- He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Ishwara is not in the world as an invisible presence. Rather, the world itself is the visible presence of Ishwara. At the beginning of a creation cycle, when relative existence begins, there is an emanation from Brahman, the Absolute. (There is no actual emanation or any kind of action or development within Brahman, who is essentially unchangeable, rather there is the idea of emanation, action and development.)
Brahman, Ishwara, and MahaShakti
Since in relative existence (the concept of relative existence) duality is an absolute necessity for its realization, consequently at the very moment of the extension/emanation of Brahman it becomes dual: consciousness and vibration, God and Matter. Ishwara is the inner Guide and vibratory creation–MahaShakti, Prakriti or Pradhana–is the Guided. We can think of Ishwara (Christ Consciousness) as the screen, and Creation as the play of light and shadow projected onto it. But we must never lose sight of the fact that the two are One.
Therefore Ishwara is in the world as its inner existence (antakharana), being projected (made) by him. Since the world is itself vibration, ideation, it has no “idea” of anything. Therefore it cannot conceive or “know” Ishwara. And that is why people whose consciousness is submerged and confined in materiality cannot conceive or believe in God.
As the great Christian philosopher Origen said, they are merely material bodies (somas), not conscious beings or spirits (pneumas) at all. Of course, he meant that from a practical standpoint, not as an absolute principle, for everything is Spirit, including us.
Just as matter cannot know either itself or its origin, neither can those people who are (truly) imprisoned in the body. Only through evolution does matter start to be revealed as consciousness (spirit), and it is the same with sentient beings.
“Know Thyself” is the primary impulse of the universe. But Self-knowledge is no simple thing, and requires a great deal of evolution to even intuit, much less realize and manifest. So neither the world nor the worldly know either Ishwara or their true Self.
- He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
God comes to sentient beings every day and they do not perceive him. At best some humans have a theory about him. But full knowledge of God, Brahmajnana, is beyond most at the present. Yet hints and fragments are there, even if only subliminally as a vague intuition which can, if fostered, develop into an increasingly defined understanding and eventually into spiritual realization.
The story of “The Bipper”
In my childhood I listened on the radio to a program hosted by Tom Brenneman who also had a magazine. In one issue I read an article by a man whose sister and her husband had decided that their son should have no contact with religion, and who had commanded all their friends and relatives that nothing about religion or God was ever to be spoken in from of him. And so it was.
When the boy was five or six years of age, the man was asked to stay in their home and look after their son while they went on a trip. During that time he noticed that if the boy did anything “bad” he would keep saying something under his breath for a while. Finally the man realized that he was whispering “The Bipper, The Bipper,” over and over.
So he asked him, “What is ‘The Bipper?” The boy looked at him in surprise and asked, “You mean The Absolutely Bipper?” “Yes,” replied his uncle. “Well,” began the boy, “the Absolutely Bipper is everywhere and knows everything. And he doesn’t like it when I do something wrong. And when I do, I just keep saying, ‘The Bipper’ over and over until I feel all right.”
The uncle was amazed: his nephew knew about God and his relation to human beings. And that knowledge had come to him from within his own self. So it has been through the history of humanity: people have intuited the Infinite Consciousness pervading everywhere and within them.
The hidden Theism of atheism
Sometimes that inborn awareness comes out in strange ways. I knew a minister who was once challenged by a self-styled atheist who spent about an hour expounding the “truth” of atheism and the folly of theism. When he was finished the minister said: “There are two points about all that you have just said. One: it is complete nonsense. Two: you do not believe a word of it yourself.” The man put his right hand up in the air and declaimed: “I swear to God in heaven that I do!”
Once I was watching the news. A clip from a speech by Kruschev before the Supreme Soviet was shown in which he said, “My conscience is clear before God and man.” Whoops! That was not the way a true Communist-atheist spoke. But awareness of God is at the core of our being, and if it is not intentionally and insistently blocked it must come out onto the conscious level.
More from the Commentary on the Four Gospels:
- In the Beginning and Before: the Inner Meaning of The Gospels
- What Is the Spiritual State to Which Jesus Called His Disciples?
Further Reading on Ishwara:
- Living the Yoga Life: Ishwara
- Samadhi by “Giving the Life to God”: Ishwara Pranidhana
- Living the Yoga Life: The Book