Mysticism and Religion

Sadasivanathaswami imparts how mysticism is an integral part of Hinduism and compares Gurudeva's teachings to other religions' views on meditation, yoga and mysticism in general.


Sadasivanathaswami imparts how mysticism is an integral part of Hinduism and compares Gurudeva's teachings to other religions' views on meditation, yoga and mysticism in general.

Master Course Trilogy, Living with Siva, Lessons 305, 250.

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

Bihaishum everyone.

That's Gurudeva's way of saying good morning. Really means to be content under all circumstances no matter if things are going really well or not going so well. If you can learn to be contented in both then you've mastered the art of karma. Anything can come and you're unchanged. That's one of our goals. Just bring anything and just see if you can change me. Just try. Go ahead, give it a try.

You know, I don't know if you remember, in the Guru Chronicles, we told the story of Germanswami. And some of us were there in 1972 and stayed with and talked with this disciple of Yogaswami and his name was Germanswami. And was kind of a kook and but a really nice smart kook. And he was from Germany, devotee from Germany and he loved to tell stories. He told lots of Yogaswami stories and we loved it.

One of the stories that he told started with him holding out his left arm like this. And here, on his arm, about an inch and a half high was a tattoo. And the tattoo said: Summa iru in Tamil. Summa iru. And he just held it there and he said: "Can you imagine...(he was a very bold, voice). Can you imagine the power of a man who could give me one thing to do that would take me my whole life?"

So Yogaswami had given him that one sadhana. Just be. And he was still working on it like twenty-five or thirty years later. Just, just be.

That reminds me of, Gurudeva gave us more than we could do in our lifetime. Right? More than all of us together could do in a whole lifetime. And even now, seventeen years later, we're just still fulfilling parts of this master plan that he gave to us and we'll still be doing that when they carry us off to the crematorium. He just had this magnificent vision that we'll always be evolving in a beautiful way. And by the way he'd be very proud to see all of you here doing sadhana and doing seva. Doing Siva jnanam, Siva thondu as Yogaswami would call it.

Very proud you're bringing your children here to get acquainted with the aadheenam, to serve in simple ways in the aadheenam, to connect them to something that will serve them their whole life. And, so there.

So my short story today is about, the, it started with the film group. They're called Three Bridges, they're from Sausalito or San Francisco California, northern California. And they're a couple, elderly couple, married, who got deeply immersed in mysticism during their life. Probably got into some Buddha, Buddhist teaching. And they decided to make a series of films on mysticism. And they've been doing that for a few years. And then, they were looking, so they had rabbis on their films and Sikhs and I don't think they had any Christians or Muslims, we'll talk about that in a minute. And they were looking for Hindus and they asked around California: "We want to talk to some Hindus about mysticism." And all the Hindus just had a blank stare on their face for a while. And then they said: "Well there's a group in Hawaii, you could go maybe talk with them, because they seem to know some of this business."

And so they made an appointment about two years ago and they came, they flew to Kauai and they filmed us for a few hours. And then just recently they put up the most recent one on You tube called, what's it called? "Is there a difference between mysticism and religion." Something like that.

It's a fascinating little topic and they dive into it and they basically, they interview like some Tibetan nun. And she talks very eloquently about mysticism. And talked to a rabbi. And the rabbi, interestingly enough was the most in tune with Gurudeva's way of looking at these things. You know, some of the mystics sort of poo poo religion. And they get into mysticism and they think: Okay well this is the all and the everything and this religion thing we can just let that go now.

But Gurudeva didn't have that idea at all. To Gurudeva mysticism was like the heart and soul of us and then religion was the body that, you know, gave the heart and the soul some sustainability, some substance that. So he had a strong idea that you need both. And he celebrated very much the idea that in Hinduism we have both. You know, theory in the Catholic faith is , they don't , they don't much go for that. They've been fighting mysticism you know, way back to Meister Eckhart. Meister Eckhart said: "I am God." And then they basically tried to burn him at the stake. And tried to make him change his mind.

And so, Gurudeva said: The most beautiful thing would be, if you could have your mysticism and your religion. What if you could do that? How perfect would that be? And lo and behold; that's what we have. We're very fortunate in Hinduism that all of our saints and our gurus give great credence and support to the mystical enterprise. They want you to go in. They want you to have a divine experience. They almost demand it from you, you know. It's not, it's almost not optional especially if you are around someone like Gurudeva.

So, but, not all people have that. It's unfortunate but true. The pope has gone on record as being very much against yoga. Very much against any meditation that doesn't focus on getting you closer to Jesus. Very much against any meditation that is unitive, that takes you into a world where there are no barriers and fences and regions.

One of the things that this little video talks about is a how a lot of people don't like religion, because why? Well religion is the social, tribal part of us. Mysticism is the cosmic transcendent part of us. But the social, tribal part of us, religion, can stand in opposition to another tribe. And stand in opposition to another tribe. And then they get religions all fighting each other and they, saying the religion is one of the great causes of discord and war and enmity in the world. And so, let's get rid of religion. That's one, one point of reference.

But, we're very fortunate. We, we get to have both. And we get to hope (I don't' know if it's a good hope or not). But we get to hope that some day all these other tribes will get happy with each other and learn to get along. And hasn't happened yet.

And then, this movie talks a little bit about... Well it actually doesn't. I was going to say it talks about how Islam would which side of it doesn't talk about that at all. Islam's been fighting the Sufis and the Rumis of the world for hundreds and thousands, hundreds and hundreds of years. Not really thousands yet is it? Fourteen hundred. I guess it is.

