Self Image, Spiritual Progress, Moksha.

What Gurudeva means: Iraivan a moksha temple: 0:2:20 Self-image. Making mistakes in life: 0:7:1 Feeling good about ourselves, penance: 0:10:3 Character flaws. Issue with self-image. Sutra 1 DWS: 0:12:4 Hindu and popular idea of success: 0:14:2 The four ashramas of life: 0:21:5 Artha and kama: 0:23:4 Youth, ethical values and education. Purpose of wealth: 0:28:1 Sacrifice: 0:33:2 Practice, progress, moksha: 0:36:15 Four categories of spiritual practice: 0:37:23 Sacred, secular, spiritual progress, duties in life: 0:39:59

Unedited Transcript:

Okay, moving on.

This is called: "The New Self Image Sadhana." That wasn't in your study guide was it? I don't think so. This is a sadhana, we won't be doing it; we're just talking about it. Which of course is a contradiction. How can you talk about a sadhana without doing it? Well, it's called limited time. You can do it next time you come.

This is Gurudeva's writing:

"Strictly following ancient scriptural treatises, this 100- foot-long, 35-foot-tall, 3.5-million-pound Chola-style temple is being built according to divine architectural knowledge to channel and focus the spiritual power of the crystal Sivalinga representing the Supreme God, Siva: Parameshvara-Parashakti-Parasiva. Sculpted stone panels tell in pictures and potent aphorisms the temple's story (and metaphysical) and mystical philosophy of Saivism. (This is where it gets important.) Most importantly, Iraivan,with Lord Siva facing south, is a moksha temple. This means that being in the presence of the sanctum sanctorum brings the pilgrim closer to freedom from rebirth on this planet."

So, normally when someone hears it's a moksha temple here they panic [laughs]. I better not go there. I still have lots of things to do in the world. Or they think that sitting there somehow will bring them moksha. Moksha temple. This is a wealth temple, you pray and you get wealth. This is a moksha temple, you pray and you get moksha.

So, what that means, that's what we're going to talk about. But we have a keynote and some other things to do before we get there. But that's the idea of understanding what Gurudeva means about calling Iraivan a moksha temple.

What Gurudeva means: Iraivan a moksha temple.: 0:2:20

"The vibration of the temple wipes away the dross of the subconscious vasanas and simultaneously heals the wounds of psychic surgery. It takes away encumbrances and releases the pristine beauty of the soul. As pilgrims leave the San Marga Sanctuary they are escorted back the way they came, along San Marga and through the Rudraksha Meditation Forest with a new self-image and clear understanding of the purpose of life on planet Earth."

So then. the actual sadhana. Which you can do next time you visit.

"After worshiping in the Iraivan Temple, sit facing the sanctum and repeat the following affirmation having in mind Gurudeva's statements about creating 'a new self-image and clear understanding of the purpose of life on Earth.'

So the affirmation is:

" I am not my body, mind or emotions. They are but shells of the infinite energy that flows through them all. I am this energy. I am its source."

We'll talk for a minute about new self-image. Self-image -- our concept of our self -- is not necessary as positive as it could be, shall we say. Events happen in life and discourage us or make us feel flawed or bothered about mistakes we made and so forth. We don't have a real positive self-image or even necessarily a spiritual self-image. But that's what this idea is about, is improving our self-image. That part of the pursuit of moksha has to do with self-image.

In other words, things accumulate. Mistakes have happened in the last few years and so forth. We need to clean that out on a periodic basis. You take a child who's young enough, his self-image is usually pretty good. But as things happen over time it gets more and more negative in potential for some children. And even if they clear it out at one point in time, say five years ago, in the last five years we can build up again a series of negative impressions that lessen our self-image and are not conducive toward working toward moksha.

Certainly one of the major ones is making mistakes. And should be talked about more than it is. It's so central to how we look at our self. But, for many individuals, we were raised that they're never supposed to make a mistake. And if you make a mistake this is terrible. You should never have made that mistake. This reflects on who you are. You're just not as perfect as you should be cause you made a mistake. Totally unrealistic, you know. There's no one no matter how intelligent they are who can avoid making at least a few mistakes. Even total genius is going to make a mistakes because we're not that well rounded. We're brilliant in some aspects of life and limited in others.

