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Topic: The God of All Things - Facing Reality (Read 9208 times)
I think I can speak for everyone when I tell you how appreciative we are for your time and hard work in getting the rest of the chapters to us. This is truly a beautiful book and I just cant wait to see how it ends !!! (shh! dont tell us! )
Richard was at the library reading a book on mythology, a disgusted expression on his face. Amy wondered what he was reading and went up to him. "Are you reading about gods and goddesses?" she asked. He nodded. "Yes, I am. I'm reading about Greek mythology. And there's a story in here about how the world began." Amy was naturally curious and wanted to know more.
"No!" said Richard firmly. "This stuff is not for kids."
He shut the book. He wasn't going to read anymore. It was too barbaric.
The bell rang and it was time to go back to class.
"I hope all of you had a good time at the library - doing your research on world mythology," said Dr. Singh. "It is important that you investigate and find out for yourself - the different beliefs people have about God."
"Yes - I've been reading Chinese mythology," said Marie. "There's a myth about how the earth formed."
"Well go on - tell us all about it!" said Dr. Singh.
Marie opened her note-book and read out loud, "A professor of Oriental art, Anthony Christie writes: "We learn that Chaos was like a hen's egg. Neither Heaven nor Earth existed. From the egg P'an-ku was born, while of its heavy elements Earth was made and Sky from the light elements. P'an Ku is represented as a dwarf, clad in a bearskin or a cloak of leaves. For 18,000 years the distance between Earth and Sky grew daily by ten feet, and P'an Ku grew at the same rate so that his body filled the gap. When he died, different parts of his body became various natural elements.......His body fleas became the human race."
Richard shook his head. He couldn't understand how anyone could believe in such a story.
"I've been reading about Hindu mythology," said Amy. "Mrs. Patil is a Hindu - and she believes in rebirth. So I decided to find out more about it. Andrew helped me to get some information on that."
Andrew nodded. "There are some very interesting stories in Hindu mythology," he said. "I was especially drawn to the epics - the Rama-yana and Maha-bharata."
Dr. Singh smiled at Andrew's pronunciation. "The Hindus believe in rebirth and reincarnation," went on Andrew referring to his notes. They believe in Karma - the belief that the deeds of a former existence or past life are the cause of one's present state in life."
Dr. Singh made no comment. He knew all about the beliefs of the Hindus.
Martha raised her hand. "This is a myth from Japan," she said reading from her note-book. "Shinto myth says that far back in time, the god Izanagi - washed his left eye, and so gave birth to the great goddess Amaterasu, goddess of the Sun. Later on, Susanoo, the god of the sea plains, so frightened Amaterasu that she hid in a rocky cave of Heaven, blocking the entrance with a boulder. The world was plunged in darkness. So the gods devised a plan to get Amaterasu out of the cave. They collected crowing cocks who herald the dawn and made a large mirror. On the sakaki trees, they hung jewels and cloth streamers. Then the goddess Ama no Uzume began to dance and drum on a tub with her feet. In her frenzied dance, she stripped off her clothes, and the gods burst out laughing. All this activity aroused the curiosity of Amaterasu, who looked out and saw herself in the mirror. The reflection drew her out of the cave, whereupon the god of Force grabbed herby the hand and brought her out into the open. Once more the world was lit up by the rays of the Sun goddess."
Dr. Singh raised his eye-brows. But again he did not say anything.
"I have been reading about Buddhism," said Jim. "It seems to me that Buddhists are really atheists. There's a book called What is Buddhism? - and it is published by the Buddhist Lodge, London. This is what it says: "If by atheist you mean one who rejects the concept of a personal God, we are. A growing mind can as easily digest the idea of a Universe guided by unswerving Law, as it can the concept of a distant Personage that it may never see, who dwells it knows not where, and who has at some time created out of nothing a Universe which is permeated by enmity, unjustice, inequality of opportunity, and endless suffering and strife."
"You are right then," commented Dr. Singh. "Buddhists don't believe in God or a Creator."
"But there are Buddhist temples in nearly every country where Buddhism is practiced," said Jim. "And if you go there you will find images and statues of the Buddha. These images, pictures and statues are objects of prayers, offerings and devotion by devout Buddhists! See what is happening? The Buddha never claimed to be God. But he has become a god in every sense of the word!"
"That is not unusual," remarked Dr. Singh. "People are like that. They will worship anything and everything. They will worship even animals, rocks and stones."
