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Translated teachings of Master Patana

Idol Worship: A Bridge to the Formless

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As I stand before the idol, I see more than just a statue. A conduit to the formless, to the divine. It is not the idol I worship, but the divine essence it embodies. I see the idol as a bridge, a pathway to the formless. There is a whole mystery to it.

Many, however, see only the statue. They bow, they pray, they leave, all without truly understanding the depth of the experience. They see the idol as an end, not a beginning. They see the physical, not the spiritual. They see the form, not the formless.

In Christianity and Islam, the teachings are clear: God is formless, omnipresent, and cannot be confined to an image. This is a profound truth, one that is often misunderstood. The scriptures are not wrong; they speak the truth. But the truth is often lost in translation, misinterpreted by those who seek to understand it through the lens of the intellect.

The intellect, by its very nature, is limited. It seeks to understand by dividing, categorizing, and analyzing. But spirituality cannot be understood in this way. It is not a subject to be studied, but an experience to be lived. The scriptures are not textbooks to be memorized, but guides to be internalized.

God is formless, and it is only through the inward journey that we can truly draw close to Him. This is because His essence cannot be grasped by the dualistic nature of the external world. It is only when one recognizes the dualistic nature of the external world that they can truly embark on the inward journey.

Through this inward path, one can experience the formless, truly touch the essence of God, and not be misled by mere illusions. This inner journey also illuminates the true meanings of religious scriptures. It is through internalizing and reflecting on these teachings that one can truly comprehend them. This is not a mere intellectual exercise, but a profound spiritual experience.

When the quest for understanding remains outward, it is impossible to grasp the full truth. This approach often leads to misunderstandings and misses the entire point. Unfortunately, many spiritual leaders have made this mistake, spreading misunderstandings among their followers, and inadvertently fostering division and hatred.

When the meanings of spiritual teachings are deciphered through the outward path of intellect, it only leads to divisions and separations. This is because the nature of the intellect is to compare, divide, and separate in order to create understanding. However, spirituality cannot be understood or deciphered in this manner. It is a realm that transcends the limitations of the intellect and can only be truly understood through the inward journey.

The teachings of not idolizing anything or anyone serve as a profound reminder. They caution us against blind belief in anything or anyone that consumes our thoughts and energy. The moment we believe without introspection, we surrender our mental resources and squander our energy. The crux of these teachings is to guide us towards experiencing God, the divine nature, rather than blindly believing in anyone or anything, including our religious leaders.

If one places their faith in their priest without deeper introspection, that is a form of idolization. When we simply idolize and believe, we cease to think critically, it becomes foolish. The key here is ‘experience’ – it is about internalizing the teachings, not merely accepting them at face value. Belief, without experience, remains at a superficial level.

When we simply believe, we can only conjure an image of God, which is merely an illusion. However, when we internalize our faith, when we experience it, we begin to draw closer to God and truly experience the divine. By merely believing, we end up serving something or someone other than God.

To serve God is to experience the Divine, not just to believe in it. The presence of God is here and now, but blind belief takes us into a projection of our mind, leading us astray from the present moment. Therefore, let us not just believe, but strive to experience the divine presence of God in our lives.

Belief is not the end, but the beginning. It is the first step on the journey to experience. When we believe, we imagine God. But when we experience, we encounter God.

Christianity and Islam are right: God cannot be confined to an image. But God is also in everything, including the idols. If everything is a manifestation of God, then God is present in the idols too. When I pray to an idol, I am not praying to the statue, but to the divine essence it embodies. A Christian or a Muslim may not be venerating an image of a person, but indeed idolizing in some ways without recognizing it. It could be idolizing a Cross, a Bible, a Church, or even a Mosque. They display respect, holding a belief in their sacredness. Isn’t such a belief essentially a form of idolizing?

This is also a reflection of our dualistic nature, where we oppose something yet unconsciously engage in the same or similar actions that we stand against. When I am egotistically against something, it subtly infiltrates my being, leading me to do the same thing without consciously realizing it.

But idol worship is not about belief, it is about experience. It is a bridge that connects the physical to the formless. It is a pathway that leads from the known to the unknown. It is a journey from the outer world of forms to the inner world of the formless.

Take, for example, the concept of compassion. Compassion is formless. It cannot be understood through the intellect, but only through experience. To understand compassion, one must first experience love. But love cannot be understood through the intellect either. It must be experienced.
To truly grasp the essence of love, we require a tangible interaction with another being. (A physical manifestation.) It is through this palpable experience that we begin to comprehend love in its profound depth. This understanding then paves the way for us to delve into the formless, transcendent experience of love, which ultimately evolves into compassion.

The idol serves as a physical representation of the divine, a tangible manifestation of the formless. It is a tool that helps us experience the divine. It is a bridge that connects the physical to the formless.

When I worship an idol, I do not have any expectations. I am not seeking any rewards or blessings. I am simply opening myself to the divine, allowing the energies to flow through me. I am surrendering to the experience, letting go of my preconceived notions and expectations.

In this state of openness and surrender, I am able to experience the formless. I am able to transcend the physical and enter the realm of the divine. The idol, in this sense, is not an object of worship, but a tool for spiritual exploration.

The journey of idol worship is a journey into the unknown. It is a journey from the physical to the formless, from the known to the unknown, from belief to experience. It is a journey that requires openness, surrender, and introspection. It is a journey that transcends the limitations of the intellect and delves into the depths of the spirit.

The idol is not the destination, but the vehicle. It is not the object of worship, but the conduit to the divine. It is not the form, but the bridge to the formless. It is not the end, but the beginning. It is not the answer, but the question. It is not the truth, but the path to the truth.

In the realm of spirituality, the intellect seeks to understand by dividing, categorizing, and analyzing. But spirituality cannot be understood in this way. It is not a subject to be studied, but an experience to be lived. It is not a concept to be grasped, but a reality to be experienced.

The idol serves as a physical representation of the divine, a tangible manifestation of the formless. It is a tool that helps us experience the divine. It is a bridge that connects the physical to the formless. It is a pathway that leads from the known to the unknown. It is a journey from the outer world of forms to the inner world of the formless.

Idol worship is not about the idol, but about the worshipper. It is not about the form, but about the formless. It is not about the physical, but about the spiritual. It is not about the outer world, but about the inner world. It is not about belief, but about experience. It is not about the destination, but about the journey. It is not about the known, but about the unknown. It is not about the seen, but about the unseen. It is not about the tangible, but about the intangible. It is not about the finite, but about the infinite. It is not about the idol, but about the divine.

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