Right now the island of Kauai is getting blessings from the sky with a constant light rain that persists just enough to remind you it's wet outside. The monks are ending their phase is a quiet way and getting ready to work on various projects during their two day retreat. Some will harvest noni or carve away at tropical woods; some monks will study scripture late into the night. Satguru will go on his long contemplative walks while others will bake, stir-fry or griddle their way to a savory seva--we get our happiness by making others happy. I foresee an early morning bike ride, web work, app building, astrology reading, budget maintenance and many many other tasks these next few days.
The Deity remains throughout it all, Jiva really is Siva. Our monistic theist-Saiva Siddhanta is unparalleled theology that harnesses the power of creation right into the very heart of your being. While Siva remains detached from the tattvas, the bhogas and all karmic manifestations, He/She remains an ever-grounded part of the whole. From Parashiva, mysteriously to Parashakti and into you and your experience as Parameshwara.
Through sadhanas such as temple worship, yogic meditation and scriptural study, we reign-in the mind's thirst for the gunas and evolve into higher consciousness. The monks are here to root you on as you struggle through the perfect chaos of Parashakti and find your way back to the all-encompassing perfect order of Parashiva.
Love, light and upliftment is our creed. Sacrifice, responsibility and trust is our dharma. The Nandinatha Sampradaya is our lineage, family and history. God Siva is immanent love and transcendent reality. That means Parashakti and Parashiva, that means you, that means me, and that means everything is undoubtedly a perfect one being. Aum.
A photo of the Siddhidatta Kulam (minus the photographer). This was Jayendra Mardemootoo's last day with the kulam while on his pilgrimage to Kauai. Our thanks to him for his selfless service while visiting the Aadheenam!
In our monastic order, a monk can only take lifetime vows once they become a sannyasin. Until then they are under short term vows that must be renewed every two years on the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima. Today our postulants all gathered in the Guru Temple to renew their four vows of humility, purity, obedience and confidence. Below our the introductions to each vow.
HUMILITY IS THE STATE OF profound maturity in which the soul, immersed in the depths of understanding and compassion, radiates the qualities of mildness, modesty, reverent obeisance and unpretentiousness. There is an analogy in the Saivite tradition that compares the unfolding soul to wheat. When young and growing, the stalks of wheat stand tall and proud, but when mature their heads bend low under the weight of the grains they yield. Similarly, man is self-assertive, arrogant and vain only in the early stages of his spiritual growth. As he matures and yields the harvest of divine knowledge, he too bends his head. In the Tamil language this absence of pride or self-assertion is known as pannivu. Pannivu also means "jewel." In the Tirukural it is said that "Humility and pleasant words are the jewels that adorn a man; there are none other."
PURITY IS THE PRISTINE and natural state of the soul. It is not something which the monastic attains as much as that which he already is, and which becomes evident as the layers of adulterating experience and beclouding conceptions are dissipated. Purity is clarity and clearness in all dimensions of being. It is innocence as opposed to familiarity with the ways of the world. It is for monastics the observance of chastity, called brahmacharya. In Tamil purity is given its fullest expression in the term tirikarannasutti, which means "purity in mind, speech and body." These three--also called thought, word and deed--convey the fullness of the ideal of purity.
OBEDIENCE IS THE STATE OF willingness and cooperation in which the soul remains open and amenable to enlightened direction. For the monastic it is an unbroken pledge of trust in and surrender to the satguru, the guru parampara and the mystic process of spiritual evolution. In the Tamil language this definition of obedience is expressed in the term taalvu enum tanmai, which denotes "the quality or state of humble submission." Obedience does not consist in blind submission and yielding to authority, nor in weakening our own will that it may be dominated by the will of another. Yet it is, in another sense, submission to a sacred purpose and the divine authority of the Second and Third Worlds. It is, for the monastic, an inner quality that allows him to remain consciously tractable and responsive.
CONFIDENCE IS THE STATE of trust in which the sacred teachings and sensitive or personal matters are not divulged to others. Spiritual matters must be protected and preserved by those to whom they are entrusted, never wantonly or indiscriminately revealed. When we confide in another, we do so with the assurance that sensitive and serious information will not be inappropriately disclosed. In the Tamil language confidence is known as rahasiyam, meaning "secret or mystery." Confidence as applied to these Sacred Vows does not mean "certainty," "a belief in one's abilities" or "self-confidence." Rather it is a confiding, a trusting and a relying upon. It is the controlled sharing of privileged teachings or information that should not be disclosed, but held in confidentiality. In its most simple form it is the keeping of a secret. Confidence for the monastic may be defined as wisdom in handling information.
Bodhinatha's Latest Upadeshas
Path to Siva Commentaries
How Do We Meditate, Part 1
"Meditation is a long journey, a pilgrimage into the mind itself." In Gurudeva's approach we start meditation with the physical body then get more and more subtle, withdrawing energy into the spine then not utilizing mental activity. Everything we meditate on is actual experience, not something the mind has created. We experience something that's always there, awareness aware of itself. Gurudeva's mystical Natha Language of Shum. Awareness is the witness consciousness of the soul, 'niif.' In the nature of our form of meditation there is a continuity (nalif) from one day to the next.
