Most of us have a concept of God as an all powerful person in the sky, overlooking our activities, rewarding us for good deeds and punishing us for bad deeds. We conceptualize him as a judge. Sometimes God is somebody who when prayed takes care of us and gets rid of our troubles. For some God is forgiver of our sins and when surrendered takes care of us like a parent. The common theme in this is a rewarder, punisher, helper, deliverer that is more powerful than us.
WHAT IS GOD? “Yad Bhavam Tat Bhavati”, as you think so you become is the upanishadic statement. However we imagine God, that is how they get the response of Divinity. God takes the shape of devotee’s thoughts. “World is a mirror in front of us”. We see ourselves in the world. We see a God that fits to our thoughts. There are four categories of devotees and their God appears to them in four different ways. FOUR KINDS OF DEVOTEES (BY HEIR NATURE): These are Arthi, Ardharthi, Jignasu and Mokshakami. One can start as an Aarthi and ascend up as Jignasu & Mokshakami as in the case of Dhruva.
1. Aarthi: One who calls upon God when in trouble. 2. Ardharthi: One who prays for material wealth & power. 3. Jignasu: Seeker of knowledge. 4. Moksha Kami: Seeker of self realization. Out of these four kinds, Arthi and Ardhathri are the most common type of devotees. However even these devotees after a while get purified and transform into Jignasu and Moksha Kamis. The jignasu and mokshakami finally realize the fullness of Divinity. It is said that “Sathyam, Jnanam, Anatam Brahma”, Truth, Knowledge and Infinite is God. SATHYAM BRAHMA: “Trikala Bhadhyam Sathyam”, Sathyam is something that does not change with time. This unchanging thing is something beyond our senses and should be the finest thing in creation, the very seed of creation, the God particle or Consciousness.
All the things that we perceive through our senses change and cannot be this truth. Truth is the unchanging principle, the base (Adhara) of the ever changing world of duality, like the center (eye) of a hurricane. When we further reason, everything in our body undergoes change, except the true “I”, this is not the body, this is not the senses, this is not the mind, this is not the intellect. This is something that is beyond all these, that is in waking, dreaming and deep sleep state without changing and is there as a witness.
This is the Atma in us or called Consciousness. JNANAM BRAHMA: Knowledge is God. What is this knowledge? It is also called awareness or witness. This awareness in nature and in us is God. Each cell is aware of its in-built function and responsibility and function for the common good of the body. Similarly in the nature even a blade of grass is aware when the spring comes and blooms. This awareness is God. Omniscience , all knowing awareness is God. Cosmic intelligence is God. WHERE IS GOD? We start with the question where God is and end up questioning where is he not? God is finer than material, finer than senses, finer than mind, finer than intellect and is the finest of all, hence omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. ANANTAM BRAHMA: Infinite is God.
Infinite is fullness. Fullness is God. Omnipresence is God’s character. All pervasiveness is god’s trait. There is no place where God is not. God is through and through us. God is outside us, inside us and in us. We are like fish swimming in God. God changes from one form to other. All forms are God. All names are God. All energy is God. The unchanging and also the changing is God. The truth and delusion both are God. There is nothing but God. God is infinite and fullness is God. We start our life’s journey from birth with a birth cry “KOHAM”, who am I?. Finally we find out “SOOHAM”, I am that. I am God. This is part of the universal “I” that is God. Hence we realize that we are part of the infinite. Mathematically if a straight-line infinitely prolonged it becomes a circle.
God is a circle whose center is everywhere and periphery is nowhere. This means that God is infinite and omnipresent. HOW DO WE SEE HIM? Finest of vibrations of sound cannot be heard through our physical ears. Similarly the finest of the particles cannot be seen through our physical sense of eye. We cannot see air but feel the effects of air. We cannot see God with our physical eye , but feel and experience God’s presence through the effects. This experience comes through the inner eye and inner vision.
