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News from Cinncinatti trip. Yogaswami Stories

Bodhinatha describes his trip to Cincinnati for permanent installation of a Murthi of Muruga gifted years ago by Gurudeva to the temple there. He links the Cincinnati devotees to Sri Lanka, Yogaswami and the Alaveddy Ashram and then tells stories of Gurudeva's Guru Yogaswami. The stories illustrate how worship of the Guru is the worship of God. The profound question: "What is the one thing that God cannot do?" is answered. Bodhinatha connects these stories through Gurudeva's teachings.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. And welcome our guest from Honolulu. Welcome, wonderful to see everyone.

Talk this morning is a talk about Cincinnati, we just returned, Sadhaka Adinatha and I, from a nice July fourth weekend in Cincinnati in fact we got to watch the fireworks there from the downtown from the Cincinnati Temple front steps for a few minutes. We got the fourth of July as well, so they have the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati there. Very diverse group with lots of Deities and the reason they invited us was they are moving the Murugan Deity into a permanent location. They just completed building a south wing and they have a permanent what they call a permanent platform for the Deity and so they want us there for the installation ceremonies. So we got to go there starting Friday night with the traditional ceremony, eye opening ceremony so, for the eye opening ceremony and the idea is the Deity's eyes are opened and so you show the Deity everything auspicious. A little list of auspicious things so it starts off with the virgin girl, the virgin boy, a married couple, an elderly couple, a young cow and a swami. Supposed to have a swami there too a swami, one swami's supposed to be considered auspicious. So I got to be the swami. [laughs] So when my turn came up I got to go over and have Murugan watch me as the swami and the cow happened to be a very small one, about this big. [laughs] They kept a parade you know, in Atlanta they had a real cow a young cow they brought it in and hold the cow this was a smaller ceremony, smaller budget so the cow was just a small one. So that was fun and one of the priests there seems to know us very well, we're not quite sure of the history, but his name was Devanathan Sivacharya and he was very happy and that we were there and that ceremony he said, you know that this Deity happened to be gifted by Gurudeva many years ago. He said you know, that everyone that worships this Deity from now on will receive both the Deity's blessings and Gurudeva's blessings too. That was his opinion. So that was a nice thought. So courses on the souvenir program documented the complete history of the Murugan Deity otherwise I wouldn't have know it all and so their efforts started back in 1994 so this is like a ten year effort. They've been working on this for ten years, quite slowly.

So this small group there, it's a very diverse society from all parts of India, and this particular group are devotees of Murugan and so they, ten years ago they went and saw Swami Satchidananda who at that time was nearby in his headquarters in Virginia, they're over there in Virginia. So they told them they wanted to get a Murugan Deity and he said go see Gurudeva. He's the swami that'll help you. So they contacted Gurudeva in 1995 and and in fact they saw Gurudeva they met both Gurudeva and Ceyonswami and as they were returning they stopped into the Cincinnati airport on their way back from Germany and met the group and that inspired them further and so Gurudeva asked me you know which murthi of Muruga do you want and they chose the Palamudhir Cholai Murthi along with two consorts Valli and Deyvayanai. And so Gurudeva ordered those murthis and they arrived there in 1996. So they've had the murthis for eight years as a gift from Gurudeva. So fortunately the souvenir told me all that. [laughs] Cause I hadn't remembered all the details, Gurudeva's given murthis to so many temples that, you know we had to look it up on our master list. So a lot of the group, it was interesting, are from Sri Lanka in fact the coordinator in the group is from Malakam which is a village near our Alaveddy Ashram. It's just down the street so to speak from Malakam, a few miles away. And he was just mentioning casually that when he was young his father used to take him all the time to see our Gurudeva's Guru Yogaswami in Columbuthurai and he would go there as a young boy. And of course he said he was too young to really understand Yogaswami and what was going on but he did mention that whenever they entered the yard, you know he would open the gate and go in with his father, that Yogaswami, who of course couldn't see the gate, would call out his father's name and ask him to come in. So he didn't know he, Yogaswami knew who was ever in his yard just by their thoughts he didn't have to see them so that was a nice statement.

