I’ve been wondering about the recent prominence of Puja practice.
A Puja is of the world of feminine form as is the rest of the manifestation. It is useful if it opens our hearts and so connects us to Lee and the lineage. If it’s not doing this then it may be repetitive ritual worship. Much of the practice of the Vedas in India is about ritual observance and I haven’t seen a commensurate presence or practice of Karuna, compassion, here.
From Wikipedia on Vedanta. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanta
The Vedānta-sūtra are known by a variety of names, including (1) Brahma-sūtra, (2) Śārīraka, (3) Vyāsa-sūtra, (4) Bādarāyaṇa-sūtra, (5) Uttara-mīmāṁsā and (6) Vedānta-darśana. The cryptic aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations, resulting in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries. Consistent throughout Vedanta, however, is the exhortation that ritual be eschewed in favor of the individual’s quest for truth through meditation governed by a loving morality, …
Don Juan also criticized ritual activity.
“The new seers realized the true role those sorcery practices played and decided to go directly into the process of making their assemblage points shift, avoiding all the other nonsense of rituals and incantations. Yet rituals and incantations are indeed necessary at one time in every warrior’s life. But only for purposes of luring one’s first attention away from the power of
self-absorption, which keeps his assemblage point rigidly fixed.” (This isn’t the more critical quote I remember. –Sounds like he is saying that it’s a means to an end, not an end in itself, so don’t get stuck there. – KK)
As far as I can remember Puja’s are not one of our practices. It was just something we did to close certain group spaces. Not as an end or a means. But maybe Lee said something about it that I’ve missed and certainly the times they have a changed.
Though I don’t appreciate the value of incense waving I heard indirectly from a more knowledgeable friend that burning incense attracts entities or the teacher. So what do I know it’s a big universe out there?
In a film about Nisargadata Maharaj, He is one of the 2 primary contemporary presenters of nondual thought, (though he had a definite edge to him that most contemporary nondual popularizes don’t.) it show’s him doing daily pujas to a host of Murtis displayed in his apartment and and elsewhere. He said something like, “You see me doing pujas and wonder why. This is a mystery for you.” Clearly despite of his awesome presentation of nondual thought, (I much prefer his words to Ramana’s, the contemporary Jesus of non-duality.) he, Nizargadata, had gotten whatever he did through the help of a Guru (Unlike Ramana.) and was grateful for the help and wanted to keep his Guru alive in his heart. (And it may also have been, probably was, a habit, or so goes my interpretation. – KK )
Another story along similar lines contributed by ‘Loud Sue’
…… Yes. There is a similar story about Gary Snyder’s first visit to Japan to study with a particular Zen master (whose name I don’t remember). He arrived at the temple to find the master doing all kinds of worship to the Buddha (incense, prayers, candles, the whole nine yards). He questioned the master later saying, “I thought that you were supposed to kill the Buddha” and the master said “You kill the Buddha, I will worship him”. So I guess we all have to draw our own conclusions.
Pujas, like Murtis and by Murtis I mean photographs, are they in themselves useful agencies without intent? Said another way – more rituals and murtis doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than more Pujas and Murtis.
Loud Sue again – You know whether or not pujas are useful for YOU. Of course we actually have to do the pujas fairly consistently for a while to draw some valid conclusions as to their usefulness for oneself. –
Murti-worship as distinct from idol-worship http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murti
The notion that the term murti is equivalent to the English word “idol” is a misconception. The scholar Steven Rosen notes that early European missionaries were largely responsible for conflating the two terms by informing local Hindus that “idol” was the correct translation for “murti”. Furthermore, scholar Diana Eck explains that the term murti is defined in Sanskrit as “anything which has definite shape and limits; a form, body, figure; an embodiment, incarnation, or manifestation.” Thus, the murti is more than a likeness; it is the deity itself taken “form”. The uses of the word murti in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita suggest that the form is its essence.” Thus, a murti is considered to be more than a mere likeness of a deity, but rather a manifestation of the deity itself. The Murti is like a way to communicate with the abstract one god (Brahman) which creates, sustains, and dissolves creation.Some further words from Loud Sue. There is little attraction to pujas / rituals for me, so I participate in the ones I like My form(s) of Praise are just different than that. They show up for me in more ordinary ways.
The previous paragraph notwithstanding, I’m saying be vigilant we don’t consider forms as expressions of holiness or devotion.