Ironically, one of the most important words that mankind ever came up with is also one of the most misinterpreted words of all time. That word is “God”.
And that word also forms the bedrock of some of the most potent questions a human being can ask:
Is there a God?
Is there a Creator?
Are the atheists right?
Do you believe in a God?
What is the creator fallacy?
Is there some truth about God?
What must we unlearn about God?
As with most important things in Life, it is not learning new things that takes us closer to the Truth but rather unlearning what we already believe to be true. God is one topic that requires a great deal of unlearning to really understand.
Join me as I walk you through one of the biggest things I had to unlearn about God in my journey.
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We interpret everything, that is the way we navigate the world. And every now and then, we come across things we misinterpreted in the past – could be something as trivial as a joke or a segment of a movie or a tv show, or could be something supremely crucial. I wish that by the end of this episode, you place the word ‘God’ in the latter category.
Yes, we’ll dedicate this episode to God. That came out more religious than I wanted it to, but let’s go with it. We’ll dedicate this episode to God, and in understanding what that word really means. Or rather, doesn’t really mean. Let’s see how it goes.
Up until a few years ago, I can say that, to me, God meant Creator. And that is the popular view almost all of us hold – God as the creator and manager of the creation, as someone out there somewhere, outside of the creation as we experience it, who created everything and subsequently also governs everything. If I’m honest, this is the image of God which I was brought up with, and so were all my closest friends around me, and so were my parents and their parents and theirs before them.
The images, names, prayers, rituals associated with this creator may differ for all us, mostly based on our upbringing, but all of us deep down hold this idea sacred to our hearts that the word ‘God’, whenever referred to, refers to the creator, who has created all of this world and everything that exists within it.
This image of God is a misinterpretation, but funnily so, it is actually so close to the real meaning that we get super lost in all the muddiness. I’m gonna try to dissolve the mud slowly. It will definitely take more than this episode, but every journey of a thousand steps starts with the first one. Let’s take that first step today.
Firstly, let’s talk about the creator, shall we? Is there a creator really? Let’s answer in the affirmative and say there is. Let’s say there is a creator who created everything. Whatever we see around us, including us, is the creator’s creation. Isn’t the next obvious question – “Then who created the creator?”. You may answer that in the affirmative too, but then the next question would be – “Who created the creator’s creator?” You may answer that with a Yes too, but I think you get the picture. At some point in this recursion, you’d have to step out and say – “This just exists.”
The idea of there being a creator away from the creation will definitely lead you to finally accept that “something” can exist without there being a “creator” apart from the thing itself. Just in that sense, there is no ultimate creator. So, the answer to the question of there being a creator is a firm No.
You see, the idea of someone creating everything is based on the way we humans make sense of the world. When a potter picks up some mud and very skilfully creates a pot out of it, we say the potter created the pot, which he did. In a similar manner, the world around us is full of so many “things”, so many beautiful and mysterious “things”, and it makes sense to us that someone would have created all of this at some point and has now left them for us to play with, of course having created us too in the meantime and all the while creating more and more “things” for ever and ever…
But it is just an idea, not the truth. And I just explained why above.
Now, this episode is not an endorsement for atheism, believe me. Because, all I am saying here is that the popular ideas we hold about the word God are themselves wrong, they are based on misinterpretations and beliefs. The problem with atheism is that it stops here. Just because you proved a misinterpretation to be wrong, doesn’t mean you now know the truth about the original thing. There is some work left to be done. I understood this very late myself. I was an atheist in my teenage years and my early twenties too, because I had blocked myself from even trying to understand God. For me, as is the case with a lot of people in my generation, God was something old and lost people dealt with and prayed to. But I was wrong. Or rather, to put it more precisely, I was incomplete.
I remember that a few years ago, I was watching a video on youtube in which someone asked Osho – “Do you believe in God?”. And Osho’s reply, which staggered me at the time was, “I do not believe in believing.” I have since then stolen this line and made it my own. And I wish that all of you would do the same. Adapt this attitude in your life about everything. Try and understand, not believe. Well, if not everything, at least about the important stuff. And this is important. Almost everything else will flow naturally if you align yourself correctly here. But it takes time, it takes effort, it takes earnestness. And I hope you’re ready for it. Because if not now, when? If not you, who?
A week or so before I started recording this episode, a very close friend of mine shared with me a quote from a book he was reading at the time. And it gelled so well with all I wanted to say here, and also the general theme of this podcast overall that I told him I’m going to definitely quote it. It’s from a book called “LSD and the Mind of the Universe. Diamonds from Heaven – by one Chris Bache”, and it goes like this:
“All forms, even the glistening splendour of archetypal forms are intermediaries to that which lies beyond form. As the author of the 14th century Christian mystical treatise The ‘Cloud of Unknowing’ reminds us: “if we ever hope to glimpse the true nature of the divine, we must unlearn everything we have been taught about god.””
Let me stress that last part again, “If we ever hope to glimpse the true nature of the divine, we must unlearn everything we have been taught about god.”
I shared, in this episode, the biggest thing I had to unlearn about God. I hope it inspires the same unlearning in you too. To avoid misinterpreting it as an endorsement for atheism, please listen to the episode again.
Check out the episode on The Unlearning Playground YouTube channel here