Worship - Incarnations or Higher Consciousness?
Divinity is by nature all-encompassing and omnipotent. We as tiny microcosms of this fathomless universal cause and presence worship our Creator to derive more of what we already are, so as to live life to the fullest our own way.
There is always the choice of worshipping the Divine as abstract Super-Consciousness that It originally is, or, in Its manifested/incarnated forms. Sanatan Dhrama gives its followers the clear choice to worship either way. However, it is said and has been proved over the ages that for a beginner worship had rather begun through powerful Divine Incarnations. Worshipping the Almighty in human-like forms might help as it makes it easier for the beginner to connect and relate to the Higher Consciousness, and for Bhakti or devotion to germinate in the ignorant mind. But in course of one’s religious-spiritual path one eventually arrives at a point where the intellect has expanded to a wider scope of awareness beyond the mythology and the forms, where the mind has sought to free itself of physical boundaries that never really existed except in thoughts and thus were reflected in life.
The vehicle of bhakti is an incomparable vessel unparalleled to any ritual, rite or scriptural details, that smoothly carries a nonchalant bhakta/devotee across the ocean of life, no matter what the sky forecasts, to his object of devotion, and through it connects to the underlying consciousness.
The one aspect of worshipping through incarnations is that there are certain rules that the practitioner must observe so as to enable the exact invocation one intends. This might lay some sort of bindings, if I may call them so, upon his or her lifestyle as well since in this case refining energy requires one to adhere to the laws that all energy forms are subject to on the physical plane. That is where strict scriptural observance through intricate and elaborate rituals is a basic requirement in order to call upon, invoke, consecrate, worship and finally dissolve the highest possible divine frequencies. Of course, where arrangements fall short of requirements Bhakti fills in and the rewards are overwhelming!
In case of worshipping the unmanifested universal Divine Consciousness, however, rules find no place anywhere in the practice simply because the object, or more appropriately, the consciousness of worship Itself is in Its spirit state. Therefore energy laws do not apply in the worship of Higher Consciousness. Thus, ParaBrahm as Super Consciosuness, ParaShakthi as the unmanifested universal Power, Krishna consciousness, Shiva Consciousness can be worshipped without paying heed to paraphernalia, rituals, customs and instructions as opposed to worshipping their manifested forms - the three aspects of Shakthi (Ichchha Shakthi, Gyan Shakthi and Kriya Shakthi) like Durga, Kali, Parvati, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Sri Krishna and Shiv-Shankara through their respective incarnations, wherein observance of vedic rules is an important aspect of worship.
In the worship of Universal Consciousness a simple mental invocation and connection through meditation is all it takes. So for the one seeking freedom of worship and simplicity of practice, Consciousness worship might be the answer.
Even for the idol worshipper, when the time comes and the mind is well aligned, divine incarnations naturally give way to Super-Consciousness. Then His or Her omnipresence is no more a scriptural expression, but one’s firsthand perception of the tangible and the intangible.