Brahman - The Infinite!

Hello all,

Namaste! Hope all of you had a great week and weekend with a lot of Sun, Sunlight and were able to do things that bring value to your life. Today we will try to discuss one of the toughest subjects a human being can ever discuss, the Brahman or the Infinite. I have read in many places that to put it simply into words and describe it is absolutely impossible. But then why not give it a try and see how it proceeds. (Just want to warn everyone, this post is going to have a very heavy measure of Philosophy and hope this makes sense to my dear blog readers. Brahman is a very difficult subject, so of course, a heavy dose of Philosophy is needed to elaborate).Before proceeding with this post let us invoke the Brahman itself to guide us so that this post tries to capture at least a small portion of the true essence of Brahman.

Last week we discussed how the Sun or Surya bring its energy into our body as the Soul or the authentic Self. In Indian philosophy, this is called Jeevatma or the individual Self, which is part and parcel of the Universal Self or the Paramatman (Parama-Great, Atman-Soul). In true Indian or Vedic Philosophy this is called by another name called Brahman. Now, what is this Brahman? Is there any way we can really see or hear or touch or know its existence? How can we even know whether such a thing exists? Before trying to elucidate this let us recapture what we discussed before in another post called 'Aham Brahma Asmi'.

Nature:  According to what we previously discussed, (This is how it always comes to my mind. For another person it may come in another analogy or metaphorical perspective), let us consider there is a lake, say very calm, very deep, and invokes an auspicious or sacred feeling when we watch it. It is just being existant very calm without any waves or ripples. But the very thought of it brings peace and a calmness to our mind. Think there is something that causes ripple or waves in the lake and this creates water droplets or bubbles that arise from the lake. Assume each bubble takes the shape of something. It can be a butterfly, a caterpillar, a rock, a mountain or a tree. How does this feel to imagine?

Brahman (a droplet of water arising from a lake)
By Sven Hoppe; CC-BY-SA-3.0

Now instead of the water in the lake, let us consider the lake is filled with ether or the principle which cannot be felt by the five senses. It cannot be seen, heard, tasted, touched or smelled. From this ether, every kind of thing or creation is happening. Now the bird, tree, or a butterfly or even the mountain is made up of the same principle as the thing that fills the lake. But the difference between a bird or a caterpillar from a mountain is one has the spirit or is animate and the other is inanimate. But all of them are made up of the same thing that fills the lake. Now let us suppose, the principle that fills the lake even though is inert, neutral and formless, has all the potential enclosed inside it that anything can be formed out of it. This is the Brahman or the paramatman or the essential principle that stays inert and formless. Once the Brahman takes a form it becomes Saguna Brahman (Sa- with, Guna-properties or aspects), but the Brahman without any form is known as Nirguna (Nir-None, Guna-aspects or properties). Here the Infinite Brahman we are discussing is the Nirguna Brahman.

To elucidate more let us take an example. Consider a big huge Oak tree, that is very tall and has the trunk as big as a car's tire. It grows from an Acorn, which is small and can be held in the palm of our hand. Now presume the Acorn has all the potential hidden inside it and when the situation becomes ripe and correct, the Acorn gives rise to a plant which grows to become the huge Oak tree.
Acorn
www.pexels.com

So how about if we think that the small Acorn already encloses everything needed for it to make a huge Oak tree, does it make sense? This same logic let us bring to our Brahman. Consider the inert and formless Brahman already has all the potential to make everything seen, unseen, heard, unheard, touched, not-touched, smelled, not smelled and even tasted, not tasted, to happen. Let us take it further. How about if we suppose it has even the potential to make even the imagined as well as the not-imagined form made from it. How does it feel? This is how we have to think about the Brahman or truly the Infinite. The possibilities of potential are infinite we cannot even imagine the true essence of it.


Oak
www.pexels.com
That is why in the Upanishads, the Brahman is explained as that which cannot be perceived. Our human mind is so limited and boxed, once we think of Brahman we have given it a form and essence. That decries the principle of Brahman which is always above and beyond the form and essence. It is not finite, it is infinite or truly impossible to measure, calculate or imagine. Once we use a word to explain Brahman, we have given it a form and brought to the realm of formed imaginations and the nature of Brahman is completely lost for us.

