“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)
Question: “Do you think that by worshipping a God figure, you’re separating yourself from the single, divine-unity? Couldn’t it be that the worshipping itself is the barrier to attaining that state of transcendence; because it – worshipping – is an action taken in attempt to attain that state of total-love, and thus, a non-pure form of being?”
Everything is God; a fact which should make sense. If we say that there is a divine controller who is the source of everything, both spiritual and material, then that must mean that every little fragment we see is part of the definition of that controller. Both the large and the small, the visible and the invisible, must be part of the singular energy, so shouldn’t understanding this force be the ultimate goal? Through worshiping a distinct entity known as God, or some name ascribed to the same personality, are we not separating ourselves from the total energy, and thereby making it harder to get in touch with transcendence? In actuality, just the opposite occurs. On the flip side, through ignoring the separate entity, it becomes nearly impossible to understand transcendence.
There is always worship, irrespective of the path you choose. If you don’t worship someone who is deemed to be God or the notable equivalent, you will pay homage to some other higher force. In any endeavor, in order to get ahead there is service paid to a superior authority. If I want to get ahead in business, I have to pay service to the customer, the loan officer, the government, the employees, and so many other entities. If I want to get ahead in sports, someone has to teach me how to play. I also need someone to train my body. If I am self-motivated, I still need corresponding parties, which represent nothing more than energy, to comply with my wishes.
At this point one might be tempted to think that they are worshiping the singular energy anyway through their personal endeavors. If I am part of the definition that is God, and I’m trying to find pleasure, am I not worshiping God? Actually, by focusing on myself, I am separating from the transcendence that I apparently want to find. If I try to help only a certain section of the population, taking shelter of the large umbrella that is “service to man”, I’m still ignoring other sections of the singular energy. By feeding the poor, I’m ignoring the wealthy. By fighting to stop disease, I’m ignoring social injustice. By being kind to others, I’m not teaching those who need instruction offered in a stern manner.
In the Vedic tradition the all-encompassing impersonal energy is known as Brahman. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that one who follows the path of impersonal worship has a very difficult time. This is due to the influence of the body. If I am embodied, meaning that I identify with a covering composed of the material elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, it will be very difficult for me to see the spiritual force within every other creature. One symptom of the limited sight is meat eating, wherein I rely on violence to innocent animals to feed my material senses. Another symptom is uncontrolled sex desire, wherein I base the identity of another person off of the attractiveness of their outward features, which are known to change.
The personal path of worship is far superior because it is in line with the properties of the individual. I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of Brahman. And higher than Brahman is Paramatma, or the localized aspect of the superior spiritual force. And higher than Brahman is Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Brahman is related to Bhagavan in a relationship described as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, or inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference. We are the same in quality as God but vastly inferior in the quantitative output of that quality.
With service to God’s personal aspect, rather than separate from the Brahman energy, I learn to appreciate it more. This is because I learn the proper relationship between objects. Rather than see differences between the species, I learn that everything is part and parcel of Krishna, who is the original personal form of the Supreme Lord. I learn that the souls that land in the material world due so out of ignorance, and through service directed to Krishna the ignorance dissipates.
Worship of Krishna aims to achieve a state of love, and this is actually the purest form of existence. Mundane love is known as kama, or lust, and it binds one to the cycle of birth and death. One continues in reincarnation for as long as they are not in transcendence. Love of God is different because it actually shakes off kama, eliminating lust and purifying the individual so that they feel pure love, or prema. Operating under kama, I compete with my fellow man for sense gratification and I feel envious when someone else starts to win. In prema, however, I hope for my fellow man to feel the same bliss from serving the Supreme Lord that I feel. I try to recruit others to take up devotional service to God, because in that service they will learn to see things properly.
Worship of the material nature creates exclusive relationships, wherein others are ignored in the pursuit to satisfy the senses. In worship of the impersonal Brahman, one must be completely renounced, free of the bodily designation, to have any chance at success. With worship of Bhagavan, however, there is automatic worship of everything else, as the Supreme Lord is the root of the tree of existence. In bhakti-yoga, the discipline that corresponds with the simultaneous oneness and difference relationship, one lives the ideal life, remaining peacefully disposed, acting kindly towards others, and giving the best example for others to follow. In the path of personal worship, conducted under authorized guidelines, the state of transcendence arrives for the individual very quickly, and in the highest state everything is seen as part and parcel of the Lord.
Should not we achieve divine unity?
Can worship make that a reality?
If the Supreme Lord with eyes I see,
Will not separated from world I be?
Actually, personal path is far superior,
Learn to see material energy as inferior.
Shri Krishna, the root of existence’s tree,
Worship Him and from duality be free.