What is God?
The Lord is not a Person with sense organs, but Consciousness itself; He is therefore aware of the thoughts and sensory perceptions of every being. Jesus referred to this all-embracingness when he said that not a sparrow shall fall on the ground without the knowledge of the Father.
God is Consciousness
God is the Eternal Consciousness, unchanging and indivisible, in which the illusions of time (change) and space (division) present an infinite variety of forms interacting in a progressive mode of past, present, and future. (bg)
Being infinite, God cannot be limited to any form, human or stone; yet He is manifest in all forms. One can rightly say that God manifests in every man as well as in great saints, for He is present in all.
The sun shines equally, also, on a piece of charcoal and a diamond. But the diamond receives and reflects the sun's light, whereas the charcoal does not. Similarly, all people are exposed to the light of God, but not all receive and reflect that light.
The kingdom of God is not in the clouds, in some designated point of space; it is right behind the darkness that you perceive with closed eyes.
God is Consciousness;
God is absolute Existence;
God is ever new Joy.
This Joy is omnipresent. Feel your oneness with that Joy. It resides within you; and it encompasses infinity. Beyond the gross vibratory boundaries of matter, the Immutable Infinite reigns in all His majesty and vastness.
God is the ocean, man (the jiva or individualized soul) is a wave. As man is a part of God, so is he never truly apart from Him. By the power of maya, a portion of God's cosmic consciousness is cloaked in Nature's garb, a body fitted with five external senses and one internal sense, mind. (bg)
One scriptural description of the Infinite is that He is Sat-Chit-Ananda — ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss. Ever-existing means that He is eternal; ever-conscious means He is always conscious of His eternal existence; and ever-new Bliss means that He is a joy that never grows stale. Every human being is seeking that kind of experience.
The Sanskrit term for God is Sat-Chit-Ananda:
— eternal Being or Truth (Sat),
— infinite Consciousness (Chit),
— and ever new Bliss (Ananda).
Man's rationalizing mind cannot conceive God as the Nameless Absolute; but He is comprehensible in the concept of a triune nature consisting of consciousness, existence, and divine love or bliss.
1. Consciousness: all-pervading Omniscience;
2. Existence: cosmic will expressing as the objectification of life and all manifestation;
3. Bliss (divine love): Love perfected is bliss. Bliss, love, and beauty —these terms synonymously complement one another. Beauty is the harmonious manifestation of love; the perfection of love is bliss.
Everything is God.
This very room and the universe are floating like a motion picture on the screen of my consciousness. When you look back at the booth, you see only the beam of light that is projecting the pictures on the screen. That this creation is naught but a motion picture, created out of God's light, seems incredible; but it is true. I look at this room and I see nothing but pure Spirit, pure Light, pure Joy.
He dwells in the world, enveloping all — everywhere.
— The Bhagavad Gita XIII:14
The pictures of my body and your bodies and all things in this world are only rays of light streaming out of that one sacred Light. As I see that Light I behold nothing anywhere but pure Spirit.
Of such great lovers of God the Gita (VII:19) says:
After many incarnations, the sage attains Me, realizing,
"The Lord is all-pervading!"
A man so illuminated is hard to find.
— The Bhagavad Gita VII:19
...You have to awaken in order to perceive that God is everywhere and to realize that you have been dreaming. All of you are sitting here in this dream, and you are part of the dream. (me)
We are a part of the divine Christ Consciousness present in all creation. Each individual intelligence is a part of that vast Christ Intelligence. We are like the jets in the burner of a gas stove. There are many little holes through which the flames are pouring, but under the burner there is only one flame. We are little flames coming from the big flame of Life. Beneath all the tiny jets of human life is One Life; behind the flowers, behind all nature, is One Life.
Nothing can exist without motion.
Only God is motionless.
The terms God and Spirit, theosophically speaking, are mutually exclusive, but are semantically interchangeable in common usage where no distinction is required. Spirit signifies the unmanifested Absolute.
