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all-pervading Substance. The more we study

phenomenal objects the less are we content

with the knowledge that we can gather from this

study. We may devote the whole of our lives

and spend all the energy we possess in trying

to satisfy this craving for knowledge of the

Infinite by studying the phenomenal world,

but this thirst for knowledge will not be

quenched; it will remain, as it does in all the

great thinkers of the world. We may read

books, philosophies, sciences, and Scriptures,

but the longing of the soul will never be fulfilled

Vedanta Philosophy.

by reading books. There is only one way to

quench this thirst and that is by reahzing the


The word "realize" means something more

than ordinary knowing. By "realizing" we

mean being and becoming one with the

Infinite. If we can know that the all-pervading

Being is the Essence of our lives and the Soul

of our souls, we become more and more

acquainted with that Infinite and understand

its whole nature — not the objective side alone,

not merely as the material substance, but as

the infinite mind substance, and also as that

which transcends this substance of mental

phenomena. I mean when we have realized

the Infinite Spirit, when we have found that It

is the source of all powers and forces as well as

the basis of our consciousness, the foundation

of our existence, the life and the reality of the

universe, then the thirst for knowledge is

quenched, then all questions regarding the

existence of God are answered, all doubts

cease forever.


The Existence of God.

But it may be asked : How can we know the
Supreme Being as the Soul of our souls? By
rising above the plane of consciousness of the
finite. This plane of consciousness will never
reveal the true nature of the Infinite Being
because it functions within the Hmitations of
the senses, consequently it cannot reach the
infinite which is above all limits. We may
have a vague perception of it or we may think
of it as the subject or object, as mind or
matter; but that is not the same as the realiza-
tion of the Absolute One. If we can rise above
time and space, shutting out all sense objects,
making the mind impervious to all sensations
of external objects, if we can then direct the
whole energy of mind and soul towards the
Infinite within us, then we shall be able to
realize the Soul of our souls, then the truth of
the existence of God will be revealed to us.

If we wish to know God, we shall have to

enter into the state of superconsciousness.

All the great spiritual leaders of the world,

Jesus the Christ, Buddha, Ramakrishna, and

Vedanta Philosophy.

others, who preached the existence of God,
first reahzed Him by entering into the state of
superconsciousness. Those who have studied
Raja Yoga* and have practised it will under-
stand what superconsciousness means. All
revelation and inspiration come in that state.
The longing for more knowledge has led the
river of the soul into the ocean of Infinite
Wisdom. In that state the individual soul
realizes the bhssfulness which is beyond the
reach of ordinary mortals, which cannot be
obtained by wealth, property, or worldly pros-
perity. Friends and relatives cannot help us
in rising to that bHssful condition. It is a
state attaining which nothing remains unattain-
able, realizing which the true nature of every-
thing is revealed. It is a state in which no
desire remains unfulfilled, in which the indi-
vidual soul, transcending all limitations, be-
comes one with the Infinite and enjoys un-

* " Raja Yoga," by Swami Vivekananda. Published
under the auspices of the Vedanta Society of New


The Existence of God.

bounded happiness both here and hereafter.
Such a knower of the Infinite says :

''I have attained everything that is to be
attained, I have reaHzed all that can be real-
ized. I have known that Infinite Being that
is worshipped under different names by dif-
ferent nations as God, or Father in heaven,
or Allah, or Buddha, or Christ, or Divine

Mother, or Brahman.'^

Attributes of God.

** The Supreme Spirit is devoid of the defining attributes
of form, color, etc. He is unchangeable ^ unborn, eternal,
indestructible, imperishable and is always of one nature.
He is pure and the repository of all blessed qualities."
— ^Vishnu Purana.

Attributes of God.

God is described in the different Scriptures
as a spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, true
and one ; the omnipotent and omniscient
creator and governor of the universe, and the
repository of all blessed quahties, such as jus-
tice, goodness, mercy, and love. If we ask a
Christian, a Jew, a Mahometan, a Parsee, a
Hindu, or a follower of any other sect or creed
what is his conception of God, each one of them
will quote passages from his Scriptures giving
the same attributes to the Divine Being, whom
they worship under various names— such as
Father in heaven, Jehovah, Allah, Ahura
Mazda, or Brahman. The names may vary
but the attributes of God are with each exactly

the same.

A catholic priest who bows down before the

Vedanta Philosophy.

image of Jesus the Christ and prays to Him,
who burns incense and Hghts candles; a
protestant clergyman who does not believe in
bowing down before any image; a Mahometan
priest who is a fanatical iconoclast and denies
all forms of God; or a Hindu priest who wor-
ships an idol in a temple, invariably agree with
one another in describing the attributes of the
God they worship. There is no difference be-
tween the God of a Christian or a Mahometan
of a Parsee or a Hindu, because each of them
believes that God is infinite and one.

How can there be many Gods when their
attributes are the same and identical every-
where? Yet a Christian calls the Hindu a
heathen, and a Mahometan calls a Christian
an imbeHever, and each in turn quarrels with
the other. Why is there so much persecution
if God is one ? Because of the ignorance of His
behevers. They do not even try to understand
the true meaning of any of the attributes which
they give to God; their eyes are blinded by

ignorance, fanaticism and bigotry. Stimu-

Attributes of God.

lated by false belief and superstition, they
maintain that their God is the only true God,
while the God of other nations is untrue, and
they cannot see that every one worships the
same Infinite Being. Fanatical Christians
preach: "Beware of the God of the heathen.
He cannot give salvation to His worshippers";
as if there were two Gods.

Ignorance is the mother of fanaticism,
bigotry, superstition, and of all that springs
from them. Fanatics cannot realize that
God is the common property of all, that
whether He be worshipped by a Christian
or by a Hindu, He is one, because His attri-
butes are identical. Among those who are
not so fanatical there are many who give
the same attributes to God without, how-
ever, understanding their true meaning.
Ninety per cent, of monotheists all over
the world say: ''God is infinite and one,"
but at the same time they think of some
being with a human form sitting somewhere

outside of the universe. If we ask them

Vedanta Philosophy.

the meaning of the word "infinite," their
answers are often full of illogical nonsense.
They will make God as finite as possible
and bring forward all sorts of fallacious
arguments to support their position.

Those who believe in a personal God,
give Him a human form, human attributes
and a human personality without realizing
that they are making their Lord Hmited in
power, personality and attributes. Of course
it is not their fault; it is quite natural that
they should think of the Ruler of the uni-
verse as a human being, because we are aU
human and the Hmit of our conception is a
human being. Our world is a human world,
our God must be a human God, and our ex-
planation of the universe must also be human.
Having seen the governor of a country, who
is a human being with certain powers, we
form a concept and keep it in our minds
when we conceive the Supreme Being as the
governor of the universe. Naturally we give

Him a human form and a human personality,

Attributes of God.

only with this difference — that the governor
of the country is hmited in power, size, and
quaHfications, while the Ruler of the universe
is unlimited in power and immensely magni-
fied in size and qualifications; yet however
great He may be, He must still appear more
or less like a human being. In this way our
explanation of the universe has become
hmnan, and our God has acquired a human
form and personahty. If a cow became a
philosopher and had a reHgion, her concep-
tion of God would be in cow form, her ex-
planation of the universe would be through
that cow God. She would not be able to
comprehend our Lord at all. Similarly if
a tiger had a God, his conception would be
of a tiger form. If there be a being with a
form different from ours, with a nature higher
than ours, his God will be like himself. As
we do not know what conception of God
the people of Mars have, we cannot know
their God; if they are not like human beings,

their conception will differ from ours. So

Vedanta Philosophy.

none of these pictures of God and none ot
these explanations of the universe can be
complete in itself. It may be a partial truth,
but not the whole truth. Therefore all
those conceptions of God which we so often
hear — that He is like a human being sitting
on a throne outside the universe and from
there governing the universe by His powers,
are incomplete and imperfect.

But ordinary people do not see this. Each
is sure that his conception and explanation
are the best. They cannot realize how there
can be anything higher or greater than what
they already believe. Yet when they are
asked, what are the attributes of such a
human God, they will say: "He is a spirit,
infinite, eternal, unchangeable, true and one;
He is the omniscient and omnipotent creator
and the repository of all blessed qualities."
Thus they unconsciously make God finite
and infinite at the same time. Can there
be anything more absurd and self-contra-
dictory than a finite infinite God! If He

Attributes of God.

is finite, He is limited by time, space and
causation, must have a beginning and end,
and cannot be unchangeable. A finite God
must be changeable and must perish like all
mortal things. Are we ready to beheve in
such a perishable God? Not for a moment.
We cannot give any form to God because
form means limitation in space by time.
By giving a form to God, we make Him
subject to time, space and the law of causa-
tion, consequently we make Him mortal
like any other object of the phenomenal
universe which has form. God with a form
cannot be immortal and eternal, He must die.
Therefore we cannot say that God is finite
or that He has any form.

He is infinite. But let us have a clear
understanding of the meaning of this word
*' infinite," and use it in its proper sense.
That which is not limited by time and space
and not subject to the law of causation, which
is above time, space, and beyond all laws

is infinite. God is not limited by time or

Vedanta Philosophy.

space, neither has He any cause. He is
absolute. The infinite again must be one,
otherwise it is finite. If there be any other
thing beside that infinite then it is no longer
infinite; it is Hmited by that object, conse-
quently it has become finite. Thus if we
admit that God is infinite, we deny the exist-
ence of any other thing besides God; other-
wise He would be limited by that thing, and
be subject to time, space and the law of causa-

If we say that matter exists separate from
and outside of God, we have made Him
limited by matter, we have made Him
finite and perishable. If we think of our-
selves as separate from God, as independent
of His Being, then in our thought we have
denied His illimitable nature. There is for
the same reason, not a single particle of matter
in the universe that can exist independent
of God's existence or outside of God; if He
is infinite and one, our bodies and every

thing of the universe from the minutest atom

Attributes of" God.

to the largest planetary system, from the
lowest animalcule to the highest Being,
exists in and through that Infinite Existence.
This may be startHng to many, but the fact
cannot be denied. If we wish to be logical,
if the word "infinite" conveys any meaning
at all, we cannot avoid the logical conclusion
which must inevitably follow. If, on the con-
trary, we use the word "infinite" meaning
something finite, how foolish and illogical
shall we be! The conclusion is this: If
God is infinite and one, then mind and mat-
ter, subject and object, creator and creation,
and all relative dual existences are within
that Being, and not outside of it. The whole
universe is in God and God is in it; it is
inseparable from God. I am in Him and
He is in me; each one of us is inseparable
from His being; if one atom of my body
exists, that existence cannot be separated
from His existence.

We have now understood the meaning of

the two attributes infinite and one. Let us

Vedanta Philosophy.

examine the meaning of other attributes.
God is unchangeable, that is, He is always
the same and never subject to any change
whatsoever, because He is eternal, without
beginning or end,. That which has a be-
ginning must have an end and go through
all the changes of birth, growth, decay and
death; everything that has a beginning must
grow, decay and die. That which is limited
by time and space must go through all these
changes, which, on the contrary, never aflFect
the infinite Being.

God is a spirit. What is to be understood
by spirit? It does not mean a shadowy form
or an apparition. By this term is meant
pure, self-luminous intelligence, the source
of all consciousness, the basis and foundation
of all knowledge, the background of mind
and matter, of subject and object. Again
He is true. That which is not God is untrue
or unreal; or, in other words, that which
is finite, manifold, changeable, non-eternal,

transitory, is untrue and unreal. Further-

Attributes of God.

more, God is omnipresent and omniscient,
and upon Him depends the existence of mind
and matter, of subject and object. Let us
understand this a little more clearly. What-
ever exists in the universe, whether mental
or physical, subjective or objective, can
exist only as related to a self-conscious intelli-
gence. When we analyze our perceptions,
we find that that which is not related to any
state of our consciousness does not exist in
relation to us, because we do not know any-
thing about it. Existence and knowledge
or consciousness are inseparable.

