Posted tagged ‘god’

Pondering and rambling..

August 15, 2013

Writing is laborious at times, especially when one decides to strew words together to form a meaningful and purposeful piece. The artist is more blessed than the writer in this labour of love.  He can dab colours at will and fancy, let them form meanings of their own and allow the viewer to discern and dissect what had never ever occurred to him while creating. The writer is not so fortunate. He cannot let words fall in disarray. Words are more precious than colours. They can’t be sprayed carelessly or with carefree abandon. They need to fall in place, and that place has to be determined in advance not left to destiny’s design.

In the beginning, they all declare, was the word. That may have been the only word that dropped out of nowhere to become something not really planned; this surmise could be wrong too since in a primordial pondering,  they all also say that word was the beginning. Just daring to go a little further, a thought comes to mind that in the beginning there was the thought, and thought became the beginning and in the beginning was the word. Word, the form of thought is perhaps the first idol of the formless thought that god is made of.  

What indeed is God and why God? The inevitable and obvious answer to this puzzle is that god is the need for mankind to express and explore existence. In this exploration is contained the negation of the hypothesis of god, in this need for expression is contained the human urge to express and leave an imprint. Having witnessed the disappearance of fellow species, fearing similar extinction, ancients might have felt the urge to leave traces of themselves in eternity and not vanish into void, knowing that sowing their seeds alone would not guarantee a permanent place on earth. Thus would have, in the beginning, born a word.

Word is thought, uttered or written; and word has been declared as the beginning and as god. Thought therefore is god and the mind therefore is god’s natural abode as the mind too is formless and open to multiple interpretations like god.

As is the common vanity of humans who could afford to experiment various forms with words, some would have  experimented with expressions of thought in art forms. In the beginning perhaps an artist gave form to his shapeless yet sharp thought and created an idol. In a modest moment he may have ignored the urge to replicate himself in art and created some form that was not exactly his self but an expansion of it. He called it god, and IT was declared god. The form created by imagination, the manipulative quality of thought, gave scope for words to be imagined. Words eulogized the form and claimed that, ‘that’ form inspired words. Words and forms, created their own structural formulae to withstand the decay and death the definitive threat of time.

Therefore and thus, THOUGHT, the formless void, became, by itself, words and forms, to live on and on in the mindscape for eternity. ‘Thought’,  the force, became the idol in the special space that was named as mind. They became inseparable and the temple became god and god became the temple, to be worshipped so that the proximity that can puzzle was distanced with respect- respectful in a self-preserving safe defense. Once the preliminary structure was formed, rules and rituals were determined and put in place. Grammar was formulated as were rituals and rites. The formless was framed in form.

Once in a while, the free spirit of the original formless thought would break through the rigid walls that humans had built around it, to try and become formless again. Whenever that happened, the fearful humanity would capture that formless leak of the designed form, and make a new form, a new grammar and a new order. Negations were thus negated. And words continue to fall into structured patterns. New forms were declared as new designs, and designs were newly formulated. The walls of the prison were and are, extended to encompass whatever escaped or tries to. The prison became designated as a shrine, and worship was a way of ensuring and checking that the imprisoned formless thought remained the acceptable word and form.

Thinking about thought, words keep propping about words too. Thought indeed is the primal word. in the beginning it was the word, and the beginning was THOUGHT, uncluttered, unstructured, untainted by imagination, unpolluted with rules, unformed but containing all including itself, the original self, the God. To that god I dedicate these ramblings, bits and pieces of itself.


Total zero or complete circle -the metaparadox of God

September 4, 2008

Is there God? My answer is yes.

Is it useful? My answer is yes.

What is God? My answer is silence.

Having thought about God, read about God and even believing that I have experienced God, discussing the matter or the energy that makes God is difficult. My God can be experienced but not explained. It is not just the supernatural fantasy tales’ thousand faced hero; it is a millisecond that multiplies itself into eternity. It is truth absolving itself. It is a metaparadox.

From time immemorial, God has been an intriguing subject for introspection and discussion. The wise men who were able to plot astronomical maps and solve mathematical puzzles in all the early civilizations invariably agreed on the presence of God. It is only in the later years that philosophers chose to question the existence of God. Even when God is described as the essence of existence, existentialism denies God!

God is a convenience that operates on all conscious actions as an unconscious motivation. This very statement may not be a comfortable hypothesis, but it does imply that there is a psychological perspective to be explored in this avenue. Before going further let us sharpen our explorative tools. The Psyche is often synonymously called the mind or its functional capacity. The psyche generally is a product of learning. A culture always teaches. When there is no cultural connotation even an epic would become meaningless. In the case of God, the cultural teaching is universal though the practice is regional- like the dress ethos. Is God necessary? According to Voltaire, “Even if there was no God, it would be necessary to invent him.”

Atheist declarations masquerading as rational assertions (even if we were to take only the honest statements of the believers of disbelief and not the hypocrites’ rhetoric) are invariably a negation. It is not just the word God that infuriates the socially committed rationalist-atheist; it is the concept of God with its socio-cultural consequences that invokes their wrath. Unfortunately God is the word to be used to understand, even if to ultimately deny God – and this is not just because it has been written that in the beginning was the word and word was God.

Early humans were indeed in awe and wonder at nature’s phenomena. Lightning and thunder, sun and moon, fire and water all became unfathomable mysteries for them. As can be seen from the Rg Vedic hymns, varied manifestations of nature were described and worshipped as Gods. This multiplicity became unified into a singular supremacy in later sophisticated upanishads which declared that the universe is God and the universe is within you. Whether named or anomic, designed in exquisitely finite forms or perceived as absolutely formless, God came to stay.

Since God had become an indispensable part of the cultural psyche, the cunning clever connived to create a social order around the epicenter of God. Matters relating to God became prohibited territory for the common man. The ordinary had to accept what the allegedly learned declared. Customs and rituals were crafted by the wily to magnify the mystery of God. The average man was forcibly distanced from God. Worshipping was almost mandatory, but worship was stylized. Intermediaries and agents came into the new design. In due course the idea became just an idol.

Strangely myths told and retold all over the world with their geo-cultural idioms still held a common thread. Zeus gave birth to a god to lead his army, so did Shiva and both of them bequeathed the commander of the armies from their forehead! Over the centuries myths with their symbolic spiritual meanings became simple tales of fantasy and fun. Science went about discovering, and consequently inventing, with great speed. Man was flooded with many things, with which he had many things to do, including making money. God became more distant and a social obligation. Despite pictorial reminders in every place, God became the focus of attention only on select days of convenience. Yet, God remained in the psyche of humans.

Psychology with its inherent curious nature did try to comprehend the complexity of God. Freud did not believe in God, but his concept of super-ego and what many have been declaring as the laws or commandments of God go hand-in-hand. Jung however believed there is divinity, and he even declared it as the unconscious. He went further to insist that this unconscious was collective and universal. He meant that we all know deep inside even the meaning of the most sacred secrets of srichakra. He however was refused recognition by peers and posterity. William James, the original psychophilosopher wrote the wonderful book, `varieties of religious experiences’ in which he tried to enumerate and even quantify some of the experiences that were considered the exclusive domain of enlightened mystics. When psychology interacted constructively with neurology, some of the mystical experiences were studied, and it has been discovered that when certain areas of the brain are stimulated artificially, people do experience states of altered consciousness that has been described and reported by mystics all over the world. Though the experiences are simulated, they did not produce the constant ecstasy that the really enlightened emanated.

Indescribable and ineffable ecstasy is always associated with experiencing God. Human pursuits are all directed towards happiness. The very purpose of life is to be happy. Ecstasy is the peak of happiness. Being in tune with God is supposed to be the peak of ecstasy. God therefore may be surmised as the goal towards which the mind strives. IF THE WORD GOD IS REPLACED WITH PEACE OR HAPPINESS it would make great psychological sense and even be accepted by Freudians.

There have been some qualities that are commonly ascribed to God in all religions and cultures. They are incorporeality, simplicity, unity, eternity, immutability, impassability, goodness, omniscience and omnipotence. Amongst these, omnipotence, omnipresence and eternal goodness are the key concepts that help the distressed human. When there is a need to cry on a shoulder, lean on a pillar, beg or be angry, God is the most convenient object that the mind seeks. God becomes an assured reassurance to whom no favors need to be returned with thanks. This convenience of God is necessary for the human who becomes more self-obsessed and alienated in these times that race with time. God therefore is the mind’s auto defense against unfulfilled desires and failures. Thus is God needed more in sadness than in joy and therefore relegated to remote corners of convenient forgetfulness. Since God is not expected to be mean and angry at ingrates, it (or he or she) becomes like a valuable dictionary shelved to be used occasionally only when an intriguing word appears on the book of life. This convenience is not common knowledge and the social order developed by selfish self-designated religious chiefs, permits and even propagates misconceptions which force the unsuspecting unknowing to engage in idiotic vagaries or idiosyncrasies which range from simple depositing of a `fine’ in the coffers of a temple to tonsuring or torturing oneself.

Word and God have somehow been described as one in the Vedas and the Bible. It would have been a primal sound that became a word with the advent of alphabets. Indian wisdom described this sound as AUM. God is considered as AUM and vice versa. So, to know what is God, one should know what AUM means. In Hindu mythology there is a story that Muruga, the son of Shiva – perhaps using the power of being the Supemo’s son, caught hold of Brahma, the creator-God who also is supposed to be the embodiment of knowledge, and asked him the meaning of AUM. Brahma tried to give vague explanations and the infuriated Muruga put him in a cell! Shiva had to intervene and Muruga insisted that Shiva come to him as a student and only then will he tell the real meaning. Legend says that Shiva went to Muruga as a student and the secret was whispered into his ears! This story was narrated to me by Jeyakanthan the doyen-genius of Tamil Literature, with this curious ending. In his version, Muruga whispers into Shiva’s ears, “ athu onnum illappa” (meaning it is actually nothing).

Perhaps that is the absolute truth. God is nothing- a total zero which can work out any equation or a complete circle that will encompass everything. Inshah Allah we will know the truth.

this was written in 2006  october for Ritz magazine chennai