Does God Have A Form?

Arthur Osborne

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Awakin Feature"Has God a form?" a man once challenged Ramana Maharshi, the great Indian sage.

"Who says God has a form?" Ramana retorted. The questioner persisted, "If God is formless is it not wrong to ascribe to Him the form of an idol and worship Him in it?"

He had understood the retort to mean, "Nobody says God has a form." But it meant exactly what it said and was now amplified, "Let God alone; tell me first whether *you* have a form."

"Of course I have a form, as you can see, but I am not God." "Are you then the physical body made of flesh and bones and blood and nicely dressed?"

"Yes, that must be so; I am aware of my existence in this bodily form."

"You call yourself that body because now you are aware of your body, but are you that body? Can it be yourself in deep sleep when you are quite unaware of its existence?"

"Yes, I must have remained in the same bodily form even in deep sleep because I am aware of it until I fall asleep, and as soon as I wake I see that I am just as I was when I went to sleep."

"And when death occurs?" The questioner stopped and thought a minute, "Well, then I am considered dead and the body is buried."

"But you said your body is yourself. When it is being taken away to be buried why doesn't it protest and say: `No! no! don't take me away! This property I have acquired, these clothes I am wearing, these children I have begotten, they are all mine, I must remain with them'!"

The visitor then confessed that he had wrongly identified himself with the body and said, "I am the life in the body, not the body in itself."

Then Ramana explained to him: "Till now you seriously considered yourself to be the body and to have a form. That is the primal ignorance which is the root cause of all trouble. Until that ignorance is got rid of, until you know your formless nature, it is mere pedantry to argue about God and whether He has a form or is formless or whether it is right to worship God in the form of an idol when He is really formless. Until one sees the formless Self one cannot truly worship the formless God."

Excerpt from "Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self Knowledge".

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to yourself as life in the body and not the body itself? Can you share an experience of a time you became aware of your formless nature? What helps you avoid pedantry and stay rooted in finding your own nature?

Add Your Reflection:

8 Previous Reflections:

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    On Aug 21, 2019 Rajul Shah wrote:
    The one that knows what all senses are feeling and the one that knows, 'I am that' in everchanging body form from childhood to old age, is the formless nature I can most relate to. It does not matter what name we give it, it must be separate from senses and the body as it can experiences changes in the former, that fact proves it must be distinct from it. The self-enquiry or who am I that Ramana Maharishi talked about is what helps me stay rooted in it.It is that "I thought" and the enquiry ' Who am I?'

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    On Aug 20, 2019 Jodyne wrote:
    I’ve been taught, and I believe that humans were originally created in the form of God, ..meaning that God designed the human form in ‘His’ own image. I’ve learned that we have both a visible and an invisible self, a physical and a spiritual aspect; as well as an emotional and a mental self/aspect.

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    On Aug 20, 2019 Rajesh wrote:
    For me, the key statement here is "I am the life in the body, not the body in itself.". That captures the misunderstanding I find myself in, moment to moment.

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    On Aug 20, 2019 Jay Bender wrote:
    When I was in my early times there were times when I was in the shower when I would have the sensation that I was more than my body and more than my personality.

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    On Aug 20, 2019 anand Damani wrote:
    God or energy or whatever you want to call it is nothing without matter. In reality there is coexistence.
    Matter and the all omnipotent energy coexist and that is reality.
    Once this basic premise is understood then there is no mystery and everything falls in place in the whole universe.
    The virtual or the life atom or the soul is energized by being in this energy and understanding is the resolution for the same.Knowing reality as it is in existence clears it of all doubts and the coexistence of the life atom with the physical body is the way to achieve that blissful state.
    I have understood reality and humble can answer any question anyone can have about anything scientific, philosophy or imaginative.
    Would love to hear from anyone and answer them in all humility and wait for this illuminated state of being experienced by them :)

    Ananddamani.com

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    On Aug 17, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    My belief is that my essential life, that is, my soul, is formless. My formless soul incarnates, that is, takes on form, called my body, for a period of time. As a child I learned that I have a soul. Slowly but surely, especially over the last 20 years, I've learned through reading, discussion, and reflection that the soul has me, incarnates as me, and when this experience in form, called my body, ends, formless me or the soul goes on. I believe my soul, which isn't really mine, is an expression of God, and like God the soul is eternal, always was and always will be. I don't experience what I am saying as pedantry -- it is what makes sense to me, it's the basis of my theology, theology is important, and I stay rooted in it through ongoing discussion, reading, study, and reflection.

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    On Aug 16, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Who am I is question that arises in mind especially whendisturbing sensations, thoughts and feelings go through my body and mind and when I get stuck with them, when the stream of my energy gets blocked by such recurring sensations thoughts and feelings. When I pay compassionate attention to what is happening in me, the question comes to my mind what is, who is suffering? At that time I realize that I have the body and I have the mind but I am not the body and I am not the mind. When I do not identify myself with the body and mind, the forms, I realize that that I is formless.It is the flow of life with no forms. It dawns upon me that I am not this or that but beyond these forms. And that is I and I is that. Many years ago when my wife and I went to RamanMaharshiArunachala Ashram in India, we sat quietly in the hall where RamanMaharshiwas meditating. Sitting doing nothing we felt the Presence of him. We sat there for an hour and felt our formless nature, our true nature going beyond na... [View Full Comment] Who am I is question that arises in mind especially whendisturbing sensations, thoughts and feelings go through my body and mind and when I get stuck with them, when the stream of my energy gets blocked by such recurring sensations thoughts and feelings. When I pay compassionate attention to what is happening in me, the question comes to my mind what is, who is suffering? At that time I realize that I have the body and I have the mind but I am not the body and I am not the mind. When I do not identify myself with the body and mind, the forms, I realize that that I is formless.It is the flow of life with no forms. It dawns upon me that I am not this or that but beyond these forms. And that is I and I is that.
    Many years ago when my wife and I went to RamanMaharshiArunachala Ashram in India, we sat quietly in the hall where RamanMaharshiwas meditating. Sitting doing nothing we felt the Presence of him. We sat there for an hour and felt our formless nature, our true nature going beyond names, shapes and forms. This experience reminds me of the Zen poem:
    Sitting by the river, doing nothing,
    Spring comes, the grass grows by itself.
    The experience I had in the Ashram many years ago has opened my inner door to realize who I am. Such knowing comes from giving myself time to me to listen to my soundless sound, to realize the "great truth has great silence." Reading books and acquiring information does not help me to know my nature, who am I. What helps me to be rooted in my nature is letting my mind be still to be connected with my nature, my true self.
    May we keep our inner door open to see the Self dwelling in us.
    Jagdish P Dave
    Namaste!
    [Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply

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