April 16, 2024 - Lesson 4

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Sloka 4 from Dancing with Siva

How Can We Learn to Dance with Siva?

Dance is movement, and the most exquisite dance is the most disciplined dance. Hindu spiritual disciplines lead to oneness with God through self-reflection, surrender, personal transformation and the many yogas. Aum.


To progress on the path, we study the Vedas, other scriptures and our guru's teachings and make every effort to apply these philosophical truths to daily experience. We strive to understand the mind in its fourfold nature: chitta, consciousness; manas, instinctive mind; buddhi, intellectual mind; and ahamkara, ego or I-maker. We perform japa, meditation and yoga each day. Such spiritual discipline is known as sadhana. It is the mystical, mental, physical and devotional exercise that enables us to dance with Siva by bringing inner advancement, changes in perception and improvements in character. Sadhana allows us to live in the refined and cultured soul nature, rather than in the outer, instinctive or intellectual spheres. For consistent progress, sadhana should be performed regularly, without fail, at the same time each day, preferably in the early hours before dawn. The most important sadhanas are the challenges and practices given by one's guru. The Vedas caution, "The Self cannot be attained by the weak, nor by the careless, nor through aimless disciplines. But if one who knows strives by right means, his soul enters the abode of God." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 4 from Living with Siva

Knowing Self by Self

In the earlier stages, before sadhana is undertaken, the mind is agitated by current karmas and perhaps discouraged by its inability to know or to fulfill dharma. In this agitated state the world looks bleak and terrible, and it would be inconceivable to him for God to be any place but in the temple. "Certainly God could not reside within myself," the unenlightened concludes.

In the second stage, when the mind rests peacefully in the fulfillment of a life's pattern, dharma, when it has sufficient maturity to control and to dispatch past and current karmas through meditation, prayer and penance, then indeed God is seen as a helping hand within, but most potently felt within His temple.

In the third stage, the helping hand within becomes more than an aid to the troubled mind; it becomes pure consciousness itself. Rather than seeking God outside, God is enjoyed as a vital, integral dimension of the person, the Life of life, the power and radiant energy of the universe. The calm within is greater than the outside disturbance. In this stage of bliss-consciousness, it is clearly seen and exuberantly experienced that God is indeed within us. The experiencer's perceptions become acute, and in his daily life he becomes a witness, observing that others do not see God within themselves. He has a secret that he has discovered. God within becomes soul-realized as Truth-Knowledge-Bliss, Satchidananda, the pervasive energy that glues all things together. Mind becomes serene, peace is seen to be everywhere, and the bliss so strong. A deeper inner eye opens at this stage, and it is truly perceived that this same presence of Siva is in each and every living being, permeates every atom of the universe as the great, sustaining substratum of all that exists. Only when this is experienced can one truly say that God is within man and man is within God.

To know philosophy without experience is like going on a vacation to a distant and wonderful place by simply reading a book about the destination, hearing what others claim is to be enjoyed there. It is not true experience at all. The only spiritual experience is personal experience. My satguru, Siva Yogaswami, made it clear that "You will not attain jnana, wisdom, even if you read a thousand scriptures. You must know your Self by yourself."

How can we with our finite mind come to understand Infinity, come to understand God? How can we intellectually encompass something as great as God? Our scriptures tell us that God Himself is Shankara, the author of all knowledge, creator of the intellect. He is the great architect of the universe. Then if God created the intellect, how can the intellect understand Him? Well, it is possible. It has been done. The intellect has to expand, and awareness has to transcend the rational mind and see directly from superconscious knowing. That is why we worship Siva in His highest form, symbolized by the Sivalinga, the simple elliptical stone.

It is good that you are trying to see Siva everywhere. Keep trying. It will come. Who else can give your Self to you? The unfoldment of the Self within you is but Siva. He can give you wealth. He can give you health. He can bestow everything that you would ever need or even desire. But to worship Him as formless, as we are doing tonight, carries the mind into infinity. Mind can only encompass what it identifies with. Mind cannot identify Truth in this subtle form which represents Siva as beyond the mind--formless, timeless and spaceless. Yet, within you this very instant, only shrouded by your ignorance, only shrouded by the ego, which is the sense of personal identity and separation, is Siva. He is there right now, not at some fictitious future time. Just get rid of the maya, the anava and resolve the karma, and there He will be. The ego is the last thing to go. It is the last bond to break.

Once the bondage of personal ego is broken, it is seen that this mysterious God is all-pervading. He is what He has created. Think about that. It is very deep. Siva pervades His creation constantly as ever-present Love and Light of the mind of everyone, as Intelligence and Being; and yet God also has a form.

In the subtle worlds, Siva has the most beautiful form, not unlike a human form, but an absolutely perfect human form. He thinks. He talks. He walks. He makes decisions. We are fortunate to worship such a great God who pervades everything and yet transcends it, who is both form and beyond form, who is the Self within your very self at this very moment. So, all of you seekers of nondual Truth, you have a truly great path that offers God experience in form and beyond form. How fortunate you are!

Sutra 4 of the Nandinatha Sutras

Oneness With The Satguru

Siva's devotees strive to be inwardly one with their satguru, acknowledging the paramount need for a spiritual preceptor to guide them on the upward climb, the straight path that leads to Lord Siva's holy feet. Aum.

Lesson 4 from Merging with Siva

Harnessing the Energies

Still other goals must be met: quieting the energies, the pranas, through pranayama, purifying or refining mind and emotion, quelling the ever-constant movement of the restless, external mind and its immediate subconscious, where memories are stored, preserved memories which give rise to fear, anger, hatred and jealousy. It is our past that colors and conditions, actually creates, the future. We purge the past in the present, and we fashion the future in the present.

All of these emotions are the powerful force that bursts the seals of the psychic chakras, four, five, six and seven. Once harnessed, turned inward and transmuted, this life force drives the spiritual process forward. Ours is the path of not only endeavoring to awaken the higher nature, but at the same time and toward the same end dealing positively and consciously with the remnants of the lower nature, replacing charity for greed and dealing with, rather than merely suppressing, jealousy, hatred and anger.

Most people do not understand that they have a mind, that they have a body and emotions, that what they are is something far more lasting and profound. They think they are a mind, they presume they are a body and they feel they are a given set of emotions, positive and negative. To progress on the spiritual path, they must learn they are not these things but are, in fact, a radiant, conscious soul that never dies, that can control the mind and directs the emotion toward fulfillment of dharma and resolution of karma. While living in a normal agitated state of fears, worries and doubts, seeing the deeper truths is impossible. To such a person there is no doubt about it: "I am fearful. I am worried. I am confused. I am sick." He says such things daily, thinking of himself in a very limited way.

This wrong identification of who we are must be unlearned. Before we actually begin serious sadhana, we must understand ourselves better, understand the three phases of the mind: instinctive, intellectual and superconscious. This takes time, meditation and study--study that must culminate in actual experience of the instinctive mind, the intellectual mind and the transcendent subsuperconscious state of the mind.

Seeing the mind in its totality convinces the seeker that he is something else, he is the witness who observes the mind and cannot, therefore, be the mind itself. Then we realize that the mind in its superconsciousness is pure. We do not have to purify it, except to carry out its native purity into life, into the intellect by obtaining right knowledge and transmuting the instinctive or animal qualities. This is accomplished from within out. It is not as difficult as it may seem.