Form to Reach the Formless

Form to Reach the Formless

 Amma - Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

Children, the sole cause for the creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe is God. Here, those who believe in God will all agree. However, believers will have varied opinions and doubts regarding God’s true nature: What is the real name and form of God? What are His attributes?

In truth, God can neither be understood with the intellect nor explained with mere words. Regardless, through spiritual practices we can experience and realise God. That experience is indescribable. When a baby gets hurt, can it explain, “It hurts this much”? Or when it is happy, can it explain that “I am this happy”?

Just as water can manifest as ice, liquid or steam, God is both with and without attributes. He manifests as duality and as the multifaceted universe.

God doesn’t have a particular name or form but is instead like an actor appearing on the stage, playing various roles. In this way, according to the devotee’s desire, God takes on different states of being and forms such as Siva, Vishnu and Devi. When heated up, a chocolate figurine will melt and become formless. But regardless of whatever form the chocolate takes, the true nature of the chocolate always remains the same.

To conceptualise and worship God, it is easiest to visualise Him as having a form. One who is thirsty will need to cup their hand or use a vessel in order to get water from a river. A person who has a long stick can knock a mango from the tree even if he cannot climb. Similarly, conceptualising God as having a form and using that form as our instrument, we can worship and realise God.

Once, a mother bird went searching for food and somehow got into an accident and hurt one of her wings. She was unable to fly. The bird became very sad because she couldn’t get back to her nest on the other side of the river. Worrying about her helpless baby birds back in the nest, she became very anxious. It was then that she saw a chunk of ice floating towards her. Without much difficulty, she jumped onto it. A favourable wind then pushed, the ice over to the opposite shore, and she was able to get back to her nest.

Those of us struggling in distress to know the formless God without any attribute are just like this injured bird trying to get home. We can realise God by worshipping Him as having form and other attributes. The water in the river had no shape, but it became a solid chunk of ice, allowing the helpless bird to cross the river. Likewise, to attain freedom from ocean of samsara, worshipping God with form and attributes itself should become a constant companion. Then the favourable breeze of divine grace will lead us to liberation.

Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi