Godliness, but there is no God
IF THERE IS NO GOD, WHY WERE YOU BEING CALLED BHAGWAN?
There is no God, but that does not mean that I'm an atheist. Certainly I am not a theist - I am saying there is no God - but that does not mean that you jump to the opposite, the atheist.
The atheist says there is no God also, but when I say there is no God, and the atheists like Charvaka, Karl Marx, Lenin, Epicurus.... When these people say there is no God, there is a tremendous difference between my statement and their statement - the statements are absolutely similar - because I say at the same moment that there is godliness.
Charvaka will not agree on that point; Epicurus, Marx, other atheists will not agree on that point.
To them, denying God means denying consciousness. To them, denying God means the world is simply matter and nothing more, and whatever you see as consciousness is only a byproduct of certain matter put together, just a byproduct. Take those things apart and the byproduct disappears.
It is just like a bullock cart: you take the wheels away, you take other parts away, and each time you can ask, "Is this the bullock cart?" When you take the wheels away, certainly the answer will be, "It is not." No part is the whole. You can take, by and by, each part and remove the whole, and no single part was the bullock cart. And in the end you can be asked, "Now where is the bullock cart?
- because we have not removed it; you have never said at any point that the bullock cart has been removed."
'Bullock cart' was only a combination. It had no existence of its own, it was a byproduct. That's what Marx means when he says consciousness is an epiphenomenon: remove the body, remove the brain, remove all that constitutes a man's being - you will not find anything like consciousness.
And when you have removed everything, it is not that consciousness will be left behind; it was only a combination. You have taken the combination apart.
So when I say there is no God, I am not agreeing with Marx or Epicurus. I am certainly not agreeing with Jesus, Krishna, Moses, Mohammed, when they say there is God, because they use God as a person. Now, to think of God as a person is just your imagination. The God of the Chinese has a Chinese face, and the God of the Negroes has a Negro face, and certainly the God of the Jews must have a Jewish nose; it can't be otherwise. And if horses think about God, their God will be a horse. So this is just projection. Giving personality to God is your projection.
When I say there is no God, I am denying personality to God. I am saying God is not, but there is tremendous godliness. That is an impersonal energy, pure energy. To impose any form on it is ugly.
You are imposing yourself on it.
Now, Jesus is calling God 'father'; Jesus must have a certain idea of what 'father' means. He is imposing on God the same idea. Now, there are in India religions which believe not in a father god but in a mother goddess. The statue of their God is of a woman, the most beautiful woman that they can conceive - but it is a Hindu woman. Centuries have been going on, passing; religions have been born, died, disappeared. Their gods have disappeared, naturally.
There is a place in India, Mohenjo Daro... it has been found to be the ancientmost city in the world.
There are seven layers in Mohenjo Daro. It seems that civilization had to face some calamity seven times. When the first layer was found, it was thought that this is all: we have found Mohenjo Daro.
That was determined to be seven thousand years old. But a little more digging and another city was found underneath the first city which must have been ten thousand years old. Then the work continued. The people who were working on the excavation went on digging and city after city....
Seven cities have been found in Mohenjo Daro. The seventh seems to be at least twenty thousand years old. They have temples, they have statues of God. Those civilizations have disappeared; those people have disappeared, their religions have disappeared, their gods have disappeared.
The Christian god will disappear the moment Christianity disappears, the Hindu gods will disappear the moment Hinduism disappears. Do you see what I mean to say? It is your projection. If you go on projecting it, it is there. If you are not there to project it, if the projector is not there, the god disappears. I am not in favor of such gods, which have been projected by the tiny mind of man. And of course the tiny mind of man is bound to give qualities to God which are its qualities.
The Jewish god in the Talmud says, "I am an angry God. I am not nice; I am not your uncle." Now, this is perfectly meaningful in a Jewish context, but to a Hindu, God saying that, "I am an angry God" is a sheer impossibility. Anger and God? - they cannot meet. The Jewish god is perfectly angry; it is very Jewish, very human. And if you don't worship him, if you go against him, he will destroy you. He destroyed two cities because the people of those two cities were behaving sexually in a perverted way, and he was very much against it. Sodom and Gomorrah - these two cities he completely destroyed.
This will not appeal to a Hindu, it is impossible. It will not appeal to the Mohammedan, because the Mohammedan prays every day, "God, the compassionate one...." Compassion is the very innermost quality projected by him towards God. Now, God can only be compassion, nothing else. The Mohammedan prays that just accepting your sin is enough, because God is compassionate. You will be forgiven.
