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Deep discoveries

By Sacinandana Swami 

The Ultimate Truth is not an “IT”

One of the greatest challenges came in my spiritual life when I heard that the Ultimate Truth was not something but someone – not a thing but a person. That meant he could see me, hear me, interact with me, show favour or distance himself…you name it. All the things a person can do. Though, at first I did not believe this…

A person in my mind was someone who is limited. So how can God be a person? I had become suspicious of accounts I heard in my childhood Bible class that depicted the “final truth” as an old, worried man in heavens, with a grey beard, who was frustrated that very few on Earth were truly interested in Him. I had heard that the word “person” comes from the Greek word “persona” which means a mask – that which covers the actual face of the actors.

Only through certain deep insights in my bhakti practice did something unexpected happen - I noticed that the Lord I worshipped seemed to take pleasure in reciprocating – He was surprisingly personal.

Divine Intervention

He answered prayers, intervened in my life through various super intelligent arrangements, and made His will known when I had to be corrected. In short, He was more than capable to form a relationship in which He took an active role. That showed me that I interacted with an individual or person. He clearly possessed subjectivity or self-awareness. He seemed to respond when He was called upon with: “Yes, I am hearing you!” But even when He was not called upon, He took note of my activities and showed His pleasure or favour. “I take note of you,” He seemed to communicate, “You are on my mind.”

Remaining independent

He always kept His absolute freedom – unpredictable, never conforming to any fixed expectations, always “out of the box”, always fresh and new, never stale but always dynamic and loving – which are all very personal attributes.

Wow, I thought, I am not just walking a spiritual path, I am in an exciting, divine relationship! But, who is it that exactly I am relating to? Who is behind the name Krishna – what is His nature, what is occupying His thoughts? Certainly he must be different from my limiting concept of personality. An ancient wisdom in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.3.32) confirms this: “Beyond this gross conception of form is another ‘subtle’ conception of form, which is without formal shape and is unseen, unheard and unmanifest.” That’s the form of Krishna – simultaneously with form and formless.

What exactly is He like?

When turning to the ancient wisdom texts I found out two things:
1) He is full of contradictions but reconciles all of them, and is thus beyond the mind which can only accept something as true when contradictions are absent.
2) He can be known only by His will and not on anyone’s command or demand: “Come I need to see you!” ; or by the power of anyone’s austerities or efforts.

He reconciles all contradictions

The Sri Isopanisad states:
“Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running…The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything.” – (Sri Isopanisad, Text Four & Five)

He is formless and yet has a transcendental form which is supremely attractive, acts playfully and displays overwhelming love that moves His devotees like a strong storm that makes leaves dance in a whirl. He is all-pervasive, yet possesses centrality – you can always reach Him “at His address” – at the same time He lives everywhere.

Impossible? Not for Him – because He is not a limited person like you and me.

He can be known only by His will

The Katha Upanisad says clearly:
“The Supreme Lord is not attained through study, nor through the intellect, nor through hearing many scriptures. Only he whom the Lord chooses attains Him. Unto him, the Lord reveals Himself.” – (Katha Upanisad 1.2.23)

Thus, only those who have taken shelter with their whole being, giving up self-serving interests, can cross His insurmountable material energy (maya). Only the bhaktas are allowed into His presence. Therefore, as stated in Mathara-sruti: “Only Bhakti leads to Him. Only bhakti reveals Him. The Supreme Lord is controlled by bhakti. Bhakti is the only potent means.”

Once the great saint Narada Muni (who has the power to travel at will to all places in the universe, even to the world of the spirit) met the Lord and praised Him by reciting two hundred different names of Him (He has unlimitedly more, but Narada Muni wished to keep his praise “short”). At that time the Lord appeared to His devotee in a personal form but hinted to him that he should not think it was a material form, limited like any other form: “Please don’t think that this form of mine, in which I became visible to you, is material like any object or person of the material world. Just like I have appeared before you, I could disappear at any moment from your perception.” (See Bhagavat Sandarbha Annucheda 46).

Then why does the Lord reveal His personality? Out of His kindness and His self-willed nature. He likes to reciprocate with His devotees who worship Him through unalloyed devotion undertaken with full faith.

Whoever is blessed by Him can attain Him – not those who speculate with their limited mind about His personality or non-personality.

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