The Wonder That is God by Swami
Excerpt from Seeing
OF THE MANY PATHS THAT lead to God, wonder should surely take
first place. The towering mountain range, the glory of a sunset,
the vast ocean, the forests and fertile plains, All these can
throw the mind into a mood of wonder. We look at the world of
nature and ask: Who could have made this world and guided all
of its movements?
The answer that comes from within says that there must be an
infinite Intelligence at the back of this world because we find
that everything behaves according to laws, principles, and design.
The emotion of wonder can prompt our quest for God.
A scientist who seeks to resolve nature's mysteries is at an
advantage if his or her heart is humble and receptive to the
wonder of God, for nature more readily reveals her secrets to
those whose love for God has quieted the human ego. Think of
the humility of Einstein who, through his scientific research,
became convinced of a divine Intelligence. Similarly, Isaac
Newton drew a parallel between intellectual knowledge and the
vastness of the ocean, declaring that he "had been vouchsafed
the privilege of gathering a few pebbles on the shore."
Such thoughts should convince us that the more closely one deals
with nature, God's wondrous handiwork, the closer one is drawn
to the Infinite.The pettiness of the human ego diminishes in
direct ratio. The ego is bound by the limits of this universe,
but the great unseen Intelligence behind all things visible
and invisible is continuously creating inexhaustible wonders.
The world's great scriptures stress the spiritual importance
of utilizing the wonder of God for meditative purposes. Sri
Ramakrishna used to relate the anecdote of a holy man in India
who lived in a small hut on the bank of a river. After remaining
all day in his hut, he made a ritual of emerging every day at
sun set, folding his hands, and, raising his eyes in reverential
wonder to the western sky, repeating," How wonderful you are!"
In deep meditation he would stand motionless, absorbing the
stillness and beauty for a lengthy period.
This is an excellent spiritual practice for contemplation and
meditation; through it one discovers the wonders of God, which
are "more in number than grains of sand." By seeking God through
wonder, the seeker is drawn to the impersonal ideal of God,
and in meditation he or she strives to contact the divine Intelligence,
that purely impersonal mind which governs space, time, and all
the phenomena of nature. This type of contemplation is what
the devotional scriptures of India term shanta, or a peaceful
relationship to God. Biological and anatomical studies have
proved the wonders of the physical body.
We can think of God as the supreme Artist who creates vast numbers
of human forms, not one of which is a duplication. We may smugly
dwell on our creative abilities, but human skill falls far short
of creating one delightful hummingbird. As far as is known,
God has created 157 varieties of this species. The inexhaustible
Infinite is continuously bringing about creation and dissolution.
Both life and death represent a cosmic drama, for change is
the law of matter. Only our real Self, that is God, is unchanging
This is a further wonder of God. God's illimitable storehouse
of energy, of which there is neither beginning nor end, is yet
another wonder. In the first book of the Bible we read: "And
God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."A cosmic
thought followed by material manifestation takes place with
the speed of light. God creates with complete detachment. As
we develop spiritually, we also begin to share this divine detachment,
which counteracts material attachment.
God projected this universe and can withdraw it in the space
of a heartbeat. Further evidence of God's wonder is the human
mind which is but a pale reflection of cosmic glory.
According to Indian thought, the human mind is composed of three
elements: rajas, tamas, and sattva. The influence of rajas shows
itself when the mind is in a state of turmoil or raging with
sensual desires and material distractions. Tamas makes itself
felt when the mind becomes torpid, dull, and easily deluded.
Sattva brings about a state of quietude, which gives us well-balanced
judgment and clear understanding.
The human mind, although in a constant state of flux due to
the influence of these elements, has a wide range. It spans
from Shakespeare, Newton, and a host of other such luminaries
to the vast majority of human beings whose abilities fall well
below their level, but are nonetheless part of the Divine.
Every human mind is capable, under well-directed spiritual guidance,
of rising to sublime heights; it is capable of touching the
frontiers of time, space, and causality; it can emulate the
majestic peace, power, and divine compassion of Jesus Christ,
Buddha, or Sri Krishna.
An outstanding cause for wonder is that, of all creation, human
beings alone are blessed with the divine potential to personally
experience God. Even the gods, the Upanishads declare, lack
this potential. Sri Krishna reports that of all God's wonders
mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the greatest
is God becoming an individual human being.
When we at last attain Self-knowledge, then we will realize
that everything that was a source of wonder for us is, in fact,
God made manifest. When we can lift the obscuring veil of maya,
and can say,"l am He," we will emerge from our cocoon of ignorance.
For us the "Divine Comedy"will have ended through contemplation
on the wonder that is God.
Sattva, rajas, and tamas are the three gunas, or qualities.
Tamas is characterized by dullness, stupidity, and inertia;
rajas by activity, restlessness, and passion; sattva by calmness,
purity, and wisdom. These three qualities are found in varying
proportions in the external world and in all created beings.?
Excerpt from Seeing
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