Eastern View of God and Religion

In the beginning there was Nothing. Space
was great void. Time stood still.

Who or what is God? It is an eternal question to which the great religions of the world have provided different answers, but nothing definite. 

Variously described ' the Original Sourced, the Uncreated, the Absolute, the Almighty, the First Cause etc. God is something that remains beyond the comprehension of human mind. Barring Buddhism, different Religions have personified Him and given different names and also an abode of residence, Heaven. Buddha was not bothered about where or who God was, recognizing Him only as the Absolute. Hinduism says he exists in several levels taking different roles and different names. 

All of them agree, however, there is only one God and it is the Eternal Source. That which is permanent and unchanging and that has no beginning or ending is God say the Hindu scriptures. The Upanishads, the substance of the holy Vedas, set out to probe the truth about God. Adopting the 'Doctrine of Inquiry' propounded by the Indian Sage, Yajnavalkya, they examined all the products of Creation one by one and rejected them as 'neti, neti' (this is not it, this is not it) and finally concluded that God is Truth, Knowledge, Bliss (Sat, Chit, Ananda) and much more. But all these are abstract and denote nothing in substance, just as Space and Time. Yet everything'the Cosmic matter, Life and Soul'came out of it. Then God is Nothing and the Whole at the same time. 

Symbolically one can say that God is a zero and a sphere at the same time. The digit zero can be visualized as a sphere too. The sphere, viewed from any angle, looks like the digit zero. As zero it depicts nothing. As a sphere it is full. In the beginning the sphere was empty space. Time had nothing in it. 

God infused Life into Space

Life is Energy. When God infused Life into Space it was filled with Energy that flowed from outside the sphere, that is the Space Beyond. The original Source is, therefore, a self- perpetuating and self-generating power house much like the Sun. Unlike the Sun and the stars it is self-created and inexhaustible, permanent and unchanging. If this is also a creative effort of someone, then He is God. Call Him Father in Heaven, Allah, Jehovah or Narayana, He is the only One, beyond everything including Space and Time. Therefore, awareness of God could mean only Cosmic Consciousness. 

Cosmic Soul, Paramatma in the Hindu concept, is the Supreme Spirit. The individual Spirit is Jeevatma. Religions are meant to show the path to the salvation of the individual spirit or the union of jeevatma with paramatma. As Creator the Cosmic Soul is also called Brahma. God takes many other roles to adorn the pantheon of Gods in Hinduism. At the head is the Trinity: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Brahma lords over Brahmam the Cosmos, Vishnu lords over Space and Shiva over Time. The Cosmic Soul taking its position at the center of the energy-filled Sphere, that is to be the Universe, begins the process of Creation.

The Quantum OM

The first manifestation of Cosmic Energy is Sound. Pronounced as OM, it is spelt as three letters: A-U-M. A represents the Soul, U Life and M matter.

Universally acknowledged as the voice of God, it reverberates across the Cosmos. It also sums up the entire process of Creation, Preservation and Destruction. 

The holy Vedas begin with OM. The Bible also says, 'In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.' Amen for Christians, Ameen for Moslems and the Jews it is one and the same. 

Scientists also believe that this sacred syllable could be the key to comprehensive knowledge about the Universe. That the quantum OM vibrates across the space has been proved by what is called the 'string theory', which is a part of the much-heralded Quantum Theory. 

Yoga Meditation aimed at Self-Realization lays great emphasis on this single syllable. Reciting the mantra repeatedly mind is focused on Prana, the breath of Life, and lifts it up to the highest level of Cosmic Consciousness. And therefore, OM is known as the Pranava Mantra.

A and U combining to become O has deep meaning and special significance. It depicts the inseparable bondage between the individual Soul and Life of the living being. Life clings to the Soul and the mortal body, the M, clings to Life. While the body wears out in one life span, Life, manifest as it is as the Mind-stuff, sticks with the Soul until final liberation. The Soul takes with it the Mind-stuff or the Spiritual Body of the individual to salvation, which, according to the Hindu and Buddhist belief, may take many a birth. 

The Big Five Elements

The energized Space is Ether, the first of the five Big Elements.
Air, Fire, Water and Earth are the other four Elements.

We can see a Divine pattern unfolding on a very scientific basis; from metaphysics to physics, to chemistry to mathematics to biology and so on. The energy that filled the Space was atoms. The Cosmic Soul is provided with this basic material for the creation of the cosmic matter. Much like a potter who makes pots out of earth, water, fire and air. The mud pots cannot become living beings because the potter is not a Divine. The Cosmic Soul infuses life into the creations it makes and interestingly, all of them, barring the space debris, are spherical in shape. 

The Cosmic Soul, interacting with Time, converted a mass of Energy into a gaseous globe and caused an explosion.

The second and third Elements were created. Out of which galaxies of billions of stars and planets were born.

It is the Cosmic Potter's own way of creation. Time takes a role as the potter's wheel. The Cosmic Soul gathers a mass of energy, mounts it on the Time wheel and makes a huge pot of a globe and causes an explosion. A Big Bang. (Did it really happen that way? Maybe it didn't. When you try to reconcile the scriptures and science this is the picture you get).

As a result of the great explosion, Air and Fire, the second and third Elements were created. Gas is Air and the energy in the first Element, Ether, was converted into Hydrogen, the most volatile and the lightest of all gases. Billions of fireballs 'galaxies of stars and planets'were strewn all over Space. In high heat hydrogen is converted to helium, then carbon and oxygen and so on, thus providing the basic life-forming ingredients as well as all organic and inorganic matter.

