Friday, February 22, 2013

What Do Hare Krishnas Believe? Part 8: The Nature of God (7)

So, God is a person. What kind of person is He? How can I describe? I will only be able to describe a small drop of His nature and qualities. Just as the sky extends unlimitedly but a sparrow can only fly to a certain height, similarly, God (Krsna) is unlimited and my powers of description are very small. Still, by His grace, I'll do whatever I can. However, it won't be possible to talk about Him without talking about us too, since we're part of Him.

There are many analogies to help our intelligence grasp the situation – the comparative position of Krsna and of ourselves. He's compared to the sun of which we individual living beings are the particles of radiant energy; to a tree of which we're the leaves and branches; or to the ocean of which we're the droplets. He's the source / root / basis of all that be; everything depends on Him for life and vitality; indeed, we're part and parcel of Him. We can never thrive while ignoring our eternal connection with Him and trying to live without Him any more than a leaf can when detached from its parent tree, or than a spark can continue to glow when separated from the fire from whence it came. And just as a drop of seawater can be analyzed to have the same composition as the entire body of seawater, so we can learn about Krsna by studying ourselves. There is no difference in quality, but only in quantity: He is the greatest and we jiva souls are the tiniest.

Thus, as we're sac-cid-ananda by nature (i.e., our spirit selves are inherently possessed of eternality, knowledge and bliss), so is He; He just has unlimitedly more knowledge and bliss than we have. Any qualities we find in ourselves can be found in Him, to a limitless degree. As I alluded to in a previous post, the personal form of the Lord is technically known as bhagavan. This word means “He who is endowed with all opulences.” Specifically, these opulences are of six kinds: beauty, knowledge, strength, fame, wealth, and renunciation. Each of us has some amount of each of these qualities; when we meet a person who has a lot of any of them – a super-gorgeous person, an astoundingly wise person, etc. – normally we feel at least some attraction to them; and Krsna is endowed with the totality of each of these qualities. For example, everyone everywhere talks about God at least sometimes, whether they believe in Him or not, so He is the one person who is all-famous. He has all the power (He kindly lends some to us so that we can fulfill our desires, but if He doesn't sanction our desires, then we'll find ourselves unable to do anything, because the power doesn't really belong to us, it belongs to Him). Since everything belongs to Him, He has all the wealth as well. He's the only one who truly knows everything; and not only does He have the most beautiful transcendental personal form you'll ever see, but also, all the beauty you see anywhere, in any object, is also attributable to Him by being His energy and a spark of His splendor. Et cetera.

Also, He's capable of every emotion we find in ourselves; and when He shows a particular emotion, it's overwhelmingly intense compared with our own exhibition of it. In His incarnation as Lord Ramacandra, for example, at one point He felt angry at the demigod in charge of the ocean, and when He glanced on the ocean with fiery eyes, the sea began to boil from the heat of His anger. Though we might feel furious, our anger could never boil the ocean! Therefore He's known as Asamaurdhva, which means that no one can ever be equal to or greater than Him in any category.

Sometimes people, in limited conditional awareness, judge anger to be unconditionally a negative, damaging force (which is usually true, in this world) and declare that God must be above such emotions. However, why would He experience some emotions and not others? Emotions are complex, often experienced as a multi-layered mix, and may be positive or negative in their effect depending on the particular situation. In this world of duality, some of them may indeed be considered “good” and some “bad”, but the spiritual realm is the absolute plane where all such material distinctions are irrelevant. The mode of goodness may be better than the modes of passion and ignorance, but since all of them have the potential to keep us tied to this world of birth and death, they are compared to gold shackles vs. iron ones. Which one would you rather be constrained with? Yeah, gold may be more beautiful, but wouldn't you rather just get out?! So ultimately there's not so much difference between anger and any other emotion, and any attempt to make an arbitrary distinction with regard to what God can experience reveals the influence of maya (illusion). Thus, if He's free of anger (free of material anger such as we conditioned souls experience in this world – which as a matter of fact He is!), He's also free of every other emotion we know. (He has the name Nirguna because He's not affected by material qualities). If we didn't believe that the conditioned emotions we experience here have spiritual counterparts, we'd get the idea that God is entirely free of feeling, which doesn't make Him sound at all lovable or personal. No. He – and the rest of us when we're purified from material influence – experience the full range of emotions, but they're purely spiritual rather than contaminated and mundane.

The reason the anger of God / Krsna (as well as of those who are unified with Him in feeling and purpose due to pure devotion) is transcendental to the embarrassing illusory conditioning most of us suffer under in this world is because it's true and righteous, taking in the whole situation and responding to it with appropriate feeling. Just as each cell in a body does its part individually and the result is a harmonious and healthy whole body, each of us has a job we're meant to do for the good of all (including ourselves). When we rebel and act independently, fulfilling selfish desires for sense gratification without considering the benefit or detriment of our actions to all Creation, we're acting like screwed-up cells, attacking the very body we belong to. Since Krsna sees the whole picture and knows perfectly well what needs to be done for everyone's happiness, when He loses His temper, His anger just destroys harmful elements, straightens everything out, and improves the situation for all. It is healthy, like a surgeon's knife. Because of who and what He is, it's impossible for Krsna to get angry at the wrong things. He can't possibly desire ill for us, who are part and parcel of Him, any more than we can be happy by serving anyone or anything other than Him. We're like the hand, and He's like the stomach. The duty of the hand is to put food in the stomach so that the stomach in turn can distribute that fuel all over the entire body, benefiting the whole organism, including the hand. If the hand rebels against this duty, artificially thinking itself separate from the stomach, and enviously says “Why shall I serve the stomach? Let me digest this food on my own,” can it ever be successful or happy by that endeavor? No, it will suffer along with the rest of the body. Similarly, we happen to be eternally and constitutionally in the position of offering service while Krsna is in the position of receiving it, but this transaction benefits us just as much because we're part of Him.

So, as nobody (as long as we're well) has to tell us to eat when we're hungry, similarly nobody has to tell pure souls to serve God. Just as young teenage boys and girls are automatically attracted to each other, so our attraction to serving the Lord is 100% natural. According to our scriptures, His primary name is Krsna: “the all-attractive one.” As small masses are attracted by the gravitational pull of large masses, so the Lord, Sum Total of All, is like a magnet to us. He's the all-attractive core of existence, in whom our existence is based and to whom our attention irresistibly returns. He is possessed of every quality you can imagine to the maximum degree, so whatever it is you like, you'll find a bottomless ocean of it in Him. And your very self being a part of His and unalterably designed to serve Him, your desire to fulfill this purpose of your existence can never be banished from you. If you so choose, that desire can be covered, disguised and misdirected toward other goals – temporary material objects in which smaller amounts of pleasure can be found, which do not permanently or ultimately satisfy you, like attractive bodies, minds, thoughts, or possessions, food, drink, or fun activities – but as you try one thing after the next you will always be unconsciously looking for Him – our Eternal Love, the Reservoir of All Pleasure.

As we jiva souls feel this way about Sri Krsna (whether we know it or not), so too do all His other separated constituent parts, such as His various personified energies, opulences, and powers. They all serve Him voluntarily, since they're naturally filled with love for Him, and they know His service to be their natural position and the thing that will bring happiness to themselves and all the rest of Existence.

To be continued...

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