Q4a: If God is within why do I not feel the presence?
Q4b: I can feel that there is more to me than the body, mind, intellect, but it is not clear. I can call it life, but that is it.
Q4c: If God is inside everyone, why is (S)HE not stopping the bad guys from doing bad things?
Q4d: What does God/SELF do in an individual?
Ans: Numerous questions analogous to the above can be raised in the same direction. To understand better one must understand the field and its knower. The best and only complete source that gives a through treatment to this topic is the Thirteenth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita. It is also referred to as Kshetra Kshetrajna Yoga.
To stay focused on the questions on hand, we will merely take one sloka – 13.22 and get a thorough grasp of it. This sloka when studied along with the other slokas of the chapter shines a different light, yet as a response to these questions, we will take a more simplistic approach.
उपद्रष्ट अनु मन्त च भर्त भोक्ता महेश्वरः।
परम आत्मा इति च अपि उक्तः देहे अस्मिन् पुरुषः परः ।। 13-22
परम आत्मा इति च अपि उक्तः देहे अस्मिन् पुरुषः परः ।। 13-22
Upadrashta anu manta cha bharta bhokta maheshwarah
Param atma iti cha api uktah dehe asmin purushah parah
The Supreme SELF in this body is also called the Spectator, the permitter, the supporter, the enjoyer, the great Lord and the Supreme Self.
उपद्रष्ट - Spectator - This is the most common experience of all of us. The Supreme SELF is relegated to the role of a Mute Spectator, a Silent Witness. We studied the external and internal instruments – Bhahishkarana (Body) and Anatahkarana (Mind-Intellect) in detail in BMI Chart - Swami Chinmayananda's teaching aid.
Due to the ahamkara (ego) of the Jeeva, it constantly reiterates its separation from the Paramatma. This I-ness principle is at the root of all our miseries. Despite its separation, the Jeeva is completely dependent on its source, its root and its very existence – Paramatma, just like a gold ornament is completely dependent on gold for its existence.
So when a heinous criminal is performing a crime, the Supreme SELF is merely playing the role of a Spectator, as it does in most of us. Swami Sivananda explains in his commentary, that in Vedic times (and even now during Yagnas), a priest was appointed to silently witness the ceremony. His title is Upadrashta. Swamiji also gave another insight. The body, the mind, the intellect are all Seers. The body is the grossest and external Seer. The SELF is the most closest and internal and important Seer. Beyond the SELF there is no other Seer.
Even to recognize the Spectator role of the SELF, one needs an increase in Sattva. Once we recognize that there is a Spectator SELF involved, the next levels start unraveling themselves.
अनु मन्त - Permitter – Just as a King permits the different ministers to perform some role; the SELF allows the functioning of the body, mind and intellect. It is very evident in a dead person; such a role of Permitter is absent.
I have heard this analogy in this context from great mahatmas. There is a normal citizen, who saves money after hard toil, praying to the Lord for the safety of his treasures. A thief is praying hard to get an easy break, while at the same time the Policeman is praying to catch this thief who has been giving his department a hard time. Who will the Lord Bless?
The Supreme SELF is enabling all to partake the fruits of labor – karmaphala. How many of us can relate to the proverbial slip between the cup and the lip? Is that luck at play? It is HE who is the Permitter. Krishna says though we may rightfully feel that we deserve the fruits of our labor, it is HE alone who distributes the Karmaphala. From our own lives, we can ascertain HIS role as Anumantha. A little awareness is of the order if one were to understand and conclude the role of SELF as Anumantha.
भर्त - Supporter – When we are fully aware of Dharma and fulfill our responsibilities to the best of our abilities; we can rest in the fact that we will get the results. This is like a studious student, who prepares for his exams diligently, after writing his exam with focus, can feel confident of high scores. Bhartha is also a term used to denote the husband. Just like the husband is responsible for taking care of all the needs of the wife, the supporter of the family, the SELF is the Supporter of the Body-Mind-Intellect complex, life force and the senses. Yet just like the husband being a different entity from wife, the SELF is distinct and different from them. (Now that is an analogy given traditionally, it does not mean like the twisted feminist’s interpretation of not equating with a woman who does support her family even more)
भोक्ता - Enjoyer – This role of the SELF is very hard to discern. The layer of ego is tightly coupled with the Jeeva and hence a perception without this ego prism is a task for the spiritually evolved. We attribute all our experiences to the “I” as the doer. In reality it is the SELF that illumines itself through the body-mind-intellect complex. The realization of who the real enjoyer comes from either prolonged atma-vichara, like the WHO AM I question of Ramana Maharishi or through protracted study of the scriptures followed by intense introspection or through association of the Liberated.
महेश्वरः - Great Lord – Paramatma or ParaBrahman is in the essence of everything, yet HE is bigger than everything. The modern man is able to understand Space as all pervading the Universe. Maheshvara, the Great Lord, is bigger than this Space. In the Hindu pantheon of Gods, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are always shown as meditating. A simple question who are they meditating can really usher a fresh insight. They are not sitting in those poses for us as an example, nor is the explanation given by the devotees of each sect, telling that others are meditating upon their Lord, correct. In Vedanta, Ishvara encompasses the entire Universe and exhibits Prabhuthva or Lordship. Yet there is a principle more subtle and higher than this Ishvara.
पुरुषः परः - Supreme SELF – Krishna elaborates this aspect further in Sloka 15.17. The Supreme SELF, very elusive, except to the highest Rishis who get a small glimpse. The ParaBrahman as noted above is the Source of all Consciousness.
As understood from this Sloka, we can infer that the Supreme SELF plays different roles. Just as the naked eye needs a telescope to see some farther objects or a microscope to view the extremely smaller objects, the antahkarana needs to be adjusted. Just as a muddy lake agitated by wind will not be able to provide a good reflection of any object, a mind that is agitated by Rajas and muddied by Tamas cannot be a good instrument. When those two influences cease, the Sattva automatically provides an opportunity. Yet it must be understood that even Sattva has limitations, just like a mirror does lateral inversion of the objects reflected.
Now one may wonder, why all of us cannot perceive this? Depending on our vasanas, we erect different levels of opaqueness to this inner light shining in all of us. That is why it is even difficult for many of us to even perceive the first step – Upadrshta. As we work on ourselves and knock down these self-erected barriers, the inner SELF starts shining more brightly, though it was the same even before we worked on ourselves. In many cultures we refer to this echo of our SELF when making a mistake or violating dharma as a prick in our consciousness. We also observe that one who has conditioned to look the other way around whenever such a consciousness prick happens, eventually finds even that echo fades away until sattva is increased.
Elsewhere in Gita, Krishna tells us that the entire universe is based on the three gunas. Though the external universe is beyond our reach, the internal universe can be rearranged. We see this happening all the time in ourselves as the gunas keep changing. As we work towards reconstituting our gunas to facilitate the understanding of the SELF, the different roles played by the SELF becomes evident.
Let the Supreme Self, Paramatma, Narayana in all, SadaShiva, TripuraSundari and variously described provide us the Grace to work on ourselves. May we continue to work on ourselves to gain access to our TRUE SELF.
Om Tat Sat