Death & Dying

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26Death—what is it? The dropping off of the physical body is the time when all of the karma-making actions go back to seed in the mûlâdhâra chakra, into the memory patterns. All of our actions, reactions and the things we have set in motion in the prânic patterns in this life form the tendencies of our nature in our next incarnation. The tendencies of our nature in the present incarnation are the ways in which awareness flows through the i∂â, pingalâ and sushumnâ currents.

These tendencies of man’s nature also are recorded in the astrological signs under which he is born. Man comes through an astrological conglomeration of signs, or an astrological chart, according to his actions and reactions and what he set in motion in the seed-karma patterns of his past life. So, we are always the sum total, a collection, of all the karmic experiences, a totality of all the seed patterns, that have happened to us, or that we have caused to happen, through the many, many lives.

One great peculiarity about man is that he individually feels that he is never going to die and goes on through life planning and building as though he were going to live forever and ever. The fear of death is a natural instinctive reflex. The fear of change or fear of the unknown is an ominous element in the destiny of a human being. The study and comprehension of the laws of reincarnation can alleviate this fear and bring an enlightened vision of the cosmic rhythms of life and death. It is a simple process, no more fantastic, shall we say, than other growth problems we experience daily. A flower grows, blossoms and withers. The seed falls to the ground, is buried in the earth, sprouts and grows into a plant and a flower.

Death, like birth, has been repeated so many times that it is no mystery to the soul. From the Hindu point of view, the knowledge of one’s imminent departure begins the sannyâsa âsrama for the individual. In this âsrama, the devotee traditionally divests himself of all material belongings, effecting a conscious death before the actual death. He is the executor of his own will, taking care of everybody and not leaving these things to others to deal with after his passing.

After everything is settled, all personal possessions disposed of, then he begins meditation and awaits the fruitful hour, trying to exit through the highest chakra of the attainment of this life. Each chakra is a door through which we can depart. The dying should always remember that the place where one will reincarnate is the place that he is thinking about prior to death. So, choose your desires wisely. The last thoughts just before death are the most powerful thoughts in creating the next life. This is why a sudden death—with its intense emotion, the intellect not having been prepared for it—would produce difficulties in getting born and in the first few years of getting raised, leading to miscarriage and abortion and later child abuse. All these experiences are a continuation of the emotional upheaval that happened at the sudden departure. The emotional upheaval of the person is compounded by the emotional upheaval of the friends, family and business associates when they finally hear of the sudden departure.

However, if the person was prepared for death, no matter when it might arrive, sudden or otherwise, his mental and emotional astral body would have already been well schooled in readiness. Sudden death to such a soul is a boon and a blessing. The next birth would be welcoming and easy, one wherein he would be well cared for and educated by loving parents.
Nevertheless, the thought force of the departing person is very strong, as his energy transmutes into the mental body. That’s why nobody wants the departing person to hate them or curse them.

People wonder whether death is a painful process, such as in the case of cancer victims. Cancer, which produces a lot of pain, is a process of life which results in death, but death itself is not painful. Death itself is blissful. You don’t need any counseling. You intuitively know what’s going to happen. Death is like a meditation, a samâdhi. That’s why it’s called mahâ (great) samâdhi. A Hindu is prepared from childhood for that mahâsamâdhi. Remember, pain is not part of the process of death. That is the process of life, which results in death.When somebody is about to have a tremendous accident and, for example, sees his car is going to run into a truck or his plane is going to crash, he experiences no pain whatsoever, as he dies before he dies.

The problem comes when doctors bring the dying back. Then a lot of pain is experienced. The doctors should let them die. Prolonging the life of the individual body must be done by the individual himself. He needs no helping hands. But to prolong life in the debilitated physical body past the point that the natural will of the person has sustained is to incarcerate, to jail, to place that person in prison.

Åyurvedic medicine seeks to keep a person healthy and strong, but not to interfere with the process of death. The experience of dying and death is as natural as birth and life.

To perpetuate life, you perpetuate will, desire and the fruition of desire. The constant performing of this function brings the actinic energies of the soul body into physical bodies. To give up one’s own personal desires is the first desire to perpetuate. Then to help others to fulfill their highest aspirations is the next challenge. Then to seek for ultimate attainment and fulfill that lingering desire takes a tremendous will. Then to lay a foundation for the betterment of peoples everywhere is the ultimate challenge. This perpetuates life within the physical body, which of itself renews itself every seven years.

