| tadyatha om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha |
Puja versus Seva
Sacrifice Transforming Ignorance into Wisdom
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary,
by Simone Martini, c. 1322-1326
Fresco cycle with scenes from the life of Saint Martin of Tours; Chapel in lower church of San Francesco in Assisi, Italy
~~ Pema Chodron
"We work on ourselves in order to help others,
but also we help others in order to work on ourselves."
|Magical Seva!||Although this sacred
truth is not fully proven until after the occasion of
fleshdeath during the meeting of one's
indeed it is well known that the meek shall inherit the
Because of the unique privilege which is offered to ministers and helpers to observe the relationship between thoughts-emotions-material outcome, those who serve are blessed with extraordinary and rare wisdom to understand one's own dilemmas and predicaments. Although it is not widely believed, ministries of service ares much more effective than any other path of advancement.
It is called "selfless service" because during the offering of the service, the focus is directed entirely upon the customer, the client, the patient, the help-needing one, the disenfranchised or one imbalance-seeking-a-remedy.
In this environment of lifting focus away from ones own concerns and toward the concerns of another, a remarkable clarity of understanding takes place which is, as a cheerful byproduct, usually exactly the understanding that is needed to solve one's own problems.
This is why Seva comes so highly recommended by all sages. It is actually the most selfish possible decision because one is, during the service, receiving * for free * specifically targeted information. The knowledge one gains about the client's beliefs-and-behavior which can be seen by the wise one to be providing a precise matching answer to those questions about Self that one brings to the service practice.
Seva is quite magically enlightening when intentionally, consciously targeted toward those who share one's own life dilemmas but in a more intense degree.
|~~ Sahih Bukhari||"Anas reported that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, "It a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him.”|
|Exposing the "Blind Spot"|
Find the missing answer
Witness quality neutral attention to behavior of others
Scientific observation, compassionate assistance
Use the skills you already have
Role model to those coming up behind you
|Seva is very
straightforward and effective. |
It works at a common-sense level for two reasons.
Seva is an eye-opener .
One targets a population that is suffering from one's own similar problem, yet in a slightly worse degree of suffering. In other words, these are people who are making the same mistake as oneself, but they are less advantaged in general - they have less intelligence, fewer resources, or just heavier karma overall.
let's say that a person is having financial problems. Expenses continually exceed income. Could be home finance or business finance. One begins to feel like a victim. Self-doubt overwhelms the native. Other emotions such as self-criticism, fear, and anger often emerge as the problem worsens. One feels beleaguered by apparently unanswerable"W-questions " [who-what-when-where-why-how]: What is happening? Why? Where is the money going? What negative path is the money following? Clearly there is a blind spot in one's management process.
So, for example,
Go teach a basic personal finance = "checkbook-management" class in a community center (including religious communities). Teach teenage parents how to handle money. A bigger task could be to help a well-intentioned but financially incompetent service group to rationalize its budget.
The Seva-giver will see it pretty quickly. People with chronic money problems hold some cherished negative beliefs about money. They often believe that if they don't buy it now, it won't be there tomorrow (unstable emotions, lack of trust in one's power to create).
They lack impulse control often. They are often invested in a negative expectation that there will never be enough: the religion of scarcity, inadequacy, insufficiency.
We're talking deeply held beliefs. Teaching, training, meeting with these folks will be an eye-opener. One will see oneself reflected in their mirror rather quickly. Chances are that one's own positive intelligence will see the match in the lower folk and eradicate it, realizing that like attracts like. Only Seva can expose the blind spot. Works like a charm to solve one's own problem and helps others in the process.
| Paramahansa Yogananda |
Autobiography of a Yogi,
Ch. 16, Outwitting the Stars
"Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance.
The wise man defeats his planets - which is to say, his past
The more he realizes his unity with spirit , the less he can be dominated by matter.
The soul is ever-free; it's deathless because birthless. It can't be regimented by stars.
Ritual Remedial Puja versus Charitable Service (Seva): which works better?
I know you disagree with Pooja as a technology for correcting bad karma. You would be disappointed to know that I got a KSY pooja done for myself recently.
IMO doing a KSY puja is perfectly OK and won't hurt anything! Plus, it will help the pujari financially. That is a nice thing for the pujari : )
The choice to serve = effective when one's sacrificial intelligence is directed toward those who have precisely one's own type of suffering , but in a recognizable form (near to one's own social setting) and in a worse, more debilitating version .
| Q: |
What is your opinion on Pariharas for Doshas and Karmas being suggested by certain group of astrologers?
A: Thanks for a great question. I do not favor superstitious remedies of any kind.
I personally favor SEVA as the ideal remedy in all cases of perceived misfortune. SEVA requires some thought! It works best when the service is offered to those who suffer from one's own problem, but their suffering is in a slightly worse degree.
