Do You Believe in God?
In 2008 April, I was in Sunnyvale, CA to attend a 3-days seminar. I have met a public relations manager of a technology firm. She was an Indian from Karnataka. She said she have noticed my name and searched on me since I was the only Indian in the group. She had read few articles then. She got acquainted with me and later invited me for dinner.
We went to “Saravana Bhavan” to have south Indian vegetarian food. It was heavy rush there. So we decided to have a quick dinner and then take a walk in the street to spend some time together.
Priya Kamat (not real name) told me about her whereabouts – She wanted to talk to me as we are of the same community and speak the same mother tongue. She is a single mother having a seven year old daughter. Her husband had cheated and abandoned her. She is facing real trouble as she has to work on double shift – as a PR in one firm and later as a press release writer in another firm. Priya has to take care of the child and send money to her old parents and younger sister back in India.
She told me about her sad life situation. Then said: “GOD has been unkind to me. I have been praying a lot. But GOD has never listened to me…”
I didn’t say anything. Tears were trickling down her cheeks..
“Do you know any moola mantras (God-specific prayers) or special poojas (offerings to god) to please GOD, Uday? I have read few of your articles. So I know you are experienced in ancient Scriptures and stuff…” her question arose from her heart.
I still didn’t reply. Priya continued: “I want to please GOD, so that GOD will be kind enough to end my miseries…Do you know what are all I did to please GOD? Lot of poojas, sevas, vratas, mantra japa, pilgrimage etc….nothing is working – I am totally unlucky. I have never committed any wrong things or sins in life…Still GOD is not showing any pity….”
I just nodded.
“Why, why are you keeping mum….don’t you believe in GOD?” Priya asked
“Priya, my belief is not important here. You said GOD is not listening to you and not taking care of your wants, despite you being good and doing all that needed to please GOD, is that right?”
“Most of us have similar complaints. All those rituals or offerings we perform to please GOD sometimes works for some people. Not everything works for everyone…So we cannot generalise on this. In other words, there is no guarantee in anything. BTW, did any GOD tell you something like: “If you do this; I will do that”…”
“GOD didn’t…but learned men, sacred scriptures, holy books, messengers, our ancestors, gurus, babas, mathaas, pundits and swamijis – everybody tells that…”
“If that is the case, why didn’t it work for you, Priya? If this is not applicable to all, how can you have such generalized beliefs?”
“I don’t understand”
“Priya, you are eager to accept teachings or opinions of a guru or the scriptures because you want to be on a safe ground. We look for psychological support in everything that we do. We are not interested in the truth, but are simply seeking mental security…That’s how our mind works…Mind is happy with beliefs, not with absolute truth- GOD is absolute truth. But mind wants a concept to structure belief in GOD”
“Uday, can you be clearer?”
“Do you know the story of six blind men and an elephant…?”
“Yes, I know – a group of six blind men touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the leg, trunk, tail or the tusk. They then compare and learn that they are in complete disagreement…”
“Yes. The blindness symbolizes concepts or conditioning. Different people say different things about GOD, based on the concepts or ideas or conditioning that they have…No Guru or Scriptures can be an absolute authority like the Cosmic consciousness (or GOD) itself.”
“So, you mean to say, those Holy books and Holy Scriptures about GOD is not true…”
“No…It may be telling truth….But there are different layers of truth…For instance, we are walking…what’s our speed, could it be 3 kilometers per hour, right? We are moving, earth stands still. Truth?”
