We can scan the length and breadth of Vedic texts and we will not find anyone asking for proof of God’s existence or someone providing it voluntarily. That doesn’t mean we cannot provide an argument for God’s existence based on what is already present in the Vedic texts. In this post, I will present an argument by elaborating on the four sentences of the first verse in Brahma Samhita:
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
Table of Contents
- 1 God as Creator, Controller, and Enjoyer
- 2 The Sufficiency of God’s Existence
- 3 The Necessity of God’s Existence
- 4 Alternative Realism for God’s Existence
- 5 Rejection of Alternative Notions of God
- 6 The Uniqueness of the Vedic Argument
God as Creator, Controller, and Enjoyer
The Structure of the Brahma Samhita Verse
The verse describes Kṛṣṇa in three ways:
- īśvaraḥ paramaḥ – the supreme controller
- anādir ādir – the origin without an origin
- sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam – the reason for all reasons
The verse also speaks about Kṛṣṇa as sac-cid-ānanda vigrahaḥ (the house in which sat, chit, and ānanda live, although the residents of the house are distinct from the house, due to vi). We will discuss these three descriptions in detail shortly. For now, I just want to map sac-cid-ānanda to the three descriptions, to summarize the argument. We will explain and justify this mapping later on.
- Sat – the supreme controller
- Chit – the origin without an origin
- Ānanda – the reason for all reasons
When we talk about the proof of God’s existence, we have to define “God” precisely. That precise definition is sac-cid-ānanda vigrahaḥ. If we construct an argument about whether God exists, we have to rely on the definition—i.e., what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for something defined in the above manner to exist. The three definitional traits need to be justified individually and collectively, and the argument for the existence of God is the necessary and sufficient reasons for the existence of one thing that has these three traits at once. We can talk about why less than these three traits would be insufficient. We can then say why anything more than these three traits are unnecessary.
Therefore, the structure of the argument for the existence of God would be:
- These three traits are necessary
- These three traits are sufficient
- More than these three traits are unnecessary
- Less than these three traits are insufficient
You might say that I’m trying to prove God’s existence by citing scripture. But I’m not relying on the scripture to prove God’s existence. I’m relying on the scripture to define what “God” means. I then intend to establish why these traits are necessary and sufficient. The proof is not in the scripture; the definition is. We accept the definition and then establish why it is necessary and sufficient. This approach is sometimes called verification instead of discovery. Just like you can quickly verify if a password works by proving that it unlocks the computer because it would be extremely time-consuming to discover the password by trying different passwords one after another, similarly, we take the scriptural definition as the password, show that it unlocks the computer—i.e., the various problems of religion and science—, establishing that this password is sufficient. We then establish why other passwords (i.e., alternative definitions of God) are wrong because they do not solve the problems of religion and science. Through this process, we also establish why this definition of God is necessary.
The Necessity and Proof of Realism
We have to begin by proving the existence of reality—i.e., something that exists distinct from me. If there is nothing distinct from me, then there would be no God distinct from me. Impersonalists have made such arguments previously. According to them, the vision or “image” of God is a mental construct. Even the world is a mental construct for some impersonalists. Similarly, many psychologists accept religious experiences but not a religious reality, although they might accept the reality of the world. Therefore, it is important to refute solipsism in its various forms and establish realism. The proof for the realism of the world should ideally be usable even for proving the reality of God.
Such a proof for realism involves the negation of the above three traits of God for myself—(a) I am not the supreme controller of things that I can perceive, (b) I am not the origin of the world, and (c), I am not the reason for all the other reasons since I am not able to decide what happens or doesn’t in the world.
All these claims can be justified by the fact of my suffering. They also establish that I am not God (whether or not God exists). Thus, we get three outcomes—(a) I am not God, (b) there is a real world, and (c) I am distinct from the world.
- I am not the controller of the world because I don’t want to suffer, and yet, I am suffering. If I was in control, then, I would change the world to alleviate my sufferings. I can control my mental constructs, but not the world, so it cannot be my mental construct.
- I am not the creator of the world because I don’t understand how it works. If I were the creator of the world, then I would already know how it works, and won’t need to study the world to know it. I would also have not created a world that causes my suffering.
- I am not the reason for the world’s existence because the world makes me suffer. If I was the reason for the world’s existence, then the world would not make me suffer. It would instead do exactly what I wish, and always remain a cause of my pleasure.
Thus, solipsism can be refuted, and realism can be established, because of my suffering. I could claim that a happy world is my dream, imagination, or hallucination. That it has been created from me, controlled by me, and exists for my pleasure. But I cannot make those claims when I am suffering due to the world. Suffering instead proves that I am not the creator of the world, that I do not control the world, and the world doesn’t exist for my pleasure. The world I experience in my awareness is not a self-created imagination.
The Necessity of Defining Personhood
The above argument based on suffering assumes that I am a rational actor who acts in his self-interest. Three assumptions are involved here—(a) that my self-interest is my pleasure, (b) I am not powerless or lazy to act in self-interest, and (c) I know what things would lead to my pleasure. These are not trivial.
For instance, if I were a masochist, then I could have created a world just to torture myself. Even if I was seeking pleasure, I might have been ignorant about the kinds of things that I enjoy and thus created a world that tortures me. Finally, even if I was seeking pleasure, and knew the things that I enjoy, I might be too lazy or totally powerless to do the needful to ensure my pleasure.
We cannot establish realism unless we assume that we seek to enjoy, know what will please us, and act accordingly. These three can be called enjoyers, creators, and controllers. To be a creator of a world that pleases me, I must know what truly pleases me and avoid the rest. Once I create, I must not be powerless or lazy to do what is necessary to maintain the world. Finally, I must not be a masochist. If these are not true, then suffering is not a counterargument to solipsism because (a) I seek to torture myself, (b) I am ignorant of what pleases me, or (c) I am lazy or powerless to do anything for myself. Realism is true only if I have a defined my personhood as—creator, controller, and enjoyer.
A corollary of this argument is that because the existence of God depends on the prior argument for realism, which depends on a person not being masochistic, ignorant, or powerless, hence, the existence of God can only be a valid argument for those who can accept realism—i.e., they are not masochistic, ignorant, or powerless. If realism is false (due to a person being masochistic, ignorant, or powerless), then, any supposed proof of the existence of God must also false because no proof of God can work without the proof of realism.
Now, if we talk about the existence of God, we are making a claim that there is a person who (a) produced the world, (b) controls the world, (c) enjoys the world, which means that the world produced and controlled by God would never be the cause of God’s suffering. The world would be always the source of God’s pleasure because it was produced and controlled by God for God’s pleasure. The sequence from (a) defining personhood, (b) establishing realism, (c) enabling us to talk about God as a distinct person—separate from me—with the same definition of personhood, although as the person who created the world, controls the world, for the sake of his enjoyment, is absolutely crucial.
The Necessity of the Power of Personhood
Once we define personhood as each individual’s quest to be a creator, controller, and enjoyer, we have to recognize that in this world, we don’t always have these abilities, although we are still distinct from the world. We still seek to be creators, controllers, and enjoyers, but we do not always have the power to do so. When the power exists to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer, then the personhood is fully realized. But when the power doesn’t exist to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer, then there is a person who cannot realize the personhood. There is still a will to realize personhood, but it may be powerless.
This distinction between person and power is essential to explain why a person—wanting to be a creator, controller, and enjoyer—may not be so. He may instead be controlled by circumstances, unable to do what he wishes to do, and suffer as a consequence of being unable to change the situation. When a person is powerless, he seems to be a puppet, although he wishes to regain personhood.
