The third essential discipline for human ascent is spiritual practice, called ‘Sadhana’ in Sanskrit. This is the devout endeavor of self-refinement and improvement. It includes two parts: worship and penance.Most of us understand worship to be some kind of devotional practice such as worshiping a deity, praying before it,
chanting a mantra, meditating on divine attributes, and the like. Well, these are certainly steps or methods to attain the real purpose of worship. But we should also know its real meaning.
Worship of God means faith in divine values, sitting near Divine realms, inculcating Divinity. If we sit near a fire, we feel the heat and our clothing and our body also warms up, just assitting near a glacier has the opposite effect of cooling us. The area surrounding a sandalwood tree is also permeated with the fragrance of sandalwood. The soothing fragrance also makes the nearby plants fragrant. So you see the effects of proximity. Worship is a process of mental and emotional proximity with the Almighty. Through the enhanced purity of the inner self,sincerity of devotion and depth of faith, worship gradually connects our“individual self” with the Supreme Self. Inculcation of divine virtues and awakening of our indwelling divinity is a natural consequence of devout worship.
Worship and sadhana must go hand in hand. Either is incomplete without the other. Worship induces the inspiration and strength required for sadhana and sadhana is vital for the purification and inner engrossment required for devout worship.The word “sadhana” means to perfect. It includes excellence of qualities, deeds and behavior and eminence of personality. Uprooting vices,evil tendencies and bad habits, and cultivating virtuous tendencies, good conduct and attitude is sadhana. Wild animals are trained in the circus to perform skilled feats some of which are difficult even for humans. Sadhana is also an arduous training of the mind. It is a two-pronged attack: it includes refinement through ascetic disciplines and improvement through encouraging, inspiring and illuminating the mind to the benefits of virtuous qualities and activities. The transformation of the personality through sadhana is like the tedious process of clearing wild shrubs from a field and making it into a beautiful garden; converting raw metal into shining gold by processing it in a fire. [ . . . ]