Those who have made a firm determination to know Brahman as their Atman and to end the cycle of birth and death have the following courses open to them:
(1) They should worship the Absolute state of God, without any attributes, limitations, about which nothing positive can be said, and to identify that principle with their own Atman. They do not perform rituals, go to temples, etc; they study; they meditate on “Soham, Shivoham”; they guard their jiva against the encroachments of avidya in the form of attachment, anger and greed; they look upon every being as their own Self and their Self as extended in all beings. They follow this course of worship uninterruptedly even while engaged in the necessary worldly duties. The main part of their soul is devoted to this contemplation.
Take the case of a prisoner who is condemned to life imprisonment. Suddenly the order of his reprieve comes. He may eat, sleep, etc., but his mind is set on the date of his being set free. Such is the life of those who worship the Absolute as their own Self. Heat and cold, pleasure and pain, ill-health and good-health, censure and approbation, do not affect them at all; they are the highest of the Yogis. OM.
(2) But each and everybody has not his mind matured to be absorbed in the contemplation of the Absolute. Those who are still subject to the pulls of Maya, who forget God as being their own Self, who are distracted, who are still disturbed by desires, what is the course for them? They are advised to worship Ishvara, the personal God, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Jesus, their own Guru. Their mind cannot grasp the highest state of absolutism. They ought to read the Stotras; they ought to offer flowers, incense and camphor and light to the images of Ishvara in different forms; this is the course of life, and in this way they worship the all-pervading One.
(3) If there are any who are not competent to do either kind of worship, is there any way for them? When they sit down to worship, their minds paint pictures of the world; there are stirrings of passions, ambitions, etc; they simply cannot apply their minds long to worship; or they may be sceptics, not sure if there is a God or not. They ought to do good to the people of the world without any hope of reward; let them serve in whatever capacity they can; let them teach the poor, distribute medicine, take care of the children of the poor, open sources of charity – but with one condition, not for fame, not for reward, not for a good obituary in the “Times”, but simply as their duty.
These are the three ways. If they cannot do even these, they will have to suffer grievously until their eyes are opened to the Truth. Again and again they will be born. Therefore the best and highest form of life, which includes all service, meditation and worship, is to live in the feeling “Chidananda rupah, Shivoham, Shivoham”. OM.
What is that state which the worshippers of God aspire to? What do they want to gain? Do they want to be leaders of men, generals of armies, industrialists? No. They want that gain beyond which there is no further gain, having gained which all desires for any gain are annihilated for ever, that happiness which is so perfect, so absolute, that beyond it there is no further happiness to be gained, that knowledge by knowing which nothing further remains to be known. The mind, the heart and the soul is satisfied for ever. That state is called Brahman. Let them realise it. This is the end, the goal, the highest achievement which, having been attained, there is nothing further to be attained.