The River of Life. India has always looked upon it's rivers as divinities. A bath in the Ganga, lifetime's ambition; a pious resolve indicating the desire to destroy one's sins and acquire religious merit. Gurudeva's meditation on a river--affectionate detachment.
Master Course, Merging With Siva, Lesson 23.
Good morning everyone.
We are continuing our new series this morning going through the lessons of Merging with Siva and commenting on them in doing it in chronological order meaning that the talks that were given earlier will be done first. And the first talk which we're doing the second lesson of is "River of Life." So this is continuing with the second lesson of "River of Life".
A little bit about the Ganges first, it's interesting facts. Of course Ganges is the English word. The word in the Indian language is Ganga, long 'a' on the second a. Ganga.
Swami Harshananda's Encyclopedia of Hinduism has an excellent description from the religious point of view. In other words you can look at a river historically in terms of nature, in terms of economy; this is looking at it in terms of Hinduism.
"The rivers of a country are its lifeline. Hindu India has always looked upon its rivers not just as physical or natural objects but as divinities, goddesses of prosperity. Of all the rivers of India, no river has captivated the minds and the hearts of the people more than the river Ganga. For many a Hindu, a bath in it is a lifetime's ambition. No religious act can be ceremonially complete without is water being used in some form of the other.
"A bath in any river cleanses the body. But a bath in the holy river Ganga, that too when the proper procedure prescribed in the religious treatises is followed, purifies the mind too. The following are the various steps given to be followed by an earnest pilgrim who wishes to take a ritual bath in the holy river."
Sankalpa: (He describes sankalpa.) Pious resolve indicating the desire to destroy one's sins and acquire religious merit.
I have a way of describing that. Usually it's in terms of Thai Pusam, carrying of Kavadi, that's the most frequent, penance or prayaschitta, that comes in on my email. There's a mere few in various countries. So when they ask how to go about it I give them a suggestion on the sankalpa, what they have in mind on doing it. Need to have in mind the actions which you regret doing, asking the Deity, in that case Lord Murugan's blessings to get rid of those negative karmas and promicing you'll try your best not to do it again. I think that's an important part, we're not supposed to just keep doing the same thing over and over again and go to the Deity to forgive us every year; we're trying to actually improve our behavior.
After sankalpa, selecting a suitable spot in the river for taking the bath, repeating mantras, water-sipping.
Avahana: Invitation to the river goddess to be present at that particular spot by uttering her names.
Prakshana: Sprinkling water on the head.
Mrittikalepana: Applying river clay to the body.
Snana: A bath.
Acamana: Wearing of clean white clothes.
Arghya: Offering water to Surya and then after the bath visiting a temple and returning home.
Some days are more auspicious for bathing in the Ganga then others. He lists the following:
Amavasya: New moon.
Sankranti: Entering new zodiac sign; lunar and solar eclipses.
Pushkara: That's the day Jupiter enters Aries once every twelve years.
Interesting days, hmm!
That's our introduction on Ganga.
Tuesday's Lesson 23:
"Affectionate Detachment "Meditate on a river. Follow it as a visual image from its source to the end where it merges into the sea. You can now clearly see where you have been clinging to the bank of life's river. You will plainly see just how long you have been clinging to various attachments by holding on to fears, worries, doubts of the future and regrets about the past. Looking at attachment, we see how it holds the mind down, how it submerges personality. Attachment is a stationary thing. Attachment creates the personality. The popular concept of the intellect at this point would be to say, 'Well, then, according to this, we are not supposed to be attached to anything, or even have a personality.'
"But I take this one step farther and tell you, become affectionately detached, for by becoming affectionately detached you absorb all the power of the spiritual force within you. When you absorb the power of the spirit through the body, you will be able to feel it flowing through your most subtle nerves. This vibrant spiritual force within you, vibrating through every cell of the body, quieting the emotions and bringing the mind into effortless concentration, is born of affectionate detachment.
"Affectionate detachment is stronger than any attachment could possibly be, because attachment is created through unfulfilled desire, salted and peppered with fear. Fear of loss, fear of the unexpected, fear that life may not have much more to offer than what has already been offered, fear of old age, fear of harm, fear of accident--these are the fears which salt and pepper the unfulfilled desires. This is attachment.
"To be affectionately detached--that is a power. That is a wisdom. That is a love greater than any emotional love, a love born of understanding, a love that merges you into the river of life and allows actinic force to flow within you so that you realize God. We all still have those little attachments --the good ones, the need for love, acceptance and security. These attachments form the positive aspects of the subconscious. We want to free ourselves of all negative attachments, then use the subconscious positively, as a powerhouse directed by our superconsciousness.
"There is a great wisdom in cultivated affectionate detachment. Let go of the past. Let go of the future. Be a being right now. Being detached does not mean running away from life or being insensitive. It makes us extremely sensitive. When we have the ability to let go, we are warmer, more friendly, more wholesome, more human and closer to our family and friends."
And I have a few comments on all of that:
Gurudeva made a very important point that popular concept of detachment, you have someone to be detached and kind of an ordinary response is they just stand back and they don't care anymore, become a cold person toward the situation. So that's not what Gurudeva wants; he doesn't want cold detachment, he wants affectionate detachment.
He describes that by saying: "When we have the ability to let go, we are warmer, more friendly, more wholesome, more human and closer to our family and friends."
And the way I like to describe that is we're not depending on them for strength, inspiration and all but we're finding that within our self and sharing it with others. So that's the difference. Attachment is depending on others for strength and inspiration and affectionate detachment is finding that within ourselves and then sharing it with others in a friendly way.
Gurudeva also makes the point, just to be clear that some attachments are good. He lists them:
The need for love, acceptance and security. These attachments form the positive aspects of the subconscious when we just want to free ourselves of the negative ones. So, that's a clarification. Free yourself of the negative attachments then use the subconscious positively, as a powerhouse directed by your subconsciousness.
Then we get the idea of fear, Gurudeva said:
"Affectionate detachment is stronger than any attachment could possibly be because attachment is created through unfulfilled desire, salted and peppered with fear. Fear of loss, fear of the unexpected, fear that life may not have much more to offer than has already been offered, fear of old age, fear of harm, fear of accident -- these are the fears which salt and pepper the unfilfilled desires. This is attachment."
Fortunately Gurudeva gives us a number of ways in his teachings for overcoming fear. So if we end up in a fearful state we want to move out of it as quickly as possible. What are some common examples of an important event? We get kind of fearful, we have an important job interview coming up, where a student has a major exam that determines his or her whole future in the academic world. Well natural to be a little fearful. One of the simplest techniques Gurudeva gives us is simply taking time to regulate the breath. Basic pranayama. Doing that for a few days every day before the exam, say for a week before the exam and that interview we take time to center ourselves through pranayama. Get ourselves calm by regulating the breath; then in that way we can minimize fear.
So that's just one of the tools. There's a number of them that Gurudeva gives for moving our awareness out of the state of consciousness of fear.
Thank you very much.
Have a wonderful day.