Chapter 4: Be a Light unto Yourself
Even the concept of God can be discarded. Buddhism does not believe in any God, Jainism does not believe in any God, but they are religions. Christianity believes in God, Islam believes in God, Sikhism believes in God; they are also religions. The Christian teaches surrender to God: God is just an excuse to surrender. It is a help because it will be difficult for you to surrender without any object. The object is just an excuse so that in the name of God you can surrender. Buddhism says simply “Surrender: there is no God. Relax. It is not a question of some object, it is a question of your own subjectivity. Relax, don’t fight, accept.”
The belief in God is not needed. In fact, the word belief is ugly; it does not show trust, it does not show faith. Belief is almost the very opposite of faith. The word belief comes from a root life. Lief means to desire, to wish. Now let me explain it to you. You say, “I believe in God, the compassionate” - what exactly are you saying? You are saying, “I wish there was a God who is compassionate.” Whenever you say, “I believe,” you say, “I intensely desire” but you don’t know.
If you know there is no question of belief. Do you believe in the trees here? Do you believe in the sun which rises every morning? Do you believe in the stars? There is no question of belief. You know that the sun is there, that the trees are there. Nobody believes in the sun; if he did you would say he is mad. If somebody came and said, “I believe in the sun,” and tried to convert you, you would say, “You have gone mad!”
I have heard an anecdote:
A certain lady, Lady Lewis, was appointed ambassador to Italy by the United States of America. She was a recently converted Catholic, and of course, when people become converted they are very enthusiastic. And she was boring everybody. Whosoever she came into contact with, she would try to make him a Catholic.
The story goes that when she went to Italy as the ambassador, she went to see the pope. A long discussion followed, it went on and on. A press reporter slipped closer and closer just to hear what was going on. The pope had never given so much time to anybody, and the discussion seemed to be very heated and hot. Something was going on. When the pope talks so long to the ambassador of the richest and the strongest nation in the world, there is going to be some news.
Just to overhear he came closer and closer. He could hear only one sentence. The pope was saying in a faltering English, “Lady, you don’t understand me. I am already a Catholic!”
She was trying to convert the pope!
If somebody comes and says to you, “Believe in the sun,” you will say, “I am already a Catholic. I already believe. Don’t be worried about it” - because you know.
Somebody asked Sri Aurobindo, “Do you believe in God?”
He said, “No.”
Of course the questioner was very shocked. He had come from far away, from Germany, and he was a great seeker of God and he was hoping for much, and this man simply says a flat no. He said, “But I was thinking that you have known him.”