“But is earth still? No…It’s the second layer of truth. How fast is the Earth spinning in its axis? 0.5 km/sec…But we don’t experience this truth”
“That’s also true; we have learned it in schools…”
“Now, the third layer of truth……Earth is also revolving around the Sun. How fast? 30 km/sec. Can you believe it? This truth can be experienced when you come out of earth or when you are stationed in the Sun, right? There, you will tell another truth – earth is moving around the sun, but Sun is stationary…Is that true? No. This is fourth layer of truth. The entire Solar System is moving around the Milky Way Galaxy at a mind boggling speed of 250 km/sec…You can’t even imagine such a speed. But you never experience that…”
“And, our Milky Way Galaxy is moving in the Local Group of galaxies at the speed of 300 km/sec – this is fifth layer of truth…And so on…So, everybody is talking truth -like blind men who touched the elephant….but there are many layers….If you say, your concept is true, you are in one among those layers and you don’t experience other things…that’s all..”
“Amazing, but true.”
“One more instance – what’s the colour of the sky? Blue…But is it true?”
“No- we have studied it in the high school – sky appears blue because of the scattering of light by small particles of the atmosphere…”
“Yes- we have difficulty in understanding transcendental truths…Our brain and mind has limitations. It needs concreted concepts with boundaries. Our mind cannot contain absolute truth of GOD – Can a spoon contain the entire Ocean? We are trying to give images, perception or concept depending upon our conditioning….”
“Even logic won’t work when it comes to GOD – it is definitely beyond our logic…Read any holy book without conditioning or prejudice, you will see that those are just perception and concepts that compel you to believe in the writer’s concept of GOD. The writer is dead. But there are people who want to make a living and make money out of those writings – so they market it well….mostly like a multi-lvel-marketing (MLM) industry…and people like us fall for it, defend it, fight for it or even die for it…”
“What’s your concept of GOD?”
“I don’t have any – I am trying to unlearn all concepts…”
“Do you believe in GOD?” she asked again.
“I don’t want to connect the words like belief, faith and fear with GOD. I just want to experience GOD…”
“How to experience GOD?”
“We can experience GOD only after de-conditioning the mind and remove the concepts of GOD imbibed by others….because, GOD is a personal experience – that is the first lesson I had learned. I have developed a healthy disrespect to what I learn from others…I know they are telling truth – but their personal experiences or versions of truth. But everybody’s is a unique expression of life and experiences of two people won’t be the same.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Priya, I will tell you a Buddha story…”
– Buddha was giving sermon in a village. A man asked him “Does GOD exist?” Buddha said: “No, absolutely no.”
Then another man asked, “Does GOD exist?” Buddha said: “Yes, absolutely yes.”
A third man came and he asked, “Does GOD exist?” Buddha closed his eyes and remained utterly silent. The inquirer too closed his eyes. Something transpired and the man bent forward and touched the feet of Buddha reverentially. He said, “You are the first man who has answered my question” and left feeling grateful.
Buddha’s main disciple, Ananda, was very much puzzled: “Three answers for the same question? What is really the truth?”
Buddha said, “The first man who came was a theist, the second man who came was an atheist, the third man who came was an agnostic. My answer had nothing to do with GOD; my answer had something to do with the questioner. I was answering the questioner; it was absolutely unconcerned with GOD…”
All beliefs are barriers to the realization of the truth. Theist or atheists they are all tied to their own beliefs and systems!
“People follow certain concepts and ideas and they want to confirm their beliefs. All beliefs are barriers to knowing the truth…A right seeker has no belief, hence there was no question of destroying any ego or concepts. So Buddha kept silent. That was the message to me: Be silent and experience…”
“So we have to reach GOD ourselves…”
“Yes” I said. “A believer can never ever seek truth.”
“Do you know any technique or moola mantra for that…”
“Oh my GOD, you are still in the realm of mantra and tantra? I know those are great things. I also recite, I also go to temple, I also attend every rituals – these are part of my culture and I absolutely love those experiences….some things will work sometimes for some people – but not for all. If you visit a temple, you might get benefits, but that won’t happen in everybody’s life…lot and lot of inter-dependant factors and variables are involved…”
“Lot of contradictions in what you say…”
“This contradiction is the path to absolute truth. Our mind need definite, black and white or yes or no answer for everything. That won’t work in cosmic…”
“So what do you suggest…?”
