Wednesday, August 20, 2014

IX: 26

Chapter 9, Verse 26

"Any offering...
A leaf, a flower,
A piece of fruit,
Or a cup of water
I will appreciate
If it is given
With a loving heart."

Swami Satchidananda:

It's the heart behind the offering that counts.  It's not the amount or the elegance of the gift.  It's the heart that God looks for.  The same goes for your practices: chanting, Puja, Mantra, and so on.

How much of your heart is really in it?

What good is it if it is heartless?

Jesus:

Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, have the best seats in the synagogues, the places of honor at feasts, and who make long prayers.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums.  Then a poor widow came and put in two copper coins, which make a penny.  He called his disciples to him and said to them...

Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all of these others, for they contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she has, her whole living. (Mark, 12:38-44)

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Jesus was not only observing the people and the amount of their offerings, but with his intuitive perception he was also analyzing their motivating spirit.  He called to the attention of the disciples the action of the widow, because her generous spirit made her tiny gift shine before God.  Jesus cited the incident as a beautiful illustration of a divine principle...

Although the poor widow put only a penny in the temple treasury, her devotion magnified the offering.  In the eyes of God, she gave far more than all of the rich and indifferent people who gave a greater amount but without devotion in their hearts.

Those who made impressive contributions were disbursing only a token of their abundant riches, at no inconvenience to themselves, while the widow, notwithstanding her own needs, gave to God's cause all that she had.

In Oriental temples, flowers, fruits, and monetary donations are given as offerings to God.  These help to maintain the temple, and God himself receives the devotion that rises from sincere human hearts expressed in those gifts purely offered as spiritual oblations.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

IX: 25

Chapter 9, Verse 25

"Those who worship the gods
Go to the gods.
Those who most revere their ancestors
Become united with them;
But my disciples
Come to me."

Sri Aurobindo:

However a rite of worship manifests, it forms a thread of connection, and there is a response.  This response, a fruit of adoration and offering, is in accordance with knowledge and faith.  It cannot exceed their limitations, because the worship, in the great majority of cases, is limited in its object and largely egoistic in its motivation.

To follow after the Universal and Supreme Spirit alone and utterly is to attain all knowledge.  You will not be limited by any aspect.  This absolute self-giving, this one-pointed surrender is the devotion which Krishna makes the crown of his synthesis.  All action and effort are by this devotion turned into an offering to the Supreme Purushottam.

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Krishna has already stated [Chapter 8, Verse 6] that the predominant feeling at the time of death determines your future residence.  It is in accordance with your devotional trends that you will frequent the astral realms of the deities, or the regions of the ancestral heroes, or the abode of elemental spirits, or to Eternal Freedom, the Supreme, Vibrationless Sphere of God.

Those who commune throughout their lives with God are at death not cast by the karmic Judge into a cosmic dream-prison, but go unto their Father to become pillars in his Mansion, Unmanifested Cosmos, for it says in the Book or Revelation (3: 12)...

He who conquers,
I will make him a pillar
in the temple of my God.
Never shall he go out of it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IX: 24

Chapter 9, Verse 24

"Fundamentally, I am the object of all worship,
The enjoyer of all ritual offerings.
Until worshipers come to know me in truth,
They will be bound to the wheel of life and death,"

Father Bede Griffiths:

Krishna responds to the faith of the seeker.  All genuine faith, whatever the form, is always directed towards the Eternal in some fashion.  It is a commitment to something ultimate.  The idea and image of the ultimate may have flaws, but it is the faith that counts.

Swami Shivananda:

Water is to be poured on the root and not on the branches.

[When we are aware of the Lord's immanent Spirit within all manifestation, everything is full of God's glory, and we can do nothing but rejoice in the miracle of God's omnipresence.  When we forget that God is present in everyone and everything, we are fooled by what we see, taking it at face value, and failing to touch the deeper foundation.  Forgetting God, we get tricked by appearances.  When we remember God, we sing praises for the miracle of unity in diversity.  Constant remembrance is divine grace.  We do our parts on the roads to that blessed state, day by day, and breath by breath.]

Jesus:

I am the vine and you are the branches.  Abide in me as I abide in you.  Those who abide in me bear much fruit.

[The sap flows freely back and forth between vine and branch.]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IX: 23

Chapter 9, Verse 23

"Those devotees, endowed with faith,
Who worship other gods,
Using methods not prescribed in the scriptures,
Nevertheless will come to me, Arjuna.

Swami Satchidananda:

One day a young boy named Tinnapur went hunting with two friends.  They chased a wild boar up and over a hill.  Then they came upon a small shed.  The animal seemed to have led them there.  Tinnapur opened the shed, and the first thing that he saw was a Shivalingam [sacred stone].  His friends continued on with the hunt, but Tinnapur felt such an overpowering connection to the Shivalingam that he bowed low, saying...

My Lord, you are all alone.  Who takes care of you?  Nobody has bathed you.  I'll give you a bath and some nice food.

He ran all the way to the bottom of the hill, killed a pig, and barbecued it.  He put the choicest parts on a banana leaf and started back up the hill.  He had no vessel for carrying water.  Then an idea occurred to him.  He ran to a stream, carefully rinsed his mouth, and then took a great mouthful of water.  He held it inside his mouth as he ran back up the hill with pork in hand.

He poured the water from his mouth over the deity.  In that way, he gave a nice bath and then placed the pork on the altar.  He was very, very happy.  He had fed God.  He danced in ecstasy, promising...

You won't be alone in the future.  I'll be back tomorrow.

Tinnapur did not know that on the other side of the hill there was a village.  In the village lived a devoted Brahmin priest who worshiped at this hidden altar daily.  The next morning when he arrived, the priest saw the pork there and was stunned and then outraged.  He wondered...

What devil is coming here and desecrating the temple like this.

Disgusted and repulsed, he carefully wiped everything down.  He then did a purifying Puja [ritual] as prescribed in the scriptures.

That night he could not sleep.  Finally, he dozed, and God appeared to him in a dream, saying...

Do not worry, Shivagocharya.  You are a great devotee, but there is an even greater devotee worshiping me.  He's a hunter.  He doesn't know about fresh fruits and vegetables.  All he knows is to give pork.  He knows no rituals, either, but I love his worship.  I admire his faith and devotion.  Today, after your own worship, conceal yourself, and you will see true devotion.

Later that day after his own worship, Shivagocharya hid and kept watch.  He saw the hunter arrive, pour water from his mouth, and put the roast pork down before the altar.  Then Tinnapur began to dance in ecstasy.  As he danced, Tinnapur noticed something.  His devotion was so strong that he no longer was seeing the Shivalingam as a stone.  Instead, he perceived God in human form, and as he looked, he suddenly could see that one of God's eyes was bleeding.  Tinnapur stopped dancing and exclaimed...

God, what has happened?  You're bleeding!  Wait, please!  I'll gather some herbs and be right back.

He ran down the hill, plucked some healing herbs, ran back, squeezed them, and applied them to the bleeding eye, but the bleeding would not stop.  He was completely beside himself by now.  He didn't know what to do.  Then, suddenly, he knew.  From his quiver, he took a sharp arrow.  He stuck the point of the arrow in the outside corner of one of his own eyes and popped it out of the socket.  It plopped into his hand.

Immediately, he put it on the Lord's bleeding eye.  The moment that he took his hand away the bleeding stopped.  He was so happy that he didn't think for a moment about the loss of his own eye, nor all of the spouting blood.  He cried happily...

Oh, Lord, oh my Lord!  I'm so pleased that this eye has helped you to heal.

All the while, Shivagocharya had been watching.  When Tinnapur plucked out his eye, the priest began to shake, saying to himself...

My God, what devotion!

He fainted.  At the same moment, God appeared to the hunter in more grandeur than ever before and called him Kannappar, which means eye-fixer.  The Lord said...

Kannappar, your devotion is supreme.  I wouldn't have allowed you to go through this if not for this poor man here who is also a devotee.  You come daily and worship me with true devotion.  Certainly you will reach me.

With that, Kannapar's eye was given back to him, and his sight was restored, clearer than ever.

This is not just a story.  Kannappar was a living person.  He didn't know the correct procedures prescribed in the scriptures, but with such pure devotion, there's no such thing as a wrong method.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

IX: 22

Chapter 9, Verse 22

"For those who adore me
And think of me constantly,
I add to what they already have
And comfort them with absolute security."

Mahatma Gandhi:

There are three unmistakable marks of a true Bhakta: even-mindedness, skill in action, and undivided devotion.  These three are to be completely harmonized.  Without undivded devotion, there can be no even-mindedness.  Without even-mindedness, there can be no undivided devotion.  Without skill in action, undivided devotion and even-mindedness are pretenses.

Jesus:

I am the vine, and you are the branches.  Abide in me as I abide in you.  Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit.  (John 15: 1-5)

Swami Satchidananda:

What a great promise Krishna makes.  God provides everything for you and protects you when you worship him one-pointedly.

How do you worship Krishna, your own Peace, the Self in you?

Your worship consists of constantly remembering...

This is the only thing that will save me and keep me happy always.  There's no other way for me.

So keep an eye on your own Peace.  Whatever is going on, see that you are still maintaining your Peace.  The moment that you feel that you are forgetting your Peace or that it's slipping away, immediately think...

No, I care more for my Peace than anything else.  Even if I could have the whole world in place of my Peace, I wouldn't trade it.  I just want Peace and Peace alone.  I am worshiping my Peace.

What is worship, really?

You want to keep with you what you love the most.  You won't trade that; it's non-negotiable.  Those who trade their Peace for anything else in life are foolish.  Only a fool would trade his eyes for a beautiful work of art.  Without his eyes, how could he appreciate it?

Sometimes you seem to be keeping your Peace, and still you are getting things.  They're just coming to you.  The indication is that you had no expectations to receive anything.  However, when you really go after something in the world, hoping that it will make you happy by getting it, you have already traded away your Peace.

