Who is God? Yoga Sutras 1.24-26

Star Trails by William Frankhouser, creative commons license

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

These words are from Chris Tomlin’s song “Indescribable.” Many of the songs sung in church try to describe God or one of his aspects: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,” “Light of the world / You came down into darkness,”  “Come, Thou fount of every blessing / tune my heart to sing thy praise.”

The names and descriptions for God are many.

Descartes, I read yesterday, decided that God was perfection. Theologians, philosophers, and regular people all think about God and try to name and describe God.

Patanjali, too, discussed God: “God is the Supreme Being whose actions are never based on misapprehension. He knows everything there is to be known. God is eternal. In fact he is the ultimate teacher. He is the source of guidance for all teachers: past, present, and future.” (Sutras 24-26, Tr. Desikachar)

So far, the first chapter of the sutras has been all about how to tame the mind; earlier, Patanjali described five states of the mind, of which misapprehension was one of them. Misapprehension is not seeing clearly, not fully understanding the surrounding reality. God, Patanjali says, does not suffer from misapprehension. God knows everything there is to be known, and God sees it for what it is.

Christianity often speaks of God in terms of the Omni’s: Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent. All knowing, All present, All powerful.

In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul describes God: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Over all and through all and in all. I love this description. God is with me wherever I go, whenever I am, and in me.

During the liturgy at our church, we recite a call-and-response borrowed from Catholic Mass: “Now let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

God – Christ – is in all time, is beyond time. Over all, through all, and in all.

In Patanjali’s sutras, I find a kindred spirit who is thinking about God. In these sutras, our understanding overlaps.

For me, each time I step on my mat, I have to trust. I surrender my sense of time, my responsibility for my job and my house, my need to control everything that goes on in my life. This act of trust surrenders everything to God. It is my way of “casting my cares at his feet.”

To be able to trust God, my understanding of God has to be solid – has to be of a God who loves, cares, is the source of all life, is the source of all goodness, is the source of justice.

I do not know much about this indescribable God, but I do know I trust. I pray for any misapprehension about God that I have to be removed, that I may see God clearly and trust even more.

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