I’d like to write a two-part article meant mainly for Hindu readers. (1) It may seem a bit difficult for western readers.
Being a non-Hindu writer, I have to call these speculations and ask forgiveness if what I say violates some understandings obvious even to the young raised in that religion.
If something comes from this which aids comprehension of even one or two points on the subjects discussed or leads to further questioning, I’ll be happy.
In Hinduism, it seems that when God is discussed or represented, God in its aspect as stillness is often paired with God in its aspect as energy or movement. This pairing is usually represented as males and females in couples.
So for instance we see Shiva and Shakti or Vishnu and Lakshmi or Brahma and Saraswati. Attributes are given each and stories are offered that demonstrate various aspects of the divine qualities, the life well lived, or the process of enlightenment.
God in its aspect as stillness stands above all, as the Transcendental, the Formless. The stillness is the Absolute level of existence, which is often called Parabrahman, Paramatman, or Satchidananda (Sat=Truth, Chit=Consciousness, and Ananda = Bliss) – the unconditioned Brahman, which Christians often call the Godhead.
But, since no limitations can be placed on God or its manifestations, God as stillness can also exist within the Phenomenal domain. And when God is represented so, Hindus speak of the conditioned Brahman: saguna [with form] vs. nirguna [without form]. (2)
When I say the “conditioned Brahman” I don’t mean the Divine Mother. The Mother is movement. But when the unconditioned Brahman, with the aid of the Mother enters the realm of form and becomes the conditioned Brahman, its differentiating feature remains Brahman’s stillness rather than Shakti’s movement.
God as movement is the Phenomenal domain itself and everything in it – the Mother and the realm of the Mother, mater, matter. (3)
Without movement – without gravity and the strong and weak forces that operate on particles – everything material would turn to dust and return to the void. As far as I know, it’s movement that keeps the illusion of materiality in place.
Her movement is usually characterized as energy (Shakti). Her energy manifests as a primal, universal, creative vibration (Aum or Amen) that calls all matter into being for a while, preserves it, and transforms it back into the void of the transcendental God. (4)
Because the Mother conditions the unconditioned Brahman, all forms of God, including avatars, are said to be forms of the Mother and exist within her phenomenal domain. Sometimes the conditioned Brahman is given names like Vishwa, Ishwara, etc . Linda Dillon calls God’s manifestation at this level Yahweh, I believe.
The Trinity (not the Trimurthy of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) in Hinduism is Brahman, Atman and Shakti. (5) That describes the three states that God is either in or creates to provide the necessary characters in the divine drama (or leela) that would allow for enlightenment, which is itself the moment at which God meets God.
To create a moment when God meets God is the purpose for which life was created.
The three levels of Reality are God as stillness, God as movement, and God as stillness within movement. They’re also described as the Transcendental, the Phenomenal, and the Transcendental within the Phenomenal. (6)
God as stillness is Brahman (what Christians call the Father). God as energy is Shakti, the Divine Mother (what Christians call the Holy Ghost). God as stillness within energy is the Atman (what Christians call the Son or Christ or soul). (7)
But in essence, these three levels of Reality are reducible to just two: stillness and movement. The third is stillness ensconced in movement or matter (the soul ensconced within the body, the Knower buried in the Field, the Transcendental within the Phenomenal).
(Continued in Part 2.)
(1) For more in this vein, see “Cross-Cultural Spirituality” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/cross-cultural-spirituality/>Part 2.)
(2) Nirguna = without attributes or form. Saguna = with attributes or form.
“When the Godhead is thought of as creating, preserving, and destroying, It is known as the Personal God, Saguna Brahman, or the Primal Energy, Adyasakti. Again, when It is thought of as beyond the three gunas, then it is called the Attributeless Reality, Nirguna Brahman, beyond speech and thought; this is the Supreme Brahman, Paramatman.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 218.) [Hereafter GSR.]
“That which is realized intuitively as Brahman, through the eliminating process of ‘Not this, not this,’ is … found to have become the universe and all its living beings. The vijnani sees that the Reality which is nirguna, without attributes, is also saguna, with attributes.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 103-4.)
“When an aspirant is united with Nirguna Brahman (Brahman without attributes), he is free from everything; and again, when he is identified with Saguna Brahman (Brahman with attributes), he is one with everything.” (Swami Chetanananda in Dattatreya, Avadhuta Gita. The Song of the Ever-Free. Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1988, 84.)
(3) See the articles under “The Nature of the Divine Mother” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/the-nature-of-the-divine-mother/.
(4) “The intelligent holy vibration, or the first manifestation of God the Father, … manifests as the cosmic sound of Aum, or Amen, which can be heard in meditation.” (Paramahansa Yogananda, The Second Coming of Christ. Dallas: Amrita Foundation, 1979, 1, 17.) [Hereafter SCC.]
“The Cosmic Energy, or Vibration, … has a voice of Cosmic Sound which is called Amen by Christians or Om by Hindus. This Amen is the faithful witness in the beginning of creation — that is, all vibrating creation is accompanied by the Cosmic Sound of Amen or Om or the Word or Holy Ghost, which is the first vibrating manifestation of God.” (Paramahansa Yogananda, SCC, 2, 22.)
(5) See”Christianity and Hinduism are One” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/cross-cultural-spirituality/christianity-and-hinduism-are-one/.
(6)” In the Vedas, reality experienced at the transcendental level is called Brahman. This term denotes a non-dual pure consciousness which pervades the universe and yet remains outside it. Brahman is described as the first principle; from it all things are derived, by it all are supported, and into it all finally disappear. In Brahman alone the apparent differences of the phenomenal world are unified. According to the non-dualistic Vedanta philosophy, Brahman is identical with the self of man, known as Atman.” (Swami Nikhilananda, Hinduism. lts Meaning for the Liberation of the Spirit. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1968, 29.) [Hereafter HIN.]
“Maya [or Shakti], which is not essentially different from Brahman, is the material cause, and Brahman, as pure intelligence, is the efficient cause of the universe. After projecting all material forms, Brahman enters into them as life and consciousness and animates them. Thus Brahman, which is transcendental, becomes immanent in the universe. (Nikhilananda, HIN, 45.)
(7) “Christianity and Hinduism,” ibid. “The Cosmos is made of the transcendental God, the Father, the consciousness beyond all Creation; and God, the Son, (the consciousness of the Father reflected in the womb of Cosmic Energy as the Only Begotten, only reflected Christ Consciousness) and the Holy Ghost, or Cosmic Vibration. This Cosmic Vibration appears as the Cosmic Sound of all lifetrons and Cosmic Energy.” (Paramahansa Yogananda, SCC, 1, 89-90.)
(8) Steve Beckow: I have a question for you from our Hindu readers. They want to know if the gunas, the cosmic forces which are called rajas, sattwa, and tamas, are the same as the Trimurthy [Triad] of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Divine Mother: Yes. We are the same as that triad.
SB: All right. And the Trimurthy of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is a subset of the Universal Creative Vibration that you are at your essence. Is that correct?
DM: That is correct. (“The Divine Mother: Come to Me as I Come to You – Part 1/2,” Oct. 17, 2012, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2012/10/the-divine-mother-come-to-me-as-i-come-to-you-part-12/.)
Steve Beckow: I share your commitment to reunification. I’d certainly like to see the rise of a cross-cultural spirituality. And so let me ask you two questions that you don’t need to take a long time to answer. I’ll ask them both at the same time. And the first is, is what Hindus call Brahman, Atman and Shakti the same as what Christians call the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? And the second is, what is the connection between what Hindus call Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, (10) and the gunas or the cosmic forces of rajas, sattwa and tamas?
Sri Shankara: I can answer this very quickly. There are no differences.” (“Shankara: Everywhere You Look Will be a Monsoon of Love,” June 26, 2013, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2013/06/sri-shankara-everywhere-you-look-will-be-a-monsoon-of-love/.)