The sacredness of rivers. "The River of Life." as inspired by Niagara Falls. Attachment comes in many forms and hinders us from moving forward. Past unresolved experiences are attachments holding us back from realizing our potential. Find the strength of affectionate detachment. Monastic application of treating everyone alike.
Good morning everyone. Nice to be back from our travels.
We took a day to visit Niagara Falls on this trip. Usually we don't stop in a, to be a tourist. But that's a special place; we thought we would since we had some time. And so I have to work up a talk that encompasses Niagara Falls. I don't have one yet. But I did choose the River of Life for this morning and get in the spirit.
I was trying to figure out why it was so impressive and I was looking at Wikipedia statistics and the Canada... There's two falls, the American falls and the one on the Canadian side. The Canadian side falls is half a mile across. No wonder it's so impressive on the mind. Half a mile of water falling all at once. So, falling some hundred and seventy feet. Huge amount of water half a mile along.
We'll have to see how the photos came out. One that has potential, I think, is the full rainbow. There's the falls in the background; they have this bright rainbow. And then we're standing in the middle of the rainbow. So, we'll see if it came out or not.
Very,very unusual. And made me think, you know, if it was in India it'd be surrounded by Hindu temples. Be considered a sacred place, very sacred place. But, it's in the U.S. It's just a tourist attraction. Because western consciousness doesn't associate sacredness with rivers. So, but certainly in India it would be a very special; you'd have to have the Kumbha Mela there or something.
Anyway, I'll work it into a talk because it's just a very interesting phenomena. The power of water. Water you think of as, usually when you think of water you think of water being static. Just sitting. But this water, because it's moving, because of gravity, it's going downhill, has a tremendous power. I think, think the falls, since it's came into existence some ten thousand years ago has backed up six miles. It's eroding; it's going upstream. It, you know, it falls off by the power of the water, erodes in it so it's backing up. I think it said in the Wikipedia in another 50,000 years it won't exist; it'll be back in the lake. Even though the engineers have controlled the water flow, they turn it way down at night. They do! They do; they have these barriers that they turn it down so it doesn't erode so much. And then they turn it up in the day for the tourists. But, imagine that. In 50,000 years it'll be gone. I think it's some 15 or 20 miles it'll go upstream and disappear. The power of water eroding.
Anyway the River of Life. Here we go.
Is there a simple key to understanding life especially at difficult times? That's what the seeker is asking.
Gurudeva says: Yes!
"Meditate on a river. (No surprise, hmm?) Follow it as a visual image from its source to the end where it merges into the sea. Realize that you have a river of pure life force flowing through you at this moment. Hold that realization permanently within you. You can now clearly see where you have been clinging to the bank of life's river. Openly observe just how long you been clinging to the various negative attachments by holding awareness in the area of fears, worries doubts of the future and regrets about the past. To perceive our attachments is the first step we take toward being a detached and independent spiritual being. Through the power of affectionate detachment we separate awareness from that which it is aware of. We lovingly let go of negative attachments.
"But being detached does not mean running away from life or being insensitive. When we have the ability to let go we can at last live in the eternity of the moment. We are warmer, more friendly, more wholesome more human.
"Seeker: 'Why do we become attached?'
"Gurudeva: 'We become attached because we do not stop to understand that the experiences that conceive the attachment were only a rapid, a waterfall or an old tree trunk blocking one of the little rivulets as it tried to merge with the great stream ever merging into the ocean. Learn to let go of the banks of the river. Let go of the past. Let go of the future. Let go reaction. Live in the eternity of the moment and say to yourself: 'I am the master of my body, my mind and my emotions.'
"Today's Challenge: Go to a river or a stream. Sit beside it in a quite place... (Niagara falls is not quiet. Really, really.) Go to a river or a stream. Sit beside it in a quiet place alone and see the water as your own life force. Watch how it flows past all obstacles accepting every change it meets as it moves steadily toward its goal."
Certainly, an important point that that is bringing out is attachment. Attachment comes in many forms and hinders us from moving forward. If we're holding onto something, obviously, we can't move forward, right? We're attached. We're clinging to something and therefore not moving forward. Moving forward means realizing the potential we have for what we can accomplish in our life.
You know, quite often we're burdened by experiences of growing up. So first normal attachment we're attached to the negative happenings that occurred in ways our parents raised us, our interactions with siblings and interactions friends that weren't based on wisdom. All of that is there in the mind and we don't realize that as an attachment. Because the impact it has on us is a negative one. It's holding us back. We haven't sorted it out. There's events that occurred that we don't feel good about, we haven't resolved. Therefore we're attached to them.
One way we know we're attached to something is we think about it on a regular basis. That's the mind's way of showing us what we're attached to. The regularity with which we think of something indicates an attachment, when it's frequent.
So Gurudeva gives us the tool of Vasana Daha Tantra for getting rid of the past. Writing down the experiences and burning them up. We have a caldron down there just for that purpose, beautiful red granite caldron. Writing them down and burning them up and letting it go.
Well, one way of thinking of the attachment is: It's a weight that is, we're carrying around. That weight is holding us down from what we could be accomplishing in life and who we could be, from what we could do from the creativity we could express. From the inner strivings and meditations we could have, we're not realizing our full potential in that regard because of negative attachments.
Gurudeva develops the idea more fully in the lesson itself but the concept he mentions here is affectionate detachment. That's a way of making sure that when we detach we have the right attitude. For example, you take two friends and one is very dependent upon the other, very attached, dependent, gets strength from the other person. Which if, you know, what the other person wasn't around, they wouldn't do as well. They're very attached. They're dependent upon the other person.
One idea is: Well you should become detached but going along with that sense is that detachment means you don't care. I'm detached; I don't care. Whatever happens, happens. I'm detached. Gurudeva's saying: No! Don't become unaffectionately detached. Become affectionately detached. You still care. But, you're not dependent upon it for strength. So you still care about the relationship; you still want to have a good friend. But, you don't want to be dependent upon that person to provide you with strength. You want to find that strength within yourself. So that's the idea of being detached but still be, but being affectionate still. That the two can go together.
Monastic life has an interesting approach to attachment and detachment. It's very different from family life. In family life it's natural to treat different people quiet differently. You have your immediate family and they have, you have a certain relationship with them. You have close friends; you have a relationship with them. You have other people and you have a whole set of different ways of interrelating with different people in varying degrees of closeness.
But, in monastic life, the monastic ideal is to give all that up which is hard to do. Because, it's human nature to want a friend. You know, somebody who is special, somebody you can confide in. And you treat differently than someone else. You give that person more affection than you give others. So, to bring the idea of having a friend into the monastery is natural. But it's something that needs to be given up so that we treat everyone the same. That's the monastic idea of affectionate detachment is to treat everyone the same.
And the analogy I use for that is the sun and the sky. The sun and the sky doesn't pay any attention to whom it's shining on. Right? Let's see: That's my friend over there so I'll give him a little more sunlight and that person over there is someone I don't like; I'll give him a little less sunlight. And no! You know, the sun just shines. And people are there and doesn't distinguish Shines on everyone equally.
So that's the idea of affectionate detachment in monastic life is: Monastic is equally friendly toward everyone and doesn't distinguish. He treats everyone alike. How do you know if you're treating everyone alike? By what you tell a person. If you only tell certain things to certain individuals you're not treating everyone alike. If you're treating everyone alike you'll say the same thing to everyone. You won't distinguish. Cause you haven't brought someone closer to you than someone else. So, it's a very interesting monastic application of the concept in the lesson of affectionate detachment.
Have a wonderful phase.
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