Essentials of Prayer and Worship
Prayer and worship are essential in a man’s life of different stages of development; when he depends on external support, when he needs moral strength and surrenders himself to God for gaining spiritual knowledge. His ultimate plea to God is not to be reborn in this material world and get caught in the whirlpool of transmigration.
Man can lead a happy life, free from cares and worries, if he can learn to be like a child. The child is fearless and goes and goes about merrily because there is the mother to look after. All of us are children of God and we can also be fearless. The courage and confidence must be born out of the realization that God is there to help us, guide us and lead us onward in our life’s journey. We are not alone while facing problems and difficulties.
The human body can be compared to a temple, with God seated within. Hence, all that we do are at His command and we should undertake to carry out only pious deeds, which will please him. Everyone should be treated with utmost kindness. To be born as a human being itself should be considered as a rare privilege conferred by God and hence such a golden opportunity should never be wasted.
Every individual is essentially divine and should have faith in himself. He has to rediscover himself and become aware of the tremendous potential of the higher self within him. Unfortunately, man identifies himself with the little tiny ego-self and gives into selfishness and all attendant evil. Lord Krishna says in Gita, “I am seated in the hearts of all.” A life of peace and happiness beckons everyone if only he can realize his higher self and harness the tremendous potential lying hidden in him.
There are three levels of worship to the Almighty. In the first stage of human life, people are dependent on external support to enjoy material welfare. The support from the others like parents are necessary during his life and hence at this lower level, prayer is necessary. Man wants protection in family and seeks God’s grace for his survival.
As a man registers progress in life, he finds that it is not very wise to depend on worldly matters as they cannot be permanent. At this juncture, man thinks of the ‘imperishable’, the Almighty and seeks his guidance. He starts worshipping a personal God like Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva and the like. He wants to derive moral strength from the God to get rid of all his emotional problems. Prayers provide this strength. Here, man becomes dependent on God.
At the third level, man offers his total surrender to God, when he becomes self-dependent. Even at this stage he can conduct pooja, meditate and display his devotion. Thus at all stages, man offers worship and prays. The nature or type of devotion at the final level makes him self-dependent and plead with God saying, “Let me not be reborn and get immersed in the sea of turmoil.”
Through regular and systematic prayers, one can become aware of God’s presence. In the initial stages, prayers may be mechanical. One should continue the practice. One should remember God. Again, one should learn to accept every happening in his life. Since God is all-love, everything is only for the good and for one’s progress only. One cannot claim to love God if he cannot love his fellowmen and fellow creatures. The best form of worshipping God is to serve the poor and the needy, the sick and the suffering.
Tolerance – Step to success
‘Tolerance’ means enduring offensive people or opinions, thus remaining cool and calm, not caring for what is going on against you. In other words, one has to be charitable, patient and indulgent to undesirable things, a spirit of accommodation and large heartedness is actually required in such a situation. It is indeed a great quality in any person who may be able to ignore such happenings and is able to forgive and forget, without nursing evil thoughts against the ones who have been all out to undo him. All great men had this wonderful quality in them, as without this one, they probably would not have achieved greatness. So, it can safely be said that tolerance is the hallmark of greatness.
It is generally because of ignorance that intolerance takes hold of a person, more so when one ignores the opinions of others. It is the chief cause of all quarrels and wars. Ego and jealousy are the sisters which fan the fire all the more and man becomes blind with rage and he cannot think rightly, thus leading to confrontation. There is hardly any place for reason and many times it has been seen that even those who call themselves intellectuals resort to group psychology in order to take vengeance.
Tolerance is a great integrating force. As opposed to this intolerance is a great disintegrating force, more so it can be seen in the form of many sects, which have divided and subdivided the religion of humanity into numerous groups, pitting on against the other. All because of the fact that the cementing force of love and tolerance have been discarded, forming the bed-rock of any religion, if it can be called one.
Though humankind has made tremendous progress in the field of material science, yet in so far as his own conduct is concerned, he remains oblivious of the fact that intolerance is the great impediment in the progress of civilization and so long as man does not learn to shun this ignorance, his very existence will always remain in danger. With highly destructive arms being in the possession of man, if the existing skirmishes and local wars going on between some groups in different regions of the world, get exacerbated, the moment of extermination of mankind would not be far off. Hence we have to imbibe the spirit of tolerance for the sake of our own existence.
Intolerance is a special trait of animals and beasts. Man being the supreme creation of God, must give some thought to this position and utilize his ability and intelligence in such a way that there may be harmony and peace everywhere, by shedding his animal instinct. Be a man, not only in contour, form and shape, but by your qualities, actions and habits. You have to nurture divine qualities in you, because you are the immortal son of God and His blessings are always there for you to grasp.
We call ourselves educated. But the qualities which real education should have bestowed on us are not there. Education develops a person’s mental faculties, which should enable him to be accommodative and give proper regard and respect to others. As a matter of fact, he should do away with his selfish mentality altogether and have the good of others in his heart.
Saint Confucius says that a good human being should have the following few traits:
“One who does not blame others for his failure, nor does he laugh at those who fail in their attempts; One who remains happy and keep away vanity; One who always tries to know the truth; One who sees his own fault, and not of others; One who is friendly with all, but is not attached to any; One who considers his ability as his wealth, and not the money; and One who is always mild, sober and tolerant.”
You can now easily see whether you have these qualities in you or not and judge yourself. It may be that you possess some and not all. You should endeavour to attain those attributes which are absent. But one thing is certain, that only a person with clear understanding and knowledge would try to rediscover his own self.
A father went t a jathra festival of a temple, taking his four year old son with him. The festival was vibrant with lots of people. It was difficult for the child to even walk in the crowd. So, the father made him sit on his shoulder and carried the boy. There are usually many petty shops at such festivals selling toys and eatables of various hues. Any new item he sees, the boy would request his father to buy it for him. Many eatables were avoided by the parent for he thought that if such things are eaten, the child’s health may get upset. The boy’s pestering for some things available for sale, reached the peak when the father pacified him with a promise to buy the things after worshipping God.
Approaching the deity, the father asked the boy whether he saw the God, to which he replied in the affirmative. The boy asked the same question to his father. The father replied that he could not see the God due to the large number of heads in front of him. The child questioned his father why he was unable to see the God though a small boy like him could. The father was embarrassed with the question and requested his son to sit at one place so that he could go some distance forward to see the God. He made the child sit at one place and proceeded to see the God. After sighting the God, he returned to the place where he made his son sit, only to find that the boy was not there.
The child actually moved from the place where he was seated by his father. He mingled with the multitude of people, may be searching for his father. The child was crying and in between expressing his only want – the father. He proclaimed that his father would buy anything for him and that he is missing and he wanted only him. The various items displayed in the festival for which he was pestering his father failed to impress him. He was crying only for his father.
Likewise, we should crave for God only and only he will provide everything. Once we go into his fold, he will take total care of us.