Serving these folks is typically an eye-opening experience which allows one to see the problem-causing behaviors being demonstrated in real-time by other people.
The one who is offering Seva gains the privilege to watch negative beliefs and unconscious negative habits of the"victims ". The one-to-one correspondence between negative expectation and negative outcome is quite vivid! It is like watching an instructional movie!
Of course those who receive the offering of seva often do benefit from one's kind and courteous service to those less fortunate. However, the real beneficiary is indeed oneself. One who offers intentional"targeted Seva" to precisely those persons who have exactly a matching problem (but in a worse degree of suffering) are themselves the true beneficiaries.
Seva is actually the most selfish activity in the world.
It works, it is intelligent, and Seva is free!
BP Lama, Jyotisha
|Puja as Market Commodity|| |
Major problem that blocks effectiveness: One is often quite psycho-emotionally disconnected from the puja .
The temple discourse has become a "commodity" to be paid for and consumed. Since the beginning of Kali Yuga, just about everything in life has a price -- and puja is no exception.
|The power to change must always originate within.|| |
Externalized, outer-material focused rituals are not really capable of creating change.
When the puja becomes a commercial commodity that is passively bought and sold, the transformative "intention" of sacrifice is completely lost.
|Great Saints Agree|| |
During the past three millennia, religious reformers in all the great religions have noticed this degrading of authentic sacrifice in religious practice.
They have tried to correct it by calling the people back to intimate prayer with the Divine and toward charitable service.
They knew that Intention which is the dedicated purpose and personal engagement of the action, is where the transformative, healing power of human life is rooted.
And they were aghast to see that sacrificial religion had become a business.
Think of Jesus Christ turning over the money tables in the Temple in Jerusalem. Think of 95 Theses 1483-1549 Protestant Reformation Martin Luther tacking up 95 theses rejecting the selling of indulgences and annulments. Think of Satyagraha 1869-1948 Mahatma Mohandas Gandhiredirecting attention to the intentional acts such as cotton spinning and rejecting archaic superstition at every level.
There are hundreds more saints like them who came to earth to reject superstition and materialism in favor of opening to Divine intelligence through humility and intentional devotional practice.
| All the Great Teachers |
14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso
A Policy of Kindness : An Anthology of Writings By and About the Dalai Lama
"I am interested not in converting other people to Buddhism but in how we Buddhists can contribute to human society, according to our own ideas.
I believe that other religious faiths also think in a similar way, seeking to contribute to the common aim ....
Just as Buddha showed an example of contentment, tolerance, and serving others without selfish motivation, so did Jesus Christ
... the motivation of all religious practice is similar - love, sincerity, honesty. The way of life of practically all religious persons is contentment. The teachings of tolerance, love, and compassion are the same. A basic goal is the benefit of humankind - each type of system seeking in its own unique ways to improve human beings.
Basically All the great teachers, such as Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ, or Mohammed, founded their new teachings with a motivation of helping their fellow humans. They did not mean to gain anything for themselves nor to create more trouble or unrest in the world.
Most important is that we respect each other And learn from each other those things that will enrich our own practice.
|True Puja = Sacrifice|| |
Sacrifice = sacri + fice,"making sacred". Sacrifice means changing something from a low level of energy to a higher level of energy. Sacrifice means transforming ignorance into wisdom.
Unfortunately, in reality, most people"throw money at it" in a state of ego-dysfunctional anxiety. In the materialistic mentality, one feels that one cannot lose the productivity time or that one somehow does not have the"expertise" to conduct a proper sacrifice.
Without the intention to personally open to the divine , which paid puja does not provide,, there is no benefit.. (Except of course the benefit to the pocketbook of the priest!)
Seva requires Intention
Approaching negative karma or suffering with the tool of charitable service or"seva", on the other hand, can give excellent results. Seva requires intention, to be present and personally engaged.
Highest Values: Time and Intelligence
In the modern individualized world, the citizen's waking time and applied intelligence are high-value , essential survival resources .
In mentalized material culture of the present era, time and intelligence are normally used strictly for purposes of generating money, prestige, physical sustenance or relaxation, or some other value of physical, social or material advancement.
Each individual receives a certain allocation of these fundamental modern resources. One perceives a trajectory of"success " through material advancement which can be achieved by the skillful utilization of intelligence and time. (Presuming health, time of peace, economic freedom, etc.)
|When the Competitive-Acquisitive Behavior is Blocked|| |
When the advancement is blocked, when one can't mentally"figure out" the next step forward of the material-success trajectory, a modern educated person feels deep frustration leading to suffering.
Nevertheless the modern agony is realistic; for those caught in its clutches modern suffering is very real.
Heaping Compulsions: Survival and Guilt
The heap-building, acquisitive, ego-justification process that is driven by the mental engine and fueled by the guilty inner voice of "should" is urgently survival-compulsive.
