July 29, 2014 - Lesson 108

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Sloka 108 from Dancing with Siva

What is the Nature of Image Worship?

We worship God Siva and the Gods who by their infinite powers spiritually hover over and indwell the image, or murti, which we revere as their temporary body. We commune with them through the ritual act of puja. Aum.


The stone or metal Deity images are not mere symbols of the Gods; they are the form through which their love, power and blessings flood forth into this world. We may liken this mystery to our ability to communicate with others through the telephone. We do not talk to the telephone; rather we use a telephone as a means of communication with another person who is perhaps thousands of miles away. Without the telephone, we could not converse across such distances; and without the sanctified murti in the temple or shrine we cannot easily commune with the Deity. His vibration and presence can be felt in the image, and He can use the image as a temporary physical-plane body or channel. As we progress in our worship, we begin to adore the image as the Deity's physical body, for we know that He is actually present and conscious in it during puja, aware of our thoughts and feelings and even sensing the pujari's gentle touch on the metal or stone. The Vedas exclaim, "Come down to us, Rudra, who art in the high mountains. Come and let the light of thy face, free from fear and evil, shine upon us. Come to us with thy love." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 108 from Living with Siva

Harnessing Willpower

In the beginning stages on the path, you will surely experience your mind wandering. This is what "the mind wandering" means, that awareness is totally identified with everything that it is aware of. This gives us the sense, the feeling, that we are the mind, or that we are the emotions or the body. And so, when you are sitting for meditation, myriad thoughts bounce through the brain, and it becomes difficult to even concentrate upon what is supposed to be meditated upon--in some cases, even to remember what it was. That is why the sadhana of the practices of yoga given in Merging with Siva must be mastered to some extent in order to gain enough control over the willpower and subtle sense organs to cause the meditation to become introverted rather than extroverted.

The grace of the guru can cause this to happen, because he stabilizes the willpower, the awareness, within his disciple, as a harmonious father and mother stabilize the home for their offspring. If one has no guru, or has one and is only a part-time disciple whose guru is a picture on the wall, then he must struggle in his efforts as an orphan in the institution of external life. I feel some of the basic tools to struggle along with are clearly explained in this book, and every effort made toward the Divinity of oneself only serves to bring forth blessings, which may not immediately be seen, but will manifest in years to come.

It is the regular practice of sadhana that really counts, for the habit patterns of the subconscious mind must be gently guided into new channels of expression. It is only when this begins to occur that some results will be visibly seen.

Willpower is first identified through the processes of self-control when the devotee finds himself impelled by instinctive impulses into directions that he has long since passed through and experienced. Thus, self-control, of the appetite, the fantasies, the reactions, is diligently sought for through performance of his sadhana--chanting on the beads, performing regulated religious routine and ritual during the day and various other more personal disciplines given to him by his satguru. It is not without great effort that this control of the little "self" is attained.

The next challenge then is the use of the willpower to control the intellect. A precisely controlled intellect pierces deeply beyond the veil of words into the threshold of spiritual experience. The noble devotee uses his willpower to discriminate philosophically as to the nature of his quest. It is the elimination of words and thoughts, which are the intellect, that is his goal. He already has a great deal of self-discipline through having conquered, somewhat, the emotions and passionate instincts of his past. Now comes the more advanced practice of pranayama, the control of breath and inner direction of prana in transmutation toward the highest goal, of realization of the Self, that he hopes one day to attain.

Sutra 108 of the Nandinatha Sutras

The Brahmacharini Path

Siva's women devotees electing not to marry may live the brahmacharini's celibate life, keeping simple vows and always wearing white. By this the world knows they are unavailable, having chosen the path of devotion. Aum.

Lesson 108 from Merging with Siva

Realization Is the Key

What does it mean to "get centered" and to "be centered"? Actually, what it means is to feel the primal source within, to feel so centered that you are the center. And we always are something of what we feel, our hands or our legs or our bodies or our emotions or our desires. Most people on the path have the desire to get rid of their desires. It's an impossible battle. Have you ever tried to get rid of your desires? If you would stop trying to get rid of your desires, then you would be centered, because you then take the energy out of desire. You take awareness away from that world of desire, and you get right in the primal source of the energy which flows through the physical body. It flows through the emotional network, right through the intellectual mind. That primal source of energy is flowing through the spine in each and every one of us this very moment. Feel it?

The entire spiritual unfoldment process, oddly enough, is designed to throw you off center so that you have to work to pull yourself on center. First life throws you off center. You have all kinds of experiences. You make mistakes and, with your indomitable will, have to control that fluctuating awareness to get it right on center and be all right, right now. Feel that powerful energy flowing through every nerve current and be that energy rather than the fluctuating nerve current. Then, one day, when you really get good at it, you find a guru. You are firmly on center, and he tries to throw you off.

My guru, Yogaswami, would always throw his disciples off center and set them spinning. They had to work hard with themselves to get on center again. That strengthens the sinews and the muscles of man's becoming himself, becoming totally aware that he is aware and then controlling his mind by not allowing his awareness to get caught up in the vast illusion of the externalities of the mind. How's that? That's a good one--the vast illusion of the externalities of the mind!

What is this center? Well, it's like the inside of an empty glass. You know something is there, and when you're aware of it, you know that you're aware inside that empty glass. However, when you're aware of the glass itself, that's something else. When you're aware of the outside of the glass, that's something else again. When you're aware of the table the glass is sitting on, again that's something else. Now imagine you are like the glass. Become aware of the space inside. That is the tangible intangible you have to grasp.

The best way to work this is a very simple way. Let's try it now. Just open and close your hands and feel the muscles and the bones. Now feel an intangible something, an intangible energy, which is that life force, and soon you will feel a force within that. That is your force of awareness that gives the command to the life forces, to the muscles and sinews which open and close your hand. So, be that intangible force rather than the hand. Be the commander who commands the muscles to relax and tense, to open and close. It's an intangible reality. This you realize. You don't think about it. Your intellect cannot give it to you. Your instinct and emotions cannot give it to you. It's something you have to realize. When you grasp it, you start to unfold and awaken spirituality. It comes from the deeper chakras, the higher chakras. And it's very easy. You either have grasped it or you haven't grasped it. So, work with that and grasp that. Then the unfoldment process begins. Finally you begin to see light within the head, light within the body. You begin to have beautiful, beautiful inner experiences. Everybody these days wants to have profound inner experiences without the use of drugs, or without the use of anything but their own positive willpower. That's the goal of the unfoldment of the people of all nations today, according to my own poll. And it is the right and mature goal.