It has been long standing dispute, whether there is God or not. Ask anyone, whether God exists, and what we have is an endless debate with no conclusion. God is the base for almost all religions. Nirvana is the base of Buddhism. But neither God nor Nirvana have yet been acknowledged, accepted, approved, disapproved by Science. Thus science does not approve or disapprove any religion and its base. And how can science dare to do so? Past is witness to the struggle science did to prove that earth revolves around sun, that earth is round and not flat, that plants & trees have life, that space is relative, that time is relative….
Dan Brown the best selling author of books like ‘Da Vinci code’, ‘Angels & Demons’, ‘Digital Fortress’ and ‘The Lost Symbol’ have frequently mentioned in his books that most religions and its scriptures are flawed over time by lesser minds with higher influence. His latest book, ‘The Lost Symbol’ raised two controversial issues – ‘Neotic science’ and ‘apotheosis’. ‘Neotic science’ though touted as science, has not yet been accepted as science. ‘Apotheosis’ issue was raised, but not concluded.
The issue still remains. Does God exist? Is apotheosis possible? (How dare any mortal call himself God?) Let us answer some frequently asked questions first.
Is God one or many? Our languages are misleading (my next blog?). Is a family one or many? Is a company one or many? Is crowd one or many? What about a community, a mob, a group?When a group of people act together with one purpose, they are treated as one! What if you changed your name to ‘community’? Now you get the point? So, is God one or many? Individually, one. Collectively, still one!
Do you believe in God? Wrong question. It should be – Do you know God? So, do you know God? No. Then know God. You won’t know God, until you become God yourself.
But who is God? Again wrong question! It should be, What is God? As mentioned earlier self or ego or identity is a construct of our language – a word. If we believe ‘rebirth’, it is a very long intermediate state of bliss/heaven between physical births. Further, if we believe ‘karma’, then those with very very good karmas become entitled for God, subject to Karmic laws. And yes, even what and who are words!
Can a human being be God, when still living? Yes. Through meditation. Through meditation we can attain higher levels of concentration called ‘jhanas’ in Buddhism. There are four ‘jhanas’ of form and four formless ‘jhanas’. The formless jhanas, where we loose attachment to our form/body/self, corresponds with various planes of existence of God. (This is not mentioned explicitly or implicitly anywhere in Buddhism. Please read my disclaimer in ‘About me’ page. Edit 07/11/2016: I wrote this based on my personal experience, which I will narrate in some later blog. I later found the link referring to exactly what I concluded here. It can be read here – http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html )
This is also referred as ‘becoming one with God’ (as said earlier, collectively one) by yogi’s in India and in hinduism and some other religions. Thus one can be God, while still being human. Thus, there are two ways of becoming God – Apotheosis: good Karma and meditation.
How do we become God? I have mentioned in my previous blog – “Illnesses of mind” the two fundamentals of all religion – morality and wisdom. All religions aim for morality and have their own definition (usually a long list of ‘to do’ and ‘not to do’) of morality. Wisdom is spread all over in the religious scriptures – ‘Bible’, ‘Quran’, ‘Geeta’, ‘Vedas’, etc. This wisdom gives a strong reason for following morality and how it can be followed.
Buddhism adds a third fundamental to what we now call religion (language construct) – ‘Mental Culture’ or ‘Samadhi’ which includes meditation, awareness and effort. While meditation aims for deeper understanding and concentration of mind, awareness is being mindful of all our acts in daily life. When we sit, we know we are sitting. When standing we know we are standing. When answering call of nature we know we are answering call of nature. In short we are mindful/aware of our thoughts, speech and action of the current moment. This is commonly known as “here and now” (space and time – relativity? – time machine!). You can use my hand chart at http://attainingnirvana.com for practicing mindfulness and morality.
Thus, while all religion have the morality/karma aspect of Apotheosis, Buddhism has both morality and mental culture/meditation. Mental culture can be incorporated into any existing religion to cover both the aspects of becoming God.
Are there any drawbacks in becoming God? Yes. One pitfall in trying to becoming God is pride, need for attention, need for followers. When one gets these, there is flow of money and all other things you want. This results in attraction towards material things and resultant fall of mind. To add to it there are other powers of developed mind, clairaudience, clairvoyance, knowing past births, etc. These are by-products of meditation and not goals. Most fall for these powers and are diverted from their goals. These are the main reasons for the rise and fall of most God-men in India. Also, the state of being God is finite, though seemingly eternal, and one has to return to one of the lower planes of existence.
Does Buddhism have the concept of God? It is a misconception even among most Buddhist, that there is no God or concept of God in Buddhism. (please read my disclaimer in ‘About me’ page. Buddha himself avoided any debate regarding God for many reasons.) Knowing fully, the pitfalls in becoming God, Buddhism diverges here to attain Nirvana. Thus, not aspiring for the sublime, but still temporary (usually very long) state of God, to become completely free from cycles of birth. And Nirvana is not specific to Buddhism either. Most yogi’s aspire for Moksha, which is equivalent to Nirvana.
Can a person attain Nirvana, when still living? Yes. Like God, a person can attain Nirvana, while still alive. Once a person attains Nirvana, it is the last birth and there will be no further birth.
So, do all Buddhist aspire for Nirvana? Not really. Buddhist laymen are only expected to maintain morality and follow ‘panchsila’(five basic moral precepts). Some aspire to become ‘Bodhisatta’, a person who aspires to Buddhahood while seeking to enlighten all beings on the path. Some forms of Buddhism prefer aspiring for ‘Bodhisatta’ instead of ‘Nirvana’. Buddha himself had remained ‘Bodhisatta’ for many birth, perfecting himself to become the Buddha supreme. While anyone can attain Nirvana, ‘Buddha’ is the highest perfection a being can attain.
Now you won’t believe in God anymore (because someone said so, or your religion said so). Now you can know God by becoming God, so that there are/is always God/Gods for the benefit of one and all. Whether you strive for ‘God’, ‘Bodhisatta’, ‘Nirvana’ or ‘Buddha’, you know the path is the same, ‘morality’, ‘mental culture’ and ‘wisdom’, with different Goals at the higher end. ‘God’, ‘Bodhisatta’, ‘Nirvana’ and ‘Buddha’ are all still words and one should not attach to it either, but know it. Mind can Matter and one can achieve any of these goals if one follows the path right.