The Powers of God
Summary: The essay is about the powers that are commonly associated with the idea of God and invoked by a majority of people during worship.
When a million people think of the same thought, that thought will have an awesome power. That thought reigns supremely in the subtle world of consciousness. It connects all those who entertain that one thought and moves them in the same direction for which it is intended. Thoughts have power. We know it because all actions arise from thoughts only. You live and act according to the sum of your thoughts. When the same thought is entertained by many people, its power becomes exponentially multiplied.
The same holds true with the idea of God, which we entertain in our minds. When we all think alike about the same God, that thought becomes omnipotent and omniscient. It gains momentum and energy in our consciousness and guides our destinies. No one can see God with naked eyes. No one knows how he actually looks like, but one can envision God and pour life into it through devotion and faith.
The idea of God
The God we worship or the gods to whom we make rituals offerings are the ones we create in our minds with our knowledge and awareness, using our imagination and aspiration. Faith, therefore, is important to our spiritual Wellbeing. When you have faith in God, that faith drives your world. When other people join you in their thoughts and prayers envisioning the same God in their consciousness, it gains momentum and credibility.
A guru becomes a demigod or a divine person by the same process. Divinities gain or lose their importance according to the beliefs and the faith of the people who worship them. A place become sacred in a similar manner as people for several generations revere it and sanctify it with their thoughts and prayers. It is we who pour life into the images of God and into the stone from which we create his forms and install them in the temples and our homes.
The same is true with regard to numerous other thoughts, which we entertain in our minds. With our thoughts we empower ideologies, political leaders, national heroes, spiritual masters, divinities, social norms, governments, scientific innovations, cultural trends, celebrities, and even dictators and evil people. We give them the power to influence our lives and destinies and set the norms for our civilization. We give them the power to control our lives and destinies by surrendering our will to them or by becoming deluded by their promise and appeal or own ambition and desires.
Thought power and God power
We do not recognize how strongly we influence our lives and the world with our individual and collective thoughts. A thought gains momentum when it is thought by several others. It faces a lot of resistance when it is thought by one individual or by a few only. As it gains support and acceptance, it gain momentum. Each war is essentially a conflict between two equally powerful and opposing armies of thoughts. When they clash with great intensity, numerous people die in the war that breaks out. Whether it is yoga, social unrest, civil war or terrorism, they enter public awareness and gain importance when a large number of people accept them and give them power to influence their lives and destinies for the better or worse.
No one has physically seen the true form of God. They may have seen aspects of him or symbols of him but not his infinite form. Indeed, it is physically impossible also to envision the infinite form of God because that which is finite cannot envision an infinite reality. Therefore, each of us creates our own vision of God according to our faith, beliefs and knowledge. Some believe that he does not exist at all. Even that is a belief too. When millions of people think that there is no God, the idea of nonexistent God gains ground and the power of God diminishes for them and the world to that extent.
The power of faith
The power of God works for you according to your faith. If you want it to work for you, you must believe in your idea of God and intensify that power through faith so that it can gain strength and become a powerful force of change and inspiration for you. If you let that idea of God manifest in your thoughts first, he will later manifest in other aspects of your life also and become part of your journey. It is why having a pure mind and pure faith is important in spiritual life and devotional worship.
Although people differently think about God and approach him in different ways, still they entertain many identical thoughts about God across all traditions and belief systems. Their collective thoughts and aspirations combined with the sustaining power of their faith make God a powerful undercurrent in their lives and consciousness. Those thoughts have a power of their own. When you join them in the internal ritual of manifesting God in your consciousness and align your mind with that stream of collective consciousness, you richly draw from that flow and open yourself to his incredible powers, with which you can help yourself and others.
God as an incredible, universal force
In Hinduism the powers of God are symbolically represented as the numerous hands and feet of God, his aspects and manifestations, skills, strands of hair, weapons, vehicles, emanations, incarnations, qualities, perfections, names and forms, associate energies or Shaktis, and so on. We worship them individually as divinities or parts of his universal form.
These powers exists in all of us, but do not fully manifest. They manifest in you when you think of them and project them into your idea of God. If you sustain them with faith and conviction and make them an integral part of your consciousness, they gain further strength and momentum and become powerful forces of transformation and purification. The following are some such powers which a majority of people entertain in their minds as part of their faith and vision of God.
1. God as the beneficent power
The reason we pray to God is primarily because we believe him to be a generous and benevolent being, who helps those who pray to him and seek his help. Our scriptures reinforce the belief that God responds to our calls for help. It keeps alive our hopes and faith in a difficult world. Chanting God’s names or contemplating upon him has a beneficial effect upon all. Hence, it is strongly encouraged in all traditions.
2. God as the purifying power
God is the purest being. He is symbolically represented as pure light and consciousness. He is incorruptible. Even when he is surrounded by evil, he remains pure, which is the case with the Self in the mortal world. People pray to him for healing because his very thought can have a purifying and soothing effect upon their minds and bodies. God manifests in us, to the extent we are pure. Hence, devotees practice austerities to cultivate purity and manifest their divine nature.
