The first teacher in matters of good conduct is our conscience. To know what is right and what is wrong we can also turn to God, to our satguru and swamis, to scripture and to our elders, family and trusted friends. Aum.

Divine laws cannot be avoided. They do not rule us from above but are wrought into our very nature. Even death cannot efface the karma created by evil deeds. Good conduct alone can resolve woeful karmas. Therefore, it is essential that we learn and adhere to good conduct. Good people are the best teachers of good conduct, and should be sought out and heeded when we need help or advice. Talk with them, the wise ones, and in good judgment be guided accordingly. Ethical scriptures should be read and studied regularly and their wisdom followed. The loud voice of our soul, ever heard within our conscience, is a worthy guide. When we grasp the subtle mechanism of karma, we wisely follow the good path. Good conduct, or sadachara, for the Hindu is summarized in five obligatory duties, called pancha nitya karmas: virtuous living, dharma; worship, upasana; holy days, utsava; pilgrimage, tirthayatra; and sacraments, samskaras. The Vedas offer this guidance, ”If you have doubt concerning conduct, follow the example of high souls who are competent to judge, devout, not led by others, not harsh, but lovers of virtue.” Aum Namah Sivaya.


After all the food had been served, the satguru stood up and declared, ”People, all of you, participate. Come forward.” They immediately thought, finishing his sentence in their minds, ”to eat together this luscious meal you have been waiting for all day as a family of shishyas.” But he had something else in mind, and directed, ”Pick up the eleven shovels, shovel some dirt over this delicious meal and then pass your shovel on to the next person. We have fed our Mother Earth, who has given so generously of her abundance all these many years to this large Saivite community. Now we are sacrificing our prasada as a precious, heartfelt gift. Mother Earth is hungry. She gets little back; we take all. Let this be a symbol to the world and to each of us that we must sacrifice what we want most.”

In this way, our satguru, Siva Yogaswami, began the first Earth worship ceremony in northern Sri Lanka. He taught a lesson of tapas and sacrifice, of fasting and giving, and giving and fasting. By now the hour was late, very late. After touching his feet and receiving the mark of Siva from him in the form of vibhuti, holy ash, on their forehead, the devotees returned to their homes. It was too late to cook a hot meal, lest the neighbors smell the smoke and know that mischief was afoot. We are sure that a few, if not many, satisfied themselves with a few ripe bananas, while pondering the singular lesson the satguru had taught.

Let’s worship the Earth. It is a being–intelligent and always giving. Our physical bodies are sustained by her abundance. When her abundance is withdrawn, our physical bodies are no more. The ecology of this planet is an intricate intelligence. Through sacrifice, which results in tapas and sadhana, we nurture Mother Earth’s goodwill, friendliness and sustenance. Instill in yourself appreciation, recognition. We should not take advantage of all of this generosity, as a predator does of those he preys upon.

Yes, austerities are a vital part of all sects of Hinduism. They are a call of the soul to bring the outer person into the perfection that the soul is now, has always been and will always be. Austerities should be assigned by a guru, a swami or a qualified elder of the community. One should submit to wise guidance, because these sadhanas, penances, tapas and sacrifices lift our consciousness so that we can deal with, learn to live with, the perfection of the self-luminous, radiant, eternal being of the soul within. Austerity is the powerful bath of fire and bright rays of showering light that washes the soul clean of the dross of its many past lives, and of the current life, which have held it in the bondage of ignorance, misgiving, unforgivingness and the self-perpetuating ignorance of the truths of the Sanatana Dharma. ”As the intense fire of the furnace refines gold to brilliance, so does the burning suffering of austerity purify the soul to resplendence” (Weaver’s Wisdom/Tirukural, 267).
Siva’s devotees may elect to preserve the life and health of a person or animal under their care by forfeiting the life of organisms, such as worms or microbes, that pose a threat. This is the second exception to ahimsa. Aum.


How are we going to master awareness so that it does not feel that it is what it is aware of? We have to pull awareness within, to the more refined areas of the mind. This is called going within yourself. You have to temporarily gain enough composure, enough control over awareness, so that in thirty seconds you can pull within yourself and, in a sense, light up because you become a little bit aware of the existence of the inner light. Now, of course, if we are pressured by desires that conflict with basic religious principles, it will be difficult even to become aware of or to even think about the inner light. It’s easy, though, to find the darkness of the mind.

But if desires are flowing in accordance with the proper, basic action-and-reaction patterns of life, and one is living up to what he knows he should be living up to and allows the awareness to flow through unwholesome areas of the mind, he begins to hurt deeply on the inside. That is the so-called conscience hurting, because the light shines through the conscience, too, and makes the conscience self-luminous to us. We cannot see the light, but we can feel it. And when awareness flows into the consciousness of bliss and peace, you won’t hurt anymore on the inside. The nerve system will be filled with a new energy, an actinic energy radiating out of the light from the lotus within the heart. Then you will be happy and joyous until awareness wanders again and brings up other emotional or desire temptations. Then you will hurt again. This is what is meant by the statement ”constant striving on the path”–staying mentally healthy so that the conscience does not hurt.

The Self God is within you. The light emanating from your effulgent being is within you, too, within the lotus of your heart. The Self God is. It simply is. We do not have to awaken the light within the lotus of the heart because it is always there, always has been, and always will be. We just have to become aware of it. Then go in and in and in to it until awareness aware only of itself dissolves, and be the Self. Be That.

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