Question: During meditation and prayer some people concentrate on certain objects on the shrine, like photographs or some other things. Is it wise for them to cling to these objects or is it wiser for them to meditate on something that has no form, that they cannot see?

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.