The power of a person can be divided into three components based on the three requirements of personhood—i.e., the power to create, to control, and to enjoy. A person becomes a puppet when the power to create, control, and enjoy is absent and a puppet becomes a person when the power to create, control, and enjoy is present. The distinction between person and power allows us to understand how a person who seeks to be happy may be unhappy and yet strive for happiness by acquiring the power to realize their personhood.
The Sufficiency of God’s Existence
The Realism of Dreaming and Waking
Many people define realism as a world that exists “outside” of me. They consider dreamt reality solipsism rather than realism. However, the argument for realism that hinges upon a world being “outside” of me is incredibly hard—it requires a distinction between waking and dreaming. The fact is that those who claim such realism have not been able to establish it because our sensations are in the senses, our thoughts are in the mind, and our judgments (of truth) are in the intellect. Since sensations, thoughts, and judgments are always within me, how do you say that there is a world “outside” of me when what we mean by the “world” is precisely those sensations, thoughts, and judgments in me?
While waking and dreaming are distinct, it is not necessary to establish this distinction to talk about realism because when realism is defined by the problem of suffering and personhood is defined by the criterion to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer, then realism is always true. It is true either because a person is suffering or because he is enjoying the dream.
Even in a dream, the self is separate from the world because a dream involves (a) a dreamt self-persona, and (b) a world distinct from that self-persona. The dreamer is not the dreamt self-persona, although he identifies with it. Similarly, even though the dreamt world is within the dreamer, it remains distinct from the self-persona—whether the person is enjoying or suffering.
Hence, dreams are also reality, and the dreamer is separate from the dream, because—(a) there is a dreamt persona in the dream seen to be separate from the dreamt world, (b) the standard for realism is that the dreamt persona is distinct from the world either due to the person creating, controlling, and enjoying the world, or due to the person not being able to create, control, and enjoy the world. If these two are satisfied, and they are indeed satisfied, then wakefulness is not necessary for realism, and dreaming is not solipsism.
Of course, since a world also exists during waking, therefore, we are not insisting that realism is restricted to dreaming. We are only saying that dreaming is a sufficient condition for a real world to exist—because dreaming is not solipsism—regardless of whether the person is suffering or enjoying.
During a dream, everyone other than the self-persona is not a real person because they are all creations of the dreamer. If the dreamer was in full control of the dream (I’m not insisting that they are), the personas other than the dreamer’s self-persona would do exactly as the dreamer wishes. The dreamer could change his persona and create, destroy, or maintain any persona to suit his wishes. These dreamt personas would not be independent persons as they are not independent creators, controllers, and enjoyers within the dream.
In contrast, while waking, the personas other than the self must also be real persons. While some of them may lack the power to be the creators, controllers, and enjoyers, they must all be independent persons who can potentially be creators, controllers, and enjoyers. The waking person is not in complete control of the personas seen during waking due to their independent personhood. Thereby, we can contrast the personas seen during dreaming from those seen during waking—the latter are free and the former are not.
Spiritual and Material World Distinction
When we talk about God creating, controlling, and enjoying a world, we have to distinguish between dreaming and waking worlds because (a) realism is true in both cases, and (b) the creator’s persona is different from the created personas in both cases. The difference between dreaming and waking realities is that the created personas have independence in the case of waking and they lack independence in the case of dreaming reality. The creator, controller, and enjoyer can fulfill the three conditions of personhood both during waking and dreaming. Of course, the enjoyment of a dream is different from that of waking due to the independence and lack thereof of the dreamt personas.
Those familiar with Vedic philosophy will recognize these two worlds as “material” (constructed as dreaming) and “spiritual” (constructed as waking). Both are real but in the material world, the dreamt personas don’t have independence while in the spiritual world the waking personas do. Just bear in mind that I am not stating this to claim that this is indeed how the world is created by God (because that would preempt the goal of proving it). I’m saying this to remind people who might be familiar with Vedic philosophy that this is how Vedic texts describe the creation of material and spiritual worlds.
Dreaming is sufficient for a world and waking is not necessary. The necessity of the waking world arises because even if I am not the creator, controller, or enjoyer right now, I would like to be so. This is not a logical necessity, but a necessity for me. Nobody wants to be devoid of the capacity to control, create, and enjoy. Personhood is the realization of these traits. Hence, if we conceive two kinds of realities, then the waking world would correspond to free persons and the dreaming world to unfree puppets. If puppet-like existence were sufficient, then waking reality would be unnecessary. The waking reality should exist because (a) being a free person is a necessity for me, and (b) if I cannot realize my freedom then life would only be bondage and unhappiness.
The Problem and Solution of Free Will
Every religious doctrine discusses two kinds of worlds—spiritual and material—generally based on the idea of free will and its abuse. Free will presents a problem because it can be abused. When it is abused, free will is curtailed. But when free will is used properly, then it is restored. The problem of free will and its solution can be achieved through dreaming and waking realities. That is, if a free person abuses their free will, then the person enters the dreaming world reality. If a free person uses their free will correctly, then they enter the waking world reality. The dreaming world reality takes away the powers of a person to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer, reducing the person to a puppet. The waking world reality restores the powers of a person to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer transforming the puppet into a person.
We have to remember that we cannot construct a valid argument for the existence of God unless we talk about both material and spiritual worlds, how they differ from each other, how a person can be in either of these worlds, the reasons for which he is in one or the other, and how the two worlds operate on the same principles of God being the creator, controller, and enjoyer. The problem of free will and its solution must be part of the description of God being the creator, controller, and enjoyer of two different kinds of worlds.
Sufficiency vs. Necessity of God’s Existence
We can now return to what we promised to do at the outset—i.e., prove the necessity and sufficiency of God’s existence. Everything that we have said so far is sufficient for God to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the spiritual and material worlds, but it is not necessary. If we understand these claims, then we can say that they are sufficient to explain the material and spiritual realities. That doesn’t mean such a claim is necessary. We have to prove that too.
In this regard, we need to distinguish between agnosticism and atheism. Agnostics can say—God may be the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the world because God’s existence is sufficient to explain the world. However, because we don’t know that the world is necessarily created, controlled, and enjoyed by God, therefore, God’s existence is not necessary. Atheists, on the other hand, insist that God cannot be the creator, controller, or enjoyer of the world, because in the religions they are familiar with, there may not even be a plausible explanation of how God creates, controls, and enjoys in the two worlds. The atheistic claim is falsified if we present the Vedic description correctly. However, the agnostic argument is still true—i.e., that this explanation may be sufficient although that doesn’t mean it is necessarily true.
The Necessity of God’s Existence
The Structure of the Argument for Necessity
The argument for the necessity of this worldview involves something rather simple—proving that the world is like an idea. We have already talked about dreams. A dream involves sensations, thoughts, and judgments. But all of these are ideas of different categories. A sensation is an idea such as taste, smell, color, shape, etc. A thought is an idea such as a table, chair, house, and car. A judgment is ideas such as true and false, right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, when we speak of ideas we are talking about a very broad category of subjective realities that are easily found in our dreams, and during mental imagination while waking. If we show that the world is idea-like, rather than object-like, then we can talk about how an idea-like world is produced from a mind-like person. Those persons can include both God and other souls.
