(The principal of a large school in Bombay gave us a list of frequently asked questions by 13 year old children in her school and asked us whether we can prepare answers in the light of a spiritual perspective. When we looked at the question we found that they are not mere “kid-stuff.” Most of them are either fundamental and existential questions related to world and God or psychological problems faced by most of us. This series is an attempt to answer these questions from the children’s perspective in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We don’t know how far we have succeeded in communicating to the children. Nevertheless, we hope these answer may be of some help to teachers and parents who have to deal with children. There are around thirty questions with answers given in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We will post these questions and answers at regular intervals.)
What is God?
What or rather Who is God and Where He is? Let us begin our enquiry from the facts we know. There is I am and the world around. Have you ever thought of what is the source of your own being and the source of the world around made of the stone and the plant and the animal and the sea and the sun and the moon and the stars? Can we say that source of my own self and the world around is God?
Let us begin our enquiry from the world around us. When we come across a beautiful piece of art or something complex, strange and wonderful, we tend to ask who made it? The world around us, when we observe closely, is something infinitely more beautiful, complex, and wonderful than any man-made object. Who is the maker of this world? You might have in your science class learnt that the world is governed by laws like laws of gravity, laws of Newton. Who is the maker of these laws? Infact it is not right to say, “Newton’s Laws” Laws of gravity or laws of motion do not belong to Newton; he has not created those law; they have existed before Newton, who has only discovered it. Who is the creator of these laws? Who is that world-maker and the law-maker? Is He the God we are searching for?
There is so much beauty in Nature, in the blue sky, in the raising and setting Sun, in the twinkling stars, soft rays of the moon, lush green meadows, and flowers. What is the source of that beauty? There is also a great harmony in Nature. The laws you study in science are part of that great harmony. When you become older and study the thought of great scientists like Einstein, they will tell you that there is such a delicate, precise balance in these laws of Nature and in the structure of the universe. For example, scientists say if the carbon atoms have one electron less in their orbit there would be no life in our planet. Look at the way earth is made, with such minute precision, to support life. Can an ordinary human intelligence do this? There must be a supreme Intelligence in Nature which has made all these things. Is that almighty Intelligence the God we are seeking?
Again when we look at Nature there is so much variety, creativity, such a rich variety and diversity of creation from the tiny atom and the electron to the giant whirling planets and stars, from the minutest germs, algae and the worm to the huge dinosaurs, what is the source of that creativity in nature. Is that supreme creative Power, the God we are trying to find?
Have you noticed that we are using the words, “Nature” and “God” alternatively? Are they one or different? According to Indian seers, Nature and God are not two different entities, but they are one. Nature is the creative energy and attributes of God. God and Nature are like Fire and its burning power or the Persona and his Qualities. Nature is the Power, Creativity, Beauty and Harmony inherent in God.
But as we have said earlier, God is not only the source of the world, but also our own being. Let us now examine how. Sit down silently and look within yourself. What do you feel? The first thing you feel is perhaps your body. And again if you look a little deeper, you feel your breath, which gives you the feeling that you are not merely a body, but some one living, breathing. What is the source of that life-force within you, that force or energy which is behind the life-force, the Life of your life? Could it be God?
Now look again a little deeper into your mind which is full of thoughts, ideas which seek for knowledge and your heart which is full of feelings, emotions, which wants to love and to be loved. When you know or learn something which you don’t know, when you solve a problem in mathematics, when you understand clearly a concept or idea, what is the light which gives you that knowledge or understanding? Similarly when you are happy, peaceful, loving, kind, generous, what is the source of these good feelings? Now imagine a state of consciousness where this knowledge, understanding, happiness or love is perfect and absolute. Could this be the consciousness of God?
Let us probe a little further and deeper. When you have a thought or feeling don’t identify with it; look at it as a witness, as if you are looking at a movement within you, but which is not you. When you practice this witnessing act for sometime you will see you have something within you which not only thinks, feels and knows but aware it is thinking, aware it is feeling, aware it is knowing. Here there is a deeper light than thinking and knowing, which reveals what you are thinking and feeling and the nature and content of your thought and feeling, in otherwords there is a consciousness beyond your thinking, knowing and feeling by which you know your thinking, knowing and feeling. What is the source of this consciousness? Is there a perfect, universal and absolute consciousness behind your personal and individual consciousness? Is that God?
We have covered much ground, probing into the deeper recess of our self to discover God. Let us take one more step into our depths. Look into yourself and ask yourself what is the most basic and fundamental experience of your life. There is something beyond the experience of thinking, feeling, knowing or even witnessing. When you think or feel or know or watch as a witness, do you feel a persistent sense of I know, I feel, I think, I witness? You may not be fully conscious of it, but only a vague half-conscious feeling of “I” ness. Behind this sense of “I” ness there is a more fundamental sense of “I AM” or “I Exist”. What is behind this fundamental sense of existence, the sense of “I AM?” Is it God, who is your very existence, the “Am” ness in the “I AM” feeling.
We are investigating what or who is God? The next question is where He is? What you have heard about this question? Someone sitting in the sky and looking at you from above? But this answer will not satisfy you if you have pursued the earlier enquiry into the question, “Who is God” with me. We have arrived at some glimpses or hints or clues to this question. We have arrived at the possibility that God is perhaps the Life of our life, Consciousness of our consciousness, Being of our being. So God is not perhaps so far as the traditional religions say, sitting some where in the remote inaccessible heavens in the sky. He is perhaps much closer. How close? The Holy Koran, scripture of Islam, says God is closer to you than your jugular vein. Does it mean he is within our body? Yes, but still deeper and closer. Within our life-breath? Yes, even deeper and closer. Within our mind our consciousness? Yes, yes, as we have discussed earlier, He is the consciousness by which we are conscious. He is within our consciousness and also beyond it, as the source of it. Our consciousness is part of His consciousness. So He knows whatever that is going on within our mind and heart. Nothing can escape His all-knowing Gaze; nothing can be hidden from Him. He knows us better than we know ourself because our knowledge is imperfect but His knowledge is perfect. He knows us perfectly because He has made us. He has created our body, mind and life from his own universal Body, Mind and Life. And finally, as we have discussed earlier we exist because He has given us existence. We exist by His existence. Without Him we are a big zero, even less than zero, because even zero has an existence and exists by His existence.
Our search for an answer to the question, “What is God” is nearing its end. But until now our enquiry is based on the experience of our individuality. But God is not an individual. His experiences are not confined to the limited and narrow walls of an ego. So to have some glimpse of God’s consciousness you have to use your imagination to universalize your experience. God is universal and infinite consciousness which means Omniscient. He is universal and infinite Life, Energy, Power, and Creativity which means omnipotent. He is Universal and Infinite Love, Beauty and Joy, which means all All-blissful. He is universal and infinite Existence which means Omnipresent.