Law of Attraction: Place of ritual in spirituality

I had an interesting conversation with my sister recently. She told me that she was going to light earthen lamp, called Diya, for nine evenings of Navratras for good luck.  Navratra is a Hindu festival, where worshippers of a female deity called Durga Mata (Mata meaning mother) is observed by fasting for nine days and eating only once in the evening. Since I am a Sikh I try to keep ritualistic routine to a minimum in my spiritual journey. Although my sister too is Sikh by birth, there might be influence of Hinduism on her due living in India, just like I celebrate Christmas living in UK. However, this post is not about a discussion around how majority populace could influence the minorities where they may join in certain celebrations. I think its healthy and shows unity in diversity. Nevertheless, my only interest for the scope of this post is to reflect on the diverse meanings and psychological effects of rituals on a person and its impact on one’s spiritual growth.
Most people start their spiritual journey with some kind of ritual or the other. What could a worshipper be gaining instantly from lighting a Diya in the temple or a candle in the church? What could be the motivational factor for such an action? In my strong views, people do it to satisfy themselves. It gives them a sense of achievement and thus, fulfilment. And this creates a positive mind set within. It might be temporary but for those few moments they must feel what peace and calm would feel like.  
Ritual doesn’t stop at light which one can see, it spreads to other senses too. Bells and singing hymns in places of worship can be heard. Pictures and idols of imaginative deities and gods can be touched. In sikh Gurdwaras (Sikh place of worship) there is free vegetarian food offered to every visitor, regardless of nationality, caste, colour or creed. So, now the satisfaction within is aroused by taste buds. Incense stick or rose water has no spiritual connection on its own but an atmosphere is created through its scent. Together the mixture of the five senses makes one feel complete. You are in bliss, even though it’s transitory. As a beginner you like to sense spirituality in tangible terms- see it, touch it, hear it, smell it and taste it. Incense sticks, colours, aromas are all tools to help toning your celestial health, like the gym has all various  equipment to tone different parts of the body. So, performing ritual is a MUST to start the spiritual journey, in most cases. It’s equivalent of ‘Amuse-Bouche’ in the fine dining experience. Even though it’s not a complete meal nor would satisfy your hunger for long, it washes your palate and prepare the appetite for the first course. Similarly, the package of rituals might not be Nirvana in itself, but it encourages your spiritual journey. The concoction of this creates an abstract image in your mind, which, in my opinion, is the first picture of spirituality drawn inside you. Everyone paints this picture in own favourite colours and strokes. You are the artist of your own celestial being.
This is elementary stage of treading on Almighty’s path; it’s a long way ahead. So, don’t stop at this carnal level as your limit could be beyond the skies. If you spend the whole valuable life time in just lighting the candles, the divas; sing hymns to enjoy the harmony but not the meaning; seeing the pictures for their colours but not the abstract symbol and in fact going to Gurdwaras to eat langar (vegetarian curry offered in sikh temples)…well, then you would only experience short spurts of satisfaction but not peace. There is higher education too available in this school. Don’t stop at pre-nursery. You are capable of a lot more. Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.
Rest in the next blog. Please refer to earlier posts on how to meditate in the meantime.      

2 thoughts on “Law of Attraction: Place of ritual in spirituality

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.