God-realization comprises of two parts – knowledge and practice known in Sanskrit as jñāna and sādhanā. Many Vedāntic texts address God as Brahman or the Self for the sake of convenience and clarity. Though Vedas form the basis for many philosophies, it is only Scriptures and Upaniṣad-s that make the common man to understand the foundational principles of spiritualism. Most of the Scriptures impart knowledge about God on the basis of dvaita or dualistic philosophy. Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Devimāhātmya, etc are a few examples. These Scriptures are considered important, as they make the common man to understand and adore God as the Supreme personality. They always portray God in a superhuman form, which is absolutely true. By reading these Scriptures or listening to the discourses, a nescient person develops interest in God and begins to either love Him or worship Him as someone who is far superior to him. But for these Scriptures, the thought of divinity would not have embarked on the minds of men and women. Such persons, visit temples or other places of worship and derive mental peace due to the vibrations emanating from all the places of worship. Such vibrations are visibly present in these places of worship as many of the devotees think only about the God in these places. Their awareness gets focused on the presiding deity over there. They attempt to establish a firm connection between their thoughts and the God while visiting these places of worship, causing immense positive vibrations. They have many applications and appeals to God and all these applications and appeals are submitted to the God at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. They have immense faith that the presiding deity of the temple would have surely listened to their requests and return home with the confidence that their requests would be considered favorably. Faith is one of the significant factors in spiritual life. Because of their positive mental affirmations, most of their requests are fulfilled and thus their faith on the God increases. Most of the devotees do not cross this state and remain in this state till their last days. They have the satisfaction of living a religious life. They strictly follow the precepts of dharma śāstra-s without even attempting to know the reasons for such dictums.
A few of the above class of men and women are keen to advance further and begin to make enquiries about God. There are three states in God realization –worshipping, enquiring and exploring and finally realization. They are not just satisfied by visiting temples and other places of worship and they develop a sort of inner urge to know about God in detail. Such people move from dualistic Scriptures or dvaita philosophy such as Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Devimāhātmya, Purāṇa-s, etc to non-dualistic Scriptures such as Upaniṣad-s, Bhagavad Gītā, etc. Upaniṣad-s describe God as Brahman for the purpose of easier understanding. Upaniṣad-s go beyond dualistic Scriptures and say with conviction and authority that Brahman is not merely a superhuman and infinite personality, but He also dwells within all the sentient and insentient beings as the cause of their very existence. Every Upaniṣad describes Brahman as the Supreme Self and dwells at length to establish His supremacy from different aspects. But they all conclusively agree that Brahman is the ultimate Reality and there is nobody in the hierarchy above Him. They also agree that nobody knows the origin of the Brahman and they call Him as ādi and anādi, which means that nobody knows His origin and that He exists from the time immemorial. He has no parentage and He exists from eternity. This is absolutely true, as He is incomprehensible.
Upaniṣad-s do not stop by merely expounding Brahman. They go beyond and explain how to realize Him within one’s own body. They talk about many subtler things in life and describe them as Brahman. For example, Kaṭha Upaniṣad affirms that Brahman alone is Self-illuminating and all other luminaries like the sun derive a minuscule of His light from Him and shine. Yet another Upaniṣad says that He is prāṇa, the life energy of every living being. Apart from Upaniṣad-s, Brahmasūtra and Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, both authored by Ādi Śaṃkarācārya also establish subtle nature of the Brahman. All these great Scriptures elucidate the subtle nature of the Brahman and confirm with authority and pellucidity that Brahman does not have a shape or form. Though He is subtle, still He is apprehensible not through senses but only through the mind, an exclusive gift to humanity. What is perceived through senses is the objective world. The objective world is superimposed on Him. Those who are deeply attached to the objective world get sunk in the fathomless saṁsāra, also known as transmigration. Those who look for the subject have to go beyond the object and they alone are considered as the true spiritual aspirants. Getting attached to the objective world without trying to know the cause of objective world is called avidya or nescience. On the contrary, knowledge of knowing the subject or the Brahman is vidya or spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is entirely different from worldly knowledge. There are various philosophies available to make us to first understand and then to realize the Brahman. Understanding Him is a prerequisite for realizing Him. As said earlier, Brahman can only be realized and cannot be visually seen, as His realization is possible only through the mind and not through the senses.
Before proceeding to understand the different types of philosophies, it is important to have basic knowledge about the formation of the universe both from the spiritual point of view and from the scientific point of view. If intricacies of philosophies are not colligated with science to some extent, doubts could begin to sprout in our minds resulting in lack of absolute faith in the path that we pursue. Faith is one of the preponderant factors in Self-realization. Unless one has faith and belief in the existence of Self, obviously, He cannot be pursued and realized. The basic factor while correlating spirituality with science is the various explanations and interpretations on quantum theory, Newton’s laws, and most recently Higgs Boson’s theory on God Particle. Pursuing spiritual path means the study of Spirit and matter, the obvious difference between the two is that the former is subtle and infinite and the latter is gross and finite. Interrelating between the two is the spiritual science; study of the Spirit is philosophy; and the study of the matter is physics. This is not a scientific article by any means and I am only trying to correlate spirituality with science, so that we can have absolute faith in God. Faith is the supreme factor in God realization and lack of absolute faith could drag down even yogis.
