Theism and Monism in Saiva Siddhanta

In Gurudeva's teachings both approaches, monism and theism, are found in one tradition: monistic Saiva Siddhanta. Keep them aligned properly. Theism in the temple: the concept of the three worlds. Monism in meditation: realizing the Self, going within to find our identity with God. Master Course, Lesson 101.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning.

"Dancing with Siva, Lesson 101.

"What is the Nature of the Siva Temple?

"The Siva temple is the abode of God Siva and Gods and the precinct in which the three worlds consciously commune. It is specially sanctified, possessing a ray of spiritual energy connecting it to the celestial worlds."

It's important to keep in mind the different approaches of monism and theism and use the right one in the right place. Of the approach of theism, of worshiping in the temple, the concept of three worlds is what makes it clear, what we are doing. Whereas, in meditation we're not concerned about the three worlds; we're concerned about going within our self. We're not concerned about another being, whereas, in the temple we're concerned about another being, in this case God Siva. And the concept that makes it clear, what we're doing is that there's three worlds. And the ceremonies bring together the three worlds.

The Chamaka for example, the second part of Sri Rudram is focusing on, of the devas coming and fulfilling our desires. Fulfilling our prayers. That has nothing to do with realizing the Self inside of us. Beings in the second world are coming and helping us. And, of course, the essence of the puja is the Deity Himself comes and blesses us, the high point of the homa or the puja, from the third world.

So, Hindus who don't have in mind the concept of the three worlds don't look at temple worship in the same way that we do. So we always need to keep the three worlds and our theism in the temple as one perspective and then our monism our mediation, going within ourselves, separate. And not go within ourselves in the temple and not try and find Siva as a being in our meditation. We keep the two aligned properly.

So I'll read this sentence again:

"Siva temple is the abode of God Siva and Gods and the precinct in which the three worlds consciously commune. It is specially sanctified, possessing a ray of spiritual energy connecting it to the celestial worlds."

There's an interesting quote in the Guru Chronicles. I was charmed to come across it because it explains this so nicely. Gurudeva's talking about his years in Sri Lanka about 1950.

"My sixth catalyst introduced me to the esoteric worship done within the Hindu temple. He told me why they ring the bells and blow the horns and beat the drums. He explained intricately the role of the priests and what they do, why they wear the holy ash, called vibhuti, on their forehead, arms and chest. All the whys and hows were explained to me. I saw it all from an inner perspective. I loved the temples. This experience brought the Gods to life in my mind, and we were like father and son. So we went everywhere together."

This is Kandiah Chettiar in case some of you don't know who it's referring to. The sixth catalyst, Kandiah Chettiar.

"I was happy to find a complete culture that accepted the monistic advaita of Vedanta and yet cherished and practiced the many other dimensions of life, celebrated festivals, valued the great yoga called bhakti, honored those who performed sadhanas, understood the way of kundalini yoga, knew the mysteries of penance, including rolling around the temple in the hot noonday sun, and lost itself -- or should I say found itself -- in the chambers of the hallowed temples where darshan was sought out and the Gods were seen and felt as real beings when invoked by the magical priests to enter the temple at the height of the ceremony."

That's a real Gurudeva sentence. Just kind of wanders around and wanders around, gets everything in one sentence.

Well again, he's -- in that second paragraph, he's saying both. The monistic theism. "The monistic advaita of Vedanta and yet cherished ... the great yoga called bhakti."

Both traditions are within, both approaches are within the one tradition which is what makes Gurudeva's teachings different. Usually you just have one or the other. You just have the monism; we're going within, we're finding God within. Or we have the theism to go to the temple and we worship God. But to do both in the same tradition, to go to the temple and worship God and yet sit in meditation to go within to find our identity with God is unusual. And that's called monistic Saiva Siddhanta.

Aum Namasivaya