Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Question of Suffering

This is Copied with permission from one of my favourite bloggers 
You can read the same on his blog  please do comment on his blog if you want to.I re-posted this because its a sentiment i have long harboured...Thanks 

I read this story in an Indian newspaper some years ago. A mentally challenged young girl, who used to beg and live off scraps on the street, had been raped and brutalized, most possibly by many men. She had then been left on a garbage dump. For days, she had lain there, unable to move,  crying out to passers-by in the best way she could, pleading them to help her. No one did.  Not one. Till finally death ended the little girl’s agony.
As a purveyor of the litany of barbarities that pass for news, I have become hardened to what goes on in the world. But this one somehow just broke through. It may sound melodramatic when I say it but I had tears in my eyes. And I did ask myself “Why?”
In Arun Shourie’s new book (which I have not read) “Does He Know A Mother’s Heart?” and which has been reviewed beautifully by Pratap Bhanu Mehta here, he asks a similar question ” How can God let children pass through extraordinary suffering?” In looking for that answer, he questions every religion and many holy men. In the process, Mr. Shourie, one of the keenest minds of modern India and possibly the last of the truly great public intellectuals we have had in the country, tears through the logic religions use to justify suffering (“Your child suffers for your sins”, “Your child suffers for sins committed in a past life”, “Your child will enjoy great joy in his next life for the pain in this”). I cannot wait to read this book and I am sure, having read a few of Mr. Shourie’s past works, that it will be a worthy read.
The unquestioned believers will call the entire exercise of dissecting religious tenets futile. Religion, they will say, is the word of God (of course only their religion, the others are not), whispered to human representatives behind a burning bush, or through a dream or in a battlefield. Trying to find plot holes in His word is nothing but an expression of human arrogance, an endeavor doomed to failure. God (as expressed through THEIR religion) is always correct and if you found any “bugs”, it is your logical argument which has a problem.
I am an agnostic. That is I do not deny God’s existence nor do I doubt it. I simply believe it to be an unknowable question. As an aside, I am not an atheist because I find atheism to be dogmatic in its anti-dogmatism, because I have yet to encounter  conclusive proof that God does not exist (I believe that a proof or a counter-argument can never be found). Because I definitely do not believe that God came down and told his words to men, I am sanguine that religions are human constructs. And since humans are fallible, their creations will also reflect their fallibilities. Hence it is not surprising that religions cannot provide a logically coherent answer to Mr. Shourie’s “Why” (and my also).
One must remember though that all religion grew out of “Why”-s. Ancient man figured out pretty quickly that in this world, there is cause and then there is effect. If a tiger sinks a tooth in you, you bleed. If you jump into the river, you get wet. But what about night and day? What about the rains? What caused that? The Unknown.God. That the Unknown was totally beyond human control and understanding was a rather disquieting idea. So causalities were created—if man did something, God would respond to that action.  Which is why God needed to be kept happy  through gifts and obeisance (in the same way humans become happy).  Else if he became angry (for exactly the same reasons humans became angry), there would be Hell to pay. If you sacrifice an animal in God’s name, the rains will come on time. If you do not, there will be drought. Rituals thus came into being. And many of the “Why”s were supposedly answered.
At the same time, societies needed certain laws to be able to run efficiently. Do not kill people. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife. Do not pick her husband’s pocket. Thus humans sought to define a notion of “good” and “bad”. If you tell me “I am telling you that murder is bad” I won’t listen to you. But if you tell me “God commands you not to murder else he will make sure you lose your right eye”, you have my attention. Hence God became the final arbiter of good and bad. Along with that came the notion of justice—a system of positive and negative incentives that ensured their compliance. Some of the justice would of course be dispensed here on earth by humans but then there were a lot more that was going to be handed out up there or when the world shall end.
As the years passed, science answered many of the “Why”s? Most people realized that dancing around the fire won’t make the winters any milder. Or sprinkling ash on a man clutching his chest won’t make him better. But there were questions that remained un-answered, questions outside the purview of science. Why are we here? Where are we going? And why is their human suffering and why does merciful God do nothing about it? Men still turned to religion for these answers and religion obliged with a reply. Suffering happens due to causality (a concept even primitive men understood)—–its’ either something you did in this life (didn’t pray frequently or ate non-veg) or in the previous (murdered a few) that is “responsible” for your current  predicament. This was a comforting realization, that suffering happens for a reason, namely your actions, and that you will not suffer if you stayed good. It was also beneficial for society as a whole too because many men, who otherwise would not fear human law, stayed to the straight and narrow from the fear of divine retribution in this life or the next.
One cannot escape the fact that the concept of “good lead to good and bad leads to bad” is purely a human construct. If you look at Nature as a whole, you will see that things are a bit different. It is rough, brutal, cruel and frankly, terrifyingly unfair.There it is the survival of the fittest and the meek not only does not inherit the earth but gets wiped out from it. Nature does not care how you survive—-whether you eat your own cub or attack a pack of lambs, all it cares is that you do and that you bring every bit of advantage evolution gave you to the party.
Which is why I believe asking religions “Why do children suffer” is like looking for a ring lost in the dark near the light of the lamp. Most religions use morality-driven causality to answer the question of suffering whereas Nature (or God if you please), once you look real close, does not really care for human notions of right and wrong and of justice.
That is why I personally have stopped asking “Why?” when I hear of children dying or suffering. It is like speculating why a dice face came down as “one” instead of “six”. The only question worth asking is “What we, as human beings can do about the suffering of our fellow humans?”  That is only what lies in our hands.
God, should he exist, does not “care” for us or of our expectations from him.
Which is why, in turn, I shall never care for nor expect anything from him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

