Six Basic Words of Religion by Swami Premananda

By Swami Premananda

A definition is the expounding of the most comprehensive concept regarding a truth with a minimum of precise words. A definition is the proof of perfect knowledge. Until we can define the truths of our beliefs, our knowledge about them is superficial, vague and incomplete. We must know exactly what we believe in. We must possess the clearest concept of the fundamental principles upon which we are to build our spiritual life. Bigotry and intolerance are the inevitable consequences of ignorance and especially false knowledge. In ignorance truth is concealed from our vision. False knowledge destroys our ability to perceive the truth. Belief without right knowledge is emotional and sentimental self-submission. Under all circumstances, especially in our spiritual life, we must seek with utmost devotion and sincerity, the enlightened knowledge of the truths which are to illumine our inner life and guide our outer conduct. Knowledge of truth is wisdom. The path of God is illumined by wisdom.

In religion there are specific words that signify particular truths. Right knowledge regarding the meaning and connotation of these words is vital to our spiritual life and the attainment of self-realization. I will present here six specific words which are common to all religions of the world. They are God, soul, heart, mind, body and universe. I will define and elucidate them.

1. GOD. The term God is an English word. In various religions different words are used when referring to God, such as Ahura-mazda, Allah, Brahman, Christ, Ra, Jehovah, Tao, Yod and many other suitable terms. But to what reality do all these words refer? Our primary question is, what is God? God is not a personality. God is the cosmic reality, infinite in his being, universal in his presence and ever-abiding in his oneness with all. He transcends all duality, yet he is all pervasive. He is truth-good-beauty; light-immortality-love; spirit-power-peace. He is transcendental as well as immanent. We may choose any appropriate word to convey his nature and attributes; but, no word of mortal tongue can ever fully describe the glory of his reality and perfection. However, let it be clearly understood that each and all of us can and will ultimately attain the realization of God’s complete and absolute perfection. That is the unalterable divine destiny of every soul. God is the supreme Self of all.

2. SOUL. Soul is intelligence-life-love. Soul is God within us. God within you is your soul. God within me is my soul. God within us is our soul. In our soul we are all identically the same in divine substance and potentiality. We are all spiritually one in soul. There is a divine bond of eternal unity among us. It is the bond of soul, the unity of spirit. Our soul is exclusively the creation of God. Only God is the originator of our soul. It is the direct projection of the spirit, the reality and the attributes of God. God is ever in touch with us through our soul, and we remain in constant communion with God only through the conscious awareness of the innate divinity and righteousness or our soul. Our soul is the spiritual bond not only among ourselves but it is also the divine link that keeps us permanently united with God.

The attributes of God are the constituent qualities of our soul. The Consciousness-Existence-Bliss of God are the intelligence-life-love, respectively, of our soul. Man is an embodied soul, and individualized self.

3. HEART. Heart is intuition-goodwill-joy. Heart is the most sensitive spiritual faculty of man. We feel with our heart. Therefore our heart reveals unto us what lies beyond the power of reason to ascertain. Truth is instantly revealed in a pure heart. Heart responds directly to truth; therefore, its knowledge is intuitive. Goodwill is the divine power of our heart. It is transmitted from our heart in all directions of the universe. It is a potent spiritual force. It is illimitable and pervasive. Joy is the supreme blessing of a pure heart. Joy is happiness of heart. It is exalting in inspiration and beautiful in realization. God has blessed our heart with his attributes of Consciousness-Existence-Bliss and adorned it with intuition-goodwill-joy.

4. MIND. Mind is thought-volition-feeling. Our mind is the companion of our soul. Soul infuses its spiritual qualities into the mind in order that the latter may fulfill its constructive mission in our everyday life. The more our mind identifies itself with the soul the greater becomes its power to think with higher vision, desire with sublime aspiration and be inspired by noble sentiments. Our mind is very susceptible to its environment, subjective as well as objective. Let our mind associate with the finer things of life, such as inspiring music, art and literature. Let philosophy and religion be its permanent companions. It will find inspiration and happiness. The divine qualities of our soul offer our mind a fellowship of righteousness. All the qualities of virtue and holiness are within us. We should train our mind to be with them in spiritual introspection and contemplative meditation. Mental companionship with our innate virtues and righteousness is the way of spiritual self-unfoldment and inner peace. God has bestowed his Consciousness-Existence-Bliss upon our mind and has endured it with thought-volition-feeling.

5. BODY. In its essential nature our body is coordinated life-energy in delicate symmetry. Life-energy is the substance of our physical being. The chemicals which form our body are gathered from the basic element, life-energy. Our life-energy is governed by an inner intelligence. Our entire physical organism and nervous system function is a highly coordinated process. Furthermore, there is an extremely delicate balance within the whole physiological system. God sends the divine rays of his Consciousness-Existence-Bliss to our body in order that the coordinated life-energy may fashion for us a living temple for his worship.

6. UNIVERSE. By universe is meant the created cosmos, the world of time and space and the sphere of phenomena. The universe includes all objects and beings that have come into existence within the world of duality. The universe is the objective manifestation of God. It is the projection of his attributes in the domain of nature. One God becamse many and the universe of creation assumed its tangible form. All phenomena are emanations from the noumenon. The transcendental Spirit has taken form in perceptible beings. Creation is a part of the creator. God is ever present in all. In final analysis not only every object in it, but the universe itself is an embodiment of cosmic force or power harmonized by law. Law is the principle of reason. The universe is composed of three correlated forces, namely, law-power-harmony. They are the materialization of Gods triune attributes Consciousness-Existence-Bliss, respectively. The universe is the living objective manifestation of God.

Thus, there is a spiritual relationship among God, soul, heart, mind, body and universe. God is the first cause of them all. In him they are all united as of one substance. Our body, mind and heart are the sacred means of revealing and realizing God. We are the soul, the immortal spirit. The whole universe is a part of our greater Self and God is our supreme Self. The knowledge of truth liberates our soul in the realization of cosmic Oneness.