Atheism is a religion, the religion of the mind

A little ant wants to map the world… (no ants were hurt in the writing of this post)

There is an ant in a kitchen in my apartment, and he may want to map the city I live in.

Poor little ant! I like him, I gave him a grain of sugar to eat too. He might not live long enough to map out the cupboard he is moving around in, much less get out and map out the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, much less the yard, the driveway, the street I live on, the sub-division. Dangers exist at every step, and the average ant might live for a few weeks or a few months, if he doesn’t get in the way of something bigger than him.

As we continually expand the scale of reference, the probability that an ant might pull it off decreases dramatically. The scale and complexity of our world far outstrip the faculties of an ant, or generations of ants, for millions and billions of years. Remember, change is constant.

Fortunately there is no ant foolish enough. But there are others…

Atheists are trying to map out all of reality based on the meager faculties they possess, a puny little mind, a short lifespan, the work of others similarly puny in their faculties. We do applaud them for their valiant effort, but there’s another way to learn about the complete reality, and that is to turn inwards.

Just like a small insect, he takes birth in the evening, and from evening to morning, his birth, his marriage, his begetting children, everything is done, and in the morning he dies. There are many insects. They are called diwali pokali. At night they will throng together, in India. So for this insect, it is very difficult to understand that there is another animal which is called man, who has got this duration of his lifetime period in only twelve hours of his life. But the insect cannot go beyond that. Just like when we hear from Bhagavad-gītā that Brahmā lives such-and-such, we disbelieve sometimes. But everything is relative. With your relative body, your duration of life, your knowledge, your perception, everything is relative. So you are teeny human being. What is impossible for you is not impossible for others.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

I should know. I was an atheist once. Well-educated at the altar of atheistic assumptions right from my childhood, I know these really well.

असत्यमप्रतिष्ठं ते जगदाहुरनीश्वरम् ।
अपरस्परसंभूतं किमन्यत्कामहैतुकम् ॥ १६.८ ॥

asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te
jagad āhur anīśvaram
kim anyat kāma-haitukam

They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust.

Bhagavad Gita As It Is, 16.8 (The Divine and Demoniac Natures)
  1. There was nothing, and then suddenly the singularity / big bang happened and then the Universe came into being
  2. Basic building blocks coalesced into elements, elements combined to form compounds, and basic compounds combined to form organic chemicals, which then somehow combined to form single-celled organisms, which gradually evolved into life as we know it
  3. There’s no creator, no reason for anything at all except it is the way it is
  4. All of the world’s spirituality is basically superstition, created by aboriginal tribal lore to explain phenomena that were beyond their understanding

But as I grew and studied more, I began to discover more about what we didn’t know – we don’t understand much about the Universe at all. Most of what passes for explanations is merely theory, unproven, couched in clever language that implies certainty.

There is no proof that something material can come from nothing.

I also learned that just because we can’t see something or prove its existence doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Feelings, emotions, thoughts, and the clear sense of consciousness cannot be proven to exist except to take someone’s testimony for them.

“I am feeling sad” said one. “What do you mean you are feeling sad, I can’t see your sadness, so your sadness is imaginary!” said the other.

Just because something is not observable by everyone is not proof for its nonexistence. And so is the reality of God.

God is not so cheap that He can be fully understood by just anyone!

नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः ।
मूढोऽयं नाभिजानाति लोको मामजमव्ययम् ॥ ७.२५ ॥

nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya
mūḍho ’yaṁ nābhijānāti
loko mām ajam avyayam

I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.

Bhagavad Gita As It Is, 7.25

It’s a laudable effort for someone to try and understand the world and its mysteries on their own. But the effort is doomed to failure, because Reality far outstrips anyone’s meager faculties. Reality is not so trivial that one can agitate one’s mind and conquer it – one cannot conquer something greater than oneself, and that which can be conquered cannot be said to be greater than oneself.

It’s much better to get a guided tour from The Creator.

The instrument with which we can perceive the spiritual side of reality is a finely honed instrument called “consciousness”. Presently, our consciousness may be covered, like a dust-encrusted mirror, or like that of a consciousness of someone who is drugged, drunk, or just asleep.

But when that consciousness is awake and purified, then such consciousness perceives a vast spectrum of reality untarnished by material crud.

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।
प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान्
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते ॥ २.५५ ॥

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
prajahāti yadā kāmān
sarvān pārtha mano-gatān
ātmany evātmanā tuṣṭaḥ
sthita-prajñas tadocyate

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Pārtha, when a man gives up all varieties of desire for sense gratification, which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind, thus purified, finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness.

Bhagavad Gita As It Is, 2.55

That complete reality is my journey, destination, and experience, so stand aside all you (well-meaning or otherwise) ants!

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God – Some Common Myths and Misconceptions

Randomness is a myth. Randomness does not exist. But we can learn to free ourselves from the complexities of what appears to be random

Over several decades of pursuing deeper spiritual understanding, I have encountered several variations of these myths…

Myth #1: God does not exist, there is no plan, everything happens by accident

This is raw atheism, at its simplest, but randomness is a myth.

Myth #2: Actually nothing exists, you are imagining your existence, all is VOID

This is another form of slightly more subtle atheism, but nothingness is also a myth.

