What Is Our Heritage of Gurus?

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 36


"Since the beginning of time, the power, or shakti, of God Siva has been carried forth by enlightened beings, satgurus." Spiritual progress is achieved through abhyasa, daily practice, and vairagya, dispassion. Dispassion is being detached enough to be getting happiness from inside ourself not outside from the world. Control awareness; find and claim joyousness and peace every day in all environments. "Naam ariyom-We do not know." When we get really deep inside to find the deepest truth it can not be explained.

Path to Siva, Lesson 36.

Unedited Transcript:

I was asked recently at a darshan session, we're having lots of darshan sessions this time of year, there's one every day this phase. And: "What's the most important advice you could give us all?" I think it was a group of about 12 or so, very large family. "What's the most important advice you could give us all?" And as many of you know one of my favorite pieces of advice is daily practice. That I really became aware of it when working with a group of Hindu university students. The Hindu Students Association, headquartered in Texas and in some of the, it's also in some of the states surrounding Texas.

And I was working with the original group for maybe about four years so I got to know them. And it's very interesting, I think I learned more from them than they learned from me but such is the nature of teaching. And one of the things I learned from them is that here they were in the university, for 4,6,8 years, and almost all of them had no daily practice. They weren't practicing Hinduism. And there was a sincere group, because, right in the middle of the school year they would take two days off every February to, I'm glad I'm not going this February, there's a lot of snow out there. Take two days off in February for a weekend retreat and very serious about studying Hinduism. So they were very serious about being Hindus and but still they had no daily practice. Almost all of them. And they weren't going to a temple, most of them, because usually there's no temple near the university within walking distance, so here for 4,6,8 years they're not practicing anything. What happened?

In India it's common to take up a practice in the teenage years, that's the time it's traditionally done, receive some type of upanayanam, receive Gayatri Mantra, some people do sandhyavandanam, daily practice is taken up but somehow that part of Hinduism didn't move to the U.S. or Canada. Stayed in India. So we got beautiful temples, wonderful priests, great philosophy but somehow the emphasis on practice has been left behind.

To emphasize the importance of practice I always use the Hindu classical dance cause everyone understands that. What do you have to do to be a good dancer? And everyone knows the answer and the answer is practice, of course. So its not just practice, it's daily practice. That to master dance you have to work at it every single day. So spiritual progress is even more subtle than dance. Therefore requires more consistency to really make progress.

We came out with our App. These days if it doesn't exist on a digital device, for many people it doesn't exist. What we experience is limited to what comes over our smart phone or our tablet. So we're getting our, Gurudeva's teachings, more in that world and one of the [consequences??] our spiritual workout. The Publisher's Desk is called a ten minute spiritual workout but the App. is just called spiritual workout. And it's very popular for our type of material. Thousands of people are using it. And it's trying to make it easy to remember to do at least ten minutes. That's our starting goal, just a ten minute practice until one finishes university. And then after university we suggest expanding it to half an hour which is the amount of practice Gurudeva suggests in the Master Course Trilogy, says: Start with half an hour. And of course for those who are initiated we're up to an hour.

I was recollecting once, when Gurudeva first started the three hour vigil for monks back in, somewhere in the 1970's, right? I imagine early in the 1970's. He also asked the family people to do it. Can you believe that? Family people were doing three hours a day vigil. Life must not have been as busy then. I don't know. Well the family people managed three hours a day but they had a balanced life worksheet. They had to fill it in every week and send it in. Three hours a day vigil, half an hour a day exercise, so on and so forth. Then Gurudeva reduced it to an hour and that was a big relief I'm sure. Three hours is great if you're retired. But otherwise it's too much in today's busy world.

Okay well we got past our time to start.

Reading today from Path to Siva, Lesson 36.

"What Is Our Heritage of Gurus?

"Since the beginning of time, the power, or shakti, of God Siva has been carried forth by enlightened beings, satgurus. That power is like a brilliant ray of spiritual energy. Many of these masters trained other great souls and passed on their power to them. As this happened again and again for thousands of years, many chains of gurus, called parampara, were formed. Our lineage is called the Kailasa Parampara. It means the lineage from Siva's Himalayan mountain, Kailas. It began thousands of years ago. The first master that history records is Maharishi Nandinatha (ca 250 bce). He passed his power to Rishi Tirumular, a sage who wrote a yoga text called Tirumantiram. After him, over 150 rishis carried the shakti of Siva forward, their names lost to history. In the 19th century, a nameless Himalayan rishi of this lineage traveled to Bengaluru in South India. There he passed the thread of power to Kadaitswami (1804-1891) and sent him to Sri Lanka to strengthen Saivism there. Kadaitswami passed his power to Sage Chellappaswami (1840-1964). He in turn initiated Satguru Yogaswami. In 1949, Yogaswami ordained our Guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001). Gurudeva brought Saivism to the West and established Kauai Aadheenam, his monastery, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 1970. In 2001 he initiated Bodhinatha Veylanswami as his successor. The power from all previous gurus and the blessings of the devas that assist them abide in the current preceptor."

