The Absolute Truth is the ultimate source of all energies. The personal feature of God is the original, ultimate aspect of the Absolute. By understanding this, we also understand all spiritual and material energies, just as when we see the moon, we also see its light.
This article considers the Absolute Truth in relation to the spiritual and material energies.
Matter and the Absolute Truth
In the seventh chapter of Bhagavad-gita, verse four, Krishna, or God, says:
“Earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.”
The material energy of the Absolute Truth exists separately from the spiritual energy which God personally embodies and inhabits. The purpose of this material energy is to provide a separate world for the individual souls to experience and learn from.
One type of lesson that material energy provides is a hint of the artistic genius of the Absolute Truth which is its source. Another is the ability to distinguish the conscious spiritual energy from matter, which is separated from this animating force.
The Soul and the Absolute Truth
The soul is included as a spiritual energy, and earth, water, fire, air, space, the mind and so forth are also energies of the Absolute, though they are material. Human life is especially meant for understanding the Absolute Truth. Forgetting that aim, we get distracted by the energies alone.
The nature of the soul is to go for pleasure. Without contemplating the Absolute, we are moved to seek pleasure in the band of energies which we can see and understand. Sense perception and the logic which flow from it fall far short of a contextualized understanding of reality.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the lack of fulfillment we experience by these distractions:
“Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord.” (11.2.37)
Reuniting with Our Source
When there is an awakening of understanding the Absolute, or God, we will probably still be accustomed to relating with matter for personal use. This results in considering the Absolute as a kind of parent from whom we can request treats and protection.
Although this attitude is more consistent with reality, since it acknowledges the Source, it is just the beginning. As our understanding matures further, our relationship with the Absolute becomes characterized by seeking pleasure in and for God, instead of looking for pleasure in the temporary objects of this world.
No human concept of the Absolute is comprehensive. Because it’s infinite, it can’t be monopolized by a particular group. We are all equally part of it. In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna describes our relationship with the Absolute Truth in many places. Here’s just a sampling:
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (10.8)
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (15.7)
“Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” (10.41)
“O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.” (7.26)
Unity and Individuality in the Absolute Truth
The paths of karma-yoga, jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga are spiritual frameworks to help us revive our eternal relationship with the Absolute. All of these paths include contemplation on the nature of the soul’s relationship with God. This relationship has been analyzed in ancient spiritual texts.
Just as the Eskimo-Aleut languages have many words for snow, being deeply familiar with the subject, similarly, the Sanskrit language is full of sacred terms and sayings about the Absolute Truth, the soul, and their relation. Here are a couple of those teachings:
sarva-vedanta-saram yad brahmatmaikatva-lakshanam
vastv advitiyam tan-nishtham kaivalyaika-prayojanam
“The essence of all conclusive knowledge is to attain the aim of oneness. To achieve that aim, one must have solid realization that the soul and the Absolute are one. This conception of reality is without duality.” (SB12.13.12)
tat tvam asi
“You are that (Absolute Truth).”
(Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7)
In these verses, the unity of the soul and the Absolute is stressed. There are many benefits to understanding ourselves as spiritual energies of the Absolute:
- Respect for others, regardless of race, gender or other bodily considerations
- Unconditional self-esteem, free from the harsh social expectations placed on our bodies or minds
- Taking responsibility for our environmental impact
- Appreciating the beauty of the world as a work of art, and knowing something about the artist
- Feeling compassion for those who are suffering, distracted by the energies alone
- Sharing our spiritual awareness, and the inner joy that follows from it
However, an understanding of the Absolute isn’t complete without also acknowledging our individuality as souls, in addition to the oneness just mentioned. We are one with the Absolute as parts in relation to the whole. To illustrate this, consider the following scenario:
Suppose someone who has been confined to a dark room from his birth wishes to know the nature of the sun. Then, someone points out to him a tiny ray of light which has somehow managed to peep through a small hole, and instructs him as follows: “This is the sun.”
We can be so distracted by the material energies of the Absolute that these sacred messages first direct us to consider the spiritual energy which we’re part of. A further step in our spiritual growth is to then understand and realize our unique, eternal relation to the Supersoul, or God.
The Absolute Guarantee
While understanding the Absolute Truth is the primary aim of human life, it may take time. The ups and downs of life will sometimes overwhelm and frustrate us, but we can take heart in the words of the Bhagavad-gita:
“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (2.40)