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Spiritual Tools Series - Ganesha - Remover of Obstacles - Symbol Tool #1

Updated on April 2, 2016

Gathering spiritual tools for your personal and spiritual empowerment practices

In my book, Finding Home Breaking Free from Limits, I talk about the benefits of having a toolbox full of spiritual tools available to fit every human need. As time goes on, the spiritual practitioner will find that certain tools fit them perfectly and they begin to use them daily, or at least consistently to fit specific areas of focus. Other tools may not resonate as loudly with our unique spiritual personalities, so even though they are good to have around, they may not get used very often.

A spiritual tool is anything we can rely on to help us in many areas of our lives, but especially in the area of spiritual empowerment. Keep in mind that a tool is an assist; it is not the “way”, or even the path itself that we may be seeking, but certainly our spiritual tools can enhance and assist us on our journeys. We may choose to have tools that we use to help us in such areas as:

  • · Comfort and Peace
  • · Healing
  • · Re-energizing
  • · Deeper Understanding and Wisdom
  • · Growth and Awakening
  • · Relaxation

You will find that in using your tools to support your spiritual empowerment, that other areas of your life will also be improved, such as:

  • · Improved Relationships
  • · Stress Relief
  • · Expanded Experiences
  • · Better Sleep and Enhanced Energy
  • · Improved Focus

This article series will explore various spiritual tools to add to your spiritual toolbox. Going forward in the series, bear with me as we repeat this introductory information prior to each new tools introduction for those that join us later. Remember, any one of the tools can be a tremendous support, but only if we can “feel” an interest in the tool and see a practical way to integrate the tool into our lives for any need we might have. I encourage you to try many of these tools and you will clearly begin to notice which ones are a good fit for you.

Using symbols in your spiritual toolbox

Throughout ancient and modern times, the use of symbols has been a powerful tool to engage the individual towards a specific focus. One of the most common symbols that we can relate to is the American Flag. For many of us, having the flag as a part of our ceremony or event and focusing on the symbology of what the flag stands for, can elicit strong feelings of patriotism or gratitude about our country.

In a similar manner, while we are working toward a deeper and richer spiritual life and focusing our lives in the direction of personal and spiritual wellness, symbols are tremendously useful. A symbol can be used in the following ways as we work towards a specific intention in our spiritual or general wellness:

  • · Symbol as a trigger
  • · Symbol as a reminder
  • · Symbol as an inspiration
  • · Symbol as a motivation
  • · Symbol as a comforter

A few quick examples of how you might apply a symbol into your practices are:

  • Keep an image of your symbol around you to promote a specific quality, such as strength, focus, compassion, beauty, etc. Let’s say that you are working on creating an image of yourself that includes the ability to see your own beauty, a deep infinite beauty that transcends the physical image. You may have chosen a red rose as your symbol. You may choose to not only have a fresh red rose on your desk, but you may also choose to have a few rose personal items arranged around you, like a ring, picture, or even the scent of roses. Every time you see your rose, you infuse yourself with the quality of beauty.
  • You may use a symbol in your practice to represent or confirm a specific truth or idea you are focusing on. For instance, you may be working with the affirmation of; “I focus on my inner strength and power. I have the ability to make the change I want to see in my life.” You choose a lion as your inner strength and power symbol. Visualizing yourself as your symbol while using your affirmation can give you a powerful boost of feelings towards your affirmation.
  • You are working towards personal and spiritual empowerment but are having a hard time remembering to repeat your affirmations when you are feeling overwhelmed. When you do remember them, it has been very helpful, but when you allow the emotion to get out of control, then the affirmations seem rote and you just drop them. You decide to try to use a colored bracelet which you have lovingly selected to symbolize remembering. Keeping the bracelet in plain sight all the time helps you to remember to recite affirmations at the right time.
  • You love trees, and to you trees symbolize growth, renewal, energy, and strength. These are all qualities that you want to continue to embrace and experience in your daily life. In order to trigger the feelings and qualities you associate with trees, you buy a beautiful painting of trees and place it above your couch or fireplace, or you spend time in your backyard under your favorite tree, just soaking up the energy.

These are just a few examples of how you can incorporate symbols into your life and into your personal and spiritual growth. The useful application of symbols in your life is infinite. Learn about symbols and mythology to see which symbols really touch you in a deep way.

Symbol Tool #1 – Ganesha – The Remover of Obstacles

In Ancient Indian mythology, the Hindu’s use many divine deities to symbolize rich metaphors for spiritual and personal growth. Using these iconic symbols and their original meaning can help us to focus on specific aspects of the divine around us and in us.

Ganesha, also known as theRemover of Obstacles, is a powerful symbol you can use for your own personal development. Ganesha is, first of all, one of the most interesting and beloved of all the Hindu deities. Ganesha is easily recognized due to his elephant head and his other multifaceted imagery. Ganesha has many known symbolic qualities, but he is probably best referred to as Remover of Obstacles and Lord of Beginnings, which is why I am particularly fond of him.

There are several versions of how Ganesha got his elephant head and how he came to be named Remover/Destroyer of Obstacles and Lord of Beginnings. Two of the most common stories related to his titles, both have to do with his creative genius and his lighthearted nature. As the story goes, Shiva (Ganesha’s father) decided that both Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya should circle the world for learning. Kartikeya dutifully set off around the world, but Ganesha simply circled his parents, saying that to him, his parentswerethe world. This greatly pleased Shiva who decreed that henceforth, people would worship Ganesha before beginning any important task. Another version of the story tells that instead of circling the world, Ganesha simply walks through the world to finish his task.

A symbolic theme within these stories is Ganesha recognizing that nothing exists outside the truth, symbolized by his parents, and that a mind that is centered outside the world (Kartikeya) cannot experience the truth. Another theme is regarding self-realization and how one’s vision must be focused inwards in order to experience this awakening.

There is something for everyone in these stories, which is what makes Ganesha such a richly loved and adored symbol. If you find yourself unable to open up to the rich mystical traditions of the east, perhaps this is an obstacle in and of itself and one that can be examined, observed and removed if real growth is desired.

Besides Ganesha being the Remover of Obstacles and Lord of Beginnings, both qualities that have meaningful and important symbolic meaning to me personally, Ganesha is also known for having a charming sense of humor. Having Ganesha around in my home not only inspires and motivates me when I have a seemingly insurmountable problem or when I’m feeling creatively stuck, but it also just makes me smile when I see him.

There are many different ways that Ganesha is portrayed, which you will see in the various statues and pictures of Ganesha. As you can see from these various images of Ganesha, he is richly adorned and his imagery portrays many other important symbolic meanings that you might enjoy to consider for your personal practice:

  • His broken tusk, symbolizes sacrifice. It is said that he broke this tusk to use as a pen for writing the important Indian epic, the Mahabharata.
  • His large ears indicate that he is always willing and able to hear our prayers and requests.
  • In his upper-right-hand, he carries an axe to cut away difficulties and obstacles.
  • In his upper-left-hand, he holds a "goad" or noose, to capture his devotees and help them move forward in life.
  • In his lower-left-hand, he often carries a sweet called a "ladoo," which indicates the sweetness of the spiritual path.
  • His lower-right-hand is almost always extended in a gesture of blessing.
  • By his feet, sits Ganesha's "vehicle," which is a tiny mouse. Ganesh has chosen the mouse as his vehicle because he is quick-moving and small enough to travel even into the smallest of places.

Have a little fun studying Ganesha and his many sacred stories and symbolic meanings. Having a statue or image of Ganesha around may be a very effective use of symbols for your spiritual and personal practice. Or, you may know of someone else who could enjoy the rich history and sacredness of this beautiful and powerful symbol.

Stayed tuned to this HubPages article series for more ideas on adding new tools to your spiritual toolbox. You can never have enough.

Blessings - Joleen

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    • OTEE profile image

      OTEE 4 years ago from India

      Joleen - this is the second hub of yours that I am reading and I am impressed by the extent of experience and thought that must have gone into your present understanding and realization of life. Your effort at trying to share it with a larger audience is commendable. (I hope I don't sound pompous).

      Symbols are a powerful tool to reinforce certain virtues also. Though I cannot call myself a believer, Hanuman is my favorite, he symbolizes strength and faith.

      Reading this Hub made me smile. It is true, what you say about Ganesha - He is the most loved and endearing of all the gods in Hindu mythology. Hinduism has its own sects and sub sects, with each following their own preferred god, but still Ganesha is adored by all. Further, it has been my observation that ardent Ganesh followers are generally more happy and contented with life.

    • joleenbridges profile image
      Author

      Joleen 4 years ago from Lee's Summit

      Thank you OTEE - I am honored by your comments. It is true that I have a couple of merry Ganesha symbols around me, but I also have other important symbolic motivators around me too (Buddha, Jesus, Kabbalah tree) - my take is - if the meaning touches you deeply, embrace it! Hey - I'm going to check out your Hubs too. Thanks again for you kindness. Blessings - Joleen

    • OTEE profile image

      OTEE 4 years ago from India

      Joleen - I'd better confess, my hubs are definitely amateurish - a lot more effort has to go into making them good hubs. As of now they're mostly centered around cooking - my current activity that has taken my fancy. But I write only what compels me to at that's point of time. Anyway thanks for checking them out. :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      I love this hub and the idea for this series. I can't wait to read more from you. I am voting up and sharing and I'll be following you now. I appreciate your wisdom related to spiritual growth, something I am seeking in my own life.

    • curious dreamer profile image

      Mahesh Mohan 4 years ago from India

      great article ....voted up

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