Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why spirituality is important

Why spirituality is important

Consider the shifting territory of your daily life. The need to:

* cope with increasing change – in career and in life
* understand and thrive through life’s increasing complexity, and
* make sense of your cross-cultural, cross-generational and cross-role experiences.

Spirituality provides you with awareness and understanding of your inner and outer landscape – it enhances how you understand yourself, your life and your place within society.

Benefits of spirituality

The depth of a person’s spiritual experience has significant implications – in both their personal and professional lives. Previous studies have already found that people actively pursuing a spiritual life experience a:

* greater understanding and perceived ‘control’ over their life
* higher personal resilience, and
* increased social support.

Further, in a work and professional context a person’s commitment to spiritual practice does influence their level of:

* commitment to career goals
* motivation and job satisfaction, and
* willingness to demonstrate loyalty, respect, and active participation with others in their work.

When considering your spirituality

Spirituality is inclusive and comprehensive. In other words, it should be accepting of all of the world's religions and spiritual approaches without abandoning your own essentials. According to spiritual philosopher, Ken Wilbur, spirituality is integral by nature and, therefore, must encompasses a reflection of your:

1. Interior/Self – your subjective, phenomenological and inner spiritual experiences
2. Exterior/Self – your practices/behaviours for considering and developing your spirituality
3. Interior/Collective – the belief and values systems, culture and worldviews in which your inner ‘view’ of spirituality is immersed, and
4. Exterior/Collective – the social systems, institutions and environments in which you consider and practice your spirituality.

When engaged in your spiritual journey, it is the consideration of each of these elements that facilitates spiritual growth.

What is śaṁsāra?

What is śaṁsāra?
Guru S. Bale
Jan 22, 2010

Life is birth, life and death. A person with pure heart and mind rejects life. Śharaṇa Candimarasa, describes life as:

A man walking in the forest, A drop of honey falls on his tip of nose
Sees he is being chased from four sides, He is happy with that drop of honey
A tiger, forest fire, a demon and an elephant. Tasting the drop by the tip of his tongue
Afraid for his life, runs to a nearby well, ‘Forgets all his problems’.
Jumps head first into the well, Happiness from Saṁsāra
Seeing a snake, Has an ocean of problems.
He hangs tight to the root of a tree Learn that happiness is momentary
He sees two rats chewing the root, He stands alone without attachment
Just then from a bee hive It is Ĉimmaligeya Ĉennarāma.

This is a beautiful metaphorical description of life. Man is jīva, saṁsāra is forest, tiger is kāma (lust), fire is krōda (anger), demon is lōba (greed), elephant is mada (pride), the well is matsara (jealousy). The snake is bēdha (discrimination I and You). The root that he holds is life, and the two rats are day and night (time). In spite of all these difficulties, he is completely immersed in miniscule happiness (tasting honey) associated with saṁsāra. This is life if one does not think and strive to understand oneself!
Happiness that comes from wife, children, relatives, friends, wealth is not long lasting. They disappear in time. In divine world happiness is also not forever. Gīte 9-21 says: ‘Puṇai martyalōkaṁ viśaṁti’, return to martya lōka when puṇya ends. A person accumulates rewards for good karma. When the rewards end he returns to saṁsāra. Even the divines have many problems. The rewards of good karma do not last.

Gīte (15-7) says-‘ Mamaivāṁśō jīvalōkē jīvabhutaḥ sanātanaḥ’ Jīva is part of God. He is ancient like God. He cannot be seen. He is happy and knowledgable. Yet jīva is fond of saṁsāra. He is under the spell of Māya. A person who understands māya in its orginal form rejects her influence.
The person with knowledge understands that happiness from saṁsāra is not long lasting. He diverts his attention away from saṁsāra. Pure and undisturbed mind lead to freedom from the cycle of birth Allamaprabhu says:

Earth is not yours,
Wealth is not yours,
Wife is not yours,
They are all placed in the world.
Wisdom is to say they are Your’s.
Without faulting that wisdom
To have that wisdom
There is no richer person than you

* Siddaṁta Śikāmaṇi, Guru ś. Bale, (unpublished)

How God exists in this world?

How God exists in this world?
Guru S. Bale
Jan 20, 2010

The knowledge to learn one-self is Adyatmika knowledge. This knowledge is precious because it frees the soul from the bonds of Saṁsāra. Saṁsāra does not mean wife and children. It means the illusions of happiness that comes by associating with this world.
Freedom from saṁsāra gives eternal happiness without life and death.

Allamaprabhu refers God as Bayalu. There is only one God. He cannot be seen because he has no form. He cannot be heard. Mind cannot perceive him because he is beyond the limit of senses. He is everlasting happiness. Śaranas showed us the way to achieve everlasting happiness during ones own lifetime.

