Creator of Gods
I grew up in a somewhat religious community of Hindus in India, and we had a god or a goddess for every aspect of our lives. I also went to Catholic school through my undergraduate years and imbibed a large quantity of Christianity. I was an eager believer. It wasn’t difficult for me to believe in a son of god who could turn water into wine, to understand that a blue skinned god could protect those he loved by drinking all the poison in the world. I was taught, by the Hindus and the Christians, that god loves those who are good, and that humans can never, ever, be as powerful, as wise, or as beautiful, as the gods. Inherent flaws, original sin, we simply can’t compare with the paragons of perfection that grace our religious texts. It has taken me more than four decades to begin to see a different truth. During many spiritual experiences, rummaging around in both the light and the dark, I have come to understand deeply what it means that human beings have created these divinities.
Being a writer, I know that we write from our own experiences; we create only what we already know. No matter how far from us these creations are – fantasy fiction, for instance – we still infuse them with our very essence. How immensely beautiful it is, then, this human imagination, to create a whole pantheon of celestial beings. So beautiful their every act, their goodness, their immense power. With what a sense of wonder I realize that all this perfection can only be imagined by beings who truly understand perfection. That the beauty of this god we speak of is a reflection of the beauty in human beings, not the other way around.
I am more aware than most of how much suffering there is in this world. I feel keenly attuned to it: the disasters, the poverty, abuse, violence in its many forms. Perhaps my awareness is a result of my quite awful childhood home, perhaps I was born to feel, for some unfathomable reason, more than others do. But I suffer my own pain and the pain of others quite acutely.
God and religion don’t help a child much when there is madness and abuse in the home. Praying doesn’t take away either the cause or the result of the pain. God as loving companion sometimes distracts from the loneliness and eases the fear, but reality returns before miracles can affect much. But singing one day, chanting with a group in the desert, it suddenly hit me that we have the power to create godliness. That we already have, in fact, built whole cities of gods, given them names, ascribed to them great goodness, and thus manifested the best parts of ourselves.
This isn’t easy to write – this metaphysical argument that changes the way I know myself and my world. But I wish people would see this question of god with my eyes – I believe it would make for a more empowered, more joyous human race.
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