Sri Chinmoy: When they meditate on something, they meditate not because they worship that particular thing as God, but because that thing inspires them. I look at this candle and I see the flame, but I am not taking the flame as God. I am taking the flame as a source of inspiration. This flame I see inspires me and increases my aspiration to dive deep within. When I can dive deep within, then one day I will realise God; I will see God face to face. So if something helps me to dive deep within, I will accept that help.
I may keep a flower before me when I meditate. The flower is not God, although inside the flower there is God. But the flower inspires me. It offers me purity. I may burn incense. Incense itself is not God for me, but incense gives me a sense of purity and helps me in my spiritual progress. Anything that inspires me I shall use in order to increase my inspiration and my aspiration, whether it is a picture of someone, or a candle or a flower, because when my inspiration and aspiration increase, I feel that I am nearing my goal. When my aspiration increases, when my inspiration increases, I feel that I have taken one step ahead toward God-realisation. But a candle itself or the picture itself is not the object of my adoration.