The Paradox of Worship
When you worship, when you bow, you’re bowing to your own soul potential within. This is why idols and graven images are so dangerous. The ego wants to classify and keep everything on the outside, to keep everything limited and manageable. So a statue of a God, pick one, is a trap because giving that God form allows the human being to stop at that form or image and think, “Oh, okay, that’s a God, that’s not me.” It gives concrete form to the God and then everything stops dead in it’s tracks and suffering begins. Suffering begins because the God is now outside you, separate from you and depending upon the myriad of beliefs that were fed you on the way up, you buy into linear time and limited space and think, perhaps “Later I will meet this God in death.”
Truth is the God within you, right now. Making a picture or statue of God and then worshiping that thing is perhaps the most dangerous trap of duality. If you look at that symbol of God in the statue or image and your next thought isn’t, “I am that,” then you’re done for. You’re going to be separate and that’s where suffering is. If you can separate God out of anything then you will definitely separate other human beings from yourself. And that’s when the party begins. Blowing each other up, peeling each other’s skin off in the name of a God, that’s where the fun is. If that’s my God, not your God, then you have to die because my god is better than your god.
My teacher told a story once about Guru Nanak who was the first of the ten Sikh gurus. Back then (about 500 years ago) the Moguls did a real job on the Sikhs, making them sit on burning hot plates then dumping them in a river, nasty stuff. Anyway, someone told Nanak he couldn’t point his feet towards the east because Mecca is in the east and therefore God is in the east. Nanak replied, “Show me where God is not and I’ll point my feet there.” Truth is, there is nowhere God is not, and the gateway to God is right behind your eyes.
Worship is a paradox in itself. In worship you bow to nothing and everything at the same time. You bow to God and yourself at the same time because you and God are one. You are both limited and unlimited all in one being. What’s present is limited, but within is a divine presence where the potential is unlimited. It’s all you, even though you can’t see or quantify the infinite part. So when you bow, you bow to the infinite teacher within yourself. This is the eastern concept of The Guru. The true Guru is one who brings you from the darkness into the light. In Kundalini yoga the words “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” are chanted at the beginning of each class. This Adi Mantra means, “I bow to the infinite subtle force which is the teacher within me.” It’s all inside you because the God is inside you. Alot of people can’t handle it. It’s too much responsibility for the mind that’s let its self become the slave of the ego. When the ego is running the show the mind is like a battered wife. It just says “yes dear,” with bloodshot, dark-circled eyes and watches the suffering go on like bad reruns on Nickelodeon. Meanwhile, the soul suffers too because it’s powerless in the face of this suffering. This is where sickness and disease can sometimes come from. The soul has a tremendous power and when that energy is blocked, it is unable to flow properly, so it builds up and when that energy gets too much, it manifests itself as cancer, heart attacks and a myriad of other diseases. If the soul isn’t allowed to flow through the human, it destroys the blockage—the ego oriented physical body. The particular disease depends only upon where the blockage is.
The greatest thing you can do in this life is to learn to bow. It opens the heart and allows the soul to flow through. It tames the ego and becomes the gateway to gratitude. When you develop a relationship with your soul and live a balanced life, then it’s one big happy family. Body, mind and soul all work together to flow in a blissful dance of life.
When a human worships the God within and gives it up to the undying, unmanifest, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent power within, this is in mutual reverence. Because God and the Human are one, the God bows right back as though it were a hall of mirrors. Perhaps a better way to illustrate is that quote from The Work of The Chariot: “When a man takes one step toward God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time.” In this way, bowing to God, the human reunites or re-members with the God that’s been in there the whole time, then God blesses and worships the human, not from the outside in, but from the inside out. This isn’t just philosophy, it’s a law of the universe, a law of nature. Each and every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is Newton’s law, which just happens to be the way karma works too. By the law of polarity, if you worship God, then God has to worship you back. It’s all one. Science has proven that everything is made up of the same tiny particles and strings of vibrating energy and if that’s true then nature’s laws apply to everything. The God within, the God without, bow to it all in gratitude and the world becomes yours. One reason we don’t know this in the west is that we’ve been trained to accept nothing unless it can be proven scientifically. You simply can’t prove a paradox and it’s in paradox that God lives. You have to take a leap of faith and have the experience through practice, through a relationship with your own soul.
How do you worship? You don’t need big churches or even extensive rituals. All these things are just to tame the ego controlled-mind, which will resist the reunion with everything it’s got. All you need for worship is an attitude of gratitude. Simply bask in your gratitude for everything you see. Even if something hurts, learn to express gratitude for it. When you’re grateful for it all, none of it can hurt you anymore and so it goes away. It’s just like a bully in the schoolyard. if you don’t buy into his bullying, eventually he’ll go away.
Here’s a funny one. When I was in junior high school I got into this fight with a smelly Irish kid who was a consummate punk. It was over a game of space invaders. I had my quarters up, he jumped in front of me, but I kept playing. Outside, he kept trying to fight me, but I refused. He was a little smaller than me but I didn’t want to fight so I didn’t. To tell the truth, I was scared because I’d never been in a fight a fight to speak of. So it was a beautiful, awkward pushing match that amounted to nothing. Then next day that smelly little coward sent three of his friends after me and you know what the first smelly Irish kid said?
“I heard you kicked my friend’s ass.”
Isn’t that something? I had been humiliated all the way home, thinking, ‘Why didn’t I fight? I’m such a loser’ I remember it like it was yesterday, hearing that kid say, “I heard you kicked my friend’s ass.” What I know now that I didn’t know then, was that the kid was a bully and my not fighting him was a defeat in his eyes. This is the basis of Turn the other cheek and it’s the same thing with the unpleasant things in life. If you just say, that’s fine, it’s all good, then eventually it will go away. It will sting for a while first though, just so you know. After all, you’re getting it on both cheeks. It was Ghandi who said, “Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” He felt the sting as you all know and we all felt it with him… that movie was four hours long! But look at the legacy he left behind. Nobody will dispute his contribution as a man of peace. Not to mention that I didn’t even have to say Mahatma and you knew whom I was talking about. He’s a one-word name like Madonna. It’s his selflessness and compassion that we remember. Now I’m sorry I brought Madonna into it.
P.S. Just for the record, I had Georgiane Kraft on my side the day the three punks jumped me and with her help, we sent them packing. Nothing too exciting, but we survived. Last I heard, she was a Police Captain in New York City. No kidding.