I’m pretty sure that in the hustle and bustle of daily life when you are going on with your routine, a question like this doesn’t really register, it definitely doesn’t to me. Monotonous chores, the endless struggle to get through the week and then get prepped for the week again seems like perpetuity. But if not in abundance, I’m sure that most of us have questioned our beliefs, what religion stands for, and why we as humans follow it.
As I see it, religion was sort of a constitution written by early humans just to keep masses in line by creating a fearful creature that if not obeyed would result in significant personal losses and even death. I guess worshipping the natural forces got boring after a point for humans as a collective and to stop people from becoming too cerebral, this constitution of religion was a perfect tool. In the 21st century, marked by rapid technological advancements and breakthroughs in science, religion still exists and thrives. India, created on the foundation of a nation that would strive for scientific temperament finds itself languishing in the age-old Hindu-Muslim conflicts which have become worse recently.
I personally don’t believe in Ram, Allah, Jesus, Moses or the other millions of Gods which people worship and revere, but at the same time I can’t help but question myself that what or who exactly is God? Is he someone who resembled a human centuries ago and fought for morally right things or a voice up somewhere (where this up is, I have no clue) who is looking down and laughing at me as I type these words out? I don’t really know how to logically fit this into my mental framework. I reason with myself: if it helps people why not let them practice it since as far as I’m concerned no religion wants to prove itself as the best.
But can I feel what people feel? That divine connection towards a God? Am I capable of that as a human or is there something inherently wrong with me that I can’t feel that energy? A lot of questions, quashed by a simple sentence. “God is Suffering”.
Now that statement isn’t mine at all to be all smug about it. It’s from a PL Deshpande short story named Peston Kaka. PL Deshpande, arguably one of the most brilliant writers of Marathi literature, has this effervescent writing style and the ability to make you laugh and think at the same time. The story has a simple plot, the writer is writing a small travel diary about his experience while travelling on a train when he meets an interesting character named Peston Kaka, a Parsi Uncle with a restless childlike aura about him. But Peston Kaka says something interesting while discussing theology and religion with PL. He says, “God is Suffering”.
It feels like just another definition added to an existing plethora of definitions about what God is to people. For some, he is an omnipresent force, for some humans are God and for some God is that idol made from silver and placed in a temple. But this definition stuck with me and isn’t it true on some level? God really is Suffering.
Suffering, Struggle, Hardships, Lows, Difficult Times, whoa that’s almost all synonyms I could think of when it comes to suffering. Do you ever value something more for which you had to take that extra effort? I don’t remember any of my grades in elementary school but I do remember that one exam before which I was really unwell and the odds were stacked against me. On the result day, turned out that I had scored the highest in the class in that subject and I remember my 10-year-old self gloating and bragging about how unwell I was before that exam.
It is wired in our brains that way, something which requires more effort is proportionally more important in our life. For our ancestors, it might mean that hunting down a beast would give them that same rush which I got on result day, and now cracking a big deal or meeting an impossible deadline might prove to be equivalent. Now you might think, how does this really tie up to why I think God is Suffering.
The funny thing I’ve observed in not only humans but also all other intelligent beings is that no matter how hard the struggle is or how tough situations might be, we never give up. Adversity proves to be an opportunity for success and suffering is often a stepping stone to better things in life in all its aspects. Now, this might seem a vague generalization but when you pin it across the board, Survival of the Fittest and the whole Evolutionary process, suffering and adversity has led to a better life.
Suffering is that God who is showing us the light. Now the light is there for us to move toward and reach its source, all we have to do is believe in that God. Trust the process, grind hard, believe that you have it in you to get there and you shall. Maybe not in the first go, maybe in the whole journey, your destination changes, the people whom you chose to travel with change but God will always be on your side.
It is that unwavering force you will find everywhere you go, any walk of life or any discipline of work, suffering and that initial struggle is omnipresent, another quality which other people equate to what a God is. God helps those who help themselves makes so much sense looking at things from this oblique perspective and at least for me, makes me feel at peace about life and my purpose in general.
We tiny humans on the grand scale of the universe play no significant role when you zoom out on the time scale. You could argue our actions would prove to be inconsequential and there would be nothing to argue with that claim. In this seeming void, God is what keeps us ticking whether you want to believe it or not. How you choose to see God is up to you and as it should be — a personal belief. After all that matters is your happiness and satisfaction with life and what it entails.