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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Divine Reality (God) According to Sant Mat

The Divine Reality (God) According to Sant Mat, by Swami Vyasanand Ji Maharaj, Inward Journey of the Soul (Chal Hansa Nij Desh)

Santmat emphasizes a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. According to the teachings of the Sants, it is essential to have faith in the existence of the Eternal, Infinite Reality. As is evident, all created beings of this world are dependent upon one another for their existence and sustenance. However, the element that is the First Cause is not dependent on any other thing and is self-existent -- beyond creation and destruction.

This First Cause or Source is the Lord of all creation and is therefore called the Supreme Being. Time and space are created but Divine Reality is uncreated and eternal. The Supreme Soul pervades all and yet transcends material creation; it is beyond the confines of time and space. It cannot be destroyed; it is infinite, and indestructible. It cannot be grasped by the senses and is beyond the reach of the senses. It does not have any form, color, depth or breadth. It is not the subject of thoughts or the senses. According to the Kena Upanishad, it is the "eye of the eyes, ear of the ears, and mind of the mind." Having understood this, a persevering man or woman becomes immortal. This Reality cannot be limited by, or reduced to, thoughts of the mind because it is the very source of the mind. It cannot be seen by the eyes because it is the source of seeing. It cannot be heard by the ears, because it is the source of hearing. All senses derive their power through the source, the Divine Reality.

The Divine Reality is beyond the confines of this transitory creation. A part of the Divine, when it comes in contact with material reality, becomes an individual soul or jiva. Material nature is impermanent but the individual soul is a part of the Divine. Even though it is conscious and pure in essence, it becomes dependent on material things. The Divine Being is without any material confines and is beyond the qualified and unqualified nature. It is beyond the three gunas (material attributes that are essential to our existence in this creation): sattva (truth, purity, and lucidity), rajas (action, passion, and excitement), and tamas (dark inertia, sloth, and passivity). These three gunas permeate the entire creation, but the Divine is beyond them.

The following is a brief explanation of the relationship of three gunas with the creation:

* From the power of sattva guna, the essence of mind, intellect, emotion, and ego (I-principle) are created;

* From the power of rajas guna, the five senses of knowledge (eyes, ears nose, tongue and skin) and the five organs of actions (hand, feet, mouth and two organs of excretion) are created;

* From the power of tamas guna,, the five elements (earth, fire, wind, water and ether) and the five subtle elements (form, taste, smell, touch, and sound) are created;

* From sattva guna, the universe, permeated by sound and purity, emerges;

* From rajas guna, arises light, the source of action;

* From tamas guna, emerges darkness, the source of passivity and rest;

* From sattva guna, the covering of the sound is created;

* From the rajas guna, the layer of light is created;

* From tamas guna, the covering of the darkness is created.

The Divine Reality is beyond all these three gunas (three creative attributes of the material substratum).

By nature, all the material elements created by the three gunas are unstable, but Divine Reality is beyond them and is, therefore, constant. All the objects created by the three gunas are within the realm of time and space, and, therefore, are bound to come to an end. The Divine is beyond these and is eternal. It is unmanifest, infinite, and without afflictions. It is the source of infinite peace and joy, the abode of Divine knowledge, and the overseer of the universe. The Supreme Being resides in every heart and is omniscient. It is the source of truth, knowledge and bliss. The tree of joy arises out of the Supreme Being. It cannot be grasped by the mind and the senses. The Supreme Being is called by various epithets because of its multifaceted manifestations. It cannot be compared to any created substance and is unparalleled to any conceptions of the best in the universe. In essence, Divine Reality cannot be conceived by the senses, the mind, or the intellect.

There are numerous ways to describe the transcendent and immanent glories of the Supreme Reality. Just as comparing the sun to millions of fireflies would be a kind of mockery of the sun, comparing the Supreme Being to any objects of its creation would only display our ignorance of the nature of the Divine. A question arises: If God is omnipresent then what path can be taken to reach the Divine? An answer to this may be as follows. It has been stated that the Divine is omnipresent, then, how can there be any distance between the Supreme Being and the individual soul? But then, there arise more questions. If there is a way to reach the Divine, then, what kind of pathway is that? Who is the traveler of this path and how to begin on the path? What kind of hindrances might the traveler face on this path, and what kind of assistance might be helpful in overcoming those hindrances?

Answers to these questions need much deliberation. First, God is omnipresent; therefore, we do not need to go anywhere to find the Divine. Second, God transcends the material world and is subtle; therefore, God cannot be grasped by the mind and the senses. We need a subtle instrument to realize the Divine just as a small wristwatch requires miniature instruments to accomplish the work of repair. God is like a subtle machine and the senses are like big tools, which are unsuitable for realizing the subtle Divine machinery. Only through the instrument of the pure conscious soul is it possible to realize the subtle form of the Divine.

A question arises: the senses are unable to grasp the Divine, but why does the soul -- which is conscious and subtle -- not have the direct experience of the Divine at all times? The answer is this: The sensory sheaths cover the individual soul. Just as a colored pair of glasses obstructs the true color of reality, in the same way, the physical and subtle senses obstruct the true nature of the Divine. Even though Divine Reality is close to us, we are unable to see it due to these obstructions. Many Sants have described this condition through metaphors.

Sant Kabir and Sant Tulsi Das describe the soul as being hidden by a veil or screen of concealment made up of the three layers of darkness, light, and sound. Sant Paltu Sahib cries out: "Lift the veil and Khuda (God) will reveal himself." Sant Tulsi Sahib explains that the human condition is like someone with an eye disease (cataracts), which clouds their vision.

Maharshi Mehi says: "Three covers of darkness, light, and sound encumber the soul. We need to lift this veil in order to have the vision of the Divine."

In the Vedanta tradition, this covering or concealment is called illusion. Many layers obstruct the vision of the Divine and it is no easy task to remove the coverings. The path that leads us to go beyond these three layers lies within us. However, it is necessary to follow the teachings and methods given by a Satguru (true spiritual teacher) to accomplish this task. Given the nature of the Divine, it can only be realized by the soul. When the soul goes beyond the senses and the realm of three gunas, it becomes purified and attains readiness to experience the Divine. Only by getting rid of all the layers of obstructions can the soul experience is own true nature.

The Supreme Being is one, and, it is by isolating oneself from all other bondages that one can realize this Reality. Through meditation all the coverings and layers are gradually removed and the soul becomes one with the Divine. This requires a specific regimen or sadhana [meditation practice]. As the soul travels on this path within, it begins to shed the sensory layers and the distance to the Divine begins to diminish. The path will be completed upon the accomplishment of this task, eliminating the distance between the Divine and the soul.

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