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Spirituality

What’s God’s Address?

Maya Bohnhoff | Jun 5, 2013

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Maya Bohnhoff | Jun 5, 2013

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Question #2 from my atheist acquaintance was: Does God exist in space?

Let’s see what a few Founders of the great faiths have to say…

God dwells in the heart of all beings, Arjuna: thy God dwells in thy heart. And His power of wonder moves all things… – Krishna, Bhagavad Gita 18:61.

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. – Jesus Christ, John 14: 23

O SON OF DUST! All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory… – Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, vs. 27.

The scriptures of these faiths (Hinduism, Christianity and the Baha’i Faith), though thousands of years apart, speak of God’s “place” as being the human heart. In the Baha’i writings Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha use more straightforward language to assign this “realm” to what Baha’u’llah refers to as the “rational soul”, the reasoning faculty that separates us from the animals. That’s how I understand the idea (part of the scriptural record for millennia) that mankind is created in God’s image.

I’ve always liked the way Krishna put it:

Brahman is the Supreme, the Eternal. Atman is His Spirit in man. Karma is the force of creation, from which all things have their life. – Bhagavad Gita, 8:3.

Water color heartsIn what way does God dwell in our hearts? Based on observation and the scriptural record, I’d say He dwells there when we live by the spiritual principles and practices that can transform human life and character.

How literally do I take this? Well, how literal can it be? After all, the physical heart is not the seat of our emotions, regardless of how it and other organs react to a human being elated, saddened, frightened or ferklempt. So, I would say that one answer to the original question is that God exists in our interior space in some way that many of us experience, but can only use metaphors and symbols to articulate.

Is there more to it than that? Certainly, but, as I noted in answer to the first question, God is in some way both woven into His creation and existing beyond it. As Krishna says,

Know that with one single fraction of my Being, I pervade and support the entire universe, and know that I AM. – Bhagavad Gita 10:42.

Krishna gives God absolute existence (a concept repeated in sources as diverse as Jewish, Buddhist and Baha’i scriptures) as well as the capacity to pervade and support the entire universe without “resting” in it. Buddha further refers to this absolute Being in this way:

There is, O monks, an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. Were there not, O monks, this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, formed. – Udana 80-81.

I found myself pondering this: the human intellect, of all the stuff of creation, has the capacity to escape the world of the “born, originated, formed”. That is, it can escape the animal condition and the limitations imposed by nature, not just through abstract thought, but by observing, articulating and manipulating reality.

If, as the scriptures suggest, we are “chips off the divine Block”, why is it so hard for some of us to accept the idea of a Being even more placeless and more powerful than our own intellect, and more capable of creating and manipulating reality?

It seems to me that when we deny the possibility of the existence of God, we are calling into doubt the reality of our own existence, as well.

Clouds and SkyBut I have digressed. To sum up, God does not have a distinct physical “place” in space — especially if by this we mean outer space. Baha’u’llah, in fact, refers to God as the Placeless. Clearly when the scriptures speak of the “heavens” they do not mean the physical skies around our planet or even the outer reaches of the cosmos, but something else entirely. Baha’u’llah refers repeatedly to “the heaven of God’s will”, which is something that one can perhaps best find through intellectual rather than physical search.

In adducing evidence for the existence of God, Baha’u’llah quotes Muhammad:

“And also in your own selves: will ye not then behold the signs of God?”

Then adds:

“He hath known God who hath known himself.” (Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 102)

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