The last step of this meditation ends with an offering of gratitude to existence and to the Master, who is an embodiment of the existential energy - Guru Puja. It's a beautiful ritual which one can perform or one can choose to just sit closed eyes listening to the chants in a prayerful mood. To many, this step is the favorite and to many this is what repels them from coming close. This may specially not appeal to the intellectuals as the rationale of this is not apparent at the surface. This post is to throw some light on the science of the Guru Puja.
Unfortunately, although we are exposed to rituals since childhood (especially those of us brought up in traditional Indian families), the lack of awareness or understanding or depth usually is a put off, especially to the young questioning minds. Swamiji says beautifully:
When we infuse spirit to a ritual, it becomes spirit-uality. Without the spirit, even spirituality becomes just a ritual!What this means to say is that every act of ours can become spirituality when we infuse the intensity and enthusiasm. It could be a small thing like having a cup of tea, if the spirit is there then it becomes a blissful act. Otherwise it becomes another ritual, another chore. Our life becomes monotonous and mechanical.
So, coming back to Guru Puja. What does this ritual do? It's to offer our gratitude to existence for all that we have. We are taught only societal "thank you"s, but when true gratitude oozes out from inside, its a natural expression of the being. This ritual creates the ambience and triggers that expression from within - ONLY if we are open to allow this to happen.
Let me explain to you briefly the meaning of the chants that accompany the Guru Puja. It basically says that we offer our entire mind-body system, part-by-part to existence in gratitude. Since Guru symbolises existences, we invite Him to our core, just like we would invite a guest and offer ourselves to Him. We make the Guru comfortable in the home of our inner space by offering Him water to drink, rinse His mouth, fresh clothes to wear, sandal perfume to adorn Him, food to eat etc.
Inviting the Guru to our inner space is equivalent to invoking the divinity/existential energy/God/cosmic energy that is within us.
Now, you may ask, 'if I have the feeling of gratitude, it's enough; why should I perform the ritual?'. Very valid question. But the problem is that our mind and inner space is so polluted that it easily wanders away here and there not allowing us to even feel the emotion of gratitude intensely. By doing the external ritual, it integrates our actions with our thoughts and emotions. It only adds intensity. This is the reason, we physically offer flowers, fruits, incense etc.
How beautiful! When we are connected to the external Guru, then the Guru Puja can becomes even more beautiful! We can literally experience the Master sitting in front of us accepting the puja. Guru Puja can become an intimate rendesvouz with the Master!
P.S: If you are interested to learn how to perform the Guru Puja in Singapore, do mail in to firstname.lastname@example.org