The famous Jaina Guru, Mahavir, used to give several answers to one question. For instance, when asked about the existence of God, he would reply: “God is, God is not, He both is and is not, He neither is nor is not, He is beyond all these.” This seems to be a very contradictory statement about the nature of God. The gods and goddesses are depicted as having many eyes, mouths, hands and feet. This is a symbolical feature in religion which speaks about the multiple aspects of God. Truth cannot be limited or confined to description and conception. What baffles us more is that God is everything at the same time. For instance, God is both form and formless. One may believe that form and formless are separate and different, but the truth is that He is both form and formless simultaneously. The wave and particle nature of the electron created a fuss in the scientific community when the discovery was made. However, things are as they are, whether it baffles us or not.
Shankara, a famous Hindu mystic, says that the world is illusive like a dream or a shadow and that its substratum is Brahman or God, the Ultimate Reality. Let us analyse the nature of illusion. That which is illusive is not necessarily inexistent, but it is that which has a relative existence and above or beyond which there is a higher reality. A dream, for example, is a dimension of our existence and has its importance. Similarly, the illusive world, too, has its importance. Otherwise, we would not know God. Therefore illusion is, from one angle, a must, hence we cannot despise the world. When the realisation of Brahman dawns upon us, then we realise the ultimate nature of God and the illusory nature of the world.
But in the Bible, it is said that no mortal has ever seen the Lord. If taken literally, this is contradictory as all religions, prophets and seers teach to realise God, to have union with Him. How to reconcile the statements and sayings of the great ones? The mystic, when talking about the experience of God, which is called Nirvikalpa Samadhi in the East, asks us to reflect on the following: when a tiny grain of salt falls in the sea and dissolves, what happens? Does the salt dissolve and disappear in the ocean or does it become the ocean? It both disappears and becomes one with the ocean. If the salt maintains its identity as salt, it cannot attain mergence and if it attains mergence, then it is not there. It loses its identity, therefore the salt cannot say, “I know the ocean.” Similarly, to know God, man must lose himself, he must be ready to disappear. Hence the statement “No mortal has ever seen the Absolute.”
The contradictory nature of Truth is a reality when considered from one angle of vision. Another point which presents the very contradictory nature of God is that religion says that everything in the Universe is predestined, that is, whatever is happening is going according to a well-defined plan. There is even a theory which is called determinism, which states that everything is pre-planned. The question which comes to the mind is that if everything is planned, then man is only a robot and is not responsible for whatever is happening. Or still, an individual is not responsible for whatever he does. Logically, it is God who is responsible for every detail in His own creation. He is the sole director. Man, however, does not feel or know that God is the sole motivator of all. He feels that he is the sole doer, therefore he alone reaps the fruits of his actions, whether good or bad. But religion says that God is all, thus He is the only doer.
The Hindu scripture Vishnu Sahasranaam says that Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer. This statement is amongst the most beautiful praises in favour of the divine glory. On one hand, religion says that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. On the other hand, according to the law of karma, man is seen enjoying the fruits of both good and evil actions. If God is omnipresent, then how can man enjoy the fruit of actions? It should be God! Adam and Eve were drawn away from the garden of Eden simply for not obeying God’s order of not eating the forbidden fruit. God is supposed to be compassionate and forgives our sin. He, being God, knows the result of his creation. Then the question arises: did He purposely forbid the original couple to eat the apple? The Bible as well as the Gita teach that God is all, then who ate the fruit, God or human being?
Another point of view which baffles nearly all is Satan. Who gives birth to this mysterious principle? Christianity speaks about Lucifer who was an angel of Light, but who, out of jealousy, rebelled against the Creator. Strange indeed! Being a creation of God and that too an angel of Light, from where did the seed of jealousy germinate in him? Why did God let live Satan so as to torment us and finally, we are the ones sent into eternal fire? Some believers say that it is our test and Satan exists so that we may go beyond him, thus proving God to be our priority. What happens if we fail – and failure is always there? If we lose the battle against Satan, then hell awaits us or suffering on earth becomes our lot. He who is omniscient surely knows well the whole play, as He is the planner of the cosmic drama. Then why did He not destroy Satan once for all so that we remain eternally in bliss and in His holy presence? There definitely is an answer to all this! Most of the revelations of the scriptures have an esoteric meaning. It is our duty to seek and decipher them so that we can get the right understanding concerning the nature of Truth.
Let it be clearly understood that these questions on the inconsistent or contradictory nature of Truth are meant to lead the seekers of Truth and everybody else into deep reflection and meditation on the higher nature of Truth. Normally, these kinds of questions do haunt the seeker at a certain stage on the ladder of evolution. Therefore, from a certain angle of vision, God is contradictory, but this is not a weakness or criticism against Truth but is complementary of God. It is the beauty of His mysterious and awe-inspiring nature. However, though contradiction and inconsistency may exist in our concept related to God, that is only one aspect of Him since He is beyond all attributes. Also, let this be understood that contradiction and inconsistency are in relation to the mind. If there is no mind, then who will perceive contradiction and inconsistency?
Most of the revelations of the scriptures have an esoteric meaning. It is our duty to seek and decipher them so that we can get the right understanding concerning the nature of Truth.
Though contradiction and inconsistency may exist in our concept related to God, that is only one aspect of Him since He is beyond all attributes.