How Do I Find God? by Sri Swami Satchidananda
Often people ask, “How do I find God?” To find something, you should know what you are looking for? We talk about God constantly, but how many of us know exactly what God is? Sometimes people ask, “How do I find Him? When it is put that way, then God is a He. That’s probably why we sing hymns. We assume that God is a He. Maybe that’s even how the scriptures were written. But, assuming God is a “He” is the problem. When we assume God is a “Him,” we look for somebody with a sort of mustache and beard. But, God is neither Him nor Her. God is intelligence. God is a quality: Supreme Intelligence, Cosmic intelligence. God is Light, God is Love, God is Truth and God is Peace.
We say that God is Truth, but we don’t even really know what Truth is. It’s very hard to know what Truth is. As living beings in this world, none of us speaks the Truth. We are all total liars. Everybody, including me. We cannot speak the Truth. Why? Truth is not something that you can speak about. The minute that you begin to speak about it, it loses its beauty, its essentially truthful quality. Now, if I say, “I am talking to you,” it sounds as if I am saying the Truth, right? But, am I talking to you? Who is talking? Me or my tongue or my mouth? If something happens to the tongue, people are no longer able to talk. So who talks then? I could say that I am talking, but what exactly is that “I am?”
You say, “I am sitting.” I can say, however, that you are not sitting. Your body is sitting. You say, “I fell down.” Certainly, you didn’t fall down. Your body fell down. “I have pain.” You don’t have pain. Pain may be in a part of your body. It’s the body that goes through this. If your roof is leaking, would you say, “I am leaking?” No; it is your house that is leaking. Repair it. You are not leaking. So, the body is a house in which you are living. It is the body that goes through these things. A body sits, a body lies down, a body falls, a body gets up, or a body walks. It’s the body that’s hungry. But, what you say is, “I am hungry.” You see how we constantly tell lies.
Absolute Truth cannot be spoken of, cannot even be thought of. Forget about speaking about it, you cannot even think of the Truth. Truth is above all that. It is, that’s all. If that is so, and if you say that “God is Truth,” then God also is something that you cannot talk of. It’s a quality. Even as a quality, we cannot accept or understand it. So, it’s an experience. God is an experience. And in what way do we experience God? As Supreme Peace. If there is absolute peace in your body and mind, you experience God. It is experiencing God, rather than finding God with your physical eye. It’s not something concrete.
Some of you might ask, “Then, what is it that we are looking for in a church or a temple? Why do we call God “Him” or “Her?” That’s for our convenience. Since it is Absolute, a formless, nameless quality, we find it hard to even understand. Our mind has its limitations. You cannot think of something without at least visualizing a subtle quality or an image. The moment you want to think of something, you need a form.
Now, let’s say that I ask you to think of sweetness. Could anybody tell me what sweetness is? As soon as I said “sweetness,” what came to your mind? (Chocolate) (Honey) Chocolate and honey. I didn’t mention either honey or chocolate. I simply asked you to think of sweetness. Why did you bring up honey and chocolate? That is the problem.
Beauty. Think of beauty. Tell me what beauty is. What would you say? (Perfect harmony.) Perfect harmony? In what? Give me an example. (Flowers) So, you have to bring in an image. You see? You have to bring up an image even to express the quality. Perfect harmony. Like the petals of a flower or some other thing. Honey is an image; it is a product. Chocolate is a product. What about “beauty?” We use the phrase, “as beautiful as a rose.” See? Abstract qualities cannot even be grasped by our mind without using an image. God is completely free of any limitations. That is why we say that God is omnipresent. If God is omnipresent, can God be a “Him?” Can that “Him” be omnipresent? No. A “He” would be limited to his arms and face and body and legs. Anything that is omnipresent cannot have a form of its own.
So, if we understand what God is, then we know what we are looking for. We like to say God is peace. If you really find peace, if you experience complete peace, serenity, and tranquility, then you are actually experiencing God. You are in the arms of God. Again, arms. God doesn’t have arms. You are in God when you are in peace. The moment you disturb your peace, you miss that God. So to find God, what you need is a peaceful mind, a tranquil mind—one that is not agitated in any way. Neither by happiness nor by unhappiness. We always look for excitement in life. Excitement is another form of disturbance in the mind. It’s exactly the opposite of depression. The pendulum swings this way or that way. It’s not hanging steadily in the neutral zero-point. It swings between positive and negative. If it swings positive, you call it excitement. “Oh, I got it! I got it!” So often we come across a person who has collapsed because a sudden excitement has upset his heart. People have died like that.
Yoga means to maintain the body and the mind. I say body and mind because the mind is the main thing. But, unfortunately, the mind alone cannot do things; it needs the help of the body. If the body is disturbed, you will find it very difficult to keep the mind steady. There are cases of people who have trained the body and mind to be very peaceful always. Once you train them both, the mind will stay still and you won’t lose your peace, even if the body goes through some problems.
When we talk about the crucifixion, who got crucified? We say Jesus got crucified. Did they truly crucify Jesus? Did they put nails in Jesus? Only in the body. That’s why He was able to be unaffected by it. He was even able to think, “Oh, these poor people, they don’t know what they are doing. are doing. They are ignorant.” He was sympathetic toward their ignorant deeds. He had trained the mind to stay put and to be unaffected by any situation.
You might think that you won’t be able to do anything if you are that peaceful—that you will be good for nothing. We are not talking about that kind of peacefulness. If that were the true peace, then we would all become yogis just by sleeping.
The absence of activity is one kind of peace. However, dynamic activity can bring another peace—one that is on a higher level. Both ends meet. We need both kinds of peace. One is a complete lack of activity—sleeping. Another way is super-activity. If you are dynamic, you perform all kinds of activities. Not even for a minute will you go without activity. But in the midst of all that, you still maintain the peace. That is the peace we are talking about. And it is possible. It’s only a matter of training the mind. The biggest task is to do that.
That is mind control. Training the mind is worth it. In fact, many of our problems are caused by a lack of control of the mind. Sometimes we know that certain things are no good for us, but still the mind says, “I love it!” And, we do not resist. For example, after having a sumptuous lunch, normally you wouldn’t want another morsel. But, let’s say that fifteen minutes after your lunch, your beloved sister, who has been away for many years, comes to visit you and that she has brought a nice, big apple pie. There goes all your vairagya! Of course, the mind makes a nice rationalization, “Oh, it’s all right to have some pie. If I say no, then she will get upset. She brought it with such love. I should have some pie just to make her happy.” That’s all an excuse. The mind tries to play a trick on us. It’s a constant fight.
We don’t have to fall sick; we don’t have to feel bad, disappointed, or depressed.We can use the same controlled, tamed mind in correcting health situations, as well. We would have no mental or physical problems if only we had control over our mind. Nothing is impossible. The doctors may not always agree with me on this. They may say that there are certain problems that are incurable. Yes. They are incurable as long as there are incurable problem-creators. But nothing is absolutely incurable. You created it and you are the boss. You did it and you can undo it. Yes. You did it. When I have the capacity to do something, don’t I have the capacity to undo it, too? It’s my work and I am the boss. I can do it.
We have to have that kind of dynamic strength in our mind. Confidence. Where there is hope, there is everything. Doesn’t the Bible say that if you have an ounce of faith, you can move mountains? Is it just a joke? No. It’s very true. People have actually experienced that. And it’s not the monopoly of a handful of people. God cares for everybody equally. You cannot say, “Oh, only he or she can do it.” That’s how the mind likes to trick us. Instead, we should be able to say, “If you can do it, then I can do it!” True. We should also be able to say, “Even if he cannot do it, somebody else has done it, so I can do it, too.” We should develop that kind of mental strength.
(by Sri Swami Satchidananda, from the November, 2003 IYTA Newsletter)