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. That somehow we run into this that: I'm not supposed to make a mistake. We make a mistake and we get stuck. We feel bad about ourselves. This is what I call the first reaction to a mistake is feeling bad about ourselves. Feeling we shouldn't have made the mistake. So, of course, that's a philosophical problem. We've been trained by others, by ourselves, to believe that. So, we have to un-train ourselves.

Subtopic: Self-image. Making mistakes in life. : 0:7:1

And move on to the second point which is that it's natural to make mistakes. Nothing wrong with making a mistake as long as we try and not make it again. We try and learn from it. That's the important thing. We need to learn the lesson from the mistake and try our best not to do it again. Then we should have a positive attitude toward ourselves if we've taken that step. So, that's how we need to think of it. And if we don't think of it that way we need to read enough material by Gurudeva to convince ourselves. Talk to others.

Have you ever found anyone who never made a mistake? We could have a prize, a million dollar prize given to anyone who never made a mistake and we'd be confident we'd never have to give it, right?

So, we need to learn from the mistake and try our best not to make it again and that's where a negative reaction to it can cause us not to take that step. We're still feeling badly. We're feeling badly enough that we can't quite cognize how to avoid making the mistake again. The example I use is our back road. It's better now but it used to have a number of potholes in it. But, so you drive along, you hit a pothole and everyone in the car, you know, they hits the ceiling. And you keep going. So, how many times are you going to do that before you make the decision. There's a pothole in the road; when I get to that point in the road I have to go left. How many times are you going to do it? Make the same mistake. By not being observant, by kind of grumbling when you did it. All those things are barriers to what we want to do which is say; "Okay, I made a mistake. What do I need to learn, what do I need to observe so I don't make this mistake again?"

Maybe we will make a mistake. You know, maybe we don't have the quality, some quality strongly enough developed but at least we can try our best not to make the mistake. And even that is progress. Definitely progress.

And then if we've... There's two other steps for those of you who are not familiar with this idea. If we've upset other people we should apologize. That's part of making a mistake. And if to, after learning from the experience, figuring out how not to do it again, apologizing, we still feel bad about it, it means it was a major mistake. And we should do some penance to get rid of that feeling cause we should never feel badly about a mistake we've made. We don't have to carry that with us. We can go through this process. That's what penance is for is to make us feel okay about ourselves again no matter what we've done. Because we will make mistakes. That's the way we're built.

Feeling good about ourselves, penance. : 0:10:3

Then the other one is character flaw. We get convinced by our parents or by our teachers that we're stupid. And of course, that's the wrong thing to say to a child. The behavior was stupid not the child. That's what we always say. Distinguish between the behavior and the person. You're such a smart person that you'll never do such a stupid thing again, right? Person's smart. They're so smart that they won't do that stupid thing again. So we don't challenge the person; we challenge the behavior and the firm intelligence of the person.

So, the easiest way to do all that is to read the first sutra in "Dancing With Siva." If you have any issues with your self-image you just pull this out and it says:

"Rishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous journey. We came from God, live in God and are evolving into oneness with god. We are, in truth, the Truth we seek.

"We are immortal souls living and growing in the great school of earthly experience in which we have lived many, many lives."

Goes on and on. So, it is a very nice statement, helps fix us. Because that's the concept we want. We want to think of ourselves as a divine being on the inside. Doesn't mean we don't make mistakes. Doesn't mean we're without character flaws. But it means the essence of us is divine. And we need to impress ourselves and if we have children, impress our children that they are divine being. Then we have a better self-image.

Character flaws. Issue with self-image. Sutra 1 DWS.: 0:12:4

Look at our keynote on success. As an interesting exercise just take 30 seconds and think to yourself. Or write it down if you're that organized. How would you define the Hindu concept of success in one or two sentences? How would you define the Hindu concept of success? We'll see how close we come to what we end up with.

Okay. I haven't changed this for us so there may be some things here that are self-evident. Right! The old style.

"What is True Success?

"In today's material world, success in life is popularly measured by looking solely at people's professional and family life. Do they have a good, well-paying job and a large home with a highly educated spouse and intelligent children? (Right? Anyone write that down? We add anyone's definition?) If the answer is yes, then they are considered to be successful."

So that's the popular, not just the Hindu, but a popular definition of success. If you went around and took a survey, that's probably the idea, that you would have the highest rating. So we take that, start there and we'll broaden that and deepen it. Not going to reject it. Broaden and deepen the popular concept of success.

Hindu and popular idea of success. : 0:14:2

Yes, exactly. So, when we talk about success it's helpful to talk about the four goals of life. We have material on this in Chapter 10. So, they're called purusharthas. If anyone's not familiar with that word, it's purusha plus artha which is the soul in this context. Artha means goals; it also means wealth. But, such is the nature of the word it has two distinct meanings. So purushartha means the goals of the soul or the four goals of life.

This is the Sanskrit here. Dharma-virtue, artha-wealth, kama-love, and moksha or liberation. Four goals of life.

Okay purusharthas in Tamil. It's a Tamil group I rattle through it in Tamil. Aram, porul, inbam and vidu. Tamil words. If it's not a Tamil group I take that slide out.

On occasion I'm asked: "I'm a Hindu but don't know much about my religion. How would you define Hinduism."

So, that's a challenging spot to be in you know. Think when, think when I was at Malhotra house we had one of the gentlemen ask me that. That came from couple of hundred miles away. Yes, he asked me that. It's a real life situation. What do you say? I'm a Hindu I don't know much about my religion, what's Hinduism?

So, this is one of the answers is to relate it to the purusharthas. In that, you know, religion. Each religion has a religious goal. And the religious goal of Hinduism is moksha. So, distinguishing the idea of Hinduism is: We believe in reincarnation and that we're striving that we're striving eventually to be liberated from that cycle or to achieve moksha. To do so we need some kind of experience of God. Self Realization, God realization, enlightenment. Some experience of God is needed for that to be achieved. So, that's one of my answers.

Gurudeva stresses the purusharthas. One of his sutras.

"Siva's followers are ever mindful that life's purpose is to wholeheartedly serve God, Gods and guru and fulfill the four traditional Hindu goals: duty (dharma) wealth (artha), love (kama) and liberation (moksha)."

Those on the grihastha path of family life pursue all four goals and the way they do so changes according to their age or ashrama in life. So, this one I also found was not as well understood as I thought. I always include it.

Many individuals say; "Oh I never had a clue that my duties in life changed. I thought duty was duty."

But our duties in life are totally dependent upon our age in life.

It's not true anymore but it used to be that up until age 12 you were just supposed to play. But these days start out studying very seriously from the first grade. But anyway, the brahmacharya ashrama isn't supposed to start till age 12. There's usually a ceremony involved. Age 12 through 24, roughly, is obviously the time when we study, we prepare for a profession and married life. So, it's a time of preparation.

Grihastha age 24 through 48, very busy time of life, raising a family and fulfilling a career.

Third ashrama: vanaprastha, age 48 to 72. It's a time of transition from from family and career to one of elder adviser. It's a time when you finally know something.

Gurudeva used to say: "The Hindu community doesn't take a swami seriously until he's 60 years old." By then he should know something.

Anyway life is the same way. When somebody hits 50 they must know something and the idea is to share some of your wisdom with the younger generation: teaching kids Hinduism, training people in their professional field, so forth.

Fourth ashrama: Sannyasa, age 72 onward is a time in which the primary focus is on moksha. Meaning that: Religious practices are the main activity of one's day. So, sannyasa ashrama is not the same as sannyasa diksha. It means you take on some of the qualities of the sannyasa but not all of them. You're not supposed to give away all your money, etcetera. You're not supposed to leave your spouse. But, ideally, there's no need to earn money anymore which takes a lot of our time.

So ideally, at that point in life, you know, around age 72 or so, -- keeps getting older in modern life -- we don't have to think about earning money and we can put time in and into the, what we love to do. And hopefully, a good portion of that goes into religious practices. Because it's a wonderful opportunity to intensify our religious our spiritual progress. But, we won't want to do it if we haven't been doing it before. Our interests in life don't totally change so we can't expect ourselves to do pujas for two or three hours a day if we haven't been doing pujas for 15 minutes a day. We can't expect ourselves to meditate three hours in a cave a day if we haven't been meditating half an hour a day.

