Devotional Contemplation

One who has an intense affection for an object of worship can follow the same method, but in his case the activity will be mainly one of feeling. The devotee will first picture in imagination the particular form which he regards as ideal.

He will dwell upon that, allowing his feelings to flow out in affection, admiration and reverence. He will picture himself as in the company of that ideal or perfect being, associated with him in the incidents of his life. Then, when his feelings are at their height, he will make an effort to pass from the outer form to realize the feelings and thoughts which animated that form. He will begin to realize, with ardent devotion, the nature of the divine nature as something more than a bigger or finer ordinary nature.

A simple worshiper at first regards God, manifested in a particular form, as the proprietor of all things, and desires to perform all the acts of his life in order to please. Next he begins to see that the finer qualities, which he first discovered in the divine form, are to be seen in some measure in other forms also, and he then begins to realize that there is something of divine nature in all things — that God pervades where he possesses. Thus expanding his devotion the worshiper begins to perceive God in all forms and to feel for them an ardent affection, insomuch as they manifest him.

Slowly another dawn breaks upon the devotee, and now, instead of feeling that there is something of God in all forms he will realize that all exists in God, that each represents and reproduces him, though not in his fullness, yet just so much of it as there is, is God, and if anything seems to be evil or ugly that is because he feels there a little absence of something else of what he knows to be divine. In these lesser things it is as though the devotee, though looking only at the feet of his God, yet loves the whole of him. He is learning the absolute presence of the divine.

One may put the same thought in terms of nirvana and maya. The attainment of nirvana implies a dissolution of maya, which has the two factors of covering up part of the reality and building on the remains. Maya is like a reticulated veil over the face of reality. However many be the veils it is always the same face, the same reality, that is seen, though darkly, incompletely, imperfectly. When the maya of mind is removed, the consciousness that is strong enough to bear the light of reality will be with it face to face, beyond sensation, memory, imagination and reasoning. Maya is disharmony through absence, neglect, ignoring. Harmony always incarnates unity. Unity is the power of the unmanifest working in the manifest. That is why contemplation should be preceded by meditation. Harmony reached in the mind is peace of mind, and in that harmony the unity is revealed, unveiled.

In the course of his practice there will be times when the devotee will lose grasp, as he goes onward, of the things which have been in special and superior moments clear to him. He will find himself in a state of emotional flatness. But memory will tell him that this is only temporary and encourage him not to despond, but continue trying to penetrate what may sometimes seem to be a grey and empty sky.