“O Lord of the universe, I see in Your universal body many, many forms - bellies, mouths, eyes - expanded without limit. There is no end, there is no beginning, and there is no middle to all this.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.16)Download this episode (right click and save)
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. There is a God. I know you are eager to convince me. You can’t stop talking about Him. All the philosophy is nice, but why can’t He just give us some proof? Forget appearing before us. I know that is a difficult thing to ask. But what about showing the future? Give us proof of the afterlife. Show us what is going to happen in a hundred years. Just provide a vision. That will go a long way in convincing others that He truly does exist.”
Forgetting that there are other forms of sense interaction, the skeptical human being insists on sight alone when trying to understand that person who is beyond comprehension. The same person who confuses a snake for a rope, a mirage for an oasis, and a lying politician for an honest steward of the people’s interest insists on visual evidence of the Divine. An aspect to the proposed vision is a glimpse into the future. There are many reasons the Supreme Lord does not provide this.
1. No guarantee that we’ll believe it
There’s already so much skepticism. I can have video evidence of a special interest group conspiring to generate fake protests for a politician they don’t like. Everything is on tape, from the planning to the players. Yet when that video is shown, the supporters of that group will say that the information is fabricated. They will attack the person who secretly recorded the conversations. They will deflect attention, intentionally.
That skepticism is with a comparatively trivial interest like politics. The interest of enjoying in the material world, separate from God, is superior to all others. Why would a simple vision of the future be believed, especially if it gives proof of the worthless nature of material sense gratification? Rather, skepticism is sure to emerge in full force in opposition. Attempts will be made to discredit the messenger, even if that messenger were God Himself.
2. Bhakti is not based on fear
The way out of the material world is liberation. The only permanent liberation is bhakti, which is love and devotion. Bhakti-yoga is devotion directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Love and fear do not mix. If a person only approaches the Supreme Lord to get a favor, to escape from a difficult situation, pure bhakti is not there. Of course the approach is good. It is purifying. The sentiment is appreciated.
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me - the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
If Krishna showed everyone the future, it would be a way to scare them into submission. Then there wouldn’t be bhakti. A perfect example is the universal form shown to Duryodhana. He was one of the Kauravas who had illegally taken the land belonging to the Pandavas. War was imminent, and Krishna decided to make one last effort at peace.
Krishna is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was on earth at the time, some five thousand years ago, and He generally remained neutral in the conflict. He was a well-wisher to the Pandavas, though, since they were devotees. Duryodhana was not a devotee, but this did not mean he was restricted access to Krishna.
When Krishna arrived to broker a deal, Duryodhana secretly hatched a plan to tie up Krishna. This would weaken the spirits of the Pandavas, Duryodhana thought. As the knower of all fields, Krishna responded to the ridiculous plan by showing the universal form. This is like putting everything that exists into a single vision. It is awe-inspiring. It is one kind of visual proof of God’s existence.
Yet that vision did not include the future fate of Duryodhana and his men. The omission is noteworthy since later on Krishna again showed the universal form. This vision was unique, however. It included the time element. Arjuna saw the many fighters assembled on the battlefield rushing into Krishna’s many mouths. This was an indication of the future outcome. Arjuna was already a devotee, so the vision of the future helped to give him confidence in the bhakti path he was already inclined towards. Duryodhana had no such inclination.
3. We kind of already know the future
Take a look at the past. What is the one thing we know has happened to every single living thing? The experience in life is varied, and the times change. People from a hundred years ago didn’t have internet. They didn’t have television. Life on earth was completely different.
Yet everyone from the past has died. That is the guaranteed future of which we are already aware. We know that the body constantly changes, from boyhood to youth to old age. At the time of death, the individual spirit soul takes on another body, discarding the previous one.
The conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, known as the Bhagavad-gita, reveals the future to so many different situations. Materialist, knowledge-seeker, mystic yogi, sinner, pious person, devotee - the future is rather clearly laid out in Vedic literature. What more proof do we need? The exact details may not be revealed for every situation, but then those details aren’t significant. Know that there is a difference between body and spirit. Know that spirit emanates from Supreme Spirit. Know that the two should always be linked in consciousness, which is the real meaning of yoga. Know that the future will remain just like the present for as long as that link is not created and maintained.
To be sure, with confidence to know,
Why not vision of future to show?
This way proof of God to accept,
And His sound words not to reject.
Devotion not by fear instigated,
By love and higher goal initiated.
Of guaranteed death already aware,
From spiritual life more is there.