The Exit

At death, you leave through a nerve ganglia of consciousness, a chakra.The thoughts at death are the next saμskâras of the astral body. At death, you leave through a nerve ganglia of consciousness, a chakra. Most people live in about three chakras, and they see-saw back and forth among those states of mind. Each one is a window, and at death it becomes a portal, a doorway. So, it is the state of mind at death that gets you into one loka or another. The ideal is to leave through the top of the head, through the door of Brahman, to get into the Brahmaloka and not have to come back.

The cha kras are in the astral body. The astral body lives in the physical body, and when death comes, it is going to live without the physical body. The same chakras are within it. At the moment of death, you have the opportunity to stabilize yourself in the highest chakra you have experienced in this life.

The tunnel of light that is experienced by so many people at the point of death is the portal they are going through, the window, the chakra. Passing through the tunnel is leaving this world and going into another. You do that in meditation, too. You leave the light of the physical plane and go into the light in the inner world. But dying is not such a dramatic experience really. Every night you “die” and leave your physical body. It is very similar. Every night mystics leave their physical body, go and meet and converse with other mystics on the inner planes. That’s why they know each other when they meet on the physical plane. Samâdhi, the exalted meditative state, which literally means “holding together completely,” is also a word used to describe dying. Why is that? Because deep contemplation is similar to a death experience; only the silver cord is not separated. This cord is an astral-prânic thread that connects the astral body through the navel to the physical body. It is a little like an umbilical cord. The only full separation comes when the cord is cut at mahâsamâdhi, the true death of the physical body. People die all the time, but if the cord is not broken, they come back. You die all the time. The cord being broken makes for a twenty four-hour consciousness in the inner world, as compared to a sixteen hour consciousness in the physical world.

If a person knows he is terminally ill, that knowledge is a blessing, for he can prepare. He should not hesitate to tell his relatives he is going to die, and that is a wonderful blessing for them, as they can prepare for his great departure. Now all know he has finally arrived at the end of his prârabdha karmas and is going to fly. In turn, family and friends should release him, be happy—he is going to be happy with no physical body—for they know they will be as close to him in his astral and soul body as they were in his physical body.

For Hindus, death is a most exalted state, an incredible moment that you spend your whole life preparing for. Birth is the unhappy occasion. Death should be a big party. He has just gone through his day of Brahma. The sadness at death comes from Western attitudes. When someone dies, that means that section of the jyotisha is finished and he can go and have a great rest and be with intelligent people. It is great inside there and difficult out here.

Everyone dies, but it is a blessing to know when you are going to die, because then you can prepare for it, make a decision whether you are going to be reborn, do intense sâdhanas, make preparations. Heed the wisdom of the Vedas, “When a person comes to weakness, be it through old age or disease, he frees himself from these limbs just as a mango, a fig or a berry releases itself from its stalk.”

Hindus go to special sacred places to die, because that’s where holy people live, in that part of the astral plane. All of the temples in the West are connected to other temples in Sri Lanka and India.

Lord Yama is Lord Restraint, restraining life and getting it started again on the other side. In preparing the body for cremation, embalming should not be done. It is painful to the astral body to have the physical body cut or disturbed seriously within seventy-two hours after death. The soul can see and feel this, and it detains him from going on. As soon as you tamper with his physical body, he gets attached, becomes aware that he has two bodies, and this becomes a problem. Ideally, when you die, your physical body goes up in flames, and immediately you know it’s gone. You now know that the astral body is your body, and you can effortlessly release the physical body. But if you keep the old body around, then you keep the person around, and he is aware that he has two bodies. He becomes earthbound, tied into the Pretaloka, and confused.

For a jîvanmukta, he might want to leave, but some people might want to keep him around for a while for their own benefit. The best way for him is to go off into the hills, to die in the forests where no one knows and none of these questions arise. More than many great sâdhus have done this and do this to this day.

The ideal is to live out one’s Earthly life to its full extent, not to shorten it in any way, for during the elderly years, after ninety and the twenty or thirty years thereafter, the sañchita karmas in the great vault which are waiting to come up in another life begin to unfold to be lived through and resolved in this one. By no means should suicide ever be considered, for it cuts short all karmic developments of the current life and may require additional births to work through the lowest possible experiences still held in the great sañchita vault. Many incarnations may elapse after an untimely self-inflicted death before the soul returns back to the same evolutionary point at which the suicide was committed. Suicide is no escape. It only prolongs the journey.

The goal is realization of Parasiva as the ultimate personal attainment. This is nirvikalpa samâdhi. Savikalpa is the by-product of this. Even having had this experience, if the sâdhana and tapas and discipline are not maintained, mukti, liberation, will not be the product of effort. The knowledge of Parasiva, in its total impact, must impact every area of mind, every nook and cranny of the mind. Therefore, the goal is realization; and liberation from rebirth is the by-product of that essential goal. If a soul becomes realized but still has the desire to come back to finish something, he will come back partially enlightened. Hinduism will be an open book to him, and he will understand all of the basic truths and be able to explain it all naturally. He will find his enlightenment later in life and go on, having experienced what he had to.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Words of Indian Saints Part #23

paramahansa-yogananda“The cow to me means the entire sub-human world, extending man’s sympathies beyond his own species,” the Mahatma has explained. “Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives. Why the ancient rishis selected the cow for apotheosis is obvious to me. The cow in India was the best comparison; she was the giver of plenty. Not only did she give milk, but she also made agriculture possible. The cow is a poem of pity; one reads pity in the gentle animal. She is the second mother to millions of mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forceful because it is speechless.”

Three daily rituals are enjoined on the orthodox Hindu. One is Bhuta Yajna, an offering of food to the animal kingdom. This ceremony symbolizes man’s realization of his obligations to less evolved forms of creation, instinctively tied to bodily identifications which also corrode human life, but lacking in that quality of liberating reason which is peculiar to humanity. Bhuta Yajna thus reinforces man’s readiness to succor the weak, as he in turn is comforted by countless solicitudes of higher unseen beings. Man is also under bond for rejuvenating gifts of nature, prodigal in earth, sea, and sky. The evolutionary barrier of incommunicability among nature, animals, man, and astral angels is thus overcome by offices of silent love.

The other two daily yajnas are Pitri and Nri. Pitri Yajna is an offering of oblations to ancestors, as a symbol of man’s acknowledgment of his debt to the past, essence of whose wisdom illumines humanity today. Nri Yajna is an offering of food to strangers or the poor, symbol of the present responsibilities of man, his duties to contemporaries.

“A beggar cannot renounce wealth,” Master would say. “If a man laments: ‘My business has failed; my wife has left me; I will renounce all and enter a monastery,’ to what worldly sacrifice is he referring? He did not renounce wealth and love; they renounced him!”

“Yes, diet is important in the Satyagraha movement-as everywhere else,” he said with a chuckle. “Because I advocate complete continence for satyagrahis, I am always trying to find out the best diet for the celibate. One must conquer the palate before he can control the procreative instinct. Semi-starvation or unbalanced diets are not the answer. After overcoming the inward greed for food, a satyagrahi must continue to follow a rational vegetarian diet with all necessary vitamins, minerals, calories, and so forth. By inward and outward wisdom in regard to eating, the SATYAGRAHI’S sexual fluid is easily turned into vital energy for the whole body.”

Hinduism is not an exclusive religion. In it there is room for the worship of all the prophets of the world. It is not a missionary religion in the ordinary sense of the term. It has no doubt absorbed many tribes in its fold, but this absorption has been of an evolutionary, imperceptible character.

The unique feature of Hinduism among the world religions is that it derives not from a single great founder but from the impersonal Vedic scriptures. Hinduism thus gives scope for worshipful incorporation into its fold of prophets of all ages and all lands. The Vedic scriptures regulate not only devotional practices but all important social customs, in an effort to bring man’s every action into harmony with divine law.

Hinduism tells each man to worship God according to his own faith or dharma, and so lives at peace with all religions. The scriptures define dharma as “the natural universal laws whose observance enables man to save himself from degradation and suffering.”

