Sadhana: Establish Daily Practice


In the past forty years temples and priests have come over to the U.S. from India. The daily spiritual practice of Hinduism, has been left behind. In youth it is important to develop a strong habit of sadhana, maintained through adulthood and increased upon retirement. To produce results stress moderation and consistency in practice.

Master Course, Dancing with Siva, Lesson 87.

Master Course, Living with Siva, Lesson 88.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

I'll read from Gurudeva's Master Course Lesson in just a minute but first to introduce it. For a number of years, probably about four years, we were working with the Hindu Students' Association, university group that's primarily in Texas but also in the surrounding states. And they had an annual retreat. Unfortunately, it was usually in February and would snow but Hawaiians are allergic to snow. So, besides that it was very good. And so, I got a chance to know the group pretty well and this was a commitment to travel to this retreat center and spend the weekend there in the middle of the school year. It would attract between a hundred and a hundred and fifty students. So I considered the group serious, you know, that they would come all that way just and spend a weekend.

And then, after I got to know them I was really surprised that, I would say, ninety percent of them, a rough guess, had no daily practice. And also, they weren't going to the temple because usually there wasn't a temple near the university. So, there they were, in a university from four to eight years, usually, and they weren't practicing Hinduism. I was kind of surprised how wide spread this phenomena was. And the ones who were practicing had usually had a very consistent and strict training at some Hindu Center such as Chinmaya Mission or Arya Samaj where they'd gone week after week after week and had picked up a practice. But that was only maybe ten percent of the entire group.

So, I began to think about it and I realized that the phenomena wasn't limited to university students, it was also present in Hindu adults in the U.S. The way I put it is, you know, since nineteen, oh mid-nineteen seventies, 1975, so many beautiful and traditional Hindu temples had been built in the U.S. And they're, most of them are staffed with excellently trained priests from India. So that part of Hinduism has managed to come over from India quite nicely. It's only been forty years since that's been happening. But, something got left behind in India and that's called daily practice. I don't know why? So, we brought the temple, we brought the priests but the idea of the daily practice is important is much stronger in India than it is in the U.S. for some reason. Therefore, I worked out a simple program, which I put in one of the Publisher's Desks, on practice, suggesting that practice be taken up at the teenage level, age 13 to 15. Let a ten minute a day daily practice be started at that level, age 13 to 15. And so that it would become a strong habit through high school and then, as is the case in the U.S., usually children go off to university at a distance, the practice would already be a habit. So you wouldn't be trying to start a habit of daily practice at the university. You'd already have a strong habit before you went off.

So, that's the theory I'm working on. And then suggesting that after you graduate increase it to half an hour. So that's the guideline as you'll see when we read the text from Gurudeva. That's the guideline he suggests for adults is start with twenty to thirty minutes a day. That's a very good amount for a daily practice.

And then, the other point I've developed is that, after you retire, it's good to double it, whatever you're doing. This is an opportunity. So if you've been doing half an hour start doing an hour after you retire. If you've been doing an hour double it to two hours, you know. Look at those years as a rare opportunity to intensify your practice, something that you've wanted to do your whole life but haven't been able to because you've been too busy fulfilling the duties of the grihastha life.

So, with that in mind, we'll read Gurudeva, this is from, the first one's from Dancing with Siva, Sloka 87.

"Devout Hindus perform daily vigil, called sandhya upasana, usually before dawn..."

If anyone doesn't know the word sandhya it just means the time of day when it goes from, when it changes, night to day and then day to night. That's called sandhya, so upasana--worship. So worshiping at the time of the changes of the day.

"...This sacred period of puja, japa, chanting, singing, hatha yoga, meditation and scriptural study is the foundation of personal life.

"Each day hundreds of millions of Hindus awaken for the last fifth of the night, bathe, don fresh clothing, apply sectarian marks, called tilaka, and sit in a clean, quiet place for religious disciplines. Facing east or north, the devotional puja rites of bhakti yoga are performed. Hatha yoga, hymn singing, japa and chanting are often included. Then follows scriptural study and meditation, listening to the sound current and contemplating the moonlike inner light during Brahma muhurta, the auspicious hour-and-a-half period before dawn. The duly initiated practice advanced yogas, such as those revealed in Merging with Siva--but only as directed by their guru, knowing that unless firmly harnessed, the kundalini can manifest uncontrollable desires. Through the day, karma yoga, selfless service, selfless religious service is performed at every opportunity. Besides these yogas of doing, Hindus practice the central yoga of being--living a joyful, positive, harmonious life. The Vedas declare, 'The mind, indeed, is this fleeting world. Therefore, it should be purified with great effort. One becomes like that which is in one's mind--this is the everlasting secret.'"

And Lesson 88 from Living with Siva:

"The spiritual practice should be reasonable, should not take up too much time, and should be done at the same time every day. Often seekers who become associated with Hindu sadhana go to extremes and proceed with great vigor in an effort to attain results immediately. Sitting two or three hours a day, they wear themselves out and then stop. Here's a formula for beginners: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, twenty minutes to a half an hour of sadhana at the same time every day; Saturday and Sunday, no sadhana.

"The keys are moderation and consistency. Consistency is the key to the conquest of karma. If you go to extremes or are sporadic in your sadhana, you can easily slide backwards. What happens when you slide backwards? You become fearful, you become angry, you become jealous, you become confused. What happens when you move forward? You become brave, you become calm, you become self-confident and your mind is clear."

The point to stress there is moderation and consistency. So, there's a tendency to try and do too much in some individuals and of course that can't be sustained and then it's dropped all together. Consistency, the consistency comparison I like to use is just to evoke exercise cause it's so well understood. That's what's in the Publisher's Desk as well. We all know that if we do aerobic exercises for three hour, three hours one day a week, fifteen minutes the second day, zero the rest of the days, that's not as effective as sustaining twenty minutes a day. Doesn't produce the same benefits. So, that's the comparison for sadhana. What we can sustain on a daily basis is really important. Produces the most results rather than a lot one day a week, now and then. It doesn't do as much at all.

So, thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.

Photo of  Gurudeva
I can tell you from experience that zero tolerance for inharmonious conditions is a workable law and sadhana that can and should be adopted by all spiritual groups and individuals.
—Gurudeva