Two questions to Anandamayi
Question: We often hear you say: “think of God.” But surely God is unthinkable and formless. What can be thought of must have name and form and therefore cannot be God.
Answer: Yes, without doubt, He is beyond thought, form and description, and yet I say: “think of Him!”
Since you are identified with the ego, since you think you are the doer, since you say: “I can do this and that,” and since you get angry, greedy, and so forth, you therefore have to apply your “I-ness” to the thought of Him.
True, He is formless, nameless, immutable, unfathomable.
All the same He has come to you in the form of the Eternal Sound or the descent of God in the form of the Word, or in the form of an Avatar. These also are – He Himself and consequently, if you abide by His name and contemplate His form, the veil which is your “I” will wear out and then He, who is beyond form and thought, will shine forth.
You think that you are engaging in sadhana, but actually it is He who does everything, without Him nothing can be done. And if you imagine that you receive according to what you do, this is not correct either, for God is not a merchant; with Him there is no bargaining.
Question: People are asked to worship God, to sing His praise in hymns, to perform puja, to repeat constantly His name, and they do all this without knowing what God is. Will you please explain?
Answer: God is all-knowledge, and one cannot know His true nature till one attains Self-Realisation. Then one will find Him to be none other than oneself, the only Atman, the only Self there is, and that He is with form as the world and without form as Chit, Pure Consciousness. In the meantime, prayers, worship and meditation have to be performed.
Anandamayi’s response is excellent: “…you therefore have to apply your “I-ness” to the thought of Him” and that by this effort: “if you abide by His name and contemplate His form, the veil which is your “I” will wear out”. When this happens we will see free of the veil that is now obstructing our ‘vision’. Then our clear understanding of our true nature as one with all, with what we call God, will be our constant state.
This says that the real function of all practice, all study, all worship and all meditation is actually to exhaust the “I-ness” – the sense of being a separate self – and thus it subsides on its own. Krishnamurti speaks similarly of thought going to the extreme to discover something outside of itself, which means to discover something which is not based on the function of memory. Once thought – which is the mind – has covered every last particle of its field and all in vain, then it subsides, it gives up on its own. Then the “other” has he calls it, can fill the space. It was always there, but thought can dominate the entire field of perception so that all contact to the “other” is lost.
Both are ways of concentrating one’s focus on that which is beyond, or prior to the phenomenal world. This focus is a turning away from the distractions of daily life and more and more turning inward in whatever way appeals to you personally. It can be meditation, it can be prayer, it can be art and it can also be turning to the natural world and merging with that. The veil of “I-ness” thins and Reality appears.