Of Christ, Gandhi has written: “I am sure that if He were living here now among men, He would bless the lives of many who perhaps have never even heard His name . . . just as it is written: ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord . . . but he that doeth the will of my Father.’ In the lesson of His own life, Jesus gave humanity the magnificent purpose and the single objective toward which we all ought to aspire. I believe that He belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world, to all lands and races.”

Alone among great leaders, Gandhi has offered a practical nonviolent alternative to armed might. To redress grievances and remove injustices, the Mahatma has employed nonviolent means which again and again have proved their effectiveness. He states his doctrine in these words:

I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction. Therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would well-ordered society be intelligible and life worth living.
If that is the law of life we must work it out in daily existence. Wherever there are wars, wherever we are confronted with an opponent, conquer by love. I have found that the certain law of love has answered in my own life as the law of destruction has never done.
In India we have had an ocular demonstration of the operation of this law on the widest scale possible. I don’t claim that nonviolence has penetrated the 360,000,000 people in India, but I do claim it has penetrated deeper than any other doctrine in an incredibly short time.
It takes a fairly strenuous course of training to attain a mental state of nonviolence. It is a disciplined life, like the life of a soldier. The perfect state is reached only when the mind, body, and speech are in proper coordination. Every problem would lend itself to solution if we determined to make the law of truth and nonviolence the law of life.

War and crime never pay. The billions of dollars that went up in the smoke of explosive nothingness would have been sufficient to have made a new world, one almost free from disease and completely free from poverty. Not an earth of fear, chaos, famine, pestilence, the danse macabre, but one broad land of peace, of prosperity, and of widening knowledge.

“One should forgive, under any injury,” says the Mahabharata. “It hath been said that the continuation of species is due to man’s being forgiving. Forgiveness is holiness; by forgiveness the universe is held together. Forgiveness is the might of the mighty; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is quiet of mind. Forgiveness and gentleness are the qualities of the self-possessed. They represent eternal virtue.”
Nonviolence is the natural outgrowth of the law of forgiveness and love. “If loss of life becomes necessary in a righteous battle,” Gandhi proclaims, “one should be prepared, like Jesus, to shed his own, not others’, blood. Eventually there will be less blood spilt in the world.”

“I would wait, if need be for ages,” Gandhi says, “rather than seek the freedom of my country through bloody means.” Never does the Mahatma forget the majestic warning: “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52.

Gandhi has written:
I call myself a nationalist, but my nationalism is as broad as the universe. It includes in its sweep all the nations of the earth. My nationalism includes the well-being of the whole world. I do not want my India to rise on the ashes of other nations. I do not want India to exploit a single human being. I want India to be strong in order that she can infect the other nations also with her strength.

The Mahatma wholeheartedly believes in the inherent nobility of man. The inevitable failures have never disillusioned him. “Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times,” he writes, “the satyagrahi is ready to trust him the twenty- first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of the creed.”

If we are to make progress, we must not repeat history but make new history. We must add to the inheritance left by our ancestors. If we may make new discoveries and inventions in the phenomenal world, must we declare our bankruptcy in the spiritual domain? Is it impossible to multiply the exceptions so as to make them the rule? Must man always be brute first and man after, if at all?”

“Resort to force in the Great War I failed to bring tranquillity,” Franklin D. Roosevelt has pointed out. “Victory and defeat were alike sterile. That lesson the world should have learned.”

“The more weapons of violence, the more misery to mankind,” Lao-tzu taught. “The triumph of violence ends in a festival of mourning.”

“I am fighting for nothing less than world peace,” Gandhi has declared. “If the Indian movement is carried to success on a nonviolent Satyagraha basis, it will give a new meaning to patriotism and, if I may say so in all humility, to life itself.”

Before the West dismisses Gandhi’s program as one of an impractical dreamer, let it first reflect on a definition of Satyagraha by the Master of Galilee:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

The Path of Egoity

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26Anava Marga

Most people on this Earth are following a path of self-interest and selfishness. No doubt, it is the most popular path, and it has its own pandits and masters, who teach how to perfect the path of the external ego, how to perfect worldliness, how to perfect the trinity of I, me and mine, how to perfect self-indulgence.

Enamored with the senses, unaware of and thus not interested in dharma or his inner Divinity, a man surrounds himself with the pleasures and distractions of the world: women, wine, fine apparel, rare fruits and flowers and the intellectual diversions found in books and games.

