Visiting the Temple Purifies the Mind, Grants Humility

Religion needs to be of the present. Mankind is evolving spiritually; mass consciousness is rising. When we go to the temple, in the right spirit, contributing devotion and prana, being open to the blessings of the Deity; it purifies the mind. The Hindu religion focuses on the mind; purifies it; controls it, subdues the ego, makes us more humble.

Master Course, Living with Siva, Lesson 344.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning,

Living with Siva, Lesson 344.

"Saivism Has Everything

"Good evening, everyone! Vanakkam. Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam. God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality. The American devotees of our great God Siva are very happy to be here today at this beautiful temple in Sri Lanka. It is so inspiring to see this temple being well maintained, improved, managed in a responsible way and filled with Saivite souls. Your open and lovely faces remind me of beings in the Devaloka. We feel blessed here.

"Saivism is the greatest religion in the world, and we are all very fortunate and proud to be Saivites. Why is it great among all the world's great religions? It has the most ancient culture on the planet. It has scriptures that are utterly profound. It has sacred hymns that stir the soul. It has unparalleled disciplines of yoga and meditation. It has magnificent temples that are truly holy. It has devoted sages and holy men and women to guide our life and lead us to Lord Ganesha, who leads us to Lord Murugan and finally to the Supreme God, Siva. Saivism has God and the Gods. It has charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. It has so many enlightened beliefs, including karma and reincarnation. That is why I call our religion the greatest in all the world.

"I believe that this oldest religion of the farthest past is also the religion of the future, the religion best suited to the technological age. I think we should present Hinduism as it is today, as a vibrant religion of the present. Then it will survive into glorious futures. We need inspired people to serve Saivism with a strong will and a positive mind. In this effort, all differences must be set aside so we can work together on powerful programs that will bring progress; and that progress will inspire others, make them enthusiastic, show them that Saivism can be brought into the technological age for the good of the next generation, the next and the next.

"What happens when a religion is lost in yesterday and not brought forward to guide its followers today and on into the future? All kinds of problems arise. The youth begin to think religion is obsolete, abandon it and become immersed in worldliness, often in activities that are adharmic. They leave the Saivite path, the Saiva Neri. Families break up, friends argue, and people fight within themselves and with one another. Poor citizens are raised in the absence of ethics. Unrest and discontentment reign, and the entire nation suffers. So many problems arise when religion is lost, when people don't know the right things to do. They become unhappy, restless, unstable. They have nothing to lean on, no place to turn in difficult times. This leads to abuse, to divorce, to suicide, to disease, to murder and dozens of sad experiences and hellish states of mind. "

That doesn't sound very good. Oh, the important point is religion needs to be of the present. That's the point that Gurudeva's making. Why does it need to be of the present? Because mankind isn't stationary. Mankind is evolving spiritually. Consciousness is rising. Gurudeva would call that the mass consciousness. He writes about it somewhere in the Master Course. He says: It used to be in memory, then it came up to reason, then it came up to will.

And so our religion reflects the time in which it was created. So if man was in a state of memory and the religion was created then, then it's a religion that speaks to that. But if man moves on, then the religion won't relate.

One of the reasons Gurudeva, shall we say, didn't favor the Puranic stories, he felt they were of the past. And they didn't really help explain Hinduism and Saivism in the present time. If the stories about the Gods fighting, you know, we don't want any fighting, right? Let alone the Gods fighting over this and that. So that we become very sensitive. Gurudeva was extremely sensitive to any stories that talked about violence. He just really backed off anything that talked about violence.

So the religion needs to be of the present; that's the point. Not that we can't use certain selected stories but we have to explain them properly and relate them to current consciousness.

Writing something for the seminars we're holding this year and it starts out by talking about Hindu practices such as being dharmic and being virtuous, of course. Going to the temple, being of service. And quite often, unfortunately, they're mentioned. It's stated they should to be done. But the benefits, why we're supposed to do them isn't stressed enough. Why should we go to the temple once a week?

Gurudeva felt it was so important going to the temple once a week, that he puts it in the pancha nitya karmas: The actions that we're supposed to do on a permanent basis.

Well, one way of making things modern is to relate them to the mind because that's where we are. People are more aware of their mind and how things impact the mind. So a simple way of explaining the temple is that it, when we go to the temple and attend in the right spirit, it's purifying. It purifies the mind. Like a bath to the mind. So, we all understand bathing the physical body. We bathe at least once a day, more in hot climates, more if we're working outside and we get dirty. You know, we like clean clothes, we like a clean house, we understand physical cleanliness. And we live in a way that experiences that. We want things clean. Don't we want our mind cleaned as well? Why should we allow, you know, take such good care of the house and ignore the mind. Doesn't make sense, right? Should include that as well.

Well, there's a number of ways we can purify the mind. One of them is going to the temple once a week and receiving the blessings of the Deity. As you know, you know my analogy to music. Most of you have heard that but some of you haven't so I'll give it. We all have one or more kinds of music that we really get uplifted by. And when we listen to it, it uplifts us. It changes our mood in a noticeable way. But if we play the music and we're thinking about something else, it doesn't uplift us, right? It's playing, the music is there, but our mind is on something else. And therefore, we don't receive the benefit of the upliftment it can provide because we're not focused on it.

So, the temple is the same. Just cause we're physically in the temple doesn't mean we receive the benefit of it. We have to open ourselves to the blessings of the Deity. We have to understand how the temple works to some degree in order to receive the blessings. And that's why some people find the temple boring; they don't understand how it works. So, simple way of looking at it is most of the ceremony is involved in giving to the Deity. Particularly the pujari, giving. Giving fruit, giving flowers all of which provides energy or prana. Giving devotion. Devotion of those present is also important that it's given to the Deity.

The monks have noticed over the years -- you know we do pujas every three hours, so most of the pujas no one's there, right? Do puja 3 in the morning, no one attends. Like none of the monks seem to come to the 3AM puja, right? No one attends. So, you get the experience of doing a puja with no one attending and then at other times you do a puja and lots of people attend. So, the people attending make a difference in the puja. They contribute as well. They contribute devotion; they contribute prana. So it all helps. The puja is much stronger when you have devotees giving rather than when no one is there.

So we all give. And then, at certain key moments such as the final arati, the Deity blesses everyone. In a more complex ceremony there's other times too but in a simple puja it's just at the end. And it's made obvious it gets loud. In case your mind wanders. If it gets loud you know, you're supposed to pay attention and get blessed.

So, the blessing come and we need to absorb them, take them in. The analogy I use there is the sponge. If a sponge has been used and not squeezed and you put it in more liquid it doesn't absorb anything, right? You have to squeeze it out. And then you put it in a new liquid and then it absorbs it. So, the mind is the same way with the blessings. We have to make empty. It's like squeezing the sponge. If our mind is filled with our concerns, you know, it's full. How much more can come in? Very little. We need to empty it. We can make the mind empty like squeezing a sponge and receive the blessings of the Deity. And then we get purified. The mind gets purified.

Gurudeva could actually see it taking place. He describes it in a number of his writings. That the darker colors go away. And in powerful temples or in, probably in medium powerful temples on a festival day, the blessings can be strong enough to actually eliminate a karma. Cause karmas are in the mind as well and they can go away if you get strong blessings. Might require a pilgrimage for that kind of event to happen because on a pilgrimage you're more... You've systematically emptied the mind by setting aside your normal responsibilities. You don't have to go to work; you don't have to cook. You don't have to do this, you don't have to do that. You've set aside your normal responsibilities and therefore, there's more room in there to fill up. Whereas, if you're just stopping at the temple on your way to work you know you haven't set aside your normal responsibilities and therefore, you can only get so much blessings.

But on a pilgrimage you can get more blessings. And if you go to a powerful temple, Gurudeva writes about it, it can actually eliminate a karma. Normally, we can only mitigate a karma. But, with powerful blessings we can eliminate it. Eliminate it is easy; you don't have to explain that, right? It went away. We don't experience it at all. Mitigate is to lessen, right? So, normally we just are able to mitigate karmas. They happen but they happen in a more pleasant way then they would otherwise. It's not as disturbing to us. It's not as negative. It's not as disruptive to our life as it would be if we hadn't mitigated it by attending the temple, by performing our sadhanas. But a powerful blessing can actually eliminate it. So that's obviously better. And that's one of the reasons we go on pilgrimage is to eliminate karmas, receive such intense blessings that we can eliminate the karma.

But in either case, we're purifying the mind. And if we purify the mind, both of the current states of mind and deeper aspects of the mind which come from the more distant past, we're lighter. We're more buoyant. It's easier to be positive. We're upbeat more so than before we purified the mind. So, it has an immediate benefit.

We can also have an intuition. Something we've been pondering can become clear because of the purification. We have more intuition coming out. Intuition is blocked by negativity in the mind. Impurity in the mind blocks the intuition from coming out. So, get rid of it; more can come out and we can have some insights that we wouldn't otherwise have.

So, that is one way of responding to Gurudeva's statement. He says it more fully elsewhere. He says: We need to bring Hinduism from the agricultural into the industrial, into the technological age and on into the new age of space. We only have a couple of people in space so that's not an issue yet. But technology is, that's where we are, you know. We need to bring it into our technological world. The whole world is changed by computers, the internet, social media, twitter. All of that has changed the world in a dynamic way and so Hinduism needs to fit into it.

So, we're more mental, and talking about Hinduism in ways that relates to the mind is one way of relating to the technological age. Hinduism is a religion that focuses on the mind. Purifies it; controls it. And it subdues the ego. It's another reason for temple worship; makes us more humble.

We're recognizing the Deity as a being, greater than we are. That's worship. So wouldn't be worshiping the Deity if we didn't think the Deity is greater than we are. I'm sure that's one reason people don't worship; they don't think that. So, acknowledging that and holding that consciousness -- the Deity is blessing us -- makes us more humble. And humility is important in the modern world because modern education can strengthen. the ego.

Sometimes you go off to college a fairly normal person and you come back this big ego. You can out argue everyone. You've been taught how you can win all arguments and you're determined to. So it can strengthen the ego, unfortunately, and therefore, that's another aspect of temple worship and how it impacts the mind is increasing humility.

So, thank you very much.

Have a wonderful day.