There have been times when I have written something because I felt the need to do so, and there have been times when I have written because I felt that if I didn't do so, something great would go terribly amiss from my life. The latter thing happens considerably less frequently with me, and it's occurring now.
The existence of God, and the merits of religion have long been debated and discussed. I am not trying to merely repeat all that. This time, I'll question my inner self for the answers that I need. There are a lot of questions in my mind regarding faith, and the sooner they are solved the better. I would consider myself lucky if some of my readers cared to help me in my search, for it's a long and arduous one, and has been going on and on for years no one can possibly count. If not in me, in the minds and hearts of those who pause to think why birth and death exist. For I believe that ultimately every odyssey on the path of religion and spiritualism ultimately leads to the two elementary and yet unquestionably important questions: birth and death.
Let me try to elaborate to the best of my abilities. Birth, I believe, is not wholly synonymous with the appearance of the first "living" being on the universe. When I use the word "birth" I take it in a wider sense-- the genesis of the universe. Yes the very same vast vessel which is home to everything that is known and unknown to us. The funny thing is that we aren't even unaware of life beyond our universe, if you do understand what I mean! But let's not stray from the topic at the core of this essay. Scientists have long accepted the Big Bang Theory as the most plausible explanation for the birth of the universe, which states that the whole of matter was condensed in a extremely small and highly heated volume and for some reason that matter suddenly expanded giving rise to galaxies, and constellations-- planets, stars, nebulae and every single celestial body we know.
Now, here's my question: what made that earliest "atom" expand all of a sudden? I am not much aware of any explanation about this particular question. Most research about the cosmological birth of the universe is about how it all happened. But my question is, why did it happen? Or rather, what made the big bang happen? Could not the theoretically assumed condensed mass of matter remain in the same way for eternity? And it's precisely at this point where I think that the existence of some otherworldly force becomes relevant. (As a parallel idea, think about this: the book of Genesis says, "God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light".) Some supposedly scientific-minded people have always steadfastly maintained that one cannot be scientific and religious at the same time-- that believing in God is ultimately rejecting the cold logic of science. How then could the authors of the Bible predict the same theory that 20th century scientists have formulated and proved long after the Bible was written? Does this small example not somehow convince one that religion and science ultimately do point to the same direction: and that it is ultimately a choice between what you like to believe you are following. The religiously inclined rational man knows that he is almost as much scientific in his thinking! No wonder that one of the foremost proponents of the Big Bang was a Roman Catholic priest named Georges Lemaître.
Now comes the most important question: what is God, and if at all he exists where can one find him? Frankly, I don't have definite answers to any of the two above questions, but I do know what I want to believe. Confusing, ain't it? Let me elaborate. I believe God is omnipresent and omniscient, like so many scholars before me have said. It's not in any specific place that God resides. He is everywhere. Basically, that would be calling every single atomic and sub-atomic particle in the whole universe a manifestation of God (though, I am not asking one to "reduce" the whole grand concept of God to such a dry scientific fact at all: given a choice, even I would refrain from doing so). God is hence present in all physical and chemical processes, and every single thing in our lives is therefore a direct wish of what God wants us to do. Again, let's go back to the Holy Book. It says that humans are made in the image of God. The simplicity in what I believe is therefore vastly useful-- it proves (one can exclaim, "very scientifically!") that we are indeed made of God, since we are after all a cluster of cells! If the remarkable conclusions of this simple belief is not enough, let's delve even deeper.
How does God affect our decisions? Or is He at all instrumental in deciding our actions? The answer is 'yes' again. I shall explain quite simply. If one is indeed so devoid of humour and charm to reduce the human thought and decision process to chemical reactions inside the brain, so be he. The very fact that every single process in the universe (including chemical reactions inside our brain!) is ultimately a series of changes between particles, their configurations and energy states simply shows that God (the aforementioned elementary particles) ultimately affects our decisions. Having said all this, let me say that I believe in a greater God! Oh no, I am not going into another foolish debate regarding whose God is better, and whose religion is more foolhardy (two recommendations in this regard: Tolstoy's short story The Coffee House of Surat and Narayan Gangopadhyay's comic masterpiece Tin Bidhata
). When I say "greater God", I refer to a more complete representation of the Almighty: a representation not only limited to the basic physical state of Him, but also to the inner self of God himself. And this representation, I know, is conscience. If we were all created in the image of God, I believe we all have God trapped in our souls. And this God is our own inner voice: the guide that is omnipresent (got the connection now?!), always waiting for us to seek it's help. Even in the darkest of nights, there is but one who can guide us to light. For light is God, and God is light! And light is the ultimate realisation of life-- the enlightened one assimilates into the greater universal self leaving his worldly remains behind! Which brings me to the second part of the two all-important incidents: death.
And so here's a poser again: can anyone tell me what will finally happen to the universe, which is scientifically generally believed to be expanding ever since it's inception? Or as an afterthought, where do we go after we die? Now of course, religion has an answer ready for that: according to the righteousness of one's deeds, his soul enters one of the two gates of Heaven and Hell. I don't believe that physically either of the two exist. They are, as explained by countless philosophers before, merely two states of the mind. The guilty goes through living hell, and the righteous man knows mental peace a.k.a. Heaven. But beyond that, I am quite clueless. And I believe that so is everyone! For if we discover the secret behind our genesis and ending, the purpose in our lives will be lost. Here are my questions regarding the matter: where does that soul go after all, say after it's tenure is over in heaven or hell? Or does it come back as proposed by the karmic circle? And if it does, what exactly decides which body the soul will enter in it's next life? Yes yes, my questions almost border on childishness, but believe me when I say that I am not being facetious.
Just a final thing to say: is it necessary to believe in God? Even if God does not physically exist, which is a very safe assumption, after all? And I firmly answer, yes. Because one does need something to cheer him up during the darkest of times; because without belief, one may lose his identity when he has no one to help him. Only those who have known death and suffering closely will probably completely understand what I mean, and possibly better than me since I have myself never been through too much trauma. Take the Israelites during the Exodus for example, had they not believed in a greater power, they could not have won their land against all odds. (Thanks to Leon Uris and Exodus for this nugget!) God is the ultimate realisation, I believe. A realisation that permeates all worldliness. God is there in nature, in music, in poetry. Just open your eyes and feel Him. But do NOT for God's sake turn your belief into fanaticism. No God ever preached that he is greater than somebody's else's God. All humans are equal, as are their consciences. And so is their own God! I would prefer sane and hardworking atheists over religious fanatics anyday, said Suvro Sir. I second him.
And let me end this with a thoughtful line, that should hit one with a bang:"There is no believing in God, we either know him or we don't". (source: Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts)
P.S.-- A relevant post on religion and spirituality by Sir.