Lessons for Sequestered Families. Chapter 5


Each lesson will begin with an affirmation, as seen above, for the family to repeat together or alone. Repeat it together or individually to impress the mind with positive thoughts. This one speaks of a powerfully positive way to confront the world. We are surrounded by an intelligent and remarkable universe, and if we are in tune with it, that makes us remarkable and intelligent, too.

A Story About Patience

How a Puppy Taught Chandran Patience

It was a hot summer day, and Chandran was looking forward to using the afternoon to throw a ball around with his cousin Abhinav. As the car drove into the driveway, a distant barking sound became louder. As he got out of the car, a small beagle dog came running towards Chandran, wagging his tail. Chandran bent down to pet him when he saw Abhinav come running from behind the house. “Sit! Stay!” he said, and immediately the beagle sat down and did not move.

Chandran was surprised. He hadn’t seen a dog that obeyed orders like that. He said, “Hey, Abhinav, is this your dog? What’s his name?”

“Snoopy—after the most famous beagle of all, in the Peanuts cartoons. He’s just one year old.” Abhinav petted the beagle, who was still sitting obediently.

“Watch,” said Abhinav. He motioned to Chandran to follow him, and the two turned and walked away with their backs to Snoopy. After about 50 feet, they looked back. Snoopy was getting a bit unhappy, but still hadn’t budged an inch. Abhinav raised his hand, beckoned to the dog, and shouted, “Come!” Snoopy jumped up and ran to Abhinav. When he was about five feet away, Abhinav ordered, “Sit!” and Snoopy immediately sat down. Abhinav stepped up to him, patted him on the head and said, “Good dog.” Chandran was impressed.

“That’s not all he can do,” Abhinav said, “Watch!” This time Abhinav didn’t speak at all, just pointed at the ground, and Snoopy sat down. Then he motioned with his palm downwards, and the dog laid down. Finally, Abhinav made a circular motion with his hand, and Snoopy rolled over. “Good dog,” he said, and Snoopy jumped up.

Chandran asked, “How do you get him to do all that?”

Abhinav shrugged and explained, “Time and patience—lots of patience! My uncle gave Snoopy to me, and at the same time a book on dog training. He explained that a trained dog is more fun to have; and it’s more interesting for the dog, because he knows what you want him to do. Snoopy can sit, stay, come, roll over, play dead, shake hands and fetch. Now I’m teaching him how to jump through a hoop.”

All the way back home, Chandran’s mind was on the little beagle who was such a good friend for Abhinav. He never seemed to get tired, knew all sorts of tricks and was always ready for a game. How he would love to have a friend like that!

That night, as Chandran sat down for dinner he asked, “Appa, can I get a dog, please?”

His father paused for a minute, then said, “I don’t have a problem getting you a dog, son. But do you know that having a pet comes with responsibilities?”

“Responsibilities?” asked Chandran.

“Of course,” Appa replied. “You have to feed him, bathe him, take him for walks and—most importantly—you have to be kind and loving to him.”

Chandran felt a surge of excitement building within him. The way his father was talking indicated that he might allow him to get a dog.

Hurriedly he promised, “Appa, I’ll do all that and more.”

Chandran and Appa explored the various kinds of dogs. They finally settled on a golden retriever. They are a smart breed that is good with children. They had to consider Chandran’s three-year-old sister, Meena. A golden retriever is a big dog, so if small children play roughly with him, no one is likely to get hurt.

The eight-week-old puppy that Appa brought home Sunday morning hardly looked like he would grow into a 70-pound dog. Chandran took the puppy in his arms.

“Appa, what shall I call him?”

“How about Bhairava, which means the form of Siva who has a dog for a companion?” suggested Appa.

Bhairava had the most beautiful eyes and was very happy to meet Chandran. His mom had told him that one day he would have his very own human friend.

The first two weeks was all about house training. Retrievers are extremely smart, so it didn’t take long for Bhairava to understand that he should stand by the back door when he needed to go outside.

That accomplished, Chandran decided to start leash training. This was pretty simple. He took the dog for a walk, and each time the dog stopped, he pulled gently on the leash to get him to come along.

The goal was to teach Bharaiva that Chandran was going for a walk, and he was coming along. Bhairava was not taking Chandran for a walk and stopping whenever he pleased! This training let Bhairava know in a kindly way who was boss.

