Are We One or Many?


Can one know the truth about nature, about oneself . I am confused by the idea that I am (like every living and non living thing) a part of some energy; If that is so, then the answer is already there and I should get along with my daily activities and aspire, like everyone else to achieve the usual goals. But I can’t. There is something that tells me that this is not all. So, what is it that is truth? Does it make sense to pursue it or should I accept that I can only know little in my life?

—Nithish, India


Dear Nithish,

In this world of opposites (duality—”dwaita”), paradox and dichotomy reign supreme. Reality in this realm of causation is BOTH-AND. It is holographic: meaning the whole is contained in every part. Or, as Paramhansa Yogananda expressed it, “Divine vision is center everywhere, circumference nowhere.”

Yet our ability, when we see ourselves as apart or separate from others or other objects, is necessarily circumscribed by time, place, by past actions and tendencies, and by the innumerable filters that we’ve constructed through external influences we’ve accepted.

Thus the need for a guru: one whose vision is clear and whose counsel is true. The electromagnetic force which holds our human body intact for decades (indeed, lifetimes) is but the outward display of the power of the soul’s commitment to ego and to our identity as separate from all others. The ego itself cannot break this force without the addition of an outside force: grace. The nature of ego is, itself a commitment to its separate reality even when it aspires towards Self-transcendence. Because we are part of a great and total reality (called God; Infinity; Truth; etc.). there exists a magnetic pull towards Self-realization both from without and within our Being.

But we choose our influences: this is the scope of our free will. Both maya (separateness) and God (Oneness) exist and exercise influence to the degree we choose their influence. But we must choose, and, having chosen, cooperate with that influence: “Thou shalt love the Lord Thy God with all thy mind, heart, soul, and strength.”

Because our soul is encased in the highly developed form of the human body, ultimately God descends into human form to free us. This is the intention of God’s creation: that the creatures of the creation evolve and consciously choose to recognize the Creator within and without: thus fulfilling the law of love, through which love is returned for love by free choice.

So, my friend, we are both limited and unlimited. We must, day by day, patiently, calmly expecting the best, make the choice of “God first; God alone.” In God, who is Infinite, there is no time or space and we, too, mustn’t let our minds be bound by either. “When will I know God” is not the right question, for the Infinite Power is as much with you now as since the beginning of Time. You need only improve your knowing. Leave enlightenment and moksha to God.

Joy and blessings to you on your journey to Self-realization!
Nayaswami Hriman