The previous discussion demonstrated logically that Ishvara (God) can't have any attributes of it's own. Not even divine attributes like love, compassion, benevolence… as is often assumed.
First, what does “Ishvara” literally mean? Beginningless cause of the Universe. Meaning, that from which all attributes originate — but itself is NOT any one particular attribute.
Attribute means anything that enjoys an individual form, quality, or feature.
For example, you can call Gold, a “ring”. Because Gold can also assume attributes of bangle, necklace, chain.
On top of that, our personal interpretations or emotions are elicited upon seeing the “ring”. Thus we add adjectives like “beautiful” and “peculiar”.
- Gold. The one content from which every attribute comes. Because Gold is no form in particular — is the very reason it's every form in potential.
- Gold assuming a form — which when perceived with our 5 senses — for sake of distinguishing it from other forms — we attribute name in English, “ring”.
- Personal biases (values or beliefs) add another layer over the “ring” called “beautiful, peculiar, etc”.
Therefore “ring” and “beautiful” have nothing to do with the Gold.
Gold remains ever free from all empirical (“ring”) and subjective (“beautiful”) attributes.
If Gold was inherently “ring”, then it would be eternally stuck to one single possibility. What a monotonous world of Gold would that be!
If Gold was inherently “beautiful”, then every person in the world would have no choice but to perceive Gold as Beautiful. Meaning our free will would be stripped away in reference to all forms made out of Gold.
This metaphor demonstrates what it means to say, “Ishvara is free of qualities-attributes”. Because Ishvara is limitless. Meaning it's not limited by any ONE particular possibility.
So what do people mean when they say, “God is benevolent, compassionate”?
The correct way to understand it is (according to the above metaphor):
In the presence of God, there is a benevolent-compassionate order called “dharma”. This order is not separate from Ishvara — just as “ring” is not separate from Gold. They're essentially ONE.
Dharma is that which makes you value your life and the life of others. You want to exist one more day.
In other words, Dharma prevents you from hurting yourself. And makes you guilty/remorseful for hurting others; if not immediately, then in time.
In plain English, Dharma is what we refer to as “goodness in the person”.
However, just like we attribute “peculiar” unto Ring — in the same way, the person attributes subjective values-beliefs over Dharma.
This subjectivity in mass numbers causes the formation of new savior movements, in the name of “Compassionately, benevolently saving the people”.
The irony is, the very saviors need saving for unknowingly overshadowing Dharma with personal notions.
- Ishvara. All-knowledge, all-power. Limitless potential.
- Dharma. That which causes you to want to seek happiness, fulfillment, purpose and growth in life.
- Personal notions color in Dharma. Notions turn innocent Dharma into a customized, personal-brand of goodness.
Again, what's the point of this discussion so far?
It's meant to show at what point the error of superimposition happens. Through this clarity, one develops maturity. No longer impulsively jumping into conclusions.
However something else is on student's mind related to our previous discussion…
The student's concern is, “Your explanations do not address the question of happiness, the eternal bliss we seek. We are a PART of the All-Pervading One (Ishvara). It is through prayers and devotion that we can dissolve into His divinity and bathe in the eternally joyful presence.”
” Using your language, how can “eternal bliss” begin?
A beginning implies an end. Both involve time.
Eternity is not within time.
If we are to be “eternally happy” — then we must be so here and now. Not sometime in the future.
NOW is the only eternal bliss. You'll never get your eternal bliss tomorrow or after death.
And what exactly do we mean by the word “happiness“?
Happiness means a sense of complete being, whole, without division, without parts. No question of two-ness.
How can one ever be happy thinking, “I wonder what's it like on the other side?”. There would be a sense of missing-out the other half.
Now let's address this statement “We are a PART of the All-Pervading One”…
It is true, we (body-mind) are individual parts of the Universe. Just as puzzle piece is a part of the entire big picture.
But what is Universe? It's mithya, a dependent-real.
So how can mithya be a PART of satyam? That's like saying ring is part of the gold. No! Ring (mithya) is never separate from the Gold (satyam).
Ring has to understand that even though it's limited in form — the very essence of itself, being the Gold, is the All-Pervading One.
Meaning a merger or dissolving is logically impossible. How can Gold in form of a ring, dissolve into the Gold, when the ring is already the Gold!
If liberation for you means “being a PART of the All-Pervading One” — then you will remain a distinct entity, retaining your limited individuality.
Even a slight separation from the TOTAL causes an inner restlessness, anxiety, missing-out, division.
If there is a division between the One and you — you and the rest — where is then opportunity for undistributed happiness?
If misery and discontent were our nature, we would welcome them with open arms. We'd neither seek relief nor question our discontent.
But the fact is we are permanent seekers in our quest for happiness.
Which proves our misery-helplessness is not our natural state.
Whereas when we are happy, we are WHOLE, content, with no desire to disturb the moment.
Which person would trade a happy state to one of discontent?
We seek the elusive bliss all through our life. It seems to be the only reason to keep ourselves alive. Whether seeking happiness in sleep, or in joyful moments.
When our hopes are fulfilled and no division or split exists — where is the question of PARTS?
We may as well rename “parts” (duality) into “discontent”.
When the mind is at peace — it is whole (advaita: non-duality, no parts). This is what we call happiness or bliss (ananda).
A whole, undivided mind can only exist if it's understanding says: Right now, all that is here is satyam appearing as mithya (parts).
Meaning, right now, I am already without wants, without finite boundaries, with no “other” to restrict my limitlessness. “