Is Brahman God?

A question came came up in correspondence I’d not thought much about – Is Brahman God?

It’s an interesting consideration. We might simply say yes, in the impersonal sense of God.
After all, in God Realization when we merge with the divine, we transcend Atman and become Brahman.

But to say Brahman is God is a bit of a generalization.

To explain, the Vedas describe Brahman in several ways. There is ParamBrahm, the one non-dual totality. But this is total unmanifest nothingness. Myself, I don’t equate that with God although it’s not distinct from God.

Within that boundless nothing are 2 aspects. Not really qualities but in that direction: alertness and liveliness.

Nirguna Brahm is Totality without qualities and unmanifest.
Saguna Brahm is Totality that is “becoming”. That liveliness stirs the alertness to become aware. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi described the mechanism as memory (Smriti). That remembers itself, stirring it into qualities.

At this point, there is nothing expressed but the qualities of awareness and intelligence are alive. This is what I associate with God, the formless impersonal. Shiva as observer. God the Father.

I wouldn’t say Nirguna Brahm is more or less than Saguna or even that there is any real difference. But for me, divinity is inherently awake to itself.

It’s possible my opinion on this will change over time but at this point, to me God is alive Brahman.
Davidya

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20 Responses to Is Brahman God?

  1. Davidya says:

    This reminded me of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s infamous tape 8 in the 70’s SCI course. In it he said “Existence becomes conscious then intelligence becomes intelligent.”

    This is about the mechanics of consciousness and becoming, a little further along. But it points to the same principle I mention in the article.

  2. Terry Ferguson says:

    Hi, David, I remember being confused about the line “When Existence becomes conscious, then Intelligence becomes intelligent” back in 1972! I later realized that some punctuation made all the difference, as I show it above. Pure Existence is the unmanifest God or Nirguna Brahman. When IT starts to stir then its Pure Intelligence aspect becomes intelligent as created beings observing and participating in the Creation. We “individuals” eventually awaken in stages to realize our inherent Oneness with All that Is. In my current studies Master Sha talks of the Normal and Reverse Creation process where Tao (All that Is) becomes One (in his parlance the Hundun or blurred condition); One becomes Two (yin/yang dualities, Heaven and Earth); two becomes three (Hundun plus Heaven and Earth); Three becomes All Things (Wan Wu). Then it begins the Reverse Creation and All things return to Three, Two, One, and finally back to Tao. Kashmir Shaivism also details this return journey beautifully but that should be a discussion over lunch some day!

  3. Davidya says:

    Hi Terry
    Agreed- thanks for sharing your thoughts. Elsewhere here, I talk of how the 3 becomes the 7 becomes the 12 becomes the many. But yeah – just depends on many colours you want to count in the rainbow. 😉

  4. Jake says:

    Hey David — So if you equate God with Saguna Brahman then what is the difference between God and Atman/consciousness? You said is Saguna “the aliveness stirs the alertness to become aware” isn’t that the same as consciousness?
    Thanks.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Jake
      .
      Well – you have to place this in context and note the closing sentence. In God Consciousness, God is experienced in a personal and/or impersonal form. God is pure Being, the essence of existence. But God can also be experienced as an object of Divine qualities.
      .
      In God Realization, we unite with God. In this case, this meant Atman was now fully awake to itself and came to look beyond itself, so to speak. This led to Brahman stage.
      .
      Since this article was written, the ParaBrahman stage, also called pure Divinity, has unfolded so the article is no longer the perspective. I don’t really use “God” for that as that word implies something distinct. Whereas for ParaBrahman, that is the only reality.
      .
      To your question, we could say within Brahman is unexpressed qualities of alertness, liveliness and intelligence. Liveliness stirs alertness and it becomes aware. Brahman is conscious of itself.
      .
      However consciousness is when it is further stirred and becomes self-referencing. You have the aspects of observer, observed and process of observation. Without that, consciousness is not awake to itself. In this sense, consciousness is a side-effect of Divinity.
      .
      What I learned later is those qualities don’t “come from” Brahman, they comes from ParaBrahman.
      .
      All experiences and the world arise in the dynamics of consciousness. Thus it can be said to be the source. But those qualities are necessary for that to unfold so we can say ParaBrahman is the source of the source.
      .
      These differences may seem like obscure abstractions but when they are lived, it’s like the difference between waking, dreaming, and sleep.
      .
      Also note that for someone in Self Realization or Unity, consciousness is infinite and eternal. It has no “source” or beginning. Talk of such may seem nonsensical. But as Math tells us, there are infinities within infinities. 🙂

  5. Jake says:

    Hey David

    .
    First I just want to express my gratitude for how helpful you always are. Thank you.