3. God as the uniting power
When a number of people entertain the same idea of God, it unites them around a common purpose and values and helps them work in harmony for common good or a greater good. Religions have such power and influence over our lives for the same reason. They unite people under a common religious identity and inspire them to serve others. When a group of people put their mind together and pray to God, it makes them feel closer to God and feel oneness.
4. God as the uplifting power
Nothing uplifts our falling spirits more than a prayer, especially so when we are in distress or going through difficult times. People feel refreshed and energized when they pray to God or meditate on him. People who visit temples or sacred places because it gives them the feeling of assurance, hope and courage. The uplifting power of God keeps us going when our efforts fail, and we feel helpless.
5. God as the protective power
God is the greatest protector we have. As part of his Dharma, he protects the worlds and beings from evil. He also protects us from harm and danger. We live in an uncertain and dangerous world. Therefore, the idea that God is protecting us is greatly assuring to most of us. Our scriptures affirm that those who worship God and take refuge in him with devotion are forever protected.
6. God as the blessing and consecrating power
Whatever is touched by God becomes God. People seek the blessing of God so that they become infused with is power and remain free from impurities and suffering. We see the consecrating power of God not only in him but also in all those saintly people, who reflect his divine qualities and remain absorbed in his thoughts. Hence, people seek their blessings and treat them as if they are living forms of God.
7. God as the awakening and enlightening power
God is the highest awakening and enlightening power. Hence, we revere all teachers of wisdom as God only. All sacred knowledge flows from him. He dispels our doubts, delusion and ignorance, and grants us enlightenment. When you become aware of the presence of God in you, you become awakened to the idea of liberation. The inspiration to pursue it arises from God only, who is both the Concealer and Revealer.
8. God as the loving and forgiving power
God is the epitome of compassion and universal love. He loves his devotees and forgives their sins. He forgives the transgressions of even the most sinful ones if they pray to him and show repentance. The world in which we live is an impure world, where no one can escape from desire-ridden actions and their sinful consequences. We look to God because we know his forgiving and compassionate nature.
9. God as the punishing and reformative power
As the enforcer of the Divine Law (Dharma), God is also the Ultimate Judge. He punishes those who violate his laws or disrupt the order and regularity of the worlds through their selfish actions. However, his punishment is a blessing because it helps people overcome their shortcomings and achieve perfection and purity. Even his punishment is an expression of love only and is part of his eternal Dharma.
10. God as the creative and regenerative power
Creativity is a divine quality. The source of all creativity is God only. It becomes reflected in us also. All the creative, regenerative and reproductive power in the universe arises from God only. In Hinduism we personify it as the Goddess or Devi. It manifests in us to the extent God manifests his power in us. In enlightened beings it reaches its highest perfection. Hence, whatever they say becomes true.
11. God as the destructive and transformative power
Whatever that manifests in the transient world has an end. The destructive power of God manifests in creation as both positive and negative forces. Hence, in several traditions God is considered both creator and destroyer and worshipped as such. People invoke his destructive power against their enemies, misfortune and evil forces. The Upanishads personify him as the all devouring Death (kala).
12. God as the preserving and supporting power
God is the raft in the sea of suffering. He is the ultimate support of all things in creation, while he is fully independent. He is the source and support of all in creation. In the body he is the life-supporting breath (Prana). In external world he is the all-pervading universal Self. As the upholder of the Dharma he performs his duties without desires to ensure the order and regularity of the worlds and beings.
13. God as the liberator and rescuer
We look to God not only for peace and prosperity but also for the ultimate freedom. Our scriptures portray him as the goal as well as the means of liberation. He liberates beings from the cycle of births and deaths according to their merit, faith and devotion. Those who worship him with single-minded devotion and cultivate spiritual purity (sattva) attain immortality and earn the right to enter the highest heaven.
God exists in us as an idea. We pour life into it and infuse it with sacred power with our thoughts, emotions and aspirations. We may envision God according to our knowledge and wisdom. However, the God who lives in our minds and hearts is shaped mostly by our collective wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures. The idea of God becomes a transformative force if you have the strength of faith, conviction and devotion. It is this God, whom you must allow to grow in your thoughts and pervade your whole consciousness, so that at some stage, you become absorbed into it without any duality and become a living embodiment of his essential nature.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Friendship with God
- God As Your Role Model
- Seeing God Everywhere
- God and Self in Hinduism
- God and Soul, Atma and Paramatma, in Hinduism
- Why do we need God? A Lesson From the Mahabharata
- The Body as an Abode of Gods
- Worship of one God, Monotheism in Hinduism
- Meaning and Definition of Bhagavan
- Brahman According to Advaita and Dvaita in Hinduism
- What is Your Notion of God?
- What is the Color of God?
- Prajnanam brahma - Brahman is Intelligence
- Four Types of Intelligence
- Hinduism - The Role of Shakti in Creation
- Mental Liberation: Achieving True Freedom
- How to Bring Spirituality Into Your Life
- Healing Your Consciousness - Advanced Self-healing Techniques
- Self Discovery - Opening the Door to Self-realization
- The Soul and the Mind
- The Soul, The Ego and The Process of Liberation
- Your True Guru
- The Witness Self or the Observing Self
- The Higher Purpose of Your Life
- What is self?
Introduction to Hinduism
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The Chandogya Upanishad