39. Or by fixing the mind upon any divine form or
symbol that appeals to one as good.
One of the most attractive characteristics of Patanjali's philosophy is the breadth of vision, its universality. There is no attempt here to impose any particular cult upon the spiritual aspirant. God is within us, and it is by the light of his presence - no matter how dimly it shines through the layers of our ignorance - that we fashion our own pictures and symbols of goodness and project them upon the outside world. Every such picture, symbol, or idea is holy, if it is conceived in sincerity. It may be crude and childish, it may not appeal to others; that is unimportant. All-important is our attitude toward it. Whatever we truly and purely worship, we make sacred.
Therefore, we should always feel reverence for the religions of others, and beware of bigotry. At the same time, however - as has been remarked above in reference to aphorism 12 - we must limit ourselves to one way of seeking and keep to that; otherwise we shall waste all our energies in mere spiritual "window-shopping." We can find nothing in a shrine or a place of pilgrimage if we bring nothing into it, and we must never forget, in the external practice of a cult, though the Reality is everywhere, we can only make contact with it in our own hearts.
As the great Hindu saint Kabir says in one of his most famous poems.
I laugh when I hear that the fish
in the water is thirsty.
You wander restlessly from forest
to forest while the Reality
is within your own dwelling.
The truth is here! Go where you will -
to Benares or to Mathura;
until you have found God
in your own soul, the whole world
will seem meaningless to you.
-How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali