This has also to be understood. There have been religions – for example, the Sufis – who call God “the Beloved.” But that is man-oriented, what is a Sufi woman going to call God? If God is taken to be a woman, then what is the Sufi woman going to call him? It will be difficult. In the East the bhaktas have called God “the Lover.” But then if the man has to call God “the Lover” it becomes difficult: it does not sound right. Something seems missing.
There is no need for God to be man or woman. If you are a man, God is a woman; if you are a woman, God is a man. There is no need to have a fixed idea of God. Let the idea of God arise within your soul – whatsoever your need let God be that. So I don t say who God is – he or she, it depends on you. If you are a he, then he is a she; if you are she, then he is a he, Let God become meaningful to you – personally meaningful, intimate – so that you can hug him, so that you can embrace him, so you can have a love affair with him. Without the love affair, you will never find him.
So don’t say “God is overhead”, it is no more relevant. God is to be understood more as “alongsidedness.”
Martin Buber calls the relationship between man and God an I-thou relationship. It seems a little stiff. It is stuffy and churchy: I-thou. “Thou” is no more used in ordinary conversation. You don’t call your woman “thou”, you don’t call your lover “thou”. It is out of use.
His understanding is right – man and God’s relationship is an I-thou relationship; that’s how prayer arises. But I would like to tell you: let it be an I-you relationship rather than I-thou. Let God come close. “Thou” keeps him far away. It is too respectful, and respect is always less than love. When love is possible, forget about respect! When love is not possible, then that is the second best. Let it be an I-you relationship, only then is dialogue possible; then man and God can move hand-in-hand.
Remember, words become useless after a certain time. Not only useless, but sometimes dangerous, harmful. The same words which used to mean much become meaningless. The same words which were very significant go out of-date after a time; then they lose meaning. Words also are born and die. “God the Father” has died – the word, the metaphor. “God the Beloved” still can ring bells in your heart.
Victor Hugo has said “All the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” And the time for God to become your beloved, your lover, has come.
We have tried all other relationships with God. There have been religions which have called him “Mother”; there have been religions which have called him “Father”; there have been religions which have thought of God as their child. But man now knows that there is only one relationship that goes to the very core; all other relationships are secondary. A child is born to you because you loved a woman or a man. The relationship of the mother or the father with the child is a secondary relationship. Somebody becomes your father because he loved a woman; somebody becomes your mother because she loved a man. All relationships revolve around the single relationship of love.
Love is the shrine, the innermost shrine of the whole temple of relationship.