God Himself is imperceptible
If anyone wishes to perceive Him, he can do so only through His Saints, because they are highly evolved souls who have merged in Him.
Guru Ram Das goes so far as to say:
Those who worship and serve a Master are the dear ones of my Lord.
To worship the Master is true service of the Lord because, by His Grace, the Master takes human beings beyond the bondage of the phenomenal world.
The aim of Contemplation is to know God. This is achieved by listening to God in action, referred to as Naam or Shabd. We cannot listen to Shabd (Sound Current or Word), or be connected with Naam except through the help and guidance of the Living Master, who is merged in the Lord and is therefore the Lord Incarnate. We should therefore contemplate on the form of the Master, as we can see him. And so long as we do not see the Radiant Form of the Master within ourselves by means of Simran, we must necessarily contemplate on the physical Form of the Master.
The Radiant Form of the Master (the light of God) guides us in the upper regions, because that form is the Master Soul whose Light is refulgent.
So long as the Master is in his physical body, he never calls himself Master. He also does not say that we should contemplate on his form.
A mirror has a smooth surface. When the currents of our mind strike on that surface, we see the reflection of our own face. If we are smiling when we look at it, we see a smiling countenance. If we look at it with a crying face, we see a crying resemblance. The mirror does not invite us to look at it.
Similarly, the Master does not need our contemplation. Contemplation is for our own benefit.
In the method of Surat Shabd Yoga, we have three stages of Contemplation:
On the physical form of the Master.
On a light, like the light of a candle, which appears within when the 'Nirat' faculty of the soul is awakened. This is contemplation in the astral sphere.
On the Radiant Form of the Master, which is above eye center, and which takes us beyond the Astral and the Causal Planes, to regions above, the finally to our Goal, which is union with God. Just as we need a staircase to reach the roof of a house, similarly we cannot rise to these regions without contemplating on the form of the Master.
These benefits can be derived by contemplating on the physical form of the Master. Contemplation on pictures or photographs of Saints does not yield results.
Tulsi Sahib says:
You may make a thousand pictures of a Kalpataru (wish-granting tree) but if you ask hundreds of favours from it, you cannot hope to receive even one.
By gazing at paper (the picture or photograph on paper), you feel the love for that particular paper. It is a mere physical object and can exercise no spiritual pull.
When the Radiant Form of the Master is seen within, then the disciple should fix his gaze on that Form and merge himself into it, so much so that the disciple should feel no difference between himself and the form.
I am you and you are me. I am the body and you are its life, so that nobody can now say whether I am you or you are me.
When the practice is complete, no difference remains between the devotee and the object of his devotion. The worshipper and the object of worship become one.
Guru Amar Das also says:
Withdraw yourself within, because then you will merge into the Master.
The Master is God-Man, that is, God plus man. And if the disciple is a Gurumukh (mouthpiece of the Guru), that is, Guru-man, then nothing remains in him but God.