Richard was the last one to speak about his findings. "I read about a Greek myth," he said. "It was too horrid - so I didn't read any further. But I did read a little about Aztec beliefs. I was curious about the Aztecs because I found that they practised human sacrifice. They held a certain belief - that after each cycle of 52 years the universe would stop functioning - if their gods were not strong enough. So every 52 years - a special New Fire ceremony would be performed. They put out all fires and in the middle of the night - a sacrifice was made. If the sun appeared the next morning - they would think that the sacrifices for that particular cycle had been enough. Then they would ignite a fire on the body of the victim - and this new fire was taken to all the houses and cities. And did you know that this New Fire ceremony is still practiced today?"
"With human sacrifice?!" cried Marie disbelievingly.
"No, of course not. Today nobody does things like that," replied Richard.
"There are thousands of beliefs regarding God," said Dr. Singh. "You could spend several weeks reading about these beliefs - and still not finish reading them all - there are so many of them! So now there is a question we must definitely ask - and that question is - how many of these beliefs are true?"
"I think this is going to be a rather sensitive topic," remarked Martha. "People are very passionate about their beliefs - and they won't like anyone to question them in such a manner."
"You are absolutely right about that," said Dr. Singh. "But let me remind you that we are here to find out which beliefs are true - and which are not. You remember the lesson we had on beliefs?"
"Yes," said Jim. "We believe - only when confronted with the unknown or unseen."
"That's right," said Dr. Singh. "But if we must believe in anything - it must be the Truth. The Truth that we find using our power of reason."
"And not indulge in guesswork," added Marie.
"Very good Marie," said Dr. Singh. "If you remember - some examples of the unseen and unknown are?"
"A murder," said Jim.
"Someone telling you a dream?" said Amy.
"Events that you did not witness personally," said Richard.
"Good, very good!" Dr. Singh was visibly pleased. They had not forgotten.
"So let's take the example of a murder. A man named Simon is found dead. The Truth is unknown at this point. So how would it be if people came up with all kinds of explanations and theories to explain his death? One may say a giant spider bit him. Another might say a martian from outer space came and killed him. Others may say Jonathan his friend killed him - or it was his girlfriend Sue who poisoned him- and so on and on."
"But all that is guesswork," said Marie.
"Right - it is guesswork," agreed Dr. Singh. "Do you think the detectives or the police would ever find the killer - if they indulged in guesswork? Would it be okay if they arrested everyone in the city? Supposing someone - a stupid detective - came up to you - and said that he was arresting you for killing a man named Simon - what are you going to say?"
"I would say...." replied Andrew at once. "What is your proof that I did it!?"
"Exactly!" said Dr. Singh. "You need proof. You need evidence. If you believe in anything - you need to have evidence or proof to support your belief. Otherwise your belief is blind. It is nothing but guesswork and conjecture."
"People believe in many gods and goddesses," he went on. "They worship the sun, the moon, the rocks, the trees - human beings like themselves and even animals. They believe in all kinds of things. And they have all kinds of stories to explain how this world came about. The question is - how do they know that these stories are true? When the earth was created, no one was around. And the first people did not write nor have records about what they did. So how do these people who have come up with all these stories know how the world came about? How do they know about the gods and goddesses that they worship? What is the proof and evidence to show that these stories are true?
"There is no evidence," said Richard.
"So what does that mean?" asked Dr. Singh.
"It means that their stories are nothing but conjecture. It is all guesswork," said Jim.
Martha had a frown upon her face. She didn't like what she heard. She respected the beliefs of other people even if she believed differently. At the same time - she had to admit that Dr. Singh was right.
"People can't see God - so they indulge in a lot of guesswork," explained Dr. Singh. "And you have seen that there are all kinds of ideas and beliefs about Him. The question is - which of these beliefs is correct? All beliefs cannot be right since there is only one Truth. So what we are going to do - is use our very powerful and effective - elimination method."
He walked to the blackboard. "Let us write down then the different beliefs there are about God." And he wrote on the board:
Belief 1: There is no God.
Belief 2: There is one God.
Belief 3: There are many gods.
"We know that only one of these beliefs is right. There is only one Truth. So which of these beliefs would you eliminate first?"
"Belief 1," said Richard at once. He had already seen how ridiculous it was to believe that God did not exist.
Dr. Singh crossed it out. "I'd like to know the reason why you ruled this belief out."
