I was pleased to receive two comments from valued readers (atheists!) of my article: Does God respond to our prayers? I introspected for a few days and then replied. These replies can be seen in the comments under the said article.
In Srimad Bhagwad Gita (Chapter XI), Arjuna wishes to see the incarnated Lord Krishna’s cosmic figure (a divine form possessed of wisdom, glory, strength and effulgence). Lord Krishna tells him that he can’t see it with natural eyes though he possesses real knowledge. However, He provides him with a divine eye (supernatural vision) through which he is able to look at His cosmic figure, and after seeing this he gets terrified. Then Arjuna is pacified by the Lord showing His normal form. In fact, he was the right person (a self-realized soul) to witness the cosmic figure through the grace of Lord Krishna, however, the situation also demanded God to fulfill Arjuna’s request.
The person who embarks on the path of spirituality normally asks himself about the existence of God. Failing to arrive at the conclusion he puts the same question to a believer or a saint. It is difficult to comply with his request because God is not a physical identity which can be shown as an object. Also it is not possible to give a convincing proof of His existence to anybody as our eyes can only see or witness an object in a material form. However, there have been cases when a true spiritual master bestowed the vision of God to an eligible disciple.
God has a dual role to play according to the scriptures. First, He does justice but in real life we find that culprits in many cases go scot-free. Wise people tell us that justice is done but that it may take its own time. Hence they recommend a true confession. Sometimes a confession is not enough and the culprit is told to follow corrective measures to become totally free from the effect of the sin and resultant guilt. Secondly, He is full of compassion. Thus, God plays two roles: on the one side He organizes the fruits of our actions through Nature and its environment and on the other side, due to His compassionate nature, He is the source of true pleasure eternally.
These two qualities of God demand from us to become free from sins and develop compassion for all, to be able to see Him, or at least feel His presence.
Most people use God for their worldly purposes considering that God, if He is pleased, may fulfill their worldly aspirations.
An intellectual devotee in reality knows the truth about God and His nature but he may not convince an enquirer without faith and a pure heart. If the enquirer remains in his company for some time and adopts righteousness then he too marches on the path leading to God. Here is a story which shows how enquirers were handled by the Lord Buddha:
The Lord Buddha was approached by four persons for his opinion about the mystery of God’s existence, at different times. To an atheist he replied by explaining the prevailing favourable conditions on the Earth, necessary for the sustenance of mankind and supposedly organized by God. To a believer, he pointed out the prevalence of evil, cruelty, and suffering in life and the chaotic condition of the world, and told him that had there been a God he would have taken care of all this. To the one who sometimes believed in the existence of God and sometimes not, he kept quiet. Finally, it was his main disciple Anand who wished to know the truth behind his contradictory replies to an atheist and a believer, and the reason to keep quiet in case of third enquirer. The Lord Buddha told his disciple that those were their enquiries to which he replied accordingly. None of these was yours, hence you have no right to get any answer. From this it is clear that he prompted all four curious persons, including Anand, to find out the truth about God by themselves.
It is said that ‘seeing is believing’ and unless one dies one cannot see heaven. First deserve then desire is the rule applicable here.
The devotee of God adopts His quality to love mankind and guide them towards righteousness. However, a saint is not interested in judging and handing out rewards or punishment to anybody. He can only pardon the person who torments him, if the situation so demands.
God is within with the quality of compassion and needs to be brought out through the association with saintly persons and devotion.
SP Sharma, India