Sumant: Does God exist ? Whether it is HE or SHE or neither? Whether He is a tyrant who punishes bad or immoral people in this life or life hereafter in hell or whether He is all compassionate and merciful who comes to the help of good, moral and God oriented people and secures a place for them in heaven ?
Swami : I suggest you catch your breath as you have asked too many presumptive questions. We shall talk about it later. I may, however, clarify that to know about God or to describe Him can only be done by a god like person as only equals or peers can best comment upon Him. I am only a mortal Seeker who wishes to seek Truth. Very few enlightened saints have been able to experience Him / Her and none can describe Him in words as human language has severe limitations. We can only describe Him in the negative-nasti, nasti (not this, not this).
Sumant : I am sorry, Swami ji, for taking liberties as my curiosity to know the Truth has overwhelmed me. What is Truth then?
Swami : Truth is that which exists. For instance, light is truth and darkness untruth. Darkness is only absence of light. We can create light by lighting a candle or diya but we can create darkness only by removing or eclipsing the source of light. Darkness is thus a negation of light. Truth is like light. The light is essentially white in colour but it disperses into a rainbow through refraction/ reflection depending upon the medium. Similarly, Truth is one effulgent entity but is perceived differently depending upon the the level of enlightenment of the individuals. The basic human qualities like truthfulness, goodness, beauty ( satyam, shivam, sundaram) are eternal truths but their negation untruth. Every one likes others to be truthful, good, loving and pleasing to him but he may not conduct himself in that manner.
Truth is at two levels, mundane and spiritual. At mundane level, we call truth as one which is an empirical fact confirmed by the senses- mind is also a sense. Falsehood is distortion or perversion of facts. Science does not acknowledge existence of anything which can not be established as a tangible, proven fact either based on sense perception or irrefutable logical inference. Science thus operates at the level of senses and human mind.
The other truth is beyond the sense perceptions and the mind and, therefore, exists in the realm of spirituality .It seeks to transcend the physical limitations of space and time.
While fruits of scientific inventions can be enjoyed by every one possessing basic intelligence without having to understand the underlying principles or mechanism , every seeker of spirituality has to make an inward journey himself. No one can tell him the Truth though glimpses thereof or guidance thereto can be given by an enlightened Guru. The Truth can be felt but not proved in empirical terms, hence the dichotomy between science and spiritualitythough they will eventually converge as science progressively crosses the frontiers of physics into abstract mathematics, logic and inference, much in the footsteps of Albert Einstein, who had almost reached the threshold of spirituality. He established mathematically the co-relation between the tangible Mass and the intangibles, Light and Energy in his equation : E=MC2 and acknowledged the mystery of the universe stating that supreme intelligence pervades the universe
Sumant : If our karmas determine our fate, then why should one worship God, who, you say , does not interfere with our life ? If this view is accepted, will not the faith of a a worshipper be shaken and all religious places-temples, churches, mosques, gurudwaras etc become redundant ?
Swami : That the karmas essentially determine our fate is a universal principle. The Hindu scriptures have, however, enlarged the principle to include karmas in the past-prarbdh as well as in the continuous life cycle-kriyaman. AS I have said , having a belief in God is better than being a skeptic or non-believer. While it is definitely difficult to convince people through arguments to prove either the existence or non-existence of God, the former gives some hope and the latter despair. Lord Buddha perhaps wisely chose not to get into the argument and remained silent about the existence of God. While it did not matter at all to Lord Buddha as had attained enlightenment ; this has given Buddhism a certain streak of pessimism; a feeling of void ( shunyata), whereas other established religions give hope to the believers. A skeptic is neither here nor there. A non-believer gains nothing for his views except becoming conceited, arrogant and assumes himself the maker of his fate and of others. The arrogant, despots, dictators, rulers have often bitten the dust at the end.They either committed suicide, as Hitler did, or end their days in despondency.
AS a sanyasi, I do, however, believe ( as I would elaborate later ) in the existence of God or a cosmic power which controls and regulates the universe. By worshipping the God or Goddess, we believe in, we only fortify ourselves, as I have said earlier, and are able to endure hardship with greater courage and patience. Faith leads us to righteousness and good human qualities as all scriptures assure us that God would be pleased if we are kind, compassionate, loving and helpful to others.
By submitting to Him through devotion, we enlarge our personality to include other sentient beings who too are his creation. Devotion purifies us, ennobles us, sublimates us provided it is not for seeking selfish gains. Observance of rituals alone is not worship.In fact, rituals and the intermediary priests , sometimes become obstacles in reaching Him. A true worshipper seeks happiness not only for himself or his near and dear ones but for the whole humanity in the manner of incantation of rishis of yore as expressed in the Upanishad; ” sarve bhavantu sukhinah, survey santu niramayah, survey bhadrani pashyantu , ma kaschid dukhbhagbhavate “( May all attain happness, may all enjoy good health, may all see goodness, may none undergo suffering) or that ; ” tamso ma jyotir gamayah, asato ma sadgamayah, mrityo ma amritam gamah”( May we move away from darkness to light, from untruth to truth, from death to immortality ).
( To be continued …after a fortnight )