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An Outline of the Philosophical Foundations of the Religion of Man
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken on November 11, 1980)

I was musing within myself during these few minutes on a kind of necessity which mankind should feel at this hour, viz., the need to make religion descend from the heavens to the Earth. Often it has so happened that man's religion was confined to an idealistic concept of the Kingdom of God – idealistic in the sense that it somehow, by some freak of human thought, got isolated from the empire of the Earth. It was felt by even leaders of religions that the world is an evil, Earth is the kingdom of Satan. It is the realm of desire, the field of attraction, and temptation which has to be shunned. And so, by some peculiar logic of religious thinking, the love of God got estranged from the requirements of the world – though this was not the original intention of the religious masters or the prophets or the incarnations.

It was never the intention of the prophets of religion, the saints and the sages, that God should be estranged from the world as a transcendent invisible reality, though He is also that – accepted. God is transcendent and unreachable, inaccessible to human faculties and instruments; this is perfectly true. But it is not wholly true because while the power of God, the Almighty – the power that is invincible and indescribable – is the force that operates in the transcendent realm, it is also the law that operates on Earth.

We have a very signi­ficant term in the Veda, for instance, which defines the law of God as satya, and the law operating in the world as rita. The cosmic law is rita and the law of God, or we may say the righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven, is satya. I have always been contemplating the hidden significance of what I regard as the supreme state of Christ available to us in the New Testament, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” How could all these things be added unto you, if God is in heaven and not in the world? There is a logical irreconcilability between the Earth and heaven, man and God, if the world is wholly in the realm of evil, a field of vicious desires which is totally opposed to the requirements of a Godly life.

It is true the world is made in this way. It is a field of vicious temptations and an ungodly activity into which man may be gradually led into. While this is true, there is an enigma in this atmosphere around us. It is an enigma because it is a mystery how the perfection of God could be sought in this world of evil. Philosophers have been trying to solve this problem of the possibility of man living in an evil realm, reach­ing a perfection that is God, who is transcendent Absolute. If there is absolutely no connection between the perfect God and the evil world, man, who is sunk in evil, the original sinner, can have no hope of reaching God because irreconcilables are always irrecon­cilable; they cannot be reconciled.

The fact that man can be re­conciled with God, and has to be reconciled one day or the other, the fact that man lives only for God, and there seems to be no other purpose in his living, should also throw a new light into this atmosphere of the world. The world is not wholly ungodly or evil, it is not an empire of the Satan totally. God is also present here. We have to accept that God is also immanent, and not merely transcendent. This is our hope. We can hope for some solace spiritually, religiously only if God is immanent. If He is totally transcendent, there is no hope. And so, even in the worst of things that we can envisage in this world it should be possible for us to recognise an element of perfection – and in the eyes of God, perhaps, there cannot be such a thing called the worst of things. If God created the world, He could not have created the evil, or the worst of things.

Many times man is led to believe in a dichotomy between God and the world because the fact of evil could not be reconciled with the perfection of God, nor could one deny the fact of evil. It exists, and it is seen with our eyes. We cannot say that God created the evil, and we cannot say that it does not exist. So naturally it must have been created by Ahriman, an opposite to Ahura Mazda. This was a predicament into which religious theologians were sometimes led on account of the difficulty they felt in explaining the problem of evil that is recognisable in this world which is the creation of God.

But to me, at least, it appears that there is no such irreconcilability. The difficulty has arisen on account of a problem in thinking, a defect in human logic. It is not necessary that there should be a creator different from God for the existence of evil because a question may be presented before our own minds by us, at least academically just now, “What is the position of evil in the eyes of the one who has attained perfection in the Kingdom of God? When we attain to God, do we see evil,” or rather, to put it more pithily and poignantly, “Does God see evil? Does evil exist before the eye of God?” We should be frightened to answer this question. It is a terrifying question. Does God see evil? If He does not see evil, it should not exist, because God is omniscient. He sees everything and knows everything. One who knows everything should also know all things that exist. If evil exists, it should be capable of being known by the omniscience of God, and I don't think that any one of us can dare say that God sees evil. It is a blasphemy to define God in this way. If He does not see it, it cannot exist.

And so we have a solution here to a very important question before us as to the duty of man in this world. It is not shunning the world in the light of an ascetic renunciation that has been taught by certain schools of religious renunciation, but a recog­nition of the presence of divinity. How can we love our neighbour as our own self unless he has some divine affinity with ourselves? Ethics and morality will have no meaning unless they are rooted in a principle of perfection. We cannot expect a person to be good for nothing. You cannot teach ethics and morality to people for no reason. “Serve your neighbour –what for?” is a question which may not be put by a reli­gious man, but a logical mind puts this question. And man is somehow or other made in such a way that his intellect is logical. Logic is not a concoction of the human mind; it is an emanation from a deeper source in which man is rooted. It is the Spirit itself putting this question. Ultimately, logic is nothing but the intellectual expression of the nature of the Spirit in us. Reason, which is foible, of course, and cannot be regarded as perfect, is a faint tentacle projected by the perfection of the Spirit that is planted in us by the existence of God Himself.

All these little things that I have tried to place before you is a kind of loud thinking, which makes me feel that we are even now in the Kingdom of Heaven. We have only to open our eyes. We are not in hell; we are not in a world of evil. I cannot believe it is that. And God sees us and, perhaps, we also see God. I cannot say that I am in the midst of people, human beings, persons who have no vital relationship with divinity. You are holy fathers, leaders of religion, representatives of the Spirit, which means to say that you have in you a centre which has direct affiliation with this Supreme Perfection. Should we not say that we are just now in the Kingdom of Heaven itself? And, 'all these things shall be added unto us'. We need not run after anything if we run after God, because God, the Perfection Supreme, includes all that He has created.

Therefore, the supreme duty of man is love of God, meditation on God, and an aspiration to unite himself with God, which includes his brotherly affection and servicefulness to mankind, because it follows that if the world is inseparable from God's existence, we are inseparable even in our social life.

Here is a little outline of the philosophical foundations of the religion of man. I call it the religion of man – not Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, etc. It is the religion of man who is aspirant for the one God.