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Hello Shakti Mhi,
Thank you for your reply to my e-mail. I hope i had not seemed to be de-valuing or contradicting the beauty of what you had said in your article; but i hope you believe me when i say that i had only intended to share my thoughts for your consideration. I did so because i was impressed by the sincerity expressed by your article and moved by your devotion to teaching yoga (a technique that has greatly helped to uplift me). I share my own opinions but do not presume to know what is right for you. I wish only to help you accept naturally whatever you choose is best.
While i believe it is true that calling one thing holy denies the holiness of everything else. I believe that all is equally holy. It seems to me, however, that it was difficult to actually believe that all is holy. So in the processes of teaching myself to accept this, i had to abandon reverence and dislike. Some places and people (due to their vibration) helped me to facilitate this process. It is true that every asana is as holy as every other; however, for meditation, i found sucess more readily in padmasana than slumping in a chair. This does not detract from the sanctity of the chair-slump, only its utility as a meditative pose.
It is true that the modern indian society has many pernicious customs from caste discrimination to sati to ‘religious’ riots. I do not wish to defend the words of shivananda, because he is capable of doing so himself, and i, too, think it is good to speak from my own experience. There have been many selfish acts inflicted in the name of religion, but if the teaching of religion is to develop selflessness, these acts are a perversion of true religion. I used to abhor the catholic church (in which i was raised). I blamed the religion for the acts of a few men (or even many). I wrongly believed that Catholicism and not the greed of men caused the crusades. I could not let go (or bow) my own desire to seek vengence, to the healing love of god. I believed that because i had been raped as a child, that that proved god was not good. Yoga helped me to forgive the men who raped me and this helped me to realize that my anger had been misdirected at religion. I realized i thought that they denied me happiness, but that was realy only my own refusal to heal. When i began to heal the anger lifted.
I realy do believe that all is holy and worthy of worship. I believe that the men who raped me are as holy as my guru. I believe that all the people who suffer from social abuses (like caste discrimination), do so only because they choose to. I think this because; I know that i stopped suffering by the grace of my guru when i had convinced myself to. This is a very difficult process, but i have seen so many others do it, that i am convinced that it is possible for all who try. I do not advocate any discrimination or hurtful act, even against those who are guilty of the same. I believe that all are equally worthy of love.
It seems to me that all is as good or bad as people choose to make it. My ‘abuse’ was ‘bad’ as long as i chose to remain the angry victim. It became a huge blessing when i began to view it as an opportunity to access the world within me. I realized, through the urge my rapist caused, many useful things. I never took the time to look inside until the pain made me. I saw within my own self ulitimately ever power in all the universe. I realized not only that god is everywhere but that he was my own True self. Through this I gained the siddhis (mystical powers) of yoga.
My first guru was Subramuniyaswami, but my second guru Ammachi, sent me eventually to the Guru within. My guru today is the highest Self within. The instuction of the living teachers for me was neccessary to learn to bow to the self within. That Self is Loving and helping but will not work against our desires however selfish or ignorant. I do not think that anyone SHOULD bow to any other, but until each individual gets a good sense of who they realy are (by giving up fear and accepting love) it can be very helpful. The lower tendancies must bow to reveal the higher. Someone who knows that the self is everywhere wants to worship it everywhere.
My gurus never did any work for me. I did everything, but their guidance helped to keep me moving foward. They knew the Self so they could help me see it. Their wisdom helped steer me away from painful mistakes. I also believe that the purity of their intense practice generated an energy that helped fuel my practice. Some people do not perceive subtle energies, but i did and found them very helpful.
It is true that no one needs protection, but yoga is a practice that can attract many innerplane beings. When people practice deeper yogic practices with selfish motives or with intent to harm it can give harmful negetive energies and entities a way to cause pain in the world. A qualified guru can prevent any student whose intent is pure from welcoming this pain. The self can do this, too. But it is sometimes hard for the selfish ego to conect with the high self. There are people who seek to hurt us too; it is only logical to seek the association of those who help.
This is only my personal impression from my own experience. It might interest you to have a demonstration of the assistance which is available from a guru. If you are open to this, i will showing you. If you do not accept this that is a valid option. A guru can help overcome personal difficulties in conecting with the bliss of the Self. The job of the guru is to help awaken the divine self within the student. People accept that guru’s help because they desire it. The guru helps because he/she wants to. There is no thought of reward, because selfishness must be abandoned to view the self. There is no hope of being worshiped or appreciated. The guru simply tries to help because he/she serves the Self.
The Self within you is yearning for you to realize it. It wants to free you from every suffering and grant you every power. I know this because i have seen it. I see it in you now. I believe that self is granting you a chance to experience it. Look for it within you. You can seek the help of the Self if you know how to. If you do the same and welcome my help as you look inside; i will show you what i have seen. I welcome you to try this just once. It might change you thoughts on receiving the assistance of those who help.
You have a very good point, that bowing to a guru will only distract you from the Self within. The realy guru does not really accept worship; but he/she does help those who appreciate a need for the particular aid he/she provides. The guru needs permision to help. The guru welcomes questions, and answers in words. This was a huge support to me until i could hear the instructions of the Self. Only then could i seek it securely.
I recall when i revealed the words in the ‘devi mahatmyam’ quoted earlier but i will translate from sanskrit now because i enjoy worship.
To the cause of ever increasing Fortune; to the power of Tranquility; perfected in Her control of all things; to the Victory in struggles; to the three-eyed, Mother of the Universe, and Daughter of the Mountains; to the Sustenace of all the world, i bow.
No one has to bow. But i wanted to. As i did, She, within me, took away my pains and gave me all of Her qualities. Now i have conquered the realm of desire. There is no need to bow, but i do so to show others how. I worship Her, in you, because i love Her. I can not see you to be anything less. Please accept my humble offerings, my Divine Mother.
Reply from shakti
~My response to you is written in between your comments all the way to the end.~
I wanted to comment upon an article by Shakti Mhi entitled ‘avoid worship.’
~The action of worship makes one greater and another lesser and creates great separation, the opposite from oneness, the essence of any spiritual path. This approach takes us even further away from realization. When you make one thing holy naturally you make another thing unholy.
Look at the world throughout history all the way to today and see the result of worshiping blindly in the form of violence and separation. You may say, ‘but worshiping a guru is different’. Is it? Jesus was a great teacher with great teaching until people started worshipping him blindly and elevating him above other living beings all the way to a willingness to kill in his name.
Muhammad was a great prophet but once he was worshipped fanatically and blindly the blood didn’t stop pouring â?¦
You may say ‘but in yoga it is different’ Is it?.
In my youth I spent enough years among gurus and masters observing how far seekers will dive into stupidity resulting from worshiping.~
Swami Shivananda has written many many books, most of which explain the esoteric beauty of worship. Many expressly state that worship of the Satguru is essential to encounter the state of jnana (knowledge) neccessary to progress on a spiritual path. Patanjali who authored the yoga sutra and first codified the ashtanga style of yoga makes clear in those yoga sutras that 1) a guru is nesseccary to practice yoga 2) that, as one of the 5 yamas, worship or ‘ishvarapujana’ is essential to master before even asana practice should begin and 3) that the student progresses only by the grace of the guru as that student is able to accept the grace of the guru.
~Swami Shivanada is the same guru who said that ‘women will never contribute anything to society by becoming doctors and other professional and they should only stay at home and function as mothersâ?¦’ He described women in words that should not even be in print.
If I should take for granted Shivananda’s words about worshiping just because he is a guru or a master should I live by his words about women as well?~
Patanjali who authored the yoga sutra and first codified the ashtanga styleâ?¦
~I can understand how impressed you are by the scripturesâ?¦. (this usually lasts until one connects with their own inner guru). Do you know that if you will go back to the ancient yogi scriptures you will find in the Vedas themselves the seeds to the caste system that is rooted so heavily in India? The reason why such an unimaginably oppressive social system has been created in the most so called ‘spiritual country’ (India) is because the ‘holy’ Brahmans who were on top of the social pyramid wanted to keep their power. By using karmic non sense they imposed a horrible existence on endless generations. If you are blindly accepting the yoga scriptures you are supporting the caste system.