After a couple of weeks of leash training, Chandran was ready for something more difficult, the “sit” command. Unfortunately, Bhairava wasn’t.

With the dog on the leash, Chandran faced him, pointed at the ground and commanded, “Sit!”

Bhairava just looked at him. Chandran pushed down on Bhairava’s hindquarters, the part of the dog’s back above his hind legs, to make him sit. Bhairava stood up immediately, and Chandran pushed again.

Appa, who was watching all this, counseled, “Now, be gentle and patient with him. If he becomes afraid of you, it will be much harder to train him.”

Unwillingly, Bhairava sat. Chandran let go of his hindquarters and, in the split second before the dog stood up on all fours again, called out, “Good dog!”

Appa and Chandran had studied the different methods of dog training. Some people train their dogs by rewarding them with food when they do the right thing. Others punish them for doing the wrong thing. Still others praise the dog for doing the right thing. Chandran decided he wanted to just use praise. He did not want to bribe the dog with rewards or hurt him with punishments. This is how he was being raised himself, and he thought it should work for Bhairava, too.

On it went, ten minutes a day: “Sit!” pushing down his hindquarters and “Good dog!” This training made no sense at all to Bhairava, who thought he should sit down when he felt like it and not when someone told him to. But finally, after about twenty training sessions, Chandran said, “Sit!” and Bhairava sat down all by himself. Chandran was really happy, and hugged the puppy.

After this, the sessions got easier. Bhairava, being a smart dog, soon got the idea of “sit.” After all, if his friend Chandran wanted him to sit down, he was happy to do so. Of course, he’d only sit down for a few seconds, so the next command to teach was “stay.”

This was even harder than “sit.” Chandran would tell Bhairava to sit, and Bhairava would sit. Chandran would say, “Stay!” and put his palm out toward the dog, like a policeman stopping traffic. Then he’d back up several steps. Bhairava would get up to follow him. Without saying a word, Chandran would pick him up, take him back where he started, repeat, “Sit! Stay!” and then walk away again.

This went on for days. Chandran was getting frustrated. So was Bhairava, who just didn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to follow Chandran—wasn’t that what all that leash training was about?

“He just won’t obey,” Chandran complained to Appa.

“Patience, patience,” replied Appa. “We humans have been training dogs for thousands of years. Keep trying and one day it will work.”

As with “sit,” suddenly one day Bhairava stayed put when Chandran told him to “stay!” and walked away. Chandran went back to him, said, “Good dog!” and petted him on the head. They kept at this for another two weeks, until Bhairava stayed every time he was told to. Somehow the training made them better friends. Bhairava knew at least a bit of what Chandran wanted him to do, and this made him more secure.

Chandran showed off Bhairava’s new skills to the family, and everyone was impressed.

Three-year-old Meena tried, “Sit down, Bhairava,” but nothing happened.

“Just say ‘Sit!’ Meena, nothing else,” explained Chandran.

“Sit!” said Meena, and Bhairava sat down, to Meena’s great excitement. In fact, after that, Appa had to ask Meena to stop telling the dog to sit until the training was done. Meena wanted to do it over and over again. Bhairava found that quite annoying, but he understood Meena was just a puppy herself in the human world. He never, ever growled at her, even the time she yanked on his ear, which really hurt.

After “sit” and “stay,” Bhairava learned “come,” “lie down,” “shake hands,” “high five,” “roll over,” “fetch” and even “play dead.” Chandran learned how to be patient. It was a lot of fun for both of them.

During the winter holidays, Abhinav and his family came to Chandran’s house for a visit. After a long, leisurely lunch, everyone relaxed outside on the patio. Chandran called for Bhairava, who came bounding up. Bhairava was no longer a puppy. In fact, when he stood on his hind legs, he was as tall as Chandran.

Chandran ran him through all the commands.

Meena came up to Bhairava while he was sitting. Their noses almost touched, as they were about the same height. She raised her right hand, reached toward the dog and said, “High five.” Bhairava lifted up his big right paw and gently touched Meena’s raised hand. This sent her into a fit of giggles, and everyone clapped.

Abhinav congratulated Chandran, “Well done, Chandran. Bhairava is a real show dog!”

