My God Moment

Note: Let truth guide you, not us. Our humble disclaimer.

“Are you Krishna?”

I sat there stunned but also expecting the question. He continued.

“Seriously. Who are you?”

After a moment, I gave my friend an equivocating non-answer. Then, realizing that I was not giving an answer, I said yes. Yes, I was a Krishna incarnation.

This exchange sounded remarkably similar to a conversation Sarada Devi once had with a devotee. In the midst of their work, a devotee asked Sarada if she really was Sarada. After a pause, Sarada admitted that she actually was the goddess Kali. Both my friend and I knew this story, which added extra weight to our conversation.

We just sat there after my answer, taking in its full weight. What now? Neither of us quite knew. Was I supposed to act differently or perform a miracle? What if I said something spiritually stupid, or acted selfish? What if I could not complete the walk?

My friend and I were in Vrindavan, India, at Govardhan. We were about an hour into a 14 mile barefoot walk around a large hill supposedly lifted by the god Krishna when he was a child. It was a popular pilgrimage destination, and others also were walking the route, some barefoot and others with shoes. A few had rickshaws carrying them through the fields and towns that composed the circular journey.

My feet already were sore, and I could feel a blister forming on the heel of my right foot. A hobbling Krishna incarnation would not do, and I did not want to disappoint my friend. His question was earnest. So was my answer. But I knew he was reading into my words more than I intended.

I am Krishna. But I’m also Peter. So too am I my mother, my brother, my ex-girlfriend, the monks at the Ramakrishna Mission, and my friend asking the question. I’m everything because there’s really only one substance in the universe when we break it down on a sub-atomic level. Call it God, love, energy, whatever.

The goal in life is realizing we are one. The point is internalizing our inherent but subtle connection with everything around us, which changes the game and takes us beyond the pain and pleasure, birth and death of this very real but not very serious game of life. If you are the people you’re competing with, you’re not very worried about the competition. If you are your niece’s newborn baby, you’re not very concerned about death. If you are more than the body, you can shift your attention so pain loses its power.

At first I gave this nuanced answer to my friend, but he didn’t want a complex answer. He wanted a yes or a no, so I said yes.

Was yes any less real? No would be a vote for the norm, for the ignorance of thinking I am this little body from Ohio that will be born, edit a few magazines, love a few people, then die quietly some day. But a yes—here was something special. Here was perhaps my first opportunity to give a truly honest answer, to own up to my higher nature, to admit that I did see myself when I looked at idols of Krishna. I could not say no, even if the implications scared me.

The real implications do not scare me. I felt liberated when I admitted that I am more than the little Peter walking barefoot at Govardhan. What scared me were the expectations that I therefore must be fantastical. Krishna can lift mountains with his pinky finger. Krishna is all-knowing. Krishna probably can walk through walls. I of course can do none of these things. This is not a failure of identity, of me being less than Krishna, but it is a failure of thought.

Just because we are connected with everyone else does not mean we are superhuman. My arms and my legs are connected to the same body, which is useful knowledge for coordination and shared purpose, but knowledge of their unity does not make my arms good at walking. Likewise, being an incarnation of Krishna does not make me any more fantastical than Peter from Ohio–although it would be fun to walk through walls if someone could show me how.

Once my friend and I got past the awkwardness of the moment, the walk and its physical perils resumed. For the next several hours we focused more on swollen feet, the beauty of the mustard fields around us, and silent devotional worship. But the question returned. It probably never left.

“I need to ask you again. Who are you really?”

Peter in VrindavanMy friend evidently was caught in love. We both were, really. I had become a living embodiment of my friend’s idol of worship. Momentarily. All his God love, which usually flowed through mantra and inanimate idol, temporarily was flowing through the living and breathing me. Attuned to love as I am, that being my primary mode of worship, I could directly feel and reciprocate his God love. Repeating the question was my friend’s attempt at reliving the best part of our moment; it was the spiritual equivalent of rereading a love letter.

This response of mine was all very Krishna, and that fact was not lost on me.

Krishna represents many things, but above all he represents the idea that God is love. As the story goes, Krishna is pure love–a symbol of God. When he is in contact with his most devoted lover, Radha, she basks in his love by surrendering completely to him while he enjoys this love reflected through her. He fills her with love, she heightens the love already within him.

The archetype of Krishna and Radha was sounding suspiciously like what was transpiring at Govardhan.

I did not want falsehood creeping into our moment, however, and restatements of my divinity would be deifying. As much as I wanted to preserve the sacred moment, I did not want to make myself into something more than I am. I never said I was a god. I was trying to say we all are God.

“Don’t ask me that again,” I responded. “I’ve already answered it.”

He seemed crestfallen.

This was the moment where I could stay true or please my friend and accept grandiosity. I almost gave in to pleasing my friend, to implicit self-importance, but what is less godly than calling yourself God?

“You know the answer,” I continued. “You’ve always known the answer.” This was all I would give.

He paused for a minute. Then we kept walking. The moment had been preserved.

1 Comment

  1. by Mae

    On January 14, 2012

    Yes. God is everywhere and in everything. Therefore, we are all God.

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