The notion of whether God, the True Self, can be seen and experienced has confounded humanity since time immemorial. Despite instances galore of humans who saw and experienced Him, we continue to debate and deliberate on this point which actually should have been laid to rest a long time ago. This super-sensuous experience is neither intellectual gymnastics nor philosophical regimen.
In his younger days, Naren (the former name of Swami Vivekanand) would say, "If there is a God, I must see Him". This strong urge and intense love for the divine set him on his search for a personality who could show him God. Before meeting Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa and accepting him as his spiritual guru, he met as many as fifty guides who obviously could not show him God and quench his thirst for enlightenment. Fatigued by rites, rituals, doctrines and dogmas, Naren yielded to defeat and vowed never to resume his spiritual quest. His auspicious encounter with Swami Ramakrishna, however, proved fruitful, as the sage answered in a potent affirmative tone when asked by Naren whether or not he himself had seen the Absolute. The sage responded, 'Yes, I see Him'and you can also see Him.'
There is a well known adage which says, Seeing is Believing. God realization is also no different. The first step to realization is the opening of the divine eye. Only after we have the celestial vision through the third eye does the worship of the Divine begin. Ordinary mortals became realized souls only on meditating on the divine light through the eye of spirit.
In Brahadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya tells his wife Maitreyi, "It is the soul that should be seen, heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. Verily, by the seeing of, by the hearing of, by the thinking of, by the understanding of the soul, all is known".
In Paingala Upanishad, Paingala, the pupil, approaches Yajnavalkya and questions him on meditation, the nature of release. He was told to meditate on the light form of Brahman for salvation through the divine eye (in Sanskrit it is called the Divya Chakshu), which was imparted to him. It is this metaphysical form of Supreme Brahman which is the sole basis of meditation of an initiated one. It is the light of soul on seeing which the inward journey of an aspirant starts and continuous exploration of the hinterland of pure consciousness takes him closer to ultimate union with the Supreme.
Seeing God is experiencing the divine light and meditating upon it. God, being omnipotent, can take any shape or form. Lord Krishna was all along with and beside Arjuna in human garb. Even then, Lord advised Arjuna to know Him in His elemental and metaphysical form after declaring that He is the light of lights. Thus, seeing the light form of God is the first step towards the goal of realization.
The melancholy of Arjuna did not go until he was blessed with the divine eye by the Lord, acting as preceptor to him and having him undergo the super-sensuous experience of inherent divinity. As we know, no amount of talking could take Arjuna out of despair. Theory followed by practical implementation truly affirms the eternal verity sought to be taught.
High profile philosophers and intellectuals have churned out many pieces of ready-reckoners and even voluminous treatises on ways and means to God-realization. But intellectual argumentation and philosophical regimen do not help. The goal is subtle of the subtlest. It is none other than the revelation of the sovereign secret.
Today, people state that there are many paths to God. You may follow any road your mind wishes to follow or adhere to the teachings of any guide or guru. Citing Bhagavad-Gita they lavishly speak of different paths of God realization. However, this is a fallacious argument as per our scriptures. Did Lord Krishna, Shri Rama and other sages of yore impart different sets of 'jnana' to their disciples? Lord Krishna, while imparting eternal knowledge to Arjuna, said, 'It is an ancient yoga'. In the beginning, He imparted this imperishable yoga to Vivasvan who taught it to Manu and Manu imparted it to Iksvaku. The Lord also declared that He was not stating any new doctrine but only restoring the eternal verity handed down from master to pupil.
Also, do such individuals who hold the opinion that there are many paths to God have any answer as to why Naren went on challenging and changing gurus until he was shown God by Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa? Swami Ramakrishna was his final guru. He submitted to him and piloted his life on this guru's teachings. The rest is recorded in history (as we are well aware).
We need to keep in mind that the Lord taught comprehensive spirituality through the Bhagavad-Gita and did not divide the eternal path into bhakti marga, karma yoga, and jnana marga. On initiation into eternal knowledge, one truly understands the unity inherent in these so-called different paths.
The world today needs a saint who can teach comprehensive spirituality. Alas! What we have done with such prophets and sages in the past! We spare no effort in finding fault with even enlightened souls.
I find myself to be very fortunate for having such a spiritual preceptor who has fused the three paths as delineated in the Bhagavad-Gita Today, I can say with conviction that bhakti (devotion), nishkama seva (selfless service) and jnana (spiritual knowledge) have become an indelible and ineffaceable part of my life, as they are as important to me as the air I breathe. I, therefore, urge my brothers and sisters of this world to charge after the Divine, to engage in the quest for God now. You too can experience your True Self, the God hidden within you in the form of Divine Light. As my spiritual teacher earnestly affirms, 'Religion is not the privilege of the few, but the right of all'. Self experience is possible here and now!