course, Markanduswami's every word was talking about Yogaswami, that was his discipline. He would never talk about himself or anything else, as a matter of fact, the weather or whatever. "Yogaswami said this ... Yogaswami did this." He would put it in this phrase. He would say, "Yogaswami would give a different prescription to everyone who came to him." Just like medical advise, we were talking about, different prescriptions. Specifically what Markanduswami said is, "He gave to each who came a different prescription. He could tell the difference between an M.A. and a kindergarten student. He gave to each according to the advancement." Then he lists some of the prescriptions. "Realize the Self by yourself. See God everywhere. See everyone as God. Be like water on a lotus leaf. Do meditation. Do service to others."

Photo of  Gurudeva
When we make a decision, it has its reaction. If we do not make a decision, that has a reaction too, for then decisions are made for us by circumstance, other people, situations or confusion.