One of these I call the ânava mârga, or the path of egoism. True, it is not a traditional path, but it is a path well worn, well known in all human traditions. In fact, you could say there are three such untraditional paths, three worldly mârgas: ânava, karma and mâyâ. The last two bonds, karma and mâyâ, are the first to begin to diminish their hold on the soul as one proceeds on the path to enlightenment.

The karma mârga is when the soul is totally enmeshed in the actions and reactions of the past and making new karmas so swiftly that little personal identity, or egoism, is experienced, like a small boat bouncing on a vast ocean of ignorance, the ignorance of the mâyâ mârga. And when these fetters begin to loosen, the ânava, the personal ego identity, thoughts of “me,” “my” and “mine,” should also begin to go, but often don’t. When karma and mâyâ begin to go, ânava often becomes stronger and stronger and stronger.

Here the realization comes that “Yes! I am a person on this Earth with the rights of all. I am no longer bound and harassed by experience. I can adjust experience, create new experience for myself and for others. I can be the controller. I am I.” The I becomes the realization and sometimes the end of the path of the karma and mâyâ mârga. The I, that all-important personal identity, so strong, becomes the realization of the small and limited “self,” which appears to be a big and real “self” to those who have found this path, which is not the spiritual path, but the path of grayness; while the karma and mâyâ mârgas are the paths of darkness. Ånava, the personal ego, finding oneself, with a small “s,” the personal identity, gaining intellectual freedom are all modern clichés.

To offset the negative with the positive better explains the positive. To understand the pure essence of ignorance, where it comes from, its values, beliefs and motivations, better defines the heights of wisdom out of which comes dharma and aspirations for mukti. We cannot advance on the path without a starting place. No race was ever won but that everyone began at the same place.

Self-Concern

The businessman on the ânava mârga is generous by all appearances, gives enough to gain praise, adulation and to make friends. In proportion to his wealth, he gives a pittance. There is always some attachment to the gift, some favor to be eventually reaped. The gift is a purchase in disguise.

Television is a window into the ânava mârga. We see extremely successful professional people who maybe have started on the ânava mârga and have bypassed it to the artful acting portrayal of people on the ânava mârga.

Before the ânava mârga, there is only confusion, unqualified thoughts, desires that are only motivative or directional, not crystallized into any kind of a concept that can be manifested toward a fulfillment. The confusion arises out of the drive for self preservation. All animal instincts are alive in such a human being. He does not hold to promises, does not seek to strive, is a proverbial burden on society. Society is made up of ânava mârgîs and those who live in the other mârgas. Deception, theft, murder, anger, jealousy and fear are often the occupation and the emotions of those living without a personal identity, a well-defined ego.
A personal identity and well-defined ego is the ânava, and the pursuit of the development of that is the mârga. Each purusha, human soul, must go through the ânava mârga, a natural and required path whose bloom is the fulfillment of the senses, of the intellect and all the complexities of doing. It is prior to our entrance upon the ânava mârga and while we are happily on the ânava mârga that we create the karmas to be understood and overcome later when we walk the charyâ and kriyâ mârgas. You have to understand before you can overcome. This is the time that we “do ourselves in” and later understand the all-pervasiveness of Siva, the laws of karma, dharma, sansâra. Yes, of course, this is the time the mischief is done.

Opportunism

The ânava mârgî looks at God from a distance. He does not want to get too close and does not want to drift too far away, lives between lower consciousness and higher consciousness, between the manipûra, svâdhish†hana and mûlâdhâra and the lower three, atala, vitala and sutala, which represent fear, anger and jealousy. He is guided by reason. That is why he can come into the other mârgas. Therefore, God is at a distance. He sees himself pluralistically, separate from God, coexistent with God. The higher chakras are dreaming benignly, waiting for the consciousness to explore them.

Only when someone begins to love God is he on the path of spiritual unfoldment. Only then is he a seeker. Only then does his budding love begin to focus on religious icons. Only then is he able to nurture his love into becoming a bhaktar and at the same time a religious person, a giving person. This is the charyâ path. We come onto the charyâ mârga from the ânava mârga. We come to Lord Ganesha’s feet from the ânava mârga. He is now the guide. The personal ego has lost its hold.

