Category Archives: Hindu Dharma

Sundaram La Pierre speaks on the Hindu Sanatana Dharma.

The Personal Element in Our Search for the Divine

 Dear Friends & Devotees…  Jai Bhagavan!  

“All victory to the sweet Lord who is so personal that He responds to the human affection of His devotees. He permeates all of creation. In fact, the entire universe is His own body –- yet Sundaram, 2He dwells in the hearts of all!”

What is this mystery?  It is the purpose of life to find it out. There is so much in the quest for the Divine that is beyond our little human comprehension.  Paramahansa Yogananda said, “God is both personal and impersonal.  In the ultimate sense He is impersonal, yet when you realize the impersonal God you will find that He is more personal than the personal God.”  What is this?  Of course, what could be more personal than our own Selves?  Bhagavan has become each and every one of us. There is nothing but Him everywhere and in everything. There is no question of human will. Everything is happening by the will of God. Paramahansaji encourages his devotees to affirm this truth:

“He is thinking the thoughts in my brain; He is moving my hands and feet; He is just behind my breath and heartbeat.” More and more I see that He is doing everything through me. I don’t know why I do anything.  All I can answer is, “He does what He does.”

How can a saint be one with God and at the same time remain His devotee? Find it out. This is the wonder and the mystery of Spirit. There are no contradictions. Everything is possible in the realm of Divine consciousness. Listen to these words of Swami Ramdas:

“Grace alone can save you. There is no other way. Grace is so powerful that it can act on any person whether fit or unfit. If fitness is the condition for the working of grace, it cannot be all-powerful, as in that case you can say you attain God by your own merit. Grace must be so powerful that it must make the unfit fit to receive it. So you can turn your mind towards Him through His grace alone, by the contact of saints. Then God will take you up just as the mother takes a baby up. You have simply to cry, “Oh God, lead me towards You and make my mind always dwell on You.’ If you pray in this way grace is bound to come to you.”

 I have been thinking about how much marriage and the spiritual path have in common. Of course, for those of us who have chosen the courageous path of spiritual marriage, they are inseparable. When the chela receives diksha from his God-ordained Guru, a relationship is established between a soul who has already achieved spiritual perfection (the guru) and a soul who has yet to realize his or her own perfection in God (the disciple).  It is the role of the guru to lift the aspiring soul into a state of equality with himself.

In the case of spiritual marriage, two souls who are still individually striving for perfection make a similar commitment to assist one another toward the same goal.

The so-called “honeymoon” phase is equally applicable to both of these divine relationships. It is extremely important to realize this fact. Psychology tells us that the honeymoon phase of a marriage usually lasts two to three years. To achieve a true, deep, lasting and increasingly joyous marriage  requires tremendous selflessness, sacrifice, loyalty and commitment. Taken together, these translate as “unconditional love.” And unconditional love is the love of God. This is how marriage becomes divine.

The same principle applies to the spiritual path. When we find our Guru, when we read or hear the truths he so freely expresses, our hearts and our souls are thrilled! “At last, I have come home!” is our inner response to the call of the Divine. At this stage it is relatively easy to overcome bad habits, to meditate long and enthusiastically, and to think of God most of the time. Some are blessed with spiritual experiences which confirm that we are on the right path. And yes, typically, this phase may last for two or three years.

One senior Self-Realization Fellowship minister relates that he had many wonderful spiritual experiences during this phase, yet from the day he entered the Ashram, all such experiences disappeared for many, many years. This is the test. How we deal with this period of our spiritual quest will set the tone for our ultimate success or failure in this lifetime. Some may leave the path.  Paramahansaji sings, taking the role of the devotee who is longing for communion with the Beloved:

“Devotees may come, devotees may go, but I will be Thine always! My Lord, I will be Thine always,” ~ from Cosmic Chants.

“Do not demand God to appear before you just because you have meditated ten years, or whatever you think is an appropriate amount of time.  He will never come. He has disappointed many saints who have for incarnations meditated on Him. But as soon as there is no demand – when you go on saying, ‘I love you, Lord, and I will go on seeking you no matter how long it takes – then He will come.”  – Paramahansa Yogananda

May we never give up our search for God, no matter how we feel or what seeming obstacles may come to us. Some saints even pray for pain and difficulties, as these make us remember how much we need and depend upon our Beloved God in our lives. For most of us, though, life presents sufficient challenges without us looking for them! Let us make an irrevocable offering of ourselves to Him, knowing that He alone can fulfill the longing of our hearts.

Sundaram is the author of the book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, and publisher of Himalayan Heritage Journal, a bimonthly periodical in support of Sanatana Dharma.

