July 17, 2019 - Lesson 96
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Sloka 96 from Dancing with Siva
What Are the Festival Days of Saivism?
Festivals are special times of communion with God and Gods, of family and community sharing and sadhana. Saivites observe numerous festivals in the temple and the home, and special holy days each week and month. Aum.
Monday is the Hindu holy day in the North of India, and Friday in the South, set aside each week for attending the temple, cleaning and decorating the home shrine, devout prayer, japa and scriptural study. These are not days of rest, for we carry on our usual work. Among the major Deity festivals are Mahasivaratri, Vaikasi Vishakham, Ganesha Chaturthi, Skanda Shashthi, Krittika Dipa, Vinayaka Vratam, Ardra Darshana and Tai Pusam. Temples also hold a ten-day annual festival called Brahmotsava, often on the Uttaraphalguni nakshatra in March-April, as well as honor the anniversary day of their founding. Festivals are auspicious and sacred days of family and community togetherness, and of sadhana, fasting, meditation, worship and retreat from worldly concerns. Saivites offer special prayers to Siva, Ganesha and Karttikeya on propitious days each month according to the Hindu sacred calendar. The Vedas proclaim, "Behold now a man who unwinds and sets the thread, a man who unwinds it right up to the vault of heaven. Here are the pegs; they are fastened to the place of worship. The Sama Veda hymns are used for weaving shuttles." Aum Namah Sivaya.
Lesson 96 from Living with Siva
The Right Conditions
We now come to the practical aspects of meditation. In the beginning, it is best to find a suitable room that is dedicated solely to meditation. If you were a carpenter, you would get a shop for that purpose. You have a room for eating, a room for sleeping. Now you need a separate room just for the purpose of meditation. When you find it, wash the walls and ceiling, wash the windows. Prepare a small altar if you like, bringing together the elements of earth, air, fire and water. Establish a time for your meditations and meet those times strictly. There will be days when you just don't feel like meditating. Good. Those are often the best days, the times when we make strong inner strides. The finest times to meditate are six in the morning, twelve noon, six in the evening, and twelve midnight. All four of these times could be used, or just choose one. The period of meditation should be from ten minutes to one-half hour to begin with.
By sitting up straight, with the spine erect, we transmute the energies of the physical body. Posture is important, especially as meditation deepens and lengthens. With the spine erect and the head balanced at the top of the spine, the life force is quickened and intensified as energies flood freely through the nerve system. In a position such as this, we cannot become worried, fretful, depressed or sleepy during our meditation. But if we slump the shoulders forward, we short-circuit the life energies. In a position such as this, it is easy to become depressed, to have mental arguments with oneself or another, or to experience unhappiness. So, learn to sit dynamically, relaxed and yet poised. The full-lotus position, with the right foot resting on the left thigh and the left foot above, resting on the right thigh, is the most stable posture to assume, hands resting in the lap, right hand on top, with both thumbs touching.
The first observation you may have when thus seated for meditation is that thoughts are racing through the mind substance. You may become aware of many, many thoughts. Also the breath may be irregular. Therefore, the next step is to transmute the energies from the intellectual area of the mind through proper breathing, in just the same way that proper attitude, preparation and posture transmuted the physical-instinctive energies. Through regulation of the breath, thoughts are stilled and awareness moves into an area of the mind which does not think, but conceives and intuits.
There are vast and powerful systems of breathing that can stimulate the mind, sometimes to excess. Deep meditation requires only that the breath be systematically slowed or lengthened. This happens naturally as we go within, but can be encouraged by a method of breathing called kalibasa in Shum, my language of meditation. During kalibasa, the breath is counted, nine counts as we inhale, hold one count, nine counts as we exhale, hold one count. The length of the beats, or the rhythm of the breath, will slow as the meditation is sustained, until we are counting to the beat of the heart, hridaya spanda pranayama. This exercise allows awareness to flow into an area of the mind that is intensely alive, peaceful, blissful and conceives the totality of a concept rather than thinking out the various parts.
Sutra 96 of the Nandinatha Sutras
She Worships Her Wedding Pendant
Each of Siva's married women devotees each morning worships her wedding pendant, for it betokens her dear husband, whom she reveres as Siva Himself, and the spiritual bond and goals she shares with him. Aum.
Lesson 96 from Merging with Siva
The Art of Being Constant
There is an art which you can learn which will make all of your decisions easier. It is the art of being constant. Consistency wins. Consistency is one of the most important qualities of a devotee. It is only through consistency in your daily life that you gain the awareness which enables you to cognize the experiences of life, taking from them their real lessons. It is only through consistency that you can avoid many of the boulders that lie in your way on the classical yoga path to enlightenment.
Practice the art of being constant and you will unfold your destiny, discover what you were born to do and learn how to accomplish it in this life. For in that security you will awaken and fulfill your destiny and realize the Self. Thus, having your feet planted firmly on the ground, your consciousness can dwell freely in the spirit born of Self Realization.
Study your approach to life today as you practice this exercise. Take some of the experiences from your subconscious state of mind. Add them up and see how well your life balances out. Visualize a scale before you. Put the total of the experiences understood and the lessons derived from them on one side. Put on the other side of the scale the total number of experiences that you do not fully understand and from which you can still reap lessons. See how they balance. If they balance evenly, you are well on your way to becoming steadfast and constant. If they overbalance on the reactionary side, you are on the right track because you now have the power to balance your scale--your subconscious. If they overbalance on the understanding side, you should consider dedicating your life to the service of others.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Look deep within and trace back to the peak experiences that have happened through your life from your earliest days. Quickly fan through the pages of your life and pinpoint each climax, and know that that climax was the sum total of many experiences, forming one great experience out of which one great lesson of life was born.
Take the experiences that you are not quite sure of--all the ones that you cannot form into a solid stone of understanding. Take those experiences and resolve to trace down each intuitively. Don't analyze. Just look at the sum total of the experiences, and after awhile you will get your clarification in a flash of intuition. This will be of great benefit to you. The great lessons that those experiences offer will become apparent as you progress in your practice of concentration. Do this and you will do much for yourself.