Chandran smiled and said, “It’s all thanks to you and Appa. You explained when Bhairava was a puppy that he wasn’t going to learn right away. It would take practicing the commands over and over again in a kindly way. Now I have not only trained my dog, but learned the value of patience as well. I can accomplish anything with discipline and patience!”

Bhairava already knew how to be a dog—his mom had taught him. So whatever this “patient dog training” business was about, he was just happy to spend time one on one with Chandran—happy human, happy dog.


A Keynote video by Satguru on the art of listening.

Click the link to watch the movie.

Humor from Hinduism Today

Cartoon from Hinduism Today

An eaarlier cartoon reflected on how we create our karms of the future.
This one reveals Karma Man’s superpower

Another One

As we were preparing this lesson, the art below was sent to us from India, showing our Great God Ganesha protecting us all from the dreaded Corona virus, which does not seem happy to see the Lord of Obstacles.

Featured Video

It took a massive crane (which the silpis called « the American elephan) to lift the two large yali pillars into place.  In the video we also see a short blessing of the event, with small gems placed beneath each pillar by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami.

Yali Pillar Installation, 12 Years Ago

Path to Siva for Kids

Lesson 55: What Is Good Conduct?

Good conduct means thinking, speaking and doing what is right. You notice a young child alone, crying. What should you do? Your friends argue or interrupt an older person. Should you speak up? You should listen to your conscience to learn the right behavior each time. Conscience is the voice of our soul. Your conscience hurts if you are not behaving right. Behaving the right way means that your thoughts, words and actions show love, patience and kindness. This is good for your soul and dharma. To know what is right and what is wrong you can also turn to God, to your satguru and swamis, to scripture and trusted people in your life. The four keys to good conduct are purity (having few faults), devotion (worship and dedication to God), humility (free of ego, giving credit to others), and charity (giving to those in need).

Coloring Art

In each lesson we will include some black and white illustrations, some simple, others complex. Above we see a family preparing to worship Lord Ganesha in their home. Mom is making a garland and her two children offer assistance, bring her flowers from the garden.

The idea is to print these out on paper and invite the kids to color them with crayons, colored pencils or chalk. Their uniqueness lies in their Saivite style and subject matter.

Character Quality: Flexibility

Flexibility means adjusting readily to change. I express flexibility when I respond to new ideas and directions with openness instead of resistance. The opposite is rigidity. Challenging times are a great time to express our openness to change, our ability to go with the flow. Notice how the sand in the image above does not crash into the rock, but moves effortlessly around the obstacle in its path?

Gurudeva explained: “Be like the river water. Water flows freely anywhere, easily finding its way around rocks and trees. Be pliable in your life, moving in rhythm with life. Let go of everything that blocks the river of life’s energy.”

“The seeker on the path has to be soft, pliable, easy to get along with, as well as firm-minded.”

Kolams to Make


Remember, you can print out the dots (you may have to enlarge it) and then color the kolams with pens, Photoshop, crayons and, well, you know what to do.

Sadhana of the Day

Practice Concentration

Take a lime fruit, for instance, hold it in your hand, feel it, and think about the skin, its color, what is beneath the skin and the nature of the seeds. Perhaps at this stage your awareness will wander, you may feel uncomfortable, or hear a noise, or discover you are thinking about a television program you saw an hour or two before. When you realize that your awareness has wandered far from your point of concentration, the lime fruit, gently pull it back again and resume your concentration. Each time your awareness wanders, gently pull it back in this manner. Practice this until you can have at least fifty different consecutive thoughts about the lime fruit without your awareness wandering off to another subject. If you do this, you have proven to yourself your power of concentration.

Quote of the Day

“Everyone makes mistakes. It is natural and simply shows we do not understand something. Perceptive self-correction enables young ones to quickly learn from their mistakes, refine their still-developing behavior accordingly and thereby make rapid progress on the spiritual path.”

“Rise above the cycle of unhappiness, desire, acquisition, excitement and unhappiness again.” Bodhinatha

History Film and Music Video

Our series of films on YouTube have millions of visitors. There are five in all and this is the last one. Today we link you to the 22-minute film on the period 1947 to today. Note the Bollywood dancers on America Has Talent, and share one of our songs on India’s history.

1947 to Present:

Part Three, Song One, ”Hard Times Fell Upon India

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