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A 20 metre high Buddha near Da Lat in Vietnam.

Formless in Form

God has form and again He is formless. But it is truly difficult to understand this. Naturally the doubt arises in the mind: if God is formless how then can He have form?

Ramakrishna (1885)


For theists the conundrum of god being both human and infinite is acute. In the west Christianity offers God as both the un-sayable head of the Trinity and the person of Christ. In Hinduism the dilemma is presented in the manifold of gods all having ‘form’. A statue of the god Ganesha in the Da Nang museum. An example of a god with form. Ramakrishna is pointing out that these opposites seem to elude our ordinary sense of logic. The concepts of Brahmin or God must include everything A view from above of the snow covered mountains of eastern Turkey. To a page on the opposite of the particular Ganesha - the ineffable - and a possible secular equivalent. whatsoever, while a human being (such as Jesus or the historic Shakyamuni) is exactly an expression of the particular: Looking up at the ceiling of the Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. This page uses the analogy of the tiles making up the peacocks tail for particular in relation to the general having one location in time and space. Christians and Hindus usually rest with the mystery, but could there be secular sympathy? Doesn’t the relationship between the particular and the universal have analogous problems? Although inter-twined, particulars grip their temporal-spatial location, while universals seem to partake in all things.

Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836 -1886) was a major Hindu sage who lived and taught in Bengal. The quote is from “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna: as recorded by M.” English Translation by Swami Nikhilananda (1942) p. 858. His teaching has led to many humanitarian movements, and his ideas echo through Vivekananda’s work and the writings of Rabindranath Tagore.

This rather large Buddha sits just outside the city of Đà Lạt in southern Vietnam. While in all accounts, the Buddha is very much a human, he nevertheless here seems in need of a neon halo to hint at a less concrete dimension to his being.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 21st March 2020

Murphy on duty to this site