What is God? Is there any such Being in reality? What is the power that enlivens this universe and makes it carry on according to a plan? Is that power conscious or inert? If it is really inert, how then are the sun, the moon and the stars all revolving according to law? How are we related to that power? Whence did this universe originate, when did it come into being and how did such a thing happen? Such questions always face every individual. Book after book has been written on the subject. Many a man has had his day here and has departed. Many are still pondering over these questions but they remain ever fresh.
Centuries have passed in wrangling over the hows and whys of philosophy. But the discussion about God is still where it was in the beginning.
The mind of man is capable of great flights of imagination but the doubts it does not shed. The subject of God is not comprehended, and man continues to wander in the dense forest of his intellect.
There are theists and atheists. According to the latter, the existence of God is a mere fabrication of the timid. It is just a device to hide their cowardice, and a prop to lean on. Because God is not visible either with telescopes or microscopes the atheists say that He can have no existence. Both the believers who believe in a God about Whom they have heard or read, and the non-believers, are unhappy.
Khwaja Hafiz has gone to the extent of saying:
Talk of Wine and the Singer, delve not into the mysteries of the world; no one has solved, nor will ever solve this riddle through reasoning.
Talk of the Master and his Name (the Wine) alone. Do not delve into the secret of the universe, for no one has up till now solved this riddle, nor will anyone ever do so by means of intellect and reasoning alone.
All these questions are within the limits of time and space and the sphere of maya (delusion). There is no answer to them; but in spite of all this they persist in the mind. People often say that if God-realization is so difficult, why should we strive for it. The answer to this question is that just as a hungry man cannot live without food, similarly we cannot live without the Lord.
St. Augustine has said:
Thou, Oh! God, hast made us unto Thyself, and the heart of man is ever restless until it rests in Thee.
People remember God for a variety of reasons.
Lord Krishna, in the Bhagvad Gita (the Song Celestial), has said: "Four categories of persons pray to the Lord, namely, the sufferers, the pleasure-seekers, the devotees and the wise: the sufferers for the alleviation of their suffering, the pleasure-seekers for the gratification of their pleasures, the devotees for the attainment of knowledge, and the wise for the realization of His beatitude."
The reply of perfect Saints to questions concerning whence this universe originated, and when and how, is that we should approach the, Creator Himself for the answer. Those who have realised Him have annihilated their self. They have gone beyond the limits of time and space and the spheres of cause and effect.
Oh mind, visit the place where you can see the Beloved; give up this world so that you may see the other world.
Rise above your body so that you may see the Sustainer of all. Get out of this world so that you may see the world above.
He, the Lord, is true. His creation is true. He Himself knows His design and purpose.
Gauri M5, Sukhmani 284-19
The created one cannot know the design of the Creator; oh Nanak, that alone happens which He wills.
Gauri M5, Sukhmani 285-1
On realising Him these questions are automatically answered. These interesting topics can be discussed at leisure when we reach the destination. At our present stage only those questions are necessary which relate to the path leading to Him. If you wish to know here and now, enquire of those who have reached the spiritual regions where the Lord is manifest. God cannot be known by reasoning, the reading of books and philosophical discussions. Doubtless, through them we can get an idea of His Reality and the existence of His power. But in order to realise Him as a fact we will need to experiment in the laboratories of the Saints and experience Him for ourselves. Some scientists say there is no proof of His existence. They do not even feel the necessity of believing in Him.
A study of ancient history and religious scriptures shows that the ancient people worshipped the forces of nature such as the moon, the sun and so forth in order to strengthen their belief in God. They also coined different names for Him and as a result the world has become entangled in the cobwebs of these names.
Saints and holy men do not involve us in the verbiage of these names but tell us that no name can describe Him and that there is no use in quarreling over the different names. All of them are His names.
We call water 'eau' in French, 'hudor' in Greek, 'ma' in Arabic, 'jal' in Hindi, 'water' in English and so on. It makes little difference if we use any of these terms. But our thirst can only be quenched when we get the actual water itself.
Guru Nanak says:
What can poor Nanak say? All are praising the same One. Nanak lives at the feet of all. He praises all Your names.
Rag Basant M1, 1168-14
Guru Gobind Singh has mentioned more than a thousand names of the Lord in the Jaap Sahib. He, however, emphasizes the necessity of understanding the real significance of the names, and advises that one should go beyond them and realise the "Named One" who is the object of all of them.
As has been mentioned before, correct information about God can only be had from those who have realized Him in the transcendent regions, for their knowledge is not merely a matter of imagination nor has it been gathered from religious scriptures or hearsay. They have seen Him with their own eyes. They have, by expanding and illuminating their consciousness, experienced Him and have made others experience Him. Even today they can make the seekers after God realize Him.