“Anything which is beyond the scope of experience by our imperfect senses can be realized fully by the sound representation. A person transmitting sound from a far distant place can be factually experienced. If this is materially possible, why not spiritually? This experience is not a vague impersonal experience. It is actually an experience of the transcendental Personality of Godhead, who possesses the pure form of eternity, bliss and knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.5.38 Purport)
1. Reaching the platform where God is really understood
A cultured human being tries to understand the higher concepts of life. Beyond eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, an inquisitiveness into the meaning of it all. What is behind this universe? Why are we here? Why do we have to die? What is our real identity?
These questions naturally lead to an acknowledgment of a higher power. This is the foundation of religion. The appeal from the various groups is based on both the existence of a Divine Being and also allegiance to Him.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that stopping at this point is understanding God only in a vague manner. This is surely better than remaining ignorant. It is superior to spinning on the wheel of suffering known as reincarnation, birth after birth.
At the same time, if there is a God and we are acknowledging His presence, what is the harm in getting to know Him more? Shouldn’t that be the immediate goal? If He exists, then He must live in a superior way. If He lives in a superior way, there must be some method to sharing in that experience.
The Vaishnava tradition is for exploring the depths of the spiritual side of an existence. It is attempting to reach a platform where God is really understood. It is not so difficult a standard to reach. There are practical ways to make progress quickly.
From Parashara Muni, we have the definition of God as Bhagavan. This Sanskrit word has specific meaning. Bhagavan is someone who has simultaneous possession of opulences. Just which ones? All of them. To what degree? The highest we can imagine.
To keep things simple, Parashara provides six categories. Beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom, and renunciation. God holds these attributes in full. He is the most beautiful. No one is stronger than Him. His fame extends the boundaries of infinite time, in both directions.
Bhagavan is married to the goddess of fortune, who is devoted to Him without deviation. His wisdom can rescue even the most downtrodden, who seemingly have no other hope in sight. He is also the most renounced, to the point that even creating the universes is like an involuntary act, symbolized in the image of the Supreme Lord lying down in rest in Vaikuntha.
2. Associating with Him directly
Any person can understand the aforementioned definition of God as Bhagavan. It is a worthwhile exercise to consider. When teaching young children the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and the way societies operate, the teacher might take a simple concept and ask the children to expand upon the idea.
For instance, a child may be asked to consider what people they know to be strong. Who have they seen in possession of great wealth? After giving some examples and getting a quantifiable measure, they can then understand that God is greater in that category.
This type of educational ascendency is a way to also associate with God. The name of the Supreme Lord is not different from Him. The name has rescued countless souls throughout the recorded history of the universe.
सबरी गीध सुसेवकनि सुगति दीन्हि रघुनाथ |
नाम उधारे अमित खल बेद बिदित गुन गाथ ||
sabarī gīdha susevakani sugati dīnhi raghunātha |
nāma udhāre amita khala beda bidita guna gātha ||
“Shri Rama personally gave liberation to Shabari, the vulture Jatayu and those who performed wonderful devotional service, whereas the holy name has liberated countless wretches; a fact well-established in the Vedas, which sing of its glories.” (Dohavali, 32)
Through this style of education, a person knows God better and they also spend time with Him. The further they immerse themselves in the culture, the closer they feel to Him. There might be a day when someone knows for certain that God is with them all the time, that He never leaves their side.
This constant companionship is not enough, however. The devotee vows to repay the kindness shown to them. They are eager to continue in service, to increase their output, because they feel increasing reciprocation on the other side. This kind of life embodies liberation, and it can occur even prior to quitting the body.
With building blocks to teach,
For higher standard to reach.
An approach traditional,
In setting educational.
The same with God apply,
For knowing Him to try.
Not impossible and reciprocation receiving.
Direct association within that believing.
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