CHENNAI: One of the dilemmas that a spiritual seeker faces is to know the proper method of worshipping deities at home. There is a tendency to acquire images of various deities but one may not know how to perform daily worship to each one according to prescribed injunctions. The predicament then is how realistic it is for a layman to do such ritualistic worship every day and whether doing it improperly will be counterproductive to spiritual progress. It is in good faith that devotees try to do ritualistic worship but it is only after they embark with enthusiasm that they are confronted with practical difficulties.

In his discourse, Swami Vimurtananda said Sarada Devi had provided the insight that if one did not know the Mantras for various deities he could worship them as his Ishtadevata (the deity one likes). Besides, for a spiritual aspirant the preceptor (Guru) is verily God in human form and devotion to him is key to realising God. This also is a pointer to the fact that it is not necessary to worship several deities. What is more important is the intensity of devotion and faith that one develops for the deity of one's choice because it is the Supreme Being who assumes various forms for the sake of His devotees.

It is possible to get insight into such nuances of spiritual life only from saints and preceptors who guide their devotees from their experience. A devotee once expressed his concern that his mind did not remain steady and succumbed to his weaknesses to which the saint clarified that except for the Guru there was no one who did not have some failing or the other. Becoming aware of one's faults is a great strength because it is human nature to deny them.

Acceptance will enable the spiritual aspirant to correct them consciously and overcome them eventually. The nature of the human mind is such that it will always be engaged in something and become attached to it. Hence there will be mood swings according to how it responds to outside factors. Just as for a doctor diagnosing the disease is half the cure, so also for a spiritual seeker becoming aware of his failings is his greatest strength and way to progress.