by purujit dasa
Can words explain the Absolute? The fact that you're reading this means that at least you're open to the idea that they could, otherwise why even bother, right? And that's all that is needed to understand - a simple but very essential quality of doubting in the conclusions we, imperfect living entities with imperfect minds, have come up with. people in general call this quality being open-minded.
Before we deal with words, let's focus on the Absolute. Because Absolute is everything, it is naturally the words as well and therefore if the Absolute is understood, our understanding of words will naturally flow from it. If we try to understand words separately from the Absolute, our understanding will remain limited and therefore imperfect.
The best way to understand the Absolute is from the Absolute Itself. “I think”, “I believe”, “many people say”, or “in my opinion” are nice, but not sufficient, because we tend to make mistakes. The Vedic scriptures are said to be coming from the transcendental plane and have been written down by the Absolute, who appeared as Srila Vyasadeva 5000 years ago. Now, someone could say: Oh yeah? But this is not a dogmatic statement. Quite the opposite, we can only accept this upon realizing the absolute nature of these scriptures ourselves and therefore it is a matter of studying these scriptures and not becuz i just told you. Just like in a law school, it is not expected that one becomes a lawyer on the first hearing of the word law, similarly it is not possible to understand that the Absolute indeed has written down such a scripture simply on faith. Faith that it might be so is necessary (otherwise why keep on reading?), but in order for us to understand this on solid basis, such faith must be backed up by knowledge. As a great acarya(teacher)in the Vaisnava line, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura says: Religion without philosophy is blind faith and philosophy without religion is mental gymnastics. In order to understand the subject matter thoroughly we need to have both. So, with your permission, let us dive into this knowledge while remaining open to the idea that it might be true now! One of the essential texts of Vedic literature is Sri Isopanisad. Sri Isopanisad defines the Absolute in the following way:
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete. And because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped -as a complete whole. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete by itself. And because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
this is a perfect definition of the Absolute(here referred to as "the supreme personality of godhead") -it must be complete. There cannot be anything "less" in the complete, otherwise it would not be complete. There are people who say that God cannot do this or that, or He cannot be this or that. So far we're concerned, there is only one thing God cannot be and that is to be incomplete. now, someone might ask now, wait you just said that God cannot be anything less, so how come he's missing the incomplete aspect? this question is answered by the second portion of this verse. it says:
“even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance. “
this is quite bewildering. in the material world if you imagine a cake and let's say i cut off a part of it and give it to you and ask you where is this piece coming from? you'll say: why are you asking me stupid questions like that? it is from the cake, can't you see? that's right. it's from the cake, but if i hand out all the pieces to everyone, the original cake is gone. this is becuz everything here is temporary. whatever you see around you will be finished: furniture, curtains, the cigarette you just lit and which will finish your body via uncle cancer all will be gone at a certain moment. some people still don't get it and that's why they invented things like career, nationalism, or insurance, but all these are simply desperate attempts to latch unto something which is already going away bye bye. Just like this article, slowly, slowly it is heading towards the end.
anyway, i'm just explaining this, because this is what the absolute is not. absolute is absolute forever and because it is forever it's kind of like a cake which will never run out. just imagine you have a cake and you can cut off unlimited number of pieces to everyone and still the whole cake is there. kind of neat. such a cake would be an unlimited supply of stuff, which you could give out and that would like make you super popular! the cakeman is here! yupee! So just imagine, this is Absolute. now again i hear ya sceptics out there asking: c'mon things like that don't exist. are you crazy? go back to fairy tales! and to that i say: OH YEAH? check this out: a seed. A seed contains a potential of unlimited number of trees. the tree which will come out of it will bring thousands of seeds and they also have a potential of thousands of trees, etc. so hypothetically it can go on unlimitedly and it kind of does, just look around ya. the trees which you see out of your window are the great great great great grand sons of the trees from way before. but these trees will bring more seeds and they will be the new generation and they will bring a new generation, and they will bring a new generation and they will bring a new generation etc. at the same time, no one can make a tree in a laboratory by combining some chemicals. You can breed the trees, you can clone the trees, you can cut the trees, but no matter what you do, you always need a seed to start with.
And the seed is a mystery. how come such a limited tiny little thingy, contains unlimited number of trees? that is sooo totally smashing all the scientific laws, don't you think? It totally smashes everything we base our life on. Cuz usually materialistic life means the bigger, the better. You know like the more money you have the better off you are. Or the more sex you have, the more healthy you are. Or the bigger muscles you have, the more stronger you are. But the seed is like a total high tech, cuz it can expand unlimitedly into unlimited seeds, which also have the ability to do the same! Even a computer chip can’t do this. just see how magic is working around us and we don't even know. so, anyway i'm just sayin'...
now if this is possible with a material thing like a seed, for the Absolute it must be ...that's right -a piece of cake! although it's unlimited, it remains one. so when we come back to the original question how come complete does not contain incompleteness, it does, but that doesn't interfere with its being complete. it's kind of like an open minded person. he is open even to his close-minded friend. he tries to understand the nature of his bias, whereas the close-minded is never really open to anyone. he just sucks, you know? similarly, the complete can also be incomplete if it wants, but the incomplete can never be complete, cuz how come it became incomplete if it was complete at a certain point and if the absolute is forever? lol
now check this out:
”Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete by itself.”
i can imagine now you're like: WHAA? cuz that totally contradicts whatever i have just written. if whatever is produced from the complete whole is also complete, then where is incompleteness? no need for panic. easy. easy. it says: "complete by itself." not "complete as a whole". that is a difference. just like this computer you're staring into right now. it is made of so many tiny little parts, they all work together nicely, nothing is missing. the parts are by themselves not incomplete. the keyboard is not without E U O P HJKL letters, all of them are there, the monitor has all the colours, your system has an anti-virus, so the different elements of the computer are complete by themselves. still if you find a keyboard on the street and naively shout to the strangers walking-by : i gotta a computa! i gotta a computa! then you are a little foolish. so similarly, although so many units are emananting from the absolute complete whole does not mean they are the complete whole. becuz words are also coming from the absolute, they are complete by themselves and it does not mean that words can contain the complete whole in its entirety. however, because the complete whole is everything and cannot be limited, it can simultaneously be a word and because the absolute cannot be divided, that word is non-different from the absolute. in the material world when i say "put_your_name_here! I thought you’re coming to visit us for the Hare Krsna chanting! where were you?" you are not present here. you are chilling in your place while i look like a psycho. but in the absolute platform, there's no duality, so the word and substance are the same. so if we chant this word, the absolute is present and although we ourselves might be in the state of incompleteness on account of our incomplete understanding of the complete, by chanting this word over and over we can revive our memory of being the complete part of the complete whole. just like iron is not fire, but if you put an iron rod into a fire, by gradually heating it becomes firey. and if it becomes fiery, when you touch something with it, it also starts burning. similarly, if we chant this absolute word others can also revive their complete memory of being part of the complete and thus be completely blissed out. so let's do it. let’s chant that word over and over and that word is krsna.