Space Awareness

    Seva or Selfless Service

Selfless service is the inner expansion of the outer ritualistic worship

       Spiritual traditions emphasize on doing selfless service because it is the inner expansion of the outer ritualistic worship. In ritualistic worship an individual focuses or identifies the un-limited or unconditional Pure Consciousness in the limited conditioned form of an object, like an idol or a symbolic image. This is the basic logic of idol worship.

         Next stage of inner evolution occurs when the individual identifies the same un-limited or unconditional Pure Consciousness in all the  limited conditioned forms that appears as insentient objects,  microbes, plants, animals, birds and fellow human beings. In ritualistic worship an individual expresses "Love" towards one object, which expands to all other objects that he encounters. Without this expansion one's inner growth gets retarded.

         Without Seva or selfless service an individual remains  stuck with the outer ritualistic worship. For example, if some one gives fruits or milk that was meant for a ritualistic worship,  to a hungry person, is a sign of seeing pure Consciousness or God in another individual. Not seeing the same Consciousness in any thing other us is immaturity.

       Vedic culture especially is ingrained with the concept of respecting or identifying equally all sentient and insentient beings. When some one feet accidentally happens to step on or hit a living object or even any non-living being does the gesture of touching the object  and place the hand on head or chest. This act is a symbolic gesture of treating every thing as once own self.

        Core of Selfless service is the sharing attitude because one does not differentiate oneself from other. Seeing oneself in others is the sign of inner growth that is the basic principle of Selfless service. This expansion of seeing oneself with others occurs first at the body level, then at the mind level, the intellect level and finally at the awareness level. This give rises to different types or kinds of selfless service that we see around.

 Worship Rituals leads to Awareness

       We have understood the purpose of prayer and we shall discuss briefly about the worship rituals and its intention. As we discussed in the earlier sections that seclusion helps a kid to focus in studying the lessons by preventing distracting thoughts in the mind. A spiritual place of worship is also meant for the very same environment that would be less distracting for the mind, so that it will be available for transcending.

       It is an irony that generally people would carry their worried mind to the place of worship and continue in that state in a temple or church. In spite of that, people do find peace and relief because they pour out their grief and transcend to the state of awareness for a fraction of a second. This transcendence for a milli-second gives immense peace of mind for a person whose mind can transcend in a place of worship. The same place of worship may not bring the same effect to another person because the other person may belong to another religious belief system and so his or her mind might have distracting thoughts of the out of place and hence mind does not transcend.

      Not knowing this truth is the cause for all religious wars and fanaticism which we will discuss later. The important point is that rituals or mode of worship should lead to the awareness state. The place or ritual should help in less distraction for the mind. By the way here we do not mean by physical silence. Contrary is true because sounds of bells , prayers, songs, chanting, instrumental music drum beatings etc lead the distracting mind to the state of awareness. (we will discuss this later in more detail).

     One such ritualistic chanting is "Kandhar shashti kavacham",  a very powerful Tamil chanting which is a healing song towards the healing God Lord Muruga. Muruga is the  personification of Wisdom (Gnana). The song evokes positive attitude and helps to witness every parts of the body and relating the body to the image of the powerful weapons of the Lord. This imagery and visualization helps finally transcending to the awareness state. Healing occurs in these instances not because the flow of grace in the form of light comes from any where out, but from within,  the pure state of Awareness.

      In most spiritual traditions including the Vedic culture, the ritualistic worship has to mature into Selfless service or Seva. Without this growth in worship an individual does not progress in healing of the outer body nor  in the inner Spiritual body.

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               Source of Grace

      Where does grace come from?  It is a common belief that Grace is a flow of light from a God sitting some where in this universe or outside of it (Heaven?). But a matured mind which is backed-up by the intellect this fanciful idea will not be accepted. The Vedic tradition does not believe in God sitting elsewhere other than the "Self". If God is everywhere, then the closest distance of God should be your own Self. Therefore Grace also must come from within. We understand that pure awareness is the very source of Grace too.

       The immediate question that arises is that , if grace is within, then why is that every one does not grace all the time. Some one who thinks about God or any super natural power resides outside our reach, this Vedic concept is hard to appreciate in the beginning. But through Self experience one can understand that grace comes from once's own pure Awareness state.

      Spiritual masters answer the above question with very good illustrations. Saint Mata Amritananada Mayi Devi, also called Ammachi or hugging saint, puts it with a beautiful example. She says "Grace" is always present round the clock for all of us, but is untapped because of the impurity of the Ego mind.  Like a lantern, grace is the light  that cannot reach out if the glass (mind) of the lantern is covered with dark black soot (Ego). Just by cleaning even a small area of the glass can bring out light from inside. Similarly, only if the mind is purified, grace will be received.

          

Why are eyes closed while doing prayers?

      Prayers are like the cleaning agents that can clean the dirt (Ego) from the mind and let the light of Grace from the self be available from us. This is why while doing  prayers the eyes are closed, so that the awareness is turned inside and not outside. Only through awareness the purification of the mind can be acheived.

 Positive Statements 

        The mind out of habits wanders and  sometimes even while doing things with awareness, the mind slips into wandering nature and day dreaming. To prevent that positive statements are used. All spiritual traditions have positive statements which either are short or longer verses. In Vedic traditions the shorter positive statements are called "Mantras" and longer ones, prayers.

        Some of the powerful Mantras or Positive statements that can be chanted throughout the day silently when we fell that the mind is restless, agitated and wanders. While doing any work, if these Mantra or positive statements are chanted silently or loudly (better make sure some one around is not disturbed by your loud chanting) the mind tend to stay in the present and wanders less. In practice we find that chanting the Mantra, makes us to bring back the wandering mind.

Some Mantras from Spiritual Traditions.

Vedic Tradition

Ram....Ram.....Ram ..

Krishna....Krishna .....Krishna...

Sri Rama jeyam

Om Shivaya Namaha

Ammae Naarayana, Devi Narayana Badre Narayana, Lashmi Narayana.

Jewish Tradition

Barauh Atoi adonai

Buddhist Tradition

Om Mani Padme Hum

Christian Tradition

Holy father

Jesus Is love

Islam Tradition

Allahu Akbar

Mantras:
      These positive statements help the mind transcend to Awareness, which then culminate in healing diseases too.  One could pick up any of the above Mantras  according to one's own spiritual tradition. In Vedic Tradition usually a spiritual master (Guru) initiates the Mantra.

   Let us now understand how rituals done along with prayers helps in healing.

   Prayer - A Powerful Positive statement

       Prayers are powerful positive statement that give right direction to the wandering mind. Prayers are always inspirational and gives a positive outlook in life.

 Look at this Vedic Prayer.

Asa-tho Maa Sath Gamaya
Thama-so Maa Jo-thir Gamaya
Mrith-yor Maa Amri-tham Gamaya

This means

Lead me from untruth to truth;
Lead me from darkness to light;
Lead me from death to immortality.
 

Another Powerful Prayer of St.Francis of Asissi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon;
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith;
Where there is despair, let me sow hope;
Where there is darkness, let me sow light;
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

        The above are just sample prayers from two spiritual traditions. You can chose a prayer from your own tradition and chant  everyday in the morning and in the night before bed. Chanting prayers will remove all the impurities of the mind, which means to bring the wandering mind to the present.

        Prayers have the power to help to transcend to the awareness state, which is also the source of Grace.