Reliance and pressure upon our inner nature, in moments of darkness, are sure to be answered by the voice of Krishna, the inner guide.
The efectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
...our Ego, which lives and thinks and feels independently of us in our mortal casket, does more than believe. It knows that there exists a God in nature, for the sole and invincible Artificer of all lives in us as we live in Him. No dogmatic faith or exact science is able to uproot that intuitional feeling inherent in man, when he has once fully realized it in himself.
True worship or prayer is like an effulgent energy of yearning, sustained by and supporting the aspirant's strivings toward an ideal end. For this purpose, there is an inborn connecting "bridge," an inner organ, spanning a special relationship with the divine part of ourselves and "for the absolute cultivation of the inner spiritual man" (W.Q.J.). What is the nature of the "bridge" and the "ideal" object toward which our heart is to be bent, after withdrawal from personal concerns and involvements?
Lord Krishna has a definite answer and an invitation to his devotees: "There dwelleth in the heart of every creature, O Arjuna, the Master—Ishwara....Take sanctuary with him alone, O son of Bharata, with all thy soul." (Bhagavad-Gita, XVIII, 61, 62)
The "bridge" stands for a two-way traffic between the personal man, the incarnated Manas, and its parent, the real Man or the Higher Manas inclined toward and illumined by Buddhi.
Worship, then, is an act of bridging, a process of gradual building up of an intimate familiarity, and later an exclusive friendship, with the Higher Ego, the Dweller (Dehi) within, who is knowable alone to the heart consciousness of man.
Soon the habitual turning for communion becomes the soul's hunger, and the answering response from the Divine is unfailing although not always felt or recognized. Even as a preparatory state, this relationship, this organization of the clear "channel" of silent communication, the Antahkarana, is required for mutual exchange and fellowship. As the reciprocal intimacy grows over the years or even lives, it becomes the potent means for the soul's nourishment and for true progress and self-fulfilment. Frequent remembrance and habitual turning inward is the means of self-opening to the divine influx. The more the Antahkarana clears up and the more the channel widens through constant outpouring, the greater is the receptivity for the blessings of guidance, protection and above all the renewal of spirit.
Worship, then, is no longer a personal or egoistic ritual set apart for an occasion, but a steadfast turning within in response to a spontaneous hunger in the soul for closeness and excellence. Surely, one will not have to wait too long for the "grace" of the Master—Ishwara.
I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. (Psalm XL, 1)
The question is, are we really there to hear the knock, to open the inner door and receive the Christ or Krishna when He knocks at the door of our heart? Many aspirants in their early stages fail to respond adequately when the quickening of the hunger within is not fully recognized. It is true, Krishna too calls out to us, but the noises of our inner market-place drown the music of his melodious flute. Too often we may pass by without recognizing Him!
Sometimes "providential" help goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. And the whispering guidance, registered on the inner planes of our being, is seldom identified as such. But the help is there and we must trust that the "invisible escort" is always behind every sincere aspirant (R. Crosbie). Faith and trust are the prime condition of the spiritual endeavour. It is an attitude of certainty: "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust." (Psalm XVIII, 2)
This is true dependence on the Divine, where the role of the "Lord" is of a Friend who is a sure guide, our "Charioteer" through the maze and trials of life. Each time one registers an experience of what may be called "divine intervention," a timely help, a saving grace, one ought to acknowledge it with deepest gratitude. This itself is a "prayer."
Robert Crosbie in his letters repeatedly dwells on this subject: "The devotee is given what is needed for his own development." "No one who strives to tread the path is left unhelped." Now and then he reminds his co-workers of a biblical statement: "All things work together for good for him who loves the Lord" (or Law).
Few devotees really know their true inner need. They may ignorantly seek for a particular favour and later discover their mistaken preference. It is said, "With prayers all things are possible." But the price has to be paid. Oscar Wilde humorously said: When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers! The legend of the "Midas touch," a boon of turning whatever he touched into gold that King Midas of Phrygia obtained from Dionysus, shows how some "boons" become counterproductive!
