nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo and nāyam ātmā balhīnenalabhyo
Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad and Śvetaśvatara Upaniṣad
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and for a devotee, they are also the means to see the Lord. But seeing the Lord is not a matter of mere curiosity or ambition. It is a matter of love, humility and grace.
A devotee has an intense desire to see the Lord, because he loves Him more than anything else. He longs to behold His beautiful form, His enchanting smile, His captivating eyes. He wants to offer his obeisance, his prayers, his service to the Lord. He wants to experience the bliss of His presence,His touch, His voice.
But a devotee is also humble. He knows that he is not worthy of seeing the Lord, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all existence, the master of all opulence. He knows that he is a fallen soul, a conditioned being, a sinner. He knows that he has offended the Lord in many ways, knowingly or unknowingly. He knows that he has no qualification, no merit, no claim to see the Lord.
This paradoxical situation creates a mood of viraḥ or love in separation. The devotee feels an intense pain of separation from the Lord, but also a hope of meeting Him someday. He feels a deep gratitude for the Lord’s mercy, but also a fear of displeasing Him. He feels a burning eagerness to see the Lord, but also surrender to His will. This is the highest state of devotion, the culmination of our philosophy.
But how can one attain this state? How can one see the Lord? The answer is simple: by the Lord’s grace. The Lord is not an object that can be seen by our material senses. He is not bound by our logic or our expectations. He is not obliged to reveal Himself to anyone. He is free and independent. He can only be seen when He chooses to reveal Himself
Bhagavān is the ultimate reality that can only be known by grace, not by mere hearing. This is the essence of all Upanishads, the sacred scriptures that reveal the highest truth. This is the foundation for all other teachings, the axis around which everything else revolves. This is the bhakti perspective, the path of devotion that seeks to love and serve Bhagavān in all forms and aspects.
So a devotee prays sincerely and earnestly for that mercy. He begs the Lord to show Himself to him, even for a moment. He expresses his longing and his lamentation, his joy and his sorrow, his faith and his doubt. He reveals his heart to the Lord, without any pretense or pride. He accepts whatever the Lord gives him, without any complaint or demand.
He serves the Lord in every possible way, with every possible mood. He serves Him physically by cleaning His temple, by cooking for Him, by dressing Him, by offering Him flowers and fruits. He serves Him mentally by meditating on Him, by remembering Him, by glorifying Him, by singing for Him. He serves Him emotionally by loving Him, by trusting Him, by surrendering to Him.
He does all this with an attitude of humility and gratitude. He does not think that he is doing anything great or special for the Lord. He does not think that he deserves any reward or recognition for his service. He does not think that he has any right or claim over the Lord. He thinks that he is simply doing his duty as a servant and a friend of the Lord.
He thinks that whatever he does is insignificant compared to what the Lord does for him. He thinks that whatever he has is a gift from the Lord and belongs to Him. He thinks that whatever he wants is subordinate to what the Lord wants for him.
He thinks that he is nothing and the Lord is everything.
This is how a devotee sees the Lord: with eyes of devotion.