God willing

 

Gloria Arieira

May 2020

“God willing, we’ll get out of this”, they say. And when studying Vedanta, they say, "If Ishvara so desires!" But who is this Ishvara anyway? A president or a prime minister? Is it some authority that decides everything? Once again, we see how understanding Brahman is easy, but comprehending Ishvara is not.

Is he the creator? Yes! But he is both the intelligent and the material cause at the same time. He is not a religious god to be believed. Ishvara has to be comprehended, because only then can we relate to him properly. How can one, or can you, establish a relationship with someone we don't know? If there is in fact a relationship, won’t it be a kind of fantasy, the result of my imagination or confusion? Perhaps, at most, won’t it be mere partial knowledge or pure belief?

So, how to establish a safe, definitive and clear relationship? After all, without clarity, there is no peace; there will only be doubt, uncertainty and even fear.

Any creation has two causes: the intelligent cause and the material cause. In general, they are seen as separate elements: there is the person who makes the pot and there is clay, the material of the pot. Intelligence is responsible for the object created, choosing how and for what purpose to create it. The creator, therefore, knows how to create and has a plan for creation, that is, he has a purpose. The material is always obtained somewhere. When talking about Ishvara, however, the two causes are in the same place, like the spider and its web, like the dreamer and his dream. The intelligent being and the material of creation are not separate. That is Ishvara, say the Vedas. And there is a logic there that we can follow and understand.

The individual is in the universe and has a body, which is limited by so many others. Ishvara's body is the whole universe and, therefore, cannot be limited or competitive, because everything is him. Unlike the individual, he has no ego; he has no desire nor does anything. Thus, "if Ishvara so desires" is a phrase that has no meaning.

Ishvara maintains the universe, but not because of his choices. His intelligence is in the laws that govern the universe — the laws of physics, chemistry, psychology, etc., and those that account for the nature of fire, water, air, earth, celestial bodies—in short, which govern everything.

The entire universe is in motion according to laws that are constant and infallible. Laws are an expression of the intelligence that is Ishvara. One is the law of karma— beautiful, just and complex. Therefore, Ishvara does not decide whether we get sick and die; nor if I am going to heal if I get sick; neither will he decide if I will be happy or not. He decides nothing, does nothing. Everything works in a continuous flow of cause and effect, obeying the laws that are the structure of the universe and that are not inert, but intelligent, because we identify intelligence, knowledge, in everything. It is this intelligence that is Ishvara and is present everywhere, waiting to be perceived by you. When you look everywhere, what you see is only knowledge that takes shape—the universe, which is Ishvara, and in which you are included. Ishvara expresses itself through everything, through every living being, like you, who may believe to be separate from him, who has an ego, ahamkara, and who considers yourself to be many things, including separate and different from Ishvara. You may also think that if, god willing, everything will be all right, and if contrary, it won’t; or you may think that he doesn’t exist and that the one responsible for everything is you!

But everything, to truly be all that there is, must include everything—including you. And everything is in order, because the laws are infallible. For this reason, it remains for each one to live each day that presents itself, because for the human being, unlike what happens with animals, there is a certain amount of free will. And it is for us to live with surprise and enchantment in the best possible way, because living is easy and difficult, pleasurable and exhausting, a producer of joys and sufferings, a journey full of purpose, although at times it seems to have no purpose.

When I see only myself, isolated from everything, I cannot relax and see more than a small part of the whole. And a single, partial and isolated view of anything is, in addition to being unjust, a producer of suffering. The opposite is the inclusive and comforting view of the whole that is Ishvara, a view from which we comprehend the depth of what we are experiencing, from where we can say: “Let's see. I did what I could. Now it is in the hands of Ishvara, of the order that is Ishvara.”

 

Om tat sat.

Gloria Arieira

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