At Himalayan Heritage we feel that our publications: Himalayan Heritage Journal, & our book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, are our most important service.
|We hope you agree!   www.HimalayanHeritage.org 

Dedication & Unconditional Love for God

Dedication & Unconditional Love for God

Being in India provides such a relief from the constant demand on our time, and all the responsibilities that come with our activities here in America. My heart belongs to that simpler life – a life dedicated to sadhana. Despite that, I have always felt that my dharma lay in both worlds. The first time I went to India, I had a deep feeling that expressed itself in the words, “I wish I could bring back a little of this spirit which is India to the West.” In our own way, we have been doing that ever since then. Despite the part of our being which yearns for peace and an ‘easy life’, our beloved Gurudeva, Paramahansa Yogananda, tells us, “An easy life is not a victorious life;” “Life should be chiefly service.”

Swami Ramdas says: “An active life is perfectly in keeping with Self-realization and divine service. What is needed is a total dedication of your entire life to Him. In all situations maintain a steady consciousness of Divinity within and about you.”

We have so many opportunities to immerse ourselves in spiritual practice, kirtan, satsang, and the constant remembrance of God. Yet each one of us must develop the enthusiasm and tenacity to move forward boldly in the pursuit of that one and only supreme goal of life.

Gurudeva often used the word “volition,” in his writings and lectures. Volition might be defined as ‘super-will.’ He says, “No matter how impossible of attainment one’s goal may seem, a man of volition never stops making conscious efforts to achieve his goal as long as he lives.” That is the dedication and determination that is required for success in the spiritual life. Another term for it is “unconditional love.”

I am certain that we have all heard many times the admonition of the necessity of letting go of the ego sense in order to progress toward God-consciousness. Here is an interesting quote from Swami Ramdas about the unreality of the ego:

“How can we sympathize with those who suffer? It is possible only when we have got a pure heart. How can we have a pure heart? Only when it becomes God’s own heart. Ask those people who are hanging around if they can feel for the sufferings of others. Here the sense of my-ness is obstructing them. What an amount of mischief the ego-sense does! After all, it is only a ‘sense’ and not anything that exists. Saints, who have once and for all shed their ego-sense, wonder how a thing that has no existence at all becomes the cause of so much misery to man. When we shed the ego-sense, how sweet everything is! It is pure bliss – unadulterated bliss permeating each and every cell of our body. Later we realize that the same bliss is pervading everywhere. We swim in an ocean of bliss.”

The great question now becomes how to overcome this sense of limiting self-identity. Spiritual practice is the only way, as precepted by the saints. We have no lack of spiritual teachings. As Paramahansaji once said to a disciple who asked for his blessings, “You have my blessings. It is your blessings that are needed!”

We all know how it is when you read some truth and feel that you want to shout it from the rooftops. In the Spring, 2009, issue of Self-Realization Magazine, there is an article by the late Self-Realization Fellowship President and Sangamata, Sri Daya Mata, entitled, Pranayama: Bridge to Divine Consciousness. It is a stunning, quintessential article, which epitomizes the essence of the path taught by Paramahansa Yogananda. It is my hope that SRF will make this satsanga available as a ‘How-to Live’ booklet for all to read. Although directed to devotees of the SRF path, Sri Daya Mataji’s words in the following quote are applicable to all aspiring devotees:

“Sometimes devotees get discouraged and rationalize: ‘I’ve been meditating for so many hours, over so many years, and still I don’t feel I am getting closer to God.’ Well, what of it? Guruji often quoted: ‘The only difference between a saint and a sinner is that the saint never gave up.’ How dare we try to impose upon God our limitations of how much time we are willing to devote to Him, and then give up if He does not respond according to our timetable? That is ridiculous. Many persons spend their whole life madly pursuing some particular ambition – to be a great artist or scientist, or build a business empire. Those who would find God must have that same undaunted zeal, tremendous strength of mind and determination – if necessary until the end of life. If you ask me what has been most helpful to me in this endeavor, it is this: I made up my mind in the very beginning that my attitude would be, ‘Lord, in this life I will let nothing deter me from seeking You wholeheartedly, because I know that is the only way to prove to myself the truth of what Christ, Krishna, Buddha, and all the great saints have said.’”

 May each one of us follow in Ma’s and Paramahansaji’s footsteps by making such a resolution, and by following through until the end of life. This is the test: to see if our love for God is truly unconditional, or if we will give up or become lukewarm devotees when He doesn’t respond in the time and way that our little selves expect.

On another occasion, the Master said, “Do not demand God to appear before you just because you have meditated for ten years, or whatever you think is the right amount of time. He will never come… But when there is no demand; when you go on calling Him saying, “I love you, Lord, and  I will wait for You for as long as is necessary,’ then He will come.”

Sundaram is the author of the book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, and publishes Himalayan Heritage Magazine, a bimonthly periodical in support of Sanatana Dharma.

At Himalayan Heritage we feel that our publications: Himalayan Heritage Magazine, & our book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, are our most important service. We hope you agree!

www.HimalayanHeritage.org  

What is Sanatana Dharma?