And there was another lady who came offered to stay here one night and she was from Columbuthurai and recalls Gurudeva, meeting Gurudeva at the Alaveddy Ashram, being given some kind of pink fruit, that's all she can remember. Gurudeva gave her a pink fruit in Alaveddy. So then you realize you know you wait another twenty years and all the stories from the elders from Sri Lanka will be about Gurudeva, you know how they met Gurudeva here and how they met Gurudeva there, it's gonna change, just give it more time. So this Saturday we went to the temple in the late afternoon and we had a nice homa and Kailasa Puja and I did a talk. We had about a hundred and forty people present and we also met some families from Sri Lanka, for example some of you know Amanda Ratham and her younger brother is called Thamby. And so we met Thamby's son and wife and two children who are now living in Ohio. All the way from Sri Lanka. We gave another talk the next morning, about two hundred people the next morning, for the larger event and gave a talk about Lord Muruga being a real being and then we got to attend certain cultural programs and then we had a wonderful parade around the temple with the parade Deities which was a lot of fun, and met a few devotees there including Joel and Lynda and Mary Beth from our India Innersearch. They all came, said hello and so we got quite a few compliments on being there and lots of people came forward and particularly thanked us for our talks. And were very appreciative of what we said in our talks and even requested computer files, so they got the computer files of the talks so they could send them around to their group on e-mail as well as plan to print them in the newsletter. So that was nice that Gurudeva's teachings were so well received. So again it was a similar group to our western Canada trip and similar idea you know that if we can get information on Gurudeva's guru Yogaswami to this group, while many of the elders there who know Yogaswami are still alive to our advantage and then they'll talk about Yogaswami from their experience and help Yogaswami and his teachings and his attainments be better known among the entire group.

So in that spirit I looked around for some more Yogaswami stories and found a couple for this morning, so here's the first story.

"Sometimes when Swami stayed in our house He would spend hours in deep meditation. Seeing Swami seated in the Padmasana lotus posture as the Lord of meditation, on my return from work would enrapture me. Early morning when we wake up, seeing Swami lying on the bed he would look like the Lord of serenity. On seeing that form I would sense that we were looking at God, thus proving the words given in that rare mantra "I am He". Even when Swami was not there it was natural to recall His divine form and words. In the letter He wrote to me there is a line "Great souls have arrived from their experience." The plural world, the plural word 'Great Souls' generally signifies all those souls who have gained spiritual knowledge. As time went on it appeared that Swami alone remained hidden in those plural words. Swami by His own experience gained the knowledge that we are the soul (Aatma). It also became clear that Swami sees directly that God is within and without. I recollected that Swami once said, "You can see God only through God." As I remembered this, the certainty arose that there was no greater God than Swami; who was constantly seeing God everywhere, within and without. Just as a researcher who touches, feels and tests a statue suddenly realizes the true form of that statue which was worshipped earlier would tremble like a devotee before the original God; such a tremor arose in me.

In this state of mind when I went to Jaffna I went to the Ashram at Columbuththurai to see Swami. Swami was seated amidst, amidst a few devotees. That day even without my knowledge I fell spontaneously at His feet and worshipped Him. From that day onwards until He attained Samadhi whenever I went to see Swami I worshipped Him despite His saying these words, "It is not necessary to worship in front of people," and "It is not necessary to fall on the ground, it is sufficient if you worship mentally." But from that day I could not be without falling prostrate and worshipping Him. One day He called me by name and said, "What is the one thing God cannot do?" I heard this question and remained shocked. When it is said that God is all powerful is there something He cannot do? Swami quietly said, "You need not answer now; you can give the reply when you come in two days time." When I came home that question kept resounding itself. I could think of nothing else. While I was musing over that question, a section I had studied in the Mahabharatha came to my mind. When Krishna asked what can be done to prevent the war, Sahadevan's reply was the section I recalled. Sahadevan's reply was, 'If I bind you straight-away, the war can be prevented.' Then Krishna asked him, 'How will you bind me?' and Sahadevan responded he would bind Him with the fetters of love; this seemed a satisfactory answer to Swami's question. I decided to tell Swami that when God is captured by the love of the devotee, He can not free Himself. Two days later when I went to see Swami I gave this reply. When He heard my reply Swami said, 'How can that be? You can bind God by love only if love is different from God. You cannot separate God from love. God is love.' He continued, 'The one act God cannot do is to separate Himself from us even for a moment.' By this device Swami impressed on my heart that God does not separate from us even for a trice and is always within us as the soul of our souls. Now, since Swami is my God I began to meditate on the fact Swami is the God who is inseparable from me." End of our story then.

This same teaching from Yogaswami is found in his published sayings in Words of Our Master where it says: "There is one thing God cannot do - He cannot separate Himself from the soul." Yogaswami, of course, is impressing upon the mind the teaching that the essence of the soul is identical with God, that God is the Soul of our soul, the Life of our life. In the story, Yogaswami could have simply made the statement to the devotee "God is always within us." However, instead he asked the question "What is the one thing God cannot do?" and asked the man to think about it for two days. When the answer was finally given, by Swami that the one thing that God cannot do is separate Himself from us, it made a much deeper impression on the devotee's mind that it would have if simply spoken as a statement by Swami in the first place. So in this way, Yogaswami impressed that teaching indelibly in the mind of this devotee.

Gurudeva states this same teaching in the first sloka and bhashya of Dancing with Siva where in answer to the question Who am I? Where did I come from? he answers:

Sloka: Rishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous journey. We came from God, live in God and are evolving into oneness with God. We are, in truth, the Truth we seek.

Bhashya: We are immortal souls living and growing in the great school of earthly experience in which we have lived many lives. Vedic rishis have given us courage by uttering the simple truth, "God is the Life of our life." A great sage carried it further. You know who that is right? Yogaswami. A great sage carried it further by saying, there is one thing God cannot do: God cannot separate Himself from us. This is because God is our life. God is the life in the birds. God is the life in the fish. God is the life in the animals. Becoming aware of this Life energy in all that lives is becoming aware of God's loving presence within us. We are the undying consciousness and energy flowing through all things. Deep inside we are perfect this very moment, and we have only to discover and live up to this perfection to be whole. Our energy and God's energy are the same, ever coming out of the void. We are beautiful children of God. Each day we should try to see the life energy in trees, birds, animals and people. When we do, we are seeing God in action. The Vedas affirm, "He who knows God as the Life of life, the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind--he indeed comprehends fully the Cause of all causes."

Second story. Ready for a second story? This is a great story.

"When Yoga Swami began living in the Columbuthurai Ashram, He would spend the first three days of a week in meditation. He would rest on the fourth day. Again He would spend the last three days in meditation. That's pretty strict right? Six out of seven days in meditation, my goodness. Even after the devotees began to arrive in great numbers He would be rapt in meditation at will. On Sivarathiri day it was His custom to meditate through the night. A few devotees who had the good fortune to be with Swami at these times saw a light shine where Swami's body should have been. Those devotees who saw this shining light for a few seconds believed that this was the divine light that shone from His blemishless, blemishless form, and was His true form. Even those who could not see this shining light were amazed at the erect still form of Swami seated like a statue without any movement. That golden form sat as still as His umbrella in the corner. On one occasion when Swami sat like a pillar, a crow came flying, rested on His head for a while and flew away." End of story.

This same teaching from Yogaswami is found in his published sayings in Words of Our Master where it says: "If you think of the state of Siva, which is beyond all attributes, it won't come. It will come by itself. One day, when I was in that state, a bird came and sat on my head. Even yogis and jnanis can't understand that state."

Aum Namah Sivaya

Photo of  Gurudeva
We have one duty to perform, which is to pass our religion on to the next generation, the next and the next. And how do we do this? How is this done? It is done by causing the children to memorize the precepts of our scriptures.