Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 14 Nov 2019


Why does tradition say that the unimaginable God is constantly experienced by us as awareness?

If God is unimaginable, He should be beyond awareness and beyond our experience. Then why is it traditionally said that God is awareness and that, as awareness, He is always being experienced by us? [This question is part of a mahā satsaṅga or a great spiritual discussion between Swami and several devotees who had come from various places, seeking the clarification of their doubts.]

Swami replied: If you see the definition of God in the scriptures and apply some logical analysis to it, you will inevitably conclude that the ultimate Absolute Reality, called God, is unimaginable. Simple logic is sufficient to arrive at this conclusion. The scripture says that God is the Creator of space (Ātmanaḥ ākaśaḥ sambhūtaḥ). Space can obviously not exist in God before its creation. If no space exists in God, it means that God has no spatial dimensions. God has no volume and is even beyond the concept of space and spatial dimensions. It means that God is unimaginable since our imagination can never cross the concept of space.

We can also arrive at the same concept purely through logical analysis. The statement, “Space or the universe is infinite” conveys an incomplete and illogical concept since it does not specify from whose point-of-view space is infinite. Actually, space is not infinite for God. So, the logical statement to say is that the universe is not infinite, but finite and that beyond the boundaries of space, exists the unimaginable God. However, the universe or space has such a large diameter that even our imagination cannot reach the end-point of that diameter. The end-point of the diameter of space is the starting point of the unimaginable God. If you can imagine the end-point of space, you have imagined the starting point of the unimaginable God, which is impossible. If you have touched the end-point of the sea, it means that you have touched the starting point of land. Since you cannot touch the starting point of the unimaginable God, even by your imagination, you cannot touch the end-point of space. Space is like the trail of smoke that is emitted from the unimaginable God, who is like the fire. As the fire is the cause of the smoke, God is the root cause of space (creation). If you follow the trail of smoke backwards, you reach its cause, the fire. So, also, when you reach the edge of the universe, you reach the unimaginable God!

The concept that God is unimaginable makes some people anxious and uncomfortable. They want the satisfaction of knowing and understanding God. They cannot bear the anxiety of being permanently unable to know God, which might spoil their health. They want to define God as an extremely subtle item that can be understood by deep analysis. So, they defined God as awareness and found that awareness-god existing within themselves as the soul. This concept gives a lot of satisfaction to the investigators of God. All the definitions of the soul given in the scriptures were taken to be the definitions of God. Thus, they discovered God within themselves as their own self! Finally, they achieved the satisfaction of understanding God, which is good for their health! The definitions given in the Veda such as “Dṛṣyate tvagrayā...”, “Paśyanti jñānacakṣuṣaḥ” and so on, are the definitions of the subtlest item, which is the soul or awareness existing in living bodies. That awareness is nothing but a subtle work-form of inert energy. It is the inert enegy that has transformed into awareness in the functioning nervous system. It is like electrical energy being converted into grinding-work in a functioning grinding machine. The soul (ātman) is the inert energy which is the cause. The individual soul or awareness (jīva) is the effect. The soul is like the mud and the individual soul is like the pot made out of that mud.

The soul, being inert energy, is qualitatively the same cosmic inert energy that creates, maintains and dissolves the world and is the material cause of creation. Hence, ātman, taken qualitatively in the sense of cosmic energy, is treated to be God. Of course, cosmic energy is inert and it can only be the material cause of creation. But the unimaginable God, due to His omnipotence, is both the material and intelligent cause of space, which is subtle inert energy. Inert energy has no sense of doership (kartṛtva) or enjoyership (bhoktṛtva) since it is inert. God is fundamentally beyond the imaginable ideas of doership and enjoyership since He is unimaginable. Considering the common aspect of being free of doership and enjoyership, the soul, which is basically inert energy, was treated to be God. On the other hand, awareness (individual soul) vanishes everyday in the state of deep sleep and is reborn as one wakes up from deep sleep. So, it can never be treated as God. Of course, neither the inert energy (soul) nor the awareness (individual soul) is God. God, being beyond space, is completely beyond imagination. God can only be seen by souls in mediated form, when He merges with a medium. The medium could be an energetic or material body and attains a state of monism with God. Souls can easily see and interact with the mediated God or the Incarnation. This pacifies the anxiety of souls regarding the unimaginability of God. With the knowledge that souls can easily interact with the mediated God, all human beings may be free of anxiety and remain in perfect health!

| Shri Dattaswami | Drushyate tvagrayaa Pashyanti jnaanachakshushah Jiiva atman Atmanah Akashah sambhutah kartrutva bhoktrutva