Who Needs God?
By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 08-11-2017
I am closing this book with this lesson. Many years ago, I read a book titled Who Needs God? written by Harold Kushner, the author of a famous book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Since then I have been contemplating over the subject deeply, but frankly speaking, the true concept of God is still not clear to me. I think that it is a mystery for most. Everyone has his own perception of God and proceeds from there. Perhaps, God is not comprehensible for mortals like us. All my contemplation has led me to believe that there is a higher being like God whom we need sometime or the other. Even those who deny the existence of God think of Him, though in a different form.
I shall try to give an answer to the question ‘Who Needs God?’ and for this I quote a portion of the introduction from the book which goes like this: “I deal with bright, successful people, people I genuinely like and admire, and I sense that something is missing in their lives. There is a lack of rootedness, a sense of having to figure things out by themselves because the past cannot be trusted as their guide. Their celebrations, from their children’s birthday parties to a daughter’s wedding to a business milestone, can be lots of fun but rarely soar to the level of joy. And as they grow older, I suspect they either confront or actively hide from confronting the thought that ‘there must be more to life than this. “There is a spiritual vacuum at the centre of their lives, and their lives betray this lack of an organising vision, a sense of “this is who I am and what my life is fundamentally about.” Some look for that centre in their work, and are disappointed when corporations choose not to repay the loyalty they demanded or when retirement leaves them, feeling useless. Some try to it in their families, and don’t understand why they are so hurt when adolescent children insist, ‘Let me lead my own life!’ and adult children move to another state and call every other Sunday. And for some reason, it never occurs to them to ask, ‘How did previous generations find meaning in their lives?
‘For almost thirty years, I have tried to show my congregants how much more fulfilled they would be if they made room for their religious tradition in their lives. I have urged them to do it, not to make God happy but to make themselves happy. I have told them the Hassidic story of the man who got a telegram telling him that a relative had died and left him some valuable property. He was to contact the rabbi for details. Excited, he went to the rabbi, only to be told that the relative was Moses and the valuable property was the Jewish religious tradition. And much of the time, they reacted as I suspect the man in the story did, disappointed that their legacy was religious wisdom and not downtown real estate. “This book is the product of those years of thinking and teaching on the issue of what we lose when we become too intellectual or too modern to make room for religion in our lives. It is about what has happened to the souls of modern men and women under the impact of modern life, what we have lost in the process of gaining personal freedom and material comfort. But more than that, it is the summary of what my own life has been about, what has gotten me through bad times and taught me how to celebrate the good times, how I have learned to recognise the extraordinary things that even the most ordinary lives contain. “The thesis of this book is that there is a kind of nourishment our souls crave, even as our bodies need the right foods, sunshine, and exercise. Without that spiritual nourishment, our souls remain stunted and undeveloped. In the physical realm, we understand that our ancestors’ hard physical work built muscles and burned off calories, but today we are the victims of a modern lifestyle, so we need to diet, to jog, to work out at the gym. So, too, the kind of spiritual communion our forebears knew is less accessible to us because the world is so noisy and full of distractions, because we are so dazzled by our power and success, because religion in the late twentieth century is often badly packaged or presented by people we cannot trust or admire.” I feel that this extract is enough to convey my message. We all have some vacuum in our lives, howsoever fulfilled we may feel. It is only God who can fill this vacuum and make our lives meaningful. It is a different matter that some of us may fail to see or pretend not to see the vacuum, but all of us do need God.
About The Author
Sri Rakesh Kumar Mittal IAS (Retd.) had been an administrative officer in Uttar Pradesh state cadre for about 35 years. He is a spiritual man with high moral values and a selfless heart. He has founded 'Kabir Peace Mission'. He has also written several books on positive thinking.