"Because," replied Richard. "I know that Someone created this universe - based on the law of cause and effect. It would be silly to say that no one created this universe."
Dr. Singh smiled. He loved it when students used their power of reason the way it was meant to be used.
"Okay now - which belief would you eliminate next?" he asked.
Again it was Richard who answered. "I would eliminate Belief 3," he said.
"Why would you eliminate this one?" asked Dr. Singh.
Everyone waited for Richard to speak. They were very curious to know what he would say.
He was silent for a while as he thought hard about it. "There can't be many gods," he said eventually. "I just don't think there can be more than one."
Dr. Singh smiled. "You need to have a reason to eliminate this answer," he said.
"But I can't think of a reason!" said Richard.
It seemed as though they were now stuck. Nobody was able to provide a reason for eliminating belief number 3.
At last Dr. Singh spoke. "There's a good reason for doing away with belief 3," he said. But he didn't tell them what it was.
Amy was impatient. "Please tell us, Dr. Singh!" she begged.
"Alright," said Dr. Singh very amused. "Let us assume that belief number 3 is correct. Let us assume that there are many gods. You know that the Hindus believe in 330 million gods and goddesses. And there are the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Japanese, the Aztecs etcetera. They too have their gods and goddesses. If we accept the Hindu gods - we must also accept the gods that other people worship. Otherwise that wouldn't be fair. So if we were to count the total number of gods and goddesses that people all over the world believe in - we would get an incredibly big number..."
"That would be something like one billion!" said Marie.
"So just imagine! There are countless gods and goddesses out there. The Hindu gods, the Greek gods, the Aztec gods, the Egyptian gods etcetera. They all exist. Imagine such a scenario."
Suddenly Richard saw things clearly. He knew the reason why belief number 3 had to be eliminated.
"Belief number 3 has to be eliminated," he said confidently. "And the reason for that is - if many gods do exist - there would be chaos and disorder in this universe. And since that is not the case - since the opposite is true - there cannot be many gods."
"Yippeee!" cried Amy. And Marie thought to herself, "Now why didn't I think of that?!"
Dr. Singh crossed out belief number 3. There couldn't be many gods. And it became pretty evident that if many gods did not exist - the stories that people related about these gods - they were all untrue.
They now knew what the Truth was and it was there staring at them - loud and clear. It was the only answer that was left on the blackboard. It was Belief 2 : There is one God.
"That's right," said Dr. Singh drawing a circle around belief number 2. "This is the Truth - there is only one God. There is no other god but He."
----------------------------End Chapter 29---------------------------------------
Dr. Singh had written the following on the blackboard:
God is One
He is Unseen
He is The Creator
"Alright, class," he said. "This is what we know about God. And we know this not because we have guessed it. But because our power of reason has informed us that this is so. We are now going to find out more about God. We are going to find out what He is like - and what He is not like."
"Without doing any guesswork," said Jim with a grin.
Dr. Singh nodded. "We cannot see God," he said. "But we can't see things like wisdom, intelligence, compassion either. But we know that these things exist. How do we know that they exist?"
"By looking at the things a person has done," said Richard.
"That's right," said Dr. Singh. "There are some things that are abstract - things that cannot be seen, smelt, heard, tasted or touched. But we know that they exist - by looking at the things a person has done. We know a person is silly if he does something silly. And we know that a person is wise when he acts wisely."
"We know that God exists - because He created the universe," he continued. "The universe is an effect. And every effect has a cause. That's how we reasoned that God has to exist. And to know what God is like - what must we do? We must study the things He has done. We must look at the things He has created. So tell me - what did He create?"
"He created the universe," said Jim.
"So what does that say about Him?" asked Dr. Singh.
He waited for one full minute. Nobody spoke.
"Alright," he said. "Let's think about the universe. Do you have any idea how big the universe is? Let's try to imagine it."
He withdrew a piece of paper from the drawer and referring to it he said, "Let us consider the sun to be the size of an orange. On that scale - the earth is a grain of sand. It is situated 30 feet away from the sun. The gigantic planet Jupiter is as big as a cherry pit. And it is 200 feet away. Saturn is also the size of a cherry pit - and it is two blocks away from the sun. Next Pluto - the outermost known planet in our solar system - is another speck of sand - approximately half a mile from the sun."
He stopped speaking. This was the size of the solar system. He hoped they had grasped how huge it was. After a few seconds he went on, "The sun's nearest neighbor is the star Alpha Centauri. This star is 1,300 miles away. Can you imagine that?"
