By J Morris
07 July, 2014
The other day, a friend of mine was really down and out. He was in such an awful shape that I thought that any moment he would have a major nervous breakdown. Some of his co-religionists, in a part of the world several thousands of miles away, were up to no good yet again: going around bombing and beheading and spreading hate in the name of their faith. This time it was worse than usual, though. One among them had set himself up as the ruler of all those who claimed to follow the same religion. Not content with that, he had gone so far as to declare that he and his followers dreamt of conquering and subduing the entire world for their faith.
My friend shuddered in horror. ‘Maybe this man is the anti-Christ—I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is. These lunatics are giving such a bad name to our religion, with all their hate and terror! No wonder others think what they do about us and our faith!’ he said.
‘What’s going to happen now?’ he asked. ‘I am so, so scared! What’s going to happen?’ he went on and on, even though I don’t suppose he really expected much of an answer from me. After all, what could I really say? He knew as much as I did that no one had the faintest clue as to what was going to happen.
Some weeks ago, I chanced upon some amazing writings by a fascinating man, the late Ramesh Balsekar. A retired banker from India, he wrote much on spiritual matters, gathering a number of disciples—mainly Westerners I think. His basic argument was that everything that happens is the will of God. My writing this article is the will of God, and so is your reading it. My writing this article on this particular computer that I am using—and not any other—is also the will of God. Every thought, feeling, word and action is God’s Will manifesting itself through ‘body-mind organisms’, all part of a grand cosmic drama, an unfathomable mystery. We think we are ‘doers’, but that’s not the case at all in actual fact. Our presumed free will is simply illusory.
Balsekar was of the view that this was a teaching common to all religions, correctly interpreted. Accepting everything that happens is the will of God is enormously helpful and comforting in our personal lives, he explained. It saves us from the sin of pride in what we wrongly construe as our achievements, as well as from the sin of guilt for what we erroneously consider as our failures and wrong-doings. Moreover, it lifts from us the heavy burden of hate we carry around for what we mistakenly think are the misdeeds of others. Human beings are not doers of the deeds that they think they or others have done. All deeds—‘good’ and ‘bad ’—Balsekar contended, are actually done by God—they being expressions of His Will. And so, he argued, there is no need whatsoever to feel elated or upset, as the case might be, about them.
Now, I can’t dare claim to know the Will of God, and so I really don’t know if Balsekar is right or wrong. But suppose, for the sake of argument, he is indeed right. In that case, I could tell my distraught friend that there’s absolutely no need for him to worry himself to death about what the future holds. What’s going to happen is God’s will. In the particular case that’s giving my friend the shivers, it’s God’s will that will prevail. And so there’s absolutely no need to fret and fume, I could tell him. That might help calm him down a bit, don’t you think?
Maybe another thing I could do is to tell my friend that, as all religions teach, everything that God does, He does for the best. Situations that we think to be irredeemably horrific finally give way to the good, for the good must always triumph—so the religions say. If my friend doesn’t quite believe me, I could cite solid empirical evidence to back my point. I could begin with his own reaction, for instance. I could say that the very fact that the hate and violence that some of his co-religionists are fomenting have caused him to recoil in horror and to think of ways to counter them is itself an indication of goodness seeking to triumph over evil. I could also draw his attention to the fact that like him, scores of his fellow believers across the world have begun to rethink their religion in a more humane and loving way as a response and challenge to the hate-driven interpretations of their religion being articulated by some of their co-religionists. That, too, is a sign of good beginning to overcome evil.
In the face of the evil committed by some people, I could explain to my friend, the goodness inherent in others, which often lies dormant deep within them, is enkindled and made to express itself. The ecological movement, I could point out, emerged in the wake of widespread environmental destruction. Socialism was born as a response to the ravages wrought by Capitalism. The global peace movement was triggered off by the devastation caused by the World Wars and the nuclear arms race. Interfaith dialogue initiatives were spurred by conflict between votaries of different faiths. Likewise, the evil today being committed in the name of his faith, I could tell my friend, is bound to inspire many people, including many of his co-religionists, to work to overcome it.
We live only as long as we have hope and faith. In order to live, we must, I could assure my friend, cherish the hope and the faith that while evil may raise its head and sometimes even seem insurmountable, goodness will triumph ultimately. The evil being committed in the name of his faith, I could tell him, won’t last too long. God definitely won’t allow that, I could say.
I hope he would be convinced.
What do you think? Will he?
‘It’s God’s will if he is convinced, and His will, too, if he isn’t’, you may reply, echoing Ramesh Balsekar—and you may well be right.