As our small worlds of which we are con-
scious, exist in relation to our conscious
being, so the phenomenal universe can only
exist as being related to the knowledge of the
cosmic knower or the universal Being; other-
wise there cannot be any existence, because
existence and knowledge, existence and con-
sciousness are inseparable; therefore God is
called omniscient or all-knowing. Nothing
exists without being related directly to the


Vedanta Philosophy.

intelligence and knowledge of the infinite
Being. As this infinite Being pervades the
universe and interpenetrates every particle
of matter, giving existence to everything,
so the light of His knowledge pervades the
universe; therefore He is omnipresent and
omniscient. If these various conceptions,
obtained by analyzing the attributes of God,
be summed up, we shall learn that God is the
Absolute Being, eternal, true and everlasting,
the one infinite ocean of self-existent, self-
luminous intelligence which is the source
of all consciousness. Nothing can exist out-
side of or independent of that one omnipresent
and omniscient Being of the universe.

Here a question arises, — if there be no
other being beside God, what will become of
the diverse phenomena of the universe, which
we perceive with our senses? Do they not
exist? Yes, they do, but their existence
depends upon God. They have no separate
and independent existence; they are like

froth, bubbles and waves on that infinite ocean

Attributes of God.

of intelligence. As a wave cannot exist for
a moment independent of the ocean, so the
phenomena of the world depend for their
existence upon the Absolute Being.

This ocean of pure self-luminous intelli-
gence and existence is described in Vedanta
by the word BraJiman, which means absolute
existence and intelligence, the unlimited source
of knowledge and of consciousness; while
the power which produces these waves of
phenomena is called Maya. This inscruta-
ble power of Maya dwells in the infinite ocean
of ReaHty or Brahman from eternity to eter-
nity. It is as inseparable from the Divine
Being as the power of burning is inseparable
from fire. Sometimes this power remains
latent as undifferentiated cosmic energy and
sometimes it manifests itself as the various
forces of nature. When that pow^r is latent,
all phenomena disappear, and dissolution or
involution takes place; but when it begins
to express itself as natural forces, it produces

the waves and bubbles of phenomena in the

Vedanta Philosophy.

ocean of Brahman. Then the Absolute Being
seen through the active or manifesting power
of Maya or cosmic energy, appears as the
creator and governor of the universe.

He is called in Sanskrit "Iswara/' which
means also the creator and ruler of the uni-
verse. He is the first-born lord, or the cosmic
ego. This cosmic ego, the Iswara or lord,
is called the creator of the universe. Here
let us understand clearly in what sense God
can be properly called the creator of the world.
Does He create it out of nothing as described
in the monotheistic and duaHstic Scriptures
of the Christians, Jews, Mahometans, and
Parsees? No, He does not create anything
out of nothing; He is not the creator in that
sense. In the first place we must not forget
the truth, discovered and established by ancient
and modern science, that something cannot
come out of nothing, consequently to a sci-
entific mind creation out of nothing has no
meaning. The theory of a special creation

of the world as we read in Genesis has been

Attributes of God.

proved to be an unscientific myth. Secondly,
the doctrine of evolution is now so unques-
tionably established that we can safely accept
it in the place of the mythical story of special
creation. Therefore when we speak of God
as the creator of the universe, we do not mean
one who brought the world into existence out
of nothing as our forefathers understood by
this expression; but applying the Hght of
science and being guided by the reasoning of
the Vedanta philosophy, we must understand
that Iswara is called the creator because He
projects out of His own being the powers
existing there potentially and makes them
active. Thus the word creator means the
projector of all forces and of all phenomenal
forms which potentially existed as eternal
energy in Iswara. That projection from
the potential into the kinetic or active state
takes place gradually through the process of
the evolution of the Maya or the cosmic energy
which dwells in the Iswara of Vedanta. Ve-
danta teaches that although Brahman or the

Vedanta Philosophy.

Absolute Being or Godhead is above all
activity, still the Iswara is full of power and
action. He starts the evolution of the cosmic
energy which before the beginning of the
cycHc evolution held all phenomenal names
and forms in its bosom. Iswara, according
to Vedanta, is both the material and the effi-
cient cause of the universe. He does not
create matter, but matter is only a certain
state or mode of motion of the universal Divine
energy. When the dormant power of Maya
begins to manifest, all material forms com-
mence to appear.

