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535What God Is - (Yoga Meditation teachings of Swami Rama)

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    May 13, 2007
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      Yoga Meditation teachings of Swami Rama

      WHAT GOD IS
      Swami Rama

      All the religions of the world have been promising the vision of God,
      mental peace, salvation, and many kinds of temptations to their
      followers, but so far nothing has come true. The more that people are
      involved in sectarian religious activities, the more likely they are
      to become disappointed because of frustrated expectations of God and
      religion. Many preachers claim that if their teachings are followed
      without question, believers will find salvation. But after they
      return from their church or temple, they are frequently more
      stressed, frustrated, and worried about their problems than are "non-
      believers."

      Mere belief in God alone does not satisfy the students of life who
      are searching for Ultimate Truth. Suppose a student believes in the
      existence of God but is not emotionally mature and does not have a
      peaceful mind. Such a student does not have tranquility and
      equanimity, which are the main prerequisites for enlightenment. On
      the path of enlightenment, it is necessary to have control over the
      senses and mind, but it is not necessary to have belief in God.
      Enlightenment is a state of freedom from the ignorance that causes
      suffering, and attaining this is the prime necessity of every human
      life. There is no necessity to attain mere belief in God, but it is
      necessary to have profound knowledge of the truth which lies behind
      the concept of the word God.

      The word G-O-D is not God. The religionists, because they superimpose
      their own limited fantasies upon the truth and call it God, suffer
      more than the people who do not believe in the concept of God. If
      Ultimate Truth is called God, then there is no difficulty. Then it
      can be practiced with mind, action, and speech, and once the truth is
      known with mind, action, and speech, knowledge is complete. But
      having faith in the fantasies of the religionists creates limited
      boundaries for the human intellect and leads to a religious
      atmosphere in which the poor followers must suffer until the last
      breaths of their lives.

      Though religious dogma tempts the human mind with promises of the
      vision of God, it does not clarify and define the concept of God. The
      way religious books present the picture of God is injurious to human
      growth, for one who believes in God without understanding what God
      really is, closes the door to further knowledge and learning and
      cannot experience the inner dimensions of life. Such false promises
      are strongly discouraged in the Upanishads, which warn, "Neti, neti—
      not this, not this." The student is made aware of the need to
      understand the reality and is encouraged to search for truth within.
      The Upanishads inspire one first to know oneself and then to know the
      Self of all. Upanishadic literature makes one aware that every being
      embodied in a physical sheath is a moving shrine of Supreme
      Consciousness. It also provides methods for entering the inner
      shrine, wherein shines the infinite light of knowledge, peace, and
      happiness.

      Prayer is a major technique used by religionists to seek satisfaction
      of their desires and comfort in spite of their frustrations. Many
      people who are not acquainted with the basic principles of Vedantic
      philosophy think that there are prayers in the Upanishadic
      literature. For example: "Lead me from the unreal to the Real; lead
      me from darkness to Light; lead me from mortality to Immortality" may
      bethought to be a prayer. But it is actually an expression of the
      aspirant's spiritual desires that remind him of his goal of life
      constantly. It is not a prayer but a way of maintaining constant
      awareness of Supreme Consciousness. It is not asking God or any
      supernatural being to help one or to lead one to the higher states.
      The idea is not to know God as a different being, but to know one's
      own real Self and its essential nature, which is the Self of all. One
      is not attaining something that is not already there but is realizing
      that which is self-existent. This Upanishadic verse is not a prayer
      asking for anything but a way of strengthening constant awareness of
      Supreme Consciousness which is the goal of the Upanishads.

      Dualism is the preliminary experience of a contemplative mind. All
      religions suffer on account of dualistic concepts, such as "Human
      beings are a creation of God; the universe is a creation of God;
      human beings have no choice but to suffer and should delight in their
      sufferings at the mercy of God." These concepts are illogical when
      they are analyzed with clarity of mind and pure reason. In the course
      of study, a student first experiences dualism—the reality that he
      exists and the Supreme Consciousness also exists. Then a state comes
      when he experiences "Thou art That." These two fields of experience
      appear to be different, but they are essentially one and the same.
      These are the progressive states that aspirants experience, but as
      far as Absolute Reality is concerned, there is only one without
      second.

      Religionists say the ultimate goal of human life is to know God, and
      materialists say it is to eat, drink, and be merry. But the
      philosophy of the Upanishads asserts that the ultimate goal is to be
      free from all pain and misery whatsoever. This state of freedom from
      anxieties, misery, and ignorance is called enlightenment. It is the
      union of the individual with Universal Consciousness. Religionists
      say that one has to have faith in the sayings of the scriptures and
      in the way they are preached. But in Upanishadic philosophy; the mind
      is released from all religious prejudices so then one can think and
      reason freely. The Upanishads declare that even the best of
      intellects is incapable of fathoming the unfathomable, and that
      learning the scriptures is not the ultimate way of realization. On
      the path of enlightenment, even the lust for learning must eventually
      be abandoned.

      In some of the Upanishads, the word Îúa or Îúvara, which is roughly
      translated as God, appears. But the concept of God as preached by
      religion is not found in the Upanishads. In the Upanishads, the word
      Îúvara is used to denote a state of collective consciousness. Thus,
      God is not a being that sits on a high pedestal beyond the sun, moon,
      and stars; God is actually the state of Ultimate Reality. But due to
      the lack of direct experience, God has been personified and given
      various names and forms by religions throughout the ages. When one
      expands one's individual consciousness to the Universal
      Consciousness, it is called Self-realization, for the individual self
      has realized the unity of diversity, the very underlying principle,
      or Universal Self, beneath all forms and names. The great sages of
      the Upanishads avoid the confusions related to conceptions of God and
      encourage students to be honest and sincere in their quests for Self-
      realization. Upanishadic philosophy provides various methods for
      unfolding higher levels of truth and helps students to be able to
      unravel the mysteries of the individual and the universe.

      Knowledge of Brahmavidyâ, the direct experience of Supreme
      Consciousness, is the common theme of all Upanishadic literature. "I
      am Brahman; the whole universe is Brahman; Thou art That"—such
      statements are the foundations for all its theories, principles, and
      practices. All philosophical and psychological discussions are meant
      to make students aware of their true nature—Brahman, the Supreme
      Consciousness. For a realized one, there is perennial joy in the
      universe, but for the ignorant there is only misery everywhere. The
      moment a student realizes his essential nature, the darkness of
      ignorance is dispelled, but before that the individual mind travels
      to the groove of self-created misery and thus projects the belief
      that there is misery everywhere. In reality, this universe is like a
      great poem of joy, a beautiful song, and a unique work of art. The
      moment one unfolds and realizes one's human capacity and ability, one
      becomes aware that, "Thou art that—Brahman."

      Here lies the difference between a Self-realized person and a
      religionist. The religionist does not know and yet believes in God,
      but the realized person is directly aware of the self-existent
      Ultimate Reality of life and the universe. First, he knows the truth,
      and then he believes it. If God is the Ultimate Truth hidden behind
      many forms and names, then it should be realized, and, for realizing
      the Truth with mind, action, and speech, one needs to practice truth
      rather than being a hypocrite and a fanatic. It is not necessary to
      believe in God to attain self-enlightenment, but it is very necessary
      to know the various levels of consciousness and finally to realize
      the ultimate source. The manifest aspect and the unmanifest aspect of
      consciousness (Brahman) should be realized, for that alone can
      enlighten aspirants.

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