They nodded. It was hard but not impossible to imagine it.
"Our sun - and the star Alpha Centauri - are just two stars in our Milky Way galaxy," said Dr. Singh. "Do you know how many stars our Milky Way galaxy has?"
They shook their heads.
"About 200 billion stars!" revealed Dr. Singh. "Now imagine 200 billion oranges - each an average of 2,000 miles apart."
Their imagination could not go that far. This was mind-boggling! But Dr. Singh had not finished. "Our Milky Way galaxy - on this scale would have a diameter of 20 million miles."
"If we imagine the sun to be the size of an orange!?" exclaimed Marie.
"Yep," replied Dr. Singh. "You think that the Milky Way galaxy is huge? Ah! It is really nothing compared to the size of the universe my friends. Scientists and astronomers have used their most advanced telescopes and they estimate that there are around 100 billion or more galaxies in the universe. And if that is the case, our Milky Way galaxy is nothing but a dot in this universe."
They gaped at Dr. Singh. This was something beyond their comprehension.
"So now - once again I shall ask you. God created this universe. So what does that say about Him?"
"He is Great!!" said Jim in awe.
"Yes - certainly God is Great. There can be nothing greater that Him. What else?"
"He is so strong and powerful!" said Marie. "I can't even imagine the kind of power it takes to make the Earth spin!"
"So we can say that there is none more powerful than God. He is Almighty. And if He is the strongest, what does that mean?"
"It means that He alone is the ruler," said Richard after a bit of thought.
"So He is the Ruler or Governor," concluded Dr. Singh. "Do you know which is the territory that God rules over?"
"The whole universe!" said Andrew without any hesitation.
"And what are His subjects?"
"Everything in the universe. All things - the stars, the galaxies, the planets - our planet Earth and all things on Earth," said Jim.
"Right! Next - you already know that there are many laws existing in our universe. There are the laws of gravity, energy, motion, mass, matter - and life itself. Question - who made these laws?"
"God of course!" said Jim. "After all He is the one who rules over all things!"
"Then we can call God the Law-Maker. Now - let's think a little more. Consider the size, shape, color, dimensions and properties of all things. Why is the sun that particular shape and size? Why does it have the properties it has? Why does a zebra have black and white stripes? Why does wood float on water? And birds have feathers? Why is milk white in color and blood red? Why do cows eat grass and lions eat meat? Why do we need to eat food, breathe in air and drink water? Why do we grow tired? Why do we sleep? Why is it that only women give birth? Why are things the way they are?"
"Because God set it up that way," said Richard. There was no doubt in his mind about that! Things were beginning to make sense to him now. The mist that was around many mysteries was beginning to clear up.
"Yes - that is the right conclusion," said Dr. Singh nodding. "God set up everything - which means that He is the One who gave order and proportion to all things. He determined the size, shape, color, dimensions and properties of every single thing that is in this universe - things that we can see as well as things that we can't see - down to the smallest particle - the atom. He is therefore the Determiner and the One who decided how each thing will be. If you have ever wondered why your nose is shaped that way - or why you grow to a certain height and not more than that or less - well - now you know why." He smiled.
"Now I know why we don't have tails!" remarked Jim thinking about the observations he had made when they had gone out the day before.
"And I suppose you know very well that God designed our planet earth to support life. So that means?"
"He is the Giver of Life!" said Martha.
"Right! And we have also been provided with all the things that we need in order to survive. We are living today only because countless generations of people before us were taken care of. Their needs were met. They were provided with all the things that they needed. And not just people - every creature on earth has been provided with whatever it needs for its survival."
"So God is the Provider. And He cares for all His creatures," commented Marie.
Dr. Singh nodded. "Well - there is something else that I want you to take note of. And that is - our planet is well protected from dangerous comets and asteroids. God has created two giant planets - Jupiter and Saturn - that shield the earth from such destructive matter. In 1994 - there was a comet named Shoemaker -Levy 9 headed straight towards earth. Jupiter's strong gravitational pull caused the comet to break apart and it crashed into Jupiter's atmosphere."
"Wow!" said Andrew. "That means - if it wasn't for Jupiter - our planet earth would have been destroyed!"
"God is our Protector!" cried Martha.
"And it also shows that God has knowledge of all things," said Richard. "I can see that He created everything with perfect knowledge and wisdom."