The essence of this argument is that objects can exist without a mind, but ideas cannot. So, when people talk about arguments for the existence of God, they assume that an object-like world already exists, and they try to prove that this object-like world was produced by a person-like God. That is not what we are interested in, because object-like realities are not entertained in Vedic philosophy. Whatever people call “objects” as sense-perceivable things are also sense perception ideas—taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight—rather than objects. However, these ideas are not necessarily in our senses or minds. They are rather ideas within a “cosmic person” because the cosmos is produced as a dream by the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the cosmic dream.
The waking reality is also sense perceptions, thoughts, and judgments, and it is also within a “cosmic mind”. The difference is simply that in the waking reality, the personas have the power to exercise their free will to be creators, controllers, and enjoyers, but the power to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer is absent in the dreaming reality. Therefore, both waking and dreaming realities are idea-like (i.e., sense percepts, thoughts, and judgments), and they have no existence without a person. The proof of God’s existence involves proving that the material reality is idea-like rather than object-like.
That proof—along with the distinction between the presence and absence of the powers to be creators, controllers, and enjoyers—necessarily establishes God as the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the material world. Then, the personal necessity of each person wanting to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the world (as defined by the properties of personhood) necessarily establishes the spiritual world—subject to the condition that the power to be a creator, controller, and enjoyer can indeed be delegated. Since God is already the creator, controller, and enjoyer, He has those powers. We have to also establish that He necessarily delegates those powers if free will is used properly.
For the sake of simplicity, for the rest of the argument, I will limit the idea-like reality to thought. This is not to eliminate sensations and judgments from the idea-like ontology, but it is not necessary for the argument. The proof that a thinker exists involves showing that the world is just like thought.
The Problem of Constants and Conservation
The defining characteristic of such a world is that it is not conserved because thoughts can be produced by the thinker and dissolved into the thinker. When the thought is dissolved, it hasn’t ceased to exist; it has simply merged into the thinker. When the thought is produced, it hasn’t emerged out of nothing—there was a thinker from which the thought has been produced—although if we remain unaware of the thinker because of modeling the world as objects, then the thought appears to have randomly popped out of nothing.
When we talk about change, we have to talk about a constant. There is no other way to do science or predict and explain change because all changes must be explained on the basis of some constant. In an idea-like world, the appearance and disappearance of ideas are the change, and the thinker’s mind is the constant. However, in an object-like world, the appearance and disappearance of events is the change, but something has to be postulated as the constant. Classical physics, for instance, postulates that the total energy, momentum, and angular momentum of a system are constant. This constancy is called the law of conservation. If no conservation laws were true, then there would be no constants through the change, and it would be impossible to do science.
Thereby, “reality” is defined in modern science through conservation. What is real? That which is conserved. For instance, if the total number of particles is not conserved, then it is not real. If the structure within a collection of particles is not constant, then it is not real. Reality is not what we observe. What we observe is a fact, but not reality. Reality is only that which is conserved. Thereby, if we prove that nothing is conserved, then we have proven that there is no reality. Without reality, we don’t get predictions and explanations. We still have observations. But we cannot predict and explain those observations, without a constant. Without prediction and explanation, there is no science.
Of course, the absence of conservation is not the only defining trait of thought; a thought also has the properties of abstraction and reference. By the property of abstraction, thoughts are organized in a hierarchy from abstract and contingent. By the property of reference, a thought refers to something other than itself, which can also be a thought. Referentiality is seen when we make statements about statements—e.g., “the statement X is true” is a statement about a statement. Thereby, the absence of conservation is not the only defining trait of thought, and when we refute conservation, we haven’t yet established that the world is idea-like. But we have taken the first step toward such a proof.
The refutation of conservation is sufficient to reject the object ontology of modern science. After establishing a sufficient argument for this refutation, we will discuss the necessary argument for reality being thought. Together, these two establish the necessity and sufficiency of a mind that produces and consumes thoughts and undermines the assumed property of conservation.
Failure of the Tests of Conservation
The failed test of conservation can be divided into five propositions—
- The total number of objects is not fixed,
- The association between objects and properties is not fixed,
- The association between objects is not fixed.
- The total number of properties is not fixed,
- The total value of a property is not fixed.
Every current scientific theory accepts claims 1, 2, and 3. For instance, the total number of particles is not conserved in any scientific theory. In classical mechanics, particle collisions can produce fewer or greater numbers of particles. Similarly, the association between a particle and its properties is not fixed. By particle collisions, the total energy of the particles can be redistributed among a smaller or greater number of particles. Likewise, particles move in space and can be arranged in many structures. The varying structures of particles lead to different particle ensembles, which are not fixed.
Claim 4 is refuted by the fact that no physical system has the same set of properties. Classical mechanical particles, for instance, have the property of position and momentum but no temperature, pressure, surface tension, conductivity, compressibility, and so on. Some physical systems have more properties while others have fewer. Thereby, no scientific theory is currently able to formulate a “unified theory of everything” because there is no known set of properties that would completely describe every physical system.
We finally come to claim 5 upon which modern science rests—namely, the conservation of physical properties like energy. This claim is also false because we cannot always measure these physical properties. For instance, in the case of energy, (a) when kinetic energy becomes “potential energy” we cannot prove that such an energy exists because there is no way to measure “potential energy” other than by converting it back to kinetic energy, (b) when kinetic energy becomes “thermal energy” we cannot completely convert it back to kinetic energy due to the second law of thermodynamics so we cannot say that energy indeed exists even after it has been transformed, (c) in quantum mechanics, each particle state is an energy state, but all particles cannot be observed simultaneously, and hence the total energy cannot be measured.
Energy conservation is a hypothesis in science that cannot be proven because (a) some forms of energy are measurable while other forms are not, (b) even the forms of energy that are measurable are not always measurable, and (c) the energy that is sometimes measured doesn’t show constant value. Modern science obfuscates this problem by using evolving probabilities of different observations. Thereby, not only can we not verify if something is real because there is only a probability of observing it, but we also cannot be sure if it actually exists because even that probability is constantly evolving.
An Analogy to Illustrate the Problem
We can illustrate this problem by using the analogy of wealth instead of energy. Wealth can be seen in many forms—gold, houses, cars, cash, stocks, and bonds—and each form can be interconverted into other forms. For example, you can reduce your cash to buy some gold. Now, we place a restriction on observation—namely, we cannot measure all the forms of wealth simultaneously. So, when you measure the amount of cash, you don’t know how much wealth exists in the form of gold, houses, stocks, bonds, and cars. Now we make interconversion between different forms of wealth modifiable. For instance, the price of gold, cars, houses, stocks, and bonds can go up or down. Thereby, when you measure any asset, you may find more or less of it, because (a) it was interconverted from one form to another, and (b) the rate of interconversion changed.
This analogy is not facetious due to what we call irreversible physical processes in which one form of energy doesn’t convert into another form precisely. For instance, if you compress gas quickly, the change in its temperature is different than when you compress it slowly. The start and end states of the systems are the same, but the results are quite different. This is a precise equivalent for changing interconversion rates between different forms of wealth.
Can we say that wealth is constant? Or should we say that (a) wealth changes forms, (b) due to changing interconversion rates between different forms of wealth, the wealth stored in one form increases or decreases without changing the quantity of that thing, (c) the increased and decreased wealth impacts the number of other assets that we can change wealth into, and (d) the probability of finding the quantity of an asset has no relevance to the total wealth?
The fact is that we can convert one form of wealth into another, and it is tempting to think that this entails the conservation of wealth. But if the demand and supply of different things change, thus altering the interconversion rates between various forms of wealth, then not only is wealth not conserved but even assets that we consider wealth aren’t conserved. Instead, the assets that we value more tend to increase while those we devalue tend to decrease. Now we have to talk about how wealth evolves based on demand and supply, so there is an objective reality of assets, but the evolution of these assets cannot be described without understanding why we value some assets more than others.
