Sloka 92 from Dancing with Siva
What Are the Sacraments of Childhood?
The essential religious sacraments of childhood are the namakarana, name-giving; chudakarana, head-shaving; annaprashana, first solid food; karnavedha, ear-piercing; and vidyarambha, commencement of formal study. Aum.
Samskaras impress upon a child its holiness and innate possibilities for spiritual advancement. The namakarana occurs in the temple or home, eleven to forty-one days after birth. The baby's name, astrologically chosen, is whispered in the right ear by the father, marking the formal entry into Hinduism. The head-shaving, chudakarana, is performed at the temple between the thirty-first day and the fourth year. The annaprashana celebrates the child's first solid food, when sweet rice is fed to the baby by the father or the family guru. Ear-piercing, karnavedha, held for both girls and boys during the first, third or fifth year, endows the spirit of health and wealth. Girls are adorned with gold earrings, bangles and anklets; boys with two earrings and other gold jewelry. The vidyarambha begins formal education, when children write their first letter in a tray of rice. The upanayana begins, and the samavartana ends, a youth's religious study. The Vedas beseech, "I bend to our cause at this solemn moment, O Gods, your divine and holy attention. May a thousand streams gush forth from this offering, like milk from a bountiful, pasture-fed cow." Aum Namah Sivaya.
Lesson 247 from Living with Siva
Karma Is Always Just
We see reincarnation as an explanation for many of the apparent inequalities observed in life. Thus we understand the fairness even in a bad birth, say a birth as a cripple or a child who dies in infancy. To the Hindu this is not an accident, but is a natural event brought forth by the soul itself through the karma of unseemly acts and desires in a previous life. To the Hindu there is not one force in the universe at work to make all things good and an opposing force trying to destroy the soul. No. All is God's work. All karma is natural and worthy of the soul to which it comes.
The Hindu knows that it is the younger souls who lack understanding, who cannot live in harmony with others and who shun the higher forms of culture and faith. Rather than inheriting eternal suffering for their acts, they earn instead another opportunity for experience, for learning, for evolving. The ideas of sin and evil are different in Hinduism from the concepts held by Abrahamic religions. If there is such a thing as sin to the Hindu, it is the breaking of the natural laws, a lapse in the patterns of karma and dharma, and that transgression brings its own punishment in the form of an additional karma created to then be worked out. Thus the Hindu does not live in fear of sin or under the notion of original sin. We do not look upon humanity as inherently sinful, but inherently perfect and striving to unfold that perfection from within. The Hindu knows that we will have as many opportunities as needed to refine and evolve our nature--a thousand lives or more if needed. We don't have to think that we only have a single chance, a one life in which everything must be accomplished and all desires must be fulfilled. Therefore, we are not in a hurry. We are patient. We exhibit more patience with circumstances than do those who believe in a one life, and we are more forgiving of ourselves when we fall short. Thus it is that Hinduism offers a great joy to its followers--a blessing of fearlessness in the face of death, an assurance of the continuation of consciousness after physical death, another assurance that each soul creates its own karma and that such karma is just and right, even when it seems that some people are less fortunate than others and that fate has unfairly given all the advantages to a few. All these things are bestowed on Hindus simply because they understand the doctrine of reincarnation.
Hinduism is a hopeful and comforting religion. Hope for a future life makes this life worthwhile, joyous, contented and happy, because the Hindu can live and deal with current problems, knowing that they are transitory problems, that they will not last forever; nor will they affect us forever. They are problems; we cannot deny that. But they are problems to be worked out with a positive attitude and a high energy and a helping hand from our Gods.
Sutra 247 of the Nandinatha Sutras
Obey Your Guru, Obey Your Guru...
Siva's devotees obey their satguru, carrying out his directions, expressed or implied, with intelligent cooperation, without delay. They keep no secrets from him, nor advise others how to manipulate his decisions. Aum.
Lesson 247 from Merging with Siva
How We Face Our Karma
How can we work out karma? There are thousands of things vibrating in the muladhara chakra, and from those memory patterns they are going to bounce up into view one after another, especially if we gain more prana by breathing and eating correctly. When meditation begins, more karma is released from the first chakra. Our individual karma is intensified as the ingrained memory patterns that were established long ago accumulate and are faced, one after another, after another, after another.
In our first four or five years of striving on the path we face the karmic patterns that we would never have faced in this life had we not consciously sought enlightenment. Experiences come faster, closer together. So much happens in the short span of a few months or even a few days, catalyzed by the new energies released in meditation and by our efforts to purify mind and body, it might have taken us two or three lifetimes to face them all. They would not have come up before then, because nothing would have stimulated them.
First, we must know fully that we ourselves are the cause of all that happens. As long as we externalize the source of our successes and failures, we perpetuate the cycles of karma, good or bad. As long as we blame others for our problems or curse the seeming injustices of life, we will not find within ourselves the understanding of karmic laws that will transmute our unresolved patterns. We must realize that every moment in our life, every joy and every sorrow, can be traced to some source within us. There is no one "out there" making it all happen. We make it happen or not happen according to the actions we perform, the attitudes we hold and the thoughts we think. Therefore, by gaining conscious control of our thoughts and attitudes by right action, we can control the flow of karma. Karma, then, is our best spiritual teacher. We spiritually learn and grow as our actions return to us to be resolved and dissolved.
The second way to face karma is in deep sleep and meditation. Seeds of karma that have not even expressed themselves can be traced in deep meditation by one who has many years of experience in the within. Having pinpointed the unmanifested karmic seed, the jnani can either dissolve it in intense light or inwardly live through the reaction of his past action. If his meditation is successful, he will be able to throw out the vibrating experiences or desires which are consuming the mind. In doing this, in traveling past the world of desire, he breaks the wheel of karma which binds him to the specific reaction which must follow every action. That experience will never have to happen on the physical plane, for its vibrating power has already been absorbed in his nerve system.