Living with Śiva

Author’s Introduction

Granthakāra Bhūmikā
ग्रन्थ्कार भूमिका

imageOST PEOPLE THINK OF THEMSELVES AS REMOTE FROM GOD, BUT THE HIGHEST SOULS ARE LIVING WITH HIM EVERY DAY, NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE DOING. THEY ARE LIVING WITH GOD, WHOM WE CALL ŚIVA, WHILE WORKING, WHILE DRIVING OR performing ordinary chores. Śiva is, for these remarkable devotees, closer than their breath, nearer than their hands and feet. This is the true spiritual life, which recognizes that there is nothing that is not Śiva. Living with Śiva is Śiva consciousness. The reconciled past releases consciousness into the eternal moment in which we see Śiva as the life and light within everyone’s eyes. Living with Śiva is living with everyone—every reptile, fish, fowl, animal and creature, to the very smallest—in a consciousness of the one life force within all of them that sustains this perfect universe. Truly, God Śiva is everywhere. He is the energy within our mind manifesting thought. He is the thought thus made manifest. He is the light within your eyes and the feel within your fingers. God Śiva is the ignorance which makes the One seem as two. He is the karma, which is the law of cause and effect, and He is the māyā, which is the substance of evolution in which we become so deeply immersed that we look upon the outside world as more real than God. God Śiva is all this and more. He is the Sun, the Earth and the spaces between. He is the revealed scriptures and those who have scribed the scriptures. He is all who seek the wisdom of scripture, too. §

Śiva dances in every atom throughout this universe. Śiva dances energetically, ceaselessly, eternally. Śiva is perpetual movement. His mind is all-pervasive, and thus He sees and knows everything in all spheres simultaneously and without effort. Śiva is the Self, and He is the energy we put forth to know the Self. He is the mystery which makes us see Him as separate from us. He is the energy of life, the power in the wind. He is the dissolution called death, the peace of motionless air. He is the great force of the ocean and the stillness on a calm lake. Śiva is All and in all. §

Our great God Śiva is beyond time, beyond space, beyond form and form’s creation, and yet He uses time and causes form. He is in the sky, in the clouds, in the swirling galaxies. Śiva’s cosmic dance of creation, preservation and dissolution is happening this very moment in every atom of the cosmos. Supreme God Śiva is immanent, with a beautiful human-like form which can actually be seen and has been seen by many mystics in visions. Śiva is also transcendent, beyond time, cause and space. Such are the mysteries of Śiva’s being. §

Read the holy scriptures and contemplate their description of our great God Śiva. They explain who Śiva is. They tell us that Śiva has three perfections: Paraśiva, Satchidānanda and Maheśvara. As Paraśiva, He is the Self, beyond time, form and space. As Satchidānanda, He is all-pervasive love, light and consciousness flowing through every atom of existence. As Maheśvara, He is the Primal Soul, the Supreme Being who creates, preserves and destroys what we term existence. They tell us that our Supreme Being has a body of light and a mind and will that reigns over His creations. They tell us that Supreme God Śiva created our individual soul, which is a body of light in which His uncreated mind resides. Lord Śiva’s mind is called Satchidānanda. It is the all-pervasive, inner state of mind inherent in every person on this Earth, but to be realized to be known.§

In chapter 45 I urge all Śaivites, devotees of God Śiva, to worship Him as the God of Love and in doing so to become beings of love. The great saints of our religion were Śiva bhaktas. They changed the world through their love of God. They did not need vast institutions to spread their message. They did not need riches or carts filled with books to spread their message. They did not need radio, television or the Internet. Their message spread because their minds and hearts were filled with direct knowledge, direct experience of God Śiva. Their message spread far and wide, though some perhaps never left their native village. They just evolved within it. You, too, are emissaries of God Śiva, and your love for Him is your greatest message. Simply love God Śiva and let that love radiate out into the world.§

In those days, Śaivites, well schooled in knowledge of God Śiva, did not fear alien religious influences entering their minds. They were so knowledgeable that no amount of adverse propaganda could sway them away from Śiva. Rather, they converted the Jains back to God Śiva. They converted the Buddhists back to God Śiva. Such was the strength of the love of devotees in the old days. In this century, too, Śaivites strong in the love of God Śiva are bringing those Śaivites who have strayed into alien religions back to Śiva’s feet. They are drawing back into Śaivism those who have been enthralled with Western notions or ensnared in atheistic, existential doubt. So strong is their adoration for God and their compassion for their fellow Śaivites. §

From a psychological point of view, when the subconscious is at odds with soul qualities, with the basic laws of how we intuitively know what we should be doing, when the past of unsoulful deeds carries into the present, we are not able to live with Śiva. Instead, we are living with humans, living with problems, living with the conflicting forces of the world.§

