Episode 5 – The truth about God (20 min)

For the bigger picture to rise in you, the smaller one must be unlearnt. And the awareness that there is a bigger picture, is sometimes enough for that job


An episode dedicated to God – what the word actually means. 

Absorbing the content here should give you a whole lot of clarity about these burning questions we all have about God:

Is there a creator?
What are the atheists missing?
What does the word God really mean?
Where do most religions converge in their teachings?
What is the real answer to that age-old question “Who am I”?

In the information age, it’s downright unfortunate that the majority of us still don’t even have a hint of this understanding. It will take time to grasp the profundity of the entire thing, but the first step to any of that would be to become aware that there IS something to grasp!

If you’re here, take this opportunity and dive right in.
It’ll be worth your time. I promise.

the truth about god, atheism, true religion and true spirituality

Check it out on your platform of choice.

The Unlearning Playground Podcast, a popular philosophy and spirituality podcast by Chetan Narang, on Apple Podcasts

The Unlearning Playground Podcast, a popular philosophy and spirituality podcast by Chetan Narang on Spotify

The Unlearning Playground Podcast, a popular philosophy and spirituality podcast by Chetan Narang, on Stitcher

The Unlearning Playground Podcast, a popular philosophy and spirituality podcast by Chetan Narang on Amazon Music

The Unlearning Playground Podcast, a popular philosophy and spirituality podcast by Chetan Narang, on Google Podcasts

Or listen on the custom player below

I want to start this episode with a thought experiment. Consider that you have a pot of ink in your hands. Consider that there is an empty wall in front of you and you have been permitted by the owner of that wall to smear the ink all over it. Consider that you actually do it – you smash the inkpot on the wall and now, ignoring the bits of glass, there is ink all over the place. 

Now, I want you to consider that drop of ink in that far off corner of the wall. Looked at in isolation, that drop is just a tiny drop of ink. And you’re right, it is one drop in a million-billion others. But what I want you to acknowledge is the fact that it is THE ink. It is as much THE ink as any other ink there is or ever was in that original inkpot. It is THE ink. Its real nature is that it is THE INK.

Now, if that drop of ink was to become conscious of its existence, to stretch the example a bit more, I’d say that the drop would not even realise that it is a drop of ink, a drop of THE ink. I say it would be consumed with the drama surrounding its limited field of view – the lizard and the ants coming over and stamping all over it, the drops next to it being hard to get along with, the fear of the darkness when the lights are turned off in the room, the beauty of the bright sunlight when the curtains are open, the shame of being a bad drop in its heart, the fear of being miserable in the future – all of this immediate drama would completely consume the everyday life of the conscious drop.

This is the human condition. Each and every one of us is just like that drop of ink – consumed by the drama of our everyday lives which shields our very true, very basic nature. We are THE ink that did all the dance on the wall and is continuing on with the dance as we speak. We are the ink, we are the dance. Each of us. I sincerely hope you are able to draw the parallels I’m trying to make here.

In the previous episode, we covered the idea of one’s ego, one’s sense of self, one’s sense of ‘I’. And we discovered that the real nature of the “I” gets lost in identification with the illusion produced by the myriad different thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotions going through our organism all the livelong day!

What is the real nature of this ‘I’? I just told you above. Do you remember the separation fallacy episode, which was the second episode of this show? If not, I would highly recommend you going through that. We covered in that episode how connected we are to the universe, to everything there is.

Let me build on this a bit more. 

So let’s assume you’re a 24 year old girl named Ria working as a lawyer in some company in some city in India. Let’s ask Ria who she really is. She gives us the common answer – I’m Ria, I studied at so and so and now I work as a so and so… <you get the picture>. But ohh we’re smarter than that, so we ask her that that’s just a bunch of things she’s done in the past and plans on doing in the near future, but what is ‘she’ really, fundamentally? You see if she would’ve chosen a different career, or a different career would’ve been chosen for her, would ‘she’ be someone or something else? Or would that just have been another role the real ‘she’ would’ve taken up, like the numerous she already plays – daughter, friend, partner, lawyer, Indian, etc? Who is this constant ‘she’ really? If we could get to that, maybe we could get to the bottom of the seemingly bottomless pit after all. Let’s try further. 