Omar Khayyam, one of the great poets of Persian literature, says, "Don't prevent me from drinking wine, enjoying women, because God is compassionate. Don't tell me that I am committing sin, let me commit as many sins as possible. His compassion is far greater than all my sins combined together. To stop a certain activity in fear that you will be punished by God, is to disbelieve in his compassion." Now, this is a different attitude - but these are all human attitudes.
So when I say there is no God, I am saying there is no person as God; all personality is human projection. I want you to take away the personality and let God be free, free from the bondage of personality that you have imposed upon him.
I am not an atheist. To me, the whole universe is full of the energy of God and nothing else.
You have to understand one thing which is very fundamental. The world consists of verbs, not of nouns. Nouns are a human invention - necessary, but after all, a human invention. But existence consists of verbs, only of verbs, not nouns and pronouns. Look at this. You are seeing a flower, a rose. To call it a flower is not right, because it has not stopped flowering, it is still flowering; it is a verb, it is a flow. To call it a flower you have made it a noun. You see the river. You calI it a river - you have made it a noun. It is rivering. It will be more accurate to the existential to say that it is rivering, flowing. And everything is changing, flowing. The child is becoming a young man; the young man is becoming old; life is turning into death; death is turning into life. Everything is in continuity, continuous change; it is a continuum. There never comes a stop, a full stop. It comes only in language.
In existence there is no full stop.
Do you remember when you stopped being a child? - when, at what point came the stop and you became a young man? There is no place, no demarcation, no full stop. The child is still flowing in you. If you just close your eyes and look within, you will find everything that has been is still there, flowing. You have been absorbing more and more, but all that has been is still there. The river is becoming big, new rivulets are joining it, but the original is still there.
If you have seen the Ganges in India, one of the most beautiful rivers, you can understand it. The point where it arises is so tiny that the face of a cow - of course of stone, stone carved into the face of a cow - is enough. Through that cow's face the Ganges falls, starts its journey... so small.
And when you see it near the ocean, when it is reaching to meet the ocean, it looks almost like the ocean itself... so vast. But that small current falling in Gangotri, far away, thousands of miles away in the Himalayas, from a stone mouth of a cow - that current is still there. So many rivers have come and fallen into it and have made it oceanic. It is still alive. Even while it is falling in the ocean it will remain alive, it will go on moving. Perhaps it will become a cloud; perhaps it will rain again. It will go on and on. Existence goes on and on and on; it never stops. There is no rest period. There is no place where you can demarc that something has come to its end. Nothing comes to its end. You cannot find the beginning, you cannot find the end. It is an ever flowing process.
When you say 'God' you are using a noun, something static, dead. When I say 'godliness' I am using a word for something alive, flowing, moving. So these points have to be clear to you. I am not a theist like Jesus or Mohammed or Krishna, because I cannot agree with a dead god.
I am reminded of one of my professors. He is a very beautiful man: Professor S.S.Roy. Now he is retired as head of the department of philosophy from Allahabad University. The first day I joined his class, he was explaining the concept of The Absolute. He was an authority on Bradley and Shankara. Both believe in The Absolute - that is their name for God.
I asked him one thing which made me very intimate to him, and he opened his whole heart to me, in every possible way. I just asked, "Is your 'absolute' perfect? Has it come to a full stop or is it still growing? If it is still growing, then it is not absolute, it is imperfect - only then can it grow.
If something more is possible, some more branches, some more flowers - then it is alive. If it is complete, entirely complete - that's the meaning of the word absolute: now there is no possibility for growth - then it is dead." So I asked him, "Be clear, because 'absolute' represents to Bradley and Shankara, God; that is their philosophical name for God. Is your God alive or dead? You have to answer me this question."
He was really an honest man. He said, "Please give me time to think." He had a doctorate on Bradley from Oxford, another doctorate on Shankara from Benares, and he was thought to be the greatest authority on these two philosophers because he had tried to prove that Bradley, from the West, and Shankara, from the East, have come to the same conclusion. He said, "Please give me time to think."
I said, "Your whole life you have been writing about Bradley and Shankara and 'the absolute' - I have read your books, I have read your unpublished thesis. And you have been teaching here your whole life - has nobody ever asked you such a simple question?"
He said, "Nobody ever asked me; not only that, even I have never thought about it - that, certainly, if something is perfect then it has to be dead. Anything alive has to be imperfect. This idea has never occurred to me. So please give me time."
I said, "You can take as much time as you want. I will come every day and ask the same question."
