Worship and Living: Fear, Greed or Love?

Quite a few years ago, I heard an analogy about three different types of worship that are performed for a divine Creator. This has stayed with me, and I have come to understand that the underlying motivation for worship also applies to the way one leads their life. Here it is in my own words. The three types of worshipper:

1. The person who worships fearing the wrath of God if he doesn’t. Every ritual is perceived and performed as an obligation, which if left unfulfilled, will lead to the possibility of a severe punishment or an eternal damnation in hell. This is the worship of slave, crippled by fear.

2. There is another person, who worships out of sheer greed. They are motivated solely by the rewards promised to him. Rituals are performed, deeds are performed, life is lived with the sole intention to accumulate a stockpile of rewards, with the ultimate being the promise of eternity in paradise. This is the worship of a selfish broker, an accountant who is driven by transaction.

3. Lastly, there is one whose worship has nothing to do with the fear of hell fire or the bribery of heaven. This individual worships simply out of ecstatic love for a Creator who loves unconditionally, who is deserving of being remembered and worthy of devotion. This is the grandest worship of them all.

The Ecstasy of St Theresa (Bernini 1647-1652)

I can now see how this is reflected in the way we lead our lives. The three ways of living:

1.  The person who lives in fear. Trapped in a perpetual state of fear and how the consequences of their actions will lead to failure. They tread ever so carefully in pursuit of an impossible security, fearing everything from academic failure, economic failure, ageing to death itself. This renders them impotent, and never able to live freely.

2.  The person who lives in greed. Motivated by the material rewards of a material life, this person is motivated by money for consumption and accumulation, and begins to project this to the human relationships in their life. The dogged pursuit of profit is destined to be their sole raison d’etre.

3. Lastly, the one whose living is an act of love for their soul. This person can only do things out of love, paying no heed to the consequences – whether that be failure, bankruptcy or death. There is no time or space for fear, as the instinct of love overwhelms all. When every atom of their body becomes attuned to this state, and every breath becomes an act of rebellion, this person is liberated to reach their human potential.