How can I believe?


The Call Beyond
15 May 2020

“God? You talk to me about God? … Do you think I can pray now to a God who allowed my whole family to be killed for no reason? Could I believe in a God that gives punishment where there is no crime?” (– Erich Segal, in his novel, Doctors, on page 164)

Answer: Tragic, but sounds familiar. An event shatters the image of God that a person had, and faith evaporates. The image of God as One who is full of love and compassion for all, or as a Super-judge who rewards good and punishes evil, does not survive the realities of the world. But who created that image of God? Humans, who try to impose their interpretation of love, logic and justice on God. Why should we expect God to ‘think’ like us? Since our capacities to think and judge are limited, whereas those of God by very definition are Infinite, why not have faith in God, and trust Him to do what is best? But how about tragedies such as ‘a whole family getting killed for no reason’? The character in the novel is looking at the event from a personal angle, and therefore his view is coloured by attachment, which is a function of the ego. Looking at it from a higher plane, it is only a minor accident in a vast universe. The journey of a few souls has been cut short tragically, but these souls can get embodied again and continue the journey in the next life. Therefore, the event need not be looked upon as punishment for a crime not committed. God neither rewards nor punishes; he only gives conditions and circumstances for spiritual growth. Each one gets the circumstances that suit the person the best. Most get circumstances which are a mixture of those perceived as pleasant and those perceived as unpleasant, because that is what we need. The person who is going through the experience of his family getting killed has received an unpleasant experience, which he can use as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Losing faith in God amounts to losing an opportunity. Luckily, after initial anger and loss of faith, most people come round and make some use of such opportunities. But still, how can God allow an event such as ‘a whole family getting killed for no reason’ happen. Possibly it is an accident, to which some human wills and perhaps some other mysterious forces contributed. From God’s plane, it was perhaps too minor an event to intervene in. Like the boss at the top, God perhaps takes care of the overall direction of the universe. The minor details are left to the interaction of the various forces that He only has created, human freewill being one of them. No matter what happens through these interactions, God’s Will can make sure that the overall direction remains as designed by Him.

A will to climb lifts a delight to live, Heaven’s height companion of earth-beauty’s charm, An aspiration to the immortal’s air Lain on the lap of mortal ecstasy.

Sri Aurobindo (‘Savitri’, Book 6, Canto 1)