Does GOD Incarnate?
Jai Maha Dev
God is unborn (never takes birth) and never dies. God neither comes into the body nor ever leaves it. God is VISHNU, which means all-pervading. His Nature is eternal, which means that all His qualities are eternal. His qualities, or names, are unchangeable, which means that He is eternally indestructible (ADITI). God is SATCHITANAND, which means He is Always-Existing, Always-Conscious, and Always-Blissful (unimaginably happy). God is formless (AKAYAM), but since He is all-pervading He assumes all forms, which simply means that He fills all space, all time, all matter (yet remains beyond it and is therefore distinct from all this). God is the essence of every living and non-living thing. In fact, we don’t even need to use the word ‘God’, as we can simply say the ‘Essence’.
There is no human being (or any other kind of being) that has ever lived, or lives now, or will live in the future, who was, is, or will be the incarnation of GOD. Therefore, the notion of an ‘Avatar’ is invalid. Now, on the other hand, we can say that any living being who manifests or brings out the qualities of GOD in their life can be said to be God-incarnate, but this is only a manner of speaking. For example, if there is someone who is very compassionate, we might say that he or she is the incarnation of Compassion. But realistically, we can never really say anyone is the incarnation of GOD because no one can embody all the qualities of GOD. There is no limit or measure of His Greatness, Compassion, Love, Wisdom, Strength, Mercy, Blissfulness, and so on and so forth till Eternity.
Paramatman, or Supreme Self (GOD) is bodiless. Atman, or Soul-self, is also bodiless. We can even say that the mind is ‘bodiless’, i.e., formless. There are many things that are ‘bodiless’, such as ideas, feelings, emotions, etc. However, the difference between all these ‘bodiless entities’ is significant. For example, mind does not have a shape, but it is still limited: the capacity and power of the mind though great are nevertheless limited. Similarly, our own Soul-self is formless: soul does not have a particular color, age, gender, nationality, caste, etc. But the soul is embodied when Purush is joined with Prakriti (Spirit is joined with Matter). This is an expression of our nature (i.e., the Soul’s nature), to manifest in living form. The fact that the soul is embodied is self-evident: you know and experience that you have a body. Whereas, the idea that God embodies Himself is NOT a fact, but only an idea, and one which is not supported by the scriptures or by anyone’s direct experience.
GOD is the Essence of every living soul. God is the Soul of our soul, and that is why we call Him the Oversoul or the Supreme Soul (Paramatman). There are many souls, but the Supreme Soul is One Without a Second. That Supreme Self is already present in everyone, and since that Presence is Uniform and Indivisible, we cannot say that He is more present in one and less present in another. He is present in all His Majesty and Power in every single particle. The Supreme Self is 100% present in you, in me, and in everyone. Therefore, it is totally meaningless to say that such and such a person is the Incarnation of God, since we might as well say that EVERYONE is the incarnation of God.
The idea that God incarnates Himself is born in the imagination; it has no basis in reality. Those who experience the Truth, who experience GOD directly, know without any doubt that He is all-pervading, indivisible, ever-present in all His greatness at all times. Those who are God-conscious do not create images of God in their mind. Only those who are self-conscious (ego-conscious) fall into the trap of image-worship: i.e., the worship of imaginary gods, imaginary avatars, etc., which are simply the projections of one’s own mind.
When we understand and experience directly that we are nothing at all like our body or mind (the body and mind do not resemble our real self, the spirit-self), we no longer superimpose our body and mind images on GOD (that is, our ideas and conceptions are no longer distorted by these images) and hence it is very natural to worship GOD directly (which is the only way He can be worshipped really). But this direct experience is possible only when our thoughts (mind) and actions (body) are in concord with our real nature. If our thoughts and actions are contrary to the Truth, that is, if we betray our own real nature, it will not be possible to experience our Essence: GOD.
Who is GOD? What is GOD? Where is GOD? God is not a ‘person’, God does not resemble any person, and there is no person who resembles GOD. We betray our own real nature when we worship any person, place, or thing as GOD. When we do so, we are not worshipping GOD at all, we are only worshipping our own images and hallucinations.
To worship GOD means this: to nurture the spirit of forgiveness, compassion, mercy, justice, and divine love; to cultivate qualities of courage, honesty, integrity, and humility; to rise above all pettiness, bias, prejudice, and hatred; to become guileless, egoless, caring, helpful, and wise. To worship GOD means to make untiring efforts to improve ourselves and our environment; to preserve our character and keep our commitment to our spiritual growth (which means doing away with our own ego). Worshiping GOD has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the worship of idols, prophets, books, pendants, buildings, or so-called holy places.
Only the godly worship GOD—and the godly are those who bring to life the qualities of GOD through their words, thoughts, and deeds—especially in their interaction with their family members, and of course, with the family of mankind (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).
May all the members of this family of Humanity awaken from the slumber of ignorance, superstition, dogma, and cultism. May we stop making excuses for the way we are, and become who we really are: the living expression of goodness, kindness, and divine love.
So be it.