Jesus:

The Holy Spirit will remind you of all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you.  My Peace I give to you.  I do not give as the world gives. (John 14: 26, 27)

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Those who are faithful to their Creator, perceiving him in all the diverse phases of life, discover that he has taken charge of their lives, even down to the smallest detail, and makes smooth their paths through the bestowal of divine foresight.

God upholds lovingly the wisdom of the Yogis, once they have found it.  He finds no difficulty supplying his lovers with food and shelter for the body as well as all other needful accessories of life.  Many people foolishly spend their lives seeking material prosperity, which must be forsaken at death [or sometimes sooner!].  Yogis use their efforts to absorb imperishable wisdom.  Their spiritual wealth is deposited for them by God in the bank of the eternal now.

Solomon:

Trust in the Lord with all thy heart.
In all ways acknowledge him,
And he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3: 5, 6)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

IX: 21

Chapter 9, Verse 21

"When their merit is spent,
They fall back into the mortal world.
Impelled by desire,
They achieve only that which will pass away.
They are caught
In the chain of personal desires
And continue to take birth."

Father Bede Griffiths:

Their good deeds have limited value.  When they have had their reward, then they must return.  Desire is the root of all limitations.  As long as you desire, you may get what you seek, but you will exhaust these things also.  Only when you go beyond desire altogether are you set free.  That is Liberation.

[The desire to always remember God and to act solely to please God is not the kind of desire that Krishna and Father Bede are talking about here.  This kind of special desire is a way of describing devotion for God.  This desire opens wide the gate to Liberation.]

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Good karma produces only a period of astral enjoyments.  Whether long or short, that period will come to an end.  However, those who single-heartedly love God and who work for God without desire for the fruits of action perform the true worship of Yoga practice.  They offer the self into the Self, purify their bodies and consciousness with the nectar of Divine Life-energy and win the Eternal Liberation.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

IX: 20

Chapter 9, Verse 20

"Those who follow the scriptures
And drink the Soma juice
Are purified of their sins.
They naturally rise to the realm of the gods."

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Those who desire celestial fruits and who purify themselves through Vedic ritual, or other scriptural rites and injunctions, by right living receive the satisfaction of their hearts' aspirations: entrance into the holy astral realms.  However, that entrance leads inevitably to an exit, because they did not desire God, but rather God's gifts.

Father Bede Griffiths:

The Vedic religion employed ritualistic offerings with the object of reaching the state of Heaven, Svarga, where one got one's reward for good deeds accomplished.  This was a religion of law, similar to the Torah for the Jews.  When you do your duty, you get your reward.

Soma was an intoxicating drink which was taken at some Vedic ceremonies,  It was made from a psychoactive plant, and those who drank it felt a kind of divine inspiration.  It was considered to be a purification from sin and a way to Heaven.  Those who drank the Soma went to the world of the gods, the Devas, but they did not go beyond.

The Upanishads and the Gita take you beyond, beyond duty and reward to Realization of God, Union with God in Love.  Anyone who follows the Vedas, on the other hand, anyone who is subject to the law, is still subject to the distinction between a religion of the law and a religion of Spirit.

A Friend:

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Gospel of Matthew, 6: 33)

Paramahansa Yogananda:

Seeking the kingdom of God first is the cardinal message of Jesus to individuals and nations of the world, because it is the surest way to lasting individual, social, and national happiness.  Perishable material possessions do not contain the everlasting bliss and immortality of the kingdom of God, but his imperishable kingdom contains in it all of the goodness of the world.

To possess God is to own the Universe.  If the ear is pulled, the head comes with it.  When by devotion you pull God into your life, then automatically the eternal prosperity of wisdom, immortality, and ever new blessings are added unto you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IX: 19

Chapter 9, Verse 19

"I am the heat of the Sun.
I hold back the rain and release it.
I am Death and the Deathless
And all that is and is not.

Paramahansa Yogananda:

The Lord here presents himself as the Great Paradox.  As the Creator of Maya, the Cosmic Magician, he is responsible for the pairs of opposites, the contrasting sense-data accepted by all humans under Maya's hypnotic sway: heat and cold, life and death, truth and falsity, and reality and illusion.

Swami Satchidananda:

Take some soft clay.  Because it is completely unconditioned, you can make it into anything you want:  toys, pottery, plates, and so on; but if it already had a form of its own, could you make it into something else?  No.  Only the formless can be made into form.  Only the nameless can be given a name.  Only the unconditioned can be brought into a condition.

That's why we say that God's Love is unconditional.  If we approach him lovingly, we get love.  If we worship God as Light, we get Light and become enlightened.

However, if we say to the flame on the altar of our Puja, "I don't like you here.  I'll put you up in the attic," will the same Light be blessing us?  No, it will burn down the house.

God's power is neutral, like a zero.  By breaking the circle, you can shape it into any letter or number that you want.  All the numbers and letters are a broken zero.  Originally, it was unbroken, beginningless, and endless.  That's the essence of this and the secret also.  God is above all of these things, and it is God who manifests as all these things.     
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