One early morning Gautama Buddha was sitting in a garden with his disciples. A man arrived silently and stood in the shadows. This man was a great devotee of Lord Rama. He had built many temples across the country and devoted a good part of his life in the service of Lord Rama. He would always chant Rama’s name and contemplate on Rama’s greatness. He was old and close to his last years. Even after many years of dedicated spiritual effort, his soul was not at peace.
He wanted to know for sure if there is a God or not? When he heard about Buddha, he came to get his doubt cleared. After paying obeisance, he asked,
“O enlightened one, please tell me the truth and truth only! Is there a god?”
Buddha knew that man to be a great devotee of Lord Rama. He looked at him with seriousness and said,
“No, my friend. There is no God”.
Buddha’s disciples that were gathered there were relieved to finally know the truth that there was no God. This was the first time Buddha had answered this question – till then he had always remained silent on the existence of God. They were joyous - they were finally free of the ideas of hell, heaven, and of somebody sitting up to judge their actions.
It was getting late in the evening, and once again the disciples and other people from the town came back and sat around the Buddha. Amongst them, there was a rich merchant who had been an atheist all his life. He had convinced many people that there was no God. He would challenge priests and scholars to prove the existence of God and defeat them with his arguments. But now that he was getting old, he started getting doubts in his mind,
“What if there is God? Wouldn’t I have wasted my life spreading a lie if there indeed is one?”
Troubled by these doubts, he finally decided to know the truth and sought the enlightened one.
He slowly came up to where Buddha was sitting and asked him,
“They say you are enlightened, Please tell me if there is GOD?”
Buddha knew that man to be an atheist. He told him with a firm voice,
“Yes, there is God”.
Buddha’s disciples once again were back to confusion.
Moral of the story: Belief that there is God or belief that there is no God are both equally useless. One needs to realize the truth themselves with diligent self-effort. Enlightened one had told each of them what they had to know in order for them to get stronger in their spiritual quest.
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