"Great observation!" remarked Dr. Singh. "I'm glad you figured that out on your own. It is pretty evident, isn't it? If God is the Creator of all things - and He made all the laws - and if He determined how each thing would be - then it follows that He is All-Knowing. And yes, certainly - He is The Wise. There is a Persian proverb that says: God knew the donkey when He did not give it horns."
They had to agree. God's wisdom was apparent in the way He set up everything. Donkeys were not given the minds of men. Nor were men given the minds of donkeys.
"Another thing too is the fact that God's creation is perfect," observed Marie. "I mean I can detect no mistakes. Everything is so accurate and precise!"
"Good point," said Dr. Singh. "That means we can say that God does not make mistakes. He is free from imperfection. He is therefore the Most Holy. There is none Holier than Him."
Martha was thinking about what was written in the Bible. "But God did make a mistake," she said. "He created Adam and Eve and they both disobeyed Him."
Dr. Singh looked at her and frowned. "That is an opinion that is not supported by any evidence," he said. "And besides you must realize that if God is capable of making mistakes - He is also capable of destroying that mistake. In other words - if you think that He made a mistake when He created man - He could have easily destroyed him. After all He has power over all things, right?"
Martha didn't know what to say. She had admit that Dr. Singh did have a point.
"There are many people who believe that God is like a man," he said. "If you have seen the numerous gods and goddesses that people worship - you will note that most of them are made in the image of human beings. In the image of man. Regarding this - I would like you to think about a few things."
They listened with great interest.
"Fish live in the sea. God gave them fins, tails and gills. Birds fly in the sky. God gave them feathers and wings. We human beings don't have fins, gills or tails. Nor do we have feathers and wings. If we did, that would be very odd, don't you think? Just imagine what it would be like if we had gills like the fish, or feathers like the birds. And we had no need for them."
"Those things would be superfluous and totally useless," commented Richard.
Dr. Singh nodded. "We don't have fins, tails and gills. Or feathers. We live on land, so we have been given feet. If God had intended for us to fly, He would have given us wings. If He had intended for us to live in the water - He would have provided us with fins, tails and gills. People imagine God to be like a man. So tell me - if God has feet what does He walk on?"
"Hmmm," said Richard. "It would be odd if God had feet like we do. Especially since He wouldn't need them!"
"And if He has feet," went on Dr. Singh. "Then He must also have arms, hands and body like us as well. So let's imagine some more. If God has teeth, what food does He chew? If He eats food, then He would need a digestive system. If He needs to breathe, He would need lungs. He would need the excretory system as well. But what if God does not eat any food or drink any water? Is He going to die?"
"No of course not! God won't die if He doesn't eat or drink," said Marie.
"If so, then He doesn't really need to eat, does He? He doesn't need to drink water. He doesn't need air to breathe. He is not in need of lungs, or a digestive system. He is not in need of anything. He is independent. Free of all needs. He won't die if He doesn't eat or drink! He isn't going to be affected in the slightest if He doesn't sleep or take rest. He is not going to get tired no matter what happens. That means He is Indestructible. Nothing can destroy Him. So what does that mean?"
"I think it means that He has always been there. He has always existed," said Marie.
"And if He has always existed - then that means nobody created Him. So.....if God does not need to eat or drink, or take rest or sleep....isn't it obvious that God is not like us? Isn't it clear that God cannot be anything like us? He created the birds and fish as well. He is not like them either."
"That means God is Incomparable," said Richard. "There is nothing like Him in this universe."
"Right!" said Dr. Singh. "There is also another reason why God isn't like man. Human beings are in pairs. Whereas God is One. He does not depend on anyone or anything. And therefore he is not in need of a partner. He is Independent and Self-subsisting."
"You know - that makes so much sense!" said Jim. "It makes perfect sense! I definitely agree. God cannot be like a man!"
"You know that God cannot die," said Dr. Singh. "He is The Living. He cannot be destroyed - that also means He cannot be killed. He cannot be defeated. There is none greater or stronger than Him. Therefore He was, is and will always be there. He is Eternal. He is the First as well as the Last. This clearly establishes the fact that God does not die. He made a rule however that all things must die. You have seen that everything perishes. Even stars are known to die."
"Yes, He is the Giver of Death," said Richard. He understood now why people died. It was because God had decreed that for everyone. Nobody could escape death.
