If He is so powerful why does He not do something to stop them?
The Year 2013 arrived cloaked in grief and despair for India, as the country witnessed a young lady courageously battle, but ultimately lose her life to an act of brutal gang-rape and violence, perpetrated against her by 6 men in a Delhi bus.
Shocked by the twin extremes of the intense depravity of the crime, on one hand, and the unimaginable grit, courage and determination with which she fought for her life for 10 successive days, on the other; the nation’s collective consciousness finally awakened to the hideous atrocities that have been committed against its mothers and daughters for centuries.
“A nation is not to be judged by its weaklings, called the wicked, for they are only the weeds which lag behind, but by the good, who indicate the national life-current to be flowing clear and vigorous.”
– Swami Vivekananda
In light of this incident, many people, including your author (who is a woman herself), have struggled to understand the horrific event that took place. We naturally wonder, why does God allow rape and other heinous crimes to be committed? Why does He not do something to stop them? God’s inability to intervene must only mean that either God does not exist, or He is too weak and powerless to protect the innocent.
The above train of questions and their subsequent conclusion, although understandable, are unfortunately completely wrong!
These queries arise in our minds because of our mistaken understanding of not only who God really is, but more importantly of whom we really are. Amidst the mental turmoil and helplessness we completely overlook our own responsibilities and potentials, and take the weak position of either blaming God for our problems, or crying out for His help and intervention.
The Mistaken View of God – God is a Person Who Resides in Heaven, and it is His Job to Solve Our Problems
“Do not teach yourself that you are nothing, that you cannot do anything unless you are helped by somebody who sits above the damp-clouds.
The result will be that you will be more and more weakened every day.”
– Swami Vivekananda
We live in a world where we are used to seeing things as distinct and separate from one another. For example, I appear as a distinct person, separate from you and say the table. We naturally transfer this impression to God, and imagine the Creator to be a magnified person who resides in a distant location, either on Mount Kailash (the abode of Lord Shiva), or in a special temple, or in a heaven far above the clouds, and manages the affairs of the world from there.
This manner of thinking is called dualism – “the first stage of religion when man sees himself and God as eternally separate” (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 2; Soul, Nature and God); and it is the chief source of all our misconceptions.
It is mainly on account of this imagined separation that we have come to believe that, God is an external entity, who as Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer, is all-powerful, while we are weak and helpless. Therefore if something were to go wrong, all we can do is pray and God will appear like a policeman and set things straight.
But reality obviously does not match up. As my highest gurudev Pandit Shriram Sharma pointed out, “If pleading to God was sufficient to help us tide through difficult times, then why would there be any necessity for hard-work and self-sacrifice in this world?” (A translated excerpt from his Hindi essay, “Devvad par ek Drishti” – A Look at the Controversy Over Many Gods in the Hindu religion.)
The Correct View of God – God is Not a Person Outside; He is the Spirit Inside. Not only that, but We Are Him. “Soham” – “I am He”. We Are God, Only Unaware!
“God exists; but He is not the man sitting upon a cloud. He is pure Spirit. Where does He reside? Nearer to you than your very self. He is the Soul. How can you perceive God as separate and different from yourself? When you think of Him as someone separate from yourself, you do not know Him. He is you yourself.”
– Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 8; Buddha’s Message to the World.
What Swami Vivekananda is expressing here, is the Vedantic truth witnessed by thousands of Rishis (sages) in the highest states of meditative Samadhi, – that God is not a person, but an infinite ocean of pure consciousness. From this ocean, arise each of our individual souls, which can be imagined as waves on the surface.
Now just as a wave is made from the same water as the ocean, so too are our souls made from the same substance (consciousness) as God. Each soul is a portion of God confined within an individual body. Therefore we have not to wander here and there, searching for God outside; because He is already present inside each and every one of us.
“Know, O Man, thou art the Sea (of consciousness)!
You are Gods. If ever I feel that I am blaspheming, it is when I call you man.”
– Swami Vivekananda
Not only this, but if we reason it out a little further we will realize that each soul is not just a portion of God, but in actuality the whole of Him.
Just as the ocean is one continuous mass of water, so too is God one unbroken mass of consciousness. There is no boundary that can separate our soul from the rest of God because it is the same substance (consciousness) that is present everywhere. All is One Existence.
This is why the Upanishads declare, “Tat twam asi” – That immanent one God is the same that is in the human soul, and not only that but you are Him. “Soham” – “I am He, I am God.”
“Look at the waves in the sea. Not one wave is really different from the sea, but what makes the wave apparently different? Name and form; the form (body or shape) of the wave and the name (classification into plants, animals, mankind etc.) which we give to it. This is what makes it different from the sea. When name and form go, it is the same sea. So this whole universe is that one Unit Existence; name and form have created all these various differences.”
“The universe is you yourself, the unbroken you; you are throughout the universe. “In all hands you work, through all mouths you eat, through all nostrils you breathe, through all minds you think.” You are God, you are the angels, you are man, you are animals, you are the plants, you are the minerals, you are everything. Whatever exists is you. You are the Infinite.”
– Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 2; Lectures: The Real and the Apparent Man + Sankhya and Vedanta
If We are God, Then Our Original Question Boomerangs Right Back at Us
If we are God, then our earlier predicament is at once turned upon its head. The question “Why does God not intervene?” points right back at us, because God is our very own self. Hence we must look to ourselves to solve the problem.
“We think we are going to get security, strength, wisdom, happiness from the outside. We always hope but never realize our hope. Never does any help come from the outside. There is no help for man. None ever was, none is, and none will be.
Why should there be? Are you not men and women? Are the lords of the earth to be helped by others? Are you not ashamed? You are spirit. Pull yourself out of difficulties by yourself! Save yourself by yourself! There is none to help you — never was. To think that there is, is sweet delusion. It comes to no good.”
– Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 8; Is Vedanta The Future Religion?
Just as India did not attain her freedom because some outside God intervened, but countless millions had to suffer and sacrifice for it; so too must we, collectively struggle to free ourselves from the grips of corruption, crime, poverty and despair that are stifling our lives. The effort must come from us and us alone. We are our own Saviours.
“There is a great change now coming all over the world, and this is a cycle. Men are finding that they are losing hold of life; which way will they turn, down or up? Up, certainly. How can it be down? Plunge into the breach; fill up the breach with your body, your life. How should you allow the world to go down when you are living?
Arise! Awake! and stop not till the goal is reached!”
– Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 8; Notes of Class Talks
Now at this point some further questions are bound to arise in our minds:
If we are God, then how come we are not aware of this fact? For a beautiful answer to this question, please read our article, What is the Difference between a Human Being and God?
If God is the infinite ocean of Consciousness, then what about the various Hindu Gods such as Lord Shiva, Ganesh, Hanuman and Goddess Durga? Do they not exist? Why do so many people pray to them? The explanation to this puzzle, presented in the next post: Understanding the Many Gods in Hinduism
Give the gift of empowerment. Take a moment to share this post about ‘Why Does God Allow Rape and Other Heinous Crimes to be Committed’, with your friends and family.
If You Liked this Post, I Also Recommend Reading:
Who is God? The Surprising Answer Behind the Origin of the Universe
Why Has Science Not Found God?
How Quantum Physics Rediscovered Consciousness
Do We Have a Soul? Three Powerful Truths that Point to its Existence
Discover Your True Self – You are Not a Body but a Soul
Why Should We Be Good, When Being Selfish Is More Rewarding?
If You Met God Today, How Would You Introduce Yourself?
Why Does Evil Exist?
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