A ritual is a formula which is meant to dovetail our consciousness to the supreme consciousness of God. The whole purpose of a spiritual ritual is transformation of the heart – from selfish passions to a spirit of selfless service to others, from arrogance to humility and from envy to having the power to appreciate others. If this transformation doesn’t take place in our heart, to create good character, personal integrity and ultimately love for God, then these rituals are all a waste of time.
The value of a ritual is to the extent we please God. Its not the ritual but the content of what our consciousness puts into that ritual. The real essence of all spiritual practices is to purify our heart and awaken the innate love of God. If our rituals are performed with that aim in mind, that ritual, like a vehicle, will help to transport our consciousness to the supreme destination. There is the analogy of a package. If you give a gift which has beautiful decorations outside but a horrible gift inside, the one who receives it will not be happy. The content of the package is all important. So our motivation for doing the ritual is all important, otherwise its just a ritual. So if we have the proper motivation to perform the ritual then it will have a tremendous substance. What is that substance? We access the empowerment and the mercy of the Lord. Thus by giving our heart to the Lord through that ritual, then that becomes the true content of the ritual.
In the beginning of our spiritual life we follow rituals for our purification. When there is proper philosophy and service behind it, it can awaken love of God. It is a way to express our intent to love God, to serve and please Him. So when we have the right enthusiasm and intent, then the ritual becomes something very deeply spiritual. If it is done under the proper guidance and with the right purpose, it purifies our heart and motivations and gradually real genuine spiritual experience awakens from within. – Radhanath Swami
At Kurukshetra, under the very banyan tree where Krishna originally spoke to Arjuna, I first read the Bhagavad-gita. I had read many spiritual texts in my travels but the Gita struck me as a book that was so highly practical.
I read that Krishna spoke to his disciple Arjuna, who was about to shrink from his calling in the face of insurmountable obstacles. The Gita had been spoken on a battlefield because life itself is a battle where evil perpetually attacks good and our sacred ideals are destined to be tested. We will all be confronted by grave dangers and fearsome demons within and without. There is much to be gained from facing these aggressors with integrity and faith. Krishna’s timeless call culminates in the practice of selfless devotion, determination, and spiritual absorption as the means to access a power beyond our own to overcome all fear — the power of God’s love.
In that sanctified place, the Bhagavad-gita’s message penetrated me so deeply I felt as if Krishna were personally speaking to me on every page. I read several chapters each day, and was struck by how powerfully they revealed the science of self-realization beyond sectarian or historical boundaries. The Gita elucidates such intricacies as how the soul is related to God, how that changeless soul is affected by material nature, how karma (the natural law of action and reaction) affects all of us, and how the imperceptible influence of time acts on creation. As a lonesome wanderer seeking truth, where danger, temptation and fear could pounce on me at any moment, I found solace and direction in those immortal words. In Kurukshetra, the Bhagavad-gita became my handbook on how to live.
I once wondered — when Arjuna wanted peace, why did Krishna speak philosophy to impel him to fight? The Bhagavad-gita asserts that lasting peace is possible only when a person first makes peace with God in his or her own heart. Only when we are peaceful within can we act in ways that will promote peace without. And we can have internal peace only when we are in harmony with our internal nature, which is that we are neither gross bodies nor subtle minds, but non-material souls, beloved children of God. Therefore, we can achieve our right to real peace and happiness not by making patchwork arrangements in this world of inescapable death, but by reviving our innate love for God and returning back to His eternal abode.
Although Bhagavad-gita is sacred for Indians in general and Hindus in particular, the appreciation of Bhagavad-gita is not limited to Vedic circles. Many Western scholars have found the Bhagavad-gita to be amazingly coherent and cogent. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s remark is a sample: “In the great book of India, the Bhagavad-gita, an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence, which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions that exercise us.” —Radhanath Swami
What is a blessing? Different people have a different understanding of what a blessing really is… getting a good grade, a nice husband or wife, or money. Actually, everything, potentially, is a blessing if we recognize it. If we don’t recognize a blessing and reciprocate properly, then what appears to be a blessing could be a curse. Sometimes you beg for a blessing, you get it, and it ruins your life.
Yet the real blessing that the soul is seeking is the blessing of a connection with God’s love. That is the highest blessing – to actually connect with the love of God, which is everywhere, in all situations, if we look for it. In the Christian Bible it says, “Seek and you shall find.” Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “As you approach Me, I shall reveal myself accordingly.” If you are looking for love of God, the opportunities will grow for you to find it. If not, then even the most beautiful things in life it could cause you great frustration, anxiety and ruination.
Real wisdom is to see the hand of God and to be grateful, as a grateful heart can recognize the blessings in everything. Gratitude is one of the most essential virtues for real inner prosperity and happiness because it can connect us to the Divine.
So by being serious and sincere, being free from ulterior motives, and acting in a way that is pleasing to God, full blessings spontaneously and naturally come to you as you are in a good consciousness to recognize and receive them. When those blessings come, the situations you are in are just perfect for you. —Radhanath Swami