This century started with a very strange declaration. The declaration was made by Friedrich Nietzsche. He said, “God is dead, and hence man is totally free from now on.” The declaration looked very strange the moment it was made but it proved prophetic. And, by and by, it became the base of the modern mind.
Really, for the modern man, God is dead. It is not that God is dead: if God can be dead then nothing can be alive, because by God we mean the essential, eternal life, the very ground of existence. But for modern man God is dead. Or, we can say in another way that modern man is dead toward God.
The relationship has broken; the bridge is no longer there. Whether you believe or disbelieve, it makes no difference. Your belief is superficial; it doesn’t go very deep. Your disbelief is also superficial. When belief itself is superficial, how can disbelief go very deep?
When theists are very superficial, how can atheists be very deep? When the yes itself has lost its meaning, how can the no carry any meaning? All the meaning that atheism can carry comes from the depth of theism. When there are people who can say with their total being YES to God, only then does the no become meaningful. It is secondary.
God is dead, and with God even the disbelief is dead. Belief is dead and with it the disbelief is also dead. This century and the modern mind are, in a way, in a very peculiar situation. It has never been so before. There have been persons who were theists who really believed that God exists. There were persons who were really atheists and who believed with the same intensity that God does not exist. But the modern mind is indifferent: it doesn’t care; whether God exists or not, it is irrelevant.
No one is interested in proving it one way or the other.
Really, this is the meaning of Nietzsche’s declaration that God is dead. You do not care even to deny him. You do not care even to argue against him. The bridge is simply broken. We have no relationship with him – neither for nor against. Why has this happened? Why has this phenomenon become so prominent in the modern mind – this indifference? We will have to seek the causes.
The first cause is that we have always been thinking of God as a person. To think about God as a person is false, untrue, and that idea had to die. The idea that God is a person – controlling, managing, creating, maintaining – is false. God is not a person. The idea became so significant because of our minds. Whenever we think about something, either we can think of it as a thing or as a person. Only two alternatives are open: when something exists, then it must either be a thing or a person.
We cannot think, we cannot imagine, that things and persons are both manifestations of something deeper – hidden. The same force becomes a thing; the same force becomes a person. But the force itself is neither. God, taken as – a person, is dead. The concept is dead, and the concept had to die because as a person God cannot be proved. And taken as a person, he doesn’t solve any problem.
Rather, on the contrary, he creates more – because if God is a person then why is there evil in the world? He must be allowing evil, he must be cooperating with it. Then he becomes an evil person.
Andre Gide has said somewhere, “It is difficult for me to conceive that God exists as good. But I can conceive that God exists as evil, as Satan, because there is so much evil in the world, so much suffering, so much pain, so much anguish.” He cannot imagine that God is managing this whole affair. There must be something like a devil in charge of it, a supreme devil. God must be good; otherwise what type of God is he? A basic goodness must be there. But as the world appears, it seems that God is devilish and not good – that he is playing with evil, and somehow it appears he is enjoying this whole suffering and torturing.
If God is a person, then there are two alternatives open: either he will become a devil or we will have to deny that he exists. And the second is better. God as a person had to die because it became impossible to conceive him as good. But the concept was wrong; it was anthropocentric.
We conceived of God as a supreme man, as a superman. God was conceived of as a magnified person like ourselves. We only magnified man.
In The Bible it is said that God created man in his own image, but this is said by man. The real thing is just the reverse: man created God in his own image. This man’s image had to disappear. And it is good that this type of God is dead, because with that concept of God removed we can start a fresh inquiry into what God is.
The Upanishads are totally different. They never say God is a person; that is why they have a relevance for the modern mind. They do not say that God is a person. They say that God is the very ground of being, not a person. God is existence, not existential. This distinction is subtle, but try to understand it.
A thing exists, a man exists, a woman exists, a person exists, but they can go out of existence.
Whatsoever exists can become nonexistent – it is implied. Whatsoever exists can go out of existence. But existence itself cannot go out of existence. So we can say the chair exists, we can say the house exists, because they can go out of existence. But we cannot say that God exists.
God is EXISTENCE – it is not that God exists; God is simply synonymous with existence. Really, to say that God is, is to repeat. God means is. It is bad language to say God is, because the very isness is God. God means – isness. To say God exists is wrong. God is existence. Or God is just another term for existence. Existence never dies, never goes out of existence. Forms come and go, forms change. Nothing is permanent in the world of forms. So the Upanishads say Nama and Rupa – name and form – they are the world, and that which is beyond name and form is God. But what is beyond name and form? Existence itself is beyond name and form.
The Upanishads think of God not as a person but as existence itself – as the very ground of existence. Nama-Rupa-Ateet – beyond name, beyond form. What is beyond name and beyond form? There are trees around this house; they exist. There are hills beyond those trees; they exist.
You are here; you exist. In the trees, in the hills, in you, what is common? Form is not common: you have a different form, the trees have a different form and the hills have an altogether different form. The names are not common, the forms are not common. What is common? That common denominator will be God. You exist, trees exist, hills exist. Existence is common: everything else is just accidental. The essential is that you exist, the trees exist, the hills exist. Existence is common.
That existence is God.
Source: The Supreme Doctrine, by Osho