Know thyself," the famed Greek admonition, came to Athens from India. It was then and is today the simplest thing in the world - and the most difficult Man has always found it hard to look beyond sex, money, food and clothes. He searches for fulfillment in the world, searches outside himself for himself.
When finally it dawns that Truth lies within, man possesses little knowledge of how to find it there, so vast and bewildering is the inner terrain. Thus, we share here the teachings of Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, as presented in his Master Course, a daily guide for the spiritual process. We will share comments from students, information about classes, and more. For information write to Gurudeva, P.O. Box 10, Kapaa, Hawaii 96746. We begin now with affirmations.
"I Can. I Will. I am Able." [From Lesson 13, Book Two, "The Power of Affirmation:"] "The subconscious mind is like a piece of clay that can be impressed. Impressions are made in the clay-like substance of the subconscious through the conscious mind through word, picture and feeling. Once created, impressions remain there vibrating until changed. Affirmations are designed to open the channels to the super-conscious, and it is the force of the intuition that finally cements the desired new impressions into place, replacing the old ones.
We can actually alter the magnetic forces of the sub-conscious mind by repeating aloud the affirmation, I can. I will. I am able to accomplish what I plan, while holding the visual image of being successful and productive. This affirmation has the power to bring a new, vibrant, positive feeling. You may repeat this affirmation fifty or a hundred times a day, and while doing so watch your reactions.
You may find that your subconscious may not even accept the statements, "I can. I will. I am able." It may counter with feelings of "I can't. I won't. I am not able." When this happens, you will observe the old samskaras, impressions, fighting the new ones. One series of impressions is endeavoring to take over the others within the subconscious. Of course, the most aggressive forces will win in the end, so persist with your verbal and visual affirmation. You must not give up affirming I can. I will. I am able to accomplish what I plan, until you find the subconscious structure actually creating situations for you in which you can and are able to be successful in fulfilling your plans and acquiring what you need, be it temporal goods or spiritual unfoldment on the inner path of sadhana."
Parasivam is Absolute Reality. Why is God Siva's first perfection, Parasivam, described as Absolute Reality? God Siva is both unmanifest Reality and manifest Reality. Parasivam is the unmanifest Reality or Absolute Being of God, distinguished from His other two perfections, which are manifest and of the nature of form.
Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami proclaimed: "Truth is One. The rest is illusion. Trust is betrayed by the first attempt at articulation. What else can I say? You must realize It yourself. It is wrong even to put it that way. How does one express something changeless and beyond the knowing of the mind?" Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains: "You see, God Siva is absolute and is Reality Itself. To discover God Siva's ultimate perfection of Reality, the yogi penetrates deep into contemplation. As thoughts arise in his mind, mental concepts of the world or of the God he seeks, he silently repeats, 'Neti, neti - It is not this. It is not that.' His quieted consciousness expands into Satchidananda. He is everywhere, permeating all form in his blissful state. He remembers his goal which lies beyond bliss and holds firmly to 'Neti, neti - this is not That for which I seek,' Through mantra, through tantra, wielding an indomitable will, the last forces of form, time and space subside for him as the yogi, deep in Nirvakalpa Samadhi, merges into Parasivam. Such an inscrutable God is our God Siva."
Working with Yourself Within Yourself. The mystical and spiritual path which the Master Course lessons unfold is the path of self-inquiry, self-understanding, self-purification and, ultimately, Self Realization. It is a path established by Siva Yogaswami and the sages and siddhars of our renowned Saivite lineage, a path of sadhana which brings all things: knowledge, change, purity, love, peace and joy. This is a great path which, truly, all men are on, whether consciously or not. It is a path that teaches the simple, wondrous, joyous process of self discovery. It teaches of the mind and emotion of man, of the nature of God, soul and world, of the techniques evolved in the world's oldest religion for control of the mind and pursuit of the Mystery within. Naturally, there are obstacles, but nothing worthwhile comes easily. As Yogaswami said of the path, "No pains, no gains."
What do Students Have to Say? Students of the Master Course are from all walks of life, from the East as well as the West, young and old. They share in common a genuine urge to unfold, to know and serve God, to perfect themselves and live life purely and fully. It is their comments about the lessons that we share here.
"Upon my first introduction to Saivism, I knew it to be the religion that I had sought for through the years. My soul rejoiced at the 'discovery' of such a profound and fulfilling path. I felt, as Gurudeva has said, that I had at last 'come home.'
"My favorite lesson is nine. It plus the Guru Gita are helping me over many hurdles. Boy, the power and knowledge packed into just nine lessons is overwhelming. Thanks for being my teacher."
"Book One has taught me that "Truth is one, paths are many.' I now know with all my heart that the best and most reliable path to God realization is Saivism. There is no doubt about it. We just have to put into practice what we are taught and do dharma and meditation. Once we have resolved our negative karma we can become an awakened soul. Of all the great religions of the world, I find Saivism is the best and I'm now a strong believer of Saivism, though I was but a mild believer in the past."
"Thanks to Gurudeva and his swamis, I am more aware of the esoteric functions of our religion and the positive work of the Gods in our life."
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm really now aware of my religion, Hinduism, for the first time. It is clearly broken into fragments (lesson chapters) which explain life, soul, dharma and karma. There is really no other religion of the world which explains to us the evolution of the soul so clearly and I can see that Saivism is the root of all religions."
"It is amazing to me that our religion has been so perfectly summarized in just nine lessons by Gurudeva. As he said, it is like the ghee, the concentrated essence of things. I find I know more than almost anybody, or at least know it more clearly than most others and can explain things in ways that my friends and associates appreciate and can understand, too."
"Gurudeva, I perform sadhana every day. Sadhana has helped me a lot. Now I feel confident in life. I no longer doubt the future."
Facing the Ego and Other Obstacles. From all these quotes it is clear that sadhana is a great joy, discovery and strength in life. Nevertheless, facing ourselves is not always easy. It requires that we confront our fears, our faults, our ego, our past misdeeds. But it is the only way to know ourselves, to understand who we are and where we are going. "Knowing thy Self by thyself" is the only path to peace and liberation. So, we set out to perform spiritual disciplines and inevitably encounter obstacles, most of which are within ourselves. See if you have ever had to face any or all of them at one time or another: procrastination, no time for meditation, interruptions, discouragement, lethargy, self-doubt, lack of discipline, intellectual skepticism, day dreaming, fantasy.
The Master Course in Mauritius. After Sadhaka Jothi Kathiresan's (now in Malaysia teaching the Master Course for six months) year of classes in Mauritius, the Hindus in that beautiful island nation have taken over the mission of spreading the teachings of The San Marga Master Course. The "Conseil Des Enseignants" (Council of Teachers) was formed shortly after Sadhaka Kathiresan's departure. They understood the need for a strong, intelligent course on Hinduism and went right to work, conducting island-wide classes.
The Council is the most active sub-committee of the Saiva Siddhanta Manram of Mauritius. Across the island, six dedicated regional leaders of the Council have carried forward the classes started in 1983. At present there are 35 teachers ranging in age from 16 to 40, all dedicating themselves to giving weekly classes in French on Lessons one and Two - Saiva Dharma, a Catechism and Creed for Saivite Hindus.
Lessons One and Two are sold throughout the island, and the other lessons of Book One and Two are photocopied individually and distributed to students who seek to pursue their inner studies through correspondence with Saiva Siddhanta College in Hawaii. Students are also active in lecturing to the public, holding Tirukootams (Satsangs), celebrating religious festivals, drama work and missionary activities through which they protect, preserve and promote the Saiva Dharma; for instance visiting the homes of Hindus who are being pressured by Christians to convert from their ancestral religion. The tremendous spirit of dedication to Sivathondu and personal spiritual practice and unfoldment is spreading daily throughout the nation.
Who is Lord Siva? [From Lesson Two, "A Creed for Saivite Hindus."] Lord Siva is God, the uncreated Supreme Being who is ever-existent in His three perfections of Absolute Reality, Pure Consciousness and Primal Soul. Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami proclaimed: "The universal One is Siva. That without place or name is Siva. The splendor known as Om is Siva. That which has no form is Siva. That which is the Truth is Siva...I saw the Truth of the godhead transcending the principles of manifestation. Sage Chellappa endowed me with the vision of yogic insight, and I beheld in silence the ever poised essence of Reality. No more sorrows. No more joys." Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains: "Lord Siva, God, was never created. He has existed forever and has created all things including everybody's individual soul. Parasivam is His unmanifested first perfection. His second perfection of Satchidananda is all-pervasive, infinite, and is found in every action and particle of His creation. His third perfection or Primal Soul is our personal Lord and Ruler of all three worlds. In praying to God Siva, one can visualize His form as Sivalingam, as Nataraja, the Divine Dancer, or simple see him as Ardhanarisvara, Siva/Sakti, the Primal Substance permeating all form. It is comforting to know that Lord Siva is the Divine Father/Mother, Creator of our soul. That close to us, that watchful and that loving is God Siva. Such a God is truly God."
Malaysia Teaching Mission Sadhaka Jothi Kathiresan's first major report on his 6-month Saiva Dharma teaching mission in Malaysia signals a solid success for his initial one and a half months there. After stopping briefly in Hong Kong where he taught for several days and recorded some radio talks, Sadhaka Kathiresan landed in Kuala Lumpur with a full class schedule waiting for him. Some one hundred students met from 3 to 5 times a week to absorb the Saiva Dharma teachings of the Master Course. Because of the Hindu monk's tight time Schedule, the Kuala Lumpur class had to assimilate in 4 weeks what had been presented in Mauritius over a full year. It was demanding, but the students were so concentrated, studious and keen to learn that virtually all of them completed the course. Once someone graduates from this intensive course he or she can then start conducting classes. Thus the number of teachers multiplies quite rapidly. Out of the K.L. class, eight inspired Saivites immediately started teaching their own classes. After teaching in K.L, Sadhaka quickly moved into the "outstation" (rural) locales of Padang Jawa and Klang. At Padang Jawa he taught a group of youthful Hindu missionaries. One student commented, "For the first time we can give a clear explanation of temple worship. The people are going to love that!" In Klang, 70 people enthusiastically dove into three-hour marathon classes on 4 consecutive days. "What a success!" concluded the class's organizer. Sadhaka Kathiresan has just recently finished a 9-day teaching session in Singapore and will be touring some 20 more localities in Malaysia between now and December when his mission ends.