God in Non-Duality
What is the understanding of God in non-duality? Does God exist? Can anything be said about the nature of God?
For some, the idea of a creator God distinct from creation is untenable. For others, any outlook which denies that there is a supremely powerful Being which is the ultimate source of our existence and thus worthy of the highest reverence, is unsatisfactory. There are good grounds for both these views, so these are delicate questions.
In non-duality, ‘God’ is one of the names for ultimate reality, the highest truth. The Sanskrit word is Brahman, which is sometimes translated as God the Absolute.
The Existence of God in Non-duality
On the question of whether Brahman, the Absolute, exists, the answer from the non-dual perspective is that, strictly speaking, nothing but Brahman exists. God is ultimate reality. Anything seen as separate from God is incomplete and tentative.
When we think about these questions it is helpful to remember that the complications are caused by the limits of our minds. Our minds are finite instruments, so they cannot grasp God, the total reality. Our minds and senses can effectively investigate the world of nature, of which they are part. The knowledge gained through scientific investigation has transformed our understanding of the universe and the quality of our lives. But our minds cannot encompass the Totality; every scientific discovery also opens up new questions. Still, we can logically infer that quite apart from our knowledge, and our ignorance, there exists Absolute Reality.
The Creator God in non-duality
Is ‘God’ or ‘Brahman’ to be thought of as the creator of the World? When we think of God the Absolute, Brahman, that evidently includes all. There is no time or space ‘outside’ Brahman, so within God there can be no creation, no coming into being of something that was not there before.
At the same time, the world revealed to our senses certainly does have its source and origin in Brahman.
Logic and reason lead to the conclusion that nothing ‘happens’ in Brahman; and that at the same time, nothing can exist or happen outside of Brahman. This does not mean that God is a logical contradiction, it simply means that the nature of God lies beyond the limits of our understanding. It is not surprising really, that ultimate Reality cannot be contained within our minds, which are details in reality.
So the non-dual view is that ultimately God, and God alone, exists Absolutely. That is the ultimate source and sustainer of all, and is thus worthy of the highest reverence and gratitude. At the same time, no image, no understanding that we can form in our minds, can be the whole truth, so wisdom begins with humility. This is a theme common to the deeper teachings of all the great wisdom traditions.
Can we Turn to the God of Non-duality?
What can we do if we feel an impulse to turn to Truth, ultimate Reality, God the Absolute? This is where the non-dual teachings can most help us. They recognise these logical conclusions that Reality cannot be grasped by the mind, and at the same time, that Truth is the reality in us, the ground of our being, so to say. So we turn to truth not simply by more thinking, but most importantly by learning to still and purify our minds. It is in this stillness and purity that we discover more of the nature of our own being, which is not separate from the Being of all. This is the purpose of meditation and the related practices.
The non-dual teachings present another important insight, which is that God may be called Being Absolute and also Consciousness absolute. This means that if we discover the true nature of our own consciousness, we discover Absolute consciousness, God, Brahman; not as an idea or object of experience, but as our Self. This is where divisions and not-knowing are dissolved in non-dual truth.
Such ideas can sound distant and abstract. But the teachings on reality and God in non-duality help us at every step. If we feel the need for a deeper communion, a sense of more complete wholeness and oneness with all, the teachings indicate the steps we can take to reduce the distractions and disturbances in our mind, and approach the reality that is ever the truth within us, ever free, fearless and fulfilled.
More on Non-Duality
If you are doing some regular meditation and reflection on the non-dual ideas, you are welcome to contact us with any questions about the teachings, or for further suggestions about your practice.