Think of heaven and hell as being states of mind, available in the present moment. Live in a heavenly or peaceful, blissful state of mind. The state of mind we're in, at the point of transition, determines where we go in the inner worlds. If we're in a state of guilt we haven't done the prayashchitta. Hinduism is a joy based religion; never be afraid of the Deity. Find a way of adjusting perspective. Master Course, Lesson 136.
Today's Merging with Siva Lesson is 136 on Karma and Consciousness.
"The Hindu does not have to die to have a final judgment or to enter into heaven, for heaven is a state of mind and being fully existent in every human being this very moment. There are people walking on this Earth today who are living in heaven, and there are those who are living in hellish states as well."
Very important point, to think of heaven and hell as also being states of mind. And therefore, available in the present moment to us. So much of Western religion is oriented toward the future. This will happen in the future. You will go to heaven in the future or you will go to hell in the future. Whereas, what Gurudeva's saying is: The state of mind we're in is really an aspect of heaven or hell and we want to live in a heavenly or peaceful, blissful state of mind in the present moment. We don't want to be thinking about the future. And sometimes I'm asked what happens at the point of death by those who haven't studied Gurudeva's teachings: What happens at the point of death?
And I say: Well, you basically carry on as you are. You know, we don't become a different person. We don't all of a sudden totally change our state of mind. One aspect would be if we're having some serious physical pain, of course, we no longer have that. So, that makes us a little happier. But setting that point aside, we are basically, we carry on the same. We are who we are. We're used to being in certain states of mind and the state of mind we're in at the point of transitioning, dropping off the physical body, determines where we go in the inner worlds. The inner worlds, Gurudeva says: People of a like nature congregate together. It's not like here on Earth where we're spread out. More like the old system, all the goldsmiths were one part of town, blacksmiths are over here. Still find that in some, some parts of India or New York City. You know, all the jewelers are in one part of town. But normally everybody's spread out. But in the inner worlds we group together more.
"All that the Hindu has to do is go to the temple. As soon as he goes to the temple, to a puja, he is contacting the divine forces. During the puja, he is totally judged by the Deity. All of his karma is brought current and he goes away feeling good. Or he might go away feeling guilty. That is good, too, because then he performs penance, prayashchitta, and resolves unseemly karma quickly. "
So, that's another important way in which Hinduism differs from Western religions. We're not supposed to feel guilty. We make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, some small, some large. If we feel guilty about something we did, what does it mean? It means we haven't done the prayashchitta for it. The point of prayashchitta is to take away any lingering sense of guilt. We want to learn from the mistake, smooth things out with others who were involved. And if we still feel badly about it after handling all of that, we need to do prayashchitta. Consequence of which doing the prayashchitta is we no longer feel guilty. Doesn't mean we're proud of what we did wrong but it means we don't feel bad about it. We accept it. Okay, I did this; I've learned from it, I'm not going to do it again and I've compensated for it. So, I'm going to move on.
So we don't want to, if we're in a state of guilt it means we haven't quite resolved, we haven't learned fully, we haven't smoothed things over, we haven't done the prayashchitta. We want to get rid of any sense of guilt.
"It might be said that every day that you go to the temple is judgment day. Isn't it a wonderful thing that in our religion you can either go to heaven or hell on a daily basis, and the next day get out of hell through performing penance and ascend to heaven? The Hindu sees these as states existing in the here and now, not in some futuristic and static other-worldly existence. There are certainly inner, celestial realms, but like this physical universe, they are not the permanent abode of the soul, which is in transit, so to speak, on its way to merger with Siva."
That's nice to say. If you travel a lot you're used to being in transit. You're kind of waiting to move on, enjoying where you are but you definitely, you're focused on where you're going.
"... (The Hindu) errs, he does not worry inordinately. He merely corrects himself and moves on in the progressive stream of human evolution. He is aware of the frailties of being a human, but he is not burdened by his sins or condemning himself for actions long past. To him all actions are the work of the Gods. His life is never static, never awaiting a judgment day; whereas the Western religionist who believes there is an ultimate reckoning after this one life is spent is piling up everything that he has done, good and bad, adding it to a medley in his mind and waiting for the Grim Reaper to come along and usher in the Day of Judgment. Hinduism is such a joyous religion, freed of all the mental encumbrances that are prevalent in the various Western faiths. It is freed of the notion of a vengeful God. It is freed of the notion of eternal suffering. It is freed from the notion of original sin. It is freed from the notion of a single spiritual path, a One Way."
Interesting, we met some Hindus from Kerala when we were visiting Dubai. In fact, the majority of Hindus we met there were from Kerala. It was interesting; we hadn't expected that. But Kerala and Dubai are, it's an old trade route. So the two places have worked together for centuries.
So this man who's been reading Gurudeva's teachings was asking me questions and explaining what they do in Dubai. And the sense of worship, not really a vengeful God but it's close. See if I can describe it. They're worshiping a multiplicity of Deities with the sense that if they miss one, that one will be upset with them for not being worshiped and not cause them good things. It's a very negative sense. You have to keep all the Gods happy by worshiping them. There's quite a few you have to appease, otherwise, the fact that you didn't worship them would offend them and would cause negativity in your life. Well, keeps you busy running around worshiping all the Deities. But it certainly, it's close to a fear based religion.
Which, you know, as Gurudeva says: Hinduism is a joy based religion. You should never be afraid of the Deity. Never have the sense for one reason or another that God is punishing us. Or, we don't do this God is going to look at us in a negative way. Doesn't work that way. But definitely they were, this is, that's a common approach in Kerala.
So that's a good last thought there. "Hinduism is such a joyous religion, freed of all the mental encumbrances that are prevalent in the various Western faiths. "
So that's Gurudeva's idea: "Life is meant to be lived joyously."
And, we want to remember to do that. And if we have some sense of guilt, some sense of being flawed, anything of that nature which pulls us out of a sense of being a joyful being, we need to fix it one way or another. Do a penance, do an affirmation, read Gurudeva's teachings. Find a way of adjusting our perspective so that we can accept the fact that we're human being, we're not perfect, we have flaws. But, we're working the best we can with them and life is meant to be lived joyously.