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Four Stages On the Path of Personal Evolution

Mahasivaratri Upadesh February 24, 2017

The soul body takes many lifetimes to mature. The height of divine consciousness: There is no difference between you and God. Spiritualize what you are doing as you engage in the world. Unwind the karmas of the past. The stages in Saiva Siddhanta: Charya, Kriya, Yoga-meditation and Jnana. In jnana you and Truth are one. Go deeply enough in meditation to identify with That which is eternal, always existed, never changed: Siva, Satchidananda, Pure Consciousness, Absolute Reality. Ask yourself: "What is the void or the nothingness which is the source of this consciousness?" Then you're getting close, getting close.

Merging with Siva Lesson 317


Words of Our Master

Unedited Transcript:

Good evening everyone.

Reading from a recent daily lesson, from Gurudeva's Merging with Siva:

"Four Stages Of Evolution." Lesson 317.

I think it was about 3 days ago I read it and I said: "This is really good for Mahasivaratri." So I'll read a little bit and then I'll comment on it. It overlaps slightly with Gurudeva's talk, I didn't know what Gurudeva's talk would be. And it overlaps nicely without making it repetitive.

"Let me begin with something that may at first come as a surprise to you. All men and women on the Earth are doing exactly as they should and must do. People complain, 'I wish I were rich. I wish I lived somewhere else. I really should be a doctor. If only things were different.' But in the final analysis, we are all doing exactly as we want, as we must, doing what is next on our personal path of evolution. Nothing is wrong. Nothing should be that is not. Even the drunk, even the thief, is part of the cosmic dance of God Siva. Not that you should ever think of being a thief, for there is much difficult karma there. Just realize that he, too, is evolving. He, too, is Siva's creation, and what he does is, for him, somehow necessary."

This is introducing an important concept: Personal path of evolution. So when Gurudeva uses the word evolution he's not talking about the evolution of the physical body. Not talking about a Darwinian concept. Talking about evolution of the soul. Or another word is maturing. The soul body needs to mature. And our physical body just takes one lifetime to mature but our soul body takes many lifetimes to mature.

One of the analogies Gurudeva uses is the lotus flower which is very useful. Well you start out, you're a seed in the mud, you come up through the water as a stem, get on top of the water as a bud and then you open, you blossom. So four different stages. The seed in the mud, the mud is your instincts. Instinctive behavior. What Gurudeva was calling emotional. Anger, fear, jealousy, all of that is where people start. We all start there. So you meet somebody who all the time is feeling anger, jealousy and fear you know there's still part of them is at least still in the mud.

Get the stem. Stem is in the water, the water is the intellect. Again Gurudeva talks about that. Getting limited by reason. The intellect is a useful tool when it comes to certain tasks. Balancing your checkbook, things like that you know. An intellect is very helpful. But when it comes to understanding deeper spiritual matters it's a barrier. So in that regard Gurudeva says the intellect is the greatest barrier to the superconscious which is what he pointed out in his talk. Not a barrier to external things but it's a barrier to go inside.

Then we come up on the surface which is the superconscious and then it opens which is starting to see Siva. The more it's open the more we see Siva. When it's totally open everything we see is Siva. We don't see anything that's not Siva. Where everything we see is our self. Two different ways of saying the same thing. Everything you look at is you; that's good. That's a very deep state.

In one of my Publisher's Desks, I talk this move of the lotus flower from the mud to the water to the surface to blossoming as states of consciousness. So we're starting in negative states of consciousness such as fear and anger. So the first thing to do on the spiritual path is to deal with those. If we're experiencing envy, fear, anger, jealousy, we need to understand how we can rid ourselves of those emotions cause we don't want those emotions. If we're feeling negative: "I can't do this," we don't want that. Individual gives us practices where we can get rid of those things. Those are just not states of consciousness we want to encounter.

Then we get up into being positive. Someone who thinks they can do things. Where the glass is half full. From positive consciousness we move into creative consciousness. We start to manifest things of whatever our skills are. If we're a writer we start to write better, in a creative way. If we're a carpenter we start to design things that are new, that we haven't seen before. So we become more creative.

Creativity leads to a sense of being close to God. We're divine consciousness and then the height of divine consciousness is: There's no difference between you and God. So that's unity consciousness. So all of this is the personal path of evolution. It's all contained in that one phrase that... And as Gurudeva's pointing out in this paragraph, it's easy to not accept the conditions we're in particularly when they're negative. We think we should be doing something else.

