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How Can You Know God?

Theologia Germanica quoteA Continuation of the Commentary on Theologia Germanica, by the Frankfurter.

The things which are in part can be apprehended, known, and expressed; but the Perfect cannot be apprehended, known, or expressed by any creature as creature.

The ancient sages of India knew by direct experience of Brahman that nothing can be said about it as the ultimate Reality, not even that it exists, since our only experience and concept of existence is that of relative things. Therefore they said that all we can do is say neti neti: not this; not that. (The earliest Fathers of the Christian Church said exactly this same thing, but it became overshadowed by later ignorance in the form of official theology.)

Only by direct union with God can God be known. And even then it will not be through the mind or intellect, and therefore nothing can be said about God. The second clause: “the Perfect cannot be apprehended, known, or expressed by any creature as creature,” does mean that if we cease to be a creature, a relative being trapped in Maya, we can apprehend and know God. But we have to become god ourselves–realize our divine essence, finite though it may be–to do so. And even then we cannot say a word about Him.

Therefore we do not give a name to the Perfect, for it is none of these. The creature as creature cannot know nor apprehend it, name nor conceive it.

One of the common failings of religions is to assign a name (or names) to God, Who cannot possibly be named because He cannot be conceived. For example, “Inconceivable” cannot be a name, because it is only a description. All the world’s religions have this failing in common except for the Sanatana Dharma of India. Therefore Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj, wrote in Satyartha Prakash: “Om is the highest Name of God, and comprises many other Names of God. It should be borne in mind that Om is the Name of God exclusively–and of no other object material or spiritual–while the others are but descriptive titles and not exactly proper names.”

This is an extremely important point: all “names” of God are really descriptive titles, and essentially do not designate God in a “proper” or exclusive manner as they all have meanings of their own, such as almighty, universal, and such like. Om, on the other hand, has no intellectual meaning or designation at all, but is a direct name or indicator of God.

The rishis (seers) of India not only knew that Om is God’s Name, they knew that it is a transforming sound vibration that has the power to convey God-perception to those who are sensitive and refined enough to experience it. They knew God’s Name, and therefore knew God. And so can anyone who dedicates themselves to the way revealed by those sages as the path to God-realization: Yoga.

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