“It is easier to give you the discipline of an action; by consistently performing this action, eventually you achieve transformation of a feeling.”
At the outset, bringing these two hands together and bowing down. If we don’t know the meaning behind it, it’s nothing but another physical action performed.
And when we understand the meaning behind it, it’s called a ritual.
One of the challenges in bringing timeless wisdom into contemporary practice is the need to understand the science behind why they asked us to do what they asked us to do.
To begin with, action-feeling is a cycle. It’s not linear. The way you act causes certain feelings in you and the way you feel propels certain actions in you. Action-feeling is a cycle. People say, “I don’t speak in public because I’m very nervous.”.
Actually, the contrary is also true. Because you don’t want to face public, you are nervous! The more you face public, you will overcome nervousness, which means in spite of nervousness, the moment you come and face the public, the action that you’re performing will bring about certain changes in your feelings.
And that is why you’ll see a lot of reluctant communicators, who reluctantly come to the mike and reluctantly start to speak. And once they start speaking willingly, they never end! They’ll keep on talking, because this action that you have performed, the moment it removes that nervousness within you… Now, this accident, this action propels confidence within you, and you’ll begin to see that confidence emulating through this very action! Religion is the highest form of psychology.
They studied human behaviour and realized, to bring about certain changes, certain transformations in you, especially in the feeling domain, the easiest way to achieve that is, give you the discipline of certain actions. And in performing those actions, you will be able to achieve the transformation of the feeling!
For example, to teach somebody who has never concentrated in life concentration, by a mere speech, by a mere lecture it’s not going to happen. So they gave you the ritual of either running the rosary beads or initiating you into a mantra and asking you to keep practicing that mantra. Or asking you to write, say, Sri Rama Jayam so many times, or asking you to physically perform certain actions which involve the coordination of body-mind, of just walking one step at a time, or doing the squats hundred and eight times, or practicing certain Pranayama in a certain ratio. Actions performed, apart from the physical benefits you derive out of it, it achieves transformation of certain feelings.
So it’s much easier to give you the discipline of action and by consistently performing this action, eventually, you achieve the transformation of a feeling.
Shake hands is an action!
Glad to meet you. You’re not yet glad, but by over a period of time performing the action, glad to meet you, glad to meet you, you enhance the chances of actually feeling glad!
It is one thing to feel that love and to act.
But how many of us have experienced? The more and more you hug a person, your affinity and attachment for the person actually grows. An action performed in order to achieve transformation of a feeling. A ritual basically means actions performed in order to achieve transformation of a feeling.
Those of you who have played competitive sport, I am sure you have gone through that.
You’re playing your table tennis match and you’re down six-nine. And somehow, a friend of yours whom you respect and value, screams from the crowd, “Hey, you can do it! Fight!” and somehow you do a body language.
And you don’t know what happened with that action that you performed, or somewhere you acknowledged to him that you will do it and something within you got pumped up.
And here you began to serve and it was ten-all! Something within the same player, some feeling within the same player has been transformed, through an action that was performed. Action feeling is a cycle.
Religion being the higher psychology, they understood the whole thing. That is why even now, to bring about certain transformations in your children in parenting, by inducing them into certain actions, you will be able to achieve the transformation of the feeling much, much more than continuously giving them a lecture on where you need that change!
So all rituals, whether it is about etiquette, whether it is about organizational discipline, whether it is about religion, all rituals are nothing but actions performed in order to achieve transformation of a feeling.
So whether they ask you to prostrate, or whether they ask you to go down on your knees in front of the altar of your God, or whether they are asking you to sit in certain mudras and certain postures, everything has a science behind it, which we may know, we may not know. But they are all actions performed in order to achieve transformation of a feeling.
Architects sitting here, before you begin any project, you decide what? Whether it is from a religious cue or you have been creative enough to come up with your own ritual, but perform a ritual and over a period of time, train your entire system to shift into a peak state.
Those of you who have ever been trained in public speaking, you will realize that whenever you lock your hands, whenever you throw your hands inside your pocket… People who have trained you in public speaking would have always told you, “Leave your hands free!” and there’s a reason behind it.
Again, research suggests, whenever you feel a little diffident, whenever you feel a little nervous, whenever you feel a little withdrawn, you do not leave your hands free. Your hands either lock up, or it picks up some object and holds. A confident speaker will not hold the mike and a nervous speaker cannot help but hold the mike. Now listen what happens to your system.
Because you are nervous, you hold the mike stand and speak. Now internally, this emotion of your nervousness and the body language of holding the mike has become a memory. In the future, every time you hold the mike stand, your system will start feeling nervous.
It cues in that nervousness into the entire system. So let us say, last time you felt diffident, very diffident and very nervous and you have thrown your hands inside the pocket and spoken. In the future, because an internal memory has been created linking this action with this feeling, first time you felt nervous and your body was in certain ways. In the future, when your body is in certain ways, you will start feeling like that.
So the moment, even as a confident speaker, you come in, you’re about to begin, and the moment your hands go into the pocket, somewhere you lock your entire hands and you’ll find the nervousness starts automatically, manifesting in whatever you deliver.
So it is so important, that positively and negatively to understand, there are certain bodily postures, there are certain bodily rituals, there are certain bodily grammar which over a period of time as you grow, is getting linked, like how you bite your nails when you feel nervous, when you are tensed, how you bite your nails? If you keep supporting a team which always loses.
Okay, then you don’t have nails left at all, because all the time, as if you’re only going to play and it becomes a habitual thing. Initially, when you were nervous when you could not handle the performance of what is going to happen to your team, you bit your nails and in the future, whenever you bite your nails, you’ll start feeling nervous.
So it’s so important to understand the link between action and feeling and the more and more you understand, then you realize, highest form of psychology was religion. They just realized what sort of actions can be induced into you, performing which you can achieve certain transformation of feelings.
Literally speaking, when you and me bring our hands together and bow down to each other, you know what is actually internally happening? The you in me is bowing down to the me in you. And experientially understand, we are way, way beyond all these labels by which we have identified ourselves and hence the ritual of bringing the hands together and bowing down to each other.
Now, what is important is, when this is performed as an action, you’ve done nothing but a bending exercise. When reverence is brought to that action, when you understand the meaning behind it and for a moment, a conscious reminder happens that I in spirit and you in spirit are one and the same…
Over a period of time of performing this action, will achieve a transformation of a feeling and the sort of liberation that you have. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter in the midst of whom you are, you still feel all of us are connected to each other.
And it’s a tremendous liberation to experience.