December 14, 2019 - Lesson 246

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Sloka 91 from Dancing with Siva

What Are Hinduism's Rites of Passage?

Hindus celebrate life's crucial junctures by holy sacraments, or rites of passage, called samskaras, which impress the subconscious mind, inspire family and community sharing and invoke the Gods' blessings. Aum.


For the Hindu, life is a sacred journey in which each milestone, marking major biological and emotional stages, is consecrated through sacred ceremony. Family and friends draw near, lending support, advice and encouragement. Through Vedic rites and mantras, family members or priests invoke the Gods for blessings and protection during important turning points, praying for the individual's spiritual and social development. There are many sacraments, from the rite of conception to the funeral ceremony. Each one, properly observed, empowers spiritual life and preserves Hindu culture, as the soul consciously accepts each succeeding discovery and duty in the order of God's creation. The essential samskaras are the rites of conception, the three-month blessing, hair-parting, birth, name-giving, head-shaving, first feeding, ear-piercing, first learning, puberty, marriage, elders' vows and last rites. The holy Vedas proclaim, "From Him come hymns, songs and sacrificial formulas, initiations, sacrifices, rites and all offerings. From Him come the year, the sacrificer and the worlds in which the moon shines forth, and the sun." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 246 from Living with Siva

Knowledge of Reincarnation

Tonight in beautiful Sri Lanka we want to speak on the joys and happiness found in Hinduism, our ancient religion which brings forth the wonderful feelings of a belief in the cosmic processes of reincarnation coupled with knowledge of the laws of karma and the wisdom of dharma in which everyone has his rightful place and purpose in life. It brings the broadmindedness of total acceptance of all other religions as expressions of the One God's creation, the blessing of a complete devotional path revolving around powerful temples, the fulfillment of a profound mystical teaching founded on yoga and brought forth by the seers and saints and gurus, and so much more. Our religion is so strong, so rich and varied that very few can claim to understand it in its completeness. It is immense, an immense religion, so immense that we have difficulty sometimes explaining it to those who hold to a simpler doctrine, especially if they have been subjected to erroneous concepts about our religion promulgated by invaders and missionaries of a score of alien religions. It is time that the world knew of the greatness of Hinduism, knew it as it is. Of course, we cannot explain it in an evening. My satguru, the great Siva Yogaswami of Columbuthurai, would say, "The time is short and the subject is vast." But we can have a look at some of the aspects of Hinduism that bring such joys and happiness to over a billion devotees around the world.

Each Hindu's belief in reincarnation is so strong that it totally eliminates the fear and dread of death. No true Hindu really fears death; nor does he look forward to it. The word death in the vocabulary of the Hindu holds a different meaning. He does not take death to be the end of existence; nor does he look upon life as a singular opportunity to be followed by eternal heavenly existence for those souls who do well, and by unending hell for those who do not. Death for the Hindu is merely transition, simultaneously an end and a new beginning. Over two thousand years ago, Saint Tiruvalluvar wrote, "Death is like falling asleep, and birth is like awakening from that sleep" (Tirukural 339). In one of the ancient languages of our religion, the physical body had a name which literally meant "that which is always dropping off."

The Hindu's knowledge of reincarnation gives him the hope of attaining a future birth and in that birth making further progress toward the perfection that he intuitively knows is his atman, his soul. He is working in this life to gain enough good merit, enough punya, to deserve welcome into a fine religious family as a good soul that will not upset the family but add to its love and harmony and productivity. That is one aim ever on the mind of the devout Hindu, to live well that he may live even more perfectly in a future life on this planet. That is our aim; and our other beliefs, our accumulated knowledge and the many facets of our religion, give us the strength and the wisdom to believe in such a far-reaching way, to look beyond the immediate day-to-day concerns into our ultimate objective, which is realization and liberation, moksha.

Nor is this belief in the cycles of earthly existence, in reincarnation, merely a belief. It is a certain knowledge for those who have had even a tiny glimpse into their origins, to the point of remembering another life or just intuiting that the soul did not come into existence just before one's birth. The Hindu believes that the soul undertakes many sojourns on the planet. We see the wisdom in this cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

Sutra 246 of the Nandinatha Sutras

Nurturing The Guru-shishya Relationship

Siva's devotees seek their satguru's blessings, act in harmony with his will, trust in his supreme wisdom, seek refuge in his grace and rush forward to rededicate themselves each year during the month of the guru. Aum.

Lesson 246 from Merging with Siva

The Law of Cause and Effect

Memory patterns are extremely magnetic. They cause us to have experiences of the type that make us wonder, "Why should that have ever happened to me? What did I do to attract this? What did I do to cause that? I don't deserve this happening to me." The vibrations that cause these experiences were put into effect in this or a past life. Pranic forces deep within imprint memory patterns of these actions we put into motion, causing us to face the reactions of them in this life. We face those reactions collectively through other people and through our own action. We are impelled to do certain things. Why? We call it karma. Karma means cause and effect. We throw a boomerang. It travels out into the air, turns around and comes back to us with equal force. In a similar way, our actions and even our thoughts set up patterns of reaction that return to us with equal force. This is the natural law of karma. Every action, every effect, in the universe has been preceded by a specific cause or set of causes. That cause is in itself an effect of prior causes. The law of karma is the law of cause and effect, or action and reaction.

When we cause a traumatic disruption within ourselves or within others, the action is imprinted in the memory patterns of the muladhara chakra. The seed has been planted and will remain vibrating in the depths of the mind even though consciously forgotten. We carry it over from life to life, from birth to birth until one day it blossoms into the fruit of our action--reaction.

The reason patterns of the svadhishthana chakra, just above memory, do not understand these experiences at all, because that chakra functions at a different rate of vibration. So, only after the event has occurred, or the impulses have come, can we reason them out rationally. Since we have forgotten our past life and are only left with the pranic reverberations deep in the memory cells, we don't know the causes. In fact, there seems to be no cause for many of the things that happen to us in life, no reason or justification. This can be frustrating. However, that is karma, and it is generally written off by saying, "That's karma." It is an effect to a previous cause.

The best attitude to hold when you first recognize the existence of karma is to realize that, true, it is a joy or a burden, and to stand straight, carrying that joy or that burden well balanced, seeking at all times not to add to it. Carry your karma cheerfully. Then begin the tedious task of unwinding these multitudinous patterns through performing daily sadhana. Each next step will become quite obvious to you as you begin to find that you are the writer of your own destiny, the master of your ship through life, and the freedom of your soul is but yours to claim through your accomplishments of your yoga.