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How to see God

by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Sometimes people say that they want to see God, but that God is not perceiva...

by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Sometimes people say that they want to see God, but that God is not perceivable to them. But the real question is: do we have the proper eyes to see God? Are we qualified to see the Supreme Lord?

As it is said in the Padma Purana: "One cannot understand the form, name, quality, or paraphernalia of God with one’s material senses." Our senses are imperfect, so how can we see the Supreme Person? It is not possible.

Then how is it possible to see Him? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau: If we train our senses, if we purify our senses, those purified senses will help us see God. It is just as if we had cataracts on our eyes. Because our eyes are suffering from cataracts, we cannot see. But this does not mean that there is nothing to be seen—only that we cannot see. Similarly, now we cannot conceive of the form of God, but if our cataracts are removed, we can see Him.

The Brahma-samhita says: premanjana-churita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hridayeshu vilokayanti: [Bs. 5.38] "The devotees whose eyes are anointed with the love-of-God ointment see God, Krishna, within their hearts twenty-four hours a day.” So, we require to purify our senses. Then we’ll be able to understand what the form of God is, what the name of God is, what the qualities of God are, what the abode of God is, and what the paraphernalia of God are, and we’ll be able to see God in everything.

We cannot understand God by our own endeavor, but God can reveal Himself to us. Trying to see God by our own efforts is just like trying to see the sun when it is dark outside. If we say, “Oh, I have a very strong flashlight, and I shall search out the sun,” we will not be able to see it. But in the morning, when the sun rises out of its own will, we can see it. Similarly, we cannot see God by our own endeavor, because our senses are all imperfect. We have to purify our senses and wait for the time when God will be pleased to reveal Himself before us. This is the process of Krishna consciousness. We cannot challenge, “Oh, my dear God, my dear Krishna, You must come before me. I shall see You.” No, God is not our order-supplier, our servant. When He is pleased with us, we’ll see Him.

The Svetasvatara Upanishad (4.20) explains “The Lord's form of beauty is imperceptible to mundane senses. No one can see Him with material eyes. Only those who realize, through deep pure-hearted meditation, this Supreme Personality, who resides in everyone’s heart, can attain liberation.”

"No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krishna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.234)1.2.234]

"Krishna isn't perceivable by our blunt material senses." The word namadi means "beginning with His name." With our material senses we cannot understand Krishna's names or His form or His qualities or His paraphernalia or His activities. It is not possible.

Then how are they to be understood? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah: "When we render transcendental loving service to the Lord with our senses, beginning with the tongue, the Lord gradually reveals Himself."

Eyes To See God

An excerpt from
"On the way to Krishna"
by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Sri Krishna says: "You cannot see Me without your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes, so that you can behold My mystic opulence" (Bhagavad-Gita 11.8)

How can we get the eyes to see God? How can we become God conscious, Krishna conscious, in every step of our life? Actually, Krishna makes it very easy for us: “O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability to man” (B.G. 7.8)

In this verse Sri Krishna is describing how we can become Krishna conscious fully, in all stages of our lives. For instance, all living entities must drink water. The taste of water is so nice that when we are thirsty, nothing but water seems to do. No manufacturer can create the pure taste of water. We can thus remember Krishna when we drink water. No one can avioid drinking water every day in his life, so God conscious is there-how can we forget?

There are nine different processes for associating with God, and the first method of association is sravanam - hearing. By reading Bhagavad-Gita we hear the speeches of Sri Krishna, which means that we are actually associating with God. (We should always remember that when we speak of Krishna, we refer to God.) Inasmuch as we associate with God, and as we go on hearing the words of Krishna and His names, the contamination of material nature is reduced. If we understand that Krishna is sound, illumination, water, and so many other things, we cannot avoid Him. If we can remember Krishna in this way, our association with Him is permanent.

Association with Krishna is like association with sunshine. Where there is sunshine, there is no contamination. As long as one is out in the ultraviolet rays of the sun, he will not be diseased. Western medicine recommends sunshine for all kinds of diseases, and the Vedas say a diseased man should worship the sun to be cured. Similarly, if we associate with Krishna - and we can see Krishna in the sun and the moon, and we can hear Krishna in sound and taste Him in water.

