Faith in the Higher is a basic spiritual concept of the śikharins, without which it is impossible to advance in the Teaching, and without which the entire Teaching would not even make sense.
The Higher is a technical term in our Teaching. The Higher does not establish any kind of finite level of existence, such as the concept of the Highest. The Highest has an ending, the Higher doesn’t have an ending; it goes on, paradoxically even beyond the Highest. The Highest is the ultimate end of a linear system. The Higher goes beyond any kind of conception.
Likewise, the Higher does not define what or who is Higher, if it is One, Many, or even if it Is Not. The Higher does not have these limitations; it transcends the possibilities of language and philosophy. The Higher as such is always beyond us; it is not necessary to establish how far.
As a single technical term, faith in the Higher is Direction. From afar, from an insufficient distance, it seems that the many paths leading toward the Direction are different. But the further we are in the Direction and the less we are diverted from it, the clearer it is that the Direction goes in a certain, specific, and unique Direction. Therefore is it the Direction. Every word such as this is limiting. It is impossible to comprehend these terms very well rationally in the mind as we contemplate them spiritually; but we can feel them spiritually, and most importantly, live them.
Faith in the Higher is a demanding abstract concept. One who wishes to turn to some kind of concrete representation of the concept of “the Higher” may choose a chosen deity like Śiva, who in the form of a meditating yogī seems to be an ideal divinity. He is the embodiment of sādhanā. Viewed historically, śaivism, influenced by śāktism, is the movement in which maṇḍala systems, including cakras (chakras) with visualizations of goddesses, first emerged. These were eventually adopted by many other schools, and those under this influence included the then-emerging Tantric Buddhism. Therefore, the śākta-śaiva substrate ought to be the first choice of the śikharin, if he/she is seeking a concrete deity and conception of spiritual practice.
Between purely abstract conception and concrete forms of anthropomorphized deities lies the concept of the worship of plants. The worship of beings that move and that are impossible to place on an altar is impractical. Plants—in general, not only those that are blooming—beautifully represent Life. We can create an altar just from plants and consider them deities. Similarly to our relationship to that which for us symbolizes the concept of “the Higher,” which requires constant care in the form of prayer and sādhanā, likewise plants require care in the form of adequate light (love), watering, and the like. To take care of plants as one would of a god corresponds aptly with the fact that if we neglect plants (we don’t water them), they wither. It is similar to the relationship with that which for us symbolizes the concept of “the Higher.” Just as some plants only blossom at the time when they have suitable soil and adequate moisture, including the right pH of water, likewise specific spiritual practices blossom only when we practice our sādhanā absolutely precisely. Like plants, they need to be watered cyclically, regularly, and not with 100 liters of water all at once a year in advance; so a śikharin must practice every day, not just once in a while but with great zeal. Just as we can harm plants with too much water, we can harm ourselves if we exceed the sādhanā pursuant to forcibly gaining dreamt-of results even in defiance of the teacher’s recommendations.
The most important altar, however, lies deep in the Heart, which although inside of us, is not ours, is not owned by anyone, with which it is impossible to identify, and which is so intimately private that No One is there. It is a rare place-nonplace, in which Faith in the Higher takes the greatest delight.