Is God playing games with us

By Swami Sukhabodhananda

Why is God playing cruel games with us? – is an attempt at explaining what is essentially inexplicable. For, God is playing a game is the allegation that God is light-hearted, not serious, in His dealings with us. Thus, the asking of the question is not a very satisfactory approach to understanding.

We can give explanations, but explanations need not be answers.

Let me add a few more words on life and death as these are terms you have employed in framing your question. You are looking at death as an opposite of life. In fact all of us perceive the phenomenon of death as opposing to the phenomenon of life. So, our encounter with death is conditioned by our definition of death as opposed to life. Change this definition, and death is no longer what we have felt it to be. In fact, death is one of the forms of expression of life. Life scientists declare that death is the most critical defining feature of life. Please understand that all and only living things die. When you die, you are making the ultimate undeniable assertion that you have been alive. In fact, at a certain level of analysis, death is even a precondition to life. The Holy Bible says, “Unless a seed falls into earth and dies, it cannot produce any grains”. That is, a seed has to cease to be itself in order to be a source of life to several others like it.

Rabindranath Tagore gives another beautiful example of the inseparability of life and death. You were in your mother’s womb. The most comfortable place for you is to be in your mother’s womb. In fact, when you were born you search for that experience which you had when you were in your mother’s womb. You search for that comfort. That is why in Hindu temple, the sanctum sanctorum is called garbhagudi – representing a mother’s womb. It is not foolish to speculate that our pursuit of wordly comforts is an attempt to recreate the prenatal pleasantness of the womb. At the time of delivery, the body of the mother pushes the child out. When it is pushed out, every child goes through what is called birth trauma. When we are pushed out, we experience a form of death. Tagore asks, “Is it death or is it life?” What do we experience? Birth – exit from the womb where life originated and was sustained for about nine months into the world outside – is a form of death that leads to life although in different environments. Similarly, death – exit from the world – can be a door to some other form of life or life at yet another plane.

The way an old dress is removed and a new one is worn, so, as the body becomes old, it is given up, and a new one is born. Death is only a change of the perishable. Much of our post-traumatic stress, of which grief over someone’s death is psychological. Probably only about 5% of what we consider suffering is purely physiological. Once a 45-year old man asked me how he could manage old
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