Worship – Visible, Mental & Intelligential
10th April 1997
I have a feeling that you know who I am. Yet I would like to introduce myself. I am U. I first met you in Nagpur in 1971. My father OG and brother S are well known to you.
Swamiji, having gone through the better part of life with all its associated joys and tribulations, I have come to a point where some questions arise in the mind and keep troubling me. Yes, I believe in God, but am not able to give Him any shape or form. For this reason, I cannot indulge in any ritualistic form of pooja. Is this wrong? To invoke the blessings of the Lord, is it essential to do some sort of idol/photo worship? I believe god to be the supreme Power that creates and controls the lives of one and all. But if He is the supreme Power and all His creatures are dear to Him, then Swamiji, why do some have more duhkha than others?
In the holy Geeta (verse 4.23) Lord Krishna explains that the path of Perfection is easy to traverse if we are devoid of attachment to finite things and worldly emotions, and have our mind centered on knowledge. Only then can a seeker serve the society with full dedication, without courting any bondage. Swamiji, I know that evolved persons do adopt this path; but can ordinary mortals like me take to it?
Swamiji, material objects do not fascinate or attract me any more. But, emotional attachment to those whom I call mine, I am not able to give up. I do understand that this is wrong; but in practice, I am not able to get rid of these attachments. I would be very grateful if you could help me in this regard.
I read 5-7 pages of Bhagavadgeeta everyday. While reading, I try to understand and assimilate. At the end of the reading I feel I have not dwelt upon the Lord – His greatness, His mahima. Swamiji, can you please suggest me some method by which I can concentrate more effectively upon the greatness of the Lord? Again, although I understand while reading, if I later try to recall the content, I fail miserably. Is this normal? I would be grateful Swamiji if you help me and clear my doubts. With deep regards and pranaams.
21 April 1997
Dear and blessed Soul U,
Harih Om Tat Sat. Your loving letter of 10th is to hand. Besides your parents, the only soul that comes to the memory of my stay in your father’s bungalow, is U. The sight that I still remember is your stepping into the drawing room, taking seat on a sofa, and speaking to the domestic assistants whose work-schedule had to be settled. You were doing it well. Just then came your little daughter. Touching your chin fondly, lispingly she put forward her demand for attention. I was enjoying the sight – the mother and the child. When I remarked, “This is a sight which I appreciate perhaps more than you mothers do,” you confirmed, “Yes, being the mother, I cannot appreciate my child’s moods and words.”...
I am pleased to read what you have written about having gone through the better part of your life with the indispensable joys and sorrows, and as a result, your getting involved with the loftier questions of life. You have expressed it well. “Let it now be well pursued” – is my first blessings to you. Now, about the doubts you have raised:
1. God does not have any form or shape. The things He has created, or which have emerged from Him, have forms and shapes, as also no form and no shape. Air, space and mind have no shape at all. Earth, fire, water, etc., on the other hand, have their forms and shape. A shaped source cannot give rise to shapelessness, whereas all shapes can emerge from a shapeless source. In truth, God is one, from which have come every form and formlessness. That is why, He is beyond both form and formlessness – a concept, perhaps difficult for you to grasp now.
2. So, if you feel reluctant to worship Him giving Him a concrete form, it is quite all right. Worship is not restricted to formful Idols. Nor is it limited to offering materials like flowers, fruits and other food items. Simple prayer is a kind of worship. Praise is another kind. Constant or repeated thought of God is a better worship. Enquiry into the subtle truths behind our life and the creation is a still better form of worship.
In fact, the Vedic practices began with praises and prayers, passed to ceremonies with fire, and then to contemplations suitable to forest life, and finally climaxed with Upanishadic enquiries and findings. Upanishads first set the fundamental questions and then they pursue these until the answers are arrived at.
What is this process? The deepest and the most effective man can think of. Our activities are threefold: physical, mental and intelligential. A mental process like thinking and contemplating is more efficient than any sensory or bodily process like ritualistic worship and chanting. An intelligential process like enquiry and introspection is the most effective.
Arjuna’s sorrow and dejection in the Kurukshetra battlefield was caused by the external situation. He stood there ready to fight, but doubt and confusion overpowered him. Krishna had to administer the redress. What did he do? He explained to Arjuna about life and death in words of wisdom. The interaction was between Krishna’s buddhi and Arjuna’s buddhi. Through this interaction, which was no worship in the usual sense, Arjuna gained his redress. For Arjuna, this happened in the battlefield. But what Krishna spoke was the message of Upanishads, which had actually emerged from the Seers and Sages living in solitary hermitages away from all secular pursuits.
Visible worship, employing hands and materials, is only the first step. It should be outlived the soonest. Next is to think of God. This is far greater than to worship Him formally with flowers. To be fond of God is loftier. To wonder about His world and striving to know the Truth first hand, is still loftier. You can fit into any one of these. Adopt heartily that which is natural and pleasing to you now, and in due course move on to the loftier ones.
3. About more duhkha and less sukha, or vice versa, it is a wrong notion. The two alternate for every living individual. Verse 2.14 of Bhagavadgeeta describes life to be no other than interaction between senses and objects, which alternately brings about the transitory sukhas and duhkhas.
4. About attachment, called sanga in Geeta language, know once and for all that it reigns only because man does not care to evaluate and assess matters well. It is a problem for the un-thinking and un-reflective minds alone. When you begin to evaluate matters comprehensively and well, attachment will be obliged to decline and leave.
Dear U, you cannot say that you cannot or will not reflect. Introspect well and let the mind be graced by the sublimity of the process. The mind will then automatically shed sanga. Where sanga clouds now, there itself asanga will shine in its pristine brilliance. Both are natural.
Association with the Wise, observing them keenly, enquiring from them humbly, being fond of their company – all these will remove sanga, as diseases are removed by medicines. Fear reigns in darkness. So too in ignorance alone reigns attachment, even to the dear ones. With the emergence of wisdom, this will naturally decline. That is why it is said that Sat-sanga (association with the Wise) removes all other sanga.
Think well. Is human life meant to hold or leave? Can you hold on to or take with you anything that is around you or is acquired by you – either in the form of an intimate relationship or as material gains? Everything is there only to be left. You have to leave even the body which compels you to seek other things. Reflection on this supreme fact will itself be sufficient to safeguard against undue attachment. The sweet drink you are about to take has deadly poison in it – when this fact is known, will you still drink it? Knowledge is too powerful - sharper than a glittering sword!
Reflect well and be sublimated. Read the last portion of the last chapter of Bhagavadgeeta, from verse 18.45 onwards. Think repeatedly over the import. Do it for many days intensely. Let me know the progress. Let this reading and reflection be the dear saadhana for you for the present. Even a speck of this saadhana, says Krishna, is greatly relieving and rewarding.
Love and ashis,Antaratma
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