There are certain types of etiquette that are appropriate at certain places. In a marketplace it is normal to a move about, talk, shop, and come and go whenever you please. At a party, you are also free to enter into discussions, to eat and drink, and move about. In an open house, you may come and go as you please. The same behavior is not appropriate in a place of worship. You go to a place of worship in order to elevate yourself spiritually. Many people, however, do not go to their respective temples with a devotional attitude, and do not derive the spiritual benefit that should result from their going to their temples.
Going to a place of worship is a spiritual activity, and one must go with a devotional attitude, and with humility. Otherwise such an activity is a waste of time, effort and money. But to cultivate such an attitude, means that one needs to have a spiritual outlook in life on a daily basis. If this is not the case, then it is difficult to cultivate it on the day one goes to church for one or two hours. I feel that this is an important reason why religions do not have much effect in the lives of their followers. Along with this devotional attitude, there are certain behaviors that need to be observed.
It is common to note that when people go to temples, many go quite late, sometimes near the end of the program. Some will leave during the program, while others will walk back and forth. Children are often not supervised, and they create a disturbance. Some go to the temples to socialize, not remembering that they have about 66 hours a week in which to fit in social activities. It is an insult to God, to the temple, to the priest or other religious personality, to the preacher, and to the rest of the congregation if you are not attentive, and carry on a conversation, or move about and do not supervise the children. If such is the case, then it is better to stay home or go to the market.
The following is a list of conduct that will generally be appropriate in a religious life:
- Go to church or temple on time, and leave at the end of the program, unless it is urgent to leave before.
- Maintain peace, and do not move about. Have respect and pay attention to what is going on, and participate as necessary.
3 Leave your ego outside the door. Humility is essential in a religious life. When you are leaving, make sure that your ego does not jump back into your heart.
- It is not enough to bow down at the altar, at the Murtis and the Guru Granth Saheb. You need to have love and devotion in the heart.
- Always treat your seniors, religious people and guests with respect and honor. Do not let your ego, even unconsciously, put you ahead of them.
- When serving food or other items, always serve the holy people, seniors and guests first before serving yourself. This will show your humility and patience.
- Always wash your hands before handling or eating food. It is a good habit for hygiene and health. Medically, it is known that washing the hands helps prevent the spread of disease.
- When serving food do not let your serving spoon touch the plate, especially if one is eating from it.
- When serving yourself in a buffet lineup, do not start eating while you are still serving yourself. It is bad manners and is not hygienic.
- When sharing prasad, wash your hands first, or use a spoon to maintain cleanliness of the blessed item.
- Make offerings to temples, ashrams, service organizations and other nonprofit groups that help to promote human welfare.
- Practice cleanliness of your clothes, body, mind, home, environment and places of worship. You have heard it said that cleanliness in next to Godliness.
- Conserve natural resources, energy, food, water and other useful items. Do not be wasteful. There is a great deal of wastage of these items in the developed countries.
- Spend some time in reading and study to gain knowledge and wisdom that will improve your life. Thirty minutes of meditation in the morning is a great spiritual practice.
- Practice nonviolence in thoughts, words and deeds. Have reverence for life. Violence has not place in a spiritual life.
- Have love for one another and for all of God’s creation.
- Let your karmas be noble. Life is like a school. We will need to graduate and obtain a “spiritual certificate” before we leave this world.
This article is meant to remind all of us that we must be vigilant in our religious and spiritual life, and not make it a hollow show of devotion.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Etiquette, temple, church, worship, spiritual, religion