"Let there be light! And there was light."* In the creation of the universe, God's first command brought into being the structural essential: light. On the beams of this immaterial medium occur all divine manifestations. Devotees of every age testify to the appearance of God as flame and light. "His eyes were as a flame of fire” St. John tells us, "... and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength."* [* Genesis 1:3; Revelation 1:14-16] (aoy)
There is a great deal of confusion as to the difference between Spirit and God. Spirit signifies the unmanifested Absolute present in the darkless dark and the lightless light. In the unmanifested Absolute even the categories of space, time, and dimension are non-existent. There abides only ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new, blissful Spirit. The word "God" means the manifested, transcendental Being beyond creation, but existing in relation to creation. Spirit existed before God. God is the Creator of the universe, but Spirit is the Creator of God. Spirit is not the universe; Spirit is that which was and will be whether the universe does or does not exist. Spirit includes everything.
Spirit is motionless, vibrationless, both in thought and energy. It has no dimensions, no relativity, it is like nothing in creation. It knows neither pleasure nor pain. It is beyond the relativity of the four ordinary states of human consciousness—pleasure, pain, indifference, and temporary peace. A fifth state of consciousness is bliss, which is deeper than peace, and is always new and unceasing. That is the only quality of Spirit. When you feel that, nothing else satisfies; then you have true spiritual consciousness.
Spirit cannot be named. A name always expresses certain definite vibrations, but a name is only applied to things that are limited.
nameless and formless.
If you try to name Spirit, immediately you limit it. Spirit is not knowable by the limitation of understanding, but that does not mean that Spirit is entirely unknowable, because Spirit can be felt. When a dumb man eats honey, he cannot explain but he knows what it is. When you are one with Spirit, if you try to explain, your language and understanding limit Spirit and separate you from it. (os)
God is not merely a name. God is the life that is surging within us; the Life by which we see and love one another.
Spirit was Joy, but there was no one else to taste of this Joy, so Spirit divided Itself to become the Enjoyer, the act of enjoying, and the thing enjoyed—the Knower, the process of knowing, and the thing known.
This triune division of Spirit into Knower, Knowing, and Known was accomplished by the law of relativity (cosmic delusion or maya). Spirit, being one and indivisible, had to imagine and will Itself to be many.
Expressed another way: Spirit divided Itself into
— God as the Father, the Cosmic Consciousness or "Knower" remaining beyond all creation;
— and into God as the Son, the Christ Consciousness or cosmic intelligent subjective "knowing" power in creation;
— and into God as the Holy Ghost, the cosmic intelligent objective creation itself, the thing known.
Manifesting in creation, Spirit divided Itself into subject and object—the Knower and the Known. What is the difference between Spirit as subject and object? Spirit as God in the aspect of Christ Consciousness manifests subjectively in creation as the power of perception of thoughts and feelings; and Spirit as God the Cosmic Intelligent Vibration manifests objectively to produce the universe.
Everything is One, but when that One Infinite Spirit differentiates Itself into many, It has many forms and many names. But Spirit—the great One Reality—cannot be named.
The reason that God remains unknown to millions who worship Him in temples and churches, and in holy cities and places of pilgrimage, is that the physical instruments of knowledge can apprehend only the products of the Creator; Divinity Itself is perceived by the supramental faculty of intuition, the soul's God-given power of knowing truth. When mental restlessness is stilled and the consciousness is interiorized, in touch with the soul, the God-revealing intuitive faculty is awakened.
The difference between matter and Spirit is in the rate of vibration—a difference of degree, not of kind. This point may be better understood by the following example. Although all vibrations are qualitatively alike, vibrations from 16 to 20,000 cycles per second are gross enough to be audible to man's sense of hearing, but vibrations below 16 or over 20,000 are generally inaudible. There is no essential difference between audible and inaudible vibrations, though a relative difference does exist. (os)
Don't try to know God first; love God first. Then He will tell you everything.
God, in relation to the soul, presumes a duality—the Object to be perceived, God; and the perceiver or experiencer, the soul. The spiritually awakening man seeks some familiarity, some tangibility, in his relationship with his Creator. He begins by personalizing God's Presence. In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord promises:
"In whatever way people are devoted to Me, in that measure I manifest Myself to them. All men, in every manner (of seeking Me), pursue a path to Me" (The Gita IV:11).
In India it is more common to speak of God as Divine Mother. Saints of various persuasions have successfully communed with God by similarly idealizing other human relations — such as Friend or Beloved. It makes no difference. When I feel the gravity of wisdom, I speak of God as the Father. When I feel unbounded, unconditional love I call God Divine Mother. When I feel God as the nearest of the near, supporter and confidant, I call Him Friend.
