Achintya-Bheda-Abheda is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference. In Sanskrit achintya means ‘inconceivable’, bheda translates as ‘difference’, and abheda translates as ‘non-difference’.
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda, as explained at Wikipedia
The big difficulty for me with this philosophy is how to overcome the inconceivable part. That there is a simultaneous one-ness and difference between/with God and everything (us included) that emanates from God. It is God and it isn’t God at the same time. Seemingly contradictory, and definitely inconceivable. Or is it?
A Simple Exercise
Think about some negative experience you have had in this lifetime. Some situation of suffering. How do you understand that? Perhaps you are wondering ‘why me?’ or thinking I deserved it because I did something bad in the past? Perhaps you have no explanation. Anyway, this is essentially the typical I-am-different-from-God mindset.
How about we now forget for the moment about the difference, our not being God, and give ourselves space to focus just on the one-ness? We can re-introduce the difference part later, don’t worry. In simple terms we place on our God-hat … and imagine simply ‘I am God’. Scary maybe, but keep that hat on for just a moment. Now think about that negative experience you have had in this lifetime, that situation of suffering. Remember you are God. How do you understand it now? Perhaps you ask your self something along the lines of ‘how did that situation serve me?’, or maybe ‘How did it facilitate realisation of my desires?’
Now take of your God-hat. Phew. Return to your ‘I am different from God’ consciousness. But ask yourself the God question. For example ‘How did that suffering serve me?’ ‘How does my forgetting my divinity serve me?’ ‘How does feeling powerless serve me’ ‘How does believing I am going to die serve me?”How does my denying the existence of God serve me?’ … or simply put, what is it that I want that it facilitates? My conviction is that by thinking in terms of how does it serve me? rather than why me? in effect we are going some way to experiencing our simultaneous one-ness and difference from God. We are expressing our Godness-ness, our divinity, our one-ness (and difference) … don’t forget the difference!
If You Were God
To further explore … you wouldn’t be asking yourself ‘why is this bad thing happening to me? … have I don’t something wrong? … why has God abandoned me?’. More likely (I propose) you’d be asking ‘how does this illusion of not being in control serve me?’ ‘how does my forgetting who I am and the power I have serve me?’ … well you wouldn’t really need to ask because you would know already. Therein lies the problem, and perhaps the clue to the reason for our existence. What is the problem? The problem is that awareness that nothing happens outside my will potentially gets in the way of my exploring a whole range of pleasures. How so? Imagine you simple had to snap your fingers and whatever you desired immediately became manifest. Not only that you were 100% confident that this would always be the case. For us, us who struggle against all odds to realise our dreams, that might seem fantastic. And certainly in the short terms it would be thrilling. I predict however that things would very soon lose value, and the enjoyment of realising dreams would progressively evapourate. Ask yourself if those richest and most powerful people of this world are really more fulfilled and happier than I am. OK, to purchase immediately that coveted new gadget that you spent months budgeting for in order to be able to afford might seem desirable to you, but I wonder who gets the greater pleasure out of possession? And if they are so satisfied, why the drugs, broken relationships and the 99 pairs of trainers? And they have nothing compared to the power of God. It’s almost if the fear of non manifestation, the doubt in one’s worthiness are fundamental to the appreciation of anything.
Uncertainty – my friend, not my enemy
Uncertainty about outcome of any endeavour is reality for us. Almost as if it were by design. Not so for God … at least not for that fully cognisant, all-powerful, only-by-my-will version of God. If uncertainty enriches and enables a range of experiential enjoyments, as suggested in the previous paragraph, you might conclude it is a positive thing. A positive thing available to us, but not to God. But how can we have something that God cannot access? What sort of God would He/She be? Is it possible that we, as versions of God … non-fully-cognisant versions … bewildered about our identity versions … in fact deliver that access to God? That by design we are prone to uncertainty, and rather than that being a short-coming it is actually an manifestation of the genius of God, for it enables God to access something otherwise inaccessible, and thus a part of both God’s and our perfection? A sacred divine collaboration.