God underlies, overlies and outlies the world

What is the relationship of God with the world? This question, pondered by thinkers and theologians throughout history, is illumined by Gita wisdom in three distinct dimensions:

God underlies the world: The Bhagavad-gita (07.07) states that God, Krishna, is the underlying truth who unifies the visible world’s diverse phenomena, as a thread unifies a necklace’s jewels. Just as a perceptive eye sees beyond the jewel’s effulgence to the thread’s pivotal role, a spiritually perceptive eye sees beyond the world’s captivating features to Krishna’s pivotal role.

God overlies the world: Scientific advances have helped us grasp, to some extent, the magnificent order that permeates the universe. The Gita (09.10) acknowledges that matter functions according to a natural order. Ironically, atheists who claim to be champions of rationality presume irrationally that the natural order is a given, as if it were the ultimate free lunch. Avoiding such irrational myopia, the Gita guides the scientific spirit of enquiry to its logical conclusion – it highlights the lunch’s provider: the divine intelligence who is the natural order’s source and sustainer.

God outlies the world: God has his own self-existence beyond the world (09.05). If all God had to do for all of eternity was manage the world’s affairs, his life would be boring. Eschewing such unappealing stereotypes, Gita wisdom reveals God’s delightful transcendence: he rejoices forever in the ecstatic exchanges of endless and selfless love with his devotees in the spiritual world that lies far beyond this material world (08.20). The Gita stresses repeatedly that attaining Krishna’s abode to join in the eternal festival of love is life’s ultimate perfection.

When we thus understand how Krishna surrounds us in this world and how he beckons us beyond this world, our consciousness becomes surcharged with appreciation and attraction, thereby fueling our devotion for him and propelling us towards him.

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