Universal law, known in the Vedas as rita, is cosmic order, God’s rule at work throughout the physical province. It is the infinite intelligence or consciousness in nature, the sustaining cosmic design and organizing force. Aum.

Rita is the underlying divine principle and universal law regulating nature, from the voyage of stars in vast galactic orbits to the flux of infinitesimal subatomic energies. Rita is the Tao. It is destiny and the road to destiny. When we are in tune with universal dharma, and realize that man is an integral part of nature and not above it or dominating it, then we are in tune with God. All Hindus feel they are guests on the planet with responsibilities to nature, which when fulfilled balance its responsibilities to them. The physical body was gathered from nature and returns to it. Nature is exquisitely complex and orderly. The coconut always yields a coconut tree, a lotus a lotus, a rose a rose, not another species. How constant nature is, and yet how diverse, for in mass producing its creations, no two ever look exactly alike. Yes, the Hindu knows himself to be a part of nature and seeks to bring his life into harmony with the universal path, the sustaining cosmic force. The Vedas proclaim, ”Earth is upheld by Truth. Heaven is upheld by the sun. The solar regions are supported by eternal laws, rita. The elixir of divine love is supreme in heaven.” Aum Namah Sivaya.


Vrata, taking of sacred vows, is the eighth niyama and something every Hindu must do at one time or another during his lifetime. The brahmacharya vrata is the first, pledging to maintain virginity until marriage. The vivaha vrata, marriage vows, would generally be the next. Taking a vow is a sacred trust between yourself, your outer self, your inner self, your loved ones and closest friends. Even though they may not know of the vow you may have taken, it would be difficult to look them straight in the eye if you yourself know you have let yourself down. A vow is a sacred trust between you and your guardian devas, the devas that surround the temple you most frequent and the Mahadevas, who live within the Third World–which you live in, too, in your deep, innermost mind, in the radiant, self-luminous body of your soul.

Many people make little promises and break them. This is not a vrata, a sacred trust. A vrata is a sacred trust with God, Gods and guru made at a most auspicious time in one’s life. Vrata is a binding force, binding the external mind to the soul and the soul to the Divine, though vrata is sometimes defined generally as following religious virtues or observances, following the principles of the Vedas, of the Hindu Dharma. There are vratas of many kinds, on many different levels, from the simple promise we make to ourself and our religious community and guru to perform the basic spiritual obligations, to the most specific religious vows.

Vratas give the strength to withstand the temptations of the instinctive forces that naturally come up as one goes on through life–not to suppress them but to rechannel them into a lifestyle fully in accord with the yamas and niyamas. The yamas should be at least two-thirds perfected and the niyamas two-thirds in effect before vratas are taken.

We must remember that the yamas are restraints, ten clues as to what forces to restrain and how to restrain them. Some people are better than others at accomplishing this, depending on their prarabdha karmas, but the effort in trying is the important thing. The practices, niyamas, on the other hand, are progressive, according to the perfection of the restraints. Commitment to the first yama, noninjury, ahimsa, for example, makes the first niyama, remorse, or hri, a possibility in one’s life. And satya, truthfulness, brings santosha–contentment, joy and serenity in life. The first five practices, niyamas, are tools to keep working with yourself, to keep trying within the five major areas they outline.

If one wants to progress further, he does not have to take on a guru–to study scriptures or develop a spiritual will or intellect–that would come naturally, nor to take simple vratas, to chant Aum as japa and to perform certain sadhanas and penance. These are all available. But a guru naturally comes into one’s life when the last five yamas–steadfastness, compassion, honesty, a moderate appetite, and purity–
give rise to the last five niyamas–siddhanta shravana (choice of lineage), mati (cognition and developing a spiritual will with the guru’s guidance), vrata (sacred vows before a guru), japa (recitation after initiation from guru) and tapas (austerities performed under the careful guidance of a guru). We can see that the last five practices are taken on two levels: guru involvement, and community and personal involvement.
Siva’s devotees are forbidden to escape life’s experience through suicide. However, in cases of terminal illness, under strict community regulation, tradition does allow fasting as a means of mors voluntaria religiosa. Aum.


Visualize within yourself a lotus. Have you ever seen a lotus flower? I am sure you have. Now visualize this lotus flower centered right within the center of your chest, right within your heart. You have read in the Hindu scriptures that the Self God dwells in the lotus within the heart. Let’s think about that. We all know what the heart is, and we know what happens when the heart stops. Try to mentally feel and see the heart as a lotus flower right within you. Within the center of the lotus, try to see a small light. Doubtless you have read in the Hindu scriptures that the Self God within the heart looks like a brilliant light about the size of your thumb–just a small light. This light we shall call an emanation of your effulgent being. We could also call it your atomic power, the power that motivates, permeates, makes the mind self-luminous. It is dwelling right within. The Self God is deeper than that. The lotus is within the heart, and the Self God dwells deep within that lotus of light.

The subconscious area of the mind consumes many different things. Begin now to think about all the things that you own in your home and all of your personal possessions. The subconscious area of the mind is attached magnetically to each of them. They not only exist in the external world, they also exist, quite alive, within the subconscious area of your mind, along with all the ramifications connected to them. Each item that you own has a story attached to it which, of course, you remember. This story, too, dwells within the subconscious mind and is carried along with you all of the time.

But it is easy to rid yourself of the attachments to material things by going within, once you know how. The light which emanates from the lotus of the heart knows nothing about what the subconscious area of the mind consumes, because the total area of the mind in which we are aware is a composite of many things.

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