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By Sri Ramana Maharshi

Real Worship
By Swami Vivekananda



Sri Ramana Maharshi
Sri Ramanasramam
Tiruvannamalai, South India.

Worship is only self-enquiry

1. The purpose of worshipping the impersonal Supreme Being is never to forget "I am Brahman," (Brahman = the Supreme Reality)because the meditation "I am Brahman" comprises sacrifice, gifts, penance, ritual, yoga, and worship. The only way to overcome any obstruction that may happen to your meditation is to forbid the mind to dwell on it and to introvert the mind into the Self and so witness unconcernedly all that is happening; there is no other method. Do not even for a moment lose sight of the Self. Fixing the mind on the Self or the "I" abiding in the Heart is the perfection of yoga, meditation, wisdom, devotion, japa (repeating one of God’s names or repeating a mantra) and worship. Since the Supreme Being abides as the Self, constant surrender of the mind by absorption in the Self is said to comprise all forms of worship.

If only the mind comes under control, all else is controlled. The mind is itself the life current; the ignorant say that in form it looks like a coiled serpent. The six subtle centres are merely mental pictures and are meant for beginners in yoga. Vedantists consider it a sacrilege to regard the One creating, sustaining and absorbing Supreme Self as a conceptual deity like Ganapati, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara, and Sadasiva. We project ourselves into the idols and worship them because we do not understand true inward worship. Therefore, the Knowledge of the Self, which knows all, is Knowledge in perfection.

2. Distracted as we are by various thoughts, if we continually contemplate on the Self, which is Itself God, this single thought will in due course replace all distraction and itself ultimately vanish; the pure Consciousness that alone finally remains is the realization of God. This is liberation. Never to be heedless of one’s own all perfect, pure Self is the acme of yoga, wisdom and all other forms of spiritual practice. Even though the mind wanders restlessly, concerned in external matters, and so becomes forgetful of its own Self, one should be alert and think thus, "The body is not I. Who am I?" Enquire in this way, turning the mind backward to its primal state. The enquiry "Who am I?" is the only method of putting an end to all misery and ushering in supreme beatitude. Whatever and however it may be said, this is the whole truth in a nutshell.

Real Worship

By Swami Vivekananda
Address at the Rameshwaram Temple
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Vol III
Published by Advaita Ashram, Mayavati, Himalayas.

It is in love that religion exists and not in ceremony, in the pure and sincere love in the heart. Unless a man is pure in body and mind, his coming into a temple and worshipping Shiva is useless. The prayers of those that are pure in the mind and body will be answered by Shiva, and those that are impure and yet try to teach religion to others will fail in the end. External worship is only a symbol of internal worship; but internal worship and purity are the real things. Without them, external worship would be of no avail. Therefore you must all try to remember this.

This is the gist of all worship – to be pure and to do good to others.

People have become so degraded in this Kali Yuga that they think they can do anything, and then they can go to a holy place, and their sins will be forgiven. If a man goes with an impure mind into a temple, he adds to the sins that he had already, and goes home a worse man than when he left it. Tirtha (place of pilgrimage) is a place which is full of holy things and holy men. But if holy people live in a certain place, and if there is no temple there, even that is a Tirtha. If unholy people live in a place where there may be a hundred temples, the Tirtha has vanished from that place. And it is most difficult to live in a Tirtha; for if sin is committed in an ordinary place it can easily be removed, but sin committed in a Tirtha cannot be removed. This is the gist of all worship – to be pure and to do good to others.

He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste, or creed, or race, or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.

Those who serve the servants of God are His greatest servants.

A rich man had a garden and two gardeners. One of these gardeners was very lazy and did not work; but when the owner came to the garden, the lazy man would get up and fold his arms and say : “How beautiful is the face of my master”, and dance before him. The other gardener would not talk much, but would work hard, and produce all sorts of fruits and vegetables which he would carry on his head to his master who lived a long way off. Of these two gardeners, which would be more beloved of his master? Shiva is that master, and this world is His garden, and there are two sorts of gardeners here; the one who is lazy, hypocritical, and does nothing, only talking about Shiva’s beautiful eyes and nose and other features; and the other, who is taking care of Shiva’s children, all those that are poor and weak, all animals, and all His creation. Which of these would be the more beloved of Shiva? Certainly he that serves His children. He who wants to serve the father must serve the children first. He who wants to serve Shiva must serve His children – must serve all creatures in this world first. It is said in the Shastras (scriptures) that those who serve the servants of God are His greatest servants. So you will bear this in mind.

Let me tell you again that you must be pure and help any one who comes to you, as much as lies in your power. And this is good Karma. By the power of this, the heart becomes pure (Chitta-shuddhi), and then Shiva who is residing in everyone will become manifest. He is always in the heart of everyone. If there is dirt and dust on a mirror, we cannot see our image. So ignorance and wicked ness are the dirt and dust that are on the mirror of our hearts. Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first. He who thinks, “I will eat first, I will have more money than others, and I will possess everything”, he who thinks, “I will get to heaven before others, I will get Mukti (liberation) before others” is the selfish man. The unselfish man says, “I will be last, I do not care to go to heaven, I will even go to hell if by doing so I can help my brothers.”

Unselfishness is the test of religion

This unselfishness is the test of religion. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to Shiva than anybody else, whether he knows it or not. And if a man is selfish, even though he has visited all the temples, seen all the places of pilgrimage, and painted himself like a leopard, he is still further off from Shiva.




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