The vaĉanas of Allamaprabhu describe how God is in this world:

Like fire in stone, Like wealth hidden in ground,
Like reflection in water, Like lightning hidden in clouds,
Like tree in the seed, Like mirage hidden in desert,
Like silence in sound, Like beauty hidden in eyes,
Guheshwara, Guheshwara,
Your relation is with Sharana! It is your presence!

God exists in this world like the fire in stone, like the reflection in water, like the tree in seed, and like the silence behind sound. Through sādhane (perform to achieve) devotee can experience God. That which cannot be seen (fire in stone), that which exists in this world without any attachments (reflection in water), that which has everything (seed to be a tree), and that which is inseparable (silence in sound) from this world (life). God is experienced through sādhane or performance.

Diamonds, gold, and other precious metals are hidden in the earth, lightning is hidden in clouds, and mirage is hidden in the desert and beauty is hidden in eyes. Similarly, God is present everywhere and in everything. He is hidden both inside our body and outside of body or in this world.

God is in everything and in every place; inside and outside of our body. He is not seen or heard. The reason for this is Māye or illusion. This is discussed in the next article.

Why I am proud as a Vīraśaiva

Why I am proud as a Vīraśaiva
Guru S. Bale
Jan 16, 2010

Among all the religions of the world, only Vīraśaiva religion is the most broad-minded religion. Mahatma Gandhi addressing the 39th Congress in 1924 said ‘ 800 years ago, the philosophy taught by Basavēśvara cannot be practiced by me. Basava not only preached but also practiced what he preached. Basava eradicated untouchability. He established a caste less society of śaraṇas. This is very important. If he lived today, he would be the Man for the world. The followers, by practicing and preaching the philosophy, definitely will improve not just India but the world’. Do we need any other testimonial about the religious principles of Vīraśaiva?

According to Akkamahadevi Vīraśaivas have 52 qualities*. I am proud to say that śaraṇas are the first to free the people in the lower class from the clutches of Vaidica persons. Sharnas are the first to liberate women by giving equality. This prompted women to participate equally with men in discussions of religious and social matters. Women wrote many vaĉanas. Today their writings excel and some have become literary marvels. Śaraṇas put an end to superstitions. They created a society of śaraṇas without regard to birth caste. They married a Brahmin girl to a Śūdra boy.

Śaraṇas of the 12th century achieved many great things. They worked unselfishly to improve the quality of life to one and all. Many people including the king of Kashmir joined śaraṇa movement. Śaraṇas earned their livelihood through kayaka (work) and spent their earning in dasōha (charity). Their goal was to lead a simple life, acquire knowledge to learn oneself and to unite with the almighty. They never accepted things without discussing in the great hall of Anubhava Manṭapa.

It is my experience that dasōha performed at some of the temples in Karnataka are not really dasōha. The temple discriminates in serving prasada to the devotees. This type of discrimination is not seen or heard by me in any of the Veerasaiva temples or in Vīraśaiva Maṭas. Without Vīraśaiva Maṭas many of us including many non-Vīraśaivas would not have obtained basic and advanced education. From education we are enjoying the life of today.

There is lot more to write and talk about Vīraśaiva religion. I am proud to be born in this religion. I am proud to practice and to follow the religious principle. I am happy to share my life experience as a Vīraśaiva with others.

* Qualities of Vīraśaiva, Guru S. Bale, Sid-Asha publishing Company, Edison, NJ 08817

Saturday, February 20, 2010

VSNA Convention 2010

The 33rd annual convention of the Veerashiva Samaja of North America is being hosted by the Toronto Chapter. We are supported in this endeavour by VSNA members across North America and donors worldwide.

The two-day event is scheduled for July 3rd and 4th 2010. The venue is Sheraton Parkway North, Richmond Hill, Ontario, 30-minutes east from Pearson International Airport, Toronto.

There will be a diverse set of events:

Spiritual discourses and discussions:

Spiritual discourses by learned Swamijis from India.
Lectures by renowned scholars from India and North America
Live debated and discussions on Veerashivism
Panel discussions moderated by renowned scholars, with highly diverse and talented panel members.


Variety cultural program by VSNA members.
Dance performance by internationally recognized dance groups in Toronto.
Vachana singing by renowned Hindustani singers.
Vachana and Sufi singing by talented and upcoming artists in Toronto.


Business workshop from business leaders. Programs include investment opportunities in Canada, resources for young entrepreneurs and networking opportunity with business leaders from USA and India
Health and wellness workshop, to provide preventive tools and technologies. Opportunity to network with physicians and experts from USA, Canada and India.


Essay writing competitions
Singing “ VSNA Idol”
Fine art


Art exhibition by international reputed artist visiting from India.
Exhibition of articles of importance to “Veershaiva” philosophy.

