Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just Think

Sita and Rama“This golden-hued good and virtuous lady must be the dear queen of Rama. Though He is separated from her, she has not departed His heart.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.48)

iyam kanaka varṇa angī rāmasya mahiṣī priyā |
pranaṣṭā api satī yasya manaso na praṇaśyati ||

“How do I go about worshiping God? Do I have to visit a church? I’m supposed to sit there and listen to someone go on and on about things I don’t even understand? And through it all I’m supposed to know that I’m saved, that I’ll be okay in the afterlife? Oh, and in the interim I can ask for stuff through prayer? ‘God, please give me this, give me that.’ This doesn’t make sense, really. So many people get what they want without going to a house of worship. They don’t pray at all and everything seems to fall into place for them. Why should I have to go through so much trouble?”

Indeed, these are pressing questions that a perceptive person will no doubt look to answer. How does worship actually take place? And if the spiritual entity is superior and to be offered tribute, why is not His association the cherished objective? Wouldn’t that make more sense than asking for smaller rewards, benefits that only wash away like the sand on the ocean’s shore? From a perception made by a famous figure of the Vedic tradition, we get the simplified version of worship. If the key component of this worship is present, no other condition is required. All other rituals, regulations and observances are actually meant to create and solidify this key component.

What is this key? You just have to think about God to worship Him. It’s as simple as that. Try to make it more complicated and you’ll miss the mark. The workings of the mind indicate the presence of a consciousness, which in turn shows that there is life. A person is deemed dead when their consciousness is no longer noticeable. According to the Vedic science, that consciousness, which is part of the subtle body, just travels to another place after death. In its new home, the mind, intelligence and ego work together to show the presence of the consciousness to others. Though travel takes place, never does the consciousness cease to be; it is a product of the spirit soul, who is the individual.

śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti 

  yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ 

  gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti 

  vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

The philosophical point, “I think therefore I am”, shows that thinking is the essence of being. Thought can then direct the other aspects of the individual, such as the eyes, ears, limbs, etc. The mind is driven by the consciousness which exists because of the soul, which has its own properties. The dharma, or essential characteristic, of the soul is to serve. Hence the mind is best situated when thinking of serving. The seed of thought fructifies into action in service. We think of the wellbeing of our family, so we then act to serve their interests. We think of the health of the country, so we spring into action to bring about change in public policy.

So to serve God should not be that difficult, no? First you must think of Him. Then from that thought, spring into action. Such was the case with Shri Hanuman. He thought of God when he met Him in the Kishkindha forest. At the time, the Supreme Lord was roaming the earth in His avatara of Lord Rama. Hanuman met Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana while they were looking for Rama’s missing wife Sita.

Hanuman’s thoughts focused on God based on the personal meeting and the crisis at hand. The thoughts of Hanuman turned towards service when he wanted to do something to help Rama. Such is the nature of God that when others have a sincere affection for Him they will do whatever they can to try to help Him. That affection is harbored when the individual is pure, when they are not tainted by sin. Sin is just the wrong way of doing something. The regulations of spiritual life are thus put into place to bring an ultimate benefit. To sin is to go against these regulations, thereby causing negative outcomes, the worst of which is further forgetfulness of God.

Hanuman worshiping RamaHanuman lived without sin, and so when he saw God he had no problem forming an attachment. With pure thoughts focused on Rama, Hanuman used all of his abilities to offer service. Know that there are endless opportunities for this service, as through the divine will anything can happen. Sita could have been rescued by Rama very easily, but why take the effort when so many Vanaras in Kishkindha were eager to offer service? Rama gave them the chance to find Sita, with Hanuman leading the way to success.

Though Hanuman worshiped God through offering service in his travels around the world in search for Sita, we see from the above referenced verse that just thinking alone is enough to please the Lord. Hanuman here is concluding his review of the features of this woman he sees from a distance inside of the Ashoka grove in Lanka, the land ruled at the time by the ogre Ravana. He was the fiend who had taken Sita away from Rama’s side through a backhanded plot. Seeing the princess, Hanuman could tell that she had distinguishable divine features which matched those belonging to Rama’s wife. Thus he finally concluded that she must be Sita.

Hanuman also notes that although Sita is lost to Rama, she is always in His heart. He could tell this based on Sita’s disposition. She was devastated emotionally due to the separation from her dear husband. This took a toll on her physically, as she was worn thin from fasting. How could she eat when she was constantly worried about not ever seeing her husband again? Her external conditions revealed to Hanuman her thoughts, and from that thinking Hanuman knew that she was in Rama’s heart. Rama’s mental condition back in Kishkindha also revealed this.

In this way we know that just thinking about God is enough to please Him. He is omnipresent after all, so wherever we are, in whatever condition we find ourselves, to think of Him in a kind way is an act of divine love; it is bhakti-yoga itself. To help facilitate that remembrance, to ensure that we think of God as often as possible, we can chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In Closing:

To have the divine link,

All you need is to think.

 

Foundation on which all other methods built,

Towards eternal felicity your fortunes to tilt.

 

Even after to Lanka she was brought,

Of Rama wife Sita always thought.

 

Thus though she was far away,

In Rama’s mind she did stay.

 

Hanuman this could understand,

After on vision of Sita his eyes did land.

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