Advancing Spiritually in the World Today.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2010-10-02
"I am" is a simple way of defining consciousness. Stretch your mind, meditate on as Yogaswami says: "You and God are the same age." Move awareness through understanding and gaining control. Well conceived actions make life more sublime. Minimize emotional swirls in life. The world is a reflection of our consciousness. Looking from an inner perspective. Karma and dharma: two ways of making spiritual progress. Try to live life as though you were carefully writing on water.
Good morning everyone. This is from yesterday's "Merging With Siva" lesson.
"Like Writing On Water
"Spiritual unfoldment leads us along the path into the illumined knowing of where we are in consciousness at any point in time. There are many methods through which this may be accomplished.
"Carefully choose one path and then stay with it with extreme loyalty. For this, a preceptor is needed, a spiritual guide, to answer questions, to raise questions for you to find answers to within your meditations. It is an arduous journey. The rewards come only near its end."
One of the concepts that makes it easier to know where we are in consciousness or more precisely, admit where we are in consciousness, is the idea of identifying with awareness. We were talking yesterday and a simple way of defining awareness is: "I am." And that part of us that is constant: I am happy; I am sad; I am this, I am that. You just take off the last word and there's one thing that is constant throughout, it's the "I am." Gurudeva would often say that he was aware of a consciousness in him which was the same when he was a young child as today and even the same in past lives. Just the "I am" consciousness.
And Yogaswami has an interesting statement to stretch our mind about the I am consciousness. He says: "You and God are the same age." So I won't try and explain that. Something you can meditate on for the rest of your life. "You and God are the same age," he says.
The point being: It's very hard to admit we're upset when we think we're the upset. But when we identify with awareness then we're more detached. We're more willing to see the state of consciousness and say: Oh, look at that, you know. It makes sense; I went through some challenges this morning and now I've ended up in an upset state of mind. So, we're more willing to admit that when we think of ourselves as the awareness which is in the upset state of mind then when we think of ourselves as the upset state of mind. And then, as we know, Gurudeva says: Well, you don't have to remain in the upset state of mind, you can move right out of it. We can move our awareness through understanding it and gaining control over it. If we don't like the state of mind we've ended up in, we can move it to another one. That's the idea of Gurudeva's teachings there.
"To live positively in the conscious mind each day, exercise at least a half hour. Keep the vital energies of the body high and healthy."
That's very important and usually it's just thought about in a physical sense. You know, exercise, some kind of aerobic exercise half an hour a day and we keep healthy. Helps the heart stay healthy, keeps the blood pressure down, keeps the glucose in the range and so forth. But this is pointing out it effects our state of mind. In other words, it's easier to be positive and handle what we face in life when we exercise. It's harder to be positive, harder to handle what we face in life, when we don't.
"To live positively in the conscious mind each day, exercise at least half an hour. Keep the vital energies of the body high and healthy. Eat simply and follow a vegetarian diet, feeding the stomach rather than the mouth."
The common phrase is: "Do you live to eat or do you eat to live?" Right? If you're living to eat then you're placing too much emphasis on food and you're probably eating too much or eating things you shouldn't but if you eat to live or eat to be healthy then you're more likely to have a better diet.
"Be considerate of others always and live inconspicuously, almost transparently, by not ruffling your surroundings, by keeping the home neat and clean, by passing through a room or place and leaving it in a nicer condition than before you arrived."
So that's self-explanatory, the idea of, of trying to, particularly if it's a facility, a room, you know common room in a house where all the family members use it. You don't want to be the one who's messing it up. You know, you want to just keep it clean and as Gurudeva says: "... leaving it nicer condition than before you arrived." Not just putting it back the way it was but making it even nicer than it was before you started using it.
"Seek fresh air and learn to breathe deeply."
This is good, in a while so says: "Get out in the sun." One of the reactions to the fast pace of modern life is we tend to pick up some tension in the body and that tension tends to make us breath a little more shallowly than we should. So we're not really breathing deeply enough. Not getting in full amount of oxygen and also prana comes in when we breath deeply. So, when you're walking outside it's always good to spend a portion of that time consciously breathing deeply. Taking deep breaths and getting lots of oxygen in, lots of prana in from the air.
"Move the physical body, walk briskly, dance, keep the energies vibrant and buoyant. Be close to nature." (Sounds like he's encouraging everyone to live in Hawaii, huh?) Grow food. Develop an art or craft so the hands are active, creative."
Actually very useful, particularly if you've never done it, to develop a craft. Be able to make something refined with your hands. It's giving a certain control to the intellect and the emotions to be able to do that. If you've never done it before you have to really work it, handling that kind of refinement, refined action.
"Of course, being neat and attractive in personal appearance keeps the thoughts of others toward you positive. This is the way to live in the conscious mind. Try to live life as though you are walking in the rain without getting wet, or carefully writing on water. No ripples, no disturbance, no reactionary residue that has to be faced at some future date. "
So, that's a very good one, carefully writing on water. In other words, you just, you're making the minimum motion and not cause ripples that go out. Direction, so if we can act like that, you know through well conceived actions it makes life more sublime. But sometimes, we're not that disciplined and we get emotional and our emotion, we're not writing carefully on water we're creating waves. And those waves upset others and then their upset comes back on us and before we know it we're in an emotional swirl.
Well, Gurudeva's point is try and avoid that. You know, maybe we can't avoid it 100% of the time or try and minimize it; that's a better phrase. We try and minimize creating emotional stirs in life. It just keeps us externalized and possibly, you know, we create some karma when we do something that's really not a wise action. We harm someone in some way and then, then we've created a karma by getting disturbed and causing ripples.
"When we live unconsciously in the conscious mind, we most often look at the physical body as who we are. We say, 'I am hungry,' 'I am happy,' 'I am not feeling well,' 'I want to go to America' or 'I have just come to Bangalore.' Instead of 'I am not feeling well,' we mean our physical body is not feeling well. Instead of 'I want to go to America,' we mean we want to take our physical body to America. Our language is a conscious-mind language. The perspective of our language is constructed to make the conscious mind the real thing, the entire reality of the world. From little children we have been taught that the conscious mind is real and that anything other than this real, solid, conscious mind is to be doubted.
"The mystic walks in the opposite direction. He goes against the crowd. He learns to swim upstream. It is a little more difficult for him, but oh so worth it. The seeker has to learn that the conscious mind is only a vast dream created by many, many people who are dreaming openly. They are dreaming, and even every mystic knows it. They are forming the dream by what they say, by their emotions, by what they think and by that in which they involve themselves. The mystic knows there is no enduring reality to the vast dream made up by people themselves, by their desires, their relationships, their cravings and their insecurities. "
So the example I use on this: I am hungry, I am happy is (you've heard it before, of course,) is the one where we say: I see the paper. Okay? I see the paper, right? Does anyone say: I am the paper? No! I see the paper. I'm not the paper. But, when it comes to happiness do we say: I see happiness? No, we say: I am happiness. So, it's not parallel. But it should be parallel. It's the same process. Our awareness is observing something. But, we're taught we're not the physical object but when it's in the mind we are it. But really that's not the case. There's no difference. We should be just as detached from the paper. Just as detached from the emotion as we are from the paper. We don't, we're not that attached. If I put the paper in the fire no one would care, right? No one would cry. No one you know, but if I , you know, if you take away the happiness then: Oh, oh no. My happiness is gone, you know. So, we need to identify more clearly with the awareness, with the "I am" that's constant in terms of having the same detachment from how we look at physical objects to how we look at what's going on in our emotions and our mind. It's not any different.
Then in the last paragraph Gurudeva's talking about the world. "...there is no enduring reality to the vast dream made up by people themselves, by their desires, their relationships, their cravings and their insecurities. "
So the world is a very interesting concept. If we haven't given a lot of thought we think: Well the world, yes the world is there. It is what it is. But not really. It is what we make of it. It is a reflection of our consciousness. You know, for a teenager for example, the world is a place to party on weekends perhaps. That's how they're looking at it at that age. You know, it's just you go to school all week and the weekend you have to party; and that's the world. Some people look at the world as place to make a lot of money. Well when asked what the world be for right, we go out there and the world is where we make a lot of money. Other people look at it as a place to achieve certain skills and art or science. Other people look it as a chance to teach or be of service.
Well, what it is isn't a one thing. It's what we choose to make it. So the point here is: If we just take on the ordinary consciousness then it's, it's just a series of relationships and ideas and current concerns, you know. Now we're concerned about elections and jobs and the economy and two years from now we'll be concerned about something else and it just keeps going and going, you know, these ideas.
But, when we're trying to make spiritual progress we need to have a spiritual concept about the world. So Yogaswami says: "The world is an ashram." That's a nice one. In other words the world is a place where we can make spiritual progress. But how many of us actually look at it that way when we're out in the world, when we leave home and we're out at work or out shopping or doing this or that? Or, we're younger, when we're out at school. How many of us are actually looking at it as a place where we make spiritual progress and what we're doing out there, today, is supposed to be advancing us spiritually. And are really holding that perspective. If we are then we're looking at it from really an inner perspective, not just an ordinary perspective.
So how do we make spiritual progress in the world? Well in two general ways. We get our karma back. We receive our karma. Karma usually comes through other people, not always. Yogaswami got his karma back through a cow. Cow broke his leg. That's unusual. The cow was part of his family. The cow used to come in the hut and eat. After the meal it was customary, in that style, where you have a cow and you're eating on banana leaves that the cow gets the leftovers. You don't, you know you don't through it in the, there's no plastic or anything. There's just a banana leaf and a little bit of food left. So the cow gets the leftovers. So the cow used to come in afterwards in the hut and get the leftovers and then go out. So, effective part of the family.
But normally, we don't get our karma through cows or through tree branches falling on us or something. It comes to us through other people. And the kind of karma that's important is when other people mistreat us and situations don't work out right and we're really hurt by other people. And, the way I like to explain that is numerically. You know, at that point we have say a hundred unresolved karmas. Karma comes back to us, somebody treats us in a nasty way. We go down to 99 temporarily. That's good, right? But what happens if we retaliate? We get back at them and say: Boy they treated me this way I'm going to treat them back the same way. We're back up to a hundred. We haven't taken the advantage of that opportunity of being out in the world to work through the karma. So, that's the idea. Karma comes to us and if we respond in a nice way and say: Whoa, I wonder what I did to create that rather than simply get mad at someone, then we're taking advantage and making progress through resolving karma.
And the other is it gives up a chance to fulfill duty. Fulfill our duty to or family, primarily, but secondarily to broader groups, to our community, to our religion, to our country even. We have opportunity to fulfill duty. And fulfilling duty, fulfilling dharma, we make progress. And particularly, you know in family life from age 24 through 48 is a very busy time in fulfilling dharma, you know taking care of the kids, raising them and so forth. And then there's a little less to do from that point. You get to be the grandparent, perhaps and enjoy the children but don't all the work. That's the theory.
And then a third area is that: The skills we develop, the mind control we develop in doing things externally exists for internal work as well. In other words, as we go to school and we learn to improve our concentration that concentration is there for spiritual striving. We have better concentration for spiritual striving. The willpower we develop in school and in different activities and in challenges of work place. Increase in willpower helps us in our spiritual striving too. So, they're not really separate. They're not really separate when we look at it from a spiritual point of view.
So, that's the idea. There's another nice quote from Swami Vivekananda. I think he says: "The world is a moral gymnasium" where we increase our spirituality, something like that. Very nice.
That's the point is: We want to make sure we're projecting as a concept that we're out in the world to make spiritual progress in various ways. That's why we're out there. It's an ashram. We can make spiritual progress if we act in certain ways and hold certain perspectives. If we don't then it's a lost opportunity. And one of the keys as Gurudeva says is in this: Don't, don't make waves. Try to live life as though you were "... carefully writing on water. No ripples, no disturbance, no reactionary residue that has to be faced at some future date. "
Thank you very much. Aum Namah Sivaya.
[End of transcript.]