Chapter III, Verse 12
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
When thou givest the gods their tithes in the altar-flame (for spiritual services), the gods (the invisible forces of good) will grant you the objects of your desires. So he who enjoys the gifts of the earth without offering them in return to the gracious God (in return for human and spiritual services) verily, a thief he is.
Deep concentration requires the sacrifice of attachments and desires. The “thief” is one who believes the experience of life has no duties or costs and enjoys the selfish benefits without contributing.
The person who is completely engrossed in the world should practice tithing and ceremonial sacrifice. These practices, when embraced as a reasonable duty, develop the qualities of gratitude, selfless behavior and expanding awareness of the interconnection between all beings.
As one develops and expands to greater intellectual understanding, the practices of devotional offerings continue to expand awareness. When oblations are given with attention, one naturally contemplates the reasons behind the practice. This contemplation leads to empathy for others and to a better understanding of one’s communal role.
For both the strictly material and the intellectual type of person (typically those of the Sudra and Vaisya Castes), daily rituals of making an offering have a side benefit of manifesting the elements required to achieve a personal desire.
The person who is not practicing techniques to disassociate personal action from the result (ie. one who does not meditate) automatically takes his personal desire into the ritual. For example, “I offer this to my ancestors, please ancestors help me get a new car. I serve those who are more needy than I, so I deserve a new car. I take care of the animals, so I am worthy of a new car. I give to higher beings and even to God, certainly the universal energies can grant me a new car.”
Concentration applied to a desire directs the energy to manifest the desired result. Thus the “gods grant” the objects a ritualistic person demands during the practices of tithing and sacrifice depending upon the degree of their sincerity and perseverance.
Now the spiritually advancing and advanced person (typically the Kshatriya and Brahman Castes) may practice tithing and sacrifices as an example to others, but they no longer need the benefits of these practices. One who is more advanced in meditation realizes that an inner form of tithing and sacrifice is accomplished when one’s concentration remains focused on the moment and not upon personal desires or the hoped-for results of self-discipline and positive attitude (gratitude).
Whether you stop by your church every morning and say a prayer and leave a donation, or whether you sit in meditation focused on a supreme ideal, the practice of daily “sacrifice” leads to positive results according to the depth of your intensity and understanding. In other words, showing gratitude and giving alms consistently, benefits the person who makes the greatest effort.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Traditional Hindu Yajna (sacrifices) include:
Pitri Yajna – Offerings to one’s personal and community ancestors, acknowledging the efforts of past humans who illumine life today. Develops the quality of respect for elders and promotes the longing for wisdom.
Nri Yajna – Giving food and necessities to the hungry and the homeless, acknowledging personal community responsibilities as well as benefits received from mutual effort. Develops empathy and awareness of one’s immediate environment.
Bhuta Yajna – Offering food and care to the animal kingdom. Even as each person benefits from those who are more advanced and enlightened than himself, so also the animal kingdom benefits from the thoughtful service of humanity. Develops a respect for the environment and all of the creatures who live in it. In addition, the awareness of the interconnectedness of life is cultivated.
Deva Yajna – Through concentration, offering the thoughts and power/energy behind the senses to one’s God or gods. Develops awareness of “things unseen”, promotes creativity and intellectual curiosity.
Brahma Yajna – Offering all to God. Dedicating all personal thoughts, actions and outcomes to following the path of Intuition-born Wisdom. Develops stable thoughts, correct action and a level of consistent bliss unknown to the common man.
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