So, she is playing the role of a 24 year-old lawyer right now, maybe sufficient backtracking would help us uncover the constant ‘she’ who’s been behind it all this while. So what was she a few years ago? A student somewhere perhaps. And before that? A little girl playing in the school yard maybe. And before that? A new-born baby maybe. And before that? This is where it gets interesting doesn’t it? Because before that, it’s almost as if she was asleep and doesn’t remember the dream she was dreaming. 

You may question that did she even exist before being born. And it’s a valid question, because in our day-to-day life experience, we experience ourselves in our bodies. We identify with the body, and it’ll be a very normal thing to say that ‘I am nothing but my body, and my idea of my self is also a part of my body.’ If you take that deeper, you’d hit upon the idea that you started in a maternity ward somewhere and will end up in a crematorium somewhere or be burned up, basis what suits those that survive you. And that your life is just something that happens between those two events. I don’t deny this idea, but the right adjective I have for it is that it is incomplete. 

You see if you are nothing but your body, you are an accumulation. Because that’s what your body is, isn’t it? You were a little baby just a few years ago, and you’ve accumulated so much since. But you see if that was true, and you were nothing but an accumulation, you’d have to start out of something, right? An accumulation has to start somewhere. So where and when did ‘your’ accumulation start? At the time of your birth? No, you know you existed before that too, when you spent that time in your mother’s comfortable womb, sleeping with not a worry in the world. So when did YOU start?

We’re back where we left, aren’t we? The question of what you were before you were born. I think the most reasonable answer to that is that you existed in some form in your parents. Call this form genes, call this form chromosomes, call it what you want, provided you don’t confuse the word for the thing. You existed in some form in your parents before you were born. Right, so where does that lead us?

If you existed in some form in your parents before you were born, the same applies to your parents too. They existed in some form in your grandparents, which essentially means that you existed in some form in your grandparents. So, you keep taking this recursion back, as far back as you can. When I say as far back as you can, I mean take it all the way back to the very origin of everything, call it the Big Bang if you will. And where that leads you is to a visualisation that every one or rather every “thing” came from and in fact IS the same “thing”.

Now relate this to the example of the ink pot we talked about in the very beginning of this episode. This “thing” we just reached, which is what every other “thing” IS at its very core, is THE ink. And every drop of that ink, though separated from the whole collection of ink, is nonetheless THE ink, no matter how overwhelmed it is by its everyday drama.

And this “thing” is the real, incorruptible, (well, as incorruptible as I can manage in words right now in this narration) definition of the word “God”. And we are each IT. Each of us. It’s not out there somewhere way up in the sky or way down in the future. It is HERE, each moment in the present – NOW. If only we would unlearn the attachments to the drama of our everyday lives, we would see this as probably the most important objective truth of our lives.

The Advaita Vedanta, which is often considered as the pinnacle of wisdom in all of eastern philosophy and religion, has this as the central message. Advaita means non-dual. And non-dual literally means that which has no other. That which excludes nothing, that which includes everything, that which is one with everything. That which is the ink we just talked about, that which is the “thing” we just talked about. That is what God is. And that is what you are. That is what I am. Or rather, that is what each of our “I’s” actually is. Again, “I” as in the letter “I” and not the organ “eye”.

In our everyday lives, our “I” is completely consumed by the whirlpool of thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotions. And we identify with this whirlpool all the time. This whirlpool is our usual everyday ego. Our usual everyday sense of who I am, what it means to be me, etc. 

And it is an important part of our lives. This “I” is how we navigate through the world, how we find out what’s important for us and what isn’t. It is the lens through which we see the world in and around us. It is our consciousness.

But like every lens, it has its limitations. It has its blindspots. It can only let a limited amount of the light in. And what we are talking about here, is the deepest blindspot our lenses have.