An asset is now a symbol of wealth. I can give that symbol various meanings—i.e., assigning different prices to assets. The evolution of assets depends on my valuation of assets because I will try to increase my wealth by transforming the assets in a way that I consider more valuable. If my personality changes, then my valuations change, which then changes my assets. Therefore, I have to describe the changes to my personality to describe the changes to my valuations to describe the changes to the assets. The constant in this evolutionary process is me. However, my personality, valuations, and assets keep changing.
Modern science has encountered the same problem, but it refuses to accept it. It tries to describe the world as evolving probabilities of finding different assets, assuming incorrectly that these assets are just different forms of energy, and then assuming even more incorrectly that the total energy remains constant. We can never solve this probability problem by changing the measured parameters to something other than energy. We can solve it only if we begin by saying that what we measure as “assets” are merely symbols of wealth. There are sense percepts and concepts like a big house. But there is also a judgment of value—e.g., wealth—assigned to the sense percepts and concepts. Based on the value assigned to these assets, I consider myself valuable. My goal in life is to increase my value by creating, controlling, and enjoying the value, but that is subject to what I consider valuable—which is based on my personality. This personality can change although I would persist through the changes to my personality, values, judgments, concepts, percepts, and assets.
The key point is that the problem of “evolving probabilities” with assumed conservation of energy is unsolvable when factually we cannot prove that energy is conserved, and the entailed indeterminism undermines both prediction and explanation. Science has entered an era of radical unrealism because of its false assumptions, namely, that the world is objects with conserved properties. That dogma has resulted in non-conservation and evolving probabilities and there is no recourse but to abandon it.
Alternative Realism for God’s Existence
Mathematical Evidence of the Problem
Materialists don’t like rejecting their dogmas. They insist that they will find a solution to the problem in the future using the same methods, although with different postulates. Since there is no timeframe by which such an alternative would be found, the suggestion that such a thing would indeed be found is tantamount to blind faith in the current scientific models of reality.
To refute this blind faith, we have to use more rigorous approaches—the discussion of the problems of logic, set theory, number theory, and how they give rise to causal indeterminism, probabilities, and ultimately lead to the failure of realism. This is something I have done in other places. I won’t repeat that argument here because it is technically involved, but I can summarize it: The scientific modeling of reality rooted in object-thinking can be simply summarized as “one thing is only one thing” or in logic as “one word has only one meaning”. This idea is false because everything is a bundle of infinite things—some of which are revealed or manifest in a context while others remain hidden or unmanifest. We can call these the aspects of a thing. By revealing and hiding aspects, the same thing becomes different things. Logic, set theory, and mathematics cannot describe anything that is not a fixed thing.
For instance, if I had two assets—gold and land—and I considered one more valuable than the other, then I will trade off the thing of lesser value (according to me) for something of greater value (according to me). Potentially, both can be traded off, but in reality, only one of those will be, due to a different valuation. Thereby, my perceived value is a cause of an observable fact, not just merely in my mind. The same thing is also potentially many things—e.g., greater or lesser wealth—one of which determines my action. When that action gets me something else, then my valuation is validated, so we can call it an empirical truth. But it is not the only empirical truth. There are alternative and contradictory empirical truths too. Thereby, the fundamental principle of logic that “one thing is only one thing” proves insufficient to explain observations.
These kinds of arguments haven’t been used earlier while discussing God’s existence because those arguing for God’s existence assume that the world is a collection of physical objects. Most religions commit serious fallacies in trying to justify God’s existence when they talk about how a personal God created an objective world because the equivalent of the mind-body problem is created by the argument, where God is akin to the “mind” and the objective world is akin the “body”. If God controls the world, then we cannot explain how the mind interacts with the body. But even if the mind doesn’t control the world, and only created the world, we still have to explain how the body-like world emerged out of a mind-like person. Since neither problem can be solved satisfactorily, hence, we have to completely reject the “mind” and accept only the “body”.
This error can only be corrected if we show that object thinking is false. That is what the discussion of logic, set theory, number theory, and mathematical models achieves: We comprehensively refute all aspects of object-based thinking, going all the way back to the assumptions of logic. Once we prove that all current object-based models of reality are flawed, then there is no better model waiting to be found in the future. This is a comprehensive rejection of materialism and attempted deferrals of its problem’s solutions. Now we have established the necessity of the mind-and-thought model of reality.
The Problem of Objective Reality
One of the reasons that people are uncomfortable with this model is that they think that it removes objectivity from science. This is not true because apart from our subjective valuations, there is a cosmic mind that does an objective valuation. Objectivity is not objects. It is the universality of the valuation. We can illustrate this through some examples of how an action should be valued.
Suppose that a hungry man wants food. A rich man can give him food, and the hungry man will value it highly. But food has a lesser value from a cosmic perspective because you eat the food now and you will be hungry again in a few hours; the effect of food is temporary. Conversely, a hungry man doesn’t want knowledge. A knowledgeable man can give him knowledge but the hungry man will not value it. However, knowledge has a higher value from a cosmic perspective because it can transform a person’s life and the effects of knowledge are not temporary. Therefore, if we give knowledge to a hungry man, the whole exercise is wasteful because the hungry man cannot receive knowledge. If we give food to a hungry man and he commits crimes, then the exercise is even worse. If we give food to a hungry man and he performs useful deeds, then the exercise is better. However, if we give food to a hungry man, and then give him the knowledge to transform his life, then the action is even better. Finally, if we give food to a hungry man, and then give him the knowledge to change his life, and he then spreads the same knowledge to other people needing knowledge, thereby transforming their lives, then the action is most valuable.
The point is that we cannot define the value of an action at that moment. We have to assess the deeper, broader, and longer-term impacts of an action. Deeper, broader, and longer-term are synonymous when we think of reality in terms of ideas—the deeper idea also has broader and longer-term impacts. The deeper ideas are objectively better or worse as judged by a cosmic mind. Hence, value is ultimately universally objective. However, because we cannot always make a deeper impact—e.g., we cannot give knowledge to a hungry man—therefore, overcoming superficial limitations are often a contextual necessity. Finally, even when we can overcome the superficial limitations contextually, everything doesn’t have the same impact on everyone. For instance, we can give knowledge to an evil person who may then use it to destroy the lives of other harmless people, which would be worse than if he stayed ignorant.
Therefore, we define value in three ways—universal, contextual, and individual. The universal measure is the only real measure, while contextual and individual measures are accepted and rejected to increase the universal value based on context (the time, place, and situation), and individual (the personality). When we use this encompassing definition of value, then we can talk about the values of individual actions and assign value to each action. Then we can talk about how a person is a repository of value, based on their previous actions. Each person can use their value to increase or decrease their value.
We can additionally describe this science of value by defining an inverted tree of values in which the root is most valuable, and the trunks, branches, twigs, and leaves are of lesser value. Each person is situated on some trunk, branch, twig, and leaf. He can move up or down in the hierarchy of value and that upward or downward movement as the result of an action is the objective valuation of the action. The persons on different branches cannot be moved up by the same process at all times, places, and situations. Hence, there is contextualization (time, place, and situation) and individualization (person) of the process. Thereby, there is no conflict or contradiction between universality, contextuality, and individuality. That conflict arises only in object thinking due to the absence of hierarchy and the inability to speak of values.