Before creation happened, there existed nothing except a small piece of mass, which continued to expand over several billions of years. At one point of time, this great mass began to pulsate and vibrate leading to a huge explosion stimulating inconceivable rise in temperature, causing the separation of light from the matter. This explosion is said to have happened thirteen billion years ago. This is known as solar nebula (evolution of solar system) and this was the basis of expansion of the universe, leading to the theory of Big Bang. This was the stage, when the matter got separated from the Spirit, due to Divine Will (will to create the universe) forming two separate entities – Light and matter. The light is called Spirit, God, Self or Brahman. The other one is the matter with innumerable atom like particles. It is called atom-like because, the particle was much smaller than proton, the interior component of an atom. Originally it was thought that there can be nothing that is smaller than the protons. But due to recent finding of Hibbs Boson theory, there are particles that are smaller than the protons. However these particles cannot be explained as souls, irrespective of any technical explanations offered by science. These tiny particles are called sub-atomic particles that stay afloat in the cosmos due to the electromagnetic fields and gravitational forces. As discussed earlier. These tiny particles also have energy fields both inside and outside. Due to the collusion of atoms, further creation, evolution, etc take place.
Matter and energy are not only interrelated but also interdependent and cannot be separated. When there is a matter, there has to be energy both within the matter and also outside the matter. Based on this theory, planets are held in their respective places due to gravitational force. Energy is always related to the speed of the light and nothing moves faster than light. Movement of light causes energy, which in turn has a bearing on both inside and outside the matter. Energy is a term normally used in connection with the matter and they always co-exist. Now, there are two aspects – one is the Light energy and other is the matter. Light is always subtle and matter is always gross. In order to make the matter function, light energy is required and similarly, the light energy cannot do anything independently without having a matter to reflect itself. Matter takes different shapes and forms and with sensory organs and light energy infuses life by entering into that shape or form in the form of a soul. The soul always remains the same and does not undergo any change and has nothing to do with the activities of the shapes and forms. The soul does not cause the movements in shapes and forms by itself and at the same time, a body cannot function without the soul within. It remains within a body only to give life and it has no function beyond that. It is the life sustenance force. A body is made to act due to the various energy forces working together and also in tandem.
Time and space is another factor that needs proper understanding. Whatever is subjected to time and space grows over a period of time to ultimately perish. There is nothing in the universe that is not bound by time and space, except God. Past, present and future are governed by time and space and is applicable to all objects or matters. This is a natural rhythm of constant expansion of the universe. In expansion, past, present and future are inherent. This is applicable only to gross matters as they undergo modifications that are perceivable. When gross matter is undergoing changes, it is natural that the subtle elements that cause changes in the gross matter also undergo changes. But this is not perceivable. Expansion of all the objects such as planets in various galaxies happen in the presence of electromagnetic waves known as photons (different from proton) and other particles like helium, etc in between the planets, which we used to consider as void or vacuum. Because of the presence of electromagnetic waves, energies are transmitted to distant places through these waves. This could possibly explain distant vision by sages and saints. This is where causal bodies (karmic imprints) with souls within sojourn before transmigration. When the intensity of the photons is high, the entire plane is better illuminated than a plane with lesser photons. Photos are illumining in nature. This makes the difference between heaven and earth. A cosmic plane with lesser electromagnetic waves is known as hell and a cosmic plane with hyperactive electromagnetic waves is known as the heaven.
Universe cannot continue to expand indefinitely. This phenomenon is like a balloon, which bursts when the expansion reaches the optimum level. In the case of universe, when optimum level is reached it could explode leading to the original state of mass wherein pulsation could again start towards creation of the universe. Thus, it can be observed that the changes happen only in the creation and not in the creator, as creator is not the matter. But for the creator, creation cannot happen. Creation originates from Him and would dissolve unto Him.
Soul is the reflection of Light that pervades the entire universe. Soul cannot be described as a particle. It is beyond proper explanation as it is beyond normal human perception. A human form or for that matter any form is made around the soul, which is the cause of life. Soul is the cause and the matter that is explained above is the effect. Former is known as unmanifest energy and the latter is known as manifest energy. Again cause and effect are interdependent. Mere existence of a cause does not lead to anything and there cannot be an existence without a cause. Cause needs some matter to manifest. Cause is the soul and effect is the human body. When the mass splits into two as Light and matter, the Light never undergoes any change. It is perpetual, constant, infinite and static. When a human body grows around a soul, the reflection of the original Light, the universe continues to expand around the original Light itself. This original Light is known as God or whatever the name we would like to call it. Nature of all the souls is the same. In fact they are not different but merely the reflection of the Light. When keep different pots filled with water under the sun, the same sun gets reflected in all the pots, irrespective of the shapes and sizes of the pots. To understand this easily, sun can be compared to the Light and its reflection in the pots are the souls. This is the basic concept of all the Upaniṣad-s.
God can be explained only through the highest degree of everything, as God is the only unchanging principle. He is the pure consciousness, pure intelligence, pure mind, etc. The inherent factor in a soul is the light that gets reflected from that Light. Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.ii.15) says that before this Light, no other light shines and luminaries illumine only by deriving light from this Light. This goes to prove the omnipotence of this Light. There are innumerable references to this theory in various Scriptures, which will be discussed later in this series.
With this background, intricacies of various philosophies will be taken up for discussion.
(to be continued)