You see, human consciousness, while it is a beautiful process that allows the human organism to make sense of its environment, is also a limiting process. It is in its very nature to ignore certain aspects of reality out of the picture. And what we are talking about here, is the deepest aspect that is left out by everyday human consciousness.

Just like that inkdrop, if conscious, would not see much else apart from its own everyday drama, the human organism doesn’t see much else apart from its own everyday ego and the story built in its head around it.

— — —

If you tuned in to the third episode of this podcast, I was dispelling a very common misinterpretation in that talk. I was talking about how for most people, the word God equals creator. This is a misinterpretation, but it’s also funny how seriously close it is to the truth too. I mean look at it from the lens of the talk we just had right now. That thing we just talked about, that ink, that non-dual thing, is God. And that thing is also the creator of every other thing. In that sense, we’re right to say that God is the creator.

But where the common interpretation diverges from the truth is that we separate the creator from the created. We imagine that the creator is someone out there somewhere, who has created all of this and is now very far away from everything he has created. Which is simply not true. So, more than understanding God as the creator, I’d say that it is better to understand God as the creative principle, the creative process which is abundantly present every time everywhere. In fact, that is all there is.

To give you an example, you create all the time. You grow your hair, you grow your nails, most of us can create more human beings like us. The plants around us create leaves, create flowers, create more plants, etc etc.

We are all the creator, and at the same time, are also the created. 

— — —

Whatever I’m sharing here is not an argument from authority. I’m not asking you to believe any of it. This is merely an invitation to contemplate on it. That is how all of this came to me too. It’s not my truth. It is an objective truth. It is what man’s search for completeness and freedom and liberation has always been about. It is what religions have always been about. 

Well, I will not be so naive as to say this for all religions, because I haven’t studied all religions. No one has. 

But deep down, almost all the religions have this as the very heart of their teachings.

The Hindus, when they said, “Tat twam asi” quite literally meant “You are IT.”

When they said, “Aham Brahmasmi”, it quite literally meant “I am Brahma”, or “I am God.”

When the Sikhs said, “Ik oangkar, sat nam”, they meant, “That one thing created everything, and its name is the Truth.”

When the Buddhists said, “Be one with everything”, this is what they meant.

Yoga literally means Union – union of the little self, the little “I” with the supreme self, the universal consciousness.

When the Jains talk about the liberation of the soul, or rather when all the eastern religions talk about liberation of the soul or moksha or enlightenment or Nirvana, they refer to this realisation. 

The Atma is equal to the Paramatma. The small self, our little ego, our “I” is actually the supreme Self. Is actually the universal consciousness. Is actually God.

And I haven’t studied many western religions, but I am given to understand by many philosophers who have, that this oneness is also at the core of the teaching of Jesus Christ and also Prophet Mohammed. 

— — —

But alas, the core of the human condition is that we can translate whatever we hear into our own familiar language, and it doesn’t take much effort for us to start believing that our translation is what was said in the first place. You can see that translation happening in you if you are very silent. If you have never come across what I just talked about in this episode, chances are that your brain is right now trying to appropriate my words into a narrative that fits the one it already has – about your God, about your religion, etc. 

Catch it in this action. You cannot stop it, you can never stop it. But you can become aware of it. And once you become aware of it, you know not to act on the thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions powered by the false narratives. This is what I have always meant by unlearning. Slowly, but surely, in this manner, the truth appears to you. Just like you have no control over the false thoughts popping up in your head, you cannot force yourself to see the truth. You can only see your ego in action when you fear facing the truth, and when you translate it into “nothing new”.

As that poet David Whyte said, “Honesty is not found in revealing the truth, but rather in understanding how deeply afraid of it we are.”

If all of what I talked about here was your first time hearing it, make sure you listen to it again. I would recommend coupling it with episodes 2,3 and 4 of the show as well. And then contemplate on them. And then re-listen. And then contemplate again. No matter how long it takes. Because THIS IS important.

For the bigger picture to rise in you, the smaller one must be unlearnt. And the awareness that there is a bigger picture, is sometimes enough for that job. You now know that there is a bigger picture.