In short, the supply and demand model of valuation is contextuality and individuality. A hungry man doesn’t want knowledge until his hunger is satiated, and an evil man wants knowledge to destroy other people’s lives. Fulfilling the demands with the supplies is not always straightforward or valuable. But that is only if we narrowly focus on one individual event. If we can look at the broader picture by seeing the hierarchies of influences in an inverted tree, then the value is defined objectively and universally.
How God Controls the World by Will
In the mind-and-thought model, the body is just like a thought. It may be manifest or unmanifest, just like a thought can be manifest or unmanifest in the mind. When it is manifest, then we know the mind through the thought. Likewise, when a thought-like body is manifest, then we can know the mind through the body. But when the body is unmanifest, the mind still exists. Now, we have to model the body just as we model thought. Similarly, the world is like the body of God, manifested from God. When the world is manifest, then we can know God through the world. When the world is unmanifest, God still exists. He can manifest the world and then unmanifest the world.
By this model, we resolve all problems concerning how God controls the world—He controls the world just as the mind controls the manifestation of thought. Since thought can be unmanifest, therefore, the world manifest from the mind is not conserved. God can control the world like a driver turning the steering wheel of a car—(a) the idea-like steering wheel turned to the left would be unmanifest and (b) the idea-like steering wheel turned to the right would be manifest. By revealing and hiding these steering wheels, it would seem to us that God is turning the steering wheel, but factually no mind-body problem arises in this action unlike when God was supposed to be turning an object-like wheel.
All problems concerning God’s existence—and the need for arguments of God’s existence—arise only because some religions said: God created an objective world and inserted the soul in this objective world, whereupon we can neither explain soul-matter interaction nor whether God controls the world. All these problems disappear if we talk about the mind and thought. In a philosophy that says—”the body emerged out of the mind”—there is absolutely no need for “proof of God’s existence” because it is already clear that if the body is an idea produced from the mind, then the mind is an idea produced from an even more sophisticated and complete mind of which the emanated mind is only a part.
Proof of God’s existence is required only if the body is like an object. No such proof is required if the body is like a thought. This is why Vedic texts do not talk about the proof of God’s existence, nor is such proof ever demanded. Instead, a theory of how the body emerges from the mind, and how the mind emerges from an even more primordial mind—all the way to God—is discussed.
Factually, there is no argument for God’s existence if the world is objects. The fact is also that the object model of reality in science is an oversimplification of reality but even oversimplifications work partially just as equating a person to the properties of height and weight works for some cases. It is foolish to think that because this model works for some cases therefore it must work for everything. For instance, nobody can reduce the taste and smell of wheat or rice grains to height and weight. But if a man only has a hammer, then the whole world looks like a nail to him. The universalization of physical properties is the dogma of a scientist with only a hammer trying to treat everything as a nail. The mind-and-thought model of reality is free of all such problems. It is not just a complete scientific model of reality, but it is also a theistic scientific model, that doesn’t require proof of God’s existence, because the proof of God’s existence is found in the study of the world as ideas and the valuation of the ideas.
Personification vs. Objectification
The dreamer-dreaming-dream model is a personal model in which the cause and the effects are persons. But the created persons seem impersonal if the power to create, control, and enjoy is withdrawn from them. However, since the power can be delegated to the same person, therefore, everything is a person. A person can both be a creator and created, controller and controlled, enjoyer and enjoyed. Half of those attributes—i.e., creator, controller, and enjoyer—are partly or wholly cut off in this world, bringing a person closer to an object.
Can those powers be restored? The answer lies in the valuation of a person. A person is valuable to the extent that he creates value greater than he destroys it. The person who maximizes value creation and minimizes value destruction is more valuable than those who are achieving less than the maximum value creation and more than the minimum value destruction. The power to create, control, and enjoy naturally increases as a person becomes more valuable, and such a person is naturally empowered to control those who are less valuable. Thereby, there is a law of personal power—the power is concentrated with the valued person and diluted with the devalued person. The realization of personhood is therefore a spectrum from powerless to empowered. A value judgment is the natural cause of the effect of personal power to create, control, and enjoy. A person is therefore continuously judged by their actions, and subsequently empowered or disempowered based on that judgment.
Based on the principle of valuation, the material world is not fully bondage and the spiritual world is not equal empowerment. Everything depends on how much value each person is producing and consuming. That valuation is also not individualized and contextualized; it is primarily universalized. Every person is capable of being more or less valuable. But they can choose to be what they want. If they increase their personal value, they grow in power and realize their personhood completely. The fundamental law of nature is the law of personal power, the capacity to be creator, controller, and enjoyer, and the greater or lesser capacity to realize their personhood based on their valuation.
When we shift our models from an object-like world to a person-like world, then we also shift our conception of laws from those governing objects to those governing persons. The higher or lower valuations make a person rise or fall in a hierarchy, empowering or disempowering them. There is ability, choice, and responsibility—ability is power, the choice is how to use that power to produce or consume value, and responsibility is the judgment of how much value was produced or consumed. That judgment then changes the empowerment, which then changes the choices, which then changes the judgment, and the cycle of ability, choice, and responsibility goes endlessly and eternally.
We can say that persons are conserved, but their powers are not. The world is produced by power. Hence, the world is not conserved. It can be created, maintained, or destroyed. In this process, the person would not be destroyed, but the power to create, control, and enjoy would go away. The valuable person has literally infinite power, and the devalued person has literally no power. The highly valued person is as good as God, and the highly devalued person is as good as an object. Personhood is universal, but the power to be the creator, controller, and enjoyer depends on how valuable each person is.
Nothing is an object; everything is a person. Rivers, mountains, forests, and so on, are all persons. They have the power to create, control, and enjoy value. They might not be the most valuable, but they are not objects. The absence of power doesn’t make them non-persons, but it devalues the person. When the absence of power to create, control, and enjoy is equated to objectivity then we get the illusion called modern science. But the fact is that even when there is no power, reality is still like a thought rather than like an object, controlled by a more powerful mind. This is why it is important to emphasize semanticism before personhood—to talk about the body and the world as a thought. This is of course not the complete truth. But the complete truth of personalism cannot be discussed without semanticism because it will always lead to the unsolvable mind-body problem. That mind-body (or soul-matter) interaction problem doesn’t arise when we describe the body as the thought of a mind.
The fact is that a person is never like an object. At worst, a person is like a thought. Such a person is controlled by a more valuable and powerful mind, and ultimately everything is controlled by the most powerful mind—God. Objectification turns us away from becoming valuable, acquiring personal power, and makes us akin to objects. Objectification is thus a self-fulfilling prophecy, just like personhood. If someone says that they need proof of personhood, the answer lies in them becoming valuable persons. If they have devalued themselves, then they will be treated just like objects. If society encourages an ideology of domination, exploitation, and subjugation, then persons are also treated as objects. By treating each other as objects, they are devalued, and they realize their objectivity—namely, that they are deprived of personal power. They can change the self-fulfilling prophecy to realize an alternative truth. Factually, materialism is not the truth. But even that falsity becomes a fact of life when we adopt the vile ideology of treating others as objects. This morally despicable ideology can be rejected by studying the problems of objectification—not just morally, but also through science.
Rejection of Alternative Notions of God
The Necessity of Three Attributes
Many philosophies in the recent past have diminished personhood by restricting or eliminating the creator, controller, and enjoyer attributes of a person. For instance, impersonalism rejects the controller and enjoyer aspects of a person and restricts it to a silently perceiving awareness. Impersonalism calls all byproducts of consciousness an illusion when it is a repository of infinite ideas and is called the chit, from which spring knowledge and action. Finally, the impersonalists also equate all silently observing persons to God even when they don’t have the capacity to create, control, and enjoy a world.
