God Siva is the energy within us. "God is the Life of our life." The experiences in the world, facing its challenges are giving us opportunities to improve spiritually. Karma yoga, being of service is the first step. Charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Service leads to deeper understanding, to quieting the mind, to meditation, to surrender, to knowledge of the relationship of the soul to God.
Master Course Trilogy. Dancing with Siva. Sloka 1-2.
Good morning everyone.
Starting off our new year, our new ritau with a new cycle of going through the lessons in the "Master Course Trilogy" Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva. Thought we could look this morning at the first two Slokas from Dancing with Siva.
"Sloka 1: Who am I? Where Did I Come From?
"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. Aum.
"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 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 all 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 Siva 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.'"
One of the comparisons I've made some of my talks is thinking of God Siva, God Siva as the energy within us and the electricity within a computer. The idea is this. If we can imagine the computer was self-aware and it had ego-consciousness. It was a bit proud. I can calculate this way, I can spell that, I can do this, I can do that, all the programs that the computer can run. So the computer feels it has certain abilities. So what happens when your electricity is turned off? Your computer becomes pretty humble, right? Because everything the computer does is dependent upon the electricity flowing through it and it can't generate the electricity. All it can do is use the electricity. So likewise we can't generate the life energy that Siva coming out of the void, all we can do is use it. And when we start to see that Siva is the life energy within us and because of that presence within us we are able to function, gives us a wonderful quality called humility.
"Sloka 2: Where Am I Going? What Is My Path?
"We are all growing toward God, and experience is the path. Through experience we mature out of fear into fearlessness, out of anger into love, out of conflict into peace, out of darkness into light and union in God."
This is an interesting sloka in that it's pointing out something that's not necessarily thought about. In fact I got in an email recently, it's from a married man in Calcutta, think he's somewhere in his thirties at this point. He's feeling his life is just a worldly pursuit and wants to give it up and become a monk. So, of course, that's not in Gurudeva's teachings. Once you're married you're not supposed to give up your family and become a monk. So I suggested to him how he could incorporate more spirituality in to his current life situation, which is what, of course is the ideal. But his thinking showed a common thought that the world is a worldly place and that the ashram or monastery is a spiritual place. In order to be spiritual I have to leave the world and be in the monastery or the ashram. Common thinking.
But that's missing the point of this sloka: "...Through experience we mature out of fear into fearlessness, out of anger into love, out of conflict into peace, out of darkness into light and union with God."
So the experiences in the world are causing us to mature, those of us who are in the world. We're causing maturity when we look at it in the right way. Not automatically causing maturity; we have to look at it the right way and then we realize that have an opportunity here in facing these challenges. To control my emotions better, to control my tendency to worry better, control my mind so I concentrate more and having opportunities to improve.
What's needed for that process to take place? Well we have to realize we can do that. And that's beauty of teachings such as Gurudeva's; he's focusing on it right here, right in sloka number two. Putting it right out front. We have the ability to gain better control of our emotions, over our worries and fears, over our thinking mind. We can do it. We can improve.
So that's the first step, just understanding that it's possible. And the second step of course is we have to try it. It's like the, comparing to regular exercise. What's necessary for someone to exercise on a regular basis, they have to understand the benefits. Otherwise they'll never do it. They're, they're doing it because someone else wants them to. They have to be self motivated, have to understand the benefits. Okay, if I exercise regularly, these are all the benefits, sounds good. But that's not enough, right? Then they actually have to start. So they need a reasonable plan to implement it. Sometimes individuals try and do too much initially and get discouraged. So we don't want to do that. We start with small amounts and then build up gradually in exercise as well as gaining control over our emotions, thinking mind and so forth.
So I know individuals who write in regularly, different ones of course, they've gotten discouraged because they started to improve themselves and they weren't perfect in the first year. They still got angry now and then. Well I'd always jokingly say: Well if you starting by getting angry once a week with your spouse, if you reduce it to once a month that's progress. So we need to be realistic in terms of improving. Not think we have to move from ordinary behavior into perfect behavior quickly. Takes time to understand what upsets us, to learn to deal with it in a different way. But that's the goal.
"We have taken birth in a physical body to grow and evolve into our divine potential. We are already one with God. Our religion contains the knowledge of how to realize this oneness and not create unwanted experiences along the way. The peerless path is following the way of our spiritual forefathers, discovering the mystical meaning of the scriptures. The peerless path is commitment, study, discipline, practice and the maturing of yoga into wisdom. In the beginning stages, we suffer until we learn. Learning leads us to service; and selfless service is the beginning of spiritual striving. Service leads us to understanding. Understanding leads us to meditate deeply and without distractions. Finally, meditation leads us to surrender in God. This is the straight and certain path, the San Marga, leading to Self Realization--the inmost purpose of life--and subsequently to moksha, freedom from rebirth. The Vedas wisely affirm, 'By austerity, goodness is obtained. From goodness, understanding is reached. From understanding, the Self is obtained, and he who obtains the Self is freed from the cycle of birth and death.' Aum Namah Sivaya."
Looking at those steps, Gurudeva talks about there in a few sentences back: "...In the beginning stages we suffer until we learn. So why do we suffer and what do we have to learn? Well, we have to learn that adharmic or poorly conceived actions, shall we say, eventually don't work out. You cheat on a test and you think you get by with it but eventually it comes back to haunt you. So, wrong actions cause us to suffer and eventually we learn that that's the case. Also, the law of karma, we learn what we do to others returns to us. So, we need to learn that. And of course when someone is very young then the parents are teaching them that. Once they get to a certain age then hopefully they're self-reflective and study what causes them to suffer and learn not to do that.
Second step is interesting. "... Learning leads us to service; and selfless service is the beginning of spiritual striving..."
This is a strong point in Gurudeva's teachings. Service is the activity we need to do first. In other words, in the way of explaining the practices is: Karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and jnana yoga. Karma yoga is the first one. So Gurudeva's always emphasized that. First we need to be of service. And of course in Saiva Siddhanta: Charya. kriya, yoga and jnana. the first path is again focused on service. Charya is being of service at the temple, being the servant of the Deity and doing all the chores for the Deity is an important part of the beginning. So what's the result of service? Service leads us to understanding. So, this is a deeper understanding than just what's right and what's wrong and what should we do to avoid suffering. It's beginning to understand the mind, how we work, the relationship of the soul to God, that kind of understanding.
"...Understanding leads us to meditate deeply and without distractions..."
And then: "...Finally meditation leads us to surrender in God."
So those are the stages that Gurudeva's outlined in a very general way and meditation isn't first. We need to understand right and wrong actions; we need to strengthen our service and come into some understandings before we'll be able to meditate.
Many individuals write to me, or said another way... Generally, when someone talks to me about meditation or writes to me about it they say the same thing which is: I sit down to meditate and I can't control my mind; it's all over the place. What do I do? Very very common and of course, you can't give the full answer so I give some simple answer, but this is what you have to do. You have to go through all these preliminary steps. Have to learn right action from wrong action, be of service, develop understanding and at that point, then when you sit down to meditate your mind won't be all over the place. It's naturally quieter.
Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.
Aum Namah Sivaya.