Many of us are great believers and followers of rituals. Rituals have become part of our lives and not performing them leaves us with a guilty mind or feeling.
There are many types of rituals, the common one being worshipping the Lord with flowers. The more the flowers, the better is our frame of mind.
There are others who offer whatever food they prepare to the Gods before they consume it. These devotees feel satisfied that they have fed the Lord. The remnant food becomes ‘prasad’ or prasadam.
Those who can afford perform yagnas at regular intervals by engaging priests. Amid all the fire and smoke and high decibel chants, what emerges is a general satisfaction.
Some go around temples in pradikshina or parikrama of sacred entities. The clockwise circumambulation, again, gives a sense of peace and satisfaction. This is practiced by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims when they go on Haj.
This is to absorb the positive energy that is supposed to emerge from the deity. But on a more practical side, a temple is a place where the outside world is physically shut out and so you are in constant communion with the Lord. It is another matter that you still carry the outside world in your mind.
There are other rituals like fasting, performing intense body-punishing rituals etc.
All these rituals are just a means to achieve the goal of enlightenment. The rituals are part of a spiritual journey, but not the end. They are like the initial thrust for a rocket to leave the ground for outer space which is the ultimate destination.
But once you achieve this initial thrust in your spiritual journey, a time will come when you will be able to free yourself from the physical form of rituals. These rituals then become an integral part of your thought process or the inner consciousness. The physical form of rituals converts itself to a meditative form.
This is how rishis and yogis shed rituals and become one with the thought of the Supreme. While rituals give you satisfaction, the higher form of meditative ‘rituals’ can give you a sort of freedom where you become one with nature. You will no longer need flowers, temples, yagas, yagnas or pradikshinas. You get mentally tuned to perform these rituals in any form of meditation. You find God in everything and everywhere. That is the concept of ‘Sarvam Brahma Mayam’ or realizing the Brahmam or the Supreme Being in a universal template.
But it is not easy to give up rituals; one needs to know that this is not the goal. A time in life will come when you free yourself from rituals that can sometimes ground you in your spiritual journey.
Do not miss that moment. Boldly embrace it without feeling guilty. You are probably destined for a higher journey.