What is the Meaning of Life
Evidence for God’s Existence – Buddha Mohammed?
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What is the Meaning of Life? Program 28 Evidence for God’s Existence – Buddha? Muhammad? by Ernest O’Neill
Why are we alive? Why are you alive? What’s the purpose of your life? What are you here for? Most of us answer, “I haven’t a clue.” Indeed, many of us would say, “There’s so little meaning to any of life now, that it’s not surprising we haven’t a clue.” Yet, we do admit there’s a great deal of order and purpose evident in our universe.
As we look at the regular orbiting of the stars and planets around each other, and as we look at the working of our own brain, and the fact that we still have not been able to create a computer that can discern all the fine perceptions and distinctions that our brain is capable of, we begin to realize that there is an uncommon degree of order and purpose and design evident in our world.
Whatever people may say about the chance explosions that have produced it, many of us feel it is just too complex to have happened by luck or by chance. We feel there just has to be some explanation greater than the “big bang” theory, or greater than an evolutionary hypothesis that is independent of deliberate plan and design by an intellect. There has to be something greater than that to explain the existence of our world and of us human beings. So, many of us have come to the conclusion that there is lots of circumstantial evidence that there must be some kind of Supreme Being behind it all.
Yet, many of us, too, feel, “Well, if there is a Supreme Being, wouldn’t He try to communicate with us in some way? I mean, if there really is an intellectual Mind out there beyond space, that has some point in making us, wouldn’t you think He would tell us? Wouldn’t He try to get in touch with us in some way? Wouldn’t He explain to us what it was all for, and what was His aim in doing it? Surely, surely, if there is a Creator, He would get through to us somehow or other.”
Of course, what we have been discussing over the past few programs is that you would think if there is a Supreme Being behind the universe who knows why He made it and what the purpose of our lives is, you would think then, that He would explain that to us in some way, that He would get in touch with us somehow or other. Of course, down through the years, different human beings have claimed that they could tell what the Creator was saying to us in our world.
You remember, we examined the Greek and Roman myths and pointed out, of course, that people like Homer and Virgil were not at all claiming seriously to be telling us what the Creator of the universe was saying. They were simply imagining as part of a fiction that they created in a literary kind of way, they were simply trying to imagine what the Creator of the universe might say. They weren’t claiming to tell us what He said.
Then, you remember, yesterday we discussed another man who many people regard as an authority on what the Creator of the universe is saying –the man called Buddha. We saw that even in his explanation of the original, subjective experience that he had, whereby he entered into a kind of transcendental experience, that he never once mentioned the Creator in it.
Indeed, he really didn’t believe in a personal Creator. He believed in a kind of cosmic force or cosmic presence in the world in which you could somehow become lost, but he didn’t believe in a personal God himself. Of course, there is another problem with the Buddhist scriptures. Buddhists have a different attitude to history than Westerners.
The result is, they make no distinction between what was written in 500 B.C., when Buddha was alive, and what was written over the next 1500 years, so that even the original words of Buddha are very difficult to separate from the mixture of comment and myth, that in the Tibetan scriptures, extends to 325 volumes.
In our search, then, for verbal communications from our Creator, let’s lay aside the non-historical emphasis which we find in the mixture of early and late commentary on the psychic life that characterizes collections such as the Buddhist scriptures. In other words, let us be very clear that when we look at the Buddhist scriptures, we’re looking not at a set piece of history.
We’re looking at a long accumulation of literature on psychic experience and transcendental meditation that has been added to and has been changed and given different slants over centuries and centuries. So, let us be careful before we say, “Oh well, Buddha, he can tell you what the Creator of the world is saying.” No. He himself hardly believed that there was a personal Creator.
When you begin to look into the Buddhist scriptures, you have great difficulty distinguishing what happened in Buddha’s own lifetime, and what has been added to those scriptures, and has been imagined of his life over hundreds and thousands of years of literary editions and editings. Let’s turn, therefore, to some scriptures which make a distinction between the original record and later commentaries that accredited to it.
Around the year 600 A.D. a man called Muhammad was asleep, or in a trance, when the angel Gabriel came to him and said, “Recite.” He replied, “What shall I recite?” The order was repeated until the angel himself said, “Recite in the name of your Lord, the Creator, who created man from clots of blood. Recite! Your Lord is the most bounteous one, who by the pen has taught mankind things they did not know.” When he awoke, these words, we are told, seemed to be inscribed upon his heart. Thus, according to Muslim tradition, this was the beginning of the revelations that Muhammad continued to receive about God.
They were remembered by other people before being officially collected about the year 650 A.D. In them, Muhammad tells us that the Supreme Being is merciful and forgiving, stern in retribution and justice, and demands faith in his apostle Muhammad.
Where does Muhammad get this information? Obviously, since he called mankind back to the religion of Abraham, he was able to get much of it from the original information that he read in the Old Testament. So a lot of what Muhammad writes is simply a repetition of the Old Testament. The rest of it, however, he derived from subjective, mystical experiences or revelations.
Is there any way to confirm that these subjective insights actually came from the Creator? There is no way to get inside a man’s mind and prove that the ideas existing there are from an external source, rather than from his own imagination. In other words, Muhammad’s ideas may exist simply in his own mind. We have no way of corroborating. We are at the mercy of one man’s subjective experiences.
This, then, is one of the limitations of the information that Muhammad has given us about the Supreme Being behind the universe. When he tells us what the Creator of the universe has said, he’s telling us simply what he had in his own subjective experience. Is there any evidence that is more reliable than that?