What is Sanatana Dharma?
By Sundaram La Pierre
 “Sanatana” means that which is eternal; & “Dharma,” in this context, refers to those natural laws that are in accordance with Ultimate Reality. Whatever is actually true in the universe – whatever teachings are true in any religion – is a part of Sanatana Dharma, thus it has often been translated as the ‘Universal Religion’.  Not the expression of any one historical individual, the truths of Sanatana Dharma have been verified time and time again in the lives of the numerous saints, sages and devotees of God who have practiced its teachings down through the ages.

 

     Who would not love Sanatana Dharma once they were exposed to it and understood it? By very definition, Sanatana Dharma represents that which is actually true in all religions.  Not only an Indian religion, it is a religion that has been preserved for the world by the Himalayan sages and great masters of India.  It is as broad and as vast as the Divine Spirit Itself.

 

     The following nine tenets are offered by Hinduism Today magazine as being representative of most followers of the Hindu religion. (1) There is one, all pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent. (2) The universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution. (3) All souls are evolving toward union with God and will ultimately find Moksha:  freedom from the cycle of rebirth and oneness with Spirit.  Not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny. (4) The law of karma exists, by which each individual creates his or her own destiny by their thoughts, words and deeds. (5) The soul reincarnates through many births until all karmas have been resolved. (6) Divine beings exist in unseen worlds, and that worship and rituals, as well as personal devotion create a communion with these devas and gods. (7) A spiritually awakened master or Satguru is essential to know the Absolute.  Just as a lamp is lit by another lamp, a true Guru lights the flame of God-consciousness in the disciple.  Also required are the disciple’s good conduct, purification, self-inquiry and meditation. (8) All life is sacred, to be loved, revered and protected, and so practice ahimsa, or non-injury. (9) No particular religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others.  All genuine religious paths are facets of God’s pure love, deserving tolerance and understanding.

 

     In an interview, the saintly Swami Avdheshananda Giri, preeminent spiritual leader and mahant of the Juna Akhara, spoke these words: “Hindus believe in the family system. Hindus are non-aggressive, not attackers. Hindus will never harm anyone. There are four reasons why I say this. The first is our principal of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is one family. For us, the whole world is a big family. Second, par dara matravat, meaning women of others are like our mothers. Hindus are known all over the world to maintain the purity of relationships. Third, Hindus believe in sarve bhavantu sukhina, let all be happy and blissful. We want the whole world to be harmonious and joyous; we want the welfare of all beings. The fourth principal is atmavrata sarvabhuteshu: treat others as they would treat themselves.
“Hindus are believers in one God. This God is present everywhere and in every being – formless but also on Earth. Hindus are flexible and generous. They mingle freely with everyone… I have worked to realize my dreams of a better world with better people. Another dream I have is to convey the spirituality of India to the Western world. I want to let them know that Indian spirituality has the human dharma defined for the welfare of all beings of the world… Only the spirituality of India has the power to overcome anything that mankind will face.”
The great Swami Sivananda declared: “There is only one caste, the caste of humanity. There is only one religion, the religion of love. There is only one commandment, the commandment of truthfulness. There is only one law, the law of cause and effect. There is only one God, the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Lord. There is only one language, the language of the heart, or the language of silence.” – from Bliss Divine.

 

    When we read such exalted words our hearts, our minds and our souls leap with the thrill of remembrance.  It is the declared purpose of this publication to remind everyone to honor and uphold the great spiritual legacy of Sanatana Dharma as taught not only in scripture but through the lives of the countless saints, sages and devotees who have walked (and are walking) this path of joy for the welfare of all beings. May we put God first in our lives, and by doing so unfailingly discover our own swadharma, that path in life which is unique to each individual soul and by which we may most quickly resolve our karmas, be of service to others, and return to our ever-new joyful home in God.
     At the end of Chapter XXXII of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, by Mahendranath Gupta (Master Mahasaya), the following words are from Sri Ramakrishna’s conversation with the author:
“The Hindu Religion alone is the Sanatana Dharma. The various creeds you hear of nowadays have come into existence through the will of God and will disappear again through His will.  They will not last forever.  Therefore I say, ‘I bow down at the feet of even the modern devotees.’  The Hindu religion has always existed and will always exist.”

 

Satya Dharma ki Jai!Sundaram La Pierre is the author of the book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, (Himalayan Heritage, 2009), and publishes Himalayan Heritage Magazine, a bimonthly periodical. www.HimalayanHeritage.org* If you wish to be removed from our mailing list, simply scroll to the bottom of this letter.At Himalayan Heritage we feel that our publications: Himalayan Heritage Magazine, & our book, Where Souls Dream God: Westerners’ Perceptions of Spiritual India, are our most important service. We hope you agree!