March 23, 2023 - Lesson 345

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Sloka 35 from Dancing with Siva

How Does One Best Prepare for Death?

Blessed with the knowledge of impending transition, we settle affairs and take refuge in japa, worship, scripture and yoga--seeking the highest realizations as we consciously, joyously release the world. Aum Namah Sivaya.


Before dying, Hindus diligently fulfill obligations, make amends and resolve differences by forgiving themselves and others, lest unresolved karmas bear fruit in future births. That done, we turn to God through meditation, surrender and scriptural study. As a conscious death is our ideal, we avoid drugs, artificial life-extension and suicide. Suicide only postpones and intensifies the karma one seeks escape from, requiring several lives to return to the evolutionary point that existed at the moment of suicide. In cases of terminal illness, under strict community regulation, tradition does allow prayopavesha, self-willed religious death by fasting. When nearing transition, if hospitalized, we return home to be among loved ones. In the final hours of life, we seek the Self God within and focus on our mantra as kindred keep prayerful vigil. At death, we leave the body through the crown chakra, entering the clear white light and beyond in quest of videhamukti. The Vedas affirm, "When a person comes to weakness, be it through old age or disease, he frees himself from these limbs just as a mango, a fig or a berry releases itself from its stalk." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 345 from Living with Siva

A Religion Of the Future

Many years ago I was given a beautiful description of Saivism. I was told that Saivism is like ghee. The cow eats grass all day and from it produces gallons of white milk. The dairyman separates out the rich cream. The cream is then churned into sweet butter. Finally, the butter is boiled to produce a tiny amount of ghee, the essence of milk. Like ghee, Saivism is the essence of religion.

In the past decades I have found that instead of preserving and enjoying this ghee, people are pouring it into a brass pot and diluting it with Western rationalism, diluting it with liberal Hinduism, diluting it with unorthodox practices and beliefs of all kinds. That precious, ghee has been turned into a greasy water which is not fit for anything except to be thrown out. Therefore, I call upon the united Saivites of the world to protect, preserve and promote the Saiva Samayam by bringing a stop to this dilution of our religion. This dilution is caused by Western influences, by the efforts of alien religions to convert our members, by liberal-Hindu thinking which seeks to destroy the traditions of temple worship and sectarian customs and, most importantly, by our own neglect.

Only the united Saivites of the world can solve these problems. It is not enough to understand these problems or to complain about them. Objecting is not enough. We have to have a plan, a purpose, persistence and push. We have to put that plan forward with a positive mind, a practical approach and a dynamic will in order to make Saivism the religion of the future, bringing it out of the agricultural era and into the technological age.

Here in Sri Lanka there is a misconception that in order to progress, in order to move into the age of technology, we have to abandon our religion, give up our culture. That is a false concept. Religion does not conflict with technology, but enhances it, gives it balance and purpose. As soon as a young man or woman gets a Western education, he or she assumes that the old traditions don't apply anymore and becomes ashamed to worship God and the Gods. Where are the spiritual leaders who can explain that this need not be so? It is too bad that our religious leaders aren't teaching the fact that Saivism is the one religion on the planet best suited to this great age, which agrees most closely with the most advanced postulations of modern science, yet it is itself even more advanced.

In Bali, the technological age did not conquer religion. Rather, Saivite religious leaders harnessed technology to serve their distinct way of life. There the Saivite traditions have been valued and protected. On American national television a few months ago, a beautiful program on Bali's Siva festival, Ekadasha Rudra, was shown--a massive celebration held for ten days only once every hundred years. A Balinese high priest was interviewed. He was proud to be a Saivite and told the reporter, "We use technology here in Bali. We are not overcome by technology." I am afraid to say that technology is overcoming many of us here in Sri Lanka. It is a dangerous trend. Unless we reverse it through education, it will gather momentum, and changes will come more and more quickly, not positive changes, but negative ones that destroy the religious character of people and nations.

Sutra 345 of the Nandinatha Sutras

Nurturing New Monastics

Siva's monastics look upon newcomers to the monasteries as their potential spiritual heirs, to care for, tenderly nurture and train. They know it is their duty to pass on the wisdom of their years. Aum Namah Sivaya.

Lesson 345 from Merging with Siva

Desire, Death And Rebirth

Where are we born after we die? How do we become born again? You are born again in the same way you died. After some time, the astral body cannot stay on the astral plane anymore, because the seeds of pranic motion have to be expressed on the physical plane again due to one's activity on the astral plane. A new physical birth is entered. Generally, this happens through a newborn child's body, but a more advanced soul who has his spiritual body well developed can pick up a body which is fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old and go right along in life from that point.

In what country do you become born? It all depends upon what country you were thinking about before and when you died. If you had a desire to go to Canada, most likely you will be born in Canada next time around. If you had been thinking about going to South America a year or two before you passed away, you would be reincarnated in South America, because that was your destination. If you were very much attached to your own particular family and you did not want to leave them, you would be born back in that immediate family again, because your desire is there. The astral body is the body of desire.

Students probing the mysteries of reincarnation often ask, "If reincarnation is true, why can't I remember my past lives?" They might just as well ask another question: "Why do we not remember everything in detail in this life?" The memory capabilities, unless highly trained, are not that strong, especially after having endured the process of creating a new body through another family and establishing new memory patterns. However, there are people who do recall their past lives, in the very same way that they remember what they did yesterday. Former-life memory is that clear and vivid to them.

However, it is neither necessary nor advisable to pursue events, identities or relationships that may have existed in previous lives. After all, it is all now. We don't think it important to remember details of our childhood years, to wallow in happy or unhappy nostalgia. Why pursue the remembered residue of what has already come and gone? Now is the only time, and for the spiritual seeker, past life analysis or conjecture is an unnecessary waste of useful time and energy. The present now is the sum of all prior thens. Be now. Be the being of yourself this very moment, and that will be the truest fulfillment of all past actions.

The validity of reincarnation and its attendant philosophy are difficult to prove, and yet science is on the threshold of discovering this universal mechanism. Science cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence, the testimony of thousands of level-headed people who claim to remember other lives or who have actually died and then returned to life, and the impressive literature spanning Hindu, Tibetan, Buddhist and Egyptian civilizations. Thus, the pursuit of various theories continues in an effort to bring theory into established law according to the reason and intellectual facilities of man. Those living in the heart chakra, anahata, are able to cognize and know deeply the governing mechanism of rebirth from their own awakening.

There are at least three basic theories or schools of thought related to reincarnation. At first they may seem to conflict or contradict one another, but further elucidation indicates that they are all correct. They are just different aspects of a complex mechanism.