Myth #3: I don’t know if God exists, so I’m on the fence

This is a legitimate stance for someone starting out on their spiritual journey, but if one doesn’t go past this stage, then likely one is not too serious about the spiritual quest.
Myth #4: I know God exists, but God can’t possibly be a person, because persons have imperfections, so God is a “Perfect Impersonal Force”
Myth #5: God is “everything”, I am God, you are God, we are all God

These myths, #4 and #5 are complex and sophisticated, and deserve their own posts, though books upon books have been written on this subject.

Myth #6: I am God, so you all follow Me!

Beware of these charlatans. Stay away from them!

Myth #7: Your God is a false God, my God is the real One…

Yes, even though there have been and will be many many false gods (see myth #6 above), for the most part this is the cause of much strife in the world, with one sectarian religion fighting another sectarian religion. There are extremist Muslims, extremist Christians, Extremist Jews, Extremist Hindus, Extremist Bahai’s, Extremist Buddhists… and Extremist Sikhs… the list goes on and on. The unfortunate truth is that all these extremists are, even with the definitions of their own scriptures, atheists in disguise – materialism divides, spirituality unites. As long as we can’t rise to see the one grain of truth in other traditions, so long should we tolerate them. If my spiritual tradition doesn’t teach me that wherever there is life, there is the presence of God’s potency, and doesn’t teach me to see with equal vision all beings, it is likely I may be following one such sectarian religion!

All of these myths above are one form or another form of atheism. I have been at various times in my life, been tripped up with one or more of these myths. So now, I am very careful to avoid any variants of these.

असत्यमप्रतिष्ठं ते जगदाहुरनीश्वरम् ।
अपरस्परसंभूतं किमन्यत्कामहैतुकम् ॥ १६.८ ॥
asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te
jagad āhur anīśvaram
kim anyat kāma-haitukam
They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. BG 16.8
TEXT BG 16.9:
Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.
TEXT BG 16.10:
Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent.
TEXTS BG 16.11-12:
They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.
TEXTS BG 16.13-15:
The demoniac person thinks: “So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice.” In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance.
TEXT BG 9.11:
Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.
TEXT BG 9.12:
Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by demonic and atheistic views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities, and their culture of knowledge are all defeated.
वदन्ति तत्तत्त्वविदस्तत्त्वं यज्ज्ञानमद्वयम्
ब्रह्मेति परमात्मेति भगवानिति शब्द्यते ॥ १.२.११ ॥
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti
bhagavān iti śabdyate
Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.

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Why does talk about religion make some people uncomfortable

Bhakta Sunil, 14th April 2014

Hare Krishna everyone!

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Why do some persons avoid talking about religion? or try to keep the topic ‘private’?


Sudeep Manchanda, 16th April 2014

Hare Krishna,

I feel that people in general have started relating ‘religion’ with a set of orthodox beliefs which do not align with today’s scientific world. I guess a lot of people shy away from talking about God or any other related topics because they fear being categorized as someone who would follow things without a logic or does not challenge it. This is mainly because the so called called ‘religious’ people find it difficult to explain to the world what they feel is correct.

What would be your reaction if one asks you “Does God exists?”.. answers can be yes, no or maybe but a lot of times this answer is not dependent on your belief but on the fact that would one be able to justify the answer or not. So to avoid any debate … a lot of people would say ‘maybe’.

That is where Srila Prabhupada has shown his mercy. He has provided us with the answers to all the questions so that we can with confidence say that yes God exists and yes I follow the process of bhakti.

Sudeep Manchanda

Bhakta Sunil, 16th April 2014

Very nice points in your reply! An eye-opener , helpful to keep in mind while preaching Jaya! Thanks ys, sunil

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 18th April 2014

Nice question! Nice answer also! One can tell both Sunil and Sudeep are thinking about this and trying to share Krishna consciousness with others! 🙂

Here are some points which come out:

1. People really don’t know anything much about religion/God, and who wants to look foolish not knowing something, which, supposedly, internal desire, they feel they ought to know about.

2. They fear that if their understanding differs from yours, then the relationship they have is at stake – in other words, it may become an “irreconcilable difference”

3. They fear that the person who wants to talk about religion/God will bash them on the head with all sorts of dogma

4. They have been brainwashed by the atheists to believe that to be God conscious is to be foolish – it is some kind of peer pressure to look “cool”

5. They feel they already know better than you, and that you are too slow to understand what they know, and they cannot be bothered to take the trouble (but actually the more someone actually knows about God, the more they want to share, no matter how unqualified the other person appears to be)

6. They genuinely have *no* ability to show interest because they are so busy with the hard struggle for existence or satisfying the shrill demands of the senses

7. They don’t really care about anything at all, God consciousness included, and nothing (job etc.) is at stake so they don’t pretend to be interested in God consciousness as they would pretend to be interested in other things

8. They don’t trust me enough to be able to share such a deep personal thing with me.

There are many many more, the more we try to share Krishna consciousness, the more we get to know about all the blocks.

Mahabhagavat Das

Bhakta Sunil, 18th April 2014

Jaya! thank you again and again to all the respondents with humble respects

your insignificant servant,
Bhakta Sunil

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