God: Who/What is God?

(This post has also been posted as an answer on Quora)

The word God is being used in two different meanings.

1. The word ‘God’, as it is possibly used by a random guy in the world of over 7 billion people, means the creator, ruler and the moral authority of the universe.

A random guy usually understands God as an invisible person who has a mind, emotions, intentions and a personality that is strict, altruistic, intelligent, loving, judgemental and sometimes even cruel.

He is someone who is worshiped with or without form and who is also feared. As for as utility is concerned, such a random man uses this God to be hopeful of his wishes and even curses as well. Sometimes he also uses God even to justify his cruel actions.. That has caused a lot of violence in the name of religion over the last two or three millennia.

edwin-andrade-158050.jpg

The tendency to judge others usually occurs to a person because of the unconscious intention to show himself in a positive light, in terms of what is good and bad. By making a judgment about others either mentally or physically and by trying to see how bad they are, he unconsciously convinces himself on how good he is.

This tendency can be observed more in people who are brought up in religious families. Don’t think about spirituality here. I am talking about an orthodox Hindu, Muslim or Christian who believes that there is a personal superhuman God who is the moral authority of the world and who punishes the evil doers. He is conditioned more to think in terms of what is good and bad, what is evil and sin etc.

When he believes that his neighbor is selfish, arrogant, rude and probably even bad, he convinces himself on how bad that neighbor is; he also gets relieved in thinking that God will teach his neighbor a lesson one day.

loveyourneighbor

The neighbor is always a problem. It is not only the case with your next door neighbor, it could be someone who is sitting next to you in school or work, the people in neighboring town, state, country etc. Everyone wants to see himself better than other in some way. The worst problems happen when he wants to see himself better than others in how good he is, how pure his heart is, how devotional and dear to God he is etc. So, this is really not about God at all. God is just an excuse to bring some solace on his wishes and curses.

If for any reason he is not able to kill someone who he thinks as bad, rude or displeasing, he can find some temporary relief by thinking how much God would want to punish him. And as soon as he notices such a thought in his mind, he would probably pray to God saying “oh my God, what have I done!.. I have thought of killing that guy. It is such a bad thought and I have sinned now!. But you know how bad he is anyway (*this is the special part!). But I admit that I have sinned in my mind. Please forgive me.. I honestly ask for your forgiveness. Let everything happen according to thy will, Amen or Om Shanthi or Insha Allah or whatever”…. That’s it! He no longer has to worry about it anymore because God has forgiven him! But God is still not going to forgive that bad neighbor guy!

forgive

And this typical religious person that we are talking about is not going to forgive that bad guy either. Also, God will only forgive this typical religious person because he believes that he is the dearest child of God. As far as he is concerned, God loves him but would want to punish everybody else that he doesn’t like for whatever reason he has. And his mind can easily find biased reasons for such an aversion. Any person can easily find thousands of reason to justify his hatred towards another person, there is no question. It is love which doesn’t require any reasons.

If you think for a moment, the main teachings of many religions have been love. It is even said that Love is God. Every religious tradition probably has love as the central theme. Most of the religions portray God as Love.

I think Jesus was a wise man. When someone asked him what greatest commandments were, he did not talk about Ten Commandments.

All he said was this:

”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second commandment is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

godislove

But love is not a bargain or deal. Unfortunately, this is what we see in many people who claim to love God or human beings. Their prayers are like ‘God, please give me this, please give me that’. This is not Love. This is a business.

It is pretty much like telling your God what to do and doesn’t sound like ‘Thy will be done!”

2. But the word ‘God’ is also used in the context of spiritual enlightenment.

In this context, the word is just a synonym of Absolute reality from which people feel separated.

enlightenment

The apparent union that destroys the apparent separation of absolute reality is what is called by different names: Some people call it as the mystical union and some people call it as Yoga, which literally means union. Here, the God is often personified and loved but never believed or seen as a person. In other words, union with God is the same shit as spiritual enlightenment! It is the end of duality which gives complete fulfillment and peace.

