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About pūjā and the Path

With pūjā we enter a magical universe where everything is alive and is part of a living organism called Life. The One Life is living us all, and when we connect to that, we are plugged in.

Pūjā combines several spiritual disciplines to penetrate deeply into the energetic essence of being. Sometimes this evokes heightened emotive states and mystical experiences, and at times we feel nothing much. At other moments our system may resist and react, or we go into a healing crisis. These are the initial reactions and they give us plenty to work with. However, the deeper effects of pūjā can take much longer to manifest. These are more subtle, pervasive, powerful and enduring.

All outer ritual corresponds to inner energies, capacities or states of being. The self-effulgent power of the Sun is our very own consciousness, while the reflective capacity of the Moon is our mind, and the wind is our breath. When we invoke the Moon as a deity into an image on the altar, we connect with the Moon as a heavenly body, an astrological entity, as our own mind and emotions, and as reflective capacity. In this way, the Moon takes the shape of a mantra, mythology, materials, yantras, placements and actions during the ritual. These are not merely symbolizing the deity, they are its energetic embodyment. For example, out of all liquids it is milk that corresponds to the energy of the Moon, so the ritual use of milk will increase the energy of the Moon.

A deeper knowledge helps us to expand our consciousness beyond cookbook ritualism where we simply follow the manual. The combination of inner yoga, outer activity and mental understanding makes the pūjās come alive. Merely going through the motions is not enough, nor very satisfying.

What is reality? Reality is what we understand the world to be. Our intelligence is how we make sense out of life as it is. To change our understanding is to change our reality. So intellect is really of vital importance whether we actively work with it or not. Our intelligence or buddhi is not separate from our experience. It is not an objective mental faculty in an ivory tower judging things from its pristine heights, but an active principle which shapes our experience.

That is why we study the śastras. To have a correct understanding which furthers our spiritual quest. In this way the mind becomes an instrument rather than an obstacle.

We can try to alter our circumstances by performing pūjās and mantra sādhana, and this will definitely have its effects. But on a deeper level, we can claim our independence from all outer circumstances by mastering our inner world, mastering our reactive patterns. This is the deeper layer of working with mantra and pūjā: to understand our own essential nature as not different from deity. Forever full, complete and satisfied, all-powerful and ultimately free. That is our deepest self, and ultimately that is what we worship.


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