Science confirms this big event, disproving, as it did of many others, a fundamental assertion of the Religions that the Creation process was Earth-specific and that Earth is the center of the Universe. Cosmologists place this big event as having occurred 14.5 billion years ago. They are still grappling with the mystery of Dark Age (cosmic night) that is said to have lasted half-a-billion years after the explosion till the stars showed up and galaxies emerged. They are also trying to find answers to such questions as whether the Universe is spherical or flat like a sheet of paper, is it expanding or shrinking and is it finite or infinite. The scriptures have already said all of Universe will come to an end when everything, including the Cosmic Soul, goes back from where it came from. By reasoning we can conclude that the Universe is finite bounded by the sphere. There could be millions more Universes outside our own.

And Time never stopped rolling since, ending everything that was begun.

The Sun and the stars are still burning gaseous globes, but the Planets cooled down to liquids and then to solids.

Sun is a minor star in the vast galaxy named the Milky Way.Earth is one of its many planets and has the right mix of all the five Elements to support Life.
In this mind-boggling Cosmic scenario the Earth is, indeed, a miniscule speck of dust, not to speak of the place of the human being. There could be millions of Earths supporting life and civilization that are still beyond our reach.

The Cosmic Soul spread itself in every living being. The mortal Body is made of four Elements: Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The Individual Life and Soul together, is immortal.

The Soul is the Immanence or God within. We comprehend this by the voice of Conscience that we hear so often in our errant living. This is the individual Soul, or Spirit, that along with Life outlasts the mortal Body, that is merely a product of perishable Matter. At the final level, the Life-and-Soul, the jeevatma, surrenders to the Cosmic Soul, paramatma or the Supreme Spirit. 

Creationists vs Evolutionists

By Evolution, over a period of several millennia, the homo sapiens emerged from the lower species.

In mid 19th century, when Charles Darwin, the Biologist, propounded his theory of Evolution of Species by Natural Selection, theologians all over the world were rattled. Darwin knocked the bottom out of a fundamental Religious assertion that God made man as man and fish as fish. He said that the immediate ancestor of man could have been a monkey. Zealots of religions were up in arms and the battle between evolutionists and creationists is still raging with the latter making every effort to disprove and debunk Darwin. They condemned his wholly materialistic approach that they said only provided grist to atheism and materialistic dogmas such as Marxism. Karl Marx embraced Darwinism to propagate his Godless theory. Marxism within a period of one-and-half century has lost its steam and discarded by its own votaries. As a viable alternative to Capitalism, Marxism failed because it went against the egoist nature of man that is acquisitive, possessive and self-centered. On the other hand, Darwinism has taken roots because of the truth inherent in it. Biology textbooks, right from public school level give the pride of place to this theory. Most youngsters believe that their ancestor was a monkey.

Our ancestor could have been a fish as well. Darwinism is flawed in one major aspect, that it ignores the Spiritual Evolution of the species. However, it has not repudiated God. In his 'Origin' Darwin says: 'There is a grandeur to this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one'. from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.' He acknowledges that there must be the First Cause that cannot be verified by Science. The First Cause is another name for God. There could be, therefore, reconciliation between Darwinism and Religion if the evolutionists take into account the spiritual evolution of the species and the creationists restate religious dogmas and assertions in the light of incontrovertible scientific findings.

The theory of Evolution is indirectly endorsed by the Hindu mythological account of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. According to this He has taken nine incarnations so far, the first of which as fish. The second incarnation was as an amphibian, the tortoise. The incarnations that followed were successively as the quadruped wild boar, half-man half lion, dwarf man with the potential of scaling the skies, the fierce nomadic man, the perfect man, man close to Divine and the Divine himself. All of these 'avatar'matsya, kurma, varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasuram, Ram, Balaram and Krishna'were for the purpose of putting down evil forces whenever they gained the upper hand on the earth. One more incarnation is yet to come that is Kalki when the Lord descends on the earth wielding the ultimate weapon that would end all the evil forces and usher in a new age of virtue. The legend of stories accompanying the incarnations may be apocryphal, but the underlying message is that the Evolution of Species is also on the spiritual plane. 

Where there is life there is soul. Even the mono-cell organism is a jeevatma and the push is upward, toward final destination, just as the river originating in the high mountains pushes toward its ultimate goal of the ocean. From algae to plant, amoeba to fish, bird, crawlers, quadrupeds to bipeds the push is forward with the senses added one by one till all the five senses are developed in the animals. When the monkey became man the intellect or the sixth sense emerged. It is the gift of God to man. 

God is the goal of human Life

Biological evolution stopped with man. What remains is his spiritual evolution

There are six steps to reach God: self-examination, purification, detachment, clarity, awakening and enlightenment. The first three steps are to be taken by the individual's own effort. When clarity of mind is attained the Soul, God within, is recognized. He gives a hand to be lifted up to the highest level of Cosmic Consciousness and dissolve into Brahmam. That is the final destination of jeevatma. If no effort is taken jeevatma has to go through the cycle of birth and death over and over again until it is chastened by suffering and get enlightened by acquiring the right knowledge. Therefore, the only purpose of being born as man gifted with the sixth sense is to evolve spiritually, nothing else. 


More by :  Swachid K. Rangan

Top | Spirituality

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