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What is God?

Updated: May 18, 2019

Its well and good to say to our self 'I am Brahman' but the real self realization is, feeling 'I am Brahaman'. Now that is no simple task.

Satyam, Gnyanam, Anantham; Brahman : Brahman or God; is someone/something which/that is Anantham (Limitless), Satyam (Real) and something that can experienced (Gnyanam)

According to Vedanta, for something (as of now a concept) to qualify as a God has to satisfy all of the afore mentioned conditions. So the first condition is Anantham or Na-Anatham, which literally means No-End or simply Limitless. Limitation as we know has three boundaries:

Space: Desa Parichaya - Present everywhere - Omnipresent

Time: Kaala Parichaya - Present all the time - Eternal

Entity: Vastu Parichaya - Present in everything - There is nothing apart from it or Non dual (Advaitam)

So if Brahman exists everywhere; he/she/it must be HERE

If Brahman exists all the time ; he/she/it must be right NOW

If Brahman exists in everything; he/she/it must be in all the things around us

So pretty much Brahman has to be HERE, right NOW and in EVERYTHING. So where is Brahman? He/She/It is not in the laptop I am typing, Not on the table that my laptop is sitting on and both my laptop and the table are two separate entities and most certainly cannot be anywhere else at the same time. So how exactly can Brahman be ANANTHAM?

To add to this already herculean task of proving Brahman is Anantham, Vedanta also says; Brahman has to be Satyam as well. Satyam in this case is Real.

So as a concept it is well and good to say Brahman is Anantham but it is merely that, a concept. We can come up with any number of concepts but that doesn't mean it is true is it. So Brahman has to be REAL as well and at the same time Anantham? If that is the case Vedanta has screwed itself over by saying Brahman is Anantham because none of the things which we know as REAL, satisfy any of the three Conditions of Anantham. There is nothing we know of that exists everywhere, all the time and in everything. Is there anything like that? For example this laptop is here in front of me right now, which means it isn't there anywhere else. This laptop is also different from the table it is sitting on, which are completely two separate entities. So pretty much anything we can think of cannot exist everywhere, all the time and in everything. So how exactly can Brahman be Anantham and be Real?

So what exactly is REAL? Put it simply everything around us. Example: Houses, vehicles, laptop, phones etc. Anything we can see, feel, know etc can be defined as Real. So the next question is, are any of these Anantham? So any of the things, which we believe or know to be real, Anantham? Is a house Anantham? No! It was created sometime and it will disappear sometime. Same like us humans or animals or anything for that matter and whatever that is there all the time cannot be everywhere and even if there is such a thing; which is Real that is everywhere and all the time, it certainly cannot be in everything. So how can Brahman be Anantham and Real?

To solve this conundrum, Vedanta uses something called Lakshyana or Implied meaning. For example when we say; I bought a Mango, we mean I bought the entire mango but when we say I ate a mango, we most certainly don't mean we ate the entire mango. It is clearly understood without saying that we just ate the edible part of the mango. So it is understanding something in the right context and going beyond what is being said or in this case we seem to know or rather think we know. So using this lakshyana, what is needed here is something that is both Anantham and Real. So in all of the things we know that are/is real what is it that we need to see or understand beyond the surface? What is the common factor in all things Real we know?

Bhagwad Gita: Chapter 2, verse 16Naasatho vidyathay, bhaavo na bhaavo, vidyathay satha: That which is unreal, will never come into existence and that is real, will never go out of existence!

In all of our experiences, we always experience 2 things. The thing itself, whatever that might be and its existence. For example when you are looking at the stars or a car or anything; you are seeing the Star itself and its existence but we mistake it as one experience. For example let's take a simple sentence like 'Chalk is white and it exists'. It also can be put in the following ways:

1. There exists something (X), X is called 'Chalk' and X is white

2. There exists something (X), X is called 'Chalk' and X is 'Existing' - So you are pretty much saying, there exists something that is existing, which does not make any sense and even worse if you deny existence!

