Don't look back

The Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice tells a tale of wild love gone wrong. Orpheus, the world's greatest musician, who with his harp and his voice could "soothe the savage beast" and melt even the rocks, falls hard for the stunning Eurydice. Eurydice, alas, is bitten by a venomous snake, and dies, drifting off to the underworld. Orpheus travels there and sings songs of such rending grief that even Hades, the lord of the dead, is moved, and tells Orpheus that Eurydice will follow him back to the the land of the living on one condition: that he not look back even once.

"Where is God?" asks the mind. It can and cannot know the answer.

Hindu mythology tells of the story of a devout young prince, Prahlada, who is the son of a mighty and vicious king. The prince is pious and believes in the existence of God. The king does not, and is upset about this "God" who his son dares to think is more important than him. One day the king strikes a pillar and asks -- "Where is your God?" The pillar splits apart and out comes an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu -- Narasimha, the fearsome half-man, half-lion.


The point is that God -- by which we mean nothing other than the true Self -- is in everything, whether we see it or not. This true Self is nothing less or other than pure Being. As such, it is known only in and by the silence of the mind. The mind, like the king, wants to know where  this God is, who this God is, how it can be seen? Prove it! It's like the fish insisting it wants to see water. In fact it sees it everywhere; it simply cannot recognize it because there is nothing against which to contrast it.

Funnily enough, the parable of Prahlada expresses the paradox of this. God can be seen -- but perhaps not in the form that you want! The God that can be seen -- the sacred beast -- is good to his devotees and harsh to his enemies. That God is, for all its fierceness, limited to a particular manifestation.

The God that is not seen with the eyes of the mind is the god that is pure peace and satisfaction, that is beyond limits. It is known when the mind is still, and is pure fullness, pure emptiness.

To know this God, as Prahlada did even before Narasimha appeared, the mind must humble itself, must quiet itself. It is that very quiet, in which the mind humbly closes its eyes and relaxes, that is the presence of God or the Self. It is known not through the mind's instruments but directly, in and through itself its own light.