Part 1 of 4 - Bodhinatha talks about the moksha ritau, the cool season and one-third of the year when we focus on the inside of ourselves and making improvements there. He answers the question how does moksha ritau apply to family life.
Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Mahesvara
Guru Sakshat Parabrahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah.
Added boon of our homa, it keeps everyone warm! Dual purpose.
Last phase, as you know, we started our Moksha ritau. We had our flag raising ceremony, which is a nice way of impressing our conscious mind that something has changed. Raised the flag, it is a different color, something new is going on.
We have a new ritau, a new season, which Gurudeva calls the Moksha ritau. There is a wonderful detailed explanation of each of the three ritaus right in the Saiva Dharma Shastra. It is always good to pull that out toward the beginning of the ritau to remind ourselves of, "What does Gurudeva want us to focus on during this ritau?" Because as we know, Gurudeva liked variety. He liked things to change. So, we get three different menus here, three different programs for the year with a slightly different emphasis.
I noted down a few of the major points, not all the details but just a few of the major points regarding the focus of the Moksha ritau.
It is a time when those in the sannyasa ashrama are honored. Those over 72 years old, their wisdom is sought out, their presence is sought out. As well as, it is a time these sannyasins are honored. We bring them forward and give them special attention during this ritau.
It is a time for families to talk over the future of any young men who seem to be interested in monastic life, another aspect of sannyas. It is the time to talk about the future of any family members that are approaching age 72. How is the sannyasa ashrama going to be lived out? What can we do during that time of life, when our external duties are minimal to maximize our spiritual progress? Where do we want to live? What do we want to do?
At our Mission Satsangs, the teaching portions of Satsang would focus on 'Merging with Siva', of course. Gurudeva even suggests that during the meditation, we meditate on one of the twelve Shum mamsane. The simple meditations of Shum, there is twelve of them. One for each month originally but the Moksha ritau is only four months long so you cannot do one for a month, you can do one for a week.
Those are just some of the major areas that Gurudeva mentions as part of the Moksha ritau. Of course in our daily practice, it is a time to give more emphasis to 'Merging with Siva'. Focus on 'Merging with Siva' portion of the Master Course Trilogy, more than the other two.
As we know, Moksha ritau is also the first month of and is looked at as the best month of the year for meditation. In Tamil, it is Markali. Dhanus in Sanskrit. Maybe because it is the coldest, I don't know. But anyway whatever we get up in the morning to meditate on, it is easier to be awake, nice and cold. Some people like to focus on meditation during the month of mid-December to mid-January, wonderful time for that. Some of the members and students, Moksha ritau means that that is something for the monks to do. We talked about this before but we have a broader audience on the Web and many of them have not heard of the idea.
Moksha ritau, liberation. Sounds great but what does it have to do with me? What does Gurudeva envision me doing during the Moksha ritau? Am I supposed to strive for liberation? Am I supposed to strive for the Self?
So, for everyone who is not a monk, a good way to look at Moksha ritau is, it is a time to focus on what is going on inside of us. In other words in the last ritau, Jivana ritau, we focused on what was going on outside of us, our behavior, our culture, music, refining ourselves, eating in a more cultured way. We focused on the culture, what was going on outside of us.
During Moksha ritau, we focus on what is going on inside of us. What is going on inside of us that we don't want going on? What is going on inside of us that we would like more of going on? What is there inside of us? It is a time to focus on meditation, inner worship, the more mystic side of our teachings, of course, and controlling the mind.
Gurudeva says it quite nicely. "One either controls his emotions or is controlled by them."
So, that in itself is a wonderful thought. It might fill up your entire Moksha ritau - the idea of controlling or being controlled by.
Lots of people just react to what is happening on the outside. That is what determines what is going on in their mind. If everything is going well, they are happy. If they hit a few obstacles, things don't work out right, they are sad, they are angry.
Why are you sad? "Well, I lost my favorite this or that, I am sad. I am going to be sad for maybe a whole week. I lost something."
Why are you sad? "Oh, my boss yelled at me."
Why are you angry? "What I wanted to happen, did not happen. My will got thwarted. Of course, I am angry."
To lots of people, that is the extent of what goes on inside. It is just a reaction, an immediate reaction to what happened on the outside and they don't try to control it. Some days they are sad, some days they are happy, some days they are angry, some days they are calm. Totally dependent upon what is happening around them. So, they are not controlling their emotions. Clearly, their emotions are controlling them.
Becoming aware of the patterns that we have, what causes us to react emotionally, in negative ways? What catalyzes us? We are going along fine and then all of a sudden we become very sad, become despondent even. What causes that to happen? Just studying out those patterns of reaction to action. Action and reaction is a wonderful part of what we can do during Moksha ritau. Get better acquainted with what is going on inside of us. Get better control over what is going on inside of us. Controlling our emotions, controlling our intellect, that is what the spiritual path is all about. Gaining better control over what is going on, on the inside of us.