Putting Gurudeva's Teachings to the Best Use, Part 4

Bodhinatha continues his Gurudeva mahasamadhi observances class with this part on the importance of The Master Course Trilogy in helping us establish our foundation of philosophical understanding (Dancing with Siva) and cultured living (Living with Siva) so we can pursue the higher reaches of the yogic path (Merging with Siva). Specifically, the yamas and niyamas need to be mastered to a certain degree before deeper yogas and sought. Without a proper foundation, success will not be lasting.

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Questions? Bodhinatha is the successor of "Gurudeva," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. If you have questions on subjects about spiritual life you will find answers in Gurudeva's books and teachings. Learn about ways to study these teachings by visiting The Master Course site or writing to mastercourse@hindu.org.

Unedited Transcript:

" 'Dancing with Siva', the first book of the Trilogy, lays out the philosophical Vedic-Agamic beliefs, attitudes and expectations of the Saivite Hindu religion, which is so necessary to understand, adopt and uphold in order to make true progress in the areas discussed in the other two books."

Philosophical understanding comes primarily from Dancing with Siva.

"'Living with Siva', the second book of the Trilogy, concerns itself with Saivite lifestyle, culture, family life, character building and the overcoming of uncomplimentary habits that disturb others as well as oneself. It focuses on yama, niyama in a lesser way, asana and pranayama. For the entire system of Ashtanga Yoga to work, a firm philosophical-cultural foundation, as found in 'Dancing with Siva' and 'Living with Siva', must be subconsciously accepted by the devotee as his own way of looking at and living life, relating it to experience, solving problems, approaching worship and so forth."

Okay, so that is a lot there!

'Living with Siva' encourages us to live a cultured life, Saivite culture. As Gurudeva says, "What is character? Character is the ability to act with care." It is a nice definition of character. Or a cultured person is someone who is gentle, not crude, not upsetting people all the time, a cultured person. 'Living with Siva' helps us become more and more cultured, more and more refined in our everyday actions. Because one of the qualities of Hinduism is that Hinduism is a way of life. We cannot practice our Hinduism one day a week or one hour a week, it permeates everything we do.

It is like the Hindu businessman. What is up on the shelf? Ganesha. There is a shrine there. Why? He wants Hinduism to permeate his business. His business is not separate from his religion. Likewise, when we go to school. Hinduism should permeate our approach to school, how we learn and how we strive and how we prepare for tests. Hinduism should permeate our lives, 24 hours a day and all our actions. That is the idea of living with Siva. Hinduism is not a compartment of our life. It permeates all of our life and helps us live in a more refined, cultured, harmonious, loving way.

"'Merging with Siva', the third book of the trilogy, encompasses steps five, six and seven, leading to eight - all of which is personally experiential, once we learn to dance with Siva and live with Siva. This means having a good philosophical understanding, a solid commitment, as well as good character, and living the religion. Upon such a foundation, the yogic and metaphysical experiences described in 'Merging with Siva' come naturally and are sustainable.

The Master Course trilogy is a daily, lifetime study for my devotees worldwide to be explored year after year after year, generation after generation."

It goes on ... Isn't that wonderful! It is really a powerful message from Gurudeva, I think after he came back from Europe. Again, the idea is foundation.

This is from the Introduction of 'Yoga's Forgotten Foundation'. I will repeat what I said.

"We can gain a good understanding of the place of the yamas and niyamas in Hinduism by looking at the Hindu discipline of yoga.

Today's popular concept of yoga equates yoga with Hatha Yoga and the practice of the traditional Hatha Yoga asanas or postures. Many practitioners of yoga do so solely for health benefits. But other practitioners pursue it in hopes of reaping the spiritual benefits it offers. They are spiritual seekers having higher consciousness as the goal of their yoga.

Yoga is also known as Ashtanga yoga because it consists of eight limbs," and it goes through that...

"As we can see, there are a few stages that precede asana. Yama, the restraints and Niyama, the observances, which unfortunately are omitted in most yoga classes today. We liken these eight limbs to building a tall building."

This comes from seeing the TransAmerica building being built. Has anyone else seen that built in San Francisco? It is amazing! They had to dig so far down, huge, then cement trucks blocked traffic for miles. It was really a big undertaking. So, it impressed my mind.

"We liken these eight limbs to building a tall building. The yamas are the first part of a foundation, like the cement. The second part, the niyamas are like the steel. Together, they provide the support a tall building needs, to stand. Asana, pranayama, pratyahara are the lower floors. Dharana, dhyana the middle ones and samadhi the top floor.

I remember years ago watching the TransAmerica building in San Francisco being erected. First the construction crew dug down quite a depth with large earth movers, then massive steel pilings were driven, inches at a time, hundreds of feet into the earth. Then thousands of yards of concrete were poured. A long line of cement trucks created a major traffic jam in the well trafficked Business district. From the concrete, the steel rose upwards as a framework for the rest of structure. This massive foundation was needed to keep this famous, modern pyramid from toppling in earthquakes which occur regularly in San Francisco."

Okay the analogy, after all that.

"Leading a spiritual life without a foundation, good character and discipline, success will not be lasting. Sooner or later, the earthquakes in our own personal life, such as outbursts of anger or periods of discouragement will cause our higher consciousness to fall back to earth."

Gurudeva states this when he says, that "It is true when bliss comes from meditation and it is true that higher consciousness is the heritage of all mankind. However the ten restraints and the corresponding practices are necessary to maintain bliss consciousness."

So, that is a nice example.