At root, hoarding is a basic survival instinct programmed into our old carnivore brains. The brain signals that if one is going to have enough life force to produce offspring, one needs to go consume the life force of another animal. The life force moves from container to container, in tantric dance: eat and be eaten, says the oldest part of the human brain.
It's very hard for an individual to separate from the cultural expectations long enough to get a clear perspective on the compulsion .
On a psycho-mental level, very real - to the point where serious blockage on the progress-trajectory causes the native to try removing the blockage via suicide or divorce amongst other catastrophic "solutions".
| 14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso . (1994). the Path to Enlightenment .
Glenn H. Mullin (Trans. and Ed.).:
"We should remember that everything but Dharma is useless at death,
and instead of wasting our lives on meaningless activities,
we should blend our mindstreams with the teachings and with practice.
Doing so benefits us as individuals
and benefits the world by strengthening its spiritual basis."
|The Higher Truth|| |
Indeed, the best spiritual advice is to completely abandon the heaping process. Compulsive goods-and-status acquisition is well known to bea colossal waste of Earth Life time .
|~~ 14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso|| |
Compassion is the desire for another to have freedom from suffering.
Love is the desire for another to have happiness.
Reality of the Common Person
The higher message is a lot of blah-blah to a person driven by hungry-mind and desperate for social approval. They think, if I don't please my parents and make a good marriage I am going to"die". That is reptile-brain speaking. If I lose my house through bank foreclosure I am going to"die". The inner snake, again.
Periodically the USA news outlets will report married homeowners committing joint suicide because their house payments are too late.They will be forced by finances into what seems to the snake-brain like fatal loss of public dignity leading to certain death. In reality, they must move from a house into a rental apartment.
Looking at this situation from the rational outside view, of course the decision to take one's life for such a superficial reason of local reputation is outrageous and an insult to God. Again, the snakey brain does this work.
The traditional father who believes he must murder his daughter because she will not marry according to his wishes. He too is driven by the terrible urge to control for survival. Accumulate, control, command the material forces : this is the dangerous and pervasive voice of the reptile brain.
Compassionate Advice, Then
The compassionate approach to solving the blockage problem thus needs to take a step down and presume that the acquisitions addiction will keep barreling forward.
What common folk need is the most effective psychic technology for removing the blockage and re-starting the flow of acquisitions.
Nothing else make sense.
|Material Mind at Work||The natural human commercial instinct is simply to trade one heap for another heap - i.e., give a cow or goat or 7 ratti gemstone to a priestIt seems reasonable that paying a penance to a spiritual technician should raise the psychic energy high enough to remove the"roadblock" open my path to a beautiful bride, a healthy child, a new house, or a promotion at work. This is how the material mind works.|
Search for Effective Remedies
When blocked in desire-driven accumulations, the progress-oriented person seeks a familiar solution in the habitual field of material activity. The material mind is stuck in the modern habit of using the energy of consciousness to generate self-focused physical-mental-social value .
Naturally, one looks for a commodity or technology to open the way toward resumption of heaping.
One makes a thoughtless donation of money or an animal; perhaps a gem of so many rattis; or one purchases a ritual puja.
| If you prefer to offer Puja to protective deities, then keep in mind the power of an offering based in gratitude for one's blessings. Whether you choose puja or seva, the conscious intention is to express appreciation for one's advantage in life. |
Puja is a precious opportunity not to complain about how serious one's own problems are but more to emphasize how much one values the privilege of communicating with the Divine.
The Union of Bliss and Emptiness: Teachings on the Practice of Guru Yoga
by 14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso, trans. Thupten Jinpa, p.35
"Offerings should not be influenced by fluctuations of motivation and they should not be procured by devious means--offerings procured through wrong means are not good offerings.
They should be arranged with proper motivation. As explained in the precepts of refuge, you should make offerings of the first portion of your food or drink of the day, whether it be food, milk or tea.
Offerings should be made of what is edible; it is not helpful to arrange a torma that could not be eaten and then to say OM AH HUM, OM AH HUM. If you can in reality transform something into delicious food just by reciting OM AH HUM three times, then it is alright!
On the other hand, if your offerings remain as mere tsampa (roasted barley flour) after having repeated OM AH HUM a thousand times, it will not help much.
The offerings should be the best you can afford. At least you can offer the first portion of your daily food, as no one can live without food! Our offerings should be something which is edible.... [Even] if you make water offerings in a proper manner, you can generate great merit."
|Change must come from within|| |
Authentic sacrifice cannot be performed on one's behalf, absent one's present-time full-focus engagement, by another person.
However this level of spiritual attunement between the practitioner and the priest is exceedingly rare.
|from the comedy routine of Swami Beyondananda :|| |
What did the Yogi say when he walked into the Zen Pizza Parlor?
When the Yogi got the pizza, he gave the proprietor a $20 bill. The proprietor pocketed the bill. The Yogi said "Don't I get change?"
