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Article CVIII: God: Formed and Formless

"That which is the subtle essence - in it all that exists has its Self. That is Truth. That is the Self. Thou art That." Chandogya Upanishad (VI:8.7)

In Vedanta, God can be understood as with a form or without a form. In other words, God can be described as personal or impersonal. Iswara represents God with form (personal God), and Brahman represents God without form (impersonal God). Iswara is Brahman given form through the power of maya.

Because the Divine is infinite, Iswara can take infinitely many forms, e.g. Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesha, Kali, Indra, Saraswati, etc. Furthermore, the Divine pervades all space and time, which means that Brahman exists in everything, including within oneself. In order to orient to God and approach enlightenment, one may seek the Divine through any form of Iswara, or one may seek the Divine through Brahman within oneself.

Worship, devotion, and surrender to Iswara can allow one to progress toward enlightenment. Or knowledge, meditation, and self-understanding of Brahman within can allow one to progress toward enlightenment. In practice, most spiritual aspirants integrate these two methods in their efforts to walk the path to enlightenment. Also, since the infinite and eternal Divine pervades all space and time, one can seek the Divine in every aspect of existence -- the persons, places, and things that surround oneself.

Either approach though Iswara or Brahman ultimately results in enlightenment, which is realization of one's true nature within - DIVINE BLISS!

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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