So which, every morning I read from "Words Of Our Master" which is Yogaswami's book. It's open in his shrine and just, they're very short statement. I just read one. And this one said: Difficulties are good; they make us strong. So it's like a young boy, if you're raising a boy, if you pamper the boy too much he won't develop the strength he needs. So we need challenges, we need challenges to make us strong. So sometimes life is difficult but we need to face the difficulty to become stronger and wiser because of it.

And of course, why are we doing what we're doing? Because of the law of karma. Everything that happens to us we attract to ourselves because of our past actions. We tend to think someone else is doing something to us either positive or negative but actually we're doing it to our self because of the law of karma.

So if we don't accept what's going on that's a problem. We need to learn to accept it. It's our creation, we need to face it positively and move on. By facing it positively into the next higher state of consciousness.

Back to Gurudeva: "Just look at the world. Warriors have to fight their battles. Priests have to take care of their temples. Businessmen must sell their goods. Farmers must grow their crops and tend their flocks. Teachers must pass on knowledge. Each one has to do what he has to do in the great cosmic dance of Siva."

Gurudeva makes a point in the introduction to each of the Master Course Trilogy, the section called the Master Course. He's talking about the home study course. He says: When someone first starts on the spiritual path, they get interested in spiritual things, the first tendency is to want to withdraw from the world. The world, the world is worldly. The world is evil. I don't want to be involved in the world. We tend to withdraw from it and kind of create a cave where ever we are. Whereas, Gurudeva's point in his talk was: If he goes into town the world becomes an ashram, right? Cause he is who he is. And there's no difference between the inside and the outside for him. So what's on the inside is just, spirituality manifests where ever he is.

Said another way the world is subjective. In the world itself is it's not a one thing. In some teenagers the world is where you go on the weekend to have fun. That's the concept of the world. Which is fine. To some businessmen that's where you go to make your millions. To certain professional people that's where you go to establish yourself as a competent skilled professional. So it is whatever we make it. And it's nothing in and of itself. And, Gurudeva's point is: Don't withdraw from it; spiritualize it. Take the challenges that you're facing, do them even better than you normally would. Take your duties in life, take your profession. Do it even better than you normally would. Excel at it. Help others through it. In other words, spiritualize what you're doing in the world.

And this is a key Hindu concept. It's so key I was thinking of writing a Publisher's Desk on it because it's not understood at least in terms of the younger generation. Don't have a clue on this one. Hinduism seems other worldly. It doesn't seem to relate to everyday life to them. But the point is, if you look at it correctly, your everyday life is how you advance spiritually. Whether you're out in the world, whether at school, whether at home, how you live your everyday life. If you live it correctly, according to Hindu principles, you're moving forward in consciousness. And of course it's a multiple lifetime journey. But you're moving forward because you look at the world and you don't see it as secular. You see it as an ashram. We have that quote coming up. It's a spiritual place because we're there and we're doing our best in our profession. We're helping society through our profession. We're facing challenges and gaining greater self control. We're taking opportunities to volunteer and help others. We follow all of those guidelines, we progress spiritually through our daily action.

Here's the quote:

"The world is an ashram (says Yogaswami) a training ground for the achievement of freedom. Each one does his part according to his own measure. There is nothing that is evil."

Looking for my thought; it was right there. It was right there, I know it was. Went away. Yes there it is.

A test of this is, when you come back from being out in the world at wherever, school, shopping, whatever you were doing, ask yourself the question: Did I make spiritual progress while I was out in the world? That's the way of judging if this is really in place in your life. Should actually feel and be able to say: Well yes, I did this, this and this. Those are the actions that caused me to make spiritual progress. I helped this person; I started to get upset and I calmed down very quickly. You know, the things you did to advance spiritually. You're gaining greater self control by helping others, by pursuing your dharma, helping the society. You should be able to list them. Have the sense that yes I really made spiritual progress while I was out in the world. That's the thought that almost got away.

This relates to an interesting definition which many of you have heard. You ask the question: What is required for moksha to be achieved? What do we need to do to attain liberation? We took a little survey. I'm sure the most common answer would be: Well we need to realize God. We need to realize the Self. We realize the Self then that's all that's needed, right? But Gurudeva's definition is three-fold.

"Moksha comes when earthly karma has been resolved, dharma well performed and God fully realized. Each soul must have performed well through many lives the varna dharmas, or four castes, and lived through life's varied experiences in order to not be pulled back to physical birth by a deed left undone."