    .
    If God can be described as Shiva/Father or the observer quality couldn’t you say we also wake up to that in Self Realization when the observer/witness is always present?

    .
    You said “Liveliness stirs alertness and it becomes aware. Brahman is conscious of itself.” When this liveliness stirs alertness before it becomes consciousness is this what you are referring to as God in God Realization? Because isn’t Brahman still prior to this? My understanding is that Pure Nothingness or Brahman is not conscious of Itself. Or it’s Pure Awareness that is not self-aware and does not have any qualities.

    .
    And regarding your last paragraph. So in the Atman stages when it seems like consciousness is all there is what can you say about Jesus referring to God as the “Father?” If he was still in the Atman stages and didn’t unite with God, instead kept a separate relationship with him, would you say he was referring to God the Father as God being Atman/consciousness? Or could’ve he been referring to God the Father as the Shiva side/the Godhead? But if he was still in the Atman stages how would’ve he realized the Father or Shiva side of it if that is beyond Atman?

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Jake
      In Self Realization we can say Shiva or the observer aspect wakes up to itself through this form. But this is waking up to Self as consciousness. It’s not waking up to Shiva in form or in a Mahadeva state. Nor to Shiva’s experience of the Divine. Those can come later.
      .
      Remember that this is Shiva in respect to consciousness. First, we wake up to the Shiva aspect, then later to the Brahma (created) in Unity, then to Vishnu (process) in Refined Unity.
      .
      No. I use the word Realization as equivalent to become or realize oneself as. God Realization is when we realize we are one with an expressed value or aspect of God. It is the climax of God Consciousness and the unification process of Unity.
      .
      Yes, Brahman is prior to this. And pure Divinity beyond that. God Realization is God relative to consciousness. We’ve not actually come to pure Divinity yet. The language of the stages in consciousness falls short for what is beyond it.
      .
      Brahman is not initially conscious of itself. But in time, Brahman comes to know Brahman. It can be said to be conscious of itself but this is prior to the dynamics of consciousness. Subtle but big distinction.
      .
      Awareness is alive alertness. Alertness by itself is simply alert. It is not alert to anything because there is no-thing. Aliveness stirs alertness but it also stirs somethingness.
      .
      These are profoundly abstract points that can’t really be followed by the mind. The point of talking about it is for people for whom this is unfolding.
      .
      Jesus said “I and my Father are one.” Some people do relate to the Divine more as masculine. This seems to be favouring the Shiva side. Some relate to the Divine as feminine. This may be in the dynamics of consciousness or beyond – Mother Divine vs Divine Mother as Lorne would say. There is a wide range of emphasis. There is no superior view here. Rather each of us are here to bring a unique flavour home.
      .
      The feminine side of the Jesus story has largely been edited out, although I have heard they’ve officially acknowledged Mary Magdalene wasn’t a prostitute but a disciple after all.
      .
      When records of past figures have been translated without a fundamental understanding of the stages, it’s often difficult to determine what stage someone reached. But sometimes theres enough detail that it shines through.
      .
      Jesus is a powerful figure and a significant harbinger of a new age in any case, an age that is now coming to a close.

      • G says:

        Thank you for this comment David. A lot of it was far too abstract for me to follow but it triggered a powerful release of laughter that lasted more than 30 minutes. I needed to lie down on my sofa afterwards as it was quite intense 🙂
        .
        I’ve had similar but shorter and less intense experiences listening to Lorn recently. My neighbours probably think I’m watching some stand up comedy haha
        .
        Thank you for everything that you share 🙂

      • Jake says:

        Hey David — thanks that helps.

        .
        So when we merge with God in God Realization are we aware that we are moving beyond consciousness and giving up some of the “good” things that came with it, or does it not occur to us until it actually happens? Also, I would imagine that merging with God could come with some more ego dissolution and be a painful process?

        .
        You said “Awareness is alive alertness. Alertness by itself is simply alert. It is not alert to anything because there is no-thing. Aliveness stirs alertness but it also stirs somethingness.” So the alive alertness can be seen as God the Father or the Shiva value beyond consciousness and alertness by itself is Brahman or pure no-thingness? And Brahman by itself is not conscious of itself correct?

        .
        And as far as “the source” changing as we move along the path, couldn’t we come to experience like 4 different sources? Lol. First Atman/consciousness (is this also what you refer to as Mother Divine?), then the Shiva value or God the Father in God Realization, then Brahman and finally ParaBrahman. Would it make sense for someone to see each of these as the source as they move through the stages?

        • Davidya says:

          Hi Jake
          When major shifts happen, we don’t know what it is. It is only with a bit of time that we get a sense of it and still more time to digest it enough that words come.
          .
          Descriptions like the above happen after much reflection, discussions with others, and so forth. Sometimes they arise in answer to questions as it was an aspect never considered.
          .
          There can be a sense of loss or release in a process. Sometimes, that can be uncomfortable but this is in the context of being unattached. In many ways it is simply another passing experience. Having the bigger picture, there is also some confidence any sense of loss is temporary.
          .
          There is some variation in when God Realization happens because its the climax of God Consciousness. For example, I know someone in Brahman who has only recently started the GC process. Obviously, GR wasn’t the doorway for them.
          .
          In the case here, GR did lead to Brahman and the end of the prior enlightenment. This was a surprise as I was once taught Brahman was the climax of Unity, not a loss of it. However, i knew this was temporary and awaited it’s unfolding. By that time, I’d gotten very used to a progressive series of new vistas…
          .
          I’d describe alive alertness as pre-Shiva. Shiva really arises with the dynamics of self-aware consciousness.
          Alertness etc are qualities of the Divine leaking into Brahman, they’re not Brahman per se. Brahman knows itself alone. From a perspective of Brahman, there is only Brahman. And yet Brahman is totally inclusive of everything, including all prior stages. It merges all prior paradoxes.
          .
          Oh sure. At one point, i viewed the ocean of the causal as the source of the world as the world arises from there. In fact, many consider this the ultimate truth. Many systems start there, including Gayatri, the koshas, and the lokas.
          .
          And then i was shown creation beyond that. Then the dynamics of consciousness, Then the cosmic body. then Brahman, etc. i continue to write articles about how it’s all nested.
          .
          Atman is the Self. When people are expressing oneness, they may say God is the Self and Atman is Brahman but this doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. Rather they’re recognized as one. Like apples and oranges are both fruit but not the same thing.
          .
          God can be know as the highest expression of creation. But what that form is will vary by person. For some it will be Shiva or similar father figure. For others, a feminine deity like Mother Divine. Shiva is not above MD, it is just a different form or aspect of the Divine that we relate with best. You can search Personal God here for more on this.
          .
          This is a profound relationship that cannot be underestimated. The loss of this is the primary cause of suffering. And yet it pales in comparison to pure Divinity, just as waking state pales in comparison to pure infinite consciousness.
          .
          Yes, you do see each of them as the source as you move through the stages. 7 stages, 7 realities. And they all have sub-stages. This is the basic principle of knowledge is different in different stages. It’s useful to be aware that a given sense of source / reality / whatever may not be the highest just yet. But it’s best to go with what is real for you now and live it fully. That’s how the process evolves. Consciousness comes to know itself fully – then it can look beyond itself, for example.
          .
          But again, don’t try to figure it all out with the mind. The mind likes to have “the right answer” but there is no one right answer. There is a progressive series that will be somewhat unique to you. If you think you have it figured out, that will become a barrier for further unfolding.
          .
          A mind that thinks it knows what enlightenment is is the biggest barrier to enlightenment. Just consider Yoga:
          https://davidya.ca/2014/05/14/true-yoga/
          🙂

  6. Jake says:

    Hey David

    .
    Yeah sometimes my mind likes to try to figure all of this out and I know the whole point of this is to stop satisfying the mind and go beyond it. Go figure! Just a couple more questions though regarding your last comment. Lol.

    .
    About your friend, how can you be in the Brahman stage which is beyond consciousness and also in GC which is in consciousness? And for someone who experiences Unity at the crown where do you think the unfolding of GR and Brahman would take place?

    .
    You said “I’d describe alive alertness as pre-Shiva. Shiva really arises with the dynamics of self-aware consciousness.
    Alertness etc are qualities of the Divine leaking into Brahman, they’re not Brahman per se. Brahman knows itself alone.” In God Realization aren’t we moving beyond consciousness, so wouldn’t God the Father/Shiva be the alive alertness or the awareness? What then is prior to consciousness that we realize in GR?
    .
    And are we talking about the same Brahman, lol, all of the people that I’ve heard talk about Brahman (Pure Nothingness) that touch on this topic specifically say that it is not self-aware. And when you say alertness etc are qualities of the Divine leaking into Brahman, is the Divine you’re referring to here Parabrahaman?

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Jake
      The nature of Brahman consciousness is living Brahman in a body that is conscious. We’re still “in consciousness” but no longer see it as “who I am.” The body-mind is seen as an effect and a means of being in the apparent world, of living it. (and variations thereof)(I have an upcoming article that mentions the ignorance needs to live Brahman in a human body)
      .
      The God Consciousness process is somewhat distinct from the stages in consciousness. Some go right on by and some start it well before awakening. Thus it can arise later in the process. Of course, the framing and unfolding will be different but the refinement and heart opening will be part of the picture.
      .
      They’re not going to have a GR unless there’s been some refinement and heart opening. No God, no realization.
      .
      Where someone associates a stage in the body or energy system is variable. It depends somewhat on whats taking place. Someone may awaken with a massive release in the root, for example. That wasn’t the cause of the awakening but rather a symptom of purification that was a barrier to it. Or the opening facilitated a release there.
      .
      Broadly, there is a head, heart, gut mahamarma relationship with the stages but there is a ton of variation around this as its a related effect, not causal. There has to be enough refinement to notice this relationship too.
      .
      For the example you give, we’d need a larger picture but even then, each unfolding is its own thing.
      .
      Big questions. God Realization can be the climax of the Refined Unity stage. At essence, it is a uniting with an expressed aspect of Divinity. What that looks like varies very widely. If this arises, it may be the completion of the Unity stage. It’s the completion that can lead to the next stage. But Refinement is a distinct process from the relationship with consciousness so it’s not causal.
      .
      There is also a Refined Brahman stage but little can be said about it. How do you refine nothing? It is a refinement of Brahman knowing Brahman.
      .
      Alive alertness is a blend of Divine qualities that are yet to express. As a result, there is nothing named, no sense of self that manifests as a being. That takes one more stage so self-awareness arises. Then the sense of I am can arise along with a sense of being. Self-knowing can express as distinctions like Shiva. There is no Shiva if the observer isn’t aware it is observing. There can be a memory of Shiva that guides the expression (as when Shiva sleeps) but again, the memory has to be awake or there is no expression.
      .
      Some do equate Brahman (meaning The Great) with the silence of samadhi or with the emptiness of a flat Self-Realization. This is not wrong but it’s not Brahman in itself. That’s what arises when we go beyond consciousness, just as pure consciousness arises if we go beyond the mind.
      .
      And yes, to the experience here now, the only real Divine is pure Divinity or ParaBrahman.

  7. Jake says:

    Hey David
    .
    Thanks for the detailed response. Maybe you already answered it but when we go beyond consciousness into God Realization are we moving into the alive alertness/pure awareness that is conscious of itself and exists in relation to consciousness? And then prior to that is Brahman where the alertness is completely at rest and is not self-aware? And could you say God/Godhead is Brahman with qualities and then just Brahman by itself is without qualities?

    • Davidya says:

      To be clear, God Realization is not beyond consciousness. It is a climax of the refinement process, typcially in Unity. It can set the stage for going beyond but thats distinct and may not include GR.
      .
      The qualities of alertness, etc in Brahman become apparent in Refined Brahman, later on. Alive alertness is not the same as pure awareness as i noted above. When it becomes conscious of itself, we’re talking the field of consciousness. Brahman aware of itself is prior to this.
      .
      But yes, there is alertness in Brahman that is not self-aware.
      .
      Some do define Brahman like this: saguna and nirguna Brahm. (with and without qualities) We might call this a Brahman perspective. But I don’t relate to it that way now.

      • Jake says:

        Hey David
        .
        A few comments ago you said “within Brahman is unexpressed qualities of alertness, liveliness and intelligence. Liveliness stirs alertness and it becomes aware. Brahman is conscious of itself.” So what is the difference between pure awareness and self-aware Brahman. And in another comment you said “awareness is alive alertness” did you mean to say awareness is when livliness stirs alertness?
        .
        So do I have this right: Atman/consciousness is when livliness and alertness are stirred and then prior to that is pure awareness/God/Shiva where the livliness and alertness are stirred but not as much as in consciousness? And prior to that is alive alertness that is not stirred but it is still Brahman that is conscious of itself and then alertness by itself is Brahman that is not self-aware? Or what’s the difference between Atman, God, self-aware Brahman and Brahman that is not self-aware?

        • Davidya says:

          I use consciousness and awareness as roughly equivalent, perhaps using awareness to be of universal nature.
          .
          Pure awareness sits on the level of the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness. When there is only that it is pure.
          .
          Awareness comes from the interaction of alertness and liveliness, with a dose of intelligence thrown in. (liveliness doesn’t just agitate alertness)
          https://davidya.ca/2018/10/19/inherent-intelligence/
          .
          “awareness is when liveliness stirs alertness?” yes.
          In the next paragraph liveliness does the stirring.
          .
          Pure awareness & expressed God including Shiva are from the dynamics of consciousness.
          .
          Brahman rests beyond all these. Words are tricky but I would not say Brahman is “self-aware” but is conscious of itself. This is more subtle than awareness a/a.
          .
          OK – we’re going in circles on this one. The distinctions will become clear when the experience arises. Having a general understanding is useful but trying to figure it all out in advance is not. Concepts never meet reality.
          .
          ParaBrahman/ Pure Divinity
          Brahman/ no-thing
          Consciousness/ Awareness/ Atman/ expressed Divine
          Creation
          Universe
          Everything else is just details. 🙂

  8. Jake says:

    Alright thanks for clearing that up.

    .
    So would you say perceiving consciousness is basically seeing Divinity through the lens of the body-mind? Like does consciousness actually exist or is it just the result of seeing the Divine through the body-mind and giving the appearance of consciousness? If the process is basically refining our perception more and more and our body-mind is what is being refined than isn’t consciousness just a result of a “foggy lens” of the body-mind and hence, is not real?

    .
    Yes, we, or at least I am going in circles. Going in circles like self-aware consciousness! Lol.

    .
    Yeah I’m definitely trying to conceptualize it too much. I haven’t even had the self-realization shift yet, I’m still new to the path. I feel like I’m so far away from realizing all of these truths and I just want to know everything right away haha. That determination to know helps fuel my practice, but it can also hinder it if it gets me to into my head. I’m trying to work on being ok with not knowing. I’ve always been curious about things, but as of more recent my curiosity has been on overdrive. But yeah, thanks for cutting it off here lol.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Jake
      Everything arises from the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness. This can be perceived directly but by consciousness, not by the body-mind – it can only perceive on its level.
      .
      The sense of existing itself comes from self-awareness aka the dynamics of consciousness. The sense of I am comes from awareness that you are.
      .
      Refinement of the mechanism – not just body and mind but all the koshas – brings us perception on those levels. If we’re visually inclined, then we come to see the insides of the body, the mind, and the stuff I’ve been describing.
      .
      Having a sense of it does help the mind let go. But it also needs to understand it can’t know what is outside of experience. The unfolding does take times but the effort is worth it.

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