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Where does God live – here or in heaven?


‘I can see God in my business, family and morning walks’ declared one middle aged man, while another mused, ‘My suffering would end when I go back to God’s abode that’s beyond this world.’

Many devout religionists present God as Transcendent- one who resides in His heavenly abode and the faithful would see His face while the non-believers would burn in hell!

Then there are others who claim to be spiritual and declare God or divinity is Immanent- God can be seen in the various aspects of material nature. God is seen even in this world of death and destruction, in the Nature, in our relationships, and even in the dance, music, sports and entertainment of this world.

Both approaches have their benefits and challenges.

Understanding God’s abode as beyond this temporary world helps us develop detachment; we could let go and live free of the complicated material tabernacle. We can live in hope and excitement of a world that promises eternity and bliss. The challenge however lies in making our activities of this world relevant and spiritual; more than ninety percent of our life would then be unrelated to God because God anyways doesn’t live here.

At the same time if we can see God in our daily activities we’d be blissful even in the most trying circumstances of our lives. The challenge however stems from the fact that we are often victims of our mind; the mind would run riot and make bizarre proposals of spirituality; we could even justify murder, illict sex scandal, or robbery if ultimately it depends on your vision of God.

Raman Raghav was India’s most dreaded serial killer who bludgeoned over forty people in a span of two years. He was convinced he was doing a good deed; his mind saw a noble cause in this horrific act. Of course he was a psychopath, and we are making no comparisons with the saner people of this world. Yet the principle of speculation remains; with no mature perspective, one could justify anything as spiritual.

The Bhagavad Gita harmonizes this paradox by declaring that God is both in the spiritual as well as material realm. In the eighth chapter Krishna declares about His spiritual abode, and in the seventh, ninth, and tenth chapters he teaches us how we could appreciate divinity in the various aspects of this material world. Srila Prabhupada, one of the foremost teachers of Bhakti Yoga even suggested that if a drunkard is unable to give up his addiction, he could remember God as the taste of wine that he consumes. This way he could spiritualize his consciousness.

At the same time one needs to also learn to transcend the dualities of this world and look beyond the phenomenon of birth, disease, old age and death that characterizes life in this world.

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