There is a Law under which prayers may be answered and desires fulfilled. It is ultimately the power of Faith that is triumphant. Mr. Judge in his Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita (ch VII, p. 139) states: "In whatever way the devotee chooses to worship with faith it is the Supreme which, though ignored, brings about the results of faith. For, faith strengthens the will and focuses the image or mental formation which gets objectivised in time, like a developed photograph. This is simply the working of natural law on the mental plane and there is nothing miraculous about it.
There may be many forms of worship, but according to the motive, the end in view and the means employed, three types can be recognized. We must distinguish between conventional prayers and true worship of the Divine. Meditation, aspiration and silent utterance of sacred texts are the devotional lifting up of the heart toward the longed-for Ideal. This is not the same as reciting formulas and praying or imploring for a favour. The former acts are the soul's offerings supported by enlightened faith. The latter is an ordinary human longing with a covetous eye for a reward.
There is a third form of rare worship known as an "invocation." It is a deliberate act of calling on a presence or a superior being. Or it takes the form of outpouring, an affirmation or an overture when performed by a true occultist or a devotee. As a formulated incantation or "magic" ritual, it becomes a means to awaken and summon invisible potencies when the "magic" formula (mantra) is employed with knowledge. But for others, liturgical rituals often pass off as "worship"; nevertheless, since they evoke lower powers they delude and contaminate the inner body. On the other hand, the higher form of invocation, as a means of worship, performed with knowledge and devotion, wakens up one's own higher consciousness and affirms one's faith in the Presence. This may or may not be accompanied by a mystical rite. All depends on the spiritual stature and purity of the devotee, the solemnity of the purpose and also the means employed under guidance and with knowledge. In one sense all "prayers" are a form of invocation, since they conjure up and summon "something" higher or lower (invoke, in + vocare = to call on).
If the worship is whole-hearted and deep "in spirit and in truth" (John, IV, 24), it will put the consciousness en rapport with the superior intelligences of the higher planes. On the other hand, mechanical or habitual prayers may weaken concentration, create dependence and work out on the lower planes. These are governed by the laws of affinity and the law of resonance in the invisible nature. Depending on the key struck by the votary, a resonant vibration is set up from nature's sounding board. Not a single thought, feeling, prayer, aspiration or mental formation remains traceless but ever comes again for weal or woe. This is another danger with the carelessly struck chords of nature.
A true seeker does not petition but ceaselessly aspire and prayerfully strives to be worthy, and leaves the results to the divine wisdom and mercy of the Law. If one keenly desires to instal a sacred "shrine," one must build the temple and keep it suitable for the sanctuary. This building of the "temple" is spoken of in many mystical writings. It means that the aspirant has to be steadfast in his self-reliant striving under the inspiration of his higher nature. Soon, a reciprocal relationship with the shrine within is built up. The Soul is now more open and receptive, even if the "answer" is not always favourable to the personal man. The formation of intimacy or nearness across the welcoming "bridge" is in itself a great reward for his sincerity and fervour. The steadily growing familiarity with one's hidden part must create the right condition for the unseen help to be received and an occasional glimpse of the true light.
The process of building the bridge linking Lower Manas with its divine parent, Higher Manas, may take one life or many lives, depending upon the line of life's meditation one follows. This involves looking within. When our Manas is turned inwards, it conjoins with Buddhi. In a perfected man, this union between Buddhi and Manas is permanent. Then it is that the "spiritual eye" is active. Once the connection between Lower and Higher Manas is established, there is no need of the bridge—Antaskarana.
Before thou standest on the threshold of the Path; before thou crossest the foremost Gate, thou hast to merge the two into the One and sacrifice the personal to Self impersonal, and thus destroy the "path" between the two—Antaskarana.
Then only can we have conscious existence in Spirit while in a body.