Q: I don't understand how Seva can help me solve these crushing problems. It's nice to help other people. I could go so far as to say like the Budhhists that it will create merit in this life or the next. Fine. But It seems to me that Seva is more recreational - volunteer work, something to fill in my extra time. It's not very useful for me personally. Why do you always recommend Seva as a one-size-fits-all solution - especially when the problems are serious, like mine are?
It seems to me that Seva is more recreational - volunteer work, something to fill in my extra time. It's not very useful for me personally.
Why do you always recommend Seva as a one-size-fits-all solution - especially when the problems are serious, like mine are?
Seva is very straightforward and effective. It works at a common-sense level for two reasons. First, it feels good to help other people. Noble actions raise the vitality. But second and more important at a pragmatic level of getting information that can change behavior, Seva when properly targeted is a scientific method of exposing a blind spot.
Seva is an eye-opener . One targets a population that is suffering from one's own similar problem, yet in a slightly worse degree of suffering. In other words, these are people who are making the same mistake as oneself, but they are less advantaged in general - they have less intelligence, fewer resources, or just heavier karma overall.
For example, say that one is having financial problems. Expenses continually exceed income. Could be home or business. One begins to feel like a victim. What is happening, where is the money going, what negative path is the money following?
People with chronic money problems hold some cherished negative beliefs about money. They often believe that if they don't buy it now, it won't be there tomorrow (unstable emotions, lack of trust in one's power to create). They lack impulse control often. They are often invested in a negative expectation that there will never be enough: the religion of scarcity, inadequacy, insufficiency.
We're talking deeply held beliefs. Teaching, training, meeting with these folks will be an eye-opener. One will see oneself reflected in their mirror rather quickly. Chances are that one's own positive intelligence will see the match in the lower folk and eradicate it, realizing that like attracts like. Only Seva can expose the blind spot. Works like a charm to solve one's own problem and helps others in the process.
| 14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso : The Pocket Dalai Lama
Religion = Optional
"I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality.
While ritual and prayer, along with questions of nirvana and salvation are directly connected with religious faith, these inner qualities need not be, however.
This is why I sometimes say religion is something we can perhaps do without .
What we cannot do without are these basic spiritual qualities."
Personal Engagement Required
A bought puja, paid for on the same instinct which tells an ovulating lion to eat a zebra, is just another material-plane solution with no personal spiritual engagement.
Purchased"solutions " which do not require personal engagement do not create true sacrifice that evokes transformative change.
Money exchanges will not"lift" the awareness out of the material plane and up to the astral or mental fields of consciousness, where one might gain the perspective needed to perceive a long-term solution.
Nothing originates on the material plane.
The material plane is the outcome, the result,"the buck stops here".
Physical reality is end of a long process originating on the spiritual plane, percolating down to the mental plane, if not apprehended in the mental plane then dropping down to the astral plane, and only if the native cannot grasp any of the higher levels of perception does reality need to manifest on the material plane.
|Common-sense Material Remedies|| |
Material blockage usually does not have a material origin. Most material problems are mental or psycho-emotional in origin. Problems that are indeed material in origin can generally be solved with common-sense material remedies, such as medical treatment for a health problem or professional accounting to resolve financial distress.
There can be a lateral transfer of energy on the material plane, but increased awareness requires moving the perspective up to a higher particulate level.
|First, try mental and spiritual reflection|| |
Before even considering the need to make an energy-transforming sacrifice, one should have already exhausted the common-sense levels of material remedy, including not only technical, professional help -- but also one's own psychic perception
Do everything that can be done within one's capability, including both mental and spiritual reflection on the problem.
Meditation, concentration, and reflectionare conscious means of access to the mental plane, and most people can do these if they try. Simply entering a restful mental state and asking for divine guidance, or asking for help from the spirits in the moments immediately before falling asleep, can produce deep insight and compelling direction toward real-life solutions in a shockingly speedy way.
If the problems have not resolved after common-sense treatment, meditation and/or prayer, and intelligent personal inquiry into solutions, then the problem is not solvable within one's own capabilities, and an energy transformation on a higher plane will be required.
Paid puja is a commercial transaction that occurs strictly on the material plane connecting one to the pujari. Unless some extraordinary circumstance are in place, which might connect one to the pujari on higher planes, continuing to expect improvement on the material plane after the common-sense remedies have been exhausted is not only fruitless but also really quite superstitious.
|Seva raises the consciousness and makes changes at the astral level|| |
The practice of Seva = selfless charitable service = efficacious for making substantial changes and releasing downflow blockages on the astral plane.
Seva is efficacious because the native has injected the material value of one's time and intelligence, the tools of service, with love.
Love (not desire, but love) is the most pure energy in existence. Love is the"glue" which holds together the material, astral, mental, and spiritual planes of reality.
Without love connecting everything to everything else, the whole universe would go kablooey, in an instant!
