“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.8)
na tu māṁ śakyase draṣṭum
divyaṁ dadāmi te cakṣuḥ
paśya me yogam aiśvaram
“Listen, don’t you think things would be a lot easier if God just showed Himself to mankind? I’m not talking about a select few people. Who is going to believe their testimony anyway? I mean really make your presence felt, come out and just tell everybody who you are. If they don’t believe you, do something amazing. Show everyone how you can walk on water. If they attack you physically, show how you can defend against that. After all, people go nuts over someone who can make a lot of money in the business world. If God did something amazing in every area of importance, then people would believe in Him. We would have peace on earth.”
The Supreme Lord does exist. The Vedas describe that He can be realized in three distinct features. There is Brahman. This is the all-pervading spiritual energy. The wise person notices the love and support of their own family members and then appreciates how members of other families offer the same. Through thinking this way appreciation expands. Imagine if you were conscious of the spiritual identity of all beings and how they are struggling in a world full of duality. This is one way to understand the Brahman realization.
A more complete realization is Paramatma. This is where you realize that God already lives inside of you. He is there as the Supersoul, who is invisible just like the individual soul. Wind cannot be perceived by sight. We know that it is there, however, based on its influence. The same applies for the individual soul and the Supersoul. Paramatma is unique in that He lives in every individual as the same person; He does not divide Himself.
The complete feature is Bhagavan, which is the Personality of Godhead. This realization is the most difficult to achieve, as it is not cheap. Bhagavan certainly exists, but He does not reveal Himself to everyone. He has His reasons.
1. Who are we to demand?
To tell God to show Himself to everyone is to command Him. A child has no right to speak this way to their father. They may try every now and then, but the father is not compelled to listen. He is in the superior position. The Supreme Lord is the same way.
Consider a thief demanding that a person vacate their home and hand over all their money. What right does the thief have? They are on the criminal path. At least the righteous person has some character to use as justification for holding on to their property. The living beings who live only for sense gratification, trying to become the greatest enjoyer, have no moral ground on which to stand when demanding things from God.
2. What qualification do we have?
It’s the first day of the new semester. We have decided to visit the same college as our friend. We walk into the 8 AM class and the teacher takes a roll call. He notices that our name is not on the list. He asks if we are registered for the class. We say “no.” He asks why not. We inform him that we are not officially enrolled in the college. He then laughs and tells us to leave, saying that only admitted students are allowed to attend classes.
In the same way, certain qualifications are necessary to see God. If the Supreme Lord simply revealed Himself to everyone, who would actually appreciate His appearance? It’s something like giving life lessons to a person while they are intoxicated. They will not retain the information, despite how valuable it might be.
3. We don’t have the eyes to see Him.
Man has four defects. There is the tendency to cheat. He is easily illusioned. He commits mistakes. He also has imperfect senses. What does the term “imperfect senses” mean? I can’t hear something happening far away. My ears allow me to hear, but the audible range is limited. A limitation means an imperfection.
Bhagavan is actually all around. The person blessed with the spiritual vision notices His presence at every moment of the day. This is not a hallucination; they see Him in truth. The materially contaminated lack these eyes. They mistake a rope for a snake, so how can they properly notice the origin of all matter and spirit? Even if it appeared right in front of them, they wouldn’t realize it.
4. He is around us already.
As mentioned before, Paramatma lives within each of us. This means that God is already here. He does not need to explicitly reveal Himself. The fact that anything moves on its own proves the presence of God. Spirit comes from spirit, not matter. All sparks of spirit come from the original spirit, who is God. As soon as we see a living thing, we have seen a spark of God. As soon as we see a result to action, we see the work of Paramatma. He is the overseer and permitter.
bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ
paramātmeti cāpy ukto
dehe ‘smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ
“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)
5. The vision means more when there is qualification.
There is the saying, “Good things come to those who wait.” The idea is that you’ll appreciate something more if you have to work for it. The vision of God comes through bhakti, which is devotion. Bhakti is not a cheap reward. The Supreme Lord already hands out material benedictions through His representatives. These representatives, who are known as devas, don’t ask much from the worshipers. They give out anything in their power. A person can become the richest in the world through the favor of the devas.
Yet bhakti will not be handed out so easily. It requires qualification first. A principal qualification is lack of material desire. If our focus is on enjoying the senses, on exploiting the resources of nature, on competing with our fellow man, then we don’t have the proper qualification. If we are exhausted by such pursuits, if we no longer want to suffer through the endless cycle of sense gratification in lifetime after lifetime, we have a chance to get the Divine vision.
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
The question then remains: how do we get the proper qualification? In this age the recommendation is to first follow the principles of devotion, even if there is sinful desire on the side. Through proper training, by engaging in devotional acts like chanting the holy names purification eventually comes. There is historical evidence to attest to the fact. People practiced the principles of devotion and then saw God later on.
Another thing to remember is that those who weren’t qualified also saw God. King Hiranyakashipu saw Bhagavan in His form of Narasimhadeva. Ravana saw Him as Rama. Kamsa saw Him as Krishna. The attitude each time was enmity. Therefore the vision really had no influence. These people saw God directly. They witnessed His extraordinary beauty and power. And yet they didn’t get the same benefit as the devotees like Arjuna, who was given special eyes with which to behold the great opulence of Krishna. This means that only through following devotion does one both see God and appreciate Him. After getting the vision, the fortunate and qualified souls remain fixed in the path of bhakti-yoga.
Before Ravana, Kamsa and Hiranya to come,
But proper benefit for them was none.
When only sense gratification I know,
Why God His form obligated to show?
What qualification in me,
That Divine vision I should see?
Only when with material pursuits done,
And impurities in consciousness none.
Categories: the five