Holding on to the Lord internally is more important than beholding him externally
Some people feel, “If I could see God, my faith would increase so much.” While beholding God externally can be special and thrilling, in our overall spiritual growth it is not necessarily the most important faith-boosting or life-defining experience, as we often imagine it to be.
The Mahabharata narrates how during the peace negotiations before the Kurukshetra war, Duryodhana beheld Krishna, not just in his two-handed form, but also in his universal form. And yet that awe-inspiring mystical vision, one of the most astonishing theophanies in world history, didn’t change Duryodhana’s anti-devotional disposition. Though he was indubitably overpowered and momentarily overwhelmed by that sight, he soon downplayed it as just a show of magic that would be inconsequential when the actual war would occur.
Of course, we as devotee-seekers don’t have that kind of anti-devotional disposition. So, let’s consider the example of the devotee Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita. In the Gita’s eleventh chapter, Arjuna gets to behold an even more awesome display: the universal form combined with a vision of the kala-rupa, God manifested as time.
Yet, Arjuna’s conviction and transformation are determined not after seeing this form, but even before seeing it. He acknowledges Krishna’s divinity in the tenth chapter and then requests the sight of the universal form to confirm for others’ sake through a visual revelation what he has understood through the preceding verbal revelation in the Gita. So the Gita’s narrative indicates that in the development of faith the sight of God is not primary, but supplementary, supplementary to the process of philosophical education that culminates in devotional conviction.
And even the eleventh chapter concludes not just with the glorification of the visual revelation, but with the injunction for inner dedication. The Gita (11.55) assures that those who hold Krishna within their heart will attain him and thereby behold him eternally.
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