The next attribute of Iswara is that of
ruler or governor of the universe. How
does He govern? Does He govern the world
from outside, as it is said in the Christian
Scriptures ? No, He governs from within and
never from without. He is the Anlar-ydmiftj
the internal ruler of the universe. As the
soul is the internal ruler of the body, so Iswara,
being the soul of the universe, governs it

from within and not from outside.

Attributes of God.

He is the repository of all blessed qualities,
that isj all that is good, all that is great, all
that is subhme, is but the expression of the
Divine power. But God Himself is above
good and evil, beyond virtue and vice, above
all relativity and beyond all conditions. He
loves all beings equally and impartially; He
does not love one nation for certain qualifica-
tions and hate other nations, but He loves
every Hving soul, whether human or animal,
equally. Just as the sun shines alike upon
the heads of sages and sinners, so the love
of that Divine Being touches the souls of all.
Why does He love all beings equally? Be-
cause each individual soul is related to God
as a part is related to the whole. As a part
cannot exist independently, so our souls can-
not exist independent of the Soul of the uni-
verse. Therefore we live and move and exist
in and through the whole, or Iswara. God
loves His parts because He cannot help it.
How can it be otherwise? How is it possible

for a whole not to love its own parts? Love

Vedanta Philosophy.

means the expression of oneness. At the

bottom of all earthly love exists this idea of

oneness; the lover and the beloved must be

one, one in spirit, in thoughts, in ideas, in

everything, otherwise there is no real love.

Therefore God is all-loving. Thus if we try

with the aid of the hght of science and

reason to understand the true significance

of the attributes of God, we are forcibly

driven to the conclusions of Vedanta. With

the help of Vedanta we can realize the true

relation which the universe bears to God,

which the individual soul bears to the infinite


If we once understand that God is the source

of all existence and power and is the one

Reahty, that outside of God no existence is

possible, then we begin to feel the presence

of divinity everywhere. In every action of

our lives we realize that the divine power is

working through us, and at every moment of

our earthly existence we feel ourselves to

be like so many instruments through which

Attributes of God.

the Divine will is manifesting itself and doing
whatever He ordains. All the actions of our
lives are then turned into acts of worship of
the Supreme Deity. Being dead to selfish-
ness, we are then able to say from the bottom
of our hearts, '' O Lord, Thy will, not mine,
be done."

All fear then vanishes, all sins are redeemed,
and the individual soul becomes free from
the bondage of ignorance and selfishness.
This reahzation leads to a still higher and
closer union with the Divine. The soul
gradually realizes spiritual oneness with the
universal Spirit or Brahman. Thus having
attained to God-consciousness, which is the
highest ideal of all religions, the individual
soul becomes like Christ and declares "I and

my Father are one."


Has God any Form?

" The all-pervading, omnipotent and formless Spirit
manifests Him,self in various forms under different
names to fulfil the desires of His worshippers.** — Vishnu

Has God any Form?

Students of the Old Testament are fa-
miliar with the fact that the ancient Israelites
conceived their God Elohim or Yahveh,
the Lord God, as possessing human attributes
and a human form. There are many passages
which testify that God walked with Adam
and Eve and spoke to them; He ate and
drank with the elders of Israel; and the Lord
said to Moses: "I will cover thee with my
hand while I pass by, and I will take my hand
away and thou shalt see my back parts; but
my face shalt not be seen." (Ex. xxxiii, 22,
23.) Yahveh was the Lord of the House of
Israel. He was, moreover, not only the God
of Abraham and of Moses, but He became
the Supreme Being and the only God, above

all gods. Upon this conception of the Supreme

Vedanta Philosophy.

Being with a human form and human per-
sonaHty have been built the structures of the
two great monotheistic or duahstic reUgions,
Judaism and Christianity.

The same Elohim or Yahveh, the Lord
of the house of Israel, the God of Abraham,
of Isaac and Jacob, and of Moses, is the al-
mighty Creator, Ruler, and Father in heaven
of the Jews and Christians of the present day.

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