Nine Ways of Merging with Siva

This is the last talk given immediately before Mahasivaratri. In this Bodhinatha reads from Merging with Siva about the nine ways to merge with Siva. He then describes the difference between the English terms "realization, liberation and merger." He tells how we must accomplish all three states before we reach our ultimate goal of the final merger with Siva. He explains in some detail the difference between these three.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our guests. In a few days we'll be celebrating Mahasivaratri, so I thought I'd read something from Gurudeva's Merging with Siva, from the introduction to put us in the mood for Mahasivaratri. The section is called, "Nine Ways of Merging with Siva." One of the basic themes of it is that when we talk about the idea of merging with Siva, realizing Siva, being one with Siva, it can seem distant. It can seem like something that would happen in, oh maybe next life, or the life after, you know. It has that sense of not happening today. So what Gurudeva is writing here, one of the main themes of it is to help us realize how we're already merged with Siva and accepting the fact that we're already merged with Siva. Deepening that merger therefore seems more likely because it's already happening. It's happening today. So, for it to be even deeper tomorrow or next year, or the year after, sounds totally feasible. Whereas on the other perspective, it hasn't happened already, so it probably won't happen for a long time. So that's the idea.

Merger -- that is what this book, the third book in the trilogy of Dancing with Siva, Living with Siva and Merging with Siva, is all about. Some of the big questions about something as wonderful as becoming one with the universe or with God are: Is merger something to accomplish in this lifetime, or shall we put it off to another round? Is merger something that can be achieved even in future lives, or should we consider that it might never happen, or that it just might happen unexpectedly? Is merger with Siva complete annihilation, an undesirable nothingness that we should delay as long as possible? I never thought of that one. Shall we cease all striving for realization and wait for mahapralaya, the end of the universe, the Great Dissolution commanded by Lord Siva, when every soul, young or old, merges in the All of the All -- no exceptions, no one left behind, the ultimate perk of the Divine Cosmic Drama, the guarantee of final merger of every soul? Fortunately, the next Big Bang may happen after Siva gets lonely dancing by Himself and starts His creation all over again.

Merger on the great inner path described in this book is already happening in your life and in the life of every soul on the planet, in the natural course of our soul's evolution. In Sanskrit, we express "Merging with Siva" as Sivasayujya, "Intimate union with the Divine." Nine progressive ways of merging with Siva are possible today, in fact impossible to avoid. Shall we now explore these nine ways, the wonderful ways of merging with Siva as we walk the San Marga, the straight path of dharma?

A jiva, or soul, merges with his potential mother who gives a physical body to which his astral body is attached. This is the first merger. Then, when his first guru, the parents, train him to quell the instinctive mind and become a producing member of the family and the social and global communities, the second merger occurs. Why should these two developments be related to merging with the Supreme? It is because Siva is the life of our lives, as the venerable saints teach. Siva is the life of the life of all sentient and insentient beings, the sea of prana, ever emanating, mysteriously, from the All of the Allness of His mystery of Being, by which all life exists and all happenings happen. Therefore to merge energies with all other humans without making differences is to find Sivaness in all and within all.

Having merged with the biological and social worlds, it then is for the young jiva, embodied soul, to be introduced by the parents to the family guru for spiritual training. Obedience and devotion to the guru is again another merger into Sivaness, for the satguru is Sadashiva, or Siva in form, having realized Siva in Formlessness. It is from the satguru's constant, silent emanation that the shishya thrives, as do flowering trees, bushes and vines thrive and grow from the sun's silent rays and the occasional showers of rain. (Unless you live here, right? --frequent showers of rain.) No words need be spoken, for both shishya and guru know the same -- the shishya having had his training in scripture, divine inspiration of song, meaning and dance from his first guru, the parents.

Having walked the San Marga through the charya and kriya margas, and having disciplined mind and emotions, the shishya is ready for the fourth merger into Sivaness. This is accomplished through art, calligraphy, drawing divine forms, writing out scripture in one's own hand and depicting through drama, by learning and playing music, by having all bodily currents move into the rhythm of the sounds of nature, for nature is nada in the external. It has its own choreography, and this merger is with Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. It is also the merger with knowledge of all kinds, of language and mathematics, of the many sciences and arts. That's the fourth merger.

The fifth merger is deeper: endeavoring to penetrate the intuitive world, communing with nature, encountering the many dreams, visions and other mystical experiences that await the seeker of Truth. It is merger with the selfless life, of seeing oneself in others, and others in oneself, of losing the barriers that divide one from another, and the internal world from the external world. It is living a harmonious life with a heart filled with love, trust and understanding for all, desiring to give rather than wanting only to receive. The light that lights each thought picture when traced to its source is the sixth merger This is the next one]: the yoga of detaching awareness from that which it is aware of and being the light that lights the thoughts, rather than claiming identity as being the thoughts, then tracing this light of the mind out of the mind into the beyond of the beyond. Yea, this is the sixth way we merge into the Divine. The Lord of the Dance emanates His own lighting effects, does His own choreography, creates His own music and enjoys, as the audience, His own performance. [So you probably never thought about that, being the performer and the audience, but that's Siva's point of view. He's both performing and enjoying the performance because He is everything; He is everyone. That must be an interesting perspective.

The seventh merger is into the nada-nadi shakti, that unrelenting sound heard as an inexplainable "eee," of a thousand vinas being played simultaneously by Vinadhara, another form of Lord Siva, the maker of sound, the composer of the symphony. This mystical sound, the nada is traced to its source, deep within the within, the city of a thousand lights and sounds, for sound is light and light is sound in this sphere of Satchidananda, all-pervasive oneness with all form, the Self flowing through the mind, untouched by it, yet sustaining it in a mightily mysterious way. That's seven.

