My grandfather was a rice merchant. Rice loads would come from the villages in bullock carts at night. Using a fire torch or lantern, they would unload the rice bags. In those days, lorries were not that popular. On many days, he would come home from his shop only at one o’clock in the night. Even then, he would wash himself, do the achamana (ritualistic cleansing), apply vibhooti (sacred ash), perform the anushthana (rituals), do the night puja for ten or fifteen minutes, keep the shop key at the feet of Mahadeva, and only then go to sleep.
No matter what time he went to bed, the next morning he would be up before sunrise; it is called brahma muhurta, the auspicious time when a Shaivite is supposed to wake up. I have never seen him missing this till the day he left the body! He would take a bath, do his anushthana, come back to the deity and offer his morning worship. Even when he had to go to any program at five o’clock, he would wake up at three and finish everything before five. I have not seen him doing yoga, but I have seen him doing pranayama (a formal breath control practice). He would do pranayama and start his puja.
I learnt this from My grandfather: Decide for what you believe as pleasure, life, joy, bliss, and take continuous responsibility for it. That is what is ‘making the decision to live’! So first, you need to have a clear understanding of what you consider as life. It is not just deciding to breathe, inhale and exhale; it is what you consider as joy, the purpose of your life, inspiration for your life, excitement for your life – saying yes to that, deciding for that.
Nothing is right or wrong. For instance, deciding for political power is not something wrong. Deciding for money is not something wrong. Deciding for enlightenment is not something wrong. Nothing is right or wrong. Your decision without conflict makes everything right. Your decision with conflict makes everything wrong. If you have self-doubt, self-hatred, self-denial – what I call SDHD – even if you decide for Advaita, it will be wrong! If you don’t have SDHD (Self Doubt, Self Hatred, Self Denial), even if you decide for money or political power, or any mundane or so-called ordinary thing, it will not be wrong. Finally, it boils down to the strength of your decision.
One should decide to live in this world for hundreds of years, all the while doing one’s deeds dispassionately as sanctioned by the scriptures.