Seeing God… Is it Possible?
From HH Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji’s Talks
Some people say, “Show me God! Ask him to come directly in front of me. Then I will believe that he exists!”
Bhagavan cannot be seen with these eyes. We also should not be able to see Him with our eyes. Why should we not be able to see Him with our eyes? Because that which can be reached by these eyes, nose, taste, the sense of touch, etc. is prakrutam – material; made of gross matter.
We see this building, hear a noise nearby, smell the fragrance of a flower, taste sugar candy, feel it if someone touches us… if anything can be sensed by our five senses, it is a thing that is very ordinary and not something extraordinary.
We don’t even need to go up until God. People say that the dead can speak to us as spirits, ghosts, etc. Even such mere spirits are not perceptible by our eyes. If something can be seen by our eyes, it will become something that is very common in the world. Like I am able to see you and you can see me.
We cannot see Bhagavan with our eyes; and should not see Him with our eyes. If we happen to see Him with these eyes, then that will become something ordinary and common, and will not be one that is supreme.
We cannot say that I will believe only that which I can see. Because, in truth, we do believe in several things that we cannot see. For instance, if someone comes and tells us, “I am very worried.” We understand it. But have any of us seen worry face to face? Or have we told them, “You say you are worried. Show that worry to me.” If someone else says, “Sir, I am afraid.” Do we tell him, “Bring that fear in front of me?” Or when someone says, “I am in pain,” do we ask them to show us that pain? These things cannot be seen. But we understand them. Certain things that cannot be seen by the eyes, can be understood with just the mind. We are able to understand the feelings that are felt by the mind because at certain times we too have had those feelings.
So, can we understand God with our minds? That too is not possible. Even when we imagine Bhagavan to be a certain way, it is only our inferred imagination… only what we can reach with our limited mind. However, we cannot say that that is what Bhagavan is. Why is it that we cannot reach Bhagavan with our mind? It is because He is beyond the mind.
Can we understand Him with our intellect then? That is also not possible. The intellect is also not enough to understand Him. Ramana Maharshi gives a lovely example to explain how one cannot understand Bhagavan through the intellect. The intellect is like the light of the moon, he says. If someone tries to use the light of the moon to see the sun, is it possible? No. Why? The moon does not have any light of its own. It only reflects the sun’s light. When the sun rises, the moon loses its radiance. Just like we cannot see the sun by using the moon’s light, the intellect is a mere spark that comes from Bhagavan who is within us. How can we see Bhagavan Himself using a tiny spark that has come from Him?
Bhagavan is beyond the intellect, mind, speech, the senses.
So then, is it at all possible to see Bhagavan? Yes!
UnakkaN illAmal kaDavuLai kANalAm,
kanavu kANbadaRkenDru undIpaRa!
UnakkaN vENDumO? undIpaRa!
(Kalidharma Undiyar, Verse 3)
One can see Bhagavan without the physical eyes. To see a dream, does one need a physical eye?
We can see Bhagavan without the physical eyes. How? When we have a dream, are our eyes open or closed? Closed. Then how do we see the dream? We see it with our mind. So it is possible to see things with our eyes closed. The physical eyes are not the only means for us to see things.
Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada, in his Eka Sloki, says:
kim jyotistava bhAnumAnahani me rAtrau pradIpAdikam
syAdevam ravidIpadarshanavidhau kim jyotirAkhyAhi me
chakshustasya nimIlanAdisamaye kim dhIrdhiyo darshane
kim tatrAhamato bhavAnparamakam jyotistadasmi prabho
What is the light that helps you to see? The sunlight. How do you see in the night? With the help of a lamp. How do you see when your eyes are closed? By using the subtler light of the mind. What is the higher light that watches the mind? The light of the intellect. But what is higher than the light of the intellect? That which is a witness to the intellect also? That which exists even when the intellect is asleep – that which helps you know that you slept deeply and well? That highest light is the Light of Consciousness.
The light of consciousness is our means to ‘see’ Consciousness.
In a dream, everything that is, is only the mind. The same mind is the ‘seer’, the ‘seen’, and the ‘act of seeing’. For instance, if we see a mango in our dream, the dream mango is our mind, the person seeing the mango is our mind, and the process of seeing the mango is also in fact the mind only! We see the mind with the mind.
We see jadam (gross matter) through that which is gross – our physical eyes. We see thoughts (mind) through thoughts (mind). Similarly, we can experience God only through consciousness.
To see a dream, we have to give up physical seeing. We cannot see a dream when we are awake. On the same note, if even ‘mental seeing’ can be given up and the state of samadhi reached – the state that Mahatmas are in – then Bhagavan can be ‘seen’. Just like everything in a dream is made of thoughts, similarly Bhagavan’s wonderful Form, His Name, everything, is made of consciousness, made of love! The eyes cannot see it. The mind cannot perceive it.
nishabda mana sanchAriNam, saptaswarayuta muraLIdharam… (gOvinda kAmadhenum bhajAmi, Madhurageetham)
That Muralidhara shines forth and plays His divine music in our heart, when the mind is silent!
When the mind is absolutely still, the light of consciousness shines forth. In that light of consciousness, we can ‘see’ the very embodiment of consciousness called Bhagavan.