“There are only two things you can do….either go ahead with your concepts of GOD or experience the absolute GOD…”
“Can you explain more?”
“See…your mind has already formed a concept of GOD, based on the beliefs that have been imbibed to you by our parents or community or religion or Guru or scripture, whatever. That concepts or beliefs conditions the mind and it becomes ego. And mind won’t allow its ego to get hurt- it will defend the ego…”
“So the entire life -some people may call it spiritual life (Incidentally spirituality is a Semitic idea and nothing to do with Hindu Dharma) – will go on defending, establishing and using modern science to explain the concepts. Even blunders in the Holy books are being manipulated to prove that it is scientifically true! This argument will continue with self or with others…if any of your concepts didn’t work, then again, you will find an explanation as to why it didn’t work so as to satisfy ego…this will continue throughout your life. Or worst-come-worst case, if your belief and concept didn’t work for you, you will convert to some other concepts or faith system. But you will never ever even think that those are just another set of concepts or perception on a layer of truth”
“That’s true…First I tried some poojas, then upasana and pilgrimage to Indian temples…that’s very true…Then I understand, GOD is not just your wish-make-true factor…”
“That’s another concept. Who said so? Sometimes GOD makes your wishes true. I also had lot of concepts, some of them formed without my knowledge…”
“For instance ?”
“I have long pooh-poohed stupid childish stories on the concept of a personal GOD, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as “divine messengers” and “prophets” time-to-time, demanding us to worship him or punish us. But then, one day I realised, I already have a concept of GOD so, these stories are against my conditioning. My ego is getting happy when I say “shameful” to those ignorant believers. That means, I am at fault. Let them believe whatever they want. Why can’t GOD come as a silly autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him as in the case of some religions? GOD is all contained – good and bad, silly or broad-minded, whatever.”
“Hmm…bit heavy for me…”
“Now let me see – tell me, what’s your concept of GOD?”
“First thing is that GOD is infinite…”
“What does that mean?”
“We are finite, and GOD is infinite…”
“Do you know what is “finite” and “infinite”? Finite means having limits. Infinite means being without limits. However, as soon as we put a limit around something and declare it to be finite, we simultaneously define its other which is infinite. But you know infinite contains finite, right? Otherwise how it can be infinite? So what’s the point in segregating anything into water-tight compartment? That helps only our conditioned-mind (or ego) and our thought process (which is linear)…”
“OK…I understand now. So you don’t believe in GOD in human form”
“I do. I have experienced GOD in many forms…So I think GOD is both personal and impersonal. If anybody wants to see GOD in the form of Rama, GOD will come as Rama – this is neither my belief nor truth – this is my personal experience, and I go by my own experience – everybody has unique experience”
“I am more confused now…You tell me in layman’s terms…Is Krishna a GOD? Rama a GOD? Were they alive?”
“Yes…GOD assumes any form imagined by the devotees…For me, Rama and Krishna were historical characters who were elevated to the level of avatars as they followed dharama…Those may be stories or myths for others. Or a simple reality….But then what’s the difference between reality and non-reality? Does it matter now? GOD is both manifest and un-manifest. ..So you cannot define GOD….for some religions, especially Semitic, GOD is personal. Even among Hindus a majority believes in personal GOD, though our scriptures do not clearly say about it…GOD can come as Rama or Krishna or as a Tsunami or plague or whichever form you want to see GOD, that’s my understanding”
“Hmm. So Rama and Krishna were GODs…”
“You still want to get definite and concrete answers because you are still in the realm of mind’s vicious circle. Mind always want a definite answer. If you want to believe in Rama and Krishna, go ahead and believe it – why do you need anybody’s affirmation or acknowledgement? Why should you defend your beliefs? Because you are not sure about it…”
“But if it is truth, shouldn’t we defend truth?”
