Nearly a year ago I wrote about my initial impressions of the Master Course. I am now completing the last few weeks of the “stage one Master Course“. I have looked at the final worksheet and it contains an application for the second year “stage two Master Course”, which I fully intend to follow.
The course so far has greatly increased my knowledge of Hinduism in general and of the Shaivite Shiva Siddhanta Church in particular. The daily lessons from the three books have helped add a spiritual dimension to my life. Each day a reading from “Dancing With Shiva” gives a clear teaching of Hinduism with a detailed explanation. The lesson from “Living With Shiva” describes the Hindu way of life, and how to fit the lessons into your daily living. Finally, “Merging With Shiva” describes Saivite Hindu philosophy. The lessons from the last book can be esoteric, and I am sure that there is far more to them than I have understood in the “stage one” course. In a way it is a nice reminder that I still have much to understand.
As well as learning, the course is spiritually inspirational. There are many excerpts from Hindu scriptures as well as the clear, friendly spiritual messages from Gurudeva. Sometimes when reading the course I have felt a spiritual connection with Gurudeva. The spiritual message seems to flow faster than the intellect can follow. On occasions I have found that I know that the content of a lesson is correct, even though intellectually I don’t understand how. It would sometimes take days for me to intellectually understand why the lesson was correct. For someone who works in an intellectual field and is used to the intellect guiding this was an odd but useful experience.
Students can either follow the course unofficially, either by buying the books or studying the material free online, or enrol to formally study the course. Students formally taking the course have monthly self-evaluation worksheets to monitor their progress. These worksheets provide monthly multiple choice questions together with opportunities to rate the relevance of the lessons and to evaluate how well they are upholding the principles of Hinduism. The answers to the multiple choice questions are on the last page of each monthly worksheet. I did not always get the questions right, though usually re-reading the relevant section made it clear why I had got them wrong. On one or two occasions I had to ask about these options on the Master Course online group.
The Master Course online group is a valuable resource for people taking the course officially. Most of the activity in the group is from fellow students of the Master Course, though the Himalayan Academy monks do look in and can answer questions that the students cannot find the answer to. As well as being a resource for information this group is a source of inspiration and fellowship. Hearing the stories of how others came to the course and hearing about their experiences enriches my own spiritual progress.
I would highly recommend this course to anyone who feels called to Shaivite Hinduism. I think it would also be a productive course for anyone who wanted to know about Hinduism in general. Gurudeva concentrates on the Shaivite philosophy but does describe all schools and makes it clear where material applies solely to Saiva Siddhanta.