3. There exists something (X), X is called 'Chalk' and X is not 'Existing' - So here you are saying, there exists something that is not existing.

So as you can see the 2nd and 3rd statements does not make any sense, so existence on its own cannot be a property but rather it is the reality. So in essence it is Existence which is appearing as a chalk as opposed to Chalk that is existing.

So anything without existence pretty much disappears. So if we separate Existence and Chalk, Chalk pretty much straight away disappears but existence still remains. Same like removing water from the wave; water still remains but the wave disappears! So if you really think about it, it is a profound revelation that all of the things are not in existence but rather it is existence that is appearing in form of all of the things. Crazy right!

So next logical question would be, what exactly is Existence? how do we even begin to comprehend such an inconceivable notion called Existence? because anything to be comprehended needs a form. It’s again like the wave and the water scenario. For us to comprehend a wave, there needs to be water because a wave is nothing but water in the form of a wave. Without water, there is no wave. Can we imagine such a thing? A wave without water. It is inconceivable just like Existence. Therefore all of this existence merely appears because of my existence. So for anything to be appreciated or comprehended, it needs a name and a form. So everything we see, feel is nothing but manifestations of existence itself. So Existence is that one thing that is everywhere, all the time and in everything. So if you really think about it, we are literally surrounded by an ocean of existence, in various forms and shapes. If one can go beyond our logical mind and tap into our intuitive mind and really contemplate, everything exists because we exist or in other words everything around us is just a borrowed existence from our very own existence.

Sat: Pure Existence - This is Anantham as it has no limitation in Space, time and entity

Just as we are trying to get our head around the concept of Existence, which as a concept sounds Real and without Limitations (Anantham); there is still one more condition that needs to be satisfied, which is Gnyanam (Knowledge). Gnyanam here implies all of our experiences that we are cognizant of. Our thoughts, memories, perceptions, knowledge etc (Vrithis). Again we are faced with the same question, is Gnyanam Anantham? Well it cannot be because all of our experiences are fleeting and every experience is different from the other. For example: what we see is different from what we hear, What we think may not necessarily be the same as how we act, How we feel now may not be the same as how we might feel about a same experience later. So how can Gnyanam be Brahman?

Well, again we have to do our Lakshyana and use the implied meaning. So we have to find the common factor in all of our experiences, just like how we have ascertained, Existence is the common factor in all things we deem Real. And what is that common factor in all of our experiences? Well I already covered this in my previous blog - Who Am I, the common factor in all of our experiences is Pure Consciousness or Chit. What we see, hear, smell, touch, feel, think, act, react, respond, perceive and the knowledge of all of these etc might be different from one moment to the other and within the same moment itself but one constant in all of these experiences is that Pure Consciousness, which is overseeing and aware of all of these experiences and this Chit is Anantham as it is there in all of our experiences, at all times and in every experience. Lets face it, without Chit, there is no experience to begin with. So this Pure Consciousness is Anantham.

Chit: Pure Consciousness (Consciousness/Awareness + Mind) - This is Anantham as it has no limitation in Space, Time and Entity

So Brahman is: Sat Chit Anantham or put it simply, Pure existence and consciousness that is infinite is Brahman. Now this is a rather startling revelation considering the answer to the question Who Am I, is Sat (Pure Consciousness). So what vendanta is pretty much trying to say is We are Brahman!! Not individual parts of Brahman but as one single entity. All of us as a whole is Brahman! Fancy getting our heads around this definition of GOD. So there is no question of where, in what or when to find GOD; as in a certain place like temple/church/mosque etc or in a statue/tree/animal etc or when we die but rather We are God, which is in all of us all the time, everywhere! Its well and good to say to ourself 'I am Brahman' but the real self realization is, feeling 'I am Brahman'. Now that is no simple task.

P.S: A lot of this is inspired by talks of Swami Sarvapriyananda!

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