Understanding God | Science of Identity Foundation shares an enlightening video on “Understanding God”..
Is There a God?
During the recent live-streamed event – yoga philosophy and meditation teacher Acharya das gave a comprehensive overview on understanding God. It is at this junction we come to the question, “Is there a God or an Absolute Truth?“
As Acharya Das sets out to provide an answer, he begins with a brief explanation of God. The Vedic scriptures refer to the three aspects of the highest truth when they speak of God, or the Absolute Truth.
The Three Features of Absolute Truth
In this discussion, Acharya Das tells us that “the absolute truth is manifested in three features.” The realization of the Absolute Truth results in three different types of transcendental experiences, known as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan realization.
“The realization of the highest truth is always considered perfect realization, complete realization, transcendental realization, however, there is a need to appreciate that there are different degrees of perfection,” shares Acharya Das. He continues on to explain the degrees of perfection beginning with the realization of Brahman as perfect. The realization of Paramatma is considered more perfect. Finally, the realization of Bhagavan is categorized as most perfect. While all are examples of perfection, they embody different degrees of experience related to the different realizations.
Brahman: The First Realization
The first realization is categorized as the impersonal feature of God, which is experienced by Brahman-realized yogis and those that can leave the body through the Kundalini experience, merging into “an ocean of light.” This is an experience of oneness with a greater spiritual energy. It is the understanding, as stated in the Vedas, “Aham Brahmasmi” or “I am Brahman,” meaning this is my spiritual essence: I am Brahman, I am spiritual. Using the analogy of an ocean, Acharya Das tells us, “It’s like taking a drop of water and merging it back into an ocean of water where you lose awareness of your individual existence. But in spite of this being an incredibly wonderful experience and realization and a fully transcendental one, it is not a full revelation of the truth of my own existence, who I am, nor a full experience of God, or the Absolute Truth.”
Paramatma: The Second Realization
The Ashtanga-yogic process offers a very intense focus on the second aspect of God realization, known as Paramatma, which can be broken down into “Param” and “Atma.” “Atma” means the self as a spiritual being. “Param” means “supreme.” Together, Paramatma means the “Supreme Atma” or the Supreme Self.
Here Acharya Das tells us about the Yoga Sutra where Patanjali speaks of Ishvara, which means the “Supreme Controller,” as a Purusha Vishesha. The term “Purusha” is used to identify the spiritual being. He says, “We are all Purushas but amongst all Purushas, there is one Param Purusha, or Supreme Purusha, and Patanjali identifies him by the name Ishvara, and describes him as being a Vishesha Purusha, a special Purusha, and goes on to speak of his qualities.” This is known as Paramatma, the localized feature of God as a person. It is a form of the Lord that resides within the heart of all living beings.
Krishnamacharya, a great yogi of modern times, wrote a very beautiful poem, Yoganjalisrama, that speaks to the realization of the second aspect of the highest truth, Paramatma. Krishnamacharya writes, “Seeing the beauty of the Lord in his heart whose consort is the Goddess Lakshmi, the Lord who supports the universe, the Yogi dancing with joy is lost in this vision.” Upon encountering a vision of this form of Lord Paramatma within the heart, yogis would experience ecstatic happiness.
Bhagavan: The Third Realization
The third feature Acharya Das described of the Absolute Truth is also personal in nature. He begins by explaining that this feature, known as Bhagavan, resides within a spiritual dimension. Just as we are living here within a material dimension, there is also a spiritual dimension. The material dimension is a perverted reflection of another perfect spiritual reality, and this feature of the Absolute Truth, known as Bhagavan, is categorized as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This feature of the Supreme Lord is spoken about extensively within the Vedas.
Finding Spiritual Ecstasy
Acharya Das says that with “the realization of God as the impersonal effulgence known as Brahman, there is an individual realization of our spirituality.” When we realize our existence as a spiritual being, all fear and anxiety evaporate because they are tied to the idea of temporary existence ending with death.
When one encounters the second feature of the Absolute Truth of God as Lord Paramatma, there is an instant awareness of our Lord to whom we are subordinate; in other words, we experience our natural, eternal position.
Acharya Das teaches that with Bhagavan, there is a realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead which instantly awakens the experience of our natural, eternal function, creating an explosion of profound and deep spiritual love. He emotionally describes this, stating that, “It results in the most profound spiritual ecstasies that are so intense and so wonderful that, having experienced this, the living being wants nothing else.”
These are the three ways in which a transcendentalist realizes the highest truth, or God. It is through these experiences that God manifests to the individual soul. When one is able to realize the personal feature of God as Bhagavan, one will be rewarded with the most complete and the most profoundly wonderful realization and experience.
Acharya Das is a disciple of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda and Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and has studied the Bhagavad-Gita for over 40 years. He is a respected teacher of Vedic and yogic philosophy, meditation and kirtan, and a practitioner of the transcendental science of Bhakti Yoga, the process by which a person can come to know and love the Supreme Soul.