Chapter 6: The Distinction between Prayer and Meditation
The first cause is that we have always been thinking of God as a person. To think about God as a person is false, untrue, and that idea had to die. The idea that God is a person - controlling, managing, creating, maintaining - is false. God is not a person. The idea became so significant because of our minds. Whenever we think about something, either we can think of it as a thing or as a person. Only two alternatives are open: when something exists, then it must either be a thing or a person.
We cannot think, we cannot imagine, that things and persons are both manifestations of something deeper - hidden. The same force becomes a thing; the same force becomes a person. But the force itself is neither. God, taken as a person, is dead. The concept is dead, and the concept had to die because as a person God cannot be proved. And taken as a person, he doesn’t solve any problem. Rather, on the contrary, he creates more - because if God is a person then why is there evil in the world? He must be allowing evil, he must be cooperating with it. Then he becomes an evil person.
André Gide has said somewhere, “It is difficult for me to conceive that God exists as good. But I can conceive that God exists as evil, as Satan, because there is so much evil in the world, so much suffering, so much pain, so much anguish.” He cannot imagine that God is managing this whole affair. There must be something like a devil in charge of it, a supreme devil. God must be good; otherwise what type of God is he? A basic goodness must be there. But as the world appears, it seems that God is devilish and not good - that he is playing with evil, and somehow it appears he is enjoying this whole suffering and torturing.
If God is a person, then there are two alternatives open: either he will become a devil or we will have to deny that he exists. And the second is better. God as a person had to die because it became impossible to conceive him as good. But the concept was wrong; it was anthropocentric. We conceived of God as a supreme man, as a superman. God was conceived of as a magnified person like ourselves. We only magnified man.
In the Bible it is said that God created man in his own image, but this is said by man. The real thing is just the reverse: man created God in his own image. This man’s image had to disappear. And it is good that this type of God is dead, because with that concept of God removed we can start a fresh inquiry into what God is.
The Upanishads are totally different. They never say God is a person; that is why they have a relevance for the modern mind. They do not say that God is a person. They say that God is the very ground of being, not a person. God is existence, not existential. This distinction is subtle, but try to understand it.
A thing exists, a man exists, a woman exists, a person exists, but they can go out of existence. Whatsoever exists can become nonexistent - it is implied. Whatsoever exists can go out of existence. But existence itself cannot go out of existence. So we can say the chair exists, we can say the house exists, because they can go out of existence. But we cannot say that God exists.