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54

 

"native state" from which everything emerges, every individual has got to work our his or her own salvation, and for that matter, everybody should follow the creed of his own conscience, and choose and stick to that part which best suits his spiritual tendency, his mental attitude, his physical aptitude, and his external surroundings and circumstances.

 

It is not the way but the will that counts. Any religion, method, system or practice within the sphere of reason and intellect, if followed in the right spirit, can lead one to the real Path, which is above reason and intellect, and which leads one to the Ultimate Goal of humanity, viz., God-realization.

 

The various ceremonies and rituals, which are the part and parcel of every religion, constitute only their shadow. Dogmas, creeds and conventional ideas of heaven and hell and sin are perversions of Truth, and confuse and bewilder the mind. Rituals and ceremonies, instituted by the priest-ridden churches, have concentrated on outward forms, and have ignored the essentials of spiritual life—love, obedience, humility and sincerity. Man seeks life and is given a stone. Nevertheless, it may be said that the ritualistic worship, which the masses of humanity confuse with religion, is Bhakti yoga or the true art of worship in its incipient or initial stage. Most of the ceremonies performed by the followers of every creed are doubtless useless, but those ceremonies and modes of offering prayers which are essentially based on the principle of conveying or evoking worship, may be said to constitute the first or elementary stage of Bhakti yoga. It is the act of sincere worship, and not thoughts and beliefs, that counts. The performance must be from the very depths of the heart; otherwise a religion, however beautiful be its teachings, however grand be its philosophy, becomes nothing but mere farce, which people indulge in generally more through force of habit and fear of society than through any idea of true devotional worship.

 

A Hindu may have the Shastras (Scriptures) at his fingertips, but if he lacks devotion from the heart, he is no better than a typewriter or a calculating machine. A Mohammedan may laugh at so-called idol worship, but he becomes guilty of stray-thought worship, if, while in laying down his forehead in an obeisance (sidja) during his prayer (Namaz) he is attacked by objectionable thoughts and has no will to worship, it means that he is at that time, paying homage, not to the Almighty, but to those very thoughts. For instance, if a Muslim gets the thought of any man or woman during the "sidja" it amounts to the "sidja" having been offered to that man or woman, and thus the Name turns into a farce.

 

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