There was once a devotee who loved visiting the temple and performing religious rituals. She yearned to be serving at the temple, doing small things that gave her immense pleasure that she was serving God!
She visited the temple in the morning and cleaned the place, decorating it with beautiful art forms that please the eyes of those who enter the temple!
She cleaned the lamps so that they shone, she dusted the books, she cleansed the clothes worn by the idols. She loved making garlands and decorating the Gods. If her garland was chosen for the main idol, her happiness knew no bounds!
She was happy with herself, and the way she was serving Him!
Now, one day she happened to visit the temple later in the day. There were a group of ladies who were discussing their issues at home, she went around the temple and heard people talking about how expensive the flowers were and how the flower seller was cheating them, she continued her work, and heard a few men talking about the priests, who was better at reciting hymns and who was not very good.
She felt hurt.
Her mind used to be filled with happiness when she entered the temple, and now – seeing and listening to the various conversations, she felt she would not be able to feel that sense of peace and happiness in the temple.
She approaches the priest and tells him that she plans to not visit the temple hereafter. He enquires the reason and she hesitates for a second and mentions
“In my mind, temple is a place of worship, where one feels safe, no jealousy, no ego, no other conversations other than about God need to happen here! Nothing that can trigger a devotee to think or divert their mind in any other direction. With groups of people chatting everywhere, I do not feel I will be able to feel so anymore.”
The priest knew that she was a very pious woman. He thinks and says “Okay! Can you fulfill one small request of mine before you go!”. She agrees.
He hands her a pot filled to the brim with water and says, can you please chant God’s name and circumambulate the temple 3 times, without spilling a drop of water, and bring it back to me.
She thinks, she had to do 3 things carefully…
- Chant God’s name
- Circumambulate the temple 3 times
- Hold a pot full of water, ensuring not a drop spills out
She agrees and takes the pot. Slowly and steadily, she completes the task and brings back the pot to the priest.
Priest: How do you feel?
Devotee: Felt very happy chanting God’s name and performing this task!
Priest: Did you hear anyone conversing while you were circumambulating?
Devotee: No. I could not hear anything.
Priest: No one moved anywhere else, and all conversations were continuing while you were walking.. can you tell me why you could not hear anything?
Devotee: Am surprised as well… I am not sure.
Priest: When your mind is fully occupied with performing a task for God, while chanting his name, being careful that you perform it well… all your senses were focused on performing this to perfection! There was nothing else that was diverting you. When you come to the temple, fill your mind with thoughts about God and continue focusing on your activities, do not let your mind be free of his thoughts.. this way, while you develop the ability to focus and concentrate, your mind is not diverted by other things around you!
The devotee was in tears… she had learned a valuable lesson that day!