How We Can See God
By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)
First of all when it comes to trying to see God, if we expect to see God with our material senses, we need to first understand the limitations of the senses we have. We often need glasses merely to see clearly, and we also need enough light to do so. If it is too dark, or if there is no light with which to see, we can hardly make out what is right in front of us. So it is fair enough to say that we will never see that which is spiritual with these dull material senses.
However, even when it comes to researching the smallest elements like the atoms, and then defining parts of them like neutrons, protons, etc., do the scientists actually see every molecule that they discuss, even with super powerful microscopes? Sometimes not. In some cases, they only see the evidence that such particles exist, but do not directly see the particle itself. Similarly, even if we cannot see God directly with our material senses, we can still look around and see the evidence for God’s existence. But to do that, we also need to have the right knowledge.
For example, even a person with a little common sense can understand that there must be a source of everything, a point of origin, or what some call an Absolute Truth, the underlying basis or foundation for everything. And that something can be called God. That is why in some circles people ask, What is not God? And in that respect, we can perceive that everything is a part of God, or everything is but a display of God’s energy, including ourselves. Then we begin to see or feel the presence of God all around us.
However, in the Vedic sources of knowledge, such as the Bhagavad-gita, we find wherein Lord Krishna Himself begins to instruct Arjuna how to recognize Him in so many things. By meditating on and understanding this knowledge, we can begin to more closely recognize the evidence for God all around us, especially in all great and powerful things.
In Bhagavad-gita (7.4-11) Lord Krishna explains, “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies. Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution. O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me as pearls are strung on a thread.
“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste in fresh water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man. I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances [which brings one closer to God] of all ascetics. O son of Pritha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men. I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire.”
Recognizing God in nature is also outlined in such Vedic texts as the Atharva Veda. Therein it is explained: "God is present in all the forces of nature. He identifies Himself with these faultless, blameless forces. Their home is in God, vast like the ocean, so do the Vedic scholars say unto us. They [forces of nature] come quickly at the time of creation and vanish at the time of dissolution of the universe." (Atharva Veda 2.3.3)
"God is the Lord of all worlds. God gave the sun its intense heat. God, through His manifold forces, has set in motion the Earth, Moon, and planets in space." (Atharva Veda 8.2.40)
The existence of God is also perceived by beholding all that God created. Herein it is described in the Arthava Veda (Kanda 8, Hymn 7, Paryaya 4, verses 29-39): "Just as the sun has brought forth the day, the day derives its origin from him [the sun], so the existence of God is perceived by beholding the universe, which in reality is created by Him. Just as the Sun appears to be born from the night, as it appears after its expiry, and night is born of the Sun as it sets in the evening, so the existence of God is perceived by beholding the Great Night of Dissolution, which in reality is created by Him. The Sun comes into existence after the atmosphere [the elements], as if he is produced from it, and the existence of atmosphere is realized by beholding the Sun. So the existence of God is also perceived by beholding the atmosphere which in reality is created by Him. [In the same way] the existence of God is perceived by beholding air, which in reality is created by Him. The existence of God is perceived by beholding the heaven, which in reality is created by Him. The existence of God is perceived by beholding the regions, which in reality are created by Him. The existence of God is perceived by beholding the Earth, which in reality is created by Him. The existence of God is created by beholding fire, which in reality is created by Him. The existence of God is perceived by beholding the waters, which in reality are created by Him. The existence of God is perceived by studying the holy Vedic verses, which in reality are revealed by Him."
Another aspect of the description in Bhagavad-gita is to recognize how God Himself descends into this material realm to reveal Himself through His divine instructions, pastimes, personality, and to show us His form. And even if He is not in front of us personally, we can learn about Him and see Him through the descriptions of the Vedic shastra. Thus, even though we may not be able to see Him with our material senses, He can indeed reveal Himself and make Himself visible to us through such means. However, we also need to become qualified to do that, which we will discuss shortly.
In another aspect of seeing God is that found in the descriptions that many of you have no doubt heard about in near-death-experiences. Often it is described that in such an experience someone may be going down a tunnel, sometimes greeted by past relatives, until they finally approach a fantastic light, a being of unconditional love and acceptance. They often do not exactly see the form of this being, since it is engulfed in light, but they accept the being to be the object of their faith or religion, such as Jesus, or Buddha, or Krishna, or someone similar.