This is affirming the need to be in the world in a positive way. We're supposed to live through the four dharmas, four castes, which means different types of occupations we're supposed to fulfill. We need to do lots of different things to mature the soul. So that's the idea to try and emphasize again, you know, we need to engage in the world positively in a way that we advance spiritually.

Come back to the other two, time permitting, trying to stay on schedule as you've noticed. That's why we had a short meditation.

Back to Gurudeva:

"Each one follows the path of service leading to devotion, which leads to spiritual disciplines of yoga. Finally, that yoga culminates in the attainment of Truth, or God Realization. These are the four margas leading the soul to its very Self. "

So Gurudeva's giving us three sets of terms to describe these progressive attainments slash practices cause it's both. It's both an attainment and a practice. Service, devotion, yoga, which means meditation, and then God Realization.

"For Hindus, the path is seen as divided into four stages or phases of inner development. Some say karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and jnana yoga..."

Those are the terms in Vedanta that, very common and roughly you can say: Karma yoga's service, bhakti yoga is devotion, raja yoga and jnana yoga are both forms of meditation.

"...others say charya, kriya, yoga and jnana..."

So those are the terms in our tradition, Saiva Siddhanta. And similar: service, devotion, meditation leading to jnana.

"...Either way, it is basically the same--progressive stages followed by the soul in its quest for God. We are speaking here of the way the ancients attained their realizations, how they lived their lives, suffered, went through mental pain in their tapas, walked the San Marga path through life--charya, kriya, yoga and jnana--and in that process unwound the karmas of the past, learned to live fully in the present, abashed the person of themselves to be the soul of themselves..."

So that's what Gurudeva was talking about in terms of reprogramming the subconscious. We have to change our self concept. Doesn't happen in a day or a year but it changes over time through spiritual practices. One of them is abashing or being humble. Being humble to the Deity, being humble through service.

"...They practiced true yoga to obtain release from rebirth, moksha, which only the realization of the Absolute Truth can give. There is, of course, no action too great to render to persist on the path of enlightenment, once the path has clearly been defined."

So going through this process, charya, kriya, yoga and jnana "unwound the karmas of the past."

Well how do we unwind the karmas of the past? That's one of the three things we need to do, right? Fulfill all dharma, resolve all karma and realize God. Well, when someone mistreats us, that's the chance to resolve karma. If we retaliate: He did that to me, I'm going to do it back to him, or he did that to me, I'm going to do it back to him twice as bad, retaliate. We didn't resolve the karma. If we resent that he did it, we didn't resolve the karma. That resentment holds it; it doesn't let it go. Therefore, we have to accept it as something we're attracting to our self. What crazy thing did I do in the past that this happened to me. So whatever it happens to other people you are attracting by what's in your subconscious from past lives. Hasn't gone away. So, we need to take responsibility. "I am attracting this experience to me, therefore, I do not retaliate. I don't even resent; I'm just glad it's gone." Which it will be if you don't retaliate and you're not resentful; it's gone. You've resolved the karma.

"Charya is service, but it does not mean empty service, unthinking performance of traditional rites or just marrying off daughters, thus forestalling premarital affairs. It is service done selflessly, it is dharma performed consciously, it is worship offered wholly and it is goodness in thought word and deed."

So charya, that's the first stage on the Siddhanta path. Service, good conduct.

And the Tirumantiram gives us a verse for each of the four: charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. And gives us a line for each of the four in Verse 1440.

"Adoration that displaces anger is charya worship."

So it's starting in the mud, a little bit. You know, if you're in anger, we have to get rid of them and this kind of acceptance is what's needed so we don't get angry. Anger comes when our will is thwarted, when what we want we don't get. Someone does something we don't want to have happen to us, we get angry. So realizing that what's happening is supposed to be happening, being able to accept it. Here you've got the anger, here you got the devotion to Siva, it just displaces by being able to accept that this is what's supposed to be.

I won't read everything cause we won't finish. So, then he describes kriya.

"Kriya is basically worship and devotion..."

And of course, in the specifics, in kriya we learn to do a puja ourselves. We call that the Puja. That's the very important part of developing devotion is actually to do the puja. It's like in music, you can only go so far. If you just listen eventually you have to learn to play the instrument, right? Then you get more involved. So puja is the same thing. You do a simple puja at home and that takes you closer to the deity by learning to do puja.

That's called, Tirumantiram says: "Giving life by invocation is external worship."

So you're bring the deity into the murti. That's giving life. It's called invocation. Vahana.

Then we get, meditation is the third stage. And of course these are stages so they're more like series of grades. So in the U.S. we say we have, grammar school, middle school and high school. So charya is like grammar school. The whole series of things we learn there. Kriya is like middle school. And the high school is yoga. University is jnana. Simple way of looking at it. There's lots of things we should learn in each stage and they should be done in that order. So it's a tradition of progressive stages. Each one builds upon a previous one just like the grades. You skip, you can't skip a grade unless you're a genius. You know, you have to just go through it in a systematic way.

So meditation, Tirumantiram says: " Beholding the Light of life is great yoga worship."

So light, you know this was Gurudeva's theme in his talk. In Tamil it's called uyir. And so the light of light. Tamil was one way. "The light of life." There we go.

So beginner creates a friction. Beginner energies create a friction and that friction produces light which you can actually see when you sit in meditation once you've perfected charya and kriya. That's the subconscious has to have been remolded in that process. Otherwise, you go in and you don't see anything. Not as interesting, there's nothing there.

Then we get into jnana.

"...Jnana is the last stage. Most people don't understand jnana. They think it is little more than intellectual study of the past, the kind, simple, simple kind of wisdom..."

Well this is one of Gurudeva's recurrent themes in the Master Course Trilogy. In the Vedanta jnana is little different than in the Siddhanta. But in Vedanta it's the original well in the true jnana practice, jnana yoga is a very deep philosophical practice where you're trying to realize the . Aham Brahmasmi for example, trying to realize it, experience it. But in some teachings today it's come down to more, well lets read the book. Jnana is reading the book. Well of course reading someone else's experience doesn't count as your own experience. But reading someone else's book is not like writing a book. Very different.

So Gurudeva will make this point now and then:

"...But jnana does not mean simplistic reading of scriptures or understanding of philosophical books and knowing pat answers to stereotyped questions. (Get the point?) Jnana is the blossoming of wisdom, of enlightened consciousness, the true being. Jnana is the state of the realized soul who knows Absolute Reality through personal experience, (That's the definition of jnana in Saiva Siddhanta.) Jnana is the state of the realized soul who knows Absolute Reality through personal experience, who has reached the end of the spiritual path after many, many lifetimes."

So Tirumantiram gives us a clue here: "Being the Life of life is splendrous jnana worship."

So that's what Gurudeva was talking about in his talk, you know. Seeing the light, seeing the light in people. That is God. So here it's taking it one step further. You are being that life. Other words, you don't have a sense being something other than that. The normal you isn't there. You are simply the life in everybody you see. And there is only one person. Either Siva or you depending on how you want to look at it.

The idea in jnana is you and the Truth are the same. It's not the holy in something. In yoga you're the holy, I'm looking at the inner light; this is great. In jnana you are Siva and your self isn't there any more. That's jnana. So: "Being the Life of life" so that we're being.

"Being the Truth. You and the Truth are one."

Yogaswami: "Live unshaken in the realization that all that I see is myself."

That's one way of explaining it. All I see is myself. Or we can say: All I see is Siva.

There's an interesting story I think in just a time we have left and one other.

The Canadian Ambassador's visit to Yogaswami, one of his visits. Visited him a number of times. Canadian Ambassador to Sri Lanka was a student of that philosophy but was fascinated by Yogaswami's teachings. So once he brought his sons and Yogaswami told the sons: "You and I are the same age."

So how can a ten year old and an eighty year old be the same age, right? The only way a ten year old and an eighty year old could be the same age is if they're eternal. Which is another name for your superconscious. So if you identify with that which is eternal and it never changed, its a form of Siva. But it's also a meditation for you to go in deeply enough to find that part of you, that's eternal, it's always existed and it's never changed, it never will change. Which we call Satchidananda, pure consciousness. Parashakti, there's lots of names for it.

You can go into that, that's a great platform for the next one which is Absolute Reality. See, that's not even the end. You find that part of you which is eternal and never changed. Great! Now you've got to go from there to the next one. One more stage. So you have to find the source of that but you have to be That before you can find the source of it. To find, find the source without being that is like skipping a stage. So if you can manage to let go of your normal self, be that part of you that's eternal and unchanging, ask yourself: "What is the void or the nothingness which is the source of this consciousness?" Then you're getting close, getting close.

So that's Absolute Reality and we have one quote on that which will be our last quote.

Yogaswami says:

"If you want to go beyond, you lose everything. There is no work; there is no you, no I, no God - nothing!"

That's his description of God.