Massacre of 'God'
Where was God when the 132 children were massacred by the Taliban? I was asking myself that when I read the news. All those memories of my earlier years of struggling with the question of God came back.
For most of my life, I was a Catholic but I had trouble with the way some people practiced the beliefs. Getting through life was simply a game of religious Russian roulette.
One simply had to make sure one was in a state of grace as often as possible so that in the event of one’s death, one would have eternal bliss.
Earthly problems didn’t have to be worked on because getting to heaven was the goal. It seemed that when it came to the problems that face us such as world hunger, disease, poverty, and corruption, one could only pray. God was apparently a magic genie we had to turn to, as if all we could hope for is a literal deus ex machina to our problems.
Most importantly, I could not bear the idea of a loving God who allowed the suffering of so many while others simply relished in their comforts.
It was for these reasons that I left the Catholic Church years ago.
I didn’t want to leave it to some sky-father who was always watching us to be the solution to our problems. I wanted to risk my chances on something more tangible – ourselves. We had science and reasoning, things that can help us solve our problems. I didn’t want to waste the life I had now by believing in some post-mortem paradise.
Zen and now
I was an atheist for two years. I wanted people to take fate into their own hands, deal with the present, and to believe in their power and capability.
I read Dawkins, learned how to counter the typical arguments of theists – argument from beauty, appeal to ignorance, Pascal’s wager, the Ontological argument, and so on. However, I was wary of the hubris that many atheists fall prey to. An open-mindedness and humility is necessary for knowledge to progress. For instance, quantum physics demanded the abandonment of Euclidean geometry.
I stumbled on Zen Buddhism in my senior year in college. I found it to be a very practical religion.
Zen is founded on the practice of Zazen – meditation. I am still new to it, but from what I have learned, it is primarily an act of letting go. Meditation is a process of emptying the mind. The purpose is to extinguish desires that focus on the self – the fear of what lies beyond death, anxiety on the source of morality, desires for a pre-selected center which determines meaning in our lives.
It's when we let go not just of pre-conceptions and presuppositions but of how we understood the very things around us. This allows one to be opened for the truth to reveal itself. The things we know are mere rafts to help us traverse ignorance to greater levels of understanding and consciousness.
I rediscovered God over a plate of caldereta. Instead of praying to some unearthly spirit before eating, I began thinking of all the things involved in making the dish as my means of being thankful, from the waiter who brought it to me, to the chef, to the people who delivered the ingredients.
Then I had to thank the farmers who produced the ingredients, the parents who raised them. Then I had all the non-human elements to thank – the cows where the meat came from, the fields where the rice grew. Photosynthesis. Thermodynamics. That Earth is the proper distance from the Sun to support life. I realized that there would be no end to the things I had to be grateful for. And so I came to a word of convenience to encompass all of these: God.
God to me became the grand summation of all things, known and unknown, the interrelations, and possibilities within, among, and beyond, including ourselves. Thus, I can say God is in you and in myself. Through this, we are One.
The 'Kingdom of God'
All this gave me relative peace of mind. By acting, God also acts. That is why God can be good because we can perform good. Yet God is also capable of evil as we perform evil.
Yet I could not simply accept that children can be so wantonly massacred. I could not take this absurdity. It simply should not be.
In the face of absolute absurdity, I declare resistance; say no to the no! For the first time in years, perhaps in my life, I had faith. I had faith that in the face of all the horror we can commit, we are not only capable of good but we must do good.
I raise my banner alongside those who raise the cross, the crescent, the star, the wheel, and all myriad of symbols. We choose in our freedom to believe there can be good in this world, an almost other-worldly good that denies the absurdity of ours and we choose to bring it here.
Heaven is what we are destined if it is to be here on earth. It is beyond the world we are in and yet is our possibility. This is what I think it means for the "Kingdom of God" to be at hand. – Rappler.com
Gerard Lim or "Rucha" is a 5th year Communication major at the Ateneo de Manila University with minors in Philosophy and Literature in English. He is a Buddhist who is deeply interested in seeing into the nuances and philosophical roots of all things while finding wonder and humor along the way.