“And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47)
योगिनाम् अपि सर्वेषां
श्रद्धावान् भजते यो मां
स मे युक्ततमो मतः
yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
“They keep making these new advancements to the way of living. They have their supposed evidence to back up the claim, that these are indeed improvements. For instance, you can now order food and have it delivered to your home without speaking to anyone. Simply input a few options on a screen for a device that is no larger than your hand. The communication with the restaurant occurs seamlessly. That might even be the name of one of the applications used for this type of service.
“I don’t think mankind is advancing, at all, though. Mine is not a popular opinion, so I don’t often share it with others. To me, there are too many distractions. We lived just fine without these so-called advancements. We used to be able to talk with one another, face-to-face. We were civil with each other, asking how everyone was doing and so forth. We didn’t feel the need to be on reality television throughout the day, live streaming content to the entire world.
“I have a feeling that meditation is the answer. Strip everything away and simply focus. The question is, what is the best form of meditation? These societies dedicated to the practice don’t have much appeal to me. It is forced, in a sense, and there is no interest. You sit down for a few minutes, try to keep the mind steady, and then quickly return to the hectic world.
“Is there an authorized form of meditation that is superior to others? Something that will bring bliss, happiness, contentment, excitement and anticipation, without the emotions conflicting with one another. I know that is a tough ask.”
Shrimad Bhagavatam has the authorized way of meditating, descending from a chain of teachers who trace back to the beginning of time. The descriptions provide an understanding for why deity worship exists as a solid tradition.
It is not that someone envisions God a certain way and then begins to worship. It is not that they have made an imaginary friend out of an idol. It is not that they are rebelling against other popular faiths through a made-up system.
Rather, the Almighty is both nirguna and saguna. He cannot be tied down with specific attributes precisely because He has nothing to do with the manifest world. He cannot be limited by a certain height, a certain weight, a specific number of arms, an exact duration of existence between birth and death, and so forth.
At the same time, He has qualities to Him, with an accompanying form, rupa. He is not a void. He is a person, purusha. He has activities, lila, and there are accompanying names to describe Him, nama. The deity represents His causeless mercy in helping us to understand Him to an extent. The level of understanding is sufficient for fulfilling the primary objective of living.
The way to meditate with the deity is to start at the lotus feet and move upwards. The feet are the dedicated servants. While typically an area that undergoes the most hardship in the body, collecting dust and getting worn down through work, with the Supreme Lord the feet are lotus-like. They are beautiful and soft and have special markings.
This type of meditation is also known as yoga. It is connecting the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. It is linking with our greatest well-wishing friend. To be in yoga is to be truly happy, and any person is eligible for the discipline.
To retreat to the mountains, sit on a deerskin rug, and focus the eyes on the tip of the nose is not the only way to meditate. This is indeed one way to practice yoga, but the conditions are strict. In the present age of added noise through technological advancement, very few will be able to find the proper conditions.
Meditating on the archa-vigraha is as good as yoga, and Shri Krishna declares in Bhagavad-gita that the yogi who worships Him in devotion is the best. If the deity is not available, if we do not have the good fortune to sit and meditate through sight, we can accomplish the same through sound.
This is the glory of hari-nama recitation. Simply chant the holy names of the Lord to connect. Meditate on the sound, through both producing and hearing. See the difference for yourself after sacrificing some time to the process: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Authorized information giving,
So that in meditation living.
Where to begin at the feet,
And upwards towards smile to greet.
With the deity in front of standing,
With Supreme authority commanding.
If not available then same through sound,
Potency of holy name profound.