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Going to the temple VS having Guru

Going to the temple VS having Guru

Boredom is a very powerful thing. Depending on our perspective, we can perceive it either as a negative or positive force. Well, usually we consider it to be negative. However, it is during the times of boredom we are open for something new. We can either create something new, get some new realisations, or just use this time for self-introspection and figure out why are we bored in the first place, or where does boredom comes from. It happened so to me during one of our recent visits to one temple in Mauritius.

It was very special day in the temple – abhishekam (worship ceremony) on Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva – who, by the way, grants us with focus. Paradoxically… Now, I know it is not decent thing to say that I was bored in the temple, but honestly, I was. A bit.

Ceremony itself was, I must say, pretty nice, as I usually like this kind of worship. I was many times witnessing and participating in abhishekam when Guruji was performing it, so it was familiar to me. I could draw the parallel between the two – even though traditions are different.

One prominent difference though, was approach in performing abhishekam. It was almost funny to observe how “rudely” he was splashing deity of Kartikeya. Actually, it was not almost funny. It was funny. Maybe this is Kartikeya’s style – as He is “man of the forest”, not necessarily accustomed to luxury or gentleness. I don’t know.

In any case, it was something I have never seen with Guruji. When he is doing any kind of worship, his focus is absolute. He takes care of every single tiny detail. Deity is for him alive. He looks at it, and considers it to be a living being. With this mindset, well, you would not take bucket of cold water and throw it at your child or friend, isn’t it? You would take mildly warm water, pour it nicely over the deity or your child, wash away any speck of impurity present. This is what he does.

As the ceremony was going on, I was thinking more and more about how I felt at this particular moment. Boredom was there, but it was not bothering me. As I understand now, it was something deeper. Something was missing there. Life, joy, celebration.

Setting is important
It may be that I am just spoiled or used to exclusive things. What I am used to are joyful celebrations of the Divine. Lots of colours, singing, dancing, even sharing inspirational stories of the Divine. For me personally, spiritual journey – at least the one which I am following – is, and should be joyful. You should be happy when celebrating something which can bring you only true form of happiness, isn’t it?

Sometimes there is a need to experience pain, as it is the part of the process, but ultimately – we are all searching for only and true all-encompassing joy of life.

Bottom line here is that setting is definitely not the focus point in this story, but it is important. We have limited minds which are affected by the senses. We naturally react differently on classical or heavy metal music; we feel differently in dark or bright spaces. It is normal. Setting simply influences our mood, and can help us to enter certain state more easily.

Engagement is important
One of the things I missed the most during the event was engagement. Ceremony was happening in South Indian temple, where focus is more on majestic aspect of the Divine, rather than devotional. Deity is usually placed far away from public, and normally you can’t get close to it. By this simple factor – distance – we automatically start to gain more respect. Everything that is unreachable is more valuable. At least this is how our mind is wired.

Apart from distance, in this tradition, only brahmins are allowed to perform worship on the deity. I deeply respect that, but at the same time I miss the possibility of getting closer. This is something I am used to from the life with Guruji.

When big celebrations are happening in his temples, everybody get the chance to worship the deity. There is always the time when everybody can come to pour water over the deity, offer flowers or rice (depending on the deity) – regardless of cultural background, knowledge or status of the person. It also doesn’t matter if there are 100 people at the temple, or 1000. Everybody gets the chance. Always.

Experience the Divine
We should all definitely cultivate the habit of going to the temples (or churches, mosques – depending on religion), but I think that living experience of the Divine is far more important. At least for the people from the West. We are usually not raised with strong tradition of going to places of worship, which for most of us is only opportunity to connect with the Divine.

Going to the temple is of high importance. By doing that we pay the respect to some higher form of life, which ultimately makes us more humble. However, it is much harder for us to receive something from the temple, when compared to giving.

This is one of the reasons why Master is entering our life. When he thinks that we are ready to receive more, he comes to give. But he gives experience. He is actually the only one who can give us full experience of the Divine.

In the temples we can have moments of longing, crying, loving, devotion, but it’s much harder to connect, as we can’t perceive the deity as living God. Master takes this experience to completely new level. He is embodying that. He provides experience of God in human form.

Deity on the altar will never tell you that you are an idiot – Master will. It will never hug you, as it can’t – Master will. Deity will never tell you to do something which you are afraid of – Master will.

Guru will polish us, shape us and prepare us to meet the Divine. And when we are finally ready for the meeting, there will be no difference between the Guru or the deity. Until then, I consider having Guru superior of the two, and feel immense gratitude for having Guruji in life.

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