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Zen Stories - 4 - Does God Exist?

One morning, a man visited Buddha and questioned, “Does God exist”?

Buddha answered “No”.

He left discontented.

That afternoon on the same day, another man visited Buddha.

He too questioned, “Does God exist?”

Buddha answered, “He does”.

That man too, left discontented.

That evening, another man also visited Buddha.

He did not ask anything. Buddha too, did not say anything.

Both of them sat in silence. A little later, the man got up, bowed and touched Buddha’s feet and left happy and in silence.

“Does God exist”? This is the age old question that has been haunting few people. The one who believes He exists is a theist, and the one who believes He doesn’t, is an atheist. Everyone has their own reasoning and justification and claim that their argument is correct. Finally, they conclude that since it is a matter of faith, each one is entitled to their own belief.

Truth is that both theists as well as atheists are wrong. Why is this so?

This is because, both are primarily standing on the ground of their own belief. A theist believes that God exists, based on what he heard from his parents, gurus or friends. He does not make any attempt to realize God if he really exists?

While blindly following his religious traditions, the theist is under the illusion that he is on the right path. It is the same with any faith. He lives with this belief and cannot find the truth even at the fag end of his life. Only his blind faith remains with him and he can never realize the truth.

Now, coming to the atheist; he is also like the theist. There really isn’t much difference between the two. Why because, both argue on the basis of faith. Atheist also blindly argues that God does not exist. He does not try to walk in the path and find out for himself what the truth is. He does not make any attempt. Till the end, he lives in this kind of blind faith and dies. Both type of people try to gather followers and form groups as they do not have faith in themselves. They do this for the sense of security the group gives.

A Jnani (realized soul) does not encourage faith. He tries to know the truth for himself. In the world so far, there were very few Jnanis of Buddha’s stature. In the above story, three people come to Buddha to ask him the same question. However, they got three different answers. Why? A Jnani looks at the inner core of a person but not the superficial words. He responds to the inner quest of the being. Superficiality does not touch him. It cannot evoke any response from him.

The first person who came to Buddha is a theist and came with the blind faith that God exists. However, as his faith is not based on his self-experience, he needed confirmation on his faith from Buddha. He came with the hope that Buddha will praise and appreciate him. Buddha clearly understood his state of mind. He did not have to encourage the blind faith. Like false gurus of the day, Buddha did not look for his disciples’ praises. A real Guru’s first responsibility is to destroy the disciple’s mind and make him free of his blind beliefs. So, Buddha answered this man that God does not exist.

This should ignite the thought process in that person and drive him in the direction of inquiry. He should experience the Truth through that process. Only that self-experience will answer his question.

The second questioner was also similar to the first one, except that he is a non-believer. He also expected a favorable answer from Buddha, which is that God does not exist. He also is not a seeker. He came with a blind faith. So, in order to put him on the path of practical experience, Buddha answered that there exists God.

Now, coming to the third person who visited Buddha that evening; he is a true seeker. He does not have preconceived notions and blind beliefs. But he is seeking. This is what is truly required in the inner life. He is set out to seek the Truth. He is aware that this knowledge cannot be obtained through words. So, he sought to find out the truth by meditating in silence in the presence of the Buddha.

Noble souls have magnetic vibrations surrounding them. If one is sensitive, they can feel them. Their presence can give a direct experience of God. In order to be receptive, one has to have an empty mind, free of all opinions and notions. This man came in such a state of mind and found the truth that he was searching after. He knew whether God exists or not through his inner experience. He, gratefully touched Buddha’s feet and left joyfully.

Everyone has to find out whether God exists or not, based on his own experience. One can never find the answer based on the beliefs of others. This is the law of Nature.

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Lakshmi T, which was originally posted in on March 9, 2009. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

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