And we have Gurudeva's quote here:

"Hindu temples sustain Hinduism around the world. Scriptures keep us always reminded of the path we are on and the path we are supposed to be on, but only from the satguru can you get the spirit, the shakti, the sustaining spirit, to make it all come to life in you, to make the temple meaningful and to complement the scriptures with your own sight, your own third-eye sight."

As you know we have a Yogaswami Shrine in our Guru Temple and we have "Words of Our Master" there. Every day I go over and read one verse of "Words of Our Master" to see what Yogaswami's wisdom is for the day. And this was his wisdom, last day of the last phase.

"There is happiness when we look inwards and unhappiness when we look outwards. But the Truth is present in the unhappiness as well as in the happiness. The changing universe keeps on changing all the time. That which causes the change and remains unchanged, That is the truth."

Well, that's similar to what we read the last lesson, was talking about sat. Satguru, sat is the truth. Asat is that which changes and sat is that which doesn't change.

That first phrase there, there is happiness when we look inwards, we all know that. But it's easy to forget it. Easy for life to take away the happiness that we can get from going within. There's a verse in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras which gives two items we need to do to make progress toward samadhi. Abhyasa which is practice, which we talked about, and vairagya or dispassion. When we take vairagya to the extreme then we have a sannyasa. So that's not what we want to do when we're not a sannyasin, right? That's going too far.

So what's the right amount of vairagya or dispassion for someone who's a householder? Well to me it's this idea said another way. Vairagya means we're not looking for happiness outside of our self. That's vairagya. We're not, we're detached enough from the world not to be looking to the world to make us happy. So vairagya's detachment from the world. So in this case we're detached enough to not be trying to get happiness outside of our self, from other people, from money, from anything in the world. We're getting the happiness from inside our self. So that's what Yogaswami's saying. There is happiness when we look inwards.

Gurudeva has a phrase that echoes a similar message. "Life is meant to be lived joyously."

Again, it's easy to know that but to forget to do it. So we need to claim it every day and a couple of times a day too. "Life is meant to be lived joyously." We don't realize that we have an ability to control our awareness sometimes when we get into the midst of challenging times but it's there. And similar to that idea of peace. Many people when they come here, one of the things they say as besides the temple has really powerful vibration is: "Oh this is such a peaceful place. It's so wonderful. I feel so peaceful here." Well that's good. Come here and you feel peaceful. But we need to learn to find the peace even inside ourselves even when it's not peaceful on the outside. That's the harder part. You know, in the midst of a really big city with all this activity it's easy to get tense and stressed. We need to be able to find the peace there as well. That's under stage two of peace.

So, Gurudeva's telling us life is meant to be lived joyously and that means in all environments, not just a peaceful environment. We need to be able to find it wherever we are and it's inside of us. We can learn to control our awareness.

Then there's one more message I was grabbing from the gurus. And it's the idea, Chellappaswami says: "Naam ariyom" which means: We do not know. And it's an interesting idea. Usually the goal is to learn something early. So you get a new computer and you read the manual and you've learned. You're able to explain the computer very well. So in that case you know, you know all about the computer. But Chellappaswami's saying: We do not know. So what's he trying to say? Well he's trying to say that you know, we can explain what's inside of us, what we experience up to a certain point. We can say: Well I go inside and I see a brilliant inner light. Okay. That's good. But when we get really deep inside you can't explain it. So we do not know.

Yogaswami had a similar idea. He said: "Even the great Shankara couldn't explain the Truth." And of course Gurudeva says: "The Self, you can't explain it."

So it is very interesting the similarities in the teachings. You don't have a lot of teachings from Chellappaswami for mahavakyam. And stories and all but even the small amount we have you can see the similarities in the way the gurus explain things. They don't try and explain the deepest truth; they just try and lead you there. And then you need to experience it and then you won't be able to explain it either. I went there, I experienced it; what can you tell me about it, right? Nothing. Well is it worth experiencing? Yes but... So the deepest truth can't be experienced and therefore, what does that logically mean? Well it means we're not trying to be super-intellectuals about the deepest experiences. We're not trying to explain it, you know, either by quoting someone else's writings or by creating our own writings. We're not trying to explain the unexplainable. Just trying to help those who are sincere figure out where to go to experience it.

So thank you very much for listening. We'll close the live streaming, it's called.

Photo of  Gurudeva
The teachings of yoga are so basically simple and so basically concrete. And the most beautiful thing in the world, on contemplation, is the simplest thing in the world. The most beautiful design is the simplest design.
—Gurudeva