But the word ‘God’ in the context of spiritual enlightenment is totally unnecessary anyway. I would rather talk about spiritual enlightenment without using the word ‘God’. You can read this answer for a detailed description of what it is: What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

Advertisements

Christian Trinity and Vedanta

As I began to learn about the mystical teachings of Christianity, it was pretty clear to me that the essence of the true Christianity is same as the orthodox schools of Hinduism. But I was searching for an explanation of  Christian Trinity in the mystical context and I finally found the answer from the Indian Yogi ‘Paramhamsa Yogananda’.

Let me first quote the description by Paramhamsa Yogananda:

“When Spirit manifests creation. It becomes the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Ghost, or Sat, Tat, Aum. The Father (Sat) is God as the Creator existing beyond creation (Cosmic Consciousness). The Son (Tat) is God’s omnipresent intelligence existing in creation (Christ Consciousness or Kutastha Chaitanya). The Holy Ghost (Aum) is the vibratory power of God that objectifies and becomes creation. Many cycles of cosmic creation and dissolution have come and gone in Eternity (see yuga). At the time of cosmic dissolution, the Trinity and all other relativities of creation resolve into the Absolute Spirit.”

–  From http://www.yogananda-srf.org/glossary/Glossary_T_%E2%80%93_Z.aspx#.WMh2dFV96M8

Before we start on further explanations, I would suggest you to read my post on repentance to understand how Bible has lost some of it’s original meaning in the translations and has been misinterpreted.

trinity

Now, we can derive clear-cut explanations for each member of the Trinity:

Father

He is pretty easy to explain. Father is popularly known as God by Christians; The Hindu term for the Father is ‘Sat’,  a Sankrit word which means ‘Truth.’ Even though truth is neither male nor female, it is personified as a male so that the Holy Spirit can be personified as female. Both of them make the Yin and the Yang or Shiva and Shakthi.

Holy Spirit

This is the aspect of God that is active in creation. It is the vibratory power or force of God.

In the Bible, the word ‘spirit’ has been translated from the Greek word ‘pneuma’, which actually  has several meanings: spirit, breath and wind. The exact word for it in Hindu tradition is ‘Prana’, which means ‘life force’ or vital principle. It is the cosmic energy, permeating the universe on all levels. That is why it is also known as ‘Shakthi’, the mother. It is close to the term Maya in Vedanta and Prakriti in Sankhya. Sankhya and Vedanta are two of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism.

This Shakthi has a symbol called ‘Om’. The same sound has been translated into ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’ in different religions. Om is also called as pranava. It is interesting to note than both pranava and prana come from the same root.

Another Sanskrit term for this holy spirit or pranava is ‘omkara’. The word has two meanings: ‘beginning’  and ‘female divine energy’.

So, ‘Omkara’ is a word, in fact ‘the Word’; and it means ‘beginning’.

Now,  if you read the following Bible verses after understanding this last statement, they will perfectly make sense:

John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

The following Bible verse is another example:

“These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” – Revelation 3:14 

Son

We have understood the Father and the Holy Spirit, the creator and the creative force. The Son is nothing but the cosmic intelligence or cosmic consciousness.

The consciousness of every individual is one with the cosmic consciousness. But Jesus knew the truth perfectly well while others are ignorant about this, which makes Jesus a special Son of God. (the phrase ‘only begotten’ is translated from the Greek word ‘monogenes’ which actually means special or unique)

The Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father can be put together in one Sanskrit manta ‘Om Tat Sat’

Now, we get to the core message:

The Father is God. (Matthew 6:8, 7:21, Galatians 1:1)
Jesus is God from the beginning (John 1: 1-18)
The Holy Spirit is God (John 15:26, Mark 3:29, 1 Corinthians 6:19).

So, these three are  the three aspects of one ultimate reality! There is no three, there is no two, there is only one!

This is the core teaching of Advaita Vedanta as well. The ultimate reality is defined as self-existent awareness, limitless and non-dual.