new year wishes

a new year, is that what it is?
how do u define a new year? is it anyway different from a new month or a new week or a new day? perhaps not much different from a new moment too?
do u think we should be celebrating not only the new years but the new moments too?
in theory, yes it sounds so cool, so soul stirring, Zen like
the question is, can we?
nah! i don't think so and that is where these yearly celebrations come in.
a year in our calendar completes a of cycle. we humans are creatures of behavior, mind u. so we turn round and round in familiar notions of time and continuity and to-do-lists and happy new years.
but then, these are important.
these yearly celebrations.
they make us realize, that okay dude/dudette, whatever the heck you have been doing for the past 365 days, here is a time to at least look back and remember, the joys, sorrows, laughter, tears, trips, good times, bad times...whatever. we don't do this every moment, no problem; not every day or week or month, not that much of a problem, but this yearly celebration is a must.
so, for you, my advice/suggestion/request, please don't treat this mail as another piece of junk. just think about it.
make ur every breath count.
try to give your best to anything u r doing.
remember, that it is each single moment that will someday add up to a year and then eventually your life.
and if i could wish u a thing for the coming year, it would b this...

"On the next 31st of December, when you look back at the year gone by, may you find truth, peace and contentment in your heart."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

33,00,00,000 gods and more

the jewel track goes
"so we pray to as many different gods,
as there are flowers...
but who will save your soul"

and there are... many gods, one each for different religions, castes, societies. there are fights, murders, terrorism over these gods. after all that is disenchantment. from our gods, we form our own gods. we follow cults, or become atheists, we don't believe. Humans have a tendency to slight everything else that anyone else believes. religion can kill you, and it can make you live, in hope.
people have their own way of bringing faith in their lives, and thats what cultures and societies are made on. what brings them happiness is what god is to them. everything else exists cause we exist, we the living, breathing, talking beings. the mere fact that we live in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. everything begins from that and ends there.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Is it really humane to trust and then distrust, and may be trust back again? Is it fair?

I've had my share of trust, distrust, and trust ... Is a moment of distrust following? Will I be able to distrust again? And later, will I be able to trust again?

Is it reasonable to kind of shift between the trust and distrust just based on the need of the hour? That would probably not be a valid statement. We go into a state of distrust when we need Him the most and He isn't there. Or it seems He isn't there. Why do we go back into a state of trust at some point in time again then? Do we need Him again? Do we forgive Him?

Is it fair on our part? Is it fair for Him? Can He forgive us for distrusting Him?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

gods and their lovers

its been weird two months of my life. from being someone who has just started believing in god to someone who has finally acknowledged she needs the presence, i have come a long way. or maybe not. i can't really decide.
those who have known me for a long time now would probably know that i used to really "believe" in God, his mercy and all that a few years ago.. used to go to the church regularly, more than my christian boyfriend used to go. used to go to the temples and sit their trying to gather every happy feeling inside me. kneel down the minute i felt low and needed anyone, pray before eating, all that... i cant say he was always there. but a certain peace came over. the kind of peace you have when you have faith on a certain someone. and you know this peace wont be over and then it all vanished. with a simple break of heart. not because i blamed god or anything. simply because i was so broken that it never occurred to me, that probably its all for the good. maybe it was, maybe not. i can never definitely say that god stood beside me or not... when i was begging him for getting sam back, whether god even wanted to say "no, i can't" there was no answer and i kind of felt left out. and thats what broke me. somewhere deep down i guess there is larger picture. in certain ways i feel its the smaller details which remain more important.

what got me back to god was love again. this time in a special way. he just prays to god. believes... and that makes me feel i need to believe too. i just need to keep my faith. i dont know what happened.. sitting in the hotel room alone, all i needed was a hug. and i felt maybe i can ask it from someone who i havent asked much from in the last few years. maybe i just need to call him back. the pain was just too huge to bear alone. in god i was trying to find my divine incarnate. the small piece of god that has rubbed off on the person i love so much. i dont know whether god came or not. but the pain eased off. and that was that. i just suddenly needed that presence again. i stil cant decide whether it guides me or not. i still cant decide whether god loves me at all or knows i exist or not. but i just need him. just like i need "A"... i dont know how much more is planned for me. whether i have had it easy till now and its going to be more difficult for me now... whether i can go through it or i will give up. but i still thank him. everytime i talk to my divine touch i thank... and beg he gets his smiles, he gets his pooh, atleast one prayer is answered... he doesnt need me anymore. and i am cassandra.. no one believes me. my premonitions are right. i know whats gonna happen even before they think that is possible.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


adi: :)
3:20 AM am i?
me: u are??
3:21 AM adi: closer to god than u?
me: yeah
adi: i dont thnk so
3:22 AM me: huh???
no u are,,,
uve always trusted him more than i have
adi: impressions r so deceptive my love
3:23 AM me: uhun?
sweety, i used to trust him back in 2005
adi: and if i were that close to god, i wud have convinced him to get sam back for u
maybe i tried too
3:24 AM but wont tell u how much
me: now i only beg to him... im like the beggar outside the puri temple... some of the blessings may fall off from the higher castes of people
adi: hmmm

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Almighty

"Trust me, I will take you through the rains and the storms".
"Who are you?"
"The One who is responsible for your existence, for what is called love, for the rains and the storms."
"Ha! Rains and storms and love all have the same source! You cannot be God can You? The God who immerses us in the rain of love, and who drowns us in the storms of life, how can You, oh my, have a dual personality varying from one extreme to another?"
"The rains of love, I cannot give you alone. For you might emerge a better God of the rain of love. You may not emerge a better benefactor for delivering the storms of life..."