Spirituality is freedom. Many interpret it as deep involvement with God. It may be correct, but it gives total freedom. It has nothing to do with emotions or feelings. It is the deep understanding about our Self and the world. It gives total freedom and fearless lifestyle, in the most moral way.
Whenever the concept of God appears in the mind, we immediately think about a divine name and form. This is the way one is trained from childhood. One cannot imagine God bereft of name and form. We have always practiced to request to God to satisfy our needs and desires, and to protect our possessions. Many find it difficult to worship God for the sake of devotion. Our devotion is always based on our needs. When we acquire something, we always have the fear of losing it. To come out of that fear the mind needs a grip, and a prayer is used for that purpose. We forget the facts that, one’s situation in life, success and failures, diseases and so on are dependent on their karma. God is a mere witness. When we worship, we are not affected by the sufferings, but the hardships will definitely follow. It is not God who showers the misfortunes; it is the individual karma. When we hold God responsible for our fortunes, then the mind automatically imagines that God is responsible for the misfortunes also. This concept creates a fear towards God. Fear veils us from the knowledge about the Reality. It creates aversion towards everything and finally towards God. This aversion becomes an obstacle for many things. When we understand the real cause for our fortunes and misfortunes, then our devotion becomes pure and stable. At this point one turns towards spirituality.
If a person is not spiritually evolved, he continues to live in memory (thinking about the past and the future), intellect, emotion and ahankara (ego). The ego plays an important role and the whole life revolves around the ego. When we are filled with thoughts, we personalize God. According to the mentality we choose the divine form and name. We conceptualize God and we imagine that God is present in that deity or form alone. The next step what we do is, we compare one divine form with the other divine forms. We forget the fact that, infinite power is worshiped through one of these forms, and all forms represent the same non-dual power. “That which man does not comprehend with the mind, that by which, they say, the mind is encompassed, know that to be Brahman and not what people worship as an object”, (Kena Upanisad, 1, 6). We associate with God according to our personal emotions and assume God as having a nature according to our likes. This technique can be used in the initial level to associate with God, but one has to evolve from this stage to find the Truth. One has to evolve and understand that the Truth is beyond any name and form. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa a devotee of Kali assumed that the form he worshiped is the ultimate, until the day his Guru, a wandering monk, Totapuri made him realizes that the ultimate reality is the formless and nameless Supreme Consciousness. Any form is the manifestation of that Consciousness. Assuming that what appears to be the real is maya. We accept that God is supreme and ultimate, if so how can he be limited by a form and name? One can associate with God through that form, which does not mean that God is limited by that form. “That which is visible (beyond the organs of perception) and which can never be grasped (by the organs of action), which does not owe its origin to anything else, is formless, without the organs of perception and the organs of action, indestructible, extensive, in every being, the finest and the source of all creation – the wise see this Brahman everywhere and in every being”, Mundaka Upanisad (I,1,6). Each one assumes a form, name and nature for the undivided, non-dual Consciousness according to their mentality or according to the atmosphere they were born. However, the reality is something more than what we assume to be true. When we see the sky through the window, the infinite sky is limited by the shape of that window. Only when we go to an open space we understand the vastness of the sky. When we view God with our limited mind, he appears limited. The Truth is beyond the mind and imagination. This is the fact that the realized beings of different religions are trying to emphasis. Since we have not directly experienced the Truth, we misinterpret it according to our assumptions.
When one connects to God with emotions it is called bhakti. When that bhakti matures, emotions are surpassed and the Reality is realized. When the emotions dominate, we relate to a form. When we relate to God as someone other than us, then we are considering Him as another precious object. God is the subject and is the source of all the beings including us. The individual beings are temporary and the source is the only Reality. This life exists only because of His existence, and we owe our life only to that Supreme. Spirituality is nothing but the individual understanding about us and the Consciousness, which we say as God. The existence alone is satya (Real), the rest is all mitya (unreal). It is unreal because it does not exist in all the three periods of time. The world which we experience by our mind is relatively real. They are only related to the mind. Reality is bereft of the mind. In deep Sleep one experiences this, but he is not aware of it. In deep sleep one exists, but the mind does not exist. When we wake up we again associate with the mind. The experience of our sleep is only ignorance. We are not aware of what happened in sleep. Ignorance separates one from the Reality. This implies that there must be an observer for the mind. It is the witness of the mind. To realize that observer, we have to consciously separate the observer from the experiencer (mind). By this, we can consciously witness the activities of the mind. When this continues uninterrupted for some time, the mind becomes silent. We will be bereft of the mind (exactly what happens in the deep sleep). Silence is the doorway to the infinite Consciousness. When we first consciously experience inner silence, we will experience an unknown fear. We experience fear because we are deeply attached to ego (individuality). Slowly this silence transforms in to infinite consciousness. It is then we realize that forms and names exist in that Consciousness and the concept of God becomes clear. This is Brahman. “That (Brahman) is surely different from the known and again, it is above the unknown” (Kena Upanisad 1, 4). This makes us realize that one is beyond birth and death, and there is no God separate from the Self (Consciousness). The Self is bereft of all these. It is pure and untouched by attachments.
If man realizes this Truth, then there will be no fight over religion and God. Every being has originated from that Consciousness, God. God created man, but man created religion and messed up life with individual beliefs and rituals. The belief and ritual became strong, and the realization of God took back stage. The ignorance is so strong; it projects differences of opinion. Individual beliefs separate that undifferentiated non-dual Consciousness. All these beliefs cloud the Reality. Till one realizes the Truth, one continues to remain in the dark circle surrounded by ocean of light.