A Deeper Analysis Into the Nature of Being

Forums Forums Nature of Soul and God A Deeper Analysis Into the Nature of Being

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #15346

    Hello Sir, I have some questions that have been on my mind for a long time:

    1. If we are the creation and God is our creator, what can’t we acquire all the qualities of God through rigorous sadhana and ultimate purification of consciousness to become indistinguishable from God? Why is it that even though we have come from God who is perfect, the level of perfection we can reach is always going to be less than his perfection? I believe you had mentioned why all infinities are not the same in the answer to my post on Creation being the creator but my question is why can’t we attain the same level of perfection as God at the very least when we attain liberation.
    2. If the soul (atman) is eternal and God (param atman) is eternal as well, how can we possibly come from him because that would mean that we were created from God and therefore were not eternal? Is it because the concept of manifestation and un-manifestation also applies to the soul and not just to matter and that the soul was eternally present in the unmanifest state within God but then manifested itself?
    3. In one of your posts you mentioned that certain chants and deities are non-different from God because by chanting them or worshipping deities, we can experience God. Then why is that not applicable to anything that God is created like a bed for example? Just like God can appear from a pillar, why can’t it appear from a bed or any other inanimate object? Does it have something to do with the strength of the potentiality of manifestation of God that helps strike a distinction between certain things and others? Basically what I am asking is that, what is so special in the properties of clay or metal (used to make deities) or cement (pillar making) and not wood (used to make bed) that help us experience God through the former and not the latter?
    Ashish Dalela

    Why can’t we become God?

    You are asking why a drop cannot become an ocean. The issue is that the moment a drop becomes an ocean, it will desire to have drops as its parts which are not oceans. There cannot be an ocean without drops. So, if each drop becomes an ocean, then it will expect to have some drops under its control which themselves cannot become oceans. That means everyone cannot be an ocean. My desire to become an ocean is just limited to myself. I don’t want others to be an ocean because there is no meaning to an ocean without drops. Therefore, this desire to be an ocean cannot be fulfilled.

    Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita 9.3: aprāpya māṁ nivartante mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani, which means, those who do not attain Me, they return to the present world of death and creation. This is the fate of the Brahma-vadi. He says that I can become an ocean. But that ocean is just a pond in comparison to the real ocean. The pond is certainly bigger than a drop. So, they want to become a pond and call that ocean.

    But after becoming a pond, they realize: This isn’t really the ocean. I got to have more drops under my control. Without that, I am not an ocean. Then each pond tries to bring the other ponds under its control. However, no pond wants to be controlled by another pond, even as it desires to become an ocean and bring other ponds under its control. Hence, all those drops that became ponds then enter the material world of death and creation. They enjoy being a bigger pond for some time by making others drops. But it is temporary. Soon enough, the pond becomes a drop and comes under the control of another pond. This cycle of pond and drop is called the world of death and creation. The Brahma-vadi state is not eternal. It remains an unfulfilled desire.

    The temporality of the creation

    When we talk about creation, there is a latent Abrahamic assumption, which is called ex nihilo creation. Ex- means what it was previously. For instance, ex-Christian means someone who was Christian previously. Thereby, ex nihilo means that which was nothing in the past. It has appeared out of nothing at present. This type of creation begins at a finite time and has a finite end. But that is not the model of creation in the Vedic texts. Our model is mind and thought. The thought was previously in the mind. Then the thought manifested from the mind. After manifestation, the thought is a mind’s thought. It cannot be separated from the mind. It exists in the mind, and yet, it was not previously manifest. But even when it wasn’t manifest, it was still in the mind. It hasn’t appeared out of thin air, so it cannot be ex nihilo. There was always a mind.

    When we say that God created the soul, we mean that some thought came out of a mind. But that thought was always in the mind. Similarly, when we say that the world was created by God, we mean that a thought came out of a mind. But that world was always in the mind. Even when the world disappears, we say that the thought has merged into the mind. Its disappearance doesn’t mean that the thought has ceased to exist. It continues to exist in the mind but it is not experienced by the mind. Creation simply means that thought manifests from the mind and the mind experiences it.

    The closest Sanskrit word to “creation” is sṛṣṭi. It actually means “production”. There is no Sanskrit word for creation in Vedic philosophy because nothing is ever created or destroyed. Even if I write a book, it hasn’t been created. It has just been manifested. If the book is burned, then the book isn’t destroyed. It has just become unmanifest. Therefore, the Vedic system has no word for creation. The word is manifestation or production. The world comes out and the world goes back in. However, because Europeans did not have this understanding, therefore, they equated the word sṛṣṭi to “creation”. It is a false word-meaning equivalence. But this is a common case with all English-Sanskrit dictionaries because creation means ex nihilo or that which did not exist in the past. But sṛṣṭi is that thought which existed in the mind and came out of it.