Path to Siva, Lesson 47.
Click here to go to an index of all of Bodhinatha's and Gurudeva's online audio.
A compilation video of our Innersearch 2018 Sri Lanka travel-study program. Fifty-nine participants traveled with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and five of his monks to Colombo, Habarana and Jaffna. They had classes with Satguru, went on adventuresome outings, worshiped at powerful temple, and visited holy shrines related to the Kailasa lineage.
A similar program will be held in March of 2019. If you're considering attending you can go here to sign up: Innersearch 2019 Application
What Are the Two Paths? Path to Siva, Lesson 37 (Jan 4, 2018)
Bodhinatha addresses the misconception that householders should be detached from their family and professional life. Using the Tirukural as a reference, he highlights that detachment for the householder means to be detached from one's wealth and possessions enough to be able to do charity. Then he describes key goals of monastic life and the service done by our monastic order, pointing out that the path of spiritual unfoldment, like an oak tree, takes many years to yield results. But we should have faith that the ancient methods and path will one day yield results.
Path To Siva, Lesson 37
A recently taken 360 video for our upcoming kauai Aadheenam Virtual Tour. Click the gear and select a high quality. Click and drag to look around. If you're viewing this on a device, click the youtube video title to view on Youtube, in order to see in full immersive 360.
The daily abhishekam of Lord Murugan, our Lord Kartikeya, has been a joy for one of our senior swamis Muruganathaswami; a daily vigil he has done for years. Without fail our vigil system in Kadavul temple goes on from light to dark and dark to light over and over again. The 6am Murugan abhishekam happens daily and there is never a day when He is not cared for, worshiped and revered. For this seva He has beamed shakti back to us, and on auspicious festivals in His name we can feel His intoxicating darshan overcome us. This uniquely Hindu experience is a reminder to us all that the Gods are in the inner worlds, they are real and they are waiting for us to open up and hear them roar.
"Lord Kartikeya, Murugan, first guru and Pleiadean master of kundalini yoga, was born of God Siva's mind. His dynamic power awakens spiritual cognition to propel souls onward in their evolution to Siva's feet.
"Lord Kartikeya flies through the mind's vast substance from planet to planet. He could well be called the Emancipator, ever available to the call of those in distress. Lord Kartikeya, God of will, direct cognition and the purest, child-like divine love, propels us onward on the righteous way through religion, Hid FAther's law. Majestically seated on the manipura charka, this scarlet-hued God blesses mankind and strengthens our will when we lift to the inner sky through sadhana and yoga. The yoga pada begins with the worship of Him. The yogi, locked in meditation, venerates Karikeya, Skanda, as his mind becomes as calm as Saravana, the lake of Divine Essence. The kundalini force within everyone is held and controlled by this powerful God, first among renunciates, dear to all sannyasins. Revered as Murugan in the South, He is commander in chief of the great devonic army, a fine, dynamic soldier of the within, a fearless defender of righteousness. He is Divinity emulated in form.
"The Vedas say, "To such a one who has his stains wiped away, the venerable Sanatkumara shows the further shore of darkness. Him they call Skanda."
"Lord Shanmugam, the six-faced, twelve-armed son of Siva, wields many weapons, as He battles the forces of darkness to end wars, large and small. He rides the noble peacock, Mayil, which represents effulgent beauty and religion in its fullest glory."
Quoted excerpt is from Dancing with Siva, our catechism for the Saiva Hindu tradition.
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Handling Life's Experiences: A Talk by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
click below to play
Transcript: When I was looking at TAKA recently it threw up a quote from Gurudeva on experience which I'll read in just a minute. But first the verse in, a verse in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras which also references experience.
"What is experienced has the character of brightness, activity, and inertia. It is embodied in the elements and the sense organs. Its purpose is to provide both experience and liberation."
Well brightness, brightness, activity and inertia are the three gunas. The three states of matter: sattvic, rajasic, tamasic. And the dual nature of the world: experience and liberation. The idea being: Each soul needs a certain amount of experience in the world before it is ready to transcend the world through achieving liberation.
I'm sure you experience that all the time; if you try and talk to someone about spirituality and they're not interested. They're interested in more experience, right? You just can't ripen the fruit before it's ripe. You know it has to ripen itself through experience.
So, experience is needed in the world before we become interested in achieving liberation. We're not immediately interested in it.
Well the quote from Gurudeva was: "What do we mean when we say there is no good and no bad, only experience? We mean that in the highest sense, there is no good and bad karma; there is self-created experience that presents opportunities for spiritual advancement. If we can't draw lessons from the karma, then we resist it or resent it, lashing out with mental, emotional or physical force. The original substance of that karma is spent and no longer exists, but our current reaction creates a new condition of harsh karma to face in the future. (Then that beautiful line that I use in my Karma Management.) As long as we react to karma, we must repeat it. That is the law."
How many times do we want to repeat the same karma particularly if it is unpleasant. Even the pleasant ones we get bored of eventually, right? But the unpleasant ones, why would we want to repeat it? But it is human nature to react and to try and blame someone else, as you know. When things go right we're willing to take the credit but when things go wrong it's someone else's fault. Never our self-created karma. That's human nature. We don't want to admit that we created this somehow. That's what we did in the past.
That reminded me of "Life the Great Experience" chapter. So I took a quote from that:
"If you check back through the pages recording various periods of your life, you will observe that knowing grew from certain experiences which you held memory of in your subconscious mind. You can also look within yourself and observe all that you do not know that you knew. For example, start with all those things you are not sure about. You must resolve all of these things through understanding before you can clear your subconscious mind. When you have cleared your subconscious mind through understanding the lessons from the experiences you are still reacting to, you will unfold the inner sight of your clear white light and begin to live in your true being."
That's pointing out a second aspect. The first point was we don't want to react when something happens. When the negative karma comes back to us we don't want react and reach out, retaliation in some way. Or just even hold resentment against someone. That's not fully letting the karma go. This is pointing out when experiences occur we need to understand them. Different point. So, for example, say a husband and wife, they find that she's getting into this situation where they have trouble agreeing. So one thing leads to another which leads to another which leads to another, which ends them up in this situation on a regular basis. They're stuck; they're repeating it. Why? Cause there's a lack of understanding. They're not seeing the overview. But if they were able to step back enough, see the overview, there's probably something you could do at point number two to avert getting to point number three and point number four and point number five. If you could just admit, well this leads to that which leads to that which leads to that. Therefore, when we get to point two I need to do this instead of that; I need to turn left instead of turning right. You know, if we can see that and we can understand it, then what happens? We stop repeating the experience. So, we need to have insights into why these events keep re-occurring in out life.
"The yoga student must establish basic principles in his life. He must try very hard to do this. The knowledge of inter-related action and reaction is within the consciousness of man. To understand the deeper experiences of life, we must analyze them. We must ask ourselves, 'What does this experience mean? What lesson have I derived from it? Why did it happen?' We can only find answers to these questions when we have established a foundation of dharmic principles, which are the mental laws governing action and reaction."
In other words: If we're not following dharma carefully, fudging on some of the yamas, fudging on our duties to others, what happens? It causes agitation in the mind. Instead of the mind being calm, instead of our being able to have a mountain-top perspective, we're at the bottom of the mountain and we're agitated because we haven't fully followed dharma. We've been fudging in one or more ways and that agitates the mind and therefore, we can't understand our experiences.
So, that's why Gurudeva is saying here, he's saying part of this process, you know, the requirement for this process to work is we need to be fully following dharmic principles. Then we're not agitating the mind which causes us not to be able to have insights into our experiences and causes experiences to keep repeating themselves. So, there's no reason for an experience to repeat itself endlessly. And there's no reason for a mistake to be made twice if someone's observant.
That's the four steps to responding to a mistake. Remember the first one is: Getting over feeling bad. The natural reaction depending on the size of the mistake is we feel bad about ourselves. We've discouraged, start criticizing our self. And if it's a really bad mistake then we criticize ourselves a lot. Or we go into a slump. But we have to pull ourselves out of that because that's not helping us avoid the mistake again, right? The point is we shouldn't need to do it twice. Therefore, the goal is to pull ourselves out of that. And the second step is to figure out how to avoid that happening again in the future. Perhaps we've learned something now. And that new knowledge will help us. Perhaps we were just being careless and we realize we that we can't be careless in that situation cause this mistake could happen. Perhaps we have a new insight.
One way or another the goal is to be observant enough. The example I used in Karma Management was the back road here, pretty good shape now, but at that point it had lots of pukas. It's the Hawaiian term for dips in the road. And there were some pretty major ones. And you could drive along and hit all the dips and keep going that way the rest of your life, right? Everybody in the car would notice. Or, the first time it happens you could say: "Well let's see now. All those potholes are on the right side so if I drive on the left side I won't hit them." You know we can be observant. And by not being agitated we make a decision so that same mistake doesn't occur again.
Then the third point, just to remind you of the four steps in responding to a mistake is: Other people were involved, you may need to smooth over the relationship with them. You need to apologize, give them a gift, do something to smooth out the energies between you. And then, if you still feel bad about it, it probably needs a prayaschitta of some kind to get the subconscious mind feeling okay about what you did. Cause we're not supposed to feel guilty, you know. Saivism's not about feeling guilty.You feel guilty it means there's some prayaschitta. It also may mean we don't understand the instinctive, the intellectual and the superconscious nature. We're expecting ourselves just to be this superconscious being. But we also have an instinctive nature and an intellectual nature that sometimes gets out of control.
Well one last thought:
"Each experience is a classroom. When the subconscious mind has been fully reconciled to everything that has happened, when you have fully realized that everything you have gone through is nothing more and nothing less than an experience, and that each experience is really a classroom, you will receive from yourself your innerversity personal evaluation report, and it will be covered with the highest grades, denoting excellent cognition."
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