Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How about some form with that substance?

In my experience as a believer in God, I have found that as long as He remained intangible, as simply a set of beliefs about how we got here and where we're headed, I really couldn't fully appreciate Him as an Individual Person. During the Christian phase of my spiritual journey, I have learned and studied and have come to appreciate much in the way of His substance. God is Love, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 outlines beautifully Love's (i.e., God's) character.

But I am still just an earthling at this point, and never appreciated just how difficult having a love relationship with a misty concept was until I was swept away by the tangible visions of God's form as conveyed through Lord Krishna. Up to this point it was like hearing a distant tune -- or smelling a fragrant scent -- that was all around me but never being able to pinpoint where the music or the aroma was coming from. As an earth-bound human being, the more of my 5 senses that can be engaged in this relationship with the Divine, the better: the more real to me He will become.

Suppose you hear about a relative in your family whom you never actually met; perhaps they passed away before you were born. You hear about all the wonderful things they did, about how loving they were, their great accomplishments, some of which may have even benefited you and your family directly. Wouldn't it bring some sort of closure to actually know what the relative looked like? Wouldn't it bring things more into focus somehow? Sure, it would! It would help... at the very least, it would be the icing on the cake.

That's exactly what happened in my relationship with the Lord. All these years I had learned of His Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence, and of His Love, but never had anything but vague notions of what physical form He might take; and let's face it -- as long as I'm residing in this here physical plane, the physical attributes of
any entity are going to play a part in their overall being in my mind. Maybe it's the artist in me... I have to have visuals! :) Sure, I had the more depressing impressions of an old, bearded guy hell-bent on cursing me forever if I screwed up, but that doesn't line up with the teaching that He is Love (see aforementioned verse, as well as the comparison of artistic renderings of God I posted about here).

Concerning trying to maintain a close, loving relationship with God as a vague, formless entity, Lord Krishna even said it Himself:
"For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied." ~ Lord Krishna (Bhagavad Gita 12:5)

In his commentary on this verse, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada said,

"Therefore, the bhakti-yogi accepts the Deity of Krishna as worshipable because there is some bodily conception fixed in the mind, which can thus be applied."
Yeah... no kidding! I wish I had known this sooner, but the particular flavors of Christianity I was hanging with especially in more recent decades seemed to discourage such an approach for fear of "idolatry". Well, if this is idolatry, then so is the everyday family photograph or the picture of one's spouse hidden in their locket.

Besides, I'm pretty confident that a belief system which has been around far, far longer than Christianity (not to mention just about every other major religion) will know a thing or two about God's physical features, and it will be far closer to the truth than the angry (or at the very least, clinically depressed) "Santa" impressions of the West.





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