    Ultimately, the difference between sṛṣṭi and creation is the difference between the mind creating thought vs. nothing producing an object. So, we are not creationists in the Western sense. We are productionists. But if I use the term “Vedic Productionism” then who will understand it? At most, they will think that I am talking about a Vedic model of running a factory that makes shoes because that is what production means today. Hence, we use the term “Vedic Creationism”. It is a false term, but using it is better than using the correct term. This is not the case forever. It is just the case for now.

    Hence, Prabhupada used to say that the soul is an eternal part and parcel of Krishna. The soul was not created by God as in Abrahamic faiths. The soul is eternal. It was just manifested from God like a thought from the mind. In Vedic texts, there is a provision for sāyujya-mukti which means merging with God. That is just like a thought going back into the mind. It can come out again. But it can go back into God again. Due to the provision for sāyujya-mukti, the thought is not an inert idea. It is a person with free will. Due to that free will, it can go back into God. And yet, it is an eternal person.

    Since the soul can repeatedly manifest and unmanifest, therefore, we can talk about a time at which the soul was manifest. And yet, that time is not the moment of creation. It is the moment of production. When the material universes are annihilated, then all the souls enter the body of Mahāviṣṇu. It is just like sāyujya-mukti. But it is not permanent. When a Buddhist talks about salvation, He is actually talking about the state in which the soul has gone back into the body of Mahāviṣṇu. We also talk like that when we talk of sāyujya-mukti. Therefore, we accept Buddhism as a valid religion. We just don’t agree with their claim that there is no God. But we accept their concept of salvation. It is not the perfect state. But since it is possible, hence we accept it. But we don’t agree with Abrahamic faiths because of their ex nihilo model of creation.

    Buddhism is called voidism. It is similar to ex nihilo creation. The difference is that the voidist wants to leave the world but an ex nihilo creationist wants to enjoy the world. Therefore, even though the two concepts sound similar, we do not equate them. Ex nihilo creation doctrines were designed in Abrahamic faiths to say that God created the world for me to enjoy it. I cannot control the world if God is already controlling it. I have to separate the creator from the creation so that I can enjoy it endlessly. Thus, God was been eliminated from the material world so that each person can enjoy.

    But Buddhists never agree with that. They will say: The world is a temporary illusion. We have to become detached and leave it behind. However, a Christian will say: The world is real although it came out of nothing. He wants lots of enjoyment. Hence, even as similar-sounding words are used, we should not confuse their meanings.

    Why can’t we worship a bed as God?

    God is present even in the bed. However, it is harder for us to see God like that. However, Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita: The truly learned, with the eyes of divine knowledge, see with equal vision a Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater. This doesn’t mean that the dog and dog-eater are one thing. It means that the learned person knows that both these material coverings are temporary and false. The reality is the soul, which is an eternal part of God. Even rivers and mountains are souls.

    Similarly, even a bed and a chair are souls. This is the meaning of personalism. Everything is a person. There is nothing impersonal. Whatever seems impersonal is because greater or lesser features of a person are not being currently exhibited. This is not the eternal truth. It is just a temporary disablement. Just like when a person goes to sleep, he looks inert. But that inertness is not the eternal truth. It is just a temporary fact. Hence, even beds and chairs are sleeping persons. But they are all persons.

    However, it is harder for an ignorant person to think of a bed or chair as a person because the shape of the bed and chair doesn’t resemble that of a person. It is more convenient for us if we shape the person as someone who we consider a person. Specifically regarding God, we shape the deity just like the spiritual form of the deity. This is just for our convenience. It is not that God is absent from a bed or a chair. The enlightened person can see God everywhere. But everyone cannot do that.

    Imagine that you have two people standing in front of you and you say: “Come here”. You could be talking to the first person, the second person, or both of them. The words don’t fix that. But when you speak, there is an intention behind those words which we cannot see. Many people can understand that intention, and therefore, when you say “Come here”, most of the time, the intended person or persons will come.

    All our mantra chants and deity worship are also like that. When we offer food to a deity, we are not offering to a stone. The intended person is the Lord. That is just like “come here” can be intended for one of the many people. This is why Krishna says: One who gives me a leaf or flower with devotion, I accept it. Superficially, you are giving something to a stone. But in the mind, the intention is the Lord. That intention changes the meaning of giving and its results, just like one of the two people walks toward you if you say “Come here”. They will be confused only if they cannot read the intention. That confusion is resolved by using a name in the mantra to refer to a specific person.

    There are deeper issues of objectivity also involved here. I have explained earlier that unity in diversity is established by a soul. An object creates unity in diversity. Therefore, there are no material objects. The object is always spiritual. Modern science has concocted material objects, but they cannot see any material object. Then they reduce that object to a set of properties. The two curly braces of a set have no real existence. It is just a figment of our imagination. And yet, by that figment of imagination, we concoct objects. That is not a real object. The real object is a soul. It creates unity in the body. When the soul leaves the body, the body disintegrates.

    Similarly, when you see a deity, there is unity in diversity. That unity is a soul. However, it is not an ordinary soul like in the case of bed and chair. The soul is the Lord Himself. Just like the soul incarnates from body to body, similarly, the Lord has incarnated into a body. The soul is the unity in the atoms comprising the deity. There isn’t any other soul. Hence, giving to the deity is giving the Lord’s incarnated soul. Likewise, all deities are called the incarnations of the Lord. The meaning is precisely the same as our incarnation into a body or an incarnation to create a bed. However, if you break the deity, the soul is not broken. The soul cannot be cut by weapons, dried by air, wetted by water, or burnt by fire. The soul simply leaves an unsuitable body.

    Some years ago, there was a lot of nonsense going on in one ISKCON temple. One fine day, the temple was opened, and they found that the raised hand of Lord Chaitanya had fallen off to the ground. This is the disintegration of the body because the soul has left. The soul can leave and the body will disintegrate. Or you can break the body and the soul will leave. So Lord Chaitanya had left the temple and His deity broke. The doors of the temple housing that deity were closed for months. Then a new deity was installed. There was introspection about why the deity broke. So far, the deity hasn’t broken again. If the deity breaks, then the soul has left the body and it disintegrates.

    Factually, the Lord can come as a deity made out of anything. But He has a preference too. He wants to incarnate in deities made out of certain types of metal, certain types of wood, and certain types of stone. Those types of metals, woods, and stones are presented in the pāñcarātra system of deity worship. It is not random. There are books describing which types of metals, woods, and stones are suitable for a deity. There are specific procedures of how to make the deity although I don’t know all the details. The person making the deity has to follow strict rules and regulations too. We cannot mass-produce deities in a factory. Every deity has to be hand-made with devotion. All factory-produced deities are worthless pieces of stone, metal, or wood. But if a deity is hand-made according to the proper procedure, then the Lord incarnates.


    Just a follow up to what you explained using the analogy of the drop and ocean:

    1. Some of my friends believe that the soul’s existence is independent of God’s existence because all the properties of God are not manifest the individual soul. The analogy they give is that of God being a shirt and all of us being a piece of cloth torn from that shirt. If we were really that piece of cloth then our properties will be the same as that of the shirt from the cloth has been torn. How would you explain why despite all of us coming from God, we don’t have the same properties because what they say is that the individual soul is independent because its potential is not the same as the potential as that of God.

    2. If matter is also a soul then why does it need a different soul to function properly? Why does our body need a mind and a separate soul to actually have any value because a body without a soul is essentially and technically dead and therefore, its value has diminished as compared to a body that has a soul. Does it derive its value from the soul entering the body just like a stone has less value when the deity has not incarnated but has more value when the deity has?

    3. You mentioned about Abrahamic faiths talking about the world being created for our enjoyment. But is it not true that most people who preach these faiths talk about life as suffering and therefore, gives everyone an incentive to follow the commandments so that they can go to heaven after death? Since life is full of suffering, there is a payoff provided after death which makes them supposedly behave in a moral manner although history has shown what kind of atrocities they have committed.

    Ashish Dalela

    The correct analogy is based on qualities. For example, there is white color and its components like red, blue, and green color. Red, blue, and green are parts of white. They can seem different from white. But they are always part of white. The potential of red, blue, and green is not the same as that of white. The shirt and piece analogy is antithetical to the Vedic system. Even the ocean, pond, and drop analogy is ultimately wrong because we cannot remove a drop from an ocean without reducing the ocean. But what I can do when people are searching for simple answers?

    Matter is like white and each soul is like red, blue, and green. When the second soul is present, then red, green, and blue are seemingly separated from white. Otherwise, they are merged in white. The value depends on the qualities exhibited and the effects produced as the result of presence. A dead body cannot produce any value. It can only be burned or buried to be eaten as food by insects and worms.

    Abrahamic faiths say different things in different societies. In India, there is a broad acceptance of the idea that life is suffering, the world is an illusion, and we have to get out of the illusion and suffering. So, when they preach in India, they talk about suffering and illusion. But if they go to the West, then life is not suffering and the world is not an illusion. There, God solves gives you money, cures diseases, and performs miracles, which are various solutions to your material problems. If you read all the articles I have written, you will know what their ideology really is. Lying, cheating, killing, and stealing are not bad things for them if they can convert.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.