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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.
We generally speak, think, and also exchange ideas about religion and devotion. But this is something, to some extent, different from speaking about or exchanging ideas on spirituality. But if you analyze all the three; religion, devotion, and spirituality, you will find that spirituality is the refined form of religion and devotion. When do religion and devotion become spiritual? When you start thinking about them in terms of your own experience and experiential approach.
There is a God. What do I have to do with Him? I must see Him or He must come to me. I must be able to interact with Him. When you start thinking in this manner – that I don’t want God to remain at a distance invisible to me, only to be sending His blessings. No. I would like to have a closeness and interaction with God. This means you must have an experiential touch with regard to God. Similarly in devotion, “I am devoted to God, but I want to know, who is this God to whom I am devoted and is He pleased with me? Will He like me to have some change or transformation in my system?” Once you start thinking in this manner, religion and devotion progress themselves into spirituality. When you come to the spiritual level of thinking, it becomes one of experience. “My devotion should be a beautiful experience to me, and more and more God should stand revealed for me as I progress.” The same applies to religion also. What is meant by religious purity? What is meant by devotional refinement? All these points you will have to know. There will be an urge. Then both of them become spirituality. In that spiritual level, I want to tell you one important distinction with regard to both religion and devotion.
Whenever we say God, understand that the God is a presence. What kind of a presence? He is not a presence like a human being or any other being upon the earth. Any kind of a being will have a body with different limbs, and each limb of the body will have to have its own shape and difference from the rest. You think of your hand. In the palm you have 5 fingers. If the 5 fingers have to be there, each finger will have to be separate from the rest. So, any kind of a form means restriction and constriction. You cannot have a body which fills the whole universe or even a room. The room will be separate, your body will be separate, and the body will be moving around within the room. So the body must be limited.
If you apply this principle to think about God, you will find that God cannot be any kind of a formful existence. He cannot have a form. Earth has a form but water by itself does not have a form. Air, still more, it does not have a form. What about the different forms and kinds of energy? They don’t have a form, and what about ākāśa or space? It does not have a form at all. Because it is formless, ākāśa is able to present and pervade everywhere. So, to be present everywhere, to be omnipresent - means to have no form at all.
So, if you come to spirituality, you should start thinking in this manner and you must overcome or get over, outlive the ideas of form about God. We have a number of Gods - we generally say 33 crores of Gods are there. That means 330 million Gods and goddesses are there in the Hindu dharma, in the Hindu system of thought. All of them will have to have a form. So, none of them is really God. God is a formless presence. Is it difficult to think about it? Not at all!
Your mind itself does not have a form. That is why the mind is present from head to foot, in all the parts of the body and in the different cells of the body. If you can think of mind as form-free or formless, God also can be equally formless. Though the mind is formless, do you doubt its presence? No, not at all! Not at all! In the same manner, you don’t have to doubt the presence of God. Anything that is form is not real and lasting. Only that which has no form will be able to last forever, will also be able to present and permeate everywhere. This is one important point I want you to understand.
So, in spirituality you always deal and think about the formless, the full formless Godly presence. Godly presence, if it has to be godly, it has to be without form like your own mind, like your own intelligence. Now, why I am saying this? The approach to God also should be accordingly. Whenever your mind thinks about God, that thinking will have to be, can only be, in the way of letters and words and ideas. Every thought contains an idea. The idea is expressed in the form of a word and every word consists of letters. So, the ideation is a function of the mind.
In the same manner, the mind has a number of impressions about different shapes and forms. Let us call it figure. So, in the function of the mind, as there is ideation, there is also a figuration. Between the two, you will find that ideation is far more than figuration. In your thinking and approach to God, especially when you come to meditation and contemplation, there are two kinds of contemplation. One is letter or word contemplation. Have a mantra and use the mantra for your meditation and contemplation. Another is use a shape or a figure of God for contemplation. But there are many people who try to meditate upon a figure and they don’t succeed at all. Even if they succeed, they say it disappears after some time.
So, my dear seekers, make a clear distinction in your mind! The mantra dhyāna is much better and more effective than a figure dhyāna. Our mind is more used to letters, words, and ideas, than figures and shapes. So, the śabda dhyāna, mantra dhyāna is much better than rūpa dhyāna, figure dhyāna. Using both mantra and figure, what do you ultimately do? The mantra has to fall, stop. The figure also has to disappear. When the mantra, the thought process stops and the figuration also stops, you get into the real region where you want to be. Think, think, and think, until at last the very thinking ceases or stops. See, see, and see, until at last the very seeing process ceases to be and stops. This is how you proceed properly. So, I wanted to say, when you come to spirituality both religion and devotion become refined and you start thinking about the form-free God and not the formed God.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.