[This is Part I of an interview I gave to a student doing a paper on religion. IT is printed here with his permission.]
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?
It all depends on what you mean when you use the words “you,” “believe,” and “God.”
If by “you” you mean an independent autonomous egoic self separate from the universe, then I have a problem. To have a sense of “I” I (and I here I knowingly and humbly enter into the paradox of language), have to ignore most of what I really am.
Think of it this way: Imagine my lungs were self-conscious. Would they say of themselves, “We are Rami”? No, they would realize that they are part of a larger system of heart, stomach, skin, muscles, bone, etc. What can be said of my lungs can be said of this larger system as well. Why point to my body and say “This is Rami” when that body is totally dependent on the larger system of the planet? And it goes on: the planet needs the sun and solar system, and the solar system needs the galaxy, and the galaxy needs the universe, etc. It is arbitrary and misleading to point to my body and say this is me, when in fact the entire universe is necessary for me to exist. There is only one “I” and that is the whole itself.
I DON’T THINK I MEANT TO GET THAT INVOLVED. ON THE RELATIVE SCALE DO YOU, WHATEVER YOU ARE, BELIEVE IN GOD?
“Belief” is too weak a word. I don’t believe I have a sister, I know I have a sister. We believe in things we do not know. Belief is a kind of wishing. When it comes to God I have no beliefs. I know God, and hence I know God exists.
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE THIRD WORD THAT TROUBLES YOU: GOD.
I am not troubled by the word, I simply want to be understood when I use it. God to me is, as the Torah says, “Ehyeh asher Ehyeh,” (Exodus 3:14) the I AM that is all being and becoming. God is the water than embraces both ocean and the wave. God is the nondual Reality that embraces and transcends the duality of absolute and relative, I and Thou, front and back, good and evil. There is nothing that is other than God. Nothing that is apart from God.
SO DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?
No. As I said, belief is wishing. I don’t wish for God, I know God as a wave, if it were capable of knowing, might come to know itself as the ocean, and both itself and the ocean as water. I know I am God. I know you are God. The extent to which you know yourself and all life to be God is the extent you know yourself and all life to be worthy of and capable of love, justice, and compassion.
SO KNOWING GOD HAS ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS?
I want to ground ethics in something other than the temporary and delusional “I”. I worry when something is good only because I say it is good, or because the state says it is good, or because some religion says it is good. All three of these sources are driven by power and greed. I don’t want goodness defined by what serves the power that defines it.
When I know God, I experience the interconnectedness of all things, the interdependence of all things, and I find myself becoming more compassionate, empathic, and just. I root my ethics in this. My welfare depends on the welfare of the whole.
SO IS GOD JUST AND GOOD?
No. God is not a thing that can be just or unjust, good or evil. God is Reality, and Reality can be both just and unjust, both loving and cruel. But these are human concepts. Nature is neither good or evil, it is just what it is. We humans call things good and evil depending on whether or not they serve our interests. What I am saying is that when I see myself and all beings are part of the nondual Reality I call God, I see the wisdom of engaging life with love, compassion, empathy, and justice toward all beings.