The ânava mârga, and the glue that holds it together, is ignorance of the basic tenets of Hinduism. There is no way one can be on this mârga if he truly accepts the existence of God pervading all form, sustaining all form and rearranging all form. There is no way this mârga could be pursued by one understanding karma, seeing his manifest acts replayed back to him through the lives of others, his secret diabolical thoughts attacking him through the lips of others. The ânava mârga does not include this knowledge. The dharma of a perfect universe and an orderly life, the consciousness of “the world is my family, all animals are my pets” is an abhorrent idea to someone on the ânava mârga, especially if he is casted by birth in this life. The ânava mârgî abhors the idea of reincarnation. To pay the bill of one’s indiscretions in another life is not what ânava is all about. There is a forgetfulness here. When you renounce your childhood, you forget that you ever were a child. You forget the moods, the emotions, the joys and the fears and all that was important at that time.

Self-surrender

The yoga mârga must come naturally out of intense bhakti and internalized worship. The intensity of bhakti is developed on the kriyâ mârga. The final remains of the ego are pulverized on the charyâ mârga, where Sivathondu, selfless service, is performed unrelentingly with no thought of reward, but a hope that the pu∫ya, merit, will be beneficial in the long run. The ânava mârga is easy to leave through total surrender to God, Gods and guru, along with seva, service to religious institutions. Surrender, prapatti, is the key.

It is not without a great ordeal and effort, soul-searching and decision-making that one mârga bends into the other or bows before the other before it releases the consciousness to go on. One mârga must really bend before the other before one can be released. Before entering another mârga, it is a matter of giving up, which is painful, most especially for the ânava mârga people, for whom suffering is no stranger.

Ånava people are always pursuing something, the fulfillment comes on the ânava mârga, and there is fulfillment, but in a never-stopping pursuit of fulfillment. As soon as we stop the pursuit of fulfillment, we become unhappy, empty, feel unfulfilled and, I might even say, at times depressed. The ânava mârga is the I-ness, me-ness, mine-ness; me, my, I. “I want, I give, I get, I collect.” I, me and mine are the key words here. The true ânava mârgî is the owner, the getter, the consumer, not always the producer, vulnerable to the emotions of fear, who uses jealousy as an asset to obtain.

There are two mârgas before the ânava mârga begins, within the realm of deep ignorance. Here reside the masses who live in confusion, the professional consumers who know the generosity of society, who will never in this lifetime manifest a desire, a goal, a thought for the future worthy enough to be accepted on the ânava mârga. They are the slaves of the ânava mârgîs, those whom, as slaves, they manipulate without conscience.

Pernicious Ego

Ånava is one’s personal ego, his identity and place in the world and position on the planet. If his motives are proper and the position is earned on account of good deeds, it is not ânava. But if, when praised, he takes credit for himself, it is ânava. Ånava is the tricky substance of the mind. It is behind every door, it’s peeking in every window. It is the first thing to come at birth and the last thing to go at death. To break the chain of ânava, the yoking to the Infinite beyond comprehension in any state of mind must be complete and final. And yet, while a physical body is still maintained, the ânava elf is still lurking in the shadows, saying “praise is better than blame, name must come into fame, and shame is to be avoided at all cost.” This is the ânava routine. It keeps people held down on the planet in the instinctive-intellectual mind of remorse and forgiveness and suffering the adjustments to circumstance that occur beyond their power of understanding.

If we were to admit that there are really seven mârgas, we would find that charyâ, kriyâ, yoga and jñâna are progressive states of fullness, and the ânava mârga, by comparison, is a static state of emptiness. This feeling of emptiness is a motivative, driving force of desire toward the attainment of the feeling of fullness. The feeling of fullness is the awakening of the higher chakras, of course. And the constant feeling of completeness is, of course, the permanent awakening of the sahasrâra chakra.

The path of the ânava teaches us what to do and what not to do. It creates the karmas to be lived through and faced in many lives to come. And when dharma is finally accepted and understood and the religious patterns of life are encompassed in one’s own personal daily experience, then and only then do we see the end of this path in view. So, the ânava mârga is definitely not a never-ending maze or a no-man’s land. Though a state of ignorance, it is still a state of experiential learning.

