Monistic Theism

Theism: focus on temple, puja, homa. Monism: focus on meditation, on the identity of the soul with God. Dualists: God is there, I am here. Shumif and dimfi. When looking from the third eye see the personal form of God. Purify then quiet thought, experience superconscious. Practice yoga when the ego is softened and the heart melted. Naam ariyom. "We know not." Intellectual knowledge is easily a barrier.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. Nice to be back.

We had a fruitful time in the Caribbean, I'm sure you know all about it from TAKA I can't tell you anything you don't know. Used to be I could come back from my travels and that was good for an hour talk. I could tell everyone what I did but now I come back and you've read it all on TAKA.

Sometimes I'm surprised, you know, I attend an event in Mauritius and then I go to Malaysia. They tell me how many people were at the event in Mauritius that I attended cause they read it on TAKA. They know more about the event then I did even though I was there.

Well, interesting synchronicity going to the Caribbean. The Caribbean is, Hindus in the Caribbean are very fond of the Ramayana. And so fond of it, it's customary to greet each other by saying, instead of saying namaskara they say Sita Ram. That comment. So you hear it on the radio all day long, Sita Ram, Sita Ram, Jai Ram. So, it's interesting that Hinduism Today has "Sita Sings the Blues" coming out right now. So, two things bringing the Ramayana to the fore front of the mind.

Right before we left we had a good meeting with the two Chinmaya teachers from Houston. We didn't know it at the time when we started meeting with them but they're, the two teachers know as acharyas who wrote the new version of their children's course. So they're very familiar with teaching children and we learned a lot by talking to them. And they're in the process of publishing it right now and are generous, generously giving us one copy of their course to review, to give us ideas for our own course. Because we're in the, started the process of creating a syllabus for age 5 through 13 for studying Saiva Siddhanta. For working out a syllabus for that. Three age groups: 5-6-7, 8-9-10, 11,12,13 and each, there's an 108 topics or 36 topics a year. And there's three groups of them one for each age group. So, we have 108 topics at three levels. That's a better way of explaining it -- what we're developing.

I was talking to them and know we are fairly familiar with the Chinmaya Mission, what they do. The teachers said it quite nicely. I suggested they could attend the Hindu Mandir Executive Conference in Houston and the, to share some of their teaching efforts is what I thought would be useful. Still think it would be useful. Because they're the largest, they have the most number of students. They have something like 25 thousand students in the U.S. studying the material. More than they have in India I was told. That's hard to believe. But that's what they said. That's what Swami Ishwarananda said.

So they describe their efforts: "We teach Vedanta." That's you know, that's, they keep it so simple. "We teach Vedanta." What do you do? "We teach Vedanta." So they don't try and go to Hindu activities because of that concept. They don't want to get involved in temple ceremonies and temples and so forth they just keep it very simple they teach Vedanta primarily to Hindus but they teach Vedanta to anyone, you know. Make a big deal if you're a Hindu or not a Hindu in their activities.

So, being familiar with that I was explaining what we were doing. I mean our, our philosophy verses theirs; they were interested. I explained then it's in the lessons for today and yesterday; that's why it's our topic. I explained well we have a philosophy that's Monistic Theism. We do two things not just one which is unusual.

Theism: We focus on strongly on the temple and puja, homa. And then Monism we focus on meditation in particular. Raja yoga kind of meditation which is the same as the Shum.

And then I explained our schedule. The monks in the morning, first we come to the temple at 5:30 for our puja; that's our Theism. And we go and meditate for an hour; that's our Monism. We have two approaches which is unusual. Most organizations only have one. They only have one; they only have Monism. They're following the Adi Shankara tradition so they don't use Raja Yoga for meditation they use Jnana Yoga which is based more on scripture. But, their goal is the same. And I was, I think I mentioned to them, I, we saw the Chinmaya Mission in Trinidad and I, the two things kind of blended together in my mind. I think I mentioned it to both. Cause it really, when I give talks at Chinmaya Mission which is every couple of years I give a talk at one of their missions. And the reason is they don't have swamis at all of their missions, just at some of them. So only have a few swamis in the U.S. and quite a, and Canada and you know, maybe only 20 percent of their missions have resident swamis. So therefore, they invite other swamis who they trust to say the right thing.

And, because of that I did some very simple research. They have a website and they have quotes of Swami Chinmayananda that change. It rotates through ten quotes. You just sit there and it'll rotate through ten quotes or so. And what struck me was, so many of them are, could be something Gurudeva said. They just, had the same style. A very practical style, a monistic emphasis. The quote I use in one of my talks on happiness is: Chinmayananda said: "Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket." Isn't that good? I like that. It just captures the whole essence of that talk which is: We depend on other people to make us happy. We're putting the key to our happiness in someone else's pocket. If they treat us a certain way we'll be happy. If they treat us another way we're going to be unhappy. We've given away the control of our happiness to someone else. We've put the key to it in someone else's pocket. So you can see how that quote fits right in with Gurudeva's philosophy, right? Well, there's many quotes like that. That's the one I remember at the moment.

So, I had an interesting experience once. We went to the Orlando kumbhabhishekam. So, its a Venkateswara Temple, some reason over a period of three years I went to about 4 Venkateswara Temple kumabhabhishekams, you know something, who knows why. And, so I worked out some talks; there was three talks I was to give and I didn't really distinguish between them. One was at the kumbhabhishekam and that one went well. I basically did something Gurudeva would do. I, Mutya Sthapati was there so I praised the sthapati and I praised the silphis and got the whole group to applaud the silphis and so forth. And that one went well and then I gave another talk in an auditorium which was adjacent on some aspect of karma yoga and that one went well.

But my third talk was on the three worlds in the temple. Which I thought: Well it's a great topic right for a kumbhabhishekam; let's talk about the three worlds in the temple. But I gave it at the adjacent Chinmaya Mission. And, you know, whoosh, the topic didn't compute. You know, because they're Monists. The concept of the three worlds is a perspective that isn't something they think about; they're monists. They're focusing on the identity of the soul with God. There's no three worlds involved. There's no beings in the three worlds.

So, I learned my lesson there. I said: "Okay, you can't talk three worlds just cause it's a kumbhabhishekam. You have to figure out where you are. So, my subsequent talks at Chinmaya Missions never talk about the three worlds I can assure you. Talk about monism and hospitality and things like that.

So, the point is: There are two distinct perspectives and someone who's strong in one doesn't necessarily understand the other. For example, Vaishnava groups. Lots of Vaishnava groups are very strong into theism to the point of being dualists. God is over there and I'm over here. Some are qualified non-dualists. But it's, it's very, talk to the three worlds to them and they'll say: Oh yes, yes. You know, that's their cup of tea so to speak. Talk about Monism the identity of the soul with God and they'll, you know, that one won't work.

So, Gurudeva's teaching are unique is the point. Unique as far as I know in giving strong emphasis to both and explaining two distinct perspectives. One perspective for each. In the Shum language the monism is Shumif and the theism is dimfi. And sometimes that sounds confusing. But said another way: The theism or dimfi is looking from here, you know, looking from the third eye. When you look from the third eye, you see God, it's as a person. You see the personal form of God. That was Gurudeva's vision of Siva on San Marga; he was looking from here. When he saw God in the soul body. Or, you know, you can see a Deity -- Ganesha, Muruga -- in the soul body, you're looking from here. You're using the dimfi perspective. You and what you're seeing are not the same thing. I am seeing God.

Gurudeva was seeing Lord Siva sitting on the svayambhu Lingam. Theism, there was a separation there. That's Gurudeva's looking from there. If you look up there then to the seventh dimension, then you don't see anybody else. You can't see a soul body. You've gone beyond the realm of soul body. As Gurudeva says beautifully: What you experience and what the Deity experiences are the same at that point. You're experiencing, striving for Satchidananda and Parasiva what Gurudeva calls the essence of the soul.

So, that's the monism, the essence of the soul which can be perceived through the sahasrara chakra and above is the same as God, as monism. There's no distinction. It just has to be claimed in meditation, has to be discovered so to speak. It's an already existing condition, it's just that we haven't discovered it. Like having something buried in your back yard that's valuable. You're digging over here and you're digging over there, you're digging over there, you're digging over there. One day you find it. It was always there, right? You just didn't look in the right place. So, that's the idea that the identity, the non-dual union with God is always there; we're just not looking in the right place. Why can't we look in the right place. Well, it's like trying to look at the sun on a cloudy day for some people. There's something in between that's called the subconscious mind.

So we have to purify, purify the mind. And then, even then there's something there and that's called uncontrolled thought. We have to quiet the thought. So we have to get the conscious and the subconscious transparent. Then we experience the superconscious.

So, it's always there. It's just there's something blocking the vision or we're not looking in the right place if there's nothing blocking the vision. Maybe we're looking out from here; we're a Theist. Well,we can't find our identity with God if we're looking out from here; there isn't any.

