Why Religio-Spiritual Routines

August 16, 2013 Comments Off on Why Religio-Spiritual Routines

Yesterday we were discussing how to bring about changes in oneself. I was explaining to an extent what is the method to administer directional and qualitative changes in one’s life, thoughts, outlook, deeds and interactions. I also explained that in this process of effecting changes, what counts is the time spent for the purpose and how well and exclusively it is done.

Various religious practices and routines have come to be in vogue in our land. All of them have full bearing on this self-improvement and self-refinement. In religious practices, the temple has an important place. It is, no doubt, an external abode. But unlike our homes, it has no residents as such. The Idol we install, representing God or the supreme Reality, is the resident. We have a number of ceremonial procedures and disciplines for preserving the Temple as an abode of divinity.

We do not conduct a tea party in a temple. No public meetings to acknowledge the merits of X or Y are also held. At the same time, we do many things in the temple, all different from what we take up in our homes. So we have worship and allied rituals addressed to God. The priest invokes God using special divine mantras. When you go to a temple and spend some time there, it verily means a withdrawal from the usual worldly routines, and entry into something distinctly different.

After waking up until going to bed, you are always interacting with the world and its objects alone. So, all the thoughts you have will naturally be of the world alone. Impurity and similar influences result, as a rule from worldly interactions. If a qualitative change is to be brought about, the mind has to be disconnected from its routine worldly involvement and exposed to something else. In helping such withdrawal and seeking counter exposure, temples or such other abodes are a great help.

If you sit in your own house, say in the pooja room, devoting some time and effort in spiritual, religious or philosophical pursuit, that will equally serve the purpose.

We are working with our body, spending energy. If the body has to remain healthy, you have to stop work for a while in order to take food. Only then your hunger will be appeased and the body will have its nourishment. Sleep is another requirement, which provides rest and recuperation to the body. For sleep also, work has to be suspended.

I think everyone, on an average, spends about an hour and a half for his meals every day. During this one and half hour do you not free yourself from the other activities to sit in a place and take food? In the same manner, for at least six or seven hours a day you sleep, ridding yourself of all activities. Seven hours of sleep and one and half hours for taking food, are indispensable for enabling the active and interactive life.

My dear children, in the same manner, say good bye to the usual worldly activities, at least for half an hour or forty minutes. Sit in a place; think of a subject other than the usual worldly ones. Think of the Almighty; read some godly books; introspect over your own mind. Watch your thoughts; observe your mental functions and intellectual deliberations. Study your values and principles, and assess how far you have adhered to them. Identify where slips have taken place. Doing this kind of an exercise, sitting in a place, is a must. All our religious and spiritual routines are aimed at this, nothing else.

Early in the morning in the samadhi mandir here, vishnusahasranaama and Bhagavadgeeta are chanted.  Whether it is vishnusahasranaama or Bhagavadgeeta, every syllable that you utter has a supra-worldly note. It will take you away from the worldly interactions and link you to a supra-worldly interaction. Unless you are able to do this, how can inculcation of quality be possible? Only when the mind is engrossed in the contemplation of qualities, their inculcation will take place.

So, spend some time thinking about these qualities. Be fond of them, as you will be fond of any object or person dear to you.  Love them, be fond of them – then the qualities will start growing in you. If you want to be honest, love honesty.  If you want to be steadfast, be fond of steadfastness.  If you want integrity, think repeatedly about integrity.

As you think, so you grow.  As are your thoughts, so are your actions.  I think it is for this reason, that religious and spiritual routines are evolved and adhered to.  – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
[An extract from the morning talk of Poojya Swamiji “Prabhata-rashmih” published in the June 2001 issue of Vicharasethu.]
(c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012

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