Religion, Spirituality and the Modern World
What is God?
God is the term most often used in
Western religious thought to describe the Supreme Being or spiritual
reality behind the universe. The term God is originally a Germanic
word and relates to the idea of the good, the summum bonum, what is
supremely beneficial in life. God in the Jewish, Christian and
Islamic sense stands for the Creator of the universe, who has a
personal nature, and is generally conceived of as a father who
resides in Heaven.
Sanatana Dharma teaches that there is an
ultimate spiritual reality, which one can call God, but that this
reality transcends all names, forms and actions. Its highest Truth
is one of monism - not that there is only One God but that there is
nothing but God, who includes all creatures within a greater Being.
Such a Divine being id not merely creator. He is the creation itself
as well as the Uncreate which transcends time, space and causation
as pure consciousness, called Brahman or the Absolute. All creatures
and all the universe are in essence God. Our soul is one with God
and can experience God in consciousness.
Brahman is the very Self of all beings.
It is neither male nor female. It is beyond emotion and expression.
It has no only sons, favorite prophets or chosen people. It
transcends time, space and person. All of creation consists of
merely the surface waves on its infinite sea. It is a unity of
Truth, not of belief, and a Truth that has many forms and functions
in its manifestation.
Brahman is not apart from the world. It
is the very being and presence underlying all things. It is equally
present in an ant as well as in a human being. There is nothing
apart from it. Yet it is not tainted by anything. Like space it
pervades everything but assumes no form. While one can call Brahman
God, one should realize that Brahman is a universal principle of
Being transcending both the Creator and the creation and is not the
same as the God of monotheistic beliefs (which Hindus call Ishvara
or the Lord).