God is wherever you are — Swami Satyananda
Staying in countries where laws are being enforced and rights are being practiced, opened my eyes, strengthened my confidence, taught me a lot. I learned to speak up when I see unfair and unbecoming actions, and ask questions politely to give clarity to the situation. When things get dicey, the eyes of deceit get caught, it takes you to an unpleasant ride, darkness sprinkled over the truth – spiritual intelligence is truly handy. For it anchors your faith, keeps you bright upamidst obscurity.
My friends and clients always wonder how I maintainmy calmness, peace and youth in spite of my busy insane schedule. I attribute this to my regular quiet time or meditation which detoxifies my mind, to my sattvic diet to maintain healthy organs and immunity, to my yoga asanas to strengthen my muscles, willpower, balance and focus, and most importantly, to my “upasana” time.
Upasana is a Sanskrit word which in literal translation means “sitting near to God” or “worship.” It is a method of expression of devotion, reverence and love to your chosen deity or God. In the Roman Catholic faith, it is seen exercised in holy Masses where prayers are uttered, flowers, candles, cash donations, foods are offered, beautiful images of Jesus, Mary and some saints displayed, songs of praises performed.
The Hindus’ upasana method is more intricate. Along with their recitation of their holy mantras, they offer ghee (clarified butter), ghee light, oil light, incense, kumkum powder (vermillion), sandal wood paste, honey, milk, rice, akshata (mixture of vermillion & rice), pure water, betel nuts, betel leaves, fragrant fresh flowers, sweet fruits, varieties of sweet delicacies, gold or silver coins, or both to the statues or images of their deities during their spiritual ceremony called pooja. They also mark their bodies and wear specific color of clothes according to the deity they are doing the ritual for.
Upasana is a sacred practice which can be done alone and anywhere that is quiet and conducive. The aim isto develop a connection to God or a deity of your choice or to a highly evolved spirit or saint like Buddha. A method that turns the mind inwards, removes ignorance and false impressions to transcend the person to find his/her innate divinity.
A worship without faith and sincerity is better than not having any at all. With the regular practice of upasana, the love for God will naturally come, for the love of God has been there all the time.
In one of the discourses given by the holiness Dalai Lama, someone asked what he thinks about those who do not have a religion or do not believe in God’s existence. The Dalai Lama responded that religion is essential to a man, for it creates hope and faith. Those who do not have religious practice will always be in misery and discontented.
I deal with many foreign students and I’ve come across with a good number of atheists. One of them, an Iranian, even said religion and prayers are for the weak. In my practice, enforcement of belief and views upon others is a big no; it is not permitted for it doesn’t work.
After several sessions of life enlightening holistic workshops, most of my atheist guests were naturally transformed and became more open. Little did I know, they watched me do my upasana every morning. After a few days, they joined me in silence – out of curiosity. Each time, they said, it felt good and light. Next came their wish to learn.
I taught them some mantras, ritual methods and helped them choose deities, aligned to their energy, vibration and level of spiritual understanding. I can proudly say that these people who didn’t have God before, became inspiring individuals themselves and in a happier condition. Three of them became famous healers and spiritual gurus in Japan.
Love the prayer as fish love the water — Saint Kabir.
Man doesn’t live by bread alone, say your prayers my love.