Conversations with Paramatma
By Abhaya Mudra Dasi
The Supreme Personality of Godhead sits in everyone’s heart in the form of Paramatma. Not only is He the foundation of all mystic powers for the advanced yogis but He is the source of remembrance and forgetfulness for all living entities. Paramatma accepts different forms according to the level of advancement and taste of every individual soul. He is accessible to everyone.
Theoretically, every devotee from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition knows that there are three levels of realization of the absolute truth: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. At the level of Brahman realization, one perceives eternal time in the form of the unstoppable present as past and future seize to exist. On this platform of sayujya one identifies with the present moment and he enjoys his eternal self. Time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entity merge. It is difficult to break out of this state of absolute inactivity. The living entities who have become one with the spiritual light emanating from the body of Shri Krishna may remain locked in the perception of sat forever.
A true devotee of Shri Krishna has no desire to merge with the impersonal Brahmajyoti. Because the flavor of interpersonal association is not present in sayujya liberation, it is rejected by the personalists. Nonetheless, attainment of the sat potency is available to the devotees. This platform provides the foundation of gradational spiritual understanding. The fact that we are eternal spirit souls is the essence of Krishna Consciousness. In a broader sense, the potencies of sat, chit and ananda are responsible for the classification of devotees on three different levels. Realization of sat produces the kanishta adhikari, chit the madhyam adhikari and ananda the uttama adhikari. A devotee should at least strive for the realization of the madhyam adhikari platform provided by the chit potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But what is the secret of elevation to the next level of spiritual understanding?
Every living entity is accustomed to taking instructions from Paramatma. Even the grass doesn’t move unless it is directed by Shri Krishna. In the material world the living entity through his degraded mentality tries to exploit even the Supreme Lord. The soul lost to samsara is not grateful for the intelligence given by the Lord, and even claims it as his own. But the Supreme Lord has a totally different reason as to why He is sitting next to the living entity as the Witness of all activities. Shri Krishna is merciful and makes sure that all His parts and parcels are well provided for. Yet, in the form of Paramatma, Shri Krishna is impartial. He gives advice to everyone and facilitates all desires. He directs the demigods, the kings, the miscreant, and the animals in their search for food. Sitting quietly and unnoticed in the heart, Paramatma mimics the character of every living entity. His ultimate goal is to see each soul disgusted with the material world and propel them back to the spiritual kingdom.
Shri Krishna in the form of Paramatma is closer to us than any other living entity can ever be. He is so close that many take Him as a projection of their own self. Often we hear that people say they have two voices in their heads, of which one is always more reasonable than the other. The conscience and the ability to judge right and wrong comes from Paramatma. Even the murderer senses karma because of Paramatma in the heart. Although his twisted mind leads him to his sinful act, eventually he will suffer his dues. As the all-seeing witness, Paramatma ultimately stands in reminiscence of each wrongful deed. It is He Who directs and maintains this temporary world.
On the level of Paramatma realization, the devotee knows that the answers to all his questions come directly from the intelligence provided by Shri Krishna. Such a devotee knows that he can communicate without obstruction with the Lord in the heart. For this reason the realization of Paramatma defines chit, or knowledge. Mundane knowledge is mastered by going to universities. It takes a long time to come to a certain level of professorship. The knowledge itself is carefully monitored from generation to generation making sure it defines the requirement of the mundane mind. But the knowledge we receive from Paramatma is readily available. We can become all-knowing with the permission of the Supreme Lord, and become like Him in many ways. This level provides all the different muktis which grant the varieties of similarity with Lord Narayan: salokya, samipya and sarupya.