This experiencing all pervading Divinity through inner vision is called visvaroopa darshan, self-realization, Moksha, Nirvana or sakshtkar. Similarly voice of Divinity is heard as inner voice and this is called Sruthi, Veda, revelation or intuition. The requirement for inner vision and inner voice to manifest is Purity, that is unison of thoughts, words and actions. Once this is experienced, this irreversibly changes our attitude. We develop an attitude of unity and oneness. We develop constant integrated awareness (CIA). We see the whole universe as connected and feel the kinship to all. Our whole perspective changes.
Those that attained this vision are jeevan muktas. They are in the world, but off the world. Their mind is in Himalayas and their hands are in the world. World appears like a beautiful playground of God. They enjoy playing their given roles on the stage, as spectator watch themselves and enjoy the actors acting and director’s skill of direction at the same time. This is called witnessing, awareness or integrated vision or living in NOW. STAGES IN KNOWING GOD: There are three distinct stages all of us go through in our relationship with Divinity.
Initially we see God away from us as separate, then near us, yet separate and then feel oneness with God. God as separate from us at a distance is called Dwaita, duality, God near us, yet separate is Visistadwaita, qualified non-dualism and oneness with God is Adwaita, non-dualism. DUALISM QUALIFIED NON_DUALISM NON_DUALISM “I am in the light” “ The light is in me” “I am the light”. “I am the servant of God” “I am the son of God” ‘I and my father are one “said Jesus HANUMAN SAID: “When I think I am the body, I am the servant of Rama” (DUALISM) “When I think I am the mind, I am the devotee of Rama” (QUALIFIED NON-DUALISM) “When I think I am the Atma, I and Rama are One” (NON-DUALISM) Each one of us go through these stages of experiencing God.
Distantness, nearness and dearness is the gradual progression in our relationship with Divinity. TWO LEVELS OF CONTEMPLATION: From form to formless: In spiritual path contemplation starts with the form aspect of divinity, since mind can only imagine divinity in a form. If a buffalo has to imagine God, it can only imagine God as a huge buffalo. As long as mind is involved, we can contemplate divinity in form only. As we progress in spirituality, we sublimate the mind (ego), and then we can contemplate on formless aspect of divinity as all pervading, all knowing, all powerful divinity beyond form, space and time. Form (idol) represents ideal behind the form, like flag represents the ideal behind the nation.
Idol worship is indeed an ideal worship. Goutam Buddha was against idol worship, but his followers started worshipping his idol after his death. For Muslims it is the Kaaba stone in Mecca and for Christians it is the Cross. These are all examples of form (idol) worship. Initially people ascribe divinity to the idol and start praying (Salokya). As the devotee advances in spirituality, he will feel kinship to the ideal behind the idol (Sameepya) then he will start seeing the ideal behind the idol in most of the things around him like Gopikas saw Krishna in the flowers, bushes, trees and everywhere (Sarupya).
As devotion reaches its peak maturity, the devotee senses will be suffused with divinity. When he develops this inner vision, his whole world transforms into a beautiful divine tapestry. For him everything is divinity alone (Sayujja). This is the stage of “Sarvam Brahman”, and called Nirakaropasana. A. Sakaropasana: -contemplation with form B. Nirakaropasana: -contemplation without form Hence two forms of worship are not exclusive, but two stages of evolution of worship. While form worship is the beginning, the Nirakaropasana is final stage of this evolution. ALL IS GOD: Though we state that unchanging Truth is God, the changing world derived from unchanging is only an apparent reality like our dream reality.
It is like the clouds that come because of sun, obscures the Sun., like the discharge from eye covers the vision of eye. Hence the nature and the nurture (creator) are both God only. There is nothing but God. In nature day in day out we see the cosmic intelligence in action. The grass knows when spring arrives and blooms. Similarly they are several trillions of chemical processes that are happening in our body without our awareness. We lead a life of forgetfulness, though physically awake. Awareness to this cosmic intelligence that is all around us in nature and in us is realization or seeing God. This is how each one of us can experience Divinity by God’s manifestation of cosmic intelligence. In fact we are seeing God all around us every day.