This is the true nature of Brahman which is above and beyond our five senses or imaginations. Now because it has the potential hidden inside it, when the correct time and situation arises, the Brahman can change into form either animate with a soul or inanimate like a rock. The same way how about if we assume the Universe, entire galaxies and innumerous solar systems and other stellar systems have effectively come into existence from this hidden potential. But then we can assume the hidden fabric that weaves everything is something which is there but that can never be perceived, felt or imagined. How about that for an existential question? This brings us to a concept that is there as a constant in everything. So then the Brahman becomes the eternal and infinite constant that is always and always there. But very much hidden, which we can never perceive.

Consciousness: Now the next question that arises, is the Brahman conscious? When we are not even really sure whether there is a Brahman or not, how can we even consider whether it has consciousness or not? (Here I will try to elaborate just my understanding, there may and can be other million interpretation). Let us consider all the galaxies, solar systems, trees, animals, plants, river, mountains and all the other things. Doesn't everything is doing the function it is supposed to do? Like the galaxies are rotating as stars and planets in their orbits, rivers are flowing, trees are providing shades, fruits, and other things, mountains are stopping clouds to create rains and rivers. Everything is either consciously or not consciously doing their function as they are supposed to do. Now let us think deeply. Isn't there an intelligent system of structure and form or a brilliant creativity underneath everything we find in this world or the Universe? If the creation is so brilliant, think about the intelligence that created it? Shouldn't that intelligence be a Mastermind of brilliance?

But we cannot consider it in the terms of human awareness as we humans consider. It has to be an intelligence that we can only feel, not thought or imagined. Just let us close our eyes for a second and think of all the creation that ever has been there, including the Universe (maybe multiverses), galaxies, black holes, solar systems, rivers, mountains and everything we have ever seen, bring that into our mind's eye, now feel the enormous magnitude of the intelligence or the brilliance the Univeral principle encompass. Can we really have a feel for that? If such an intelligence can create so many mind-blowing creations, shouldn't it have the consciousness to create all these creations? In this way, we may be able to just feel the enormity of the intelligence which we ourselves are a part of. By this very exercise we may be able to just slightly have an inkling that the Brahman can be conscious, but definitely no way of proving it anytime soon.

Infinite: Now another property (there can be another 1000 properties to Brahman. But in my small and humble mind, only a few things are able to be elaborated), which we can discuss is the infinite nature of the Brahman. We discussed how the Brahman can take many forms like the rivers, birds, galaxies or Universe(s). But every time when the Brahman transforms into a form will there be a reduction in the formless or the inert form of Brahman? Will the formed Brahman takes away Ether from the unformed Brahman?

Milky way Galaxy ( Example of a formed or Saguna Brahman)
www.pexels.com

According to what is discussed in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 'The Brahman' is infinite, it cannot reduce or increase. It is the eternal constant. So adding a million things to Brahman or taking a billion things out of the Brahman does not change the nature or the quality of Brahman. So the Nirguna Brahman is always, eternally and infinitely full. Nothing or no one can change its nature or quality. So many times in the Vedic Philosophy it is credited as the silent observer of everything that happens (We already discussed the point that hinted the Brahman most probably has consciousness. Something that is conscious can observe. So every one of us has to be vary that always our actions are being observed, whether we realize it or not ;-)).

Finally, to conclude, let us dissect the sloka that comes in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

                                     Poornamada Poornam idam,
                                     Poornath Poornamudachyathe
                                     Poornasya Poornamadaya
                                     Poornamevath Avasishyathe.

Meaning: The origin of all manifestations is always complete, all the manifestations that have come from the origin are always complete. From that completeness (Nirguna Brahman) this completeness (Saguna Brahman) has come. After taking away that completeness (Saguna Brahman) from this completeness (Nirguna Brahman), the completeness (Nirguna Brahman) remains unchanged.

So let us all have stellar behavior so that the silent observer from whom we all came has put in worthwhile time and effort in creating us.
I wish you a good weekend and I'll see you next Friday! 😉

Next week: Jesus -The Wounded Healer!

Note: Images taken from Wikimedia Commons and Pexels.com.


Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance ; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried".  

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