And it continued for five, six days. Every day I would enter the class and he would come shaking, and I would stand up and say, "My question."
And he said, "Please forgive me, I cannot decide. With both the ways there is difficulty. I cannot say God is imperfect; I cannot say God is dead. But you have conquered my heart."
He removed my things from the hostel to his house. He said, "No more, you cannot live in the hostel.
You have to come and live with my family, with me. I have much to learn from you - because such a simple question has not occurred to me. All my degrees you have canceled."
I lived with him for almost six months before he moved to another university. He wanted me to move with him to another university, but my vice-chancellor was reluctant. He said, "Professor Roy, you can go. Professors will come and go, but we may not find such a student again. So I am not going to give him his certificates and I am not going to allow him to leave the university. And I will write to your university, where you are going, that my student should not be taken in there either."
But he remained loving to me. It was a rare phenomenon: he used to come almost every month to see me from his university, almost two hundred miles away from my university. But he would come at least once every month just to see me, just to sit with me. And he said, "Now I am getting a better salary and everything is more comfortable there, but I miss you. The class seems to be dead.
Nobody asks questions like you, which cannot be answered."
And I had told him, "This is an agreement between me and you, that I only call a question a question which cannot be answered. If it can be answered, what kind of a question is it?"
God - perfect, absolute, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent; these are the words used for God by all the religions - is dead, cannot be alive, cannot breathe. No, I reject such a god, because with such a dead god, this whole universe will be dead.
Godliness is a totally different dimension.
Then the greenness in the tree, then the flowering of the rose, then the bird in flight - all are part of it. Then God is not separate from the universe. Then he is the very soul of the universe. Then the universe is vibrating, pulsating, breathing... godliness.
So I am not an atheist, but I am not a theist either. And there is a third term also, which is 'agnostic'.
Socrates, Bertrand Russell, people like this are agnostic. An agnostic means one who says, "I don't know whether God is, or God is not."
These agnostics are at least more honest than your so-called theists in the churches, in the synagogues, in the temples, in the mosques - all phony and hypocrites, not knowing what God is and still bowing down. Their hearts are empty, their prayers are phony, they don't mean what they are saying and doing. They are just imitating their forefathers; they are just puppets in the hands of tradition. They are hypnotized by their society, culture, civilization; they are conditioned by the teachers, by the priests, by the parents. What they are saying is not their own; it is borrowed.
I am reminded of one of my friends. He was an average human being - I mean just an idiot. All the students were continuously talking of falling in love with girls, and this and that, and they were asking him - and he was very cowardly, nervous.... You cannot conceive of the conditions in India. Even in the university the girls and the boys are sitting separate. They cannot talk openly, they cannot meet openly. But his heart was beating; he was coming of age. One day he came to me because he thought I was the only person who had never laughed at him, who had never joked about his nervousness, that seeing a girl he starts trembling - actually trembling, you could see his pajamas shaking - and perspiring. Even if it was winter and cold, he would start perspiring.
He came to me, closed the door, and said, "Only you can help me. What can I do? I would like to love a girl but I cannot even say a single word to a girl. Suddenly I lose my voice and I start trembling and perspiring." So I had to train him.
I knew a girl who was in my class, and I told her, "You have to be a little helpful to this poor man. So just be a little kind and compassionate, and when he perspires, don't mention it. Rather you should say, 'People say that you start perspiring seeing girls, but you are not perspiring, and I am a girl - have you forgotten? - and you are not shaking....' And he will be shaking, but you have to say, 'You are not shaking.'"
I had to write love letters for him, and he would send those letters. And the girl was prepared by me, and just because I have told her, she was answering him. She would answer the letters, and he would come running to show me the letter, and he was so happy just with the letters. And again I said, "Now you start on your own. How long am I to be writing letters for you? And do you know, the other letter also I have written... because the girl says, 'I don't love him, how can I write? So you please do this one too!' And she shows your letter to me and you show her letter to me, and I am the one who is writing both the letters!" And this phony business, this love affair... but this is what is happening in all the synagogues, temples, churches.
Your prayers are written by somebody else, perhaps thousands of years ago. They are not part of your being; they have not arisen from you. They don't carry any love from you, they don't have your heartbeat. You don't know whom you are addressing, whether there exists anybody on the other side or not. That too is written in the same book from which you have taken the prayer: that He exists. It is a very circular thing. The same book says God exists, the same book gives you the prayer, the same book says that if you do this prayer you will receive this answer. And if you are really hypnotized - and millions, almost all, are hypnotized - they start receiving the answer, the same answer.
