It is the experience and practice of the inhabitants of India that they generally worship God with flowers, offer ritual adoration, and make obeisance to God. But there is something that is more sacred than this. There is a distinctive type of devotion by which you worship God with a good, clean mind and good conduct. This has been given the name of para bhakthi (supreme devotion). By always worshipping God with ritual worship and flowers, the spiritual aspirant will remain stationary in his place. This is good in a way, but to remain in one place all the time and failing to rise to a higher position is not good.
There is a superior type of worship — to worship God through good qualities, good conduct, good thoughts, and good company. The scriptures have described this kind of worship as worship through good qualities. By offering what kind of good qualities can we please God?
Eight Flowers of Worship
The first flower with which we can worship God is non-violence. The second flower is control of senses. The third flower is compassion. The fourth one is forbearance. The fifth flower is peace. The sixth flower is penance. The seventh one is the flower of meditation. The eighth is the flower of truth. The inner meaning of this statement is that God will shower grace on you if you worship him through these eight flowers.
The flowers in nature always fade, drop down, lose fragrance, and also develop an odour that is not pleasant. Instead of worshipping with such worldly flowers, which are impermanent and receiving impermanent rewards from God, we should worship Him with what is truthful and thereby attain a stage that is higher.
The flowers that you are using for worship have not been created by you. You are bringing flowers that have been created by the Will of God on some tree or in some garden and are offering them back to the Creator Himself. What is the greatness in using the flowers created by God and giving them back to God Himself? Many people bathe in the Ganges River, take the water from the Ganges into their palms, and offer it back to the Ganges itself. This is not what you have created. This is not what you have the right to offer.
From the tree of your life, picking such fruits that you have protected and that you have grown in the form of good qualities and offering them to God, there is some distinctiveness in that. In order to promote good qualities, you have to undergo several troubles. So it is through these good qualities that your mind can also acquire a divine concentration. Without good qualities and without good thoughts, how can you fix your mind in meditation?
Win God’s Grace by Worshipping Eight Flowers
Worship the Lord, and offer Him these flowers. Now, when other flowers are used, devotion does not last after one comes out of the worship room! When one crosses that door-step, anger, hatred, and anxiety possess him and degrade him. Without developing the qualities indicated by the eight flowers, how can anyone win the grace of God? Engaged in wrong worship on all 364 days, what good do you derive by doing true worship on the 365th day of the year. When you claim to be Sai devotees, justify the claim by cultivating these flowers of virtue and offering them to God.4
Serve Society to Your Utmost Capacity
God will be pleased only when you worship Him with these eight types of flowers. The priests in temples worship God with various types of flowers. But God does not want these flowers. He says, “O priest, is this what you have learnt all these years? You are worshipping Me with lorry loads of roses and jasmines, which fade away in a short time. These are not the flowers that I expect from you. Worship Me with the flowers of peace, love, non-violence, etc., which will never fade.”
People worship God with devotion and sincerity, but God is not satisfied with external worship. You should serve society. Only service can confer bliss on you. By rendering service to society, not only can you alleviate the sufferings of the people, but you can also bring about transformation in their lives. As is the feeling, so is the result. If you serve with sacred feelings, it is bound to yield sacred results. Serve society to your utmost capacity. You are singing devotional songs in the morning and evening. The satisfaction that you get by participating in singing devotional songs is temporary, whereas service confers permanent satisfaction.
The Vedas say, the objective of actions is to purify the mind. Service alone is undertaken to purify the mind. Today people waste a lot of time, wealth, and energy in performing activities that do not foster purity of the mind. That is why they are unable to experience peace of mind. The peace that one gets out of worldly activities comes and goes like a passing cloud. One should aspire for the true and eternal peace, which originates from the heart.