University students in the Philippines are asking the big questions. These audience questions from Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda’s lecture at the University of The Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) are on extremely interesting and meaningful topics including the yogic definition of life, sectarianism and the origins of God.
Yogic View of Life, God & Religion
Audience member: If the materialists cannot give a definition on life, what is your definition of life?
Jagad Guru: Life is a distinct element, a distinct energy. Life is made of the element life. Do you understand? That life is life. That life is a distinct element. Do you understand? Life is a distinct element; it is itself. Just like awareness. If you ask, “What is awareness?” Awareness is awareness, okay? Now there are certain symptoms of awareness in the presence of matter and so on. But life is that spark of God, who is Supreme life.
Life is another name, a life particle is another name for spirit soul. So you can, there’s a point you can define… In other words, you want to somehow separate life into different things. For example, life is made of one, two, three, and four. But, then what is one made out of? What is two? What is three? What is your definition of four? We’re saying life is an inseparable unit, an element, an inseparable element. It cannot be divided already. It is itself. It cannot be divided. Not being able to be divided you cannot define life by saying ‘It’s made of this, it’s made of this and it’s made of this and it’s made of this.’ A life particle is itself a distinct element, distinct from matter and each life particle is an indivisible eternal particle and that is who you are. That is what you are. So then it is like, you can say, “Who am I?” I am the particle of life, the spirit soul. And that is all.
The materialist, when he tries to define life in a material way, he has to use some material chemical breakdown, you see. He has to break it down. That’s his problem, not ours. It’s the materialist who, defining life as being chemical in essence, has to break it down into the chemical components, material components. But we don’t. Life is defined as a distinct element. Its own essence. It’s not made of anything else.
There are two distinct energies: matter and life, two distinct elements. Sometimes they interact, sometimes they don’t. When they’re interacting, then it’s called a living organism. When they’re not interacting, when there’s no life present in matter, then it’s dead, just matter, non-living. The living entity, the life particle, is not dependent. The existence of the life particle, the existence of the spirit soul is not dependent upon the existence of matter. It is independent. Death then does not mean the cessation of the existence of the life particle, the spirit soul. Death means that the spark of life, the life particle, leaves the material body and the material body disintegrates. But that life particle continues to exist. Nobody can see the life particle with the material eye. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t continue to exist. It continues to exist.
Now you can either identify yourself as a life particle, the life force in your body, or you can identify yourself as your body, that’s your choice. You have the choice between these two. But that doesn’t change the truth. The truth is there. It’s not that you can think you are the body and therefore you are the body. No. Are there any other questions?
Audience member: What do you think will be the real solution to sectarianism?
Jagad Guru: What’s the solution to sectarianism? This is the solution – wisdom. Knowing that all living beings are sparks of life, life particles, and that we all come from the original source of all life, the Supreme life particle, the Supreme Living being, the Supreme Spirit Soul. We’re all sparks or children of the same Supreme Origin, the same Supreme Being. So in other words we’re all relatives. We’re all related. We’re all brothers, right? This is the solution to sectarianism. Any kind of racism, sectarianism, all of these are all based on the body. We all think, “I am the body, so I’m Filipino. He’s American.”
“This is white. That’s black.” And so on. All of these are bodily labels. Then, “I am a Christian.”
“I am a Hindu.”
“I am a Muslim.”
“I don’t like you, you’re a Jew.”
“I’m a Jew.”
All of these different labels only on the body. As soon as you know you’re not the body then you know you’re not any of these bodily labels. I’m not Indian. I’m not American. I’m not Hindu. I’m not Muslim. I’m not Buddhist. I’m not Christian. I’m none of these things. These are all labels, temporary labels on the body. What am I? I am a part and parcel of God. I am His servant. I am the eternal spark of God. I am the eternal servant of God. And what is your ambition? What is your desire? My desire is to be pleasing to Him. So what is your religion? That is my religion. My loving service to God is religion. That is my religion.
Sometimes, people ask us, “What is your religion?” In fact they’re asking, “What is your team? What team did you join?” No.
Real religion is different. Real religion is that characteristic, that quality of the spirit soul which you can’t take away from him. And what you can’t take away from the spirit soul, the person, is his relationship with God. Each and every one of us is, in our very essence, that which can’t be taken away from us, we are eternal sparks of God and our natural function is to be rendering loving service to Him. This is our real religion.
Now, either we are religious or we’re not religious. Either we are developing our relationship with God or acting on our relationship with God or we’re not. We may have the label ‘Christian’. We might have the label ‘Muslim’. We might have the label ‘Hindu’ but we have to understand that we are not these labels. These are processes. These are methods, processes, which are meant to help us uncover our actual religious identity.
If a process helps a person come to understand that they’re not the body, that they’re eternal sparks of God, if a process helps a person develop his love for God, then this is good. Then his faith is of value, then his method is of value. But if his method makes him so that he identifies himself as his body or if his method makes it so that he simply becomes concerned with more and more material enjoyment, or if it makes it so that he cannot respect other living beings as children of God, he’s unable to see others as they are, then it’s not a good process.
So each person has to see in their own life, “Does my path of life – my whatever it is, my religious faith, my educational work, my business, anything – does it help me in my understanding of my identity, my relationship with God? Does it help, is it helping me increase my love for God?”
If you love God… That point there is wisdom. But also there must be love for God. If there’s love for God, then automatically you’ll love all His children. You’ll recognize all His children. Not just the Muslim children, and the Christian children, but you’ll love all His children. If you love God, you’ll love all His children. So if you develop your love for God that is the solution to sectarianism or fanaticism.
Audience member: My question is, how did that Supreme Life come into existence?
Jagad Guru: How does the Supreme Life come into existence? God is, by definition, the cause of all causes, the origin. Being the origin of the cause of all causes, He has no cause. If there’s a cause to God, if there’s a cause, then it means that that is not the origin. By definition, God means the cause of all causes. There is no previous cause. God is eternal, as are those sparks of God, the living beings. We are all eternal as is God. God, by definition, is the origin, the cause of all causes.
If you ask, “What is the cause of the cause of all causes?” Or, “What is the cause of God? Where has God come from?” Then, if I say, “God has come from X,” then you say, “Well where has X come from?” That’s the whole point. God means the end, the end and the beginning. There is no forerunner to God. Now you can say, “Oh, you’re evading my question.” No. You may say there is no origin. There is no original cause. But we don’t accept this philosophy that there’s no God, that there’s no original cause. There is an original source for everything. In the Sri Isopanisad, it describes that:
Everything animate and inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord.
Sri Isopanisad, Mantra One
And in the invocation it states that:
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains a complete balance.
Sri Isopanisad, Invocation
Everything is emanating from God and yet He remains complete in Himself. He is not diminished in any way. Sometimes people imagine that God became the world and in so doing God became nothing except the world, that God transformed Himself and became the world. But in fact, the world and all living beings are emanations from the Supreme Being and yet He is not diminished in any way even though these units are emanating from Him. This is correct understanding of the Absolute Truth. God is not diminished.
God is the cause of all causes, the Origin. And even though He is the Origin of everything, even though everything is coming from Him, He is not diminished in any way. He is not lessened. If you take some material object like this flower, and you say, “Okay, all petals, flower petals, one goes there, distribute all over, there, one on top of there, there, there.” No more flower, right? They all emanated everywhere and now there’s no original. But with God it’s not like this material. With God the units are emanating but He’s still the same complete whole. He’s not in any way lessened. Material laws don’t apply.
So we can speak all night. Let me request you, please forgive me if I have offended any of you, upset any of you. And let me ask you that you can apply this mantra that you are taught, Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana. You can practice it and you’ll experience gradual cleansing of the mind and the heart. And you’ll be able to more and more experience, on a personal level, who you are, what you are.
This is the second part of a series of lectures filmed during Jagad Guru’s lecture at University of the Philippines. Part One is available to watch here Who Are You? What Is Life?