Getting Un-Stuck: Seva is Love, and Love is Flow
In the act of commitment to Seva, the native has chosen to act from the motive of love (concern for another, or compassion) rather than the motive of survival (or accumulation).
The Intention to use the assets of time and intelligence for the benefit of others, functions as a"reverse flush" . This psychic back-flush sends "stuck energy" that is plugging up the flow of acquisitions on the material plane, back up to the higher planes.
|Love and Money|| |
Love is the greatest"open secret" of all material life. The more love one invites into one's life, the more money and power one can access.
Consider the amount of money and resources that some contemporary authentic spiritual figures are known to have at their disposal. They are authentic saints such as
They act almost exclusively for the benefit of others, from a motive of compassionate love.
They do not personally hoard more than a few yards of cloth and a couple of pair of shoes. But they can access and control many millions in resources.
Love actually does create money. But the person who lives immersed in love usually has no desire to hoard. Love only flourishes when it flows freely.
But let us say that one is not a great saint, and one cannot yet extend the consciousness to imagine living"immersed in love"and owning very little. One would rather live a bit closer to the Earth, enjoying a fat bank account, a happy healthy family, and a peaceful old age. This is achievable.
It does take a bit more effort for the non-saint, though. The natural hoarder does not easily abandon the"me-first" state of mind which allows love to come in.
It is easiest to start small, and it is essential to properly target one's service to achieve precise results.
Begin with intent. The very decision to offer conscious service marks the germ-moment of transformative trajectory, out of anxious suffering and into conscious awareness. The decision to sacrifice one's conscious time, for the benefit of others, is truly momentous.
Target the Correct Beneficiaries
Then, target the time and intelligence toward actions in charitable service for those who have precisely the same problem as oneself, except in a greater degree of painful intensity. This helps to match the"energy going out" to the"energy going in" on the astral plane imagery, where the subconscious expectations are stored.
When one is personally involved in the service work, inevitably the intelligence is engaged. Even while the less conscious flow of love and appreciation is ongoing, one is consciously learning something practical and insightful about the patterns of expectation and habitual reaction which trigger and perpetuate the troublesome karma.
There are no victims in this world. Yet many people carry massively negative expectations. Without awareness, negativity in the mind will re-create cycles of poverty and violence almost indefinitely. The dark mind harbors afflicted emotions, such as anger and greed; assumptions about inevitable failure, and fear-driven reactive behaviors.
If for example one is having trouble with financial management, and one goes to serve those who subsist on a few paisa each day, one may notice that despite their terrible victim state even this tiny money is partly spent for alcohol or sense pleasure. From one's higher but still similarly-suffering perspective, one may note the negative expectations, the exhaustion, and other aspects of victim-mind which drive the cycles of world poverty.
This "noticing" is a moment of sacrifice , when a pattern of ignorance (not knowing how this pattern quite works) changes into a pattern of knowledge.
One apprehends and identifies the destructive pattern. One transfers the wisdom of positive new knowledge back into one's own astral field of perception. One's own expectation and presumption is altered by the new knowledge.
Thus the servant of those suffering severely may benefit quickly from insight gathered during the service action.
Similar results might be gained from serving victims of a terrible accident, such as burned children. Are their parents attending with love and grace, not pleading or angry around their healing children but providing the best calm spiritual love environment for healing?
One engaged in charitable service may notice a pattern applicable to one's own life, that the parents who can accept the tragedy without blame or complaint, whose prayers for their child's healing are calm and open to divine guidance, get a much faster healing both emotional and physical for their child.
Transfer this value into one's own field of awareness. Such a point of intelligence is invaluable in aiding one's own solution. Information gained in properly targeted charitable service is usually of immediate usefulness! But anyway that is the power of sacrifice: transforming ignorance into wisdom.
It is unlikely that paying a pujari or wrapping colored cloth strips around one's head or wearing of talismans or serving milk to statues will ever Directly Engage the native intelligence the way that hands-on, accurately targeted, charitable service can do.
|Sample Seva recommendation||
Seva is at least as effective as remedial ratna and often Seva provides a much more powerful correction to the karmic ignorance present at the time of birth. Seva is most efficient when the population served is suffering from one's own karmic dilemma but in a slightly more burdened setting.
Seva is the single most efficient way to move ahead in life.
However the native was also advised to keep in mind that properly targeted Seva will provide as good or better results:
The gifts of Kanya-Mangala must be used very carefully
Mangala in a rashi of Kuja's enemy Budhacan create career obstacles due to the precision of your thinking, which others can perceive as criticism of the quality their work.
By offering Seva (selfless service) on behalf of adolescent (Mangala) students (5) who need instruction in analytical and manual skills (rashi of Budha) you can remove much of the subtle psychic debris which presently blocks your career path (gochara Shani in 10).