“Truth doesn’t need a defender at all. For instance, we know the existence of sun as truth – believe or not, worship or not, pray or not – it does exist. It doesn’t make any difference for sun if you believe it or not. Sun doesn’t change its karma if you are killing or dying for it…Whether you pray or not, whether you worship or insult, for the Sun – everything immaterial…You will disappear after few years, right? But Sun will still remain as truth…That also is a transcendental truth…Sun has a life-expectancy period…”
“Ok I understand – my second concept was surrendering to GOD”
“Surrender is not an easy thing. Killing the ego is next to impossible. Ego will come in disguise. It can remain subtle. Ego is in-famous to develop even pseudo enlightenment. It is only when GOD Himself by His grace show your conditioned-mind to yourself that a complete surrender can be achieved. EGO is essentially the short form of “Edging God Out”. A person with EGO can never experience GOD…GOD cannot be realized by a mind that is hypocritical, calculating, or argumentative. To the sincere, GOD is very near; But GOD is far, far away from the hypocrite…So surrendering is not an easy task…”
“So you agree to the second concept – that surrendering will work…but how to do it…”
“Have you ever watched National Geographic or Animal Planet? Have you observed the life of Cats and Monkeys in the TV?”
“Yes – while I was in India in the childhood I had a Cat at home”
“OK – Can you tell me how the Cat takes care of her kittens?”
“Yes. The kittens don’t move by themselves. It just goes on meowing. So the mother cat lifts the kitten by holding its neck with its teeth, with gentle love and affection. Then it goes from place to place and deposits the kitten wherever it wants.”
“Very good observation. Now tell me, how mother monkey takes care of its little one?”
“The baby monkey holds firm to the underside of the belly of its mother and the mother moves from place to place. Sometimes it even jumps from branch to branch of trees at great height. The baby monkey just holds firm its mother and doesn’t let go…”
“Exactly right. Even if the baby monkey is bruised in the process, it doesn’t let go since instinct tells it that death is certain if it relaxes its grip. Thus in both cases, the mother carries the baby. But what a contrast? Right?”
“In Sanskrit, they are known as Marjala Kishora Nyaya and Markata Kishora Nyaya… Like the baby monkey it is responsibility of a devotee to hold on to his favorite GOD in spite of any troubles…till he understands his ego and de-conditions his concepts…”
“Then one day you will realize that you are free from your concepts and your ego dissolve…the devotee becomes like a kitten and it now becomes the responsibility of GOD like the mother cat to take care of the devotee…That’s total surrendering….”
After a moment of silence,Priya abruptly asked: “So, there is no use in prayers too?”
“GOD didn’t tell us to pray…But some writers or Gurus told us prayer would help…that may be true or just their perception. As I told earlier, sometime it works. Don’t search for security in anything. So I cannot generalize…”
“Do you pray?”
“Yes – you said you have read my articles. I have already written about my prayers…- sometimes I pray, sometimes I won’t…sometimes it works, sometimes not…But even before I plan to pray GOD knows about it, right? I don’t think that GOD would be petty enough to think:”let her pray for 100 times, then only I will listen to her”…If GOD is such petty-minded, there is no use to pray to such GOD…”
Priya closed her eyes and observed for a minute. Then said: “So what to do – I sincerely want to know how to reach GOD?”
“Why should you reach something that’s already in you? Take a glass in your hand – the air is inside and air is outside too…Similarly, you have GOD inside as well as outside.
In the GOD, you are also included, but you don’t know about it. When you experience the GOD, you will know that you are part of the GOD.
Everything is contained in the GOD. So you are always with GOD, never been away from GOD. …so go the next option – experience the GOD…”
“What do you mean by that?”
“GOD is a cosmic experience to be experienced. It cannot be described or explained. It is a unique and divine experience…My experience of GOD will be different from yours…”
“But? How? Meditation? Special prayers?”
“Oh GOD, again techniques or methods….you don’t need to do anything to experience GOD…everybody has unique experience…”
“So, GOD is everything, not confined to anything and it is easy to experience GOD”
“Yes – But only after realizing about your perception, concepts, and ego. Only after de-conditioning your mind. At present, you think that you are an individual, that there is the universe out there and that GOD is beyond the cosmos. So there is the idea of separateness. All concepts of GOD is based on this separatism….If you really want to experience the GOD this idea must go. For GOD is not separate from you or the cosmos….You are just part of the cosmos”
Priya again closed her eyes for some time and stood still in the pavement. I didn’t say anything.
“Uday, tell me how to experience GOD?”
“Shall I tell you another story?” I asked. Priya nodded her head
Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean…It wanted to tell others how deep the water was…. “What are you” asked the salt doll. “Come in and see” replied the Ocean with a smile. So the salt doll waded in. The doll started dissolving in the water….The further it went; the more it dissolved till there was only a pinch of it left. Before the last bit dissolved the doll exclaimed in ecstasy, “Now I realized what I am” It didn’t understand what the ocean is, but it realized what the “I” is.
“So, you can realize what you are, the limitations of you before dissolving into GOD…that’s all you can do…”
Priya closed her eyes for a moment and said: “I feel like crying…The story was like a silent prayer…”
“This story is told by Sri Ramakrishna. Now, tell me can this salt doll come back and tell you about the Ocean?”
“Not of course…”
“Those who experience GOD will become silent. Those who don’t experience GOD will fill their own mind and other’s with concepts, ideas and perception about GOD”
“As soon as our salt doll went in the ocean, it melted and became one with it. So, who remained to come and give the information? Those masters who are still in one of the layers of truth are telling you to follow their concepts and ideas…They may be sincere and earnest. But their experience may or may not suit you…And if you find it suitable, you can follow it…But that is no guarantee that you will experience GOD…”
“So we have to experience the existence of GOD every moment, every time, that’s what you say…in my breath there is GOD, I am happy to know that…and I am feeling more confident that I can directly be with GOD” her eyes were moist.
“Yes – see around you those trees on this road-side – have you ever noticed? They are silently announcing their existence and happily moving its leaves in harmony with wind – they are enjoying the divine experience….that light reflected in your tear drop is also reflection of GOD…it can be seen everywhere, every form, every moment and in everything….If you see GOD in everything, then every moment of life will become a festival of happiness”
“Thank you so much…I don’t know, but I feel very relaxed now…” her voice was shaky.
I didn’t say anything.
“How would you look at GOD?” Priya asked, “You were evading such questions without giving direct answer…”
“If GOD has created the world it is GOD’s business to look after it, not mine. So, I would tell GOD to mind your business,” and I winked at her:”then GOD would pinch me in my ears and would scold me, “you rascal, wait till I teach you a lesson.” There would be love and affection in GOD’s voice that my mother used to have when I say something naughty.
I said I was not joking – “that’s the freedom I have with the GOD and that’s the freedom GOD has given me – for, my definition of GOD is freedom. That freedom comes from my love to GOD and GOD’s love to me. I see GOD in everything – he, she and it. It is all contained. It is beyond definition. That’s my GOD – so loving, so caring, so sharing….”
* * * * *
P.S: Next day morning Priya called me in my hotel number. She asked: “See, Uday, you didn’t tell me how to deal with my problems….I was totally immersed in GOD and forgot to discuss about how to handle my problems…”
I replied: “You said, everything in the universe is creation of GOD. Yes, except one thing: Our Mind. It is a creation of human conditioning. So it can go wrong. So mistakes and errors happen. And we blame it on GOD…That which moves is mind, that does not move is GOD – this is the gist of all Indian philosophy in a nut-shell, as far as I have learned. Since you have a mind, you move. So stop trusting your thoughts…The reason for all your problems is simple: you trust all your thoughts and chase it. Stop this habit. Then you will see the solution very clearly.”
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