If God Had a Face

by Aranyakananda

When I was in my teens, I recall once sitting in my family’s living room where the telly was tuned into MTV, and Joan Osborne’s song “One of Us” was playing. I recall telling my mom that I liked the sound of Osborne’s voice. She asked me why, because she thought it sounded rather drab. Looking back, I can kind of see what she meant, and I don’t really know why I said I liked it. In the bridge of the song, Osborne sounds particularly lethargic, when she sings “Yeah…Yeah…God is Good/Yeah…Yeah…God is Great.” I couldn’t even tell if she was being sarcastic. Kind of like “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. To this day I cannot say whether that song is sarcastic or not. I don’t know why.

Back to Joan Osborne. In her song she presents us with a question: “If God had a Face, what would He look like?”

Whenever I try to explain Brahman, the comparison always comes up between what Brahman is, the Formless Reality, and the “Man in the Clouds With a Long White Beard” version of God that I grew up on. Hinduism tends to make that idea seem prehistoric. But at the same time, that image is just another ishta-devata of sorts. And it cannot be ignored that as a Vaishnav, my idea of God involves a multitude of faces! Not only does Vishnu have 10 Avatars (or maybe 24, depending on whose side you’re on), but Vishnu has a multitude of celestial forms, which I will soon explore on this weblog.

This recognition has been humbling.

We all need a face to look upon to reflect back to us our Selves with the veil of Maya lifted. So maybe the image of Vishnu looks different to every devotee who gazes upon him. Maybe the same is true of Shiva, Ganesha, or Durga. Maybe the same is true of your own Gurudev when you or any other devotee gaze upon him or her. Because God’s face is hidden beneath the physical veil of all devotees.

Jai Hari Aum!

This entry was posted in Abrahamic faiths, agnosticism, agnostics, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Brahma, Brahman, Buddha, Buddhism, dharma, Dharmic Faiths, Divine Consciousness, Eastern Philosophy, editorial, ego, faith, famous quotes, Ganesh, Ganesha, God, guru, Hanuman, Hindu Sects, Hinduism, idolatry, inspiration, Ishvara, Kalki Avatar, Krishna, Lakshmi, Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama, Mahavatar Babaji, Maya, monotheism, myth, Narayana, opinion, philosophy, pluralism, Rama, religion, Sai Baba, Sanatana Dharma, Saraswati, Sathya Sai Baba, Shaivism, Shakti, Shiva, spirituality, Trimurti, Uncategorized, Vaishnavism, Vishnu, Western Hinduism, White Hindus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to If God Had a Face

  1. Mahalaya says:

    I agree so much. Just as when ten people experience the same event and all of them describe it SO differently! For me, Mahadeva is always Mahayogi style, but a dear friend, always sees him in the cosmic dance. It is so wonderful, how each of us find Him…

  2. Dhrishti says:

    I’ve thought similarly about Osborne. And I agree with Mahalaya.

  3. Raj says:

    The word God or Lord Almighty or Brahman or the creator is a collective consciousness of all of us in the universe…the universe as a whole should be seen as a single living organism. Humans tend to dissociate themselves from other non-human beings/objects and there lies the problem.
    Why do you think a Church or a Mosque or a Temple or for that matter any other holy place is considered holy? It is because in there, when you visit, you are at your best Behaviour!!!
    Be good…feel for others….be with others….learn to love…live and survive collectively…..and then everyone will realize we collectively is God.
    God is us………………..essentially together and united…..otherwise we are just petty spare parts of that one big reality.
    Thanks for listening.

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