The karma correction occurs as you gain experience in explaining complex procedures (Kanya) in simple and non-confrontational (Shani) ways to young people who are trying to get ahead, but find themselves in a very competitive (Mangala) labor (Shani) market and needing to gain more practical (Kanya) experience.
The secret of obstacle-destroying Seva = one who serves those immediately below oneselfmay observe others of one's own same general disposition as they make one's same habitual mistakes , and suffer the same habitual consequences .
Seeing others repeat one's own patterns, it becomes rather obvious rather quickly what the problem is. One may then apply highly intelligent course-corrections, based on the wisdom obtained via your service.
Best Seva offerings for intelligent young students (Mesha-5) include
Bottom line: if you are not presently able to work for salary (largely because of Shani Delay) keep your skills in marketable shape, keep building your professional record, and earn some wisdom by doing volunteer work *in your field of trained expertise*. Help those immediately below you - in your case, those who are also not working in a tight job market but who are worse off because they have not even finished their training and they need more practice.
In general, when Shani transits one's radix karma bhava, one receives heavy responsibilities. So it is quite consistent with Shani gochara to accept some volunteer leadership responsibilities in a practical craft training venue, with emphasis on skilled work of the hands (Kanya) especially writing and problem analysis. Pay attention to student behaviors which might cause you, if you were the boss, to fire them or not hire them.
If possible, maintain some commitment to Seva throughout your life so that the annoying features of Mangala-Kanya can be kept in check while the analytical power and manipulative skills can be sustained.
| Q: Dear miss Lama, |
You brim with kindness! Thank you for your words of compassion, certainly when I can afford it, I shall contact you again.
You talked of remedial seva.
May I venture to ask what kind of seva I can precisely perform as a struggling author?
Authors are hard to get by here, & being in the situation iam in, it's hard to think of assisting others.
| A: You are a writer. Tutor those who are learning to write. For example, adult literacy seva. Or, tutor college students struggling to compose essays. Or, create a website with lessons on craft and style of writing in your genre, that can be accessed by those who are just arriving at your level of knowledge, or operating immediately below your level. |
Offer only as much time as you can spare, perhaps only an hour per week or similar. Seva is most effective when offered to those who share our same dilemma (e.g., concern with successful writing) but who are operating at a level just below our own (new learners of writing, from basic orthography to composing paragraphs perhaps to write a job letter, to writing reports or stories etc.)
Seva can be paid or unpaid. The payment amount actually does not change the effectiveness of Seva. Seva's effective comes not from whether there is money involved, but rather from the mental activity of focusing on someone else's problem for a fixed period of time.
However volunteer unpaid Seva is usually easier to arrange in the beginning. As one's skill set grows, Seva may ultimately expand to serving millions; when that happens, the necessary funding for an increasingly large scope of service will indeed arise.
Seva is not primarily a gift for the recipient. It is primarily a gift for oneself.
The act of skillful giving offers something outward. Liberating this quantum of intelligent energy outward will create a free space inside. Into that free interior space comes gratitude.
Almost immediately one may feel intense gratitude when engaged in service to others, during the act of serving, as one observes that one is actually stationed above those whom one is serving; this is gratitude for the measurable abilities which we already possess and which are being utilized tangibly in the act of service. In other words, it produces clear evidence of one's birthright creativity, intelligence, and ability to help.
Also Seva generates immediate wisdom as the offerer is in the act of service being reminded to clear the victim narrative. One gains practical, hands-on experience of human nature. Hearing the negative ego-membrane doubt narrative of those served provides a splendid education in human nature. ("I can't speak _____ language, I can't think clearly, I can't write well, I am too poor to learn, I am too tired to learn, I have too many problems, I don't believe change is possible...")
One is reminded that we all carry these debilitating claims in own interior narrative, and these victim statements are a primary cause of scarcity, and it is a very good practice to clear them out of the mind on a daily basis!
It is a nice by-product that the person being served is also benefitting, but the ultimate purpose of Seva is to clear a creative, gainful space within oneself.
Seva is the single best way to remediate the karma of self-doubt (which is the worst of all karma for creative human beings).
Seva works much more consistently and predictably than gems or puja, and it's free!
| Q: ... What if the 'damage' is so vast that no amount of seva could offset it? |
Aren't there some types of trauma that could never be healed?
Or that must be healed with medication, or getting a completely new life, or psychotherapy. Seva seems too ... indirect.
| A: |
Actually, Seva has the capability, when practiced intelligently, to correct nearly any karmic condition.
Intentional Seva must be carefully crafted and adjusted over time to continuously address the beneficiary target that is just immediately below one's own station in life.
For example, a person struggling with a feeling of never getting ahead financially, of money leaking out of the budget, frustrated in attempt to achieve social mobility via material wealth -- such a person can learn a great deal about this karmic situation by serving those with just slightly worse levels of ignorance.
All karma is simply ignorance, and the correction for ignorance is gnosis/knowledge.
At the precise moment when one is able to acknowledge that one indeed created the dilemma for the purpose of learning something important, at that moment the karma of obligatory repetition of the difficulty is completed. The problem may be very complex. Yet at the moment of accepting ownership of the situation because one did indeed create this dilemma as one's own spiritual classroom, the stuck feeling disappears. Previously in bondage to guilt or grief, one could only HAVE the problem. However at that moment of taking ownership, one gains the power to actually SOLVE the problem.
The problem may be very complex. Yet at the moment of accepting ownership of the situation because one did indeed create this dilemma as one's own spiritual classroom, the stuck feeling disappears. Previously in bondage to guilt or grief, one could only HAVE the problem. However at that moment of taking ownership, one gains the power to actually SOLVE the problem.
Example: offering the seva of teaching an adult class
A person with financial frustrations may offer a seva using their financial skills, perhaps by teaching a class in basic household budgeting, or how to save for a house or invest for a child's education.
The setting should be middle-class or lower-middle-class because generally this is a middle class problem. The seva-motivated basic-finance instructor, over the period of a few repeating service terms, let's say from fall term through spring term of teaching a night or weekend 'adult class', may start to hear the stories of frustration from folks who reveal their beliefs.
'I set the budget but my wife always overspends' or 'my teenage kids want every new electronic gizmo, I always buy them what they want' or 'we've been trying to buy a house for years, but we always need the money for something else' etc etc.
Being at a slightly higher level of awareness, the instructor will start to notice, by looking slightly downward, how the failure narrative works in this setting. People disempower themselves via their deeply held beliefs, and in the above case the instructor will start to notice how negative beliefs (my wife will bankrupt us with her luxury spending; emergencies always sabotage my savings; even if we buy a house, some disaster will ruin it, etc).
These karmic"no change allowed" (Shani, karma, anti-change) narratives deserve the rapt attention of one who is offering the Seva! Attend carefully to the chain of reasons that people use to justify their failure.
Listen to their negative expectations, their repeating collapse scenarios. Hear the language of: prediction, obligation, necessity, it has to happen this way, because this problem is who I am....
IMO this is the enormous benefit of Seva: to gaze into the mirror of self-belief. Seva provides the opportunity to identify one's own karmic problem; to offer a skill that one already possesses in that problem area; and to offer that compassionate skill to people who are quite likely to show respect and appreciation because you are offering something they need. However, they need help because something fails, again and again, and they will tell you or demonstrate to you in a vivid way what fails, why it fails, how it fails , where the blockage is . They know the karmic resistance-to-change pattern intimately.
The beneficiaries, those having one's own problem in a slightly worse degree, will show you the MIRROR of your own narrative.
Listen for the toddler language of "always" and "has to". Those stuck in a karma trap often report:
"it's always like this", "she always does that", "I always lose".
Adults know that nothing "always " repeats so consistently in human relationships; but when suffering deep karma, the person feels very stuck. They show their traumatic pain and grief in the toddler view of the world. When we are in pre-school, if the dog caught the ball three times, then the dog will always catch the ball. If it happens a few times, it "has to" repeat forever.
Whereas an adult knows that the dog might chase the ball 10,000 times, and it will catch some percent of those, on a somewhat fluctuating pattern involving the dog's health, age, condition of the grass in the park, etcetera . A toddler however saw it three times, and that's the end of the analysis! We can hear any deep fearful wound in the language of grief and guilt: in English, these are the modals must, have to, supposed to, should, ought to etc.
So, first IDENTIFY the karma. In your case, perhaps the karmic dilemma of feeling unable to change jobs, improve jobs. Then, offer Seva to those who seek employment. As an example, perhaps teach a community class in how to mount a job search, do the visualizations, promote a positive identity via social media etc. Then notice who amongst your beneficiaries just really can't get a job, or can't get a better job.
They'll tell you why this "always " fails. They"want to" fix it, but"can't" fix it. It is a narrative of 'inevitable failure', 'inevitable disappointment'. Can't live with the boss/authority figure; yet can't live without them either.
Then look for the matching narrative in one's own inner dialog. It will be there, albeit at a higher level of material or social success since you are indeed making the seva offer from a higher level of awareness. But still, stuck is stuck. Look in this remarkable mirror. Locate the matching negative beliefs. Observe the matching gap between expectations and reality.
Seva permits this amazing oracular mirror mechanism that TELLS THE ANSWER to the karmic dilemma - no matter how traumatic or how deeply cherished. But seva only works properly when the problem of the beneficiaries is the same as one's own problem, however in a slightly worse degree (slightly thicker veil of ignorance, slightly deeper trauma).
Example: Offering the Seva of writing a book
I knew a brilliantly intelligent woman decades ago who had a series of horrible romantic breakups from manipulative, thieving men; her own abusive father was a notorious criminal; and she was terrified of getting married to a bad husband despite really, really wanting a family. She undertook a Seva of research. She reasoned that there were other women in her precise dilemma: awful fathers, repeating trauma in adult love with men, yet some of these women indeed succeeded in picking a good man and built the life and family they deserved.