Well the other aspect of the monistic theism is that theism prepares you for the monism. Or, acharya, kriya, yoga, jnana. Not kriya prepares you for the yoga.

Interesting discussion with the Chinmaya Mission Swami, Ishwarananda. I was making sure I understood what they were teaching.

And so I said: "You're teaching jnana yoga, right?"

And he said: "Yes, that's what we are teaching. "

They teach Adi Shankara's Vedanta philosophy and they teach the practice of jnana yoga. Very clear! Some other, most of their centers have a Siva Lingam which gets worshiped and some of them have a Krishna. Cause they're Smarta. You know, they don't care if they're worshiping Krishna or Siva.

I was talking and then the swami introduced me to the resident teacher. Their teachers when they go throughout the training program, two year training program which we wrote about in Hinduism Today, remember that? After that they're call acharya. So, they've had excellent training. Two years in residence. Two years of living in a Guru Kulam. So, a lot of training.

So, the teacher, he asked, he was deferring to the teacher, and the teacher said: We're running into a a new trend or a new issue. Don't want to call it a problem, right? I set my own philosophy. Calling something a problem; it's an issue or a trend. That there are working with 20 year olds, you know, graduates from universities and they find them argumentative. They're lacking certain qualities that are really needed to be successful in the jnana yoga.

That same issue came up with a dance teacher. Forget how the subject came up but she said her students can do all the emotions except two. Are they called rasas in dance? All the emotions except two. Humility and devotion. These are the students in the West. Not students in India. They don't know how to express humility and devotion. Same problem that Chinmaya Mission was facing in trying to teach jnana yoga to university graduates. They haven't had, they haven't grown up in a strong Hindu community where devotion and humility are kind of built in. Acquiring those qualities is just built in to the tight family structure and the festivals and this and that. You have to develop it to some extent because of the society in which you grow up. You won't perfect it necessarily and go to the university and lose some of it but, you least, you have some. I mean, you could dance it. You know could dance it half-heartedly but you could dance it, you know. But, these students didn't have a clue how to express it.

So, that's, they're missing the theism, said another way. That's the beauty of theism, of attending the temple, of practicing kriya before we practice yoga. And then we have the right. We have a devotional attitude then. The intellect and the ego are in good shape, shall we say. Gurudeva uses the phrase: "Soften the ego through kriya." And the ego is softened and the heart melted; then you're ready to practice yoga. Something like that his phrase, right.

So, those are the two qualities that a purely intellectual education or university can sometimes strengthen is over-reliance on the intellect. A more of a debating mentality, trying to win all the time. Everything's a debate. You're trying to win with your intellect and a certain sense of pride. I'm smarter than you are. So, we have to get rid of all of that if we've acquired it. Soften the ego and be a humble person, a devotional person and then we're not stuck in the intellect. As Gurudeva says: "The intellect is the greatest barrier to the superconscious," right? Usually, when you're studying something you're trying to learn more.

Study about computers, what's the goal? It's to learn more about the computer, right? And you can use it more efficiently by learning more. But, to study about God you need to undo the knowledge you have. You're trying to learn less. You're trying to get rid of the concepts you have. Is... Naam ariyom is the expression. We do not know. So, we need the sense that we do not know, that the intellect can't comprehend what it is that we're experiencing or want to experience. It can just get us there.

In the Shum language we have a set of driving instructions for awareness. You know, first you turn left, then you turn right, then you go here, then you go there, then you end up here. But there's no description of the here, right? Imkaif there's no description. Gurudeva was very careful not to give a description. He just gives driving instructions. Doesn't tell you what you'll experience at the destination.

Well that's the idea of not acquiring a lot of knowledge about these deeper things. The knowledge is easily a barrier.

So, that's what we're talking about. There's a nice phrase here.

"Panentheism, monistic theism is the view that embraces the oneness of God and soul, monism, and the reality of the Personal God, theism. As panentheists, we believe in an eternal oneness of God and man at the level of Satchidananda and Parasiva. But a difference is acknowledged during the evolution of the soul body. Ultimately, even this difference merges in identity. Thus, there is perfectly beginningless oneness and a temporary difference which resolves itself in perfect identity."

Nicely said. Have a great phase.

[End of transcript.]

Photo of  Gurudeva
In the home, the mother is likened to the Shakti Deity. She is the power, the very soul of the home. None other. So, she has to be there. She has to be treated sensitively and kindly, and with respect.