Ayudha Puja this morning at 7:30 is it? Soon as we arrive, okay, doesn’t have to be 7:30.
Today is tool blessing day. Ayudha is a tool. The silpis bless all their tools, ayudha Puja day. Wonderful practice that motivated number of the monks to bless their tools which are call computers and tractors and their kitchen pots and whatever, as well on this day.
So, I thought I’d talk a little bit about that and the first idea that relates to it is: Work is worship.
When we think of our work, our actions, during the day being worship there’s different ways of looking at it. And I found one way of looking at it is that becomes worship because you’re chanting a mantra while you’re doing it. That makes it worship. But you don’t have to do anything special. You know, that’s not really the point. The point is we don’t make work worship by chanting. Work is worship because it’s fulfilling our duties. And when we fulfill our duties we make spiritual progress. So that’s what makes work worship; it’s duty, it’s dharma. Our action is in accordance with dharma. Or, whenever our actions are in accordance with dharma it’s worship. That’s the idea.
Work is worship when it relates to fulfilling one’s householder duties, our duties to other family members and to our community.
A single person working and then spending the majority of his or her income to dress up elegantly and party the weekend away is an example of not fulfilling duty. His or her work is not worship.
It can be put as a question: Am I doing this to help my family and community or am I doing this simply for personal indulgence?
So that’s a question we can ask it knows, if we’re not sure that this kind of work is worship. Why am I doing it? Am I doing it for my family, for my community, for a good reason? Or, am I just doing it for personal indulgence?
Nice statement from Swami Chinmayananda: “Every action motivated…” ( So motivation is the key word here.) “Every action motivated by egocentric desires thickens the veil and permits not even a single ray of the essential Divinity to peep through it, to illumine the life in us.”
The key word in his commentary is of course, motivation. Why are we doing this?
So we take an example: Two individuals hold the same job in an office and earn the same income. One is single and per our example uses all the money to party on the weekend and the other is married and uses all the money to support his or her family.
So, even though they’re doing the exact same job, they’re working all day in an office doing exactly the same thing, one is fulfilling dharma and one isn’t fulfilling dharma. So the one who is fulfilling dharma is making spiritual progress through the action. The one who is not fulfilling dharma is doing exactly the same thing but not making progress cause the motivation is totally self centered; it’s totally self indulgent. There’s no dharma involved; there’s no duty to someone else involved.
Yogaswami has a nice statement that is useful again to reflect upon. He says: “All work must be done with the aim of reaching God.”
So we can ask that as a question. Am I doing this to help me reach God or am I doing it for some other reason?
Second idea is: What are some ways of offering our actions to the Divine or reminding ourselves that this action is a form of worship. A short prayer before beginning such as a prayer to Lord Ganesha. Doesn’t have to be long or obvious. You know, when you’re in the workplace you don’t want to sit there and pull out your incense and do a full puja, necessarily. In you mind you can just say: Jai Ganapati or whatever, and before you begin. So, you’re reminding yourself: I’m just not here working away, this is worship; I’m fulfilling duty.
If you’re able to light incense that’s useful. Can light incense and pass it and if you’re at home, for example, light incense, pass it in front of the alter and pass it around what you’re going to work with. If you’re going to work on a computer, you bless the computer. If you’re going to read a book and cook a meal can bless your cooking utensils. So, you’re reminding yourself: I’m doing this as worship.
And, what we’re doing today is a once a year blessing cause it’s kind of major. You can’t do this every day, it takes too long. Gather all your tools of your trade, whatever it is, and give them a major blessing. Major puja to them. Do a puja and then bless them afterwards, for example.
So the, you’ve heard my story. But it really impressed me when I saw taxi cabs dressed up as temples. You know they had banana trees tied to the sides. Small trees not huge ones. And were all dressed up, three stripes and everything on ayudha Puja day in Madurai. Because the taxi cab driver was blessing his tool. Which is his taxi cab and it looked just like a temple. You got in it and you felt like you had stepped in a temple.
The elevators were dressed up the same way. So, it’s taken very seriously and because the integration is there. The culture integrates. It doesn’t separate our worship which is what we do in the shrine room or meditation and our work. The culture doesn’t separate it. It’s a one tradition. Hinduism permeates life in India as we know. So they haven’t been taught to separate. So, it permeates taxi cabs and elevators and everything else. It’s a tool on that day.
And it’s useful for children as well in that school books are blessed on that day and again it’s a reminder that school is a form of worship. We go to school to fulfill dharma. The dharma of the brahmacharya ashrama which is to study. We’re supposed to learn. It’s a religious duty to go to school and to learn. It’s not a secular activity.
So, that’s the idea of ayudha Puja.
See you out there in a few minutes.
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