You have always thought of God as a father, up in the heavens somewhere. But can you see God as a child? When you see God as a father, you will want to demand and take from Him. But when you see God as a child, you have no demands.
God is the very core of your existence. You are pregnant with God. You have to take care of your pregnancy and deliver this Child into the world. God is your child who clings onto you like a baby till you grow old and die. This child clings on to you crying for nourishment. Sadhana, Satsang and Seva are the nourishment.
It is difficult to see God as formless and it is difficult to see God as form. The formless is so abstract and God in a form appears to be too limited. So some people prefer to be atheists.
But atheism is not a reality, it is just a matter of convenience. When you have a spirit of inquiry, or are in search of truth, atheism falls apart. With a spirit of inquiry, you cannot deny something which you have not disproved. An atheist denies God without first disproving it. In order to disprove God, you must have enormous knowledge. And when you have enormous knowledge, you cannot disprove God! For one to say that something does not exist, one should know about the whole universe. So you can never be 100 percent atheist. An atheist is only a believer who is sleeping! In fact an atheist is someone who has a concept of God!
For a person to say, ‘‘I don’t believe in anything’’, means he must believe in himself — so he believes in himself about whom he does not even know! An atheist can never be sincere because sincerity needs depth — and an atheist refuses to go to the depths. Because the deeper he goes, he finds a void, a field of all possibilities — he has to accept that there are many secrets he does not know. He would then need to acknowledge his ignorance, which he refuses to do, because the moment he is sincere, he seriously starts doubting his atheism. A doubt-free atheist is next to impossible! So you can never be a sincere and doubt-free atheist.
When the atheist realises his ignorance, what does he do? Where does he go? Does he go to a Guru? What does a guru do to him? Atheism is when one does not believe either in values or in the abstract. When an atheist comes to the guru, what happens? You start experiencing your own form and discover that you are indeed formless, hollow and empty. And this abstract non-form in you becomes more and more concrete!
The Guru makes the abstract more real and what you thought as solid appears to be more unreal. Sensitivity and subtlety dawns. Perception of love, not as an emotion, but as the substratum of existence becomes evident. The formless spirit shines through every form in creation and the mystery of life deepens, shattering the atheism. Then the journey begins and it has four stages.
The first stage is Saarupya (to see the formless in the form) ie, seeing God in all the forms. Often, one feels more comfortable seeing God as formless rather than with a form, because with a form, one feels a distance, a duality, a fear of rejection and other limitations. In life all our interactions are with the form, other than in deep sleep and in Samadhi. And, if you do not see God in the form, then the waking part of life remains devoid of the Divine. All those who accept God to be formless use symbols, and perhaps love the symbols more than God himself! If God comes and tells a Christian to leave the cross or a Muslim to drop the crescent, perhaps he may not do it! To begin with, loving the formless is possible only through forms.
The second stage is Saamipya (closeness) ie, feeling absolutely close to the form you have chosen and reaching out to the formless. This leads to a sense of intimacy with the whole of creation. In this stage, one overcomes the fear of rejection and other fears. But this is time and space bound.
The third stage is Saanidhya — feeling the presence of the Divine by which you transcend the limitations of time and space.
Then the final stage is Saayujya, ie, when you are firmly entrenched with the Divine. It is then that you realise you are one with the Divine. There is a total merging with the Beloved and all duality disappears.
Take care of your God! Atheists lurk around the corner! Doubts, disbelief and ignorance are the atheists in your mind — so you better take care!