Pooja and Spirituality

Everything can be made use of for the spiritual life including ritualistic worship (पूजा पाठ). It all depends on the inner attitude with which we approach things.  One may engage in the most ordinary-seeming act and do it with love and care and devotion as a means of worship and service to the Lord. On the other hand, one may do pooja every day, visit places of worship, even sit for meditation as a mechanical duty or else for some personal selfish gains.  It is the spirit that is most important and not the act alone.  Religious life stops with belief and action in tune with the belief. Spiritual life goes on to discover and become one with God through various means and processes that are generally termed as yoga.

It is true that certain actions make a person more easily connect with God. Worship of God in a concrete physical way can be a beautiful preparation of the heart for awakening devotion and faith. But for this to happen it should be felt as a spontaneous need within and the relation formed with the Deity we worship should be living and real. This cannot be if the pooja is enforced too much as a ritual for all to follow, especially when fear and desire is associated with it to a large extent.  If done as part of conformity to a religious group to which one belongs by birth then it can often stifle the spiritual impulse by giving one the false satisfaction that one is doing what one is supposed to do as prescribed in the religious text and enforced through a narrow, rigid dogmatic belief system. True Spiritual growth, on the other hand, invariably requires a certain degree of freedom and plasticity to evolve towards a genuine change. After God is free and infinite.  He is everywhere and in everything.  One cannot limit His workings and intelligence to a simple set of dos and don’ts, however useful these things may be at a certain stage of our evolution.

The core of spirituality is not the act but the motive force and the idea behind it. True spiritual life begins with an aspiration, a seeking for the Divine, to discover and become one with Him. Whatever helps in process is good whether it be a ritualistic worship or doing one’s work with dedication to God for the joy of serving Him. Besides it will also depend upon the stage of evolution.  Most need a tangible outer support such as idol worship and scriptural reading for their growth.  Others prefer the way of inner meditation and prayer. What counts in the end is the inner sincerity, the will and faith behind that supports the outer movement rather than the outer action itself, be it pooja or something else.

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