When our own level of consciousness is lower than the higher beings that we may encounter, as in a near-death-experience, we may often see them and the frequency in which they exist as merely white light. In other words, we have not elevated our own consciousness to the frequency of that level of existence to be able to perceive and discern all the details therein. Thus, we perceive such entities as either beings of light, or engulfed in effulgence.
A similar experience is described in the Shri Ishopanishad in mantras 15 and 16, where it says: “O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Please remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee. O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind—please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.”
In this way, we have to raise ourselves to the same refined frequency or energy level as God in our endeavor to perceive Him directly, beyond the dazzling effulgence. Also, the last statement in the above paragraph means that as the sunshine is basically of the same quality in essence as the sun, and an expansion of it, so we are also the same spiritual quality as God. We are not as powerful as God, but we are of the same essential quality. Thus, seeing God is not unexpected, but we simply have to regain that same spiritual quality in our consciousness to acquire the ability to perceive God directly. And all that really means is to reduce the power of the material energy’s influence on ourselves through our spiritual practice.
One more example I would like to use is the radio and television waves that carry the signals of so many stations, whether it be news, music, entertainment, or other forms of communication that are all around us all the time. However, if I do not know about them, or do not think they exist, then how can you convince me that they are real? After all, you cannot see them, taste them, smell them, or feel them. So how can you convince someone that they are real?
The answer is that you have to have a good receiver. Then anyone will see that such waves are all around us, but they mean nothing unless you have a good receiver. Then you realize that throughout the frequency range in which these waves travel, there are so many such waves, and that they are extremely useful, with numerous things that can be done with them. You can even broadcast your own radio waves simply by your cell phone, or use your GPS system, etc. Then they become such a common part of our everyday lives that we no longer even think about them. So if someone says that radio and television waves are not real, or that he does not believe in them, what would you think of him? Obviously, this guy has no knowledge, has no experience, he is not in touch with reality, which means he must have been living under a rock, in a closet, or way out in the wilderness all of his life. You would think he is too weird.
Similarly, if someone has no knowledge of God, and says he does not believe in God, what would you think? Pretty much the same thing, that he is merely out of touch with the proper knowledge that would help make someone understand how to recognize God.
Therefore, another way to perceive God is through the instructions and knowledge as given by a spiritual master, or a person who is a good receiver of the transcendental vibration that exists all around us. Thus, he can receive or perceive it, and then also broadcasts the spiritual knowledge through his instructions that will allow us to understand it, at least to those who will listen. This is how we learn, through such personal instructions or through books that are written by such pure receptors of the spiritual vibrations.
It is also through this means that we can train ourselves to be such receivers of spiritual vibrations or frequencies if we want to. We have to learn it from others to be able to do it ourselves. It is through the spiritual practices, as provided by those spiritual teachers who are already successful, and through the information and instructions given in the Vedic texts, that will also enable us to elevate our consciousness, and the vibrational frequency in which we operate. Then we can also see that which exists in those higher dimensions or spiritual realms.
Therefore, unlike those religions that depend mostly on faith, the Vedic or Dharmic system is that a person follows the path to spiritualize their consciousness to the point where the spiritual dimension becomes perceptible, and then one can begin to enter into that dimension and function on that level. The point is that our consciousness is where we live. We may keep our body in a house, or in particular clothes, and so on, but it is our consciousness that is the vibrational frequency in which we live and send out to others. And as we raise that frequency, we will be able to see that which exists on those higher frequencies as well. In other words, the more spiritual you become, the more you can perceive that which is spiritual. As you become more spiritual, meaning the more you spiritualize your consciousness, then the more qualified you become to recognize, approach, or even see God in so many ways. And once you begin to have that experience, then there is no further argument about what is or what is not God.
So, would you like to become such a perceiver of the spiritual realm? If you do, then the way we work to uplift and spiritualize our consciousness includes the following: Chanting or singing devotional songs, or the names of God, using mantras for japa meditation, associating with like-minded people, discussing this knowledge and information, especially by going to the temple, eating blessed vegetarian food or Krishna prasada, etc.
We have already explained many of these processes in greater detail as related in my other articles, free Ebooks and paperback books. Some of the articles on my website that can be helpful include:
[Available at www.stephen-knapp.com]