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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 8
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Chapter 12: No God but Only Godliness

Existence consists not of nouns but of verbs. Nouns are inventions of man and so are pronouns. Verbs are real. When you say “a river” what do you mean? Have you ever seen a river as a noun? The river is always flowing, it is always a movement. It is never static, it is dynamic. How can you make it a static noun? The word river seems to be static.

If you ask the buddhas, the awakened ones, they will say, “Rivers don’t exist.” But you see the river flowing by. The flow is there, a kind of rivering is there, but no river. You see so many trees, but in fact what exists is a kind of treeing, not trees, because every tree is changing every moment. In the time that you take to use the word tree, the tree is no longer the same. A few old leaves have fallen, a few new leaves have started coming out, a flower has opened up, a bud is getting ready to open. There is great activity; the tree is constantly in momentum.

The whole existence consists of verbs, and God is nothing but the totality of all these verbs. God is not a quantity but a quality, not a person but a presence. God is an experience, not an object of experience but an experience itself. God is subjectivity. And how can you call subjectivity “he” or “she”?

I know why the question has arisen. All over the world, particularly in the West, the liberated woman is asking, “Why call God ‘he’?” And she is right, in a way. Why make God identified with the masculine mind? It is a kind of male chauvinistic approach. For centuries, the male has dominated everything, hence he has called God “he.” And the rebellion against it is absolutely right.

But to start calling God “she” will not put things right; it will be moving to the other extreme. That will be another kind of chauvinism, it won’t change anything. The wrong that man was doing will simply be done by women; both are wrong. God is neither.

Hence in the East, where for ten thousand years hundreds of people have arrived to the ultimate pinnacle of experiencing godliness, we don’t call God “he” or “she,” we call him “it.” That is far more beautiful because it takes God beyond he and she. But some word has to be used, and whatsoever word is used is going to be inadequate - he, she, it - because the word it also has its own dangers. It seems to be dead because we use it for things, and God is not a thing either. It seems to be too neutral, and God is not neutral; he is tremendously committed, involved. It seems to be lifeless, and God is life itself, love itself. Any word will have its own limitations.

So you can use any word - he, she, it - but remember, all words are limited and God is unlimited. If you use these words mindfully, then there is no danger. The basic remembrance is that God is a presence, otherwise many foolish questions arise.

If you call him “he” or “she,” then the question arises, “Where does he live? Where is he?” And then the question seems very relevant because you have reduced him to a person: then where is his dwelling?

“Where is the dwelling of God?”

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