SRI RAMAKRISHNA ON "GOD" - part I
GOD - HIS EXISTENCE:
You see many stars at night in the sky but find them not when the sun rises; can you say that there are no stars in the heaven of day? So, O man, because you behold not God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.
GOD IMPERSONAL (BRAHMAN):
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF BRAHMAN?
Brahman is without attributes, unchangeable, immovable, and firm like Mount Meru. His name is Intelligence (Chinmaya). His abode is Intelligence, and He, the Lord, is All Intelligence.
GOD IMPERSONAL IS BEYOND DESCRIPTION:
CAN BRAHMAN BE DESCRIBED?
- It cannot be explained by words. As a man called upon to give an idea of the ocean to a person who has never seen it, can only say, "It is a vast sheet of water, a big expanse of water, it is water-water all round;" so one who has realised Brahman can only say, "Brahman, Brahman is everywhere.
GOD IMPERSONAL AND PERSONAL:
- There is no distinction between impersonal God (Brahman) on the one hand and Personal GOD (Shakti) on the other. When the Supreme BEing is thought of as inactive, He is styled God the Absolute (Suddha Brahman); and when HE is thought of as active - creating, sustaining, and destroying - He is styled Shakti or Personal God.
- God is absolute, eternal Brahman as well as the Father of the universe. The individual Brahman, pure Existence, Intelligence, and Bliss, is like a vast, shore-less ocean without bounds and limits in which I only struggle and sink; but when I approach the ever sportive Personal Deity, Hari, I get peace like the sinking man who finds the shore.
- At one time I am clothed, at another naked; so Brahman is one time with attributes and at another without.
- Shiva and Shakti (the Absolute and Power) are both necessary for creation. With dry clay no potter can make a vessel; water is necessary. So Shiva alone cannot create without Shakti or Force.
GOD WITH FORM AND WITHOUT FORM:
- God is formless and God is with form too, and He is that which transcends both form and formlessness. He alone can say what else He is.
- God with form is visibel, nay we can touch Him, as one does his dearest friend.
- Have you any idea of God with form and God without form?
They are like ice and water. When water freezes into ice it has form; when the same ice is melted into water, all form is lost.
- God with form and God without form are not two different beings. He who is with form is also without form. To a devotee God manifests Himself in various forms. Just think of a shore-less ocean - an infinite expanse of water - no land visible blocks of ice formed by intense cold. Similarly under the cooling influence, so to say, of the deep devotion of His worshipper, the Infinite reduces Himself into the Finite and appears before him as a Being with form. Again as on the appearance of the sun, the ice melts away, so on the appearance of knowledge, God with form melts away into the formless.
- As the same fish is dressed into soup, curry, or cutlet and each has his own choice dish of it, so the Lord of the universe, though one, manifests Himself differently according to the different liking of His worshipers and each one of these has his own view of GOD which he values most. To some He is a kind master or a loving father, a sweet smiling mother or a devoted friend, and to others a faithful husband or a dutiful and obliging son.
- Fire itself has no definite shape but in glowing embers it assumes certain forms. The formless fire is then endowed with forms. Similarly the formless GOD sometimes invests Himself with definite forms.
- So long as the sound of a bell is audible, it exists in the region of form: but when it is no longer heard, it has become formless. Similarly GOD is both with form and formless
GOD'S ASPECTS MANY:
Sri Ramakrishna accompanied Mathur Babu on his pilgrimage to Benares. While stopping at that city Sri Ramakrishna paid a visit to Trailanga Swami. Mathur Babu asked Trailanga Swami,"How is it that people speak of so many Gods although there is but one God?" The swami was observing a vow of silence; so he merely raised one of his fingers and threw himself into a sort of trance, hinting thereby that by meditation one comes to know that there is only one God, but by philosophical discussion the sense of unity is displaced by a sense of diversity.
If in all religions of the world there reigns the same God, then why does the same God appear different in different religions?
God is one, but many are His aspects. As one master of the house appears in various aspects, being father to one, brother to another, and husband to a third, so one God is described and called in various ways according to the particular aspect in which He appears to His particular worshiper.
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SRI RAMAKRISHNA ON "GOD" - part II