Lord Krishna says in the Geeta, “Whatever you do, whatever you it eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give, whatever you practice as austerity, O Kaunteya, do it as an offering to Me” (9.27). Through all activities of life, one can constantly live in the spirit of devout offering unto the Supreme. Throughout the Geeta, it has been consistently insisted upon that one’s mental attitude is of supreme importance, much more than the mare physical act. This is a fact that ordinarily seekers forget. All acts of perception and our reactions to the perceived – be they on the physical, mental, or intellectual levels- can be devout offerings unto Him. This is not an unnecessary make belief or a mere fancied exaggeration, nor is it in any way difficult for an individual to practice. The one Self revels everywhere- in the teacher, the devotee and the Lord. In all of life’s transactions, we behave, act, and deal with names and forms; all of them are upheld only by the self. To remember the self during all transactions of life is to remember the Substratum.
In a cloth shop where there are cotton clothes of different colours and sizes, textures and prices, the shopkeeper is advised always to remember that he is dealing with cotton clothing. This cannot be very difficult for any good shopkeeper, and it will be safe and profitable for him to remember this fact, for it would prevent him from entertaining misconceptions and thereby either charging the exorbitant prices of woolens, or selling off his goods too cheaply!
Just as cotton is in all cloth, gold in all ornaments, the Self is the essential Substance in all names and forms. A devotee who can constantly remember the Divine in all his contacts in life alone is the one who can give to life the reverence it deserves.
It is a law that as you give unto life, so shall life give unto you. Smile at life and life smiles at you; frown at life and life frowns at you. Approach life with due reverence and respect, born out of cognition of the Divine Essence in it, and life shall respect and revere you. When all activities are performed in this spirit of offering, not only does our love for the Supreme increase, but our entire life also becomes sanctified with a noble purpose and a divine aim.
In the context of the Geeta’s insistence on single- pointedness of mind, and devoted contemplation of the Self, seekers are provided with an efficient and secret method by which they can remember the Supreme constantly, not in the deep jungles or secret caves, but right in the field of life’s contentions.
What should be the attitude of a devotee when offering gifts to the Lord?
An offering can be efficient only when it is accompanied by two required conditions: (a) devotion and (b) purity of mind. To the extent these conditions are absent, all offering are mere economic waste and superstition- breeding flash belief. If properly done, making offering to the Lord can serve as a good vehicle to tread the spiritual path of self- development.
How can an aspirant attain transparent sincerity and earnestness in the quest for God?
Sincerity and earnestness are the flowers of the Love plant that grows in the garden of the heart. In cultivating these flowers, the gardener has to prepare the soil, sow the seed, water the plant, and protect the crop. Then, in will blossom forth in the thrills of the springtime.
The imperfections in the world of objects provide us with the sorrows and despairs of life, which plough the field of the heart. Japa, the repetition of the Lord’s names, is the sowing of the right seed. With regular and intense meditation upon the form of the Lord of his heart, the seeker waters the seedlings. Truthfulness (satyam), non-injury (ahimsa) and celibacy (brahmacharya) constitute three posts around the plant. Truthfulness is at the mental level, non-injury is at the level, and celibacy is at the physical level. Living up to these principles constitutes the right coduct of life. Along with these principles, the fence of dharma (the rules of moral and ethical living) should be put up to guard it from the ravages of grazing animals!
In time, the plant grows, and in its own maturity, in the springtime (as the heart gains in the Lord’s grace) it blooms forth with noble flowers of sweet- scented sincerity and earnestness. The buzzing bee of mumukshutvam (an all-consuming eagerness to break the chains of limitations and reach the freedom of the beyond) would then kiss these glorious flowers into their pregnant fulfillment, their fruits. Verily, there is nothing nobler than these fruits, which represents Bliss Absolute.
By Swami Chinmayananda