Monday, June 21, 2010

From ‘The Journey Home. Autobiography of an American Swami. Mystic Yogis, gurus and an epic quest through spiritual India’ by Radhanath Swami

The day before I was to leave home for college, my father was especially emotional…….. “Son,” he began, “as long as I’m alive, I’m always here for you……….As your father, I expect you to do your best, but whether you succeed or fail, do good or bad deeds, or even betray me, as long as I’m alive, I’ll love you and I’m here for you. This is a promise I will live and die to keep. Please, never forget this.”

“Asim,” I asked, “could you explain your understanding of deity worship?” I told him how, in my travels through India, I’d found almost everybody worshipping the carved image of the Lord. The Yogis and Shivaites worshipped the Shiva Lingam or statues of Lord Shiva, and the Buddhists made elaborate offerings to the Deity of Lord Buddha. “Some people from Western religions condemn all this as idolatry,” I said. “But Christians offer prayers to statues or paintings of Jesus as well as to the Holy Crucifix……..And Jews offer articles of veneration to the Torah, while Muslims, too, who condemn idol worship, bow repeatedly to the Ka’aba in Holy Mecca.” I knew there were differences in explanations as to the meaning of these forms of worship, but I saw the common idea they shared, to focus on a form or sound that connects our consciousness to the divinity.

……..I told him how, when I first saw deity worship in India, it had repelled me a little, striking me as strange and superstitious. “But after spending so much time with holy people who naturally accept their deity as a form through which to communicate with the one God, I have come to accept deity worship as beautiful”

In my readings from religious books of various faiths, I had learned of how a saint’s presence is especially powerful at his tomb……….

Srila Prabhupada………. “The Lord’s impersonal, all-pervading energy is called Brahman. And Bhagavan is the personal form of God, who is the energetic source and never under the influence of illusion. Take for example the sun. The form of the sun as a planet and the formless sunlight can never be separated, as they exist simultaneously. They are different aspects of the sun. Similarly, there are two different schools of transcendentalists who focus on different aspects of the one truth. The impersonalists strive to attain liberation in the Lord’s impersonal, formless light, while the personalists strive for eternal loving service to the Lord’s all-attractive form. There is no contradiction.”

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