Eight. The eighth merger with Siva is Parashiva. Becoming and being timeless, formless, spaceless is the total transformation of the soul body, the mental body, the astral body, the pranic body and the physical body. It is the breaking of seals which subsequently makes changes never to be repaired. A new, an entirely new, process begins. It is the ultimate healing of all karmas, the ultimate knowing of dharma.

And now, lastly, once the soul evolves out of the physical, pranic, emotional, mental and causal sheaths -- annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya and anandamaya koshas -- and they are needed no more, it evolves into vishvagrasa, the ninth and final merger with Siva, as an infant effortlessly becomes a child, a child a youth and a youth an adult. Yes, the soul, jiva, encased in five bodies, is indeed merged into the emanator, preserver and absorber of the inner and outer universes as simply as a drop of water merges into the ocean, never to be found again. This is the timeless path the holy Vedas of the Sanatana Dharma proclaim. As a seed becomes a bud, and a bud becomes a flower, these nine steps of spiritual unfoldment are inevitable for all humankind.

So, that's our nine ways of merging with Siva, beautifully written. One of the related concepts which is useful to dwell on in English, we talk about realization, liberation and merger. So those are the three English words that we use. It's useful to distinguish between the three, because usually there isn't a clarity as to the difference.

So realization means the experience of God. In our terminology when we say Self Realization we mean, "The experience of God in God's transcendent or absolute aspect," or parasiva, which we describe as timeless, formless and spaceless, but of course we really can't describe the Absolute. So realization or Self Realization is something that can occur at any time. In fact, in Gurudeva's description of the celebration of Mahasivaratri as done in a monastery, he says, "Mahasivaratri is the time when devotees get to join with the sannyasins who are striving to realize the absolute, joining together."

So Mahasivaratri is that time of striving for deep realization which can occur on Mahasivaratri. It can occur at any time. but realization is not liberation, because afterwards you're still here. You haven't gone away, right? Liberation occurs at the time of passing, at the time of transition, at the time of death if we have a certain attainment. Then we don't come back. We're liberated from coming back; we're liberated from rebirth. So realization can occur at any time. It could occur right now, right this very second. There's no reason why it couldn't occur right now, but liberation is something that only happens at the time of transition. It's based upon Realization of the Self as we talked about, but also the resolving of all karmas and the fulfilling of all dharmas.

So it's a beautiful, three-fold definition Gurudeva gives us of liberation. Not only do we need to have realized God, Realize the Self, but we also need to have resolved our karmas. There's nothing more we need to do on earth. Karma means there's something that has to happen here. We have to have an experience here. It's like we have an appointment. Unfulfilled karmas are like unfulfilled appointments with other people. It means we have to be here to meet other people and have certain experiences. That's what karma means. So unfulfilled karma means that there are future appointments. So if we pass on with future appointments, we have to be reborn to fulfill those appointments. So therefore the handling of karma is actually a very key element in the achieving of liberation.

So it's beautifully pointed out in Gurudeva's teachings and we've tried to capture the essence of those teachings in our article which we published in Hinduism Today and is in the new book drawn on Hinduism Today, "What is Hinduism." It's called karma management, the basic principles of which help us resolve karma we now have and not create unnecessary karmas to experience in the future, because each karma that we have is an appointment that we have to meet. So obviously, if we have future appointments we have to get reborn to meet them and go through whatever that appointment has in store for us.

Then the other one is fulfilling all dharmas, the third aspect, which means there are a lot of things we need to do on earth. We need to work through the various occupations; work through different experiences. Understand the world. Not feel any undue attraction to the world because we haven't done something. Why are we attracted to the world? Because we haven't done something in it. There's no one in the seventh grade who wants to go back to the sixth grade, right? There's no attraction there. We've done it. So, life is like that. If we've done something we're not attracted to doing it again. If we've done it in its fullness, we have a sense of having done it. So it doesn't attract us. It's not that somehow we're above it, but we've already done that or something like that and therefore it has no attraction to us, no sense of needing to do it.

So when you combine all those three: Realizing God or the Self, dissolving all our karmas, fulfilling all dharmas, then if you pass on in that state then there's no reason to come back. There is nothing to do. That's the idea. Liberation means you don't have anything more to do. Why? Because you've done everything that was necessary and you've settled everything and you've attained a certain realization which Gurudeva says you need to have a physical body to attain that realization. You know the physical body brings with it certain challenges called the instinctive mind. We need that fire, that dynamism to penetrate the deepest depths of ourselves. So it's like an energy. When it's out of control, it causes a lot of misbehavior in the world, a lot of anger; a lot of violence. But when it's under control, that same energy goes up and gives us deep realizations.

So, those are the two, two so far. The difference between realization which could take place at this very second; liberation, which takes place at the point of transition; and then merger takes place after we've achieved liberation. So, just because we've passed on and we're liberated doesn't mean that we go away. We're still there. There's more experiences. There's more to do in the inner worlds. We haven't fulfilled all the dharmas of the inner worlds. We haven't done what's there to be done.

So there are things for us to do in the inner worlds as well, and only when we have fulfilled them do we achieve merger, which is, the analogy we use is like the drop of water returning to the ocean. Once it goes back in the ocean, you can't pull it out. The drop of water and the ocean are inseparable. So that's merger: the drop of water or our soul, our individuality no longer exists. Then we're simply everything. It's not that we're nothing. It's not that the drop of water evaporates. The drop of water joins the ocean. So what is apart becomes the whole. That's the idea. So then you can be both the performer and the audience.

Interesting goal: To be Siva dancing and to watch yourself as Siva dancing. So, anyway all of that is just to kind of get us in the mood for Mahasivaratri. Thank you very much. Aum Namasivaya Aum.

[End of dictation]