The Presence of Experience

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

There are two words: non-believer, naa-astik, and astik, believer. A non-believer does not believe in the existence and a believer believes in the existence: not-believing is a state of mind in the absence of a tangible experience.

From time to time, people have different tangible experiences. Sometimes it is of peace, sometimes it is of divinity, or of the self. It is not important that everyone has the same vision or experience, even with the same object.

There is a beautiful passage in the Ramacharitamanas. When Sri Rama goes to Janakpur, the home of Mother Sita, he enters the royal palace with his guru. The passage says that the mothers present in the court saw Rama as their most beloved child. Kings and emperors present in the court saw Rama as the biggest emperor of all. The people with demonical and destructive tendencies saw Rama as their death incarnate.

Yogis saw Rama either as a fame or as an experience of peace.

In this manner, according to their nature, everyone had a different perception of Rama. Yogis saw him as peace or luminosity, so for yogis the state of peace or luminosity became the foundation to experience the Rama tattwa. Mothers saw Rama as their beloved child and the outpouring of their love became the medium to experience the Rama tattwa. Everybody experienced something of the Rama tattwa according to their nature. Even peace and luminosity is an experience of the Divine, not only the presence of an image or form. The absence of experience makes one a non-believer, and the presence of experience makes one a believer.

I have not seen God, but yes, I can relate my shanti, my peace, to an experience of God, and therefore I believe that this type of power can exist. That is my personal experience and I do not negate it.

I have not seen God in the form of Rama, Krishna or any devi although I have seen them as statues. But inside with ‘inner sight’ I have experienced that in the form of tremendous shanti. In that shanti there is bliss, in that shanti there is fulfilment, in that shanti there is contentment.

I can relate that experience to the experience of something transcendental in me, and that experience has become my foundation, my reference point to make me a believer. Therefore, it is not the negation of God and the acceptance of God that makes one a believer or non-believer, but the presence of experience.

—29 May 2016, Ganga Darshan, Munger