Her Seva was to interview 20 intelligent women with abusive fathers, some who succeeded in marriage and some who failed, and to tell their stories in a book that could be read by those seeking this exact information. (This was decades before the internet...) Not only did this author find the narrative of negative expectations which perpetuated failures, but she also documented the lives and choices of those who chose to (repeatedly, diligently) self-correct their negative convictions and indeed produced reasonably healthy marriages and families. She learned what SHE wanted to know by looking in their mirror. AND she provided a mirror that could be used by others seeking that specific narrative image. As of this writing, she is still married to her husband of decades, with grandchildren expected soon.
Q: I was wondering if doing a puja for KSY would remove the good and bad effects or KSY or just the bad. Good and bad is really all relative to me. Whatever happens takes one to the path which they are meant to be on.
Puja is OK if the intention behind the puja is to achieve deep personal surrender to reality as-it-is. If the puja ritual serves as a reminder that one is striving toward patience and greater understanding of the human condition, then Puja is a positive action.
Puja ideally is a respectful invitation to the spirits with whom one would like to enter into collaboration toward a specific goal. Puja is OK if it is a cooperative ritual where one asks for the support and intelligence of the deity to enter one's mind so that one may serve others with neutrality and compassion.
However, the mindless, ego-driven ritual of petitionary prayer (give me this thing, give me that power) is worthless. Very popular, but utterly dysfunctional, and spiritually worthless! The power is never outside oneself, it is always inside.
Blockage to power is always caused by negative beliefs. Puja is, at best, a neutral act of praise and appreciation; a thank-you to the collaborating spirits.
But in terms of getting results, i.e. removing blockage to success, Puja itself will not expose the negative thoughts which are causing the problem. Indeed, improper (petitionary) puja tends to mask the mental errors which are driving the dissatisfaction.
My own recommendation, in preference to puja (which is so prone to corruption through petitionary motives) is Seva - service.
I recommend to identify a problem in life (exempli gratia, financial challenges of the university student) and then seek out a population who have the problem in a slightly worse degree (e.g., struggling, less educated, working class) and offer some targeted service to that population. E.g., volunteer at a free tax clinic at spring break, or teach high-schoolers or immigrants or young parents how to balance a checkbook, or how to make and keep a monthly budget.
The service should be offered to those who are fairly close to one's own situation, but who have the particular problem, at a slightly worse intensity. And the offering should be regular (exempli gratia, weekly) and the activity = simple, like tutoring (not full service social work). The regular samplings allow one to see patterns in the data, over time.
The goal is not to solve anyone's problems for them, but to provide skills by which the beneficiaries may solve their own problems. The value of the Seva comes when one starts to notice that certain people are not able to use or accept your simple, regular offering of knowledge or skill. This is the 'aha' moment that exposes one's own subconsciously held resistance. It works like a charm to increase one's personal empowerment and progress.
What happens in the intelligent Seva process is that one will start to recognize that the folks one is serving may display a pattern of ignorance, manifesting as negative beliefs. One notices that this net of negative expectations is consistently holding them in a state of financial/social/intellectual/emotional paralysis.
E.g., they may believe they are 'not good with math', or 'I will never understand English' or that taxes are immoral, or that the gov't is out to get them, or that it is impossible to understand the US banking system, or 'I always get cheated' ... or one of thousands of class-and-culture packaged, negative presumptions.
It's much easier and faster to see dysfunctional behavior in other people than in oneself.
Intentional, specifically targeted Seva reveals the essential, negative patterns through the actions of others. This is not an abstract teaching as in a book. It is real people, showing the results of their beliefs. Actions speak louder than words. Therefore, the Seva option is much more efficient than the Puja option, for purpose of exposing the negative beliefs which prevent success.
I recommend Seva as a superior alternative to Puja if the person wants to clear a blockage quickly. It is also OK to sit in deep meditation and scan the mind for blockages, if one has that sort of deep-stillness personality and the meditation practice is really established. But I believe that for normal (busy, intelligent, observant) people like you and me, going out into the community for a tightly structured, purposeful, targeted service, that closely matches the problem one is trying to solve oneself, is much more immediate, efficient and realistic.
--from Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara
Until the essence of enlightenment is reached I go for refuge to the Buddhas. Also I take refuge in the Dharma And in all the host of Bodhisattvas.
I go for refuge to the Buddhas.
Also I take refuge in the Dharma
And in all the host of Bodhisattvas.
--For the Benefit of All Beings: A Commentary on"The Way of the Bodhisattva "
by 14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso ,
translated by the Padmakara Translation Group
"The first of these is the power of the support, which is to take refuge in the Three Jewels and to generate bodhichitta.
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