The great Buddha said:
‘Never be impressed by Holy Scriptures or Holy teachers. Know for yourself.’
Following blindly (scriptures or teachers) without creating an authentic thinking makes us no different from soldiers. I hope you will agree with me that soldiers are dangerous.
Taking the path of questioning and not following blindly (isn’t that what worship is?) is to be awakened.~While i do not mean to tell anyone what to do or to prepose that i have the only proper way of viewing spitiual practice, i think these teachers are saying something important. It is not neccessary to have a teacher because the world is a teacher. This is difficult to see the teacher in the world. I can hear the trees and buildings and air talking to me and they tell me how to better my practicve but i still favor a LIVING TEACHER because i lack the faith to believe the trees are helping me when i feel pain.
Sometimes those who are afraid to be hurt avoid living teachers for this reason, but fear does not lead sensible steps on a yogic path. It is more often to find peoples with a strong ‘ahamkara’ or ego who avoid teachers so they can avoid growth! Growth is pain full sometimes. The teacher is useful because he or she can push us through such pain and assure us we are improving. Their guidance can be instrumental in such growth.
~Communication has an interesting twist. While I am talking about non worship you perceive my words as having no teacher. A living teacher is very important thing on the spiritual path, but even here people miss the point as usually they have in their minds a specific image of how this teacher should look, behave or be and often they miss great teaching which may come on their path because it doesn’t fit their description.
So yes for living teacher but why worship? You can have a teacher and have respect and gratitude towards him/her because they are reflection of your own essence.
It is good to worship god in all the world, because this causes him to manifest in our surroundings.
That is right if you are talking religion. If you are talking spirituality you cannot worship god without worshiping evenly everything around you as well as yourself. Everything is Bhraman, god, higher self, the essence.~
It is true that a bad teacher will like being worshipped, but we will help him and ourselves by doing so. We will learn from him how not to behave. There is no need to fear on a spiritual path because our past karmas will protect us from attack.
Any pain we experience is surely a bless in our parabdha karmas which has come to us to help unburden ourselves.
~I can not relate to any of the above words as you are parroting somebody else’s words without obviously having any direct experience in the matter. It is no different then repeating a fairytale that somebody told you.~
While i do not intend to tell you to seek a guru or to change your web page, it seems a shame that many who need to bow their ego may be detered from a path of bhakti. This has been the only thing that has ever help me better raja and jnana yoga (bhakti). It seems a shame to know that people may miss out on the diksha (initiation) of a guru because they have found it useless to ask after reading this article.
~If initiation is something that works for you go for it, but if you think that is the only way for realization you are limiting Realization, a ‘state beyond all concepts’, to as tiny a concept as initiation.
I am providing diksha for all who ever read this article and decide to avoid guru. I will protect them in their spiritual practice until they choose a guru.
Only the one who fears talks about protection, the one who trusts lives with inner peace.
I will protect them in their spiritual practice until they choose a guru.
You mean your way is the only way??? Isn’t this how fanaticism starts?
These are important things for them to have, so i will not deny them.
~Can you really tell what is important for them or maybe you are treating them as perhaps your guru treats you. Like a little child that doesn’t know what is good for him.
I am sorry to see you missed the whole point of the article. Yes for teacher no for worshiping, but I accept this with love.
As I was reading carefully your words I felt I was reading a book and not authentic words from a person who manifests their own path upon an experience.
When one keeps quoting scriptures and others’ words, one does not have much to say on their own.
As you know there is no right or wrong. There are different approaches and different deliveries.~
I bow to Shakti Mhi because she is verily the devi i pray to every day
~Bowing to shakti is bowing to yourself.~
AUM sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvartha sadhike /
sharanye tryambake gauri naaraayani namo’stu te //
~I would be much more interested to hear your own words. Do not allow your beauty as a free spirit to vanish beneath what you perceive as the impressive words of others.
Being your true self is the first step on the path of spirituality.
shakti mhi ~