“God is not a person. God is a presence.”

In the name of God and religion mankind remains divided. Only when each of us realizes the ‘godliness’ in us will all this strife cease.
I read two interesting stories in the papers today. Both had to do with “controversial” Tweets posted well-known personalities. One is Ram Gopal Varma, the highly-talented film-maker, who’s presently going through a bad run at the box office. Varma tweeted a purportedly derogatory remark against Lord Ganesha, whose birthday it was on Friday. Varma wanted to know what obstacles Ganesha had removed for his devotees in all these years that they had been worshipping him. Naturally, the devotees, particularly Hindus, were up in arms against Varma. Their angst forced Varma to issue an apology for his insensitive remark. The other Tweet was by DMK leader M.K.Stalin who wished everyone a “Happy Ganesh Chaturthi”. This surprised his followers and his detractors alike. Now, the DMK is a “rational Dravidian party” that does not follow or champion any religion or God. So, some of Stalin’s followers lamented that he was “breaching party protocol and tradition”, while others treated his “social, secular greeting” as a “new beginning” for the party. Stalin, for his part, chose not to comment any further – even as the debate continued on whether he had done the “right thing or not.”
I have nothing to say for or against what either gentleman has had to tweet. My point is this – why do we give so much importance to God and religion? Why do we divide humanity on that count?
Down the ages, all through history, God has been seen only from two angles by mankind. There’s one view which says that God is a person, someone high above – who cannot be seen, but who has to be feared and followed. This is where religion came in and made matters worse. Each religion is basically saying this: if you follow our processes, rituals and practices, we will show you the way to God. And so, for lack of any other option, people follow a religion. And, sometimes, they move from one religion to another hoping to find God – that elusive person who apparently has all the answers and solutions people desperately want! The other view challenges this view and invites us to be rational, to be scientific and to apply common-sense and intelligence. It questions the futility of this ongoing search for God. And those who hold this view have successfully maintained – and often argued – that there is no God. These are the atheists. What the atheists have done further, apart from denying that God is a person, is that they have, without any material evidence, denied the presence of God too. What I have understood, primarily from following the Buddha’s teachings and Osho’s, the Master’s, works is that there is also a third view. And that view says – “God is not a person. God is a presence.”
This is such a beautiful perspective. And I relate to it completely. It invites us to consider that God is not someone, God is an experience. In fact, Zen Buddhism says God is in the stillness, in the silence, in the magic and the beauty of all creation. And Osho says, when you shift your focus from searching for God, to experiencing yourgodliness, you become free. I find great value in that insight. As long as you are searching for God, you remain hostage to religion. Irrespective of which religion you follow, your search for God remains incomplete and you are bound by tradition and rituals. You can’t ask why something is being done. You can’t seek. You must just follow. But, through the flowering of inner awareness – often through practising silence periods or any form of meditation – when you awaken to your godliness, you realize that what you seek is within you. Then religion becomes an avoidable process. And God becomes a personal, direct experience.
As I journeyed through Life, I too ended up searching for God all over the place. I have been through rituals, prayers and tried all religions – and have visited several places of worship. But I finally found God in fellow human beings – who through their kindness and compassion continue to touch my Life in myriad, beautiful ways. I find God in every aspect of creation – in a sunrise, in a raindrop, in the chatter of the birds and in the breeze that soothes me on a hot summer afternoon. I find God in my happiness – in my state of “simply being” irrespective of what circumstance I am facing. This is the way, over the last several years, I have come to experience God – and my godliness! When you realize your godliness, and feel God’s presence in everyone and everything, then you are forever prayerful, forever blissful and forever at peace!

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