God is the ultimate cause of all things and beings in the universe. It* is everywhere. Yet, we tend to overlook that divine presence in our everyday life.
To recognize God in the world, all we have to do is to slow down and turn our attention to the everyday things around us.
All things and beings are made of five basic elements—space, air, fire, water and earth. God is the source of these elements and is literally in everything.
Let’s look at these elements from a spiritual perspective and see how they are divine in nature.
1…Space is aakash in Sanskrit. It means “that which accommodates.” Space is that which accommodates all of creation. It not only provides the place in which the world exists, space also exists within every thing and being.
God accommodates even space and is the infinite substratum of the never-ending cosmoses, galaxies, universes, stars, and planets. Trying to grasp the vastness of this supreme cause is not only mind-boggling, it is impossible. There is no place where God is not.
2… Air. Air is so vitally important to our existence that we have to breathe it in about eight to ten times every minute. If you want to recognize God right here and now, bringing your attention to the air that you are breathing and observing how it is sustaining your life is good enough evidence of Its presence.
3…Fire. The element of fire provides heat, light and physical fire. It is in the sun that supports life with its benevolent energy and light. The fire element also manifests as heat within all bodies that makes digestion of food possible. Can you imagine any form of life that can survive directly or indirectly without the element of fire?
4… Water is a divine miracle that we partake of every single day. Although science explains and identifies that water is made up of two parts hydrogen and one part of oxygen, no one has been able to manufacture water.
There are a countless number of ways that we use water and we can’t imagine life without it.
5… Earth is the last element. The food that nourishes and supports all forms of life primarily comes from the plant kingdom. All plant life lives and grows in the earth and dies back to become the earth.
Aside from providing nutrition, the earth element also provides all physical structures their form.
None of the other four elements can be made into something solid with a specific form. (Well, water can become solid, but only temporarily as it is not its true nature).
The next time you are outside and you see a building, a car or a streetlight, think of the material that it is made of. It will invariably be made from something that has come from the earth.
These five elements cannot be manufactured. They are truly divine. I remember reading an amusing story once…
Merlin, the great wizard had successfully practiced his craft for so long that he became puffed up with conceit. He approached God with a challenge. “I can do anything you can do and better! Show me the strength of your power. I challenge you!”
God was unimpressed and didn’t answer him.
“Come on—if you really are all-powerful, show me your power! Give me a challenge and I will surely win!” declared Merlin arrogantly.
After much coaxing, God decided to humour him and said, “Alright, make me a mud pot.”
“What?! Is that all you want? Such a simple thing?” asked Merlin.
“Yes,” said God. “Just make me a mud pot.”
“Okay,” said the pompous Merlin. As he bent down to pick up some earth, God stopped him, shook his finger and said disapprovingly, “Oh no you don’t—you have to go and get your own mud.”
Realising that he was beaten even before he started, the humiliated Merlin quietly shirked away.
Merlin was merely an effect of the divine cause and was himself made of the five elements that are the only raw materials available to create anything. How could he produce something without using these essential elements?
The fact that these five elements are the fundamental constituents of our bodies can be clearly seen in the decaying body of a dead person.
Right after death, the body becomes cold indicating that the fire element (heat) in the body has departed. The body bloats up as the gases start to leave proving that the air element was present. The departure of the water element is seen as bodily fluids start to ooze out of the orifices. Gradually, the physical body breaks down and decomposes showing the exiting of the earth element. Finally, the space that was occupied by the body parts merges back into space.
Everything in nature is created from and sustained by the five elements that are created by God. Looking for them in everyday objects can be an interesting game you play to recognize God everywhere.
Recognize God especially in these things
Even though God is omnipresent there are special places where Her* presence can be recognized more easily.
Wherever there is beauty, purity, goodness, nobility, majesty and other unique and inspiring and noble qualities, there you can recognize God distinctly.
Other places are no less divine; it’s just that the divinity inherent there doesn’t show up as vividly as where noble qualities are seen.
To explain, think about the reflection of the sun. Although the sun shines equally in all places, only where the surface is still, clean and polished is the sun’s reflection evidently seen. That is why we can see it distinctly on a still body of water or in a clean mirror.
Everything in nature is what it is because it has some unique and special qualities that makes it what it is. You can think of it as the “soul” of everything. Recognize God as the soul of everything. For example, God is the sweetness in sugar, the saltiness in seawater, and the softness and fragrance in a flower.
When you bring your awareness to these qualities, there you will recognize God.
The spiritual writings of the Bhagavad Gita** highlight some of the places where you can recognize God most lucidly.
God is the sapidity or taste in water. You cannot taste anything unless the element of water is present.
For example, if your mouth is extremely dry and you put something else that is dry into your mouth such as a piece of cinnamon, you will taste nothing. Only when you take a sip of water or the food that you eat has water in it will you be able to taste it.
Water has the unique ability to convey taste. Can you imagine what a big blessing this is? The next time you bite into some delicious food, remember that God is what gives the food its taste.
God is the spectacular radiance of the sun and shining glow of the moon. The light in these cosmic luminaries is divine. No worldly light can come anywhere close to the illumination that the sun and moon provide.
God is in the sweet fragrance of the earth. All smells–pleasant and unpleasant come from the element of earth. None of the other elements carry the sense of smell. Our experience of life would be significantly diminished if we could not smell the perfume of a rose, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee or the sweet smell of soil after it rains.
Divinity is everywhere. To be inspired and uplifted by it, all you have to do is to keep an open mind and a child-like sense of wonder as you experience the everyday things in your life.
I’ll leave you with a quote from my guru, Swami Chinmayananda.
Seek Him in the thrill of the dawn, in the sadness of dusk, in the embrace of the rains, in the hustling storms, in the murmuring breeze, in green pastures, in the blue lotus, in the confluence of the graceful Ganges and the restless Jamuna. He is everywhere in everything.
* God has no gender. Feel free to use ‘It’ or ‘Its’, ‘Him’ and ‘His’ or ‘Her’ and ‘Hers’ as you feel comfortable.
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