At this time in the Kali Yuga, ignorance is equally distributed worldwide, and wisdom has become an endangered species. People are confused as to the performance of their duties, and too often duty is no longer even taught. It is to liberate seekers after Truth from this confusion that this book has been written. Forbearance, tolerance and compassion are not as popular today as they once were and perhaps may be at some future time when the darkness of ignorance is removed from the hearts of all people. Therefore, Living with Śiva and its 365 Nandinātha Sūtras, translated into many languages for seekers living in various countries, will play an important part in bringing the best of traditional Hinduism forward in these modern times.§

The first edition of Living with Śiva was addressed to my followers and did not contain the more than 800 pages of inspired talks that form the main body of this second edition. It was a book of aphorisms only, an in-house book of 365 sūtras, written for the large number of Tamil Śaiva followers from Sri Lanka who had, due to civil war, dispersed all over the world. As their hereditary guru, it was my duty to revive the standards that my satguru, Sage Yogaswami, worked so hard to maintain among their parents and grandparents. §

Soon, however, we noticed that Living with Śiva began circulating among people of all religions and persuasions. The Tamils called it the “modern Tirukural,” and non-Hindus took it as a lifeline from the past into the present to hang on to for a better and more productive life. Having realized that Living with Śiva had acquired its own identity and gained its own following of devotees and readers, we added many chapters about Hindu culture to this second edition.§

These 365 sūtras make up Part Four in this second edition, and Parts One, Two and Three are drawn from my inspired talks, dictations and writings given since my international ministry began in 1957 to bring forth and clarify the dharma, and discuss the issues and problems faced all over the world in bringing Hinduism, particularly Śaivism, into the technological age as a system of knowledge, strength and solace to individuals and families in daily life. Especially potent in dealing with the challenges facing the modern Hindu were the series of talks I gave in the United States, Canada, Mauritius, India and Sri Lanka on Renaissance Tours from 1979 to 1983. In the past two decades, excerpts from this collection of talks on culture have touched the hearts and minds of thousands of seekers through my Publisher’s Desk column in our international magazine, HINDUISM TODAY. All that is now captured in this book.§

Today, and in every era, people young and old do want to discuss matters of the family. But all too often when questions arise, answers are avoided or, if given, are irrelevant. It was this urgent need for practical insights on family-oriented subjects that inspired this book. Here we frankly answer the eternal inquiries, openly discuss the problems and boldly show the noble path of dharma for those seeking insights into traditional ways of life that can and should be lived in these contemporary times. §

Many things in the world are wrong, certainly, but they do not have to be that way, since Hindus do have a traditional, proven way to follow. We do. It is the ancient Hindu path of the wise ṛishis, so well articulated, though sometimes too well hidden, in our sacred scriptures. It is not always easy to discover where this path begins, in what direction it leads and where it will take us. But once we find the path, we also find answers to many family-related questions that have troubled us, about which the old cultures had not only generations of knowledge, but also practical, sensible solutions. So, we hope you enjoy this modern look at the ancient Hindu path and find here much to emulate in your own life. §

Of course, now, as in ages past, there are those dedicated to being nonconformist, committed to noncommitment, who discipline themselves to avoid a disciplined life. This book may confound them, for they do not understand discipline’s place on the spiritual path. Ardent, convinced seekers must be tolerant and understanding of the woes and wants of less-disciplined souls. In the final analysis, it is up to each individual to cultivate soul qualities that are already resident within. This is done in a way similar to how a garden is nurtured along into bud, blossom and beauty. The weeds and harmful insects must somehow be kept away. There must be proper light and shade, water and sun. When conditions are right, the intended results manifest of their own accord. The teachings expounded in the pages of Living with Śiva and succinctly codified in the Nandinātha Sūtras are similar to what a gardener needs to know to raise his plants successfully, for the soul is a bud that blossoms, blooms and shines out its beauty, but only if the conditions are right. §

Proceed with confidence. Don’t look back. Fear not what others say or do. There is a new world tomorrow, and you are a vital part of it. The yesterdays cannot be adjusted or corrected until we meet them with a new attitude born of knowledge and wisdom in the tomorrows of our future. We are bound together by bands of steel, as are all worshipers of our Supreme Lord Śiva. Following the culture, protocols and admonitions found in Living with Śiva will keep this bondage happy and rewarding, thus avoiding the tugs and pulls of impropriety, thus averting the pitfalls of humanness which can so often bring pain and remorse. §

We feel that anyone of any culture, creed or belief can benefit from reading Living with Śiva, and will in his or her heart of hearts recognize the valid wisdom herein that has matured through the millennia. We feel this book will be especially appreciated by the elders of all communities where a few families are the central, functioning hub, where the head of the family looks to his kulaguru for advice, to the family priest for ceremony and sacraments, where children are raised as dependents until fully matured, well educated to eventually inherit the family wealth to maintain the traditions, culture and proprieties as they have been dutifully taught. §

Love and blessings to you from this and inner worlds,§


Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami§

162nd Jagadāchārya of the Nandinātha§

Sampradāya’s Kailāsa Paramparā§

Guru Mahāsannidhānam§

Kauai Aadheenam, Hawaii§

Satguru Pūrṇimā, July 4, 2001§

Hindu year of Vṛisha, 5103§