A regular reader posted the following question a few days back. It is a long comment with a decent question:
“If the belief that God in the form of Rama or Krishna or Christ or any other form graced this planet, helps you discover your inner peace, if such belief helps you tread the path of righteousness and compassion, if that belief makes you a better being and inspires you to make this world a better place, you must stick to that belief…”
Prabhu, Above are the words by you, I have a question on this, I believe there can only be one reality, there can be either one either good or bad, there can be either dry or wet, so this is truth, so when you say that to help inner peace you should see it in the form you want to see, why should it be different for different individuals. We only do it to soothe our mind, but if there is a truth it should be in a single form not in different forms.
Prabhu, I believe that most individuals believe in different forms because they have been told so, or because of what their parents preach to them and it becomes a habit which turns into a belief, but this is not truth, to believe what one does not experience, and know the reality, which you did.
I say that there can be only one truth and every one should believe and follow this, and individuals believe in different forms, shape should narrow down to one and that should be the reality. I really would like you to highlight this truth and guide to know it as it is. I do not want to even think that the form is different because I think it, I want to know the reality and see it to believe it, and then putting a shape, face, or image to it will be the truth.
I know I am asking for too much and there is no short cut so I am working on it. Please guide us.
To correctly answer your question, let me break it down. From what I can decipher you are asking:
What is the ultimate reality, the supreme form, the one truth?
Form is not an independent phenomenon. It is a product of sight and sense. If one is blind, one cannot see forms. And if one is unconscious, one cannot perceive any form. Envisage being in a group of eight people and having a rose in front of you. The eight members in the group are from different cultures, religions, and backgrounds.
You ask each one of them what that rose means to them and what comes to mind upon sighting the rose. I do not know what each one will say but you can be sure to get a different answer from everyone.
You mention about the existence of only one reality, good or bad, dry or wet etc. This is exactly what one needs to transcend. These are dualities and expressions of a conditioned mind. The truth of external phenomena is interdependent and conditional.
Imagine calling someone, in another part of the world, who is twelve hours behind you. You place the call at eight in the evening and it is eight in the morning for the person at the other end. You tell the person that it is night and there are stars in the sky. The other person tells you that it is actually a bright day with a blue sky. Who of the two is telling the truth? None, one, or both? Realizing the true nature of all such realities and rising above them is self-realization.
How can there be one ultimate form? Form is an external phenomenon and your real nature is independent of such a phenomenon. That is why I say that if a belief in any one form helps you discover your own truth, that is a good start. When you believe that your discovery is the only way, be sure that it is still a non-discovery. Because if you still harbor such a belief, it shows that the truth has not dawned yet.
By asking me for one truth or the ultimate form, you are asking me to give you an answer that will condition you. It is a journey of self-discovery and not self-conditioning. The greatest across various religions only ever showed the path. Treading their path is simply a start.
Why be a slave of anyone’s ideology? To get to the destination requires peace, patience, effort, consistency, and faith. Any belief that instills these five in you becomes a reasonable starting point. Śankrācārya was a strong proponent of Advaita, non-duality. Non-duality implies that God and I are one. Yet at the same time, he composed numerous devotional songs in dvaita bhāva, a devotional sentiment worshipping a form of God outside. So, which of the two is right? Both are.
Some posts already scheduled to go live in the next few weeks will further address this question.
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