Nobody can enjoy without creating and controlling something. There is no happiness without action. However, there can be freedom from the suffering caused by the material world (due to the person being stripped of the power to create, control, and enjoy). That humiliating and degrading experience is due to the soul misusing its free will. God withdraws His power from the soul just to teach him a lesson and the soul now becomes a puppet. If the soul now blames God for teaching him the proper use of free will, then this haughty soul is taken out of the material world and put into isolation to live alone by itself.
The impersonalist considers this solitary confinement to be the highest perfection of life because he cannot imagine a life outside the prison, and he prefers living in isolation over torture by other prison inmates. It is true that no company is better than a bad company. But a good company is better than no company and a bad company. Of course, the impersonalist is unable to imagine any good company. Every company is a bad company for the impersonalist, so we can say that it is better to be without company than to be in bad company.
This takes us back to our definition of personhood—we defined it as someone who seeks happiness rather than distress or seclusion. We established realism on the premise that a world is distinct from a person if the person is a controller or controlled, creator or created, enjoyer or enjoyed. However, if we change the definition of personhood as one who seeks seclusion, then we must remove both types of reality conditions—controller and controller, creator and created, enjoyer and enjoyed. Now, there is no conception of God, nor is there any conception of a world. There is nothing other than the self.
The problem is that the person cannot stay isolated for long. Even those who have been tortured by prison inmates continue to suffer in solitary confinement. They might temporarily get away from being beaten or abused by other prisoners, but the situation of solitary confinement is not permanent. They haven’t learned how to use free will correctly—they have just stopped using free will, or they have learned to use free will to negate its existence—therefore, they have to return to prison. This is just like a prisoner can go into solitary confinement but has to return to the bad company eventually.
We can propose alternative definitions of personhood—e.g., that a person is not a creator, controller, and enjoyer—but nobody can accept such a definition permanently. The three traits of personhood are therefore necessary. They are not logical necessities—because one can reject them temporarily. But they are the nature of each person, which can be denied temporarily until one fathoms the extent of the problem with this rejection and reverts to his nature again.
The Sufficiency of Three Attributes
Material existence is the attitude that it is insufficient to be a person until one also exploits, dominates, and subjugates other persons, denying them their personhood. Nihilists call this a “will to power”. For them, it is not enough that I have the will and power to enhance my personhood and of others. They feel that their personhood isn’t proven unless they can objectify others. The need to deny someone else’s personhood to establish one’s personhood defines evil.
Evil is born out of envy of the supreme person—i.e., God—ignoring the fact that God never denies anyone their personhood unless they deny others their personhood. God doesn’t mind if someone wants to live in isolation, although He created the soul for mutual enhancement of each other’s personhood. God doesn’t mind if one wants to enhance their personhood without participating in the mutual enhancement of each other’s personhood. God only minds that someone denies others their personhood while trying to enhance theirs.
When everyone’s personhood is not sufficient, then the soul enters the material world where his desire for “will to power” becomes his loss of the “power to will”. The soul keeps desiring more and more power to dominate, subjugate, and exploit others because he feels that he is victorious only by defeating others. All materialistic activities result from this perverted mindset. However, the process of upgrading oneself by downgrading others is a zero-sum game. There is no win-win scenario. Sometimes a person wins and sometimes he loses. If it seems that he is winning for a while, then he will be losing for a while in the future and he has been a loser for a long time in the past.
If we add up all these wins and losses, they amount to a lot of zeros. Every win is canceled by a loss because the person has entered a win-loss mentality rather than a win-win mentality. In trying to be the winner by defeating others, he becomes the loser defeated by others. This is why the win-loss mentality is insufficient—as defined by each person. If we realize that win-loss is a zero-sum game of recycling wins and losses, then we know why win-win is the best game.
Everyone can be a creator, controller, and enjoyer, by aiding the personhood of others—i.e., enhancing their position as creators, controllers, and enjoyers. God is already the original creator, controller, and enjoyer, so He was far ahead in the race of creators, controllers, and enjoyers before the soul appeared. Hence, there is no value in competing with God. But there is a lot of value in enhancing the personhood of God, because by doing that we become better creators, controllers, and enjoyers, but so does God. This win-win mentality is sufficient, but those who find it insufficient fall into a win-lose situation. The win-lose cycle is worse than the win-win progress. Hence win-win has to be sufficient.
Contrasts to Christian Arguments on God
Christianity defines God as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. God, in Christianity, creates the world by His omnipotence. He was originally supposed to be in control of the world, but following Enlightenment, Christian theologians postulated Deism in which God doesn’t control the world, and the world is controlled by certain “natural laws”. This idea was essential for the development of modern science, and its eventual rejection of God because a God that doesn’t need to control the world, doesn’t need to create it.
God’s omnibenevolence also leads to the problem of evil in Christianity because if God loves everyone, then He should have forgiven the sins of the soul out of His love. The existence of the material world, as the place for sinners, where the sinning soul is punished and then taken to salvation in heaven, is incompatible with God’s love for everyone because God could have avoided that entire exercise just by forgiving the sinning soul. When the sinning soul is made to suffer in the world, the contrast to God’s benevolence becomes overbearing.
God is not omnibenevolent in Vedic texts. He prefers to love everyone but is not logically compelled to do so (by His own nature). Instead, God reciprocates toward the soul in a way that will make it realize the superiority of the loving nature. That reciprocation involves reprimanding those souls who devalue themselves by devaluing others through objectification. Reprimands are not contrary to love, but love doesn’t have one universal definition. There is the love of a parent toward the child, the love of a teacher toward the student, the love of a master toward the servant, and the love of a king toward his subjects. There are many kinds of love and “love” must be defined in many ways to understand love fully. If we reject logic, where one word has only one meaning, then, we won’t have a problem with this idea because then we don’t have a problem distinguishing between the love that punishes to correct and that which rewards to encourage. Rewards and punishment are logical opposites, and they cannot be reconciled within a logic where one word has only one meaning.
The creation in Vedic texts is not due to God’s omnipotence; it is rather due to His omniscience. The world is an idea in God and it springs out of God as thought. To manifest one thought, and to make another thought unmanifest, God uses His power of thinking. God can manifest anything because of His power. However, God’s power acts on Himself to produce the world. That action doesn’t reduce God’s power because “energy” is not transferred to anything other than God. Likewise, the world is not conserved, but God’s power remains eternal. Hence, when we speak of the world as God’s power, we say that the “material energy” is eternal. But that doesn’t mean the conservation of the world because the “material energy” is not the stuff we see. It is the power to evoke the world out of God’s omniscience. Hence, omniscience and omnipotence are distinct, and God uses His omniscience and omnipotence to create a world.
Omniscience and omnipotence remain inactive unless God wills to enjoy them. Then, His desire to enjoy activates His power to produce a world from Himself. Hence, God’s will activates God’s power to evoke thoughts in Himself.
That is a summary rejection of Deism because the world is always and completely in God’s control. Everything is moving due to His will, however, His will is not irrational, whimsical, or immoral. The will is not in control of the ideas; rather, ideas are also in control of the will. Although God can act whimsically, irrationally, and immorally, He doesn’t because the three aspects of God are in control of each other. Thus, when we study order in nature, we are studying God through the manifest world. It is like trying to understand a person’s mind through their words, expressions, and actions. We cannot treat the things in the world as meaningless objects because they are like a person’s body that reveals the mind. Studying the mind through the body is distinct from knowing the mind directly. But we cannot call the body a meaningless and purposeless object. The Vedic concept of creation is a stark contrast to Deism, and thereby a rejection of the object modeling of the material world.
