The Wonder That Is God
Excerpt from Seeing God Everywhere
OF THE MANY PATHS THAT lead to God, wonder should surely take first place. The towering mountain range, the glory of a sunset, the vast ocean, the forests and fertile plains, All these can throw the mind into a mood of wonder. We look at the world of nature and ask: Who could have made this world and guided all of its movements?
The answer that comes from within says that there must be an infinite Intelligence at the back of this world because we find that everything behaves according to laws, principles, and design. The emotion of wonder can prompt our quest for God.
A scientist who seeks to resolve nature's mysteries is at an advantage if his or her heart is humble and receptive to the wonder of God, for nature more readily reveals her secrets to those whose love for God has quieted the human ego. Think of the humility of Einstein who, through his scientific research, became convinced of a divine Intelligence. Similarly, Isaac Newton drew a parallel between intellectual knowledge and the vastness of the ocean, declaring that he "had been vouchsafed the privilege of gathering a few pebbles on the shore."
Such thoughts should convince us that the more closely one deals with nature, God's wondrous handiwork, the closer one is drawn to the Infinite.The pettiness of the human ego diminishes in direct ratio. The ego is bound by the limits of this universe, but the great unseen Intelligence behind all things visible and invisible is continuously creating inexhaustible wonders.
The world's great scriptures stress the spiritual importance of utilizing the wonder of God for meditative purposes. Sri Ramakrishna used to relate the anecdote of a holy man in India who lived in a small hut on the bank of a river. After remaining all day in his hut, he made a ritual of emerging every day at sun set, folding his hands, and, raising his eyes in reverential wonder to the western sky, repeating," How wonderful you are!" In deep meditation he would stand motionless, absorbing the stillness and beauty for a lengthy period.
This is an excellent spiritual practice for contemplation and meditation; through it one discovers the wonders of God, which are "more in number than grains of sand." By seeking God through wonder, the seeker is drawn to the impersonal ideal of God, and in meditation he or she strives to contact the divine Intelligence, that purely impersonal mind which governs space, time, and all the phenomena of nature. This type of contemplation is what the devotional scriptures of India term shanta, or a peaceful relationship to God. Biological and anatomical studies have proved the wonders of the physical body.
We can think of God as the supreme Artist who creates vast numbers of human forms, not one of which is a duplication. We may smugly dwell on our creative abilities, but human skill falls far short of creating one delightful hummingbird. As far as is known, God has created 157 varieties of this species. The inexhaustible Infinite is continuously bringing about creation and dissolution. Both life and death represent a cosmic drama, for change is the law of matter. Only our real Self, that is God, is unchanging and eternal.
This is a further wonder of God. God's illimitable storehouse of energy, of which there is neither beginning nor end, is yet another wonder. In the first book of the Bible we read: "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."A cosmic thought followed by material manifestation takes place with the speed of light. God creates with complete detachment. As we develop spiritually, we also begin to share this divine detachment, which counteracts material attachment.
God projected this universe and can withdraw it in the space of a heartbeat. Further evidence of God's wonder is the human mind which is but a pale reflection of cosmic glory.
According to Indian thought, the human mind is composed of three elements: rajas, tamas, and sattva. The influence of rajas shows itself when the mind is in a state of turmoil or raging with sensual desires and material distractions. Tamas makes itself felt when the mind becomes torpid, dull, and easily deluded. Sattva brings about a state of quietude, which gives us well-balanced judgment and clear understanding.
The human mind, although in a constant state of flux due to the influence of these elements, has a wide range. It spans from Shakespeare, Newton, and a host of other such luminaries to the vast majority of human beings whose abilities fall well below their level, but are nonetheless part of the Divine.
Every human mind is capable, under well-directed spiritual guidance, of rising to sublime heights; it is capable of touching the frontiers of time, space, and causality; it can emulate the majestic peace, power, and divine compassion of Jesus Christ, Buddha, or Sri Krishna.
An outstanding cause for wonder is that, of all creation, human beings alone are blessed with the divine potential to personally experience God. Even the gods, the Upanishads declare, lack this potential. Sri Krishna reports that of all God's wonders mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the greatest is God becoming an individual human being.
When we at last attain Self-knowledge, then we will realize that everything that was a source of wonder for us is, in fact, God made manifest. When we can lift the obscuring veil of maya, and can say,"l am He," we will emerge from our cocoon of ignorance. For us the "Divine Comedy"will have ended through contemplation on the wonder that is God.