Yes, you need food for thinking. Delicious vegetarian dinner, lunch, breakfast and snacks by famous caterer in Toronto.

Hope to see you in Toronto, July 3rd and 4th 2010.

Click here for the convention website.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

"In Search of Happiness" discourse, full-text

"In Search of Happiness"

Talk by Shri Siddeswara Swamiji on 8th September 2007 at the Meadowvale Community Centre, Mississauga

What is happiness? Has any body found happiness? These are the main questions, we will try to answer today.

Story of the dog:

A puppy dog was trying to catch its tail. It was going in circles for a long time without any success. The big dog was watching this. He asked the puppy what he is trying to do. Well, let me explain, said the puppy. I am trying to find happiness. In the process I have become philosopher. I have discovered that happiness is in my tail and every dog should find happiness. The big dog said, well I agree you are a philosopher. Only a philosopher can make that kind of statement. But if you listen to me you should just keep going your way and happiness will follow you. You know happiness is in your tail.

Pleasure and Happiness:

So for humans: Where is Happiness and What is Happiness?
We see a flower and we appreciate its beauty. That is pleasure. Pleasure is agreement between mind and eye contact with the flower. This pleasure can't exist for long time. It is momentary. It depends on the existence of object and mind. As long as the contact is established, it exists and the pleasure exists. Pleasures are like waves. They come and they go. If you are hungry and you find food you get pleasure. As soon as you are full, food can't bring you pleasure. Pleasure makes life beautiful. Fragrance of a flower, Coolness of a breeze make life rich. Pleasures don't cost much. There is no big pleasure or small pleasure. You can find pleasure in sunrise, sunset, and songs of birds. They fill life with joy. These small joys make life wonderful, but they are momentary.

Happiness is state of mind. Pleasure is not happiness. Pleasure is related to the sense organs, whereas happiness is related to the mind. If you have no worries in the mind; no pain in the body, then there is happiness. To be happy you don't need to depend on any external objects.
Happiness is a wonderful state of the mind. It lasts a long time
. Nobody can give you happiness. It has to come from within yourself. Happiness is absence of physical pain in the body and absence of mental worries. Pain in the body creates mental pressure. Happiness is within us. Happiness is also not permanent.

Peace is what we need to yearn for. When mind becomes silent, it has no feelings, no thoughts and nothing to remember and then you can say you have got peace of mind. Mind's silence is experienced as peace.

Patanjali defines in Yogasastra, "restful state of mind,or the silent state of the mind as "SAMADHI" as that peace. "vihaaya kaamaan nispRuhah nirahamkaarah yOgaah ciththavRuththi nirODhah"

Narad, the great musical teacher asks Sanatkumar why can't he find peace, despite him being involved so much in the music. Sanatkumar replies, reach the mind via the heart.

As long as the mind can differentiate things, you can't be happy and peaceful. As long as mind
tells you this is either greater than or bigger than something else, you can't be happy. Don't ask for the cost of the flower. Flower is Nature. Just enjoy it. To enjoy life get into the heart. Intelligence creates division. The Heart doesn't make any distinction.
Love doesn't see any differences. Love the Nature. Peace is the god. God is within yourself.

Socrates once told his friend, that he is neither living nor dead, I am neither body nor mind. I am myself. I am the supreme. Upanishads emphasize, the TRUTH. Truth is supreme.It is more important than anything else. No finite number is absolutely bigger or smaller than the Infinite.Spiritual existence will make human beings infinite.

Alexander conquered the king Porus, He remembers Aristotle's advice that he need to talk to the great Indian philosopher at Taxila University Damdami. He sends his soldier to bring him. When soldier asks Damdami to walk with him, I have nothing to do with the rulers of the world. Soldier reminds him king can kill him, he responds He knows how to kill people. But I can't be killed, I am not the body. I am the infinite.

Nature is great. Infinity reality exists everywhere and we are also part of the infinite. The next stage is I am the infinite. Like several circles together, some circles are big and some are small. But each circle has the centre point. Human beings are also different externally the central point for all of us is the same. In spirit we are same, with equal desire for pleasure, happiness and peace.

Sant Tukaram was poor he had no shelter. The king Shivaji Maharaj sent him some gold coins. Sant looked at gold coins and replied to him, probably your king thinks I am poor. Poverty and richness are not measured in terms of how much money I have. As long as there is food and air within the nature, and life within me,I am the richest of the rich.

Shakespeare once says to his friend, I am also a king, my kingdom is my heart. Therefore nobody can invade me, my crown is within me. My crown is made from "contentment". I am the king till last day. Contentment makes me the wealthiest man in the world
With this I offer my Namaskars to everybody.Now,I can take some questions.

Note: Above text is based on notes from Yuvaraj Patil and Sim Murthy. Comments are welcome.