It is especially useless to speculate about God. Therefore Shrimad-Bhagavatam recommends that one
give up all sorts of speculation. Instead, one should become submissive, realizing not only that he is an insignificant creature, but also that this earth is only one small point in a great universe. New York City may seem very large, but when one realizes that the earth is such a small spot, and that on the earth the United States is another small spot, and that in the USA, New York is but a small spot, and that in New York the individual is only one out of millions, then one can understand that he is not so very important after all. Realizing our significance in the face of the universe and God, we should not be artificially puffed up but should be submissive.

We should be very careful not to fall prey to frog philosophy. Once there was a frog in a well, and upon hearing of the Atlantic Ocean from a friend, he asked,

“Oh what is this Atlantic Ocean?”
“it is a vast body of water,” his friend replied.
“How vast? Is it double the size of this well?”
“Oh no-much larger.”
“How much larger? Ten times the size?”

In this way the frog went on calculating. But how could he ever understand the depths and far reaches of the great ocean? Our faculties, experience, and powers of speculation are always limited. We can give rise only to such frog philosophy.

After giving up speculation, what should we do? Bhagavatam recommends that we become humble and hear God’s message submissively. We may hear His message also from the Bhagavad-Gita and other vedic literatures. The only qualification is that we receive the transcendental message from a realized soul-a pure devotee of God.

In the 17th Chapter of Bhagavad-Gita, Sri Krishna gives additional ways to perceive Him in every step of life: “I am the heat of the fire. I am the life of all the lives, and I am the penaces of all ascetics” (B.G. 7.9).

Only Krishna can create flowers and fragrances. We may synthetically create some scents or fragrances but these are not as good as the originals that occur in nature. When we smell a good natural fragrance, we can think “Oh, here is God, here is Krishna.” Or when we see natural beauty we can think, “Oh here is Krishna.” Or when we see any form of life, whether it be in a plant or animal, or in a part and parcel of Krishna, for as soon as the spiritual spark, which is a part of Krishna, is taken away from the body, the body disintegrates. “O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existence, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men” (B.G 7.10).

Here again it is obvious that Krishna is the life of all that lives. Thus at every step we can see God. People may ask, “Can you show me God?” Yes, of course. We can see God in so many different ways. But if one closes his eyes and says, “I shall not see God” then how can he be shown?

The easiest way to see God is to chant Hare Krishna always. Never mind whether you are in a factory or in a hell, in a shack or in a skyscraper - it doesn’t matter. Just go on chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. There is no expense, there is no impediment, there is no caste, there is no creed, there is no color-anyone can do it. Just chant and hear. Then, by Krishna’s grace, you will always have the eyes to see Him everywhere and always.

This is a continuation of a conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and reporters in Melbourne, Australia, on June 29, 1974.

Reporter 3: Your Divine Grace, you're saying we can see the Lord only by consulting the scriptures and the succession of bonafide spiritual masters. But supposedly, Lord Krsna is eternal, or indestructible. So surely He must be existing today. Which means we should be able to see Him now.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Yes, Krsna is existing. For instance, the sun is existing, but at night you have no eyes to see the sun. That does not mean the sun does not exist. It is your deficiency -- at night you cannot see the sun... although the sun is always existing, you require qualification to see the sun at night. Similarly, although Krsna always exists, you must be qualified to see Him in the night of this material world. That qualification is described in the Brahma-samhita:

premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanenasantah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayantiyam syamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupamgovindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
"I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda, who is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed with the pulp of love. He is seen in His eternal form of Syamasundara, situated within the heart of the devotee." - Sri Brahma Samhita Chapter 5, "Hymn to the Absolute," Mantra 38.

Those who are saintly persons and in ecstatic love with Krsna -- they are seeing Him twenty-four hours a day. That is not very difficult to understand. If you love somebody, you are seeing him or her always. Is it not?

Reporter 3: That's so.

HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: So seeing Krsna requires the qualification of love. Then Krsna will be visible twenty-four hours a day. He'll talk with you. These things are described.

tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakamdadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te
"To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me." -Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 10 “The Oppulence of the Absolute’, Text 10.
That means He talks. "I give intelligence." Unless He talks, how can He give intelligence -- "You do this"? So you have to qualify yourself to see and hear Krsna. But Krsna is always present.