No Hindu receives the answer which a Christian receives. Strange - even once in a while no mistake, no error happens? The Christian receives the Christian answer. The question is borrowed, the answer is borrowed; the prayer is somebody else's, the answer is somebody else's, and you are carrying on a phony love affair. How can it satisfy you? What fulfillment is possible out of it?
The agnostic is at least far more honest than your so-called theist, and also more honest than your so-called atheist, because these atheists also have not taken any trouble to search and seek and then say, "There is no God." They have read it in Epicurus, they have read it in Karl Marx. Nor has Karl Marx taken any trouble to find out whether God really exists or not, whether there is something in it or it is all fiction. No, he has borrowed from other atheists, from Epicurus, from Diderot.
Now the whole communist world, which is now almost half of the world - Soviet Russia, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, half of Germany, Poland, China, Vietnam, Korea... almost half of the world is now atheist. Do you think these people have searched for God? They were all theists just as other people are theists. Russia was one of the strongholds of the Christians, the most orthodox Christians of the world. The Russian church was far more orthodox than the Vatican. What happened to all those Christians? They simply disappeared. They disappeared just like dewdrops in the early morning sun, not even leaving a trace behind. They were phony. And what they have now accepted is again phony. First it was the church and the czar, the government, the powerful people who were imposing, and they were believing. Now it is the communist party, the communist presidium, which is imposing that there is no God. Each small child is being taught that there is no God.
One of my friends, Rahul Sanskritayana, went to Russia to teach Sanskrit. He fell in love there and married a Russian woman. But when his term was over they did not allow his wife and his two children to come back with him to India. He was very broken when he came back. He said, "They have spoiled all my life."
I said, "Why have they not allowed?"
He said, "For a simple reason. My child learns in the school that there is no God, that religion is the opium of the people - and I am a religious man." He was a Buddhist monk, and the wife was an atheist. And the wife and the children and the whole society, and other professors of the university, they were all trying to turn him into an atheist. And the government refused to let the wife and child come with him, "because in India they will be spoiled; their minds will be filled again with the opium that there is God. We cannot allow it.
And he told me a very strange thing, which was confirmed by other friends later on who came from Russia: that they have many kinds of societies for small children, kindergarten schoolchildren. They have a youth communist league which spies on their parents and informs the communist party what they are doing, because they are suspicious of these people coming from the outside - they must be theists, they must be praying. So these small children function as detectives. They informed the communist party office, "Our father is praying. He has a Buddha statue hidden behind his bookshelf."
And the communist party people came and they found the Buddhist monk's only treasure, a small statue that his master had presented to him, exactly where the child had informed them; otherwise there was no way for them to know it was hidden behind the books.
The wives are spying on the husbands, the wives have their own communist league. The husbands are spying on the wives - everybody is a detective, spying on everybody else. Now, within a few years the whole of Russia, China, Korea, all became atheist - they had to. Theism became a laughingstock.
Rahul Sanskritayana told me that he asked a schoolboy, when he first reached Russia, "Do you believe in God?"
The boy laughed. He said, "What are you saying? It is a primitive idea. When people were absolutely primitive, even fire was not discovered, there was so much fear that out of fear they started believing in God. We don't see any need for it. Do you believe in God?"
And Rahul said to me, "I could not look eye to eye at that small child."
I said, "The reason is that your religion is also borrowed, just as his religion is borrowed. Your parents have forced it upon you; his government has forced it upon him. Neither of you has looked into it on your own, throwing out all that others have given to you, cleaning your mind completely of all rubbish and crap. You have not gone directly, without anybody interfering with you, whoever he is - Jesus or Marx, Krishna or Confucius, Mohammed or Mahavira, whoever he is - not bothering about him, but just going directly into reality and watching it and seeing it, and finding it."
If you don't find God you say, "There is no God." If you are still searching, you can say, "I am still searching, seeking, hence I cannot answer the question with yes or no." Then you are an agnostic.
But I don't think Bertrand Russell is right, or an honest agnostic. He has just argued against all the proofs of God - and it is very simple to argue. And he has argued against all the arguments against God - that too is very simple. Seeing that both the arguments are invalid, the theist and the atheist both are talking nonsense, he declares himself agnostic: "I will not take any position."
But I am not an agnostic. I am very strange in a way because you cannot categorize me. These are three categories - there is no fourth category - and I belong to the fourth, the unnamed category. I have looked, searched. I have not found God, true, but I have found something far more significant:
I am not an atheist, I am not a theist, I am not an agnostic. My position is absolutely clear.