Contrasts to Denial of Self Arguments
We have noted at the beginning that to establish God’s existence, we have to acknowledge the personhood of the self. We then use that personhood to establish realism, show how dreams and waking are real in the same way, and use that idea-like realism to establish God’s existence as the creator, controller, and enjoyer of an idea-like world. Therefore, if we deny the personhood of the self, then there cannot be a reality, and hence no God. Such self-denying arguments have been used in Buddhism (and other allied traditions) in the past. By denying the personhood of the self, a world and God are also rejected. Thus we get the “no self, no world, and no God” conclusion called voidism.
Voidism rests on an idea-like conception of the world, and an idea-like conception of the self, similar to that in Vedic texts. Based on these two notions, voidism claims that the knower and the known are co-created. If there is no knower, then there will be no known, and vice versa. However, Buddhism cannot explain how and why the knower and known are co-created from nothingness. The answer to that question in Vedic texts is that the known is produced from the knower as its dream by its power of knowing under the control of its will. The known world is the combination of a knower, its power, and its will. If these three are separated, then the world disappears.
The combination of the knower, its power, and its will can be dreaming or waking. But when the knower, its power, and its will are separated, then the person is said to be in deep sleep. It is not the absence of a knower, its power, and its will. It is merely their separation. Hence, there is a transcendent state of a person beyond deep sleep comprising three aspects in which a person is self-aware because the knower, his power of knowing, and his will to know, combine to know oneself as a knower. When the three aspects separate, the person enters deep sleep. But when the will intends to know the self not just as a knower, but as a specific kind of knower, then the world is produced from the knower in which the knower acquires a self-persona in relation to a world.
Thus, voidism is one of the states of the knower, his power, and his will in which all of these three lie dormant and there is no experience. However, since there are also dreaming and waking experiences, and an experience of the self as a knower without being the knower of something specific, therefore, we have to recognize a transcendent reality that exists even during deep sleep and is yet not experienced. Factually, deep sleep is also a state produced by the will separating the power from the knower. This means that one cannot enter the deep sleep experience without will. Knower and known are thus co-created realities, however, not without a will and the power under its control.
The central problem is now that the “self” involves three definitions—(a) knower, (b) the power of knowing, and (c) a will to know. These three are identical to the creator, controller, and enjoyer. We cannot define such a “self” in logic where one word has only one meaning. We cannot understand the “self” if “one thing is only one thing”. Instead, at the minimum, one thing has to be three different things. They are not separate or separable things because each thing is defined in relation to the other things. They are distinct but inseparable. We sometimes call this Bhedābheda. They are aspects of the same thing, which are sometimes dominant over other aspects and sometimes subordinate to them. All mysteries are resolved when we can define the self in three ways.
The Uniqueness of the Vedic Argument
Why the Vedic Argument is Complex
We have now established all the claims of the argument on God’s existence:
- The proof of the necessity of the realism of the world
- The proof of the necessity of personalism for realism
- The distinctions between waking and dreaming realism
- The role of power and free will in the spiritual and material worlds
- The sufficiency of the mind-and-thought model of reality
- The necessity of the mind-and-thought model by
- Noting the problems of causal indeterminism
- The flaws of logic that treats reality as objects
- How the mind-and-thought model is also scientific
- How it overcomes the causal indeterminism
- How it is objective although it seems subjective
- How it leads to the law of personal power
- Resolve problems of God’s intervention or control of reality
- The necessity of three attributes of personhood
- The sufficiency of three attributes of personhood
- God as the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the world
- Valuation is relative to what He considers valuable
- By valuing and devaluing, He judges everyone’s choices
- The result of judgment is the change in a person’s power
This argument is far more complex that other such arguments because:
- The other arguments do not refute solipsism comprehensively
- They talk about the existence of God without establishing realism
- The soul-matter distinction is assumed without a justification
- The resulting soul-matter interaction problem is never resolved
- They don’t refute scientific realism as a flawed model of reality
- They don’t preempt possible future alternative models of science
- They don’t have a necessary and sufficient definition of God
- They don’t explain how God creates a world from Himself
- They don’t reconcile conservation with creation and dissolution
- They don’t explain why God creates material and spiritual worlds
- They don’t explain why a soul can exist in either of these worlds
- They separate natural laws from moral laws or dictates of religion
- There is no rationale for God’s judgment of moral responsibility
This more comprehensive argument can be summarized simply by describing God as sat-chit-ānanda vigraha, because these three words capture the definition of God as the complete and supreme controller, creator, and enjoyer.
- īśvaraḥ paramaḥ – the supreme controller
- anādir ādir – the creator or the origin without an origin
- sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam – the enjoyer or the reason for all reasons
The creative aspect of God is the chit. It is further subdivided into six parts: knowledge, beauty, wealth, fame, power, and renunciation, that constitute the values of persons. Thereby, the world is created as an inverted tree of values in which the trunks, branches, twigs, and leaves successively become less valuable, and ignorant people start modeling them as objects. Problems of logic, set theory, arithmetic, and mathematical laws force them to bang their heads against the brick wall of evolving probabilities. Unless we refute object-models and establish idea- and value-models, we cannot talk of God.
The Distinction Between Kṛṣṇa and Govinda
There are nuances in the Brahma Samhita verse which we haven’t discussed thus far. I will try to do that now. These nuances come from the use of the names Kṛṣṇa and Govinda in the 1st and 3rd lines of the verse:
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
Kṛṣṇa is īśvaraḥ paramaḥ, or the supreme controller. He is sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ or the complete form of sat-chit-ānanda. He is anādir, or one without an origin. However, he is the ādih or origin of Govinda, who is then described as sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam, or the reason for all reasons. I have made this point earlier in my posts (see here, for example) that a world always expands from a self-image. We have also discussed this point earlier in the post when we talked about the self-persona of a dreamer that is distinct from the dreamer and stands apart from the world created by the self-persona. The distinction between the person and the self-persona is also that between Kṛṣṇa and Govinda.
Kṛṣṇa is the complete person, and Govinda is the self-image, ego-identity, or the self-persona of Kṛṣṇa. The complete person—i.e., Kṛṣṇa—has both good and evil qualities. But Kṛṣṇa doesn’t want to be evil. Kṛṣṇa has the capacity or ability to dominate, subjugate, and exploit others. But He has no interest in doing any such thing. This is because His foremost interest is in being Govinda—the pleaser of all senses. This is also why Govinda is repeatedly described as ādi-puruṣaṁ (the original personality) in Brahma Samhita subsequently.
We have to understand the distinction between ability, opportunity, and choice. Kṛṣṇa has the ability to be eviler than anyone else. Every evil person gets their capacity for evil from Kṛṣṇa. Even when a soul is liberated into the spiritual world, the capacity for evil is never reduced. This is why it is said that even a liberated soul can fall into the material world because the capacity for evil always exists. The difference always comes due to choice. Govinda, the original enjoyer, has no desire to be evil. However, there are other personality aspects of Kṛṣṇa that have the desire to be evil. Those alternative self-personas or ego-images are manifest from Kṛṣṇa when a soul behaves in an evil manner.
Vedic texts describe God in a layered manner. Kṛṣṇa’s innermost nature is Govinda. Then He has a slightly outer nature to be independent and courteous. Then He has an even more outer nature to be self-absorbed. Then He has an even more outer nature to become a teacher, trainer, and educator of those who might be looking for guidance or assistance. Finally, He has the outermost nature to punish those who refuse to be corrected by any type of education.
