Does God Really Have Form Like Us?

Some of the sages ask, “An ordinary soul has many reincarnations. Now it seems from what you have just told us that Godhead also has many incarnations and reincarnations. Does God really incarnate and take forms like us?”

[1.3.30]

Suta answers, “God’s forms are really formless spiritual consciousness. The individual’s incarnations are material elements manufactured by the qualities of illusion.”

Some philosophers argue that to think of God with some sort of eyes and ears and arms and legs is primitive anthropomorphism. They think that God must be beyond all form. Suta agrees that God is beyond form, but does not agree that God therefore must be formless, without specific beauty and individuality. He says that “the forms of God are beyond form.” He does not say that God is formless, but that the form of God is beyond form. There is a world of difference!

Suta teaches that God has form, but this form is beyond form because it is made of limitless pure consciousness. This contrasts against the form we see in the mirror: a thing manufactured from material elements by the qualities of illusion.

In summary, God has limitless form.

 [31]

Seeing clouds or dust in the sky, we think it is dirty. The foolish observer transposes an observation upon the observed.

When we look at a thing, we do not see it! We see only our perception of it. An observation is different from the thing observed. This difference is the mind that comprehends the observation. We do not directly observe reality. We observe only what our minds can make sense of. This is really quite important to admit. Especially today, in a world that defines reality based on what some people can observe empirically.

English: The sunrising behind some clouds.

Image via Wikipedia

Suta makes the idea more concrete by using an analogy: “When you see clouds or dust in the sky, you think the sky is cloudy or dusty.” The sky is always clear blue. Clouds and dust exist only at a low level of atmosphere. If our observation point is below that level, the sky seems cloudy or dirty. We wrongly impart our vantage point upon the reality of what we see.

An ordinary person looks at a painting or statue of Godhead and sees something like what they see in the mirror: hair, eyes, hands, feet, etc. “That can’t be right,” they ponder, “because that means Godhead is just like me: limited within a certain form, susceptible to bad-hair days, eye infections, arthritis, etc.” This logic has the flaw of imposing one’s own conditions upon things one observes. Our experience of form is limiting and prone to be problematic. Therefore when we observe form, we think it must be restrictive. However, our experience of form is troublesome only because our form is an artificial imposition manufactured by illusions. Just because spiritual forms superficially look like material forms does not make them material. God’s forms are pure spiritual formlessness. They are not forms of illusory material energy. We must not transpose our small comprehension of form upon the infinite spiritual form of the All-Attractive.

About Vraja Kishor


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