The traditional rite of worship, called puja, is a sanctified act of the highest importance for the Hindu. It is the invoking of God Siva and the Gods and the heartfelt expression of our love, devotion and surrender. Aum.
Puja is a ceremony in which the ringing of bells, passing of flames, presenting of offerings and chanting invoke the devas and Mahadevas, who then come to bless and help us. Puja is our holy communion, full of wonder and tender affections. It is that part of our day which we share most closely and consciously with our beloved Deity; and thus it is for Saivites the axis of religious life. Our worship through puja, outlined in the Saiva Agamas, may be an expression of festive celebration of important events in life, of adoration and thanksgiving, penance and confession, prayerful supplication and requests, or contemplation at the deepest levels of superconsciousness. Puja may be conducted on highly auspicious days in a most elaborate, orthodox and strict manner by the temple pujaris, or it may be offered in the simplest form each morning and evening in the home shrine by any devotee. The Vedas proclaim, "Sacrifice resembles a loom with threads extended this way and that, composed of innumerable rituals. Behold now the fathers weaving the fabric; seated on the outstretched loom. 'Lengthwise! Crosswise!' they cry." Aum Namah Sivaya.
The primal life force ever resident within the body, emotions and mind of man is, when used or allowed to function, what I term willpower. Now we can see that the ever-present persistence of life force gives an overabundance of willpower and with it the ability to direct it from deep within. This ability to direct the willpower is the jnana, the wisdom we seek. We have but two choices: to gain jnana through learning the tried-and-tested, set patterns for living and conducting ourself or, through assuming a relaxed approach of ignorance, be guided by the "good" and "bad" and mixed emotional forces of the wills of others. Therefore, the devotee seeks to gain the conscious control of his own willpower, to awaken knowledge of the primal force through the direct experience of it, and to claim conscious control of his own individual awareness.
Thus we can begin to see that our individual awareness, willpower and the primal life force deep within body, emotion and mind are, in fact, one and the same--that willpower, individual awareness and life force, their habits and usages, are but various aspects.
You will notice that, through our study together, these three aspects are referred to time and time again, individually as well as collectively. However, in the study of yoga it is important to keep in mind the totality of their sameness in order to fully identify your personal and continued experience of yourself as a being with unlimited will, constantly and fully aware of the primal life force flowing through body and emotions, as you, awareness, travel through the mind. This is the goal of the jnani, the one who has attained to wisdom, to the acquisition of divine knowledge and the personal experience of what he has learned.
A child in his early years becoming acquainted with living with his family on this planet will show tendencies toward a quiet, peaceful will or a provocative willfulness. The wise parent teaches the culture and etiquette of the household and the community at large, ever endeavoring to bring forth the inner knowledge within the child as to the wise use of his willpower, guiding him carefully away from impulsive, willful behavior so that, little by little, he becomes responsible for the action he causes, as well as its reactions. The unwise parent with no particular cultural heritage, completely vulnerable to his own instinctive impulses, overlooks this area of childhood training. Therefore, impulsive willfulness bursts forth from within the children, cultivating abilities to hurt themselves as well as others, and to upset the home, with no particular remedy in view.
This of course is the opposite to what we have in mind to obtain for ourselves. It is the attainment of that ever-collected mastery over our faculties through holding our inner perspective of them that keeps a heavy reign over the aspect of awareness called willpower, maintaining an even balance between the emotional-instinctive, the intellectual and the spiritual aspects of our being. It is through the study of raja yoga, while always holding a silent overview as to what you are learning and how it relates to your particular life patterns, that you will come to know that an inner change is taking place. Harness the powers of your will in the ways indicated. The reward is simultaneous with the effort employed. The results are immediate.
Siva's young devotees take the celibacy vow and remain virgin until marriage. For lasting happiness and mutual spiritual purpose, they seek to marry a Saivite wisely chosen by their parents, satguru and themselves. Aum.
Nowadays meditation is becoming very popular. Everyone is talking about being centered. If you're right in the center of yourself, you don't hear any of the noise or activity. You're just peaceful within yourself. It's only when we come into the cross-section, the cross-fire of life, that we feel we're not all right. Then we begin living in the great lie of the universe, the great fear that if we die we might be gone forever. We forget all of the wonderful philosophy and beautiful teachings that we've been studying, and we're just not all right.
My satguru, Yogaswami, made the very bold statement once, "There is not even one thing in this world that is not perfect!" You have to take a master like that very seriously. He was satguru for over 50 years in a very orthodox area of the world. "There is not even one thing in this world that is not perfect," he said. Some of us look around at the world, and we find plenty of things that are wrong with it. I never have. I have always thought this is a wonderful planet--wouldn't have missed it for anything. It is a great time now to be alive, even though some of us don't think so, even though the planet is somewhat polluted, and some people have a myriad of complaints.
Meditation is not an escape from the exterior world. We have to straighten ourselves out in the exterior world first before meditation and inner life can really be successful. Sometimes we worry about our job, our business, our family or even that we are not living as spiritually as we think we should.
This is my advice: gain the perspective first that it is a wonderful world, that there is nothing wrong in the world at all. Then ask yourself this question: "Am I not all right, right now, right this instant?" And answer, "I'm all right, right now." Declare that. Then a minute later in another now ask again, "Am I all right, right now?" Just keep asking this one question for the rest of your life, and you will always feel positive, self-assured and fine. This attitude eliminates fear, worry and doubt.
I discovered this formula when I was seven years of age. It came to me from the inside one day when I was worried about missing my favorite radio program. We were on our way home in a snow storm at Lake Tahoe, and I was afraid we might get stuck and I'd miss the program. I saw my mind, awareness, go off into the future, and I brought it back by telling myself, "I'm all right, right now. It hasn't happened yet." As it turned out, we didn't get stuck in the snow and I did get to listen to Captain Midnight. After that, I would say to myself, "I'm all right, right now," every time something came up that stretched my imagination into the future, into worry, or into the past when something disturbing lingered in my memory patterns that I did yesterday that maybe I shouldn't have done. Each time that happened I would say, "I'm all right, right now, am I not?" And I would have to always answer, "Of course, yes." I started doing this at the age of seven, and still today I am convinced that I am all right, right now!
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These daily Master Course lessons are drawn from Gurudeva's 3,000 page trilogy on Hindu philosophy, culture and metaphysics, available in the full-color volumes of Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva at our Minimela online store.