SPIRITUALITY 3 – MY FAVOURITE GOD – RESPONSES TO OBSERVATIONS
I am happy that my previous posting ‘My Favourite God’ has evoked some interesting observations and I thought it would require a separate posting by itself to give my responses. The summary of the observations is as below:
1)Does it still matter if it is false hope? Does objective truth not matter at all?
2. Ignorance can be confused with courage; more knowledge in almost all cases leads to more worries (which is what God was essentially telling us in the Bible, it seems to me). Does that mean we give up trying to know stuff and 'embrace the mystery' of the universe?
3. something that cannot be defined or within the comprehension of the human mind - Yet(if, by this, you mean the universe in general, for which I presume I could say God is a stand-in)!
4) Even if I were ever to accept that there is a God, the idea that He/She/It is fundamentally unknowable seems a tad defeatist about humanity in general and contrary to the principle of a benevolent God. Surely, a compassionate God who condescends enough to bother with human affairs would also make it so that He is easily comprehensible with a minimum of effort.
I have tried to respond as per my own understanding of life, not that I am writing this as a disclaimer but because I sincerely believe that everyone has his own view of life and a code of ethics he follows to ensure a comfortable conduct of his life.
First let us tackle the question of false hope. Hope is hope, it cannot be false or true. This question can only arise only after the event you were hoping for happens. So we can never be judgemental where ‘Hope” is concerned, for once the event happens hope vanishes.
Nowhere is it said that ignorance can be confused with courage. Knowledge is without boundaries. It has always been the quest of the human to know more and more in the ‘Hope’ that he will understand the mysteries of life. He has discovered through the centuries, through thousands of years, that there is still more to discover. Whatever knowledge he gains there will always be more to be gained. I do not think that we can ever envisage the end of knowledge. If it so happens then that will be the end of the world and that is what I believe. That is why I have given the analogy of infinity. For me God is infinity and so incomprehensible in that sense.
I have stated above that man’s quest has always been to know more and more about the mysteries of the universe. The question I am faced with at this juncture is why should man at all be interested in unravelling the mysteries of the world in which he is living. He could have simply lived like other animals – hunted for food and procreated as a natural impulse. It was when he felt threatened by the furies of nature that he devised means of shielding himself from the elements and that was when he started to think of better and better ways of protecting himself. And that’s where the key word lies ‘protecting’. That is his fear of extermination. I may sound dramatic but the truth is every human being is filled with the anxiety of non existence whether he outwardly shows this or not. There comes a time when he sits down and contemplates on the futility of his existence and this happens when he is faced with a crisis – the loss of a loved one or stricken by a life threatening disease. This anxiety is recognised in the entire journey of western philosophy from Socrates to Sartre. Like you said that there is nothing wrong with labelling oneself, I agree with that and the fact that it will give rise to a discourse between groups. This is required because contrarian views are necessary for arriving at some understanding of the problem on hand. I said that I do not believe in attaching a label to myself because God for me is a subjective experience and very personal.
I believe that all religions offer ‘hope’ in the form of God. That is not bad at all for that is what has bound the social fabric through the centuries. You will agree that every individual is unique in the sense that they differ in their realisation of the potential within them, in our parlance some are more intelligent than others, so your statement that ‘more knowledge leads to more worries in almost all cases’ will be applicable to the lesser fortunate among us, let them be happy in a God that gives them hope. If we try telling them that ‘life is absurd’ and there is no such thing as God what will happen to them? That’s where religion comes in to play. Even the existentialists who believe this do give a hope by saying that we should live an authentic life. You and I will understand this as leaving something behind to make our life meaningful and authentic. Even this viewpoint, that though there is nothing beyond death, still there is an inherent wish to eternalise oneself.
That is where I talked about the Gita, because apart from trying to make us understand that the Supreme Being or Brahman, which we label as God is an all encompassing concept, it provides a code of ethics and a way to live an authentic life and it gives hope through the concept of Karma. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you believe in Karma or not, man’s quest has been to eternalise himself. It is only because of this urge that he creates, he discovers.
The day I discover God I shall cease to exist in this external world for I will not have anything more to understand. May be that’s what happened to the Buddha and all the other saints chronicled in the course of the history of man. Not that they stopped interacting with the world around them but set about helping others to cope with the miseries of existence in a better way. They showed the way to salvation – by this I mean a freedom from the bondage that each individual is bound by. I find no dichotomy in this and the view of the existentialists notably Sartre who says “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does”. I believe that the Buddha says something similar. For Sartre “Existence precedes essence – that is man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world and defines himself afterwards”. I believe the Gita also shows the way to define ourselves.
Compassionate, benevolent or a condescending God are all labels we have given. As I understand God is as compassionate, or malevolent as we ourselves are. That is because he is within ourselves and we cannot stop believing ourselves.