I have been a little remiss in blogging recently. I started this post a few days ago, various issues at work took my mind of finishing it.
A while ago I was thinking about a lottery. It was a roll-over week that has a big payout, with a jackpot of about £17 million pounds. I had some unexpected bills, and I couldn’t help thinking that it would be nice to win enough money to pay these off immediately. The Nandinatha Sutras forbid gambling, but intellectually I started to justify placing a bet. I thought that if Shiva let me have a really big win I could do something good with it, build a temple, donate to charities, all sorts of things. Surely this wouldn’t be wrong! Perhaps this Sutra was for people who had gambling problems and who would be selfish with the winnings. It’s amazing how your mind can start to justify what you want to do as being the right thing to do.
SUTRA 76: GAMBLING IS FORBIDDEN
Siva’s devotees are forbidden to indulge in gambling or games of chance with payment or risk, even through others or for employment. Gambling erodes society, assuring the loss of many for the gain of a few. Aum.
Later that evening I went for a walk from our house, still wondering whether to buy a ticket. As I walked along a road that goes along the edge of a valley, the sun was setting and the view was so beautiful that it totally held me in the moment, taking my breath away. At that moment all was right, the beauty of the world filled my spirit. I saw how we have so much, and a few unexpected bills are nothing compared to the beautiful world we live in.
I thought of getting my camera to capture the sunset, though by the time I got home the moment had passed and the sun was below the horizon. This seemed right too, the spiritual inspiration was of the moment, it happened then and could not be captured. Not only was the time and place just right, but I was just right to experience the moment. The picture at the beginning of this post is of a sunset seen from our garden a couple of years ago.
Contemplating the moment I realised that thinking of winning money and helping Shiva was completely wrong. The most beautiful and ornate temple that we can build is only a garbha (shrine) in Shiva’s great temple, the universe. What makes a temple is the people helping and resourcing it through dharmic means, money earned honestly, and there is no short cut.
Later someone posted a talk by Bodhinatha on finding peace and contentment. Part of this made me recall the sunset:
Have you noticed any concern you might carry always bears upon the past or the future? … To dissolve any concern therefore, all one has to do is guide awareness to the present.
I can see how this passage and the memory of the eternity of the moment also reflects on issues at work, and could help me be more patient with my family. I hope that it will become something that I can live more, rather than just understand.
Hi Tandava. I’ve occasionally browsed through your posts and you bring up many valid points. And it’s certainly refreshing to see someone of a different ethnicity embracing Hinduism so well. Wish you well on your journey. I have a question for you and hope you do answer it. As a Shaivite (I’m assuming you are, as I am), what are your thoughts on the ISKCON movement?
One thing I have learned from many born Hindus is that differences in belief should be treated with humility and respect. Obviously as a Vishnava movement ISKCON promotes beliefs that are different from those I hold as a Saivite. Spiritual practice and devotion is more important than differences in belief and philosophy. I have no doubt that there are people who follow different religious traditions that are more advanced spiritually than I am.
I know several ISKCON members online, and I have found them to be sincere, thoughtful, and spiritual people. The teachings of ISKCON have certainly benefited them. ISKCON once held a “gouranga festival” at our Mandir, and most of the people were of Western European origin (i.e. white). I think they found it strange that my family and I attended a Hindu mandir that was not run by one of the predominantly white Hindu-related organisations such as ISKCON or the Divine Life Society.
Thanks for the reply Tandava. Unfortunately my experience with ISKCONists have been bad. They were very quick to slam me down as a Shaivaite. Pretty sad. But there are nice ones. But yeh thanks for your thoughts.
Dhurga, I am sorry to hear that. I would say that if they slam you down they are not very spiritually advanced themselves, maybe feeling insecure in their own beliefs. Obviously Saivites and Vishnavas, including ISKCON, have some very different beliefs, and if pressed each would have to say that they thought the others were not on the optimal or easiest path to God. That said, each should acknowledge that there are those on other paths who are more advanced than them, and that due to differences in karma each path could be right for some people. I have discussed this online with ISKCON members and we acknowledge that there is a lot common in philosophy and practice.
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