Reflections on God 1: Childhood Atheism and Introduction to Kabir Poetry

This is part of God Flux but written in smaller sections for an easier read.

Basic Atheism

As a child I was taught to worship Hindu gods in temples and during Poojas (auspicious days/festivals) at home. I was told stories from Krishna’s childhood, Ramayana and Mahabharatha. But when I was seven, I had a dream that I rose above the clouds and found the gods in the sky. It looked like a king’s court with one in the middle and several on either side. As I was taught to do, I knelt before them in the Namaskaram position (similar to Shashankasana). When they saw this, they started laughing at me. Feeling insulted, I got up and decided that gods aren’t worth worshiping. This dream got me thinking about god and what I had been told about ‘him’. I started wondering why so many people believed in god(s) even though no one had ever seen one. I took note of the kinds of violence and atrocities that happened in the name of this invisible concept. I began to gather reasons why the whole concept was bad for the world and totally irrational. Then I started arguing with believers, at the age of eleven, trying to convince them that god can’t exist. I read some Richard Bach books like Running from Safety and Illusions. One of the first people who challenged my arguments and got me back into thinking was my dad. Bach had said that since there is so much bad in the world, either god exists but is very mean, or he simply doesn’t exist. My dad explained that the concept that god is only good is flawed. He told me god is part of everything, is indeed everything; no matter how we define good and bad. Even now I bounce my thoughts and ideas off him and thoroughly enjoy our discussions.

Kabir and the Bhakti poets

At the age of thirteen, I started studying Bhakti poetry as part of Hindi lessons at school. I became interested in Kabir’s ideas of god. He said god could be Nirgun (without any qualities, undefinable) or Sargun (given any form that humans can relate to, infinite definitions and identities). He introduced to me the concepts of Maya-jaal (the illusory web of this world), Athma and Paramathma (soul and the ultimate soul/Unity), Samsara (materialistic world) and Moksha or Mukthi (ultimate freedom from the cycles of birth and death, bliss/Nirvana). He and the other Bhakti movement poets (like Meera-bai) that we studied talked of the yearning of the individual soul to merge with the ultimate soul and how the materialistic life and the illusions of this world distract us from working towards that bliss/enlightenment. He also said that though we may look for god in temples and mosques, we have him right within us because he is part of us all. Now these ideas really got my attention. God isn’t external to us? He/She/It is open to definition, yet indefinable? Everything and nothing?

'holy' books  A Sand Country Almanac  A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity  absolute  abuse of children  academic study of Hinduism  agni  ahimsa  ailments  aldo leopold  almighty power  alter boys  anbe sivam  anger  atheism  athma  atrocities  attacks on diversity  auspicious days  back ache  back problem  bad for the world  bahkti poetry  beautiful  beliefs  benevolent  bhakti poets  bhooma devi  bible  biological basis for belief in god  biological origin for belief in god  bliss  blue  body and nimd  books  brain  brutality  buddha  buddhism  bylakuppe  C.S.Lewis  calm  carry mountains with one finger  caustic  chakras  children  chinese  choir  Christianity  clothing  clouds  common mythical structure  communal violence  communities  comparitive mythology  compassion  concept  contradictions  conversation  conversions  Coorg  corruption of god  critical thinking  cultural diversity  Dalai Lama  dangers  deep commitment  deep ecology  deep experience  deep questioning  depression  describe  dialogues  distract  divine  Do you believe in god?  dream  Dreams  drowning  drugs  early vedic  earth  Edinburgh  environmental science  equilibrium  evolution  evolutionarily advantageous  excludes and condemns possibilities other than it's own  existence  exposure  external god literally  faith  faith can be dangerous  fascinating  festivals  fire  five senses  flawed  food  forces of nature  forgive directly  forgiven  forgiveness  fritjof capra  gadgets  gandhi  gandhi philosophy  gandhian philosophy  geological integrity  gift from god  god  god and love  god is everything  god is mean  god is nothing  gods  gratitude  grow up  guidelines  happy  harmony  healing  heaven  hell  highest potentials  Himalayas  hindi lessons  hindu  hindu gods  hindu mythology  holy men  horrendous atrocities of the chinese  human capacity  human values  humans  humility  Illusion and other Realities  illusions  immaculate conception  infinite definitions  inherent biological feature  interconnectedness  interpretation  intrinsically linked with  irrational  irritable  jesus  jesus is a madman  jihad  joseph campbell  judgement  judo-christian  ka  kabir  Kamal  Kamal Hassan  killed  knowledge  Koran  krishna  Krishna lila  Krishnamurthi  krishnamurthi school  lakes  languages  laugh  laws of physics  layers of existence  leaves  letters from edinburgh  life forms  Light  Lord Krishna  love nature  love thy neighbour  loved by god  M.K. Gandhi  Mahabharatha  Mahatma Gandhi  material growth  materialistic  maya  maya jaal  meditating  meditation  meera bai  mental discipline  mercy  merge  metaphorical  mind and body  mindless sheep  mira bai  miracles  missionaries  moderate and tolerant views  moksha  mosques  mukthi  mukti  multiple headed snakes  myths to live by  nature  nature is sacred  Neuroscience  nirgun  nirvana  not follow spiritual teachers  nurturing  occident  oneness  only one  open  optimal use  organised religion  original  own path  papers  paradise  paramathma  peace  peaceful  perish  personal crisis  pettier  petty  Phantoms in the Brain  philosophies  philosophy  philosophy of yoga  plants  pluralism  poetry  political power play  poojas  power of love  power play  praise  praising jesus  protect nature  pure  question  radical atheism  radical atheist  ramayana  rational  read  reality  reason  reduce chronic pain  reflections  reiki  religion dangerous to humanity  rescue animals  respect  responsibility  reverent  rich mythology  richard bach  richard dawkins  ritualism  rituals  rivers  roberto calasso  running from safety  sacred  sacred rivers  sacrifice  sagun  sam harris  samsara  Santa Clause  sarcastic  sargun  schizophrenia  Schizophrenia: The Inward Journey  science  sections  sending his son  sensitive  seventy two virgins  shiva  sinner  sins  sky  sneh shapat  solipsism  spiritual  spiritual experiences  spiritual growth  spiritual path  spiritual progress  spirituality  spoon fed  stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise  streams  strokes  strong religious identities  suffering  suicide bombings  Sun  swayed  sydney  symbolic  symbolism  tao of physics  temper  temples  temporal lobe lesions  think  Tibetan settlement  tibetans  tiny ants  tolerance  torture  touched  trauma  trees  turn the other cheek  undefinable  utilitarian value  V.S. Ramachandran  varuna  vayu  videos  violence  water  welfare of the environment  wendy doniger  western philosophy  whole universe in his mouth  wild animals  wind  women  worship  worship nature  yoga  Yoga class 

See also