The ancient Bhagavad Gita speaks of the impersonal Brahman, the dazzling ocean of light, which is described as being a constitutional position of happiness. Many yogis and transcendentalists have also heard of this ocean of light and strive towards achieving nirvana or liberation. But is this ocean of light the final word in the search for the Absolute Truth. Or is there someone or something who is beyond the ocean of light?
The Supreme Soul – Beyond The Ocean Of Light
Jagad Guru: What we want to talk on now is the Personality of Godhead, in that the Supreme Person is actually the Cause of all causes. That the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Person, is actually the source of what many people, many yogis, many swamis, many transcendentalists call the Brahman effulgence or the Brahman, the Brahmajyoti. The effulgence, the dazzling light which the yogi experiences as being God, is really just an aspect of the Supreme Lord, coming from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in the Sri Isopanisad in the following mantra, Mantra Fifteen, which states:
O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Please remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.
Sri Isopanisad Mantra 15
Furthermore, there’s a quote in this connection put forward by Bhaktivedanta Swami, from the Bhagavad-gita, where the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna states:
I am the basis, the source of the impersonal Brahman, which is a constitutional position of ultimate happiness.
This verse from Bhagavad-gita and the Sri Isopanisad and furthermore in the Sixteenth Mantra of the Sri Isopanisad, it states:
O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind – please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental light rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.
Sri Isopanisad Mantra 16
That, in fact, the Supreme Person has transcendental form, spiritual form. His form is not made of matter and this transcendental form of the Lord… this transcendental form of the Lord is the source of the effulgent light rays which the Buddhists know as Brahman or Nirvana, which the yogis know as Brahman or the Brahman effulgence. This ocean of light which is experienced by the transcendentalists, the impersonalists and transcendentalists, those who only perceive the impersonal feature of God, the impersonal feature of God that they experience, the Brahman, the Brahman effulgence, this ocean of light is actually coming from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the actual conclusion of shastra, scripture. It is the conclusion of the Supreme Lord Himself.
Now we have to fully appreciate this fact, that the Absolute Truth, God, has these three features. One, the Paramatma, the expansion of the Supreme Person within our hearts. Everyone here, we all know — just like in the Bible they call it the Holy Ghost — that the Lord is within our heart giving us instruction. But we should try to realize this is not the only aspect of the Lord. He’s also apart from this in His own kingdom.
So the Paramatma or the Holy Ghost, the Lord in the heart, this is one aspect of the Absolute Truth. The second aspect of the Absolute Truth is the Brahman effulgence. The effulgent light rays which spring from the Supreme Person. And the third aspect of the Supreme Absolute Truth is the Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
That the Supreme Lord is a person and He exists with His eternal transcendental form in the spiritual world where there’s no matter, no birth, death, old age or disease. He exists there with those who are engaging in His loving service. He exists there with them. And everyone there is engaged in the loving pastimes with Him. So we should try to appreciate this; that coming from the Supreme Person on the outskirts of the spiritual world, so to speak, is this ocean of light. So try to understand this because if you don’t understand the Absolute Truth, these three features of the Absolute Truth, you won’t know what direction to take, how… what to aim for. Do you understand this?
Some people, they’re thinking that this Brahman effulgence is the final word in the Absolute Truth. So they spend their whole life, they spend their whole time and energy trying to develop this kundalini yoga or trying to develop some way to achieve this Brahman effulgence. They sit in Zen meditation. They’ll take up some yoga practice or another. They’ll get involved in all of these different astral travel businesses, all with the aim ultimately of trying to merge into this Brahman effulgence, you see? This is their aim. This is their goal. So they try very hard for it. But they don’t know that even if they achieve it, they still haven’t achieved what they need to achieve to achieve actual perfection. So they’ve wasted their whole life simply scratching after that, struggling to get that which is not even the final goal.
In this material world, everybody’s working for some progress. The materialist is working very hard. He spends his whole life working very hard to accumulate great wealth and fame. Thinking… Because he has heard that these things will make him happy, he struggles to get these things, right? Right? Isn’t that what he does? Why else is he doing it? Why else does a child grow up to do these things? To work hard, just to make a lot of money? Because he’s been taught in school, this is the goal. Here’s a perfect person, the guy with the… you know, that suit and tie and the nice clothes and, you know, opening the door to the Mercedes Benz with a nice cigarette in his mouth. He’s achieved the highest standard, the highest point of happiness. So he’s learned this and so he strives for that goal.
Similarly, in the same way, this materialist is misled, similarly a person who struggles just to achieve merging into the Brahman, just to be able to try to merge into this effulgence of God, merging into this impersonal feature of God, he spends his whole life trying to do this but in fact it is not the goal. And this is very unfortunate. It is very unfortunate. He spends his whole life to achieve this but it is not actually what he needs to achieve in order to be happy. It’s not his constitutional position.
What happens after a person temporarily merges into the Brahman effulgence? He still has no place for his love. He comes down again to the material world, either in this life or if he leaves his body completely, in a future life he is forced again, forced down again into the material dimension. Why is he forced down again, to take birth again? Why is he coming down to the material dimension? Because the spirit soul by nature is active and needs to be engaged in loving service. You need to serve someone. You need to love someone. You can’t be happy just merged, forgetful of your individual existence.
You are an individual soul eternally and if you do not have… if you’re not fixed up in the spiritual world, engaging in the loving service of the Supreme Person, if you’re not able to actually perceive and serve the Supreme Person, then you will simply spend eternity going up and down, up and down, between these two conditions – one being immersed in material life in a material body, and two, temporarily being merged in the Brahman effulgence and then coming down again and engaging in a material life and then going up again to the Brahman effulgence, but you never get out of this up-down pattern. You never enter into the spiritual world itself and relate to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Why? Because you cannot pierce through this effulgence, you simply merge. You become forgetful of your individual existence. You don’t know the Supreme Person so you are not able to stay in the spiritual world. You’re not able to stay in His kingdom.
A person has to know what it is he wants to achieve then he has to find out, “How do I get it? How do I go about achieving it?”
So first thing is, people have to understand that God is a person and the goal of a human life, the goal of spiritual life, the goal of the living being is to achieve the relationship of being the loving servant of God. It’s not like these impersonalists say that, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You make believe you’re the loving servant of God and you conjure up all this sentiment and love. And you meditate upon the object of your love and then you merge into Him. And He becomes nothing and you become nothing.” This is not love. We’re not talking about a technique to become zero. We’re talking about a loving relationship with an actual person.
God is an actual person. You are an actual person. You both exist. And the perfection of life is when you and the Supreme Person become one, united in love. God is still the Supreme Person and you are still His servant but you’re united in love. This is yoga, loving service to God. This loving union with God, this is actual spiritual perfection.
That it is not like Shankaracharya taught, that the spiritual world is simply void of variety. No. Ramanujacharya taught correctly that the spiritual world is like a green forest and the spirit soul is like the green bird. He gave the example of a green bird flying into a green forest. It may appear that the green bird has merged into the green forest and is no more. But in fact the green bird is still a green bird but now he’s in the green forest. In other words, the green forest is full of variety and individuality although it is one in its greenness.
So the spiritual world is like that. It is all spiritual. There’s no matter and yet there’s variety there. There’s still individuality within the oneness. So variegatedness within the oneness, variety within the unity… this is the spiritual world. There’s unity and there’s variety within that unity and the variety within the unity does not in any way create contradictions. It’s simultaneously full of variety and yet one.