Q  I have lost interest in celebrating any festivals. And I feel that following any rituals is just waste of time. Instead I would rather spend that time in helping the needy. I want to know whether this is abnormal behaviour.

A  The purpose of festivals & rituals is to remind us of our spiritual goals. However, if we are already established on the spiritual path then festivals & rituals play a smaller role in our lives. The point is, irrespective of festivals and rituals, our focus must be consistently on improving ourselves. Acting in a spirit of service and sacrifice selflessly, purifying our minds and absorbing the timeless truths of life through Vedanta. If this focus is not there, celebration of festivals and indulgence in rituals, as they have become today, are of no use.

To live the principles of Vedanta one does not have to live in solitude and apart from the world. It is true that one needs to take time off during the day to absorb and reflect on the truths laid down in Vedanta but its real effectiveness is in applying the principles in our day-to-day lives. Vedanta is a knowledge for men and women of action, who are dynamic and have a zest for life. It does not advocate secluding oneself, living a solitary life and running away from our obligations. Vedanta is about detaching ourselves from the world mentally. Thus physical detachment is of no consequence if we are mentally bound to worldly objects and beings.

It is true that only God remains with us always, but we needn’t feel lonely. Our sense of loneliness comes because we have isolated ourselves. We have focussed too much on our own wants and desires. There must be an ability to see oneness with others. To find that common chord that binds all of us together. The Divinity is everywhere, we just need to have the eyes to see it. Similarly, there is goodness in the world, what we need to do is develop the perception to see it. This can come only when we are able to fix a higher ideal and focus on it. This relieves our minds of the burden of negativity we have accumulated over the past.