“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)
ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिम् ऋच्छति
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
Friend1: You know what really sends me into orbit? When someone uses the term “my God.”
Friend2: As a way to express frustration? As in, “My God, man, how can you be so foolish as to believe everything the government tells you?”
Friend1: No, not that. When someone is speaking about religion. They will say things like:
“My God is the greatest. My God is an angry and vengeful Lord. If you don’t submit to Him today, He will remember. Don’t make Him upset.”
Friend2: That is hilarious.
Friend1: I don’t see the humor in it.
Friend1: It is extremely offensive.
Friend2: It is so silly that you can’t help but laugh. Just look at the different assumptions you would have to make in order for those claims to be true.
Friend1: You shouldn’t have to analyze things that deeply, but I know where you are going with this.
Friend2: If “their” God is angry, what exactly is He so upset about?
Friend1: That we have turned against Him.
Friend2: Okay, but we did that a long time ago. Will you harbor resentment from your children if they don’t listen to you?
Friend1: Doubtful. My kids never listen to me. So far, I haven’t thrown them out of the house.
Friend2: You tell them:
“Don’t go running with scissors. Don’t open up the bag of chips while we are in the supermarket. Don’t talk to strangers. We are not getting candy. It is time for bed.”
Friend1: Their response to everything is, “No.” They like to test you. They want to get a reaction from you.
Friend2: And so the parent is in the position of authority. Do we hold on to those memories until the child reaches adulthood? Do we use those mistakes against them?
Friend1: A wise person would not.
Friend2: Which makes the “angry God” concept nonsense.
Friend1: I am upset from the very beginning, with the wording, with the possessive. How can He only be “your” God? What about me?
Friend2: And don’t forget me!
Friend1: I think this is one of the reasons people turn away from religion. I can’t blame them. Some guy has purchased the Almighty and invoked exclusivity.
Friend2: No one else is allowed in.
Friend1: I like that verse from Bhagavad-gita, where we get the peace formula.
Friend2: Where if you know three things, then you are on the way towards shanti?
Friend1: Yes. Understand that the Supreme Lord is the proprietor of all the planets and their presiding deities.
Friend2: The devas. The demigods. He is greater than the devas. He is the deva deva.
Friend1: He is the ultimate enjoyer of sacrifice and worship. If we are taking a vow of silence, not eating for a period of time, or intentionally suffering in some other authorized way, the person we are trying to please is God.
Friend2: That may not always be the intended beneficiary, but the wise person understands how everything moves up the chain.
Friend1: Right. If I do something to please my boss at work, the good effort makes its way up the chain of command. The multinational corporation is successful only after a large collection of employees succeeds in their efforts.
Friend2: Yajna is another name for Vishnu.
Friend1: The third truth is knowing that God the person is the best, well-wishing friend of every living being. He is in the heart, alongside me. Every other aspect to my temporary existence has a possessive attached.
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: My hand. My leg. My arm. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the purpose of meditation is to understand the source of identity. Who is the “my” we are referring to?
“When I say ‘my book,’ this, indicates that the book is different from me. Similarly, it is ‘my table,’ ‘my eye,’ ‘my leg’, ‘my this,’ ‘my that’ — but where am I? Searching out the answer to this question is meditation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Reservoir of Pleasure)
Friend2: That is the spirit soul, atma.
Friend1: Yes, and it is technically incorrect to say “my soul.”
Friend2: I am soul. Aham brahmasmi.
Friend1: And so this understanding of God makes more sense. He actually wants the best for me, always. He wants the best for you. He doesn’t care in which land you were born. He is not interested in the external covering, as each person has their natural tendencies based on these features.
Friend2: Those tendencies almost merge into a collective nothingness, with the consequences to the deeds erased by time.
Friend1: Washed over by the waves hitting the shore. Anyway, I think I feel better now.
Friend2: You are not upset anymore.
Friend1: Not until I hear someone refer to God as belonging to them again [smiles].
Friend2: This is part of the evolution in the science of self-realization. The more you understand God, the more you will appreciate others. The gopis of Vrindavana are the topmost devotees, according to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Yet they consider themselves to be the lowest. They think they are ordinary village girls, and that Krishna must not value them.
Friend1: When, in fact, they are more elevated than advanced yogis.
Friend2: Better than being upset, appreciate that at least some people have a sentimental attachment to the Almighty. Better to be connected in some way than to think there is no supreme controller, ishvara.
Neophyte with possession to take,
Exclusive property God to make.
When silly as to sun comparing,
Who on everything glaring.
Supreme in the heart already,
Greatest well-wisher steady.
That only in devotion to greet,
For highest destination to meet.