So, they are very much against any, anyone who says like go to a yoga school. And they have little chants. They say: Soham, Soham. That's one of the little mantras that yoga teachers teach. Which means what? Mean's, you know, I am the universal Self. And they don't like that. You're not the universal Self, God is the universal Self and you're the universal worshiper of God. And that's that.

And Bodhinatha in his keynotes, he loves to go on and on about how the Imams in Malaysia in 2008 basically put out this fatwah. Do you remember this Shamini? They put out an anti-meditation, and anti-yoga fatwah. And it basically said: All of the good Muslims in Malaysia shouldn't go to yoga schools, they shouldn't meditate. Those things destroy our faith. That was what the religious leaders say: "Those things destroy our faith."

And so, most of the Abrahamic religions have taken that position. Position against mysticism and unitive experience. The personal direct experience of God.

But in this film, if you see it, the Jewish community has taken a totally different point of view. I was fascinated by this. So, they have very much Gurudeva's view. So you have the Kaballah which is the transmission of like the mystical knowledge. They call it gnosis, knowledge. Is the transmission of knowledge to the community, to the individuals in the community. Teaching them the unitive part of it. And then they have the religion that, that, that collects and sort of solidifies and embodies and protects that mystical knowledge. So they have both and but they look at it that within the community you kind of toggle between the two. But you don't have to go outside of it. It's sort of like us. You don't have...there's nothing outside that's more. That was one of Gurudeva's beautiful, beautiful teachings.

So this whole debate about mysticism and religion is relevant, a lot, to the young generation to... We were talking a few months ago about the SVNR generation. And that's kind of what they've come to. They want the experience but they don't want the dogma. But they don't' understand that the, there's a more enlightened way to look at the dogma. One way of looking at it is sort of the Abrahamic way which is, you know, swallow this, and take this and that's that. But there's also the teachings that, that are important outside of our meditative experience. Very important. And the community is important. And the understanding of life that we get from studying our religion and living our religion.

And so this new generation is provoking a lot of conversations about this in all the religions in the world. It's quite marvelous to see and a little scary for them but not for us cause we're, we're okay.

So we want to end with a little quote from Gurudeva who talks about this very thing, of course. in his beautiful trilogy.

Well here is a quote from the pope that's kind of cute. 2015 he gave a sermon in which he was reminding the Catholics in the world that yoga is not capable of getting you any closer to God. So these are his words:

"You can take a million catechism courses, a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga and Zen and all of these things but never will any of it give you the freedom of the church."

So there!

So this is Gurudeva talking in Living with Siva:

"There is an important reason why many in the West were attracted to yoga and Vedanta philosophy. The idea of a spiritual path separate from religion comes very close to an ideal that many were, and still are today, seeking. This ideal is unity of world religions. This ideal is promoted by many swamis who declare that there is much in common between all the religions, that there is, in fact, a meeting ground where all agree on certain basic spiritual truths. So, it would seem that the less important areas of difference could be overlooked and the commonly accepted truths proclaimed in unison. Yoga and Vedanta are said to be the answer, the meeting ground. But in the final analysis, a spiritual path separate from religion neither fulfills the ideal of religious unity, nor is it really a spiritual path. It remains a philosophy, a mental concept. Why is this? Because, for one, each religion knows all too well the true importance of the many seemingly less significant practices and rituals. They know that for most people the dutiful performance of these practices helps stabilize them in their spiritual lives. For some, any type of theology or philosophy, let alone mysticism, is beyond the realm of their thinking. But what they can do, and need to do, are simple religious performances, the fruits of which will, later in life or in future lives, uplift them into deeper stages of spiritual life. Secondly, even those who are seemingly beyond the need for external religious practice, who would be inclined to accept a nonreligious spiritual path as their way, will eventually find themselves on unstable ground, and for many reasons. Each religion has a hierarchy of saints and angels which assists all of its followers from the inner planes, helping them through difficult times, answering their prayers and supplications. And when we leave the fold of religion, we remove ourselves from these benign influences, these great beings and actually open ourselves to much lesser, base influences which can disrupt our lives. Spiritual life, especially as one progresses into stages of mystical experience, is a very delicate process." [LWS Lesson 305]

"There is the joy of mysticism in Hinduism. It is the worlds most magical religion, offering worlds within worlds of esoteric discovery and perception. The inner worlds are what Hindu mystics tell of in the great richness and freedom of expression that exists on the planet. Mysticism in Hinduism is more out-front than any other faiths of the world. As a result it is enjoyed by more of the people in our religion. Mysticism is discussed broadly without limit. The mysticism of Hinduism is for all the people and yet, too, in its esoteric aspect it is protected at its core and kept sacred by being kept secret. How grand is the Hindu mystical tradition, with its sadhanas and its yogas, with its wealth of understanding of the etheric bodies, of the nadis and the chakras, the auras and the pranas, of the various states of consciousness and levels of existence, and so much more. No religion on the Earth can ever begin to equal Hinduism's mystical teachings; all that wealth is the rightful inheritance of each Hindu." [LWS Lesson 250]

That's you.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
We're here to realize the Self, have that one dramatic experience where everything that we thought was things is turned upside down, and our whole perspective afterwards changes. That is the purpose for living on this Earth.
—Gurudeva