Today the BBC reported that Ghandi’s ashes were scattered at sea. “Ashes of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi have been scattered off the coast of Mumbai to mark the 60th anniversary of his assassination”. An urn containing the ashes was opened and they were mixed with water from the Arabian Sea by his great-granddaughter Nilamben Parikh.
Ghandi was much more than just an ‘independence leader’. He was the personification of Peace and Change by Non-Violent means. He is the personification of the World’s conscience. His ashes were scattered in the Arabian Sea. We envisage his ashes reaching the shores of Pakistan to bring peace there. And from there they could travel through the Persian Gulf to reach the shores of Iraq and Iran. And via a southern route, they could travel through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, to wash up on the shores of Gaza. It is possible. There will be peace at last…
Now, of course, you could say this is just a superstitious wish. But then, let’s consider ‘superstition’ for a minute. Is it superstitious to believe that just name ‘Jesus Christ’ still has a mental impact 2000 years after his death? Is it superstitious to believe that the prophet Mohamed still inspires Muslims all around the globe? What is superstition really? The Dutch writer known by his pen-name ‘Multatuli’ once said: ‘Religion is Superstition’. By stating it brutally thus. he forced all religionists to think. And they are still thinking. For what really distinguishes religion from superstition?
Let’s analyze this. First of all, what is ‘superstition’? Usually it is defined as the belief in ‘supernatural things’. Well, if that is so, then religion would indeed be superstition. For God is considered by most religions to be beyond nature, therefore ‘supernatural’. But then, can there be any such thing as ‘supernatural’, i.e. something that is beyond the natural? For, if something exists, it must be part of Nature. So, nothing that exists can be ‘supernatural’ really. All must be part of Nature.
The Wheel turns
The word ‘supernatural’, therefore, is a contradiction in terms. It expresses something that cannot be, for if something exists, it must be part of Nature, unless you believe that there is something beyond Nature. But anything that is beyond Nature does not exist, for if it existed it would be part of Nature. So the word ‘supernatural’ is a misnomer. There is nothing ‘supernatural’ in the universe, for everything that exists is part of Nature.
This reasoning is circular, we admit, but by now you will understand that ‘supernatural’ is an awkward word that refers to something that does not exist. And referring to something that does not exist, is like referring to a vacuum, a non-entity, a nothing. It is pointless. One cannot refer to something that does not exist. So when we refer to God, we must be referring to something that exists, otherwise we would be referring to a vacuum, which is futile.
In other words, if God exists, then He/She/It must be part of Nature. People cannot conceive of anything that does not exist. If something does not exist, it is not there. Something that isn’t there has no meaning to us. So, if there is a God - and we aver that there is - He/She/It must be part of Nature and can by definition not be something ‘beyond Nature’. So whatever God is, He/She/It cannot be ‘supernatural’, for there is nothing ‘supernatural’ in the Universe.
So what is superstition then?
We believe superstition to be a belief that defies all reason. If we say that God is the Intelligent Energy that constantly creates and sustains Nature, we are not saying anything that is unreasonable. For obviously there must be a force or energy which creates and sustains Nature constantly, for if there weren’t, there would be no creation and we would not be here at all. And this force cannot be unintelligent, for if it were, there would only be chaos.
So, what then is superstition? It is the belief in something that defies reason, like chaos. It is the belief in something that cannot sustain itself. Religion as the belief in a Creator which creates and sustains the Universe is not superstitious, therefore, for it is very reasonable to believe that there is a principle, force or energy, natural law even, which creates and sustains.
So what about Ghandi’s ashes?
So, is it unreasonable to believe that Ghandi’s ashes will eventually wash up on the shores of Gaza to bring peace? Well, we suppose, yes! It is unreasonable. It is superstitious even.
Yet, we believe it. For Peace will come….
Today’s video is a report of a demonstration in London in support of a relief convoy to Gaza. It is organized by a number of Israeli Peace organizations, such as Gush Shalom, working together with Palestinian Peace organizations. Now, obviously, Israel has its legitimate grievances as well, such as the frequent Qassam rocket attacks directed at Israel. But Israel cannot justify stopping a relief convoy. We don’t know, if in the meantime the convoy was allowed in, but on Monday (28 January 2008) the Peace groups were still ‘negotiating’ whether Israeli’s should be allowed to feed Palestinians, who are suffering because of the blockade imposed by Israel.
Yet, Peace will come ...