Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I have experimented quite deeply with Hindu devotional practices, and I have also experimented with Christian (Catholic) and heathen rituals. I have benefited tremendously from ritualistic practice that is oriented toward the Divine, yet my intellect seems to insist on deism, which does not have an established set of rituals.
Many deists have no need of ritualistic behavior, but I do, and I think that ritualistic behavior can have tremendous benefits. Muslims do salat, Catholics chant the rosary, Hindus chant mantras. These practices give us the opportunity to set aside and devote some time to unwavering focus on the Creator.
If you are a deist, then you believe that there is a God, a Creator, a Divine Architect. You need to have a relationship with your Creator.
Deists are like a herd of cats, but if you need ritual, consider what I have come up with. Maybe it will give you some ideas.
While learning from my Hindu friends, I discovered that repetitive chanting was incredibly calming. I would frequently chant a thirty-two syllable mantra 108 times. Hindus often use beads like these, called japa mala, to keep count of their chanting.
I have endeavored to create a "Deist Mantra," which emphasizes the beliefs of deism and shares the same number of syllables. Chanting it a minimum of one round per day will devote ten to fifteen minutes of time solely to the Creator. No matter how stressful your day is, no matter how shrill the politics get, no matter what, you have time with the Source of your very being, which allows you to reflect on what really matters.
If you devote at least ten minutes per day solely to the contemplation of God, you will experience an improved mood, a greater peace, and a stronger commitment to decent and moral behavior.
Calming music, incense, and candlelight are conducive to deep devotion. God is not cold and distant. God simply practices non-intervention. Non-intervention can be the most loving thing that we can receive. Orient your heart deeply to God who, in His wisdom, makes truth accessible to your rational soul. Engage in activities that nurture devotional sentiments. Chant, pray, or meditate.
I choose to chant because, as the Hindus point out, it employs all five senses. Taste is served by speaking the chant, smell by incense, sound by the chant and music, touch by the beads, and sight by the candlelight and mental visualization.
Here is the text of my Deist Mantra:
Cause of all causes,
Creator of the universe,
Lord of all that is,
I honor and praise you this day."
God is the source of morality, and we cannot get closer to God without behaving decently. After the chanting, whether it be one or more rounds, I am in a calm and reflective mood. To focus on God's moral expectations, I think about the things I did that day (or the day previous, depending on whether it is morning or evening). I think about one admirable thing I did that day and commit to doing such things again. I then think about one regrettable thing I did and commit to avoiding such behavior in the future.
Then it is time to face the day knowing that you did something to enrich your life and to come just one little step closer to the very Source of your being. That little step is truly something grand.