Thursday, October 4, 2012

What does it mean to "Worship"?

The word "worship" is second only to the word "God" in creating a slight flutter somewhere deep inside me. I'm fairly well past the "God" word flutter at this point in my life, for I see it as a kind of shorthand and an arrow pointing to something very sacred and deep, even if I can't give it a more complete name and "it" has no form. But I feel God's presence in my heart and that's all that matters to me. I have put the intellect and past baggage back in the baggage car at the rear.

But "worship" conjures up mindless followers bowing and scraping to a man-made statue or image. "Thou shalt not worship false gods!" As if I wanted to worship anyone at all!

As the world integrates and we have the inflow of Indian culture and people throughout America and elsewhere, one encounters the phrase "worship of the idol." Sometimes just the word "idol" and other times only "worship." Wow. A Christian will bristle at the thought of worshiping idols and there is no distinction between false ones and real ones!

Students who come to Ananda see the pictures of the gurus of Self-realization (which includes Jesus Christ) and sometimes say, "Do you worship them?"

The feeling of God's presence and the more abstract experience of sacredness and reverence (however stimulated) naturally and appropriate inclines one in the direction of "worship." Oh, perhaps not at first but if we are drawn magnetically and repeatedly back to such a state of consciousness, the experience causes us to approach an attitude that might reasonably be called "worshipful."

Think of it as a state of hushed reverence, quiet, inward joy, gratitude, self-forgetfulness in the Presence, and a kind of love that does not derive from excitement, pleasure, or anticipation of reward.

From the experience (and even from the concept) of God's presence can come the realization that God is present in the world in innumerable forms and places, and certainly within ourselves. There can come a time when it appears in one's intuitive awareness that perhaps God has incarnated into human form: and not just theoretically, as in the of God being in everyone. Rather, the possibility occurs to one that God might actually incarnate into the human form of one who partakes in the Godhead presence.

Now many scoff of course at the very possibility. Some, like the Jewish priests of Jesus' time, consider it blasphemous. I'm not interested in debating the theology of such a possibility, for I am referring to an intuitive awakening to the presence of such a one, or even just to the possibility of such an incarnation.

Now, just to be clear, my reference point is not to the idea that God Himself squeezes himself down into a human body suit, saying "Ta-da! It's magic and here I am!" No I am referring to the possibility that one human being, through many lives, through the effort that attracts divine grace (God's power and presence), incarnates on earth to bring God-consciousness into human form. Not in a theatrical or dramatic way but in the very way many people live: sometimes simply and unnoticed othertimes more openly and dramatically, but always as a human being living in a very human way.

Only those who have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" will detect the God presence of such a one. God does not reveal himself unto the "prudent and the wise, but unto babes." This avatar (divine incarnation) doesn't limit God nor act as God's soul, solitary or exclusive mouthpiece, but instead comes more like a family emissary, appropriate to the time and the clime of space and time and to specific individuals and groups of individuals.

The very thought of this possibility unleashes joy, admiration, gratitude and much more. To return to worshipfulness, let us say that we have here in this thought of or actual presence of such a soul, the awakening of each of these attitudes: gratitude, reverence and so on. With this, then, we can try to understand the words, writing, voice, image, and being-ness of such a one as emanating God consciousness in order to transmit this to us, personally and relevantly.

This understanding of "worship" is not the worship of a person as a mere human being but arises from the recognition of a quality, a presence, a vibration of consciousness that is so magnetic, so joyful, so wise, so compassionate, so safe and true that one cannot but help to desire to take into oneself the vibration and consciousness being transmitted through such a one (again: through his image, voice, teachings, example, etc.). This kind of worship is a thus the magnetic draw and intention to enter into and BE that consciousness. The intention, feeling and attraction is, ultimately, nothing less than an act of pure love.

There is no sense of loss of self but, rather of Self discovery, like the prodigal son returning to his father. It is a sense of coming home and of Being. There is no sense of self-abnegation but of Self-fulfillment. There is no sense that something is being taken from you but that everything is being given to you. God-consciousness has no desire and is above doing harm. It is love pure and simple and merges into joy and into bliss.

Thus true worship is the joy of the soul finding itself: at first, in the Being of another but ultimately in Being of Self. Therefore, think of worship as that draw within you for complete and permanent fulfillment, inner contentment, unending and ever-new satisfaction, and as that which exists everywhere, in everything and as the Being of everything and everyone. That's not so difficult, now, is it?

Blessings to you,

Nayaswami Hriman