Thus, it is a misnomer to refer to God always as "He." It is equally appropriate to call God "She." But in the ultimate, God is Spirit, neither masculine nor feminine. Spirit is above any human correlation. Similarly, the soul is neither male nor female, though karmic inclinations cause it to incarnate either with the body of a man or a woman. Any personalized communion with God or worship of a conceptualized aspect or attribute of Divinity maintains the duality of worshiper and Worshiped, the ecstatic relationship sometimes preferred by saints. But the even higher state referred to by Jesus, beyond dualistic devotion, is Oneness with the Object of worship, and specifically, the ultimate union: oneness of the soul with Spirit. God as Spirit, the Absolute, beyond form, qualities, manifestations, cannot be perceived, but only experienced by the supreme realization of Spirit and soul union. This ecstasy, a supernal Bliss that no human tongue can tell or rational thought conceive, is described simply by India's rishis: "He who knows, he knows; naught else knows."
It is only by worshiping God and His presence in Nature, and then by worshiping God as unmanifested Spirit, by Spirit-and-soul union, that the devotee reaches the final state of emancipation, from which there is no fall.
The way to God is not through the intellect, but through intuition. Spirituality is measured by what you experience intuitively, from the communion of your soul with God. It is so simple if inside you are always talking to Him, ‘Lord, come to me!’ (jt)
Knowledge prepares the way to love. You cannot love that which you do not know. Knowledge of God must therefore precede love for Him. This knowledge comes with practice of Kriya Yoga. When you know God, you will love Him; and when you love Him, you will surrender yourself to Him.
There is no way to find God's love other than to surrender to Him.
When great love for God comes in your heart, you do not miss human love. Loving the Lord, you can never turn back to lesser loves. In Him you will find all the love of all hearts. You will find completeness. Everything that the world gives you and then takes away, leaving you in pain or disillusionment, you will find in God in a much greater way, and with no aftermath of sorrow.
See God in all persons
Learn to see God in all persons, of whatever race or creed. You will know what divine love is when you begin to see your oneness with every human being, not before.
Do not be satisfied with a little light and temporary peace in meditation; and don't be constantly identified with the body if you want to know the greatness of your soul. To be with God is to be richer than Croesus. To be with God is to own the whole universe and be its master. To be with God is to free yourself from misery and fears for all eternity. To be with God is to know all that is to be known. These attainments cannot be had by a mere few minutes of silence. You have to put your whole attention to work.
Ignorant devotees who have visions of lesser deities in meditation do not know that all those forms are merely temporary, meager manifestations of the essentially unmanifested Spirit. They concentrate on the finite forms of the Infinite God and thus, in their minds, limit Him. ... He who worships God merely as a finite form will not attain the transcendental divine union with His infinite nature.
As God is the Essence of our own being, we cannot truly express ourselves until we learn to manifest His presence within us. That is the truth. It is because we are Divine, a part of Him, that we are unable to find lasting satisfaction in anything material.
Devotees whose worship takes an impersonal turn become conscious of the Lord as an infinite Light or as the wondrous sound of Aum, the primal Word, the Holy Ghost. The highest experience man can have is to feel that Bliss in which every other aspect of Divinity—love, wisdom, immortality—is fully contained.
In the highest sense, God has only one quality; existence, consciousness, and joy are mingled as one in Him. The liberated Brahmin manifests this one quality of God—ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Joy—and is therefore free from the clutches of the triple qualities inherent in human characteristics and in Cosmic Nature.
Which do you want: God’s eternal bliss, which may be yours by denying yourself a few pleasures now? Or worldly happiness now, which will not last? Convince your heart by comparison. Every effort that you make to climb upward will be recognized by God.
As you march along this path, every moment of your life is precious. You are here in this world for only a little while; everything is temporary. But association with God is permanent and forever, and so you must not be deluded by the temptations of the world to forget God. God can be known. The Master of the universe, whose light twinkles in the stars, whose life-throb is in every blade of grass—you must find Him. The most important thing in this world is to seek and to find God. You must seek Him in the temple of silence. (os)
Remember, if you don't find God, you are not making enough effort in your meditation.
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines