Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Personal God

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If you cannot make sense of things without thinking of a personal god, then why try? My teacher's guru, Swami Dayananda, often says, "Some religions say there is only one God. We say there is only God." In other words everything is God. But sometimes it is difficult to relate in a personal way to the total manifest reality as God. Sometimes it is easier to pick one form or aspect of God and relate to that.

How do you square your thoughts about God with the saying 'There are not two things’?

In Vedanta we speak of two orders of reality, the relative and the absolute; and there has been a lot of material written about that, as it is one of the biggest topics of the teachings.

Within the relative order of reality, there is a me, a you, multiplicity and diversity, and God. Thus one can, from within the relative order of reality, have a personal relationship with God. One can talk to God, express concerns and make requests.

How does that square with there not being two things? It squares quite nicely actually. What is not two things is the non-dual reality, which is you. You that you know as yourself, but not as an object. Recognizing this ‘you’ which is not an object, but which has always been known as yourself, independent, as indeed it is, from the body/mind/sense organs individual that your mind took that self to be one with, is the first step in the teachings.

Then, from that place of differentiation, we can look out and examine all of this creation which appears as many different and distinct objects. Through a process of analysis we see that we can break down all objects into smaller and smaller parts. We come to understand that all objects are infinitely divisible. We see that we cannot really find an object which exists in and of itself. Yet, at the same time as we break down all objects, the one 'thing' which continually exists is existence. Never for any moment does existence go out of existence.

If one can see that one never ceases to exist, that one is that unchanging existence, which is consciousness, and has no borders, and that all of duality shares this commonality, i.e. existence, which is known, which has no borders and thus is limitless because there is no second thing, then one has reached the goal which Vedanta has to offer. There are not two things.

There is only one thing and that one thing is you, and every existing object is in the final analysis that same one thing, that same being, which exists, which is known because its nature is consciousness, which is limitless because there is nothing else.

Still even if one has recognized that fact, from within the relative order of reality there continue to be objects, a me and a you, and God. And the individual mind can relate to any and all of them now, knowing there is in reality only 'one thing.' At this point relating can become quite joyful.

Vedanta has a word, "Ashcharyatva! What a wonder!" The teaching is a wonder, the teacher is a wonder, the creation is a wonder, God is a wonder, I am a wonder. Ashcharyatva! What a wonder!

The path to this understanding can be long, but who knows how far you have come already. The fact that you are interested is quite telling. It is said by the Upanishads that in order to reach the goal without ending up in mental confusion a teacher is necessary and that the student must have a strong desire to know.

The good news is that since it is you yourself which you are seeking to know, and you are already present, and the reality which you are is already present, then if you really have the desire to know the truth, you will. You will find the appropriate teacher, who knows how to clear up your doubts, and who can use the Upanishads as a means of self-knowledge.

And certainly the Upanishads will tell you that an understanding and a relationship with a personal god is very useful at every stage of the pursuit. Prayer itself is said to be a mental action which will definitely yield a result. So asking god, who manifests as everything, for help in this undertaking is indeed highly practical.

It is also said that there is nothing the creation likes to support more than a sincere seeker of self-knowledge, nor is there any desire more noble or worthy of fulfillment.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012