The book 'Taming the Kundalini' talks about worshipping at the altar of the light of the inner self and maintaining constant awareness of the Self during meditation, and constant awareness of one's ishta, so that this awareness starts pervading the whole being. Then eventually this awareness manifests as the person who guides us, could you talk about that?
Individual awareness is formless, whether my awareness, your awareness or anyone's awareness. It is there, you can feel it, I can Feel it - "I am", However, I cannot see that awareness, and therefore it is very difficult to retain mentally, to concentrate upon for a period of time. It is very abstract awareness - "I am". So that awareness has to be given some form for the time being. For that purpose you should adopt a form which you can retain in your mind - the form of your Guru or the form of anyone so that you are always thinking about him or her.
Maybe you think about them because you are angry with them. Maybe you think about them because you love them, or because you hate them, or even because you do not want to think about them. There are so many factors of awareness. Love alone is not the only form of awareness. Hatred is also a very strong form of concentrated awareness. When you hate or dislike someone, or when you love someone, you do not want or you want to remember them. Then the awareness becomes more intense.
The intensity of awareness has to be created no matter how. It is not important how you create that awareness, but it has to be very intense. It has to move your body and mind both! Then your awareness and the person within you become the same - not two. Or, in other words, your awareness which was abstract and formless, about which you only said, "I am. I am aware of myself", assumes a form. It is a supposed form, as in algebra we say "suppose X is equal to 5...", X is not equal to 5 but there has to be some hypothesis, there has to be some postulate in order to get a final answer.
The word 'devata' does not mean 'god'. It is usually translated as "god", but in Sanskrit it means "illumination"; etymologically it is anything that is illumined, anything that is enlightened - light. A torchlight can also be called devata -it illumines the cupboard, the door; it throws light everywhere. So that is devata - Ishta devata means anything of your choice. This is the basic concept.
Even if you do not know theoretically what I have been telling you for the last ten minutes it does not matter. When the mind merges with anything, sacred or otherwise, when it becomes one with anything awful or beautiful, when it unites with anything divine or otherwise, your ishta devata is there. The external factor of the form means something but it is immaterial. Your awareness is abstract, formless, nameless, beyond time and space. Now it has become more concrete in the form of a shiva lingam or in the form of this or that-in my form. That form is immaterial yet it has a place in the mind, without that the cognition and the perception or awareness of your awareness cannot take place.
That is the side of religion over which Hindus have been fighting for the last so many thousand years, (the most intellectual ones), for these forms, You know, in India, you see so many forms. You will not find many forms in Christianity or Islam, but here they have stuck to forms, not because they believe that God has a form, but they know that the mind needs them, God does not have a form but it is not enough to say, "God has no form". It is not enough to say, "My soul has no form, my soul is formless". It is formless, it is nameless, but there is no use saying that.
If you want to realise it you will have to minimise the distance between yourself and your awareness. There is a great distance between my mind and my awareness, so much of a distance that my mind cannot conceive it. I might read in books about consciousness awareness, atma, spirit and the Self but that is just intellectual. It is not awareness; it is not experience. There is a big gap and that gap has to be minimised, the distance has to be decreased.
In order to decrease the distance you faring in a form. When you bring in a farm the mind becomes subtle, and the Self is apprehended in the form of a shiva lingam or anything else, "When the mind is able to apprehend the shiva lingam in the deeper form, its grossness is still further reduced until it sees the shining one. Eventually there cornea a time when that medium is completely removed and you say, ''He is neither Guru nor disciple, nor God, nor Brahman, nor Vishnu, nor Brahma" - no time and no space -"I am what I am"; that is the final stage. It need not be learnt from a Guru, it has to be your own experience.
You have to say, ''Nobody has to teach me knowledge; nobody has to teach me what to experience. No book is necessary". Give your mind somewhere, totally and completely, a place from where you will not take it out -total mind, no matter where, just like a passionate man gives all his mind; just like a greedy man gives all his mind; just like a frightened man gives his total mind. You know what happens to the consciousness of a frightened man.
Do not worry about the consequences. Just think of it as an adventure. In this adventure you maybe lost forever, who knows? Many people are lost when they go to Mount Everest, the North Pole, the South Pole, the sea, the ocean, but ultimately they conquer. It is the same thing, an adventure. You have to do it. Of course, you do not have to become crazy in the sense that you are a misfit in society. There is a time up to which you have to fit into society and there comes a moment when you do not care for society and you become a misfit, but by that time, even if you are a misfit society fits itself into you.
Unless you are able to give your mind and awareness, totally, this path is just any ordinary religion - in the morning you get up, do asana, pranayama and meditation - it is like a religion. Those who are keen after realisation have to make a sacrifice of their own self. As you sacrifice an animal, you sacrifice yourself.
Acharya Rajneesh used to say "jet-set". It is not a jet-set path, Oh no! In order to allure people to this path you can tell some lies, but I do not even want to tell those lies. Why allure people? Let them know on their own. If you surrender yourself to me it is up to you. Why should I ask you to do it? You may totally accept it if you do not, you can go away.