Our interests won't totally change. So it's one reason we try and develop these practices when we're younger is so when we are in this ashrama we are used to them and enjoy them and feel benefited by them.

The four ashramas of life. : 0:21:5

Well, I always start with the two that are self-evident, wealth and love. So, if you ask anyone, except monks of course, what they're interested in they'll always include wealth and love. They want to fall in love, get married, have children and live a happy family life. They want to learn a profession so that they can earn a good living, provide for their family a home and all the possessions that are needed. This of course, is the essence of the idea of wealth and love or artha and kama.

Artha is material welfare and abundance, money, property, possessions, necessities of life: food, money, and clothing, shelter. Extends to wealth required to maintain a comfortable home, raise a family, fulfill a career and perform religious duties.

Gurudeva adds a broader meaning: Embracing financial independence, freedom from debt, working with worthy children, good friends, faithful servants, trustworthy employees. So, it's not only riches it's also quality of life.

Love, kama of course: Earthly love, aesthetic and cultural fulfillment, pleasures of the world, joys of family and friends, intellectual satisfaction, happiness, security, physicality, creativity, usefulness and inspiration. So, we all know that. As I like to say: "We don't have to go to school to understand that." It's built into us. We have an understanding of that.

Artha and kama.: 0:23:4

So the next goal of life, virtue or dharma is not totally separate. It relates to how we pursue wealth and love. If we acquire wealth honestly and if we're loyal to our spouse, we're pursuing them in a virtuous and dharmic way, we may take it for granted, however, it's not the case. Took many years but I used to have to use Enron and Worldcom to have a good scandal to talk about but now we have Satyam Computers. It's a scandal in Andhra Pradesh. A company there was paying thousands of employees that didn't exist. I don't know where the money was going but...

[Innersearcher comments, inaudible:]

[Bodhinatha continues:]

So, the Raja clan there. Rajajhoti.

So anyway, the point is: We think we'll be honest in business but business is such that we get caught up in it. It's easy to get caught up and one thing leads to another and after you've been in business 10, 20, 30 years you can get off track. You started out just fine but because you don't have strong training in business ethics, strong concept of dharma we can get off track.

Marriage can have a similar problem in that spouses are not faithful to one another and it's increasing slightly in the Hindu community because divorce is becoming more common which is a measure of the problem. And, of course, the youth are particularly vulnerable because youth in this case, say teenagers in their early twenties, because very -- what would you say -- very, they value, youth value peers. So, if the peers are getting into mischief then it's easy for you to get into mischief. So, something for parents to watch out for when your kids get into late teens and early twenties is to know who are their friends. Be sure they have some religious friends among them.

So clearly, ethical values need to be studied by all children and youth to keep them on track and it's one of the needs of our religious institutions because most education systems are purely secular. Gurudeva had a nice statement on that, he says:

"Education needs to not only teach us to read and write but what to read and write."

Parents, of course, want their children to bring honor to the family name, to be pillars of their community and to be of unblemished character. They know that without good character true success is not possible.

So, as I mentioned, when it comes to wealth and love, built into us. When it comes to understanding dharma, it's good to study something. There's more subtleties to it then we may realize. So one scripture we use it the Tirukural. Has lots of excellent verses. So a number of you have seen this question before so please don't answer it.

What is the purpose of earning wealth and establishing a home?

Just think in your own mind: What would the answer be?

Well, the common answer, of course, is something along the lines to provide shelter, food and the other necessities of life to our immediate family members, husband, wife, children and any parents living with us, right? Sound good? Think we got it right? No, we didn't get it right. Cause we're talking about dharma. The answer the Kural gives is quite different.

It says: "The purpose of earning income and establishing a home is to provide hospitality to guests. So, imagine that. Provide hospitality to guests. So, what's it doing? It's broadening the concept of acquiring this wealth. Our initial sense is: Well, we're acquiring the wealth just for us. But no! In the dharmic sense we have to give some of it away and one of the easiest way is to be a host. To be hospitable to guests.

Youth, ethical values and education. Purpose of wealth. : 0:28:1

Okay so sometimes I do that. I told you what was on the next line.

Hospitality, of course, is central to Hindu culture and in English the phrase is: "The guest is God," right? And the Hindu spirit is to try and get a guest to stay for dinner or as the western spirit sometimes is: Get the person out the door before dinner is served, right? Really, it's not in the culture.

So Gurudeva says: Ask once, the guest says no, ask twice, third time and even a fourth time. So, if they say no the fourth time it's not a polite no; they really mean they have something else to do.

Sutra on that: "Hospitality flows from Siva's followers like sweet music from a vina. Guests are treated as God. Friends, relatives, acquaintances, even strangers are humbled by the overwhelming ever willing attention received."

So, there's a story about -- just read part of it.

"Grandma made a big point to us about hospitality. She took it as a spiritual duty to serve guests as if they were God."

It's a way of bringing the community together and even if there wasn't enough food left over for the rest of the family, as a result we'd still do it. And she also set aside a portion to be fed to the cows. Sweet tradition, hmm?

So, in addition to hospitality, this idea of giving is also manifested in other ways. And, the more we give the happier we are. And the more self-centered we are the less happy we are in the Hindu viewpoint.

Quite often it's natural to think of charity being limited by our finances. Oh, I can't afford to give very much. So, I have a way around that. Overcoming that objection. "I'm a poor person. I can't afford to give very much." So, many forms of charity don't require cash. What do they require? Time! So, quite often those who don't have money actually have free time.

Instead of Auraville Did this come up in one of my presentation? No, it's the one on preparing; I was working on it yesterday. It's for Nashville in August. So, it's a story from Auraville, Pondicherry's outside Pondicherry's big institution and we were interviewing the teachers there. Get a sense of how they were imparting religion slash spirituality to the students. And the teacher was teaching in the village schools and she said what she does is: Encourages every student to help another student every day but without the other student knowing they're being helped. So, that's an example of time. You know, you're there anyway. Maybe it takes one minute of your time. Doesn't require any money. And it's, it's a helpful action.

So, there's many ways we can help others throughout the day.

Going to skip forward. This was New Orleans. There's a new problem now, have to update myself. Can't talk about Katrina any more, right? So...

So, this slide is idea of sacrifice. Sacrifice is the idea of doing without. I'll just read it. Just tells the idea that giving money, opening up your wallet, pulling out ten dollars and giving someone is charity. But if you skip a meal and take the money you save from skipping that meal and give it it's called sacrifice.

Sacrifice.: 0:33:2

So, it's it's a kind of discipline which is nice to do now and then. It's also nice to teach children in a simple way, you know that, this slide says here that: You could take a budget vacation instead of a fancy one, for example. And then take, explain it ahead of time and take the money you save and give it to a Hindu temple or a charity of some form to help. And, in that way, you're showing the children that we can provide. It's also good self-discipline to do without in a simple way. Do without a desert, do without something fancy, not, not too serious for children.

So, we define moksha.

So, the previous slide says: What topic will put an audience to sleep within five or ten minutes. Answer, of course, is moksha. And why? Well, because it seems so far off and we're all focused on the challenges that we're surrounded with. Dealing with our family, dealing with our jobs, this and that. It's overwhelming. All we have to deal with and how in the world do we have time to think about moksha, right? Good point. So, we don't. Instead we think about the journey that leads to moksha. Ah! Yes, the journey that leads to moksha.

So, the one I choose is, you know, dance. And what's needed to become a good dancer and everyone knows the answer, right? See, everyone knows that. Now, practice. Everyone I ask always knows that answer. So, moksha is the same. Spiritual journey that leads to moksha. We move forward by practice. So that's not always understood. You know, we don't link the two things. Moksha seems so far off and our daily practice. So, what we want to do is link the two by focusing on the journey not on the goal, you know. Moksha is a fairy tale, you know. It's usually sitting under a tree, lightening strikes and moksha, enlightenment, God realization. All you had to do is sit under the right tree. [laughter] At the right time and didn't have to do anything to earn it, right? False concept. It's better to think of it as the journey. We're trying to climb a mountain to get to the top. So, as long as we're making progress, you know, we've made this point before. Then we're doing well.

Practice, progress, moksha. : 0:36:15

So, the big problem is it's not clear what to do and that's why we need to have a clear understanding of the disciplines within our spiritual tradition. So, for example, good conduct, service -- we were talking about -- devotion, meditation. That's what I call the four categories of spiritual practice. Not using any technical words, not using karma yoga, raja yoga, charya, kriya; it's just simple English words. That if we're working on these four areas, those are the practices we should be working on and we'll be making spiritual progress. We'll be getting closer to moksha.

Four categories of spiritual practice. : 0:37:23

So we'll read Gurudeva's point again.

We "Leave San Marga ...with a new self-image and clear understanding of the purpose of life on planet Earth."

So what Gurudeva means is by getting rid of some of the baggage we've got with us concerning our self, concerning our self-image, concerning our life by dissolving that. So our worship here, also our preparation, we get a better sense of how we can maximize our spiritual progress in our current life. We're in our current life for a reason and we don't make spiritual progress by giving it up.

I recently talked to a man in Malaysia. Been married for a while and all of a sudden got interested in making spiritual progress and didn't have any children and: Oh well, you know, let's just move on and start making more spiritual progress by not being a family person any more.

I said: Whoa, whoa, whoa! We have to fulfill what we set in motion here, you know. Can't just jump from one approach to life to another.

So, sometimes it's, it wasn't clear to him how to make spiritual progress in his current situation and why cause he had that division between sacred and secular. We talked about that didn't we at some point. No! The, it's it's evidenced when someone says; "I'm so busy with my life I have no time for spiritual practices." As soon as someone says that you know they're dividing life into sacred and secular. They're not seeing their fulfillment of duty as a family person as causing the spiritual progress it does. But, that is the major way a family person makes spiritual progress is fulfilling one's duties. Duties to spouse, duties to children, duties to parents, duties to community. We fulfill our duties as best we can, we make spiritual progress. We don't have to go anywhere else. We don't have to give up our duties and spend time in a cave. It's, it's a misunderstanding of life.

Sacred, secular, spiritual progress, duties in life. : 0:39:59

If we fulfill our duties well when age 65, 70, 75 comes along, hopefully, we'll have a little more free time. Age 35 to 55 free time is a luxury. We don't have free time. We're very busy taking care of the needs of family members, as we should be. The important thing is that that causes spiritual progress. Spiritual progress is not simply caused by meditating or attending pujas. It's also caused by fulfilling our duties to our family members. Fulfilling our duties to our community, being of help to others. There's no difference between the two when we look at it correctly. So, kind of getting that realigned with how one's life should be lived to maximize our spiritual progress, what we should avoid that we're not quite avoiding enough. What we could do more of without taking time away from our family members. Perhaps we can involve our family members in the practice. That's what Gurudeva's saying. that's, we have our reading again.

"Clear understanding of the purpose of life on planet Earth."

So, I take that to mean: We're recharged. We're re-inspired about life. The ultimate goal of life is to make some spiritual progress. We can enjoy life.

As Gurudeva says: "Life is meant to be lived joyously." (I can skip that slide at the end.)

You know, being serious about life doesn't mean being somber. Sometimes it's taken that way. And there was a movie I saw that was, made a joke about Anglicans. It was an Anglican making a joke about an Anglican so therefore it's okay. If you make a joke about your own ethnicity your language is fine. If someone else does it's offensive.

So in this case she said: "Anglicans are God's frozen people."

You know, chosen people are the Jews. These are frozen people. Meaning they don't, they don't show emotion. They're not joyous enough. They just kind of, going through life without smiling and enjoying it. Enduring! So, we don't want to be that way. We want to enjoy life. But, we also want to make spiritual progress. So, finding -- I call it being serious without being somber. We're serious about our life. We want to make progress in our spiritual aspect of it. But, we don't want to be somber. We don't want to stop smiling and having fun and being an outgoing friendly person in the process.

So, that's the idea that the moksha temple has to do with helping us throw off our excess baggage, kind of re-tune our self-image into one that's divine and not burdened by mistakes or character flaws. And to get a fresh look at life by being away from it for a week or two and see how we can change it, refine it and make greater spiritual progress in our life by fine tuning what we avoid and doing the more of what we should be.

So thank you very much.

[End of transcript.]