God: Perceiving Him in the World

posted Sep 9, 2012, 5:49 PM by Interfaith WS

        Clinton lectured in English as a prestigious east coast university. He told us that he thought of himself as either a Catholic Hindu or a Hindu Catholic. “I’m not sure which one it is,” he said. “I love the Mass, and I go every Sunday. But Vedanta fills my heart and my mind and my bookshelves. To reconcile both disciplines is not easy, but I’m aiming for that. At this point, I want only understanding.”

 

        Darshani.  Presuming you are wearing your Christian hat, let’s follow the advice of The Philokalia, a compilation of writings by the early Fathers of the Desert. The fathers tell spiritual seekers not to limit their perception of visible things to what their senses observe. They tell us to search with our intellects for the Essence that lies within all creatures.

        What you do first is to withdraw your consciousness from your sense of sight. Your eyes will still see Darshani in front of them. But your consciousness will not identify itself with your eyes. Instead, you will use your intellect or discriminative faculty to recall that eyes are inert. They are matter. What you are really cognizing is not a pair of  eyes but the Light and Intelligence of God. You are cognizing pure Consciousness in this form called Darshani.

        Next thing you  try to realize who is cognizing. Surely, it cannot be your eyes or your intellect. With some surprise, you realize that the cognizer in you is the same cognizer that you perceive in me. What is happening here is not an interaction between Clinton and Darshani. It is Consciousness perceiving itself in its objectified forms. Constant reflection on this truth can bring you to the goal very quickly.

        Clinton: Yet there is an essential difference in the way Vedanta and Christianity perceive God in the world. Can you clarify the difference?

        Darshani: Creation is central to Christian doctrine. In the Christian ethos, the essence of God is the core of our being. Yet we are separate entities, independent agents of action. Thus, Christian seekers practice perceiving God as all names and forms.

        The difference, then, between the Christian and Vedantic perception of God in the world boils down to “in” versus “as.” What a perfect question for an English professor! The preposition makes the difference.

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