 

Repentance and Metanoia – A Bible question…

We have heard and read the following Bible verse over and over again:

Matthew 3:2

And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

repent

This gave the concept of repentance to Christianity. We are going to look into it and see what this verse really means. What did Jesus, the son of God who came to earth more than r 2000 years ago really mean when he said that? Let us start our analysis…

First of all, we all know that Jesus didn’t speak in English, and Bible was not written originally in English. Jesus spoke in Aramaic, Old Testament in Bible was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Koine-Greek. And I would say, the translation of Bible to English has killed the real meaning of most of the well known Bible verses.

The original Greek word used in New Testament for what we call as repentance is ‘Metanoia’..

What does Metanoia really mean?

Let us dive right into that and also look into various analysis available on the internet. I have given the links to the sources.

Metanoia means afterthought, from meta meaning “after” or “beyond” and nous meaning “mind”. In Classical Greek metanoia meant changing one’s mind about someone or something

(Source: https://bible.org/seriespage/3-new-testament-repentance-lexical-considerations)

Metonoia has nothing to do with the sins you have committed…

Tracing the root meanings is very helpful towards, but not determinative of, final meaning. Still, a word’s origin is not arbitrary, but informative. Thus we can not ignore the formation of metanoia which gives us the basic definition a change of mind.

(Source: http://www.gracelife.org/resources/gracenotes/pdf/gracenotes22.pdf)

A change of mind is very vague. What did Jesus really mean by change of mind? Let us look into various other things into consideration.

In the book ‘Theosophia: Hidden Dimensions of Christianity’ written by Arthur Versluis, he goes into detail about Metonoia and brings the actual meaning of the Bible verse into light. He explains that as fallen beings we tend to search things outside and our yearning always remains outward bound… But the word ‘Metonoia’ really suggests ‘turning inward’…

So, the bible verse Matthew 3:2 really means

“Turn inward! The kingdom of heaven is near”

Kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God means the same thing….

This can be further proved by referencing another Bible quote here, which is one of my all time favorites. But before that, let me ask you this question:

Where is the kingdom of heaven?

The question is answered in Bible very clearly:

Luke 17:21:

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

So, the kingdom of heaven is within you. But our journey normally outside. As long as it is outward bound, the kingdom of God or heaven is going to be far away. But if we turn inward, it is near… Does it make sense?

In fact, the Tamil translation of Bible preserves the original meaning of the verse:

மனம் திரும்புங்கள் பரலோக ராஜ்ஜியம் சமீபித்திருக்கிறது

The above verse exactly means ‘Turn your mind, the kingdom of heaven is near’!

The mystical dimensions of Christianity talks about mystical union with God.. The union is only possible when you turn inward, because God is within you. If you turn inward and resume your journey, the salvation is not very far away….

There are lots of other pages on the internet which talks about it in detail and support my argument.

Here is another one:

Definition.  Metanoia is a Greek word that has the following translations and meanings in English:

1. A turning about at the level of the soul, with a resulting awakening to matters spiritual and less importance given to matters that are material and fleeting.

This turning about in the soul is very special.  It is akin to feeling and saying to oneself “I have been there and done that”, in regard to worldly pursuits.  The soul then makes a critical decision to take a turn or move in a completely different direction.

Some would say that direction is to re-unite with the Father energy.  Others would say that it is a turn inward toward perfecting the self, instead of seeking love and fortune outside of oneself.  Still others would say it is a turn toward the divine nature that is in each of us, to explore it to the fullest, with the belief and knowing that this is the true path to happiness and joy on all levels.

2. Repentance, as used in some Greek Orthodox churches.  Here the word has a religious significance and is similar to what other churches call conversion or being reborn again in Christ.  Conversion is not converting to a religion.  Conversion is a deeper spiritual process in which a person becomes more aligned with the principles of Christianity.

Source: http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/METANOIA.htm

I also have a video where I have spoken about this in detail… Here you go:

Hope you found this analysis meaningful.. Feel free to comment, I am open for a discussion…