Article by Chaitanya Keerti published in The Asian Age, India, on October 17, 2013:
In India it is customary to touch the feet of religious gurus and the elderly. This training begins early, when our parents force us to bow down whenever an elder person or a swami enters the house. Mostly children hate doing this. This ritual is the part of our social programming which has become a hypocritical exercise.
Respect for the elderly or swamis, bowing down to them or touching their feet is a matter of sensitivity which gets corrupted when it is enforced. It should always be something natural — something done with feeling and understanding. When it is only a conditioning, a Hindu bows down to Hindu saints and a Muslim bows down to Muslim saints. Some people do bow down to all religious people, they too are conditioned to do that — out of fear or greed.
Travelling around India in taxis or buses, I am always surprised to see drivers bow their heads to all kinds of temples on the roadside. It does not matter whether the place of worship belongs to Hindus or Muslims, whether it is some Baba’s samadhi, a Sufi dargah, or just a stone representing Hanumanji or a Shivalinga — these drivers bow down with equal respect to all.
Bowing down is something precious if it happens naturally. Bowing down to the rising or setting sun, the trees, the sky or the stars connects us in some mysterious way to the universal energy that surrounds us all the time. This energy is divine, and communing with this energy makes us feel divine. For a few moments, we become free from our ego. A man of sensitivity will feel this all the time. In gratitude too we become attuned with this cosmic energy.
In one of his darshan diaries, The Tongue-Tip Taste of Tao, Osho tells a seeker: “I teach love for the world. Love this earth — it is really beautiful… It is utter splendour. Love from the smallest, the dewdrop, to the greatest star. Let this whole existence be your love object, let it be your beloved. Love has to be all-inclusive. And then only will you know the second thing, then only is the second possible — gratitude. Because when one is in love with existence one feels such blessing, such bliss, that it is natural to bow down in deep gratitude, and when gratitude arises, prayer has arrived.”
So remember these two things: be loving and wait for gratitude to arrive.
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Chaitanya Keerti, editor of Osho World, is the author of Osho Fragrance