Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
If you believe in God, do you believe God is good? If so, why?
If you don't believe God is good, please explain.
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
“The magnanimous nature of the Lord is better understood when we have a framework to understand the apparent irregularities of this world. In this world we see a lot of pain. There is disease, death, old age and even those who too young to be held accountable for karma or sin are subjected to severe suffering.
This situation is certainly a valid cause for doubts. Just as if I were to walk into a grocery store and was attacked by the cashier, I would naturally question the benevolence of the manager. For many this question is difficult, not to be discussed in religious circles. However, there is an intelligent structure by which all apparent anomalies can be subsided.
If we view the living entity, the soul, as a being who has no destruction but does have a creation, the faults of the world which afflict the soul at birth and even while within the womb would be then be the fault of God, the being who put the soul in that situation. On the other hand, if the soul, the person who inhabits the ever changing body, had a life and activities prior to his present birth then that opens the door to many other possibilities. Just as it can be understood that if I had performed criminal activities in the grocery store on previous days it should not a surprise to me if the cashier tackles me down to be arrested.
We all carry the baggage of our previous lives, our karmas, and are thus subjected to them. Just as a honey bee takes nectar from various plants which results in a certain flavor of honey, so similar activities and desires of our previous lives results in the situations that we are faced in our this life.
Why are we here in the first place? According to the Vedas, to be born in this world means that we have some desire to be independent of God. God has created this world to facilitate our wayward desires. Because in order for a loving relationship to be true there must be the element of choice. Love can never be forced, like a gun to the head.
So we see the general mentality here to be served rather than serve. Therefore, this material existence is a place for the soul to assert its independence to try to play God. In this play we step on others' toes and receive the karmic reaction.
However Sri Krishna, God, is very kind that He and His representatives regularly descend to this world to impart knowledge to us, to teach us how we can be free from suffering. To act in our natural function as part of a whole. If the hand nourishes the stomach, it also is for the hand's own benefit. Encouraging us to act in this yoga is one of the ways the Lord shows His love. He does not force us. Rather just encourages from a distance. But if we take one step He takes a 100 steps towards us.
He not only provides spiritual instructions but also everything we need to live is provided by the Lord. Food, light, warmth, air, water, everything is provided even for the insignificant ant.”
A discussion ensued with another panelist and I. He stated that “(God) It is not a being, not a thing, and not an entity but simply the energy that caused a "balanced universe" and functions on the principle of balance, where every component of it is programmed to seek its own balance; both physical and metaphysical. For lack of linguistic expression, we normally address God as "him" instead of "her." God only knows what it is. Indeed, we have created God in our own image. ”
Dear Ghouse, I am not sure if you will see this as this is an old thread. My contention is that basically every theology admits God as the source. As sun is the source of sunlight.
Would you think that the sun is actually cold, unlike its sunlight?
Sat karyavad. In the cause the effect is also found. So if I am a being how can my source only be relegated to a energy?
The Vedas define God as shaktiman, the source of all energies, rather than just an impersonal energy.
Śrī Īśopanisad 16
pūsann ekarse yama sūrya prājāpatya
vyūha raśmīn samūha
tejo yat te rūpaḿ kalyāna-tamaḿ
tat te paśyāmi yo 'sāv asau purusah so 'ham asmi
O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind, please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.
Dear Chandra Das,
When I referred to God as energy, I did not relegate it to passive energy; I did not perceive it in various grades either. God is active energy, for lack of more descriptive word. It is not static, it is dynamic and maintaining a continual equilibrium. It is all within the realm of that energy. Life is all about seeking balance and the freeing oneself from the factors that throw us off the balance.
I have difficulty conjuring up a form for that energy, although I understand, it is human to have an imaginative God and we perceive it in our own image – we have not been able to free ourselves from that imagination – even the alien movies we make; they still have a similar structure like ours.
Dear Ghouse, Many perceive that by accepting that God has a form we limit God, a man made proposition. Imposing humanity upon God. However the same can be said of the idea that God is formless. That is also a limitation, "God is only this way, without form" However you have a form but your source cannot. This is illogical, but as was pointed out in this upcoming article logic is a tool of examination rather than tool of discovery. We examine must the info that is given to see if it is logical. But it is not that logic alone can discover the nature of God. That knowledge must come from the source itself.
The Vedas proclaim that God is the Energetic, the possessor and employer of the energy, and at the same time He is also in the energy as well. One and yet different. Monism and Dualism. Just as the drop of ocean water shares the salty quality of the ocean but differs in it quantity. Therefore God is also in this world but at the same time God has His own existence, His own form. The gurus have examined the logic of this, as well as myself and I find, as did they, that it stands solid.
Power and the powerhouse, energy and the energetic
Dear Chandra Das,
Indeed, a formless and formful God are possibilities for our imagination. And I do agree with you, "Therefore God is also in this world but at the same time God has His own existence, His own form." There is a couplet in my language Urdu -
Banday ko khuda mat kaho, banda khuda nahin,
lekin phir bhi juda, banday say khuda nahin
Don't call man "the God", man is not God,
yet, these two are inseparable, man is not distinct from his creator