Still in the material world, even for a devotee, it is difficult to personally connect with Shri Krishna face to face. The merciful aspect of the Supreme Lord Paramatma can lead us to the ultimate spiritual designation where all our heartfelt desires can be fulfilled by personal service to Shri Shri Radha Krishna. In this way Paramatma in the heart is a manifestation of Lord Nityananda, or the eternal spiritual master. All it takes from our part is ask for His directions. It is easy to talk to Paramatma. We have been doing it since time immemorial with requests directed at our own material gratification. But when a true seeker turns his attention to the Lord, with intention of personal conversing, his questions turn into prayer. Addressing the Lord personally gives the devotee direct answers. Perfect awareness becomes available at all times. Ultimately, chit, or knowledge, is revelation about the nature of the Supreme Lord. The way a devotee receives enlightenment is by asking. The All-knowing Supreme Lord as Paramatma is eager to provide the answers.
Materialists are greedy for such readily-available knowledge. They want to be able to see in the past and the future and have answers to all of their problems immediately. Their flaw is that they want to pretend that they are the source of knowledge and steal the glory of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Such people will never have all the answers because they do not know that the source of all intelligence is a Person. On the other hand, the devotee is not interested in mundane knowledge and even when such knowledge is available to him via the media of Paramatma, his only question remains, “How I may serve You Krishna?”
It is easy to approach Shri Krishna through His expansion as Paramatma, by speaking to Him inquisitively. Conversations with the Lord require submission, and our realization that as tiny souls we are not all-knowing. But we can only ask and receive answers on this level of mixed personal and impersonal relationship with the Lord. The Paramatma level is the stage which will test the seekers who are ready to move up to a personal relationship with the Supreme Lord. It is only on the next platform of Bhagavan realization that ultimate bliss prevails. Then questions and answers can be exchanged with Shri Krishna in a variety of ways.
Paramatma will test our patience but will never fail to provide us with the right instructions. Ultimately the conversation about our submission to Shri Krishna is very personal. Every Paramatma has His own form according to the person He is guiding. Summarized from CC Adi 5.41 Paramatma may appear as Vasudeva for the devotees since he is the predominating deity of the heart, as Sankarshana for the sarpas and demons, as Pradyumna for the demigods and common men, and as Aniruddha for the Manus and demigods who supervise dharma. As referred to in the Bhaktivedanta Purport of SB 3.28.12, the variations of chaturvyuha forms are as unlimited as the unlimited number of all living entities.
Shri Krishna is the Ultimate person. His effulgence and His localized form ultimately bear His personality. That personality of the Supreme Lord is visible only to His devotees. Talking and praying to Paramatma is a real conversation. We can request His guidance in all activities: how to open a door, how to walk, how to breathe. He can personally direct all details in a perfect manner. And as much as this conversation may seem ordinary because we can start by asking simple question, it is extraordinary because it makes us recognize Shri Krishna once again. He is so close to us, our perfect twin, full of ultimate knowledge and bliss. He is so close that He has been taken by many for granted, mistaken for their other self. He is ultimately The Lord, He unto Who all souls wish to return. His patience is unlimited and He has been waiting for each one of us since time immemorial. He is so near yet so far away. He, as Paramatma is our way back to Godhead.
A devotee who has realized Paramatma will perceive that besides his individual soul there is nobody else but the Lord. This shows quite an advancement from the sat level wherein the seeker does not see anything but himself. On the Paramatma level, all knowledge comes from Vasudeva. As Maha Vishnu He is the ultimate deity of the material world which is a field of asking and receiving knowledge. And here, even when we talk to others we are censored by the via media of Paramatma and ultimately will hear only the things which the Lord wants us to receive. Even when someone expresses a complete thought, another will hear it according to his level of realization. Although so perfectly directed to our personality, the chit level leaves us with a dose of emptiness and longing for variety. It expands the desire of the true devotee to ultimately return to Goloka Vrindavana where personal exchanges with the Lord and His servants are in perfect unison.
The yogi may receive all mystic powers from Paramatma just by asking for them, but the devotee of the Supreme Form of the Lord will ask Paramatma only for His ultimate favor—personal association. In this age this is easily achieved through the chanting of:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Praying to the Lord of the heart to facilitate this chanting will make us all perfect for the ultimate meeting with Shri Krishna in loving devotional service.