You ask me, Sheela: If there is no God, why was I called by my people 'Bhagwan'?
This question is a little complex. You will have to go into the linguistics of the word Bhagwan. It is a very strange word. In Hindu scriptures, bhagwan is almost synonymous with God. I say almost, because in English there is only one word: God. In Sanskrit, in Hinduism, there are three words:
bhagwan is one, iswar is the second, paramatma is the third. Hindus use these three words for three different reasons.
Paramatma means the supreme soul; param means the supreme, atma means the soul; paramatma means the supreme soul. So those who really understand use the word paramatma for God.
The second word is iswar. It is a beautiful word. Iswar means 'the richest'; literally one who has everything, who is everything. It's certainly true. The moment you experience godliness, you have everything, everything that is of worth. You may not have anything at all, that doesn't matter, but you have everything that is of any significance to life.
And the third is Bhagwan. Bhagwan is very difficult to understand or to be explained in any other language. In Hindu scriptures... remember that, because bhagwan is used by two kinds of people in India: Hindus, one; Jainas and Buddhists, two. Jainas and Buddhists don't believe in a God, still they use the word bhagwan. For Buddha, Buddhists use bhagwan - Bhagwan Gautam Buddha.
And Jainas also don't believe in a God, but for Mahavira they use Bhagwan Vardhman Mahavira. So their meaning is totally different.
Hindus are very down to earth. You will be surprised, even shocked, but the original root in Hinduism of bhagwan is bhag - bhag means vagina. You could not have thought it. And bhagwan means one who used the vagina of the universe to create - the creator. Hindus worship the female vagina and the male phallic symbol, shivalinga. If you have seen shivalinga, the marble standing out is just a symbol of the male sexual organ, and it is standing in the vagina. Underneath it, if you have looked, there is a marble vagina out of which it is standing. Hindus have worshipped it symbolically, and it seems meaningful in their reference, that any creation is bound to be the meeting of the male and the female, yin and yang. So for 'the creator' they use the word bhagwan. But the origin of the word is very strange.
Buddhists and Jainas don't believe in God, don't believe that anybody created the world, but they use 'bhagwan'. They have a different origination for their word. In Jaina and Buddhist reference bhag means fortune, and bhagwan means the fortunate one, the blessed one; one who has attained to his destiny, who has matured.
So when I started talking thirty-four years ago, people started using it... because in India, if you respect a man you don't use his name; that is thought to be disrespectful. That's why a wife will not use her husband's name. When there is a census, it is such a trouble in India because the husband is not at home, he has gone to the office and the officers come and the wife cannot say the name of her husband. Just out of respect, nor does the husband use the wife's name; he can use it, he is allowed by tradition to use it, but he does not use it. He will simply call, if he has a boy and the boy's name is A, B, C - any name - then he will call, "Where is A's mother, or B's mother?" But he will not directly use her name. That is a simple traditional respect.
So when I started speaking and when people started feeling something for me, on their own they began to call me Acharya. Acharya means 'the master', but not just the master; it is something more.
Actually it means the person who says only that which he lives, one whose actions and thoughts are absolutely in harmony. So for almost twenty years people called me Acharya. This was before I started initiating people. They were asking me all over India to initiate them. But I was waiting for the right moment, and I have never allowed anybody to dictate anything to me. I simply live out of my own spontaneity. For years people had been telling me that they would like to be initiated into sannyas by me, and I said to them, "Wait. Let the moment come when I feel to.
The day came. I was taking a meditation camp deep in the Himalayas, in Kulu-Manali - it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is called the Valley of the Gods, it is so beautiful, so otherworldly. Once you enter Kulu-Manali you start feeling you are entering into another world. On the last day of the camp it came to me, "Now the moment has come," and I declared, "Whosoever wants to be initiated, I am ready." Twenty-one persons immediately stood up. They entered into sannyas. Now for them it became a question what to call me. Everybody else used to call me Acharya; now it was not enough for them. For them I had become far more important, far more significant, far more intimate. They had come very close to my being, and they decided that they would call me Bhagwan.
They asked me. I said, "That's perfectly good, because that's a very meaningful word for me: the blessed one."
It does not mean God to me, it does not mean the creator, it simply means the blessed one - one who is at home, has arrived; one who has found, one who has encountered himself. Then there is nothing else but blessings, and blessings go on raining over him. Day in, day out, the blessing goes on showering. So remember, Bhagwan has nothing to do with God. It has certainly something to do with godliness, because that is what arriving is: coming home. That is what makes you the Blessed One.