In the minds of modern man, worship is often regarded as superstition. Because of misunderstanding, people no longer grasp the meaning and reason for worship, and the purpose of worship is so simple, yet profound. It is to focus one’s whole attention on something to the exclusion of all other distractions. This brings about loss of ego and transcendence.
by absorbing oneself in an object with total attention it is possible to transcend the limitations of the ego; it is possible to go beyond the normal fetters of human understanding and identification. It is possible, through worship, to know the experience of higher consciousness. So remember this point well: worship is a means to an end. Worship of a deity or anything else should not be regarded as an end in itself. This is the mistake that countless people have made. They worship deities without understanding. They worship blindly and dogmatically and don’t realize that the worship is a means to something far greater. For this reason, their worship does not take them very far. It may help a little but it will not lead to high levels of awareness.
There is another important point. One can concentrate on a deity or a symbol or anything else without a feeling of devotion. Many people in fact do this and gain wonderful experiences. But at the same time, concentration is far easier, effective and overwhelming if the object of concentration, of absorption, is also an object of devotion or worship. This, in a sense, transforms a ‘third rate fuel into a first class, high octane fuel’. Worship or devotion trans-forms the spiritual practice into a far more powerful form of experience.
Tantra does not aim to make you consider a stone idol as the truth. Tantra regards worship of any relative aspect of existence as the means to break through into the experience of the real, as a means to fuller harmony and knowledge.
Anything that you choose can be regarded as a form of Shakti (or Shiva, as you wish). Of course, this will be a slight divergence from traditional forms of Shakti as known in India. But the scope and benevolence of tantra will allow this extension of its boundaries. Such is its flexibility.