Do you know how a lion walks? After taking a certain number of steps, it looks behind, weighs the path it has trodden and then goes ahead. And how does a donkey walk? Grazing all the grass on its way and never looking behind. The question is: how do we walk? We the most glorious creatures of the universe! No, we never look behind. We have no time to stand and stare. How can we? We are living in the age of missiles!
|There is God
and even if He is not there we must discover Him.
The disastrous earthquake in Gujarat (India), soon followed by the earthquakes in Al Salvador, Afghanistan, Seattle (USA) and a number of places have now stimulated the donkeys to behave like the lion and some of us are looking behind. I have visited Gujarat and have witnessed the change in people's attitude. Those who never cared for God, are now bowing before His idols. In some parts Mother Earth is being worshipped and now the most common talk is neither cricket nor cinema but the universe, the supernatural power of God and our helplessness before His omnipotence. An old man and his wife were rescued from the debris of a multi-storeyed building in Ahmedabad five days after the quake. They were asked by a journalist: 'what were you both doing all these days?' 'Remembering God', they answered. It may be a news for the journalists but for those who think and learn, this was the revelation of a great truth: whenever we are beset by trials, it is God who saves us. It is God who gives us the stamina to bear the brunt. Voltaire said: 'there is God and even if He is not there we must discover Him' because Voltaire knew the power, the charisma of believing in God. And this same charismatic power annoyed Karl Marx who thought that 'Religion is opium'. Yes, it is opium. Love of God is such intoxication that belittles the bitterness of all tests and trials, trembling and tragedies.
So, the lion is retrospecting but the problem is that it retrospects only when it is in misery. As Kabir poet put in:
'Dukh me sumiran sab kare, sukh me kare na koi,
Jo sukh me sumiran kare, dukh kahe ko hoi.'
(We all remember God when we are beset by grief,
none of us remember Him in our good times.
Had we remembered Him in our good times,
why should the days of grief have come!)
When we live in prosperity, we are in our own selves but tests and trials bring us closer to God and that is why God sends troubles to us. The increasing incidences of global problems, from a spiritual point of view, are nothing but God's Major Plan to bring us closer to Him. But do we still understand? Today's intellectually grown-up mankind is the embodiment of ingratitude and godlessness which is the outcome of extreme materialism. We soon forget God as soon as our misfortunes pass away.
Even those who claim to be theists and religious are for the most of part orthodox and dogmatic. In their view their own religion is good and if God will ever come, He will come in their own country. And religions have been made into hot time-bombs ready to explode for trivial reasons of bigotry. In Afghanistan, the Taliban government is hammering the statues of Buddha. None of us realize that Buddha cannot be hammered. We must hammer our own intolerance, our own weaknesses, our own imperfections.
Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru told: 'People fight and die for religion but they seldom live for religion'. And we are doing the same. God is forgotten, rites and rituals are remembered. Now, when significant tokens beacon in each continent the imminence of grave dangers of war and strife, pollution and lack of resources, moral degradation and social downfall, of near-extinction of the human race - do we still have time to stand and stare? Do we still have time to fit God in all our religions and life-styles?
There is Golden Rule which applies to all religions on earth and God is there in the realization of this Golden Rule. In this form or that, this Golden Rule is inherent in all the religions of the world. Maharshi Vyas was the author of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata and he also wrote the 18 Puranas which are forever the great scriptures of humankind. When he completed the 18 Puranas, a seeker posed a question before him. He said: 'Maharshi! These 18 Puranas you have written are full of wisdom and knowledge but they form a full volume which is not easy to remember, especially by the ordinary people. So, in brief, would you please let us know the gist of these great scriptures?' In response, Maharshi Ved Vyas wrote the following verse:
Ashtadash Puraneshy Vyasasya vachandwayam
Paropkarah punyay, papay par peednam
(In all the eighteen Puranas,
Vyas has only two summary statements:
That to do good to others is virtue
and to inflict grief to them is vice.)
This is a great statement and the one-line summary of entire Hinduism: 'Do naught to others that which if done to thee would cause pain'. And when Lord Jesus Christ, before His Crucification, said: 'O Lord! Forgive them since they know not what they are doing', He was fostering the same Golden Rule. The essence of Christianity is in this sermon: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'. The clarion call of Judaism is: 'What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow men. That is the entire Law, all the rest is commentary.' Zoroaster emphasized that 'Only that nature is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self' and Buddha said: 'Hurt not others with that which pains yourself'. Prophet Mohammed exhorted His followers: 'No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself' and one of the central teachings of the Bahai Faith fostering unity of mankind is: 'Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.' How surprising! Where is the difference. We see that all religions preach the same thing and that is love because only love is that motivating force that prompts us not to do others what is not good for ourselves. How nice if we all remember this 'Golden Rule' and forget the superficial differences.