The innermost nature is always the most preferred nature of God, and the outermost nature is the least preferred nature. Hence, Kṛṣṇa wants everyone to be most pleasing. But if someone is not interested in that, then He prefers to be distant and respectful toward others. But if someone is not even interested in that, then He prefers to be secluded. Then if He sees some people are being misguided, He tries to become a teacher, trainer, and educator of the misdirected souls. Finally, if He finds evil souls not heeding His advice, then He displays His ferocious and violent personalities to correct them.
God’s own preference for what He wants to be, entails that if a soul is corrected by punishment, then he is taken to the path of education. Then as he perfects the path of education, and becomes detached from the ideology of exploitation, he remains a secluded person. If the soul then wants to associate with God, he is given the opportunity to engage respectfully and distantly. Ultimately, if the soul develops loving devotion to God, then Kṛṣṇa reveals His most pleasing Govinda form to the soul. Thereby, due to God’s preference for what He wants to be, punishment is minimized, education is preferred, self-absorption and seclusion are preferred more, respectful and distant relationships are even more preferred, and loving devotional proximity is the most preferred. Of all these personas, the Govinda persona of Kṛṣṇa is the original persona and other personas are revealed after that, indicating that they are least preferred.
Govinda is called sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam, or the reason for all reasons. The term kāraṇa is sometimes translated as “cause”. The cause in the case of God is simply His will. His will exists because He wants to enjoy. Hence, the “cause of all causes” or the “reason for all reasons” is God’s will, which comes from His preferred self-image, ego-identity, or self-persona of Govinda. This loving and beautiful form of Kṛṣṇa is revealed only in the spiritual world or to the pure loving devotees of Kṛṣṇa. Other less advanced devotees, materialistic people, or evil-minded souls, see various other forms of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, all the forms are part of Kṛṣṇa. However, Kṛṣṇa is not without His own preference. He prefers to be Govinda. Every other form of Kṛṣṇa is an acquiescence, conformity, or necessity to other’s will. We can describe the layered nature of God by distinguishing between wanting, willing, and needing. Kṛṣṇa wants to be Govinda. He is willing to take benign forms. And He sometimes needs to take ferocious forms.
Kṛṣṇa’s ferocity is never vengeance. Even in ferocity, Kṛṣṇa’s innermost nature of Govinda is present, which means that He always seeks to bring the soul to happiness. But just like a doctor has to push a bitter medicine into a patient, not out of vengeance, but out of love, similarly, Kṛṣṇa displays vengeance out of love. Due to this innermost nature of God, punishment is always minimized to the least bit necessary to correct a person, educate a person, liberate them from the evil mindset, and slowly bring them to the platform of loving devotion in which everyone is pleasing everyone else, increasing their pleasure in the process, and enhancing everyone’s personhood through their actions.
Many Proofs of God’s Existence
Factually, there is no need to prove God’s existence, because God takes a form commensurate to what each person is. Hence, Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-Gita 11.32: “Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people. With the exception of you [the Pāṇḍavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.” J. Robert Oppenheimer quoted this verse as “Time I am the destroyer of the worlds” after he saw the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the atomic bombs during WWII. Oppenheimer remembered God in His ghastliest form through the destructive events of the 20th century. We cannot contradict such claims since God is described as sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam, the “cause of all causes”, or the “reason for all reasons”. If someone doesn’t believe in one form of God, then He is capable of showing them another form.
Śrila Prabhupāda spoke of this verse along with “as sure as death”. Since death is sure, therefore, God is sure. For example: Those who are not believing in God, to them God will come one day as death, “Now believe Me. Get out!” Finished. All your pride finished. Your pride, your property, your family, your bank balance, your skyscraper building—all taken away. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, that “Those who are not believing in God, to them I come as death and take away everything, finished.” That one has to believe, “Yes, as sure as death.” Then God is sure.
Factually, there is nothing other than God, which is why Chandogya Upaniśad states—sarvaṃ khalvidaṃ brahma—or “all this is certainly Brahman”. But most of the things we see are the thoughts of God, not the thinker himself. If we don’t know how the thought is produced, we may not believe in God. But then God can produce infinite thoughts to correct our thinking. If we understand how thought is created, then we will not equate the thought to God, and not separate it from God. We will also realize that something that looks like a thought is actually the thought-like self-persona of the thinker. Thereby, every thought is not necessarily a creation; some thoughts are also the creators.
By understanding the thinker-thinking-thought philosophy, everything can be proof of God’s existence. The Vedic argument for God’s existence is showing that the world is thought-like. Then we can talk about the value of the thought, the process of thinking and valuing, and the thinker that controls the process, such that even the thinker can also be seen just like the other thoughts were seen.
Proofs by Falsification and Verification
One of the strengths of Vedic philosophy is it that explains the origin of even that which it considers false. We have discussed a few such falsities above—(a) the material world is a dream and hence not “real” like waking, and yet, the origin of this dreaming reality is explained, (b) the impersonalist idea of the self as being a knower that knows itself in isolation without a world is rejected as an incomplete truth and yet accepted as a partial truth, (c) the voidistic idea that the knower, his power of knowing, and his will of knowing can be separated during deep sleep resulting in the experience of emptiness is accepted, and yet rejected as the ultimate truth, (d) the Christian idea that God is separate from the world is true as the distinction between a thinker and his thought but ultimately false, and (e) the thought-like world can be modeled as an object-like reality with partial successes when we define object properties in relation to other object properties rather than in relation to an observer, however, that modeling ultimately fails to explain the supposedly object-like world.
Thereby, God is proven even by the failure of falsity when the falsity leads to a self-contradiction. We can call that “proof by contradiction”. Deism, impersonalism, voidism, and materialism fail in different ways and that is proof by contradiction that their claims are false. There is a sense in which God is proven by the falsification of alternative ideas. But this is not a verification of what God is. Therefore, we can say that everything is proof of God by falsification and some things are proofs of God by verification. When God appears as disease, old age, death, and suffering, although nobody wants to be sick, old, or die and suffer, then He falsifies the idea that “I am God” because it establishes that I am not the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the world. “I am not God” is not the verification of God’s existence, but it is a falsification of a false idea of God. If one is capable of asking why I suffer, then proof by verification exists. However, we have to seek the truth after falsifying lies.
Vedic philosophy is not hard. It is just different from what people are accustomed to. There is no answer to that problem other than getting accustomed to it. Arguments don’t make people comfortable with a philosophy. Arguments are useless in that sense because those who remain uncomfortable with an argument keep trying to dismiss it in various ways or keep seeking alternatives. One is compelled to become comfortable with a philosophy after he has eliminated other philosophies. Arguments are for those people who have already dismissed alternatives and are trying to become convinced if a philosophy is rational before they get comfortable with it. Arguments are also used to discuss ideas between people who are already convinced. After all, you have to talk, so what are you going to discuss? A convinced person is not silent. He is one who talks about the same thing again and again, in numerous different ways, because there is simply nothing else left to talk about.
Thus, there is a place and role for the argument for the existence of God. It is not what most people think it is—i.e., as a tool to convince someone who isn’t otherwise interested in being convinced. It is rather to convince those who want to get convinced and those who are already convinced but want to enjoy talking about their favorite topic from various perspectives and viewpoints because there is nothing else left to talk about. This is solipsism in its most refined form—always thinking and meditating on the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa.