Is God a person who lives far away in His own spiritual land? Or is He very near, residing in the hearts of everyone? Or is He just plain everything?
What would you say to these questions? Or, to put it another way, what do you think of when you think of God?
People often don’t like to think of God as a person, because they feel that by doing so they would limit Him. If God is a person like you and me, then how can He create these innumerable universes? They think of Him as an all pervasive force or energy who is formless. Nonetheless, God is a person.
The idea that everything is zero or impersonal is foolish, because without form there is nothing, everything has form, even that which is supposedly impersonal. The sky, for example, is unmanifest, but it also has a form—the round form of the universe. If we go to the ocean, there also we shall find a form, like that of a big circle.
The Vedas instruct that God is a person, but His personality is unlimited. Just as our consciousness is limited to our body, His consciousness is the super consciousness within every body, all of us are individual living entities confined to this particular body, God is the super person living within all.
As Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita [2.12], the personality of God and the personalities of the individual souls are eternally existing. Krishna tells Arjuna on the battlefield, "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings, nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." Both God and the living entity are eternally persons, but God's personality is unlimited and the individual's personality is limited. God has unlimited power, wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. We have limited, finite power, knowledge, fame, and so on. That is the difference between the two personalities.
nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
eko bahunaa yo vidadhati kaman
"The Lord is the supreme eternal amongst all eternals and the supreme living entity amongst all living entities. He is maintaining all others."
Just as we are all living beings, Krishna, God, is also a living being. but the difference is that He is to be worshiped whereas we are to be worshipers. The king or president is a person, and the citizens are also persons, but the difference is that the president or king is an exalted person who should be offered all respect.
Different phases of understanding
A hill appears cloudy from a distance, and one who does not know may speculate that the hill is a cloud. Actually, it is not a cloud; it is a big hill. One has to learn from authority that the sight of a cloud is not actually a cloud but a hill. If one makes a little more progress, then instead of a cloud he sees the hill and something green. When one actually approaches the hill, he will see many varieties, there are so many animals, trees, men.
As far as we can understand from Vedic literature, the Supreme Lord is always transcendental. Although we do not see His head, face, hands or legs, He has them, and when we are elevated to the transcendental situation we can see the Lord’s form. He has His eternal transcendental form, called sac-cid-ananda-vigraha. He is full of all opulence. He is the proprietor of all wealth and the owner of all energy. He is the most intelligent and is full of knowledge.
God is a person, and He has His own abode and associates. Although He is in His abode, He is present everywhere, within every atom.
If God is the creator of all things, He must be a person. If God can create, He can also walk, speak, touch, and see. God exists, and God's energy also exists, so if we cannot see God we can at least see His energy. We may not see the electric powerhouse and the engineer within it generating power, but we use electricity in so many ways. Therefore we should inquire where this electricity comes from. This is intelligence, and if one inquires in this way he will eventually find the powerhouse itself. Similarly, if one studies further to find out who is running the powerhouse, one will find a human being. Although the electricity is impersonal and even the powerhouse is impersonal, the man behind everything is a person. Similarly, God is a person. This is a logical conclusion. How can He be impersonal?
God is not mere energy nor blind force nor the sum total of everything (pantheism). God is not some cloudy, hazy, indefinite, blindly operating, omnipotent Force. God is a living, loving Person who speaks and hears and blesses. Because God is a Person, He can be involved in our lives, unlike a force, which cannot relate to us on a personal level.