People try to fill their emptiness with things. They work so hard for their money, thinking, “Oh, when I can buy this object for my home I will feel fulfilled.” They buy it with their hard-earned money. A day or two later, after ownership has taken effect, the initial fulfillment of ownership wanes, and unfulfillment, which has always been there, takes over. There is no fulfillment in the instinctive-intellectual mind.

Bound to the Path

These days egos get gratified by going to heads of corporations, meeting important people and bowing before heads of state. It is on the charyâ mârga that we learn that rich and poor, the powerful and lowly are all purushas, pure souls, jîvas encompassed in a physical body. And on this mârga we learn to bow before God and the Gods. We learn that their home, their officiating place, is the temple, the home shrine and under sacred trees. Being in their presence makes the charyâ mârgî feel small. The first glimmer of the feeling of smallness is the first footstep on the charyâ mârga.

Those who are not successful in life yet, and experience the repercussion of karmas of past lives denying them things, experiences, security and wealth, are the ruthless ânava mârgîs. For those who have fulfilled their dharmas, and desire has waned for more—they don’t need more money, they don’t need more food, they don’t need more houses, they don’t need more respect—the ânava wanes of its own accord, like an old leaf on a tree turns color and falls to the ground. They enter the charyâ mârga and kriyâ mârga with matured respect and humility.

The one who has little desires the most. He takes issues with the smallest things. The instinctive desire to save face is ever prevalent in his mind, for his face is all he’s got. Even the jîvanmukta doesn’t like unjust criticisms, but he is bound by his wisdom to nondefensiveness, just, unjust, true or false. “Let them say what they have to say, and if it affects me, it is helping me on the way to my final mukti.” He would bless them for that. The ânava mârgî is not like people on the other mârgas, who have mixed feelings about these issues. The ânava mârgî is a prefect in retaliation. That comes as one of the powers or boons of living on this mârga, along with deception and the ability to lie one’s way out of a situation. And to save face, place and position, no matter how lowly they might seem, is the goal of life for the ânava mârgî.

Exiting the Anava Marga

There is a little of the ânava always with us right up to the moment of mukti. You don’t get off the ânava mârga. Individual ego slowly diminishes as the soul unfolds from mârga to mârga. Nandi the bull represents the ego, personal identity, and in a large traditional Hindu temple, we see many images of Nandi, getting progressively smaller as we approach the innermost sanctum. This indicates the soul’s progression toward God or the diminishing ego.

Self-preservation is a very important part of the personal ego. But then, later, as progressive steps are taken, spiritual identity fulfills the emptiness, as water fills up a container. Only at the moment that mukti occurs does the container vanish. Until then the ânava is like smoldering coals in a burnt-out fire. New wood can be thrown upon them. They can be fanned up. Detractors to a spiritual movement will often try to reawaken the ânava of its leader and kill out the rival movement by creating his downfall.

It is no accident that the Hindu sages can understand the ânava within man. Yes, of course, they passed through it themselves and are just tapping their own memory patterns, seeing the actions of others and knowing the outcome.

Without sâdhana, penance tends to be spontaneous, erratic; whereas consistent sâdhana is the regulation of penance. Now the soul begins dropping off the bonds of karma, mâyâ and ânava as it unfolds into bhakti, love. All this is not without being a painful process. Therefore, the protective mechanism of fear, which in itself is an avoidance process, is right there to help – in the chakra just below the mûlâdhâra. The presence or absence of spiritual surrender and willingness to serve shows whether a person is on the ânava mârga or on the charyâ mârga. Devotees on the charyâ mârga are striving to unfold spiritually and reach the kriyâ mârga. People on the ânava mârga are not striving at all. They are their own self-appointed teachers and proceed at their own pace. When we are on the charyâ mârga, we have a lot of help from family, friends and our entire religious community.  When we are on the kriyâ mârga, the entire Hindu community, the elders and others all get behind us to help us along our way. Then when we are finally on the yoga mârga, we have all the saptha rishis helping us. The sat gurus are helping, too, and all three million swâmîs and sâdhus in the world are helping us along the path at this stage. When we have entered the jñâna mârga, we are bringing forth new knowledge, giving forth blessings and meeting the karmas that unwind until mukti.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami