Siva is All Pervasive Love-Yogaswami Stories

Bodhinatha opens his talk with questions from the "Saiva Vina Vidai" and then tells a Yogaswami story- What is the one thing that God cannot do? Another Yogaswami story is then related to illustrate the nature of love and that all are one. Bodhinatha explains how if you hurt others you are actually hurting yourself. He concludes with "You are Siva, you are all pervasive love."

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. Thank our priests for a beautiful ceremony this morning. Lovely, thank you very much. They've come all the way from Toronto and we're about to leave for Toronto. Our talk this morning is for Toronto [laughs]. So this is a short talk designed for the Sivathondan Nilayam, Toronto; a group of devotees of Yogaswami's, for friday night. It's designed to be translated so we already have the translation which is good. So it's mainly some stories which makes it very interesting.

As most of you know, about one hundred and fifty years ago, a book called Saiva Vina Vidai was written by Arumuga Navalar of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. It is written for children and presents the important teachings of Saivism in the form of questions and answers. That's what vina vidai means: questions and answers. The first two questions and answers are particularly important.

First Question: Who is the Lord of the world?

Answer: Siva Peruman. That's a good answer, right? You know it's Saivism when you read that.

Second Question: What is Siva Peruman's nature?

Eternal; Omnipresent; Omniscient; Omnipotent. So four qualities for God.

It is Siva's fourth quality of being omnipotent, being all powerful, that relates to a story about Satguru Yogaswami from one of his close devotees.

The story goes like this:

"One day I traveled to Jaffna and went to the Ashram at Columbuthurai to see Swami. Swami was seated 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,' and 'It is sufficient if you worship mentally.' (But he was a Guru Bhaktar right? You couldn't stop him from prostrating.) 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, (Which is how we started right? God is all powerful, omnipotent.) 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 straightway, the war can be prevented.' Then Krishna asked him, 'How will you bind me?' and Sahadevan responded that he would bind Him with a restraining rope 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 cannot free Himself. (Think that'll work [...??])

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 Him. 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 split second and is always with us as the soul of our souls."

Well that's the full story. We've heard that before that teaching.

So this same teaching from Yogaswami is found in his published sayings in "Words of Our Master" where he 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, that the one thing that God cannot do is separate Himself from us, it made a much deeper impression on the devotee's mind than it would have if simply spoken as a statement in the first place. So don't forget, even though Siva Peruman is all powerful, omnipotent, He cannot separate Himself from the soul. He is always dwelling within you.

Let me share another Yogaswami story which provides an interesting illustration of this principle of oneness.

Once a devotee of Yogaswami's had a bath, wore clean clothes and was getting ready to see Swami. However, he was saddened by the thought that his heart was not as clean as his body and clothes. He couldn't control his mind and was descending further into sinful ways. His thoughts were so despicable that he could not even discuss it with his friends. He felt that even his parents would despise him if they knew. He was ashamed to go before Swami with such thoughts. But being an ardent devotee he couldn't keep away either. So, he decided he would prostrate himself before Swami and cry his heart out. On the way he hoped Swami would not be in meditation because if He was, then he would perceive his evil thoughts.

As he entered the Ashram he found Swami happily conversing with his disciples. "I have escaped," thought the devotee as he worshipped. Then Swami looked at him with a smile and said, "I know everything from your head to your toes. I know all your thoughts, not only yours but everybody's; I am in everybody. You do not know this because you think of yourself as being separate from others. Learn to consider yourself as the same as others and not separate." Then taking the camphor tray that was burning before Him, He gave it to his devotee and said, "Take this light and considering everyone here to be Siva, worship them."

One final quote from Yogaswami which is a letter he wrote to a young man, Yogendra:

"To dear Yogendra, who is love itself, the following lines are sent -

I am with you and you are with me. There is no distance between us. I am you. You are I. What is there to fear? Look! I exist as you. Then what must you do? You must love. Whom? Everyone. To speak more clearly, your very nature is love. Not only you, but all are pervaded by love. But there is no 'all', for you alone exist. All are you!"

In conclusion, remember the wisdom of Satguru Yogaswami: Siva is a unitive consciousness of love that pervades all and in truth you too are that unitive consciousness of love. Jiva is Siva.

Aum Namah Sivaya

So, it's a very simple story, but very, very powerful message you know and it's not a message you run across everywhere. Run across it all the time in Gurudeva's teachings of course; Yogaswami's teachings. But the idea of being put so simply is a very powerful idea. In fact at a deeper or superconscious level we can identify with the Satchidananda, Parashakti in unitive consciousness and when we identify with it; then there's only one. There's no separate, there isn't a second person, there's only one person, which is everyone and you are that one person. It's not just God is the one person, that you are the one person and furthermore that one person's nature is love meaning; there's a feeling of divine love for everything. In fact your Divine Love is; you love everything, you love everyone. It's not an emotional attraction where you love one thing, one person, two people, five people and not everyone else. It's a divine love because it's a higher state of consciousness. Which means that you love everyone because you are everyone. So, as Gurudeva says it's a, he uses it as a rationale for ahimsa; second rationale.

First rationale is the law of karma which, very compelling; that if you injure someone else it's going to come back to you in the future. So obviously, you don't want to create grief for yourself in the future. So it's not reasonable to hurt somebody else in the present, knowing that you'll be hurt in the same way in the future. That's a good logical statement which convinces our ordinary consciousness, it's not a wise thing to do. But Gurudeva doesn't stop there, he goes deeper. He says and from a deeper state of state of consciousness you feel like you're hurting yourself. Cause you don't have a concept of the second person. So if you were to hurt someone else, you would have the feeling of hurting yourself at that time. So that's an even more compelling rationale for the idea of ahimsa. Doesn't make any sense at all to hurt yourself.

So it's a wonderful teaching and again it, we were talking this last phase the idea of; that if you're going to describe Siva in