Where God cannot be found
Every year in the city of Jagannath Puri in eastern India, a great festival takes place during which a gigantic chariot is pulled through the streets carrying the image of Krishna. It is from this that we get our English expression “Juggernaut.”
“In all the cities of Orissa Jesus taught. At Katak, by the river side, he taught, and thousands of the people followed him.
“One day a car of Jagannath was hauled along by scores of frenzied men, and Jesus said, Behold, a form without a spirit passes by; a body with no soul; a temple with no altar fires. This car of Krishna is an empty thing, for Krishna is not there. This car is but an idol of a people drunk on wine of carnal things. God lives not in the noise of tongues; there is no way to him from any idol shrine” (Aquarian Gospel 26:1-6).
This is not easy for externalized people to accept, for in their outward-turning ways they sincerely seek to worship and communicate with God. In His words Jesus does not condemn them or they external rites, but wishes to explain to them that they are looking for God in a mistaken manner and in a mistaken place.
Truly God is everywhere and in all things, yet they seem to blind us to Him rather than reveal Him. Sri Ramakrishna often said that even though an almanac makes predictions of rainfall you cannot get a single drop of water by squeezing it; and although water is everywhere in all things and in the air itself, we have to go where water is accumulated in sufficient quantity if we would quench our thirst. So we have to find God’s “reservoirs” if we would commune with Him. However well-meaning and sincere our approach and endeavors might be, they must be in harmony with the nature of things–and God–to be successful.
Jesus has begun by telling us two places where the Water of Life cannot be found: in words–whether theologizing, praising, or petitioning–and in external objects. No, we really do not “see God” in the wonders of nature, in impressive temples or in any imagery whatsoever–verbal or visual. Nor are we really “lifted up” toward God by concepts of any kind, whether devotional or intellectual. Nor can we draw near to God by words. Because of the Protestant stamp on our culture, every time the word “idol” comes up only visual images of holy persons or deities become targeted in our minds, but idols are much more–they are any “thing” whatsoever that intervenes between us and the perception of God, and that includes just about everything that is presented to us as a bridge or door to God by religion (or even yoga). Our own heart can be an idol shrine from which we can find no way to God because the idols cover or block the exits.
Both words and imagery affect us profoundly, but only on the levels of intellect and emotion. They have nothing to do with consciousness–rather they veil it–and that is the sole component of spirit. Thoughts and emotions are blots on the fabric of our awareness; they are the waves in our mind that Patanjali says must be erased before we can touch God in the state of union we call yoga. Yet we clings to those idols with the strength of a spiritual death-wish. Considering that we really have no experience of anything else, that is understandable–but it is no less deadly. Most people have no religion at all, only a set of ideas and “feelings” about them and God. The truth is simple: we really worship the false ego-self we call “me” and ignore (and often deny the very existence of) our true self and the true God. Most religion and “spirituality” is a wasteland of spiritual death, however endlessly they may be entertaining and assuring.
Where God can be found
Unlike most religion, though, Jesus does not tell us what to avoid and then leave us there, as empty as we were before. He goes on to tell us the sure place to find God:
“God’s meeting place with man is in the heart, and in a still small voice he speaks; and he who hears is still” (Aquarian Gospel 26:7).
First we must clear out the idols from the shrine of our heart. Once we do that, the blindness will vanish and we will perceive God to be present–as He always was. Admittedly, it is not as simple and quick as saying it, and we need to “invoke” the presence of God through the interior process of meditation. And once we become aware of the Presence we must do more: we must hear the “still small voice” by which “he speaks.” That is why we use sound (mantra) in meditation. By entering into the most subtle modes of sound which touch the Silence out of which God speaks, we train our inner ear to hear His “speech.” It is far subtler than ordinary verbal speech, is actually a state of consciousness (bhava), but it is the purest form of communication. This is why Patanjali sometimes refers to meditation in the Yoga Sutras as “bhavanam.”
How will we know we have truly heard “the still small voice”? Jesus tells us: “He who hears is still.” That is, we will dwell in the Silence beyond the noise of ignorance and relativity, and we will be “still” in our lives, no longer initiating karma or delusive involvements. This does not mean that we will become inactive and passive, but that we will be able to act without making more ripples in the sphere of our lives. This, too, is part of eliminating the waves that inhibit the state of yoga. “He who sees the inaction that is in action, and the action that is in inaction, is wise indeed. Even when he is engaged in action he remains poised in the tranquility of the Atman” (Bhagavad Gita 4:18), says Krishna. In the nineteenth century a book was written entitled A Manual For Interior Souls. The appellation is apt: those who have truly heard the voice of God become inwardly oriented.
“Only that yogi whose joy is inward, inward his peace, and his vision inward, shall come to Brahman and know Nirvana” (Bhagavad Gita 5:24).
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: The Voice in the Heart