How to Give Advice to a Bobble Head

BGKrishnaBobbleheadHere’s an idea: find an object that has some personal significance for you, something that represents you or some aspect of yourself; something you can use as a proxy for ‘you’. Personally, I find that Bobble Head dolls work best. Put the object ‘you’ on a table or desk and sit with it. Then think of the biggest challenge you currently face in your life or a challenge that you know you will have to face soon. Now, imagine that you are the Supreme Being and you are looking at the proxy ‘you’ in full knowledge of the challenge ‘you’ face and the difficulty associated with facing it.

What would you, in your role as the Supreme Being, do?

Surely you would do something. After all, you’re the Supreme Being: you know everything so it wouldn’t be a problem for you to help ‘you’ with a little advice as to how to solve ‘your’ problem or overcome ‘your’ challenge, right?

Or would you do nothing because, as the Supreme Being, you’re not really a “being’ in the sense of a person with feelings or desires or mechanisms by which to do or communicate anything but, rather, you’re an undifferentiated Oneness, a featureless amalgam of everything that, from a functional standpoint, might as well be nothing?

If being the Supreme Being is tantamount to being everything and everything is ultimately the equivalent of nothing – no form, name, qualities, activities, relationships, etc. – then nothing is all you’re good for: you can’t do anything because there’s nothing to ‘do’ nor can you say anything because there’s no ‘other’ to talk to.

In which case the proxy ‘you’ who still has those unsolved problems might say “thanks for nothing, Supreme Being.”

But let’s rewind for a minute: as a person with feelings of compassion for the ‘you’ with problems, your initial impulse when you take on the role of the Supreme Being is to want to offer assistance, to give some advice that might help ‘you’ deal with whatever challenge you face.

After all, Krishna spoke the Bhagavad Gita to his friend, Arjuna, for just this reason: Krishna was moved by affection and compassion to help Arjuna out, to share his Supreme opinion with Arjuna so that Arjuna could see what his challenge looked like from the Supreme Being’s point of view.

Where does our spontaneous inclination to help others come from? According to the original books of yoga, it comes from the same place everything comes from: Brahman, the Absolute Truth (Vedanta Sutra I.1-2). And since it just makes sense that you can’t give what you don’t have, the Absolute Truth must have the attribute of being a person. Otherwise, personal qualities like compassion and the desire to act for the benefit of others wouldn’t exist.

This is why the Absolute Truth must be a person: because the quality of person-ness must be present in order for the Absolute Truth to be complete, for qualities like intention, such as the intention to transmit transcendental knowledge to those in need of it, and feelings, such as Krishna’s love for his devotee, to be expressed. And the means of expression is a mechanism, namely, a set of senses, the organization of which requires a form. And when you put intention, feelings, and the ability to act on intentions and express feelings all together it all adds up to a person.

Since Patanjali has declared Isvara to be a categorically different kind of person from us (YSP I.24) and since Krishna has made it clear in the Bhagavad Gita that his appearance and activities are transcendental (Bg 4.9), we can reasonably conclude that Isvara, or Krishna, has a categorically different kind of form; a transcendental or spiritual form that is inconceivably unlimited and contains within it all other forms. To put it another way, the form of Krishna and Krishna himself are not different. Krishna is everything and simultaneously a unique person so, paradoxically, everything is Krishna yet nothing is Krishna save and except for Krishna himself.

If Krishna is everything and we are part of everything then we are part of Krishna! Therefore to deny the person-ness of the Absolute Truth is to deny one’s own standing as a person. It’s like saying you don’t exist.

In which case your problems don’t exist, either, so I guess you can put that bobble-head doll away.

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