"Finally here's a sentence that I want you to change to active voice," said Dr. Singh going towards the blackboard. And He wrote:
Everything is built upon Truth.
Marie changed it to active voice. He wrote it down:
God built everything upon Truth.
Dr. Singh smiled. "God determined everything," he said slowly. "He fixed even the properties of Truth. And He fixed it that way so that we could use our power of reason to see it. And the biggest Truth of all is - this universe wouldn't have existed if He hadn't made it. In other words - God gave existence to this universe and all things in it. We owe our existence to Him. Nothing in this universe would have been what it is if God had not created it. So.....what does this tell us?"
They listened in mesmerized silence. They knew that Dr. Singh was going to reveal something awesome.
"It tells us," revealed Dr. Singh. "That God is The Truth. There is no Truth greater than He. He is the only Reality."
----------------------------End Chapter 30---------------------
Martha was unhappy. She was thinking about what they had learnt. That God was not like a man. Amy noticed the despondency on her face and asked, "What's wrong, Aunty?"
"The Bible says that God made man in His image," said Martha. "And now we hear that God is not like a man at all."
"So what's there to be so sad about?" asked Amy knowing very little about how grown-ups felt when they discovered that their ideas were wrong.
"Well," said Martha. "I'm a little confused at this point. I don't know what to think!"
"What's there to think?" said Mrs. Patil. "You go ahead and believe whatever you want, Martha. Don't you let anyone persuade you to give up your beliefs!"
"Beliefs!" said Marie. "Any belief that is not supported by evidence is supposed to be busted. We're Untruth Busters - remember?"
"Yes," admitted Martha reluctantly. It was true what Dr. Singh had said. People did not like the Truth because it meant giving up their false beliefs. But was her belief false? What did it mean? That God made man in his image?
"I'll have to ask Dr. Singh," said Martha after some thought.
"Why do you talk about what's in the Bible?" asked Amy suddenly. She remembered what Henry had said. Nothing religious of any kind was tolerated at the retreat. And certainly the Bible was something religious.
"Because the Bible is the Word of God," explained Martha a little surprised at the question.
"Well - for us, it's the Bhagvad Gita," said Mrs. Patil instantly.
"Do you believe what's written in the Bible?" Marie asked Mrs. Patil.
"No, I believe in my book," she replied. "But I have no problem with what others believe. I think that all paths lead to God."
Martha frowned at this. She recalled what she had learnt. All paths did not lead to the Truth. Only one path was the right path. Mrs. Patil was very wrong. But she didn't tell her this. There would have been no point in telling her. Dr. Singh was so right! Only people who were sincere and humble could see the Truth. And as far as she could see, sincerity and humility were two qualities that Mrs. Patil certainly lacked! But then she thought about her own self and her own reactions. She had been feeling unhappy. Why? Because she had been proved wrong. Nobody could draw a picture of any person without seeing him or her. And certainly nobody knew what Jesus looked like. Then it followed that all the pictures that she had seen of him were false. None of them could be the true picture of him. Yes, she had made a mental note that she was going to remove the painting of Jesus from her bedroom. But she still believed that he was God. He had come to earth in the form of a human being. Wasn't that what the Bible said? No, wait a minute! That wasn't what the Bible said! That was what the preacher said! The thought sent a shock-wave through her body. And she sat there on the floor rigidly - thinking. Preachers and scientists. What did they have in common? They were human beings. And being human they could be wrong.
Marie picked up her note-book and got up. "I'm going to the library," she told the ladies. She was going to do that exercise - changing passive voice sentences to active voice. As she was walking toward the library she heard some voices. They were coming from Dr. Singh's study.
"Why don't you get married?" Henry was saying. Marie stopped in her tracks. She knew she was eavesdropping but her curiosity got the better of her. She stayed to listen.
"I would if I could find the right woman!" replied Dr. Singh laughing.
"What kind of woman do you want?" asked Henry.
"Well....someone who is well-educated, witty and beautiful. But more important than all that - she should be terribly humble."
"Humble!" cried Henry. "How can you tell if a woman is humble or not?"
"Ah! That's easy, Henry! Modern women - aargh! They are just too proud. A little bit of education - a little bit of beauty - and they begin to think the world of themselves! I can easily spot them. They are the ones who dress like men - in pants, jeans and trousers - as if to show they are equal to us. It's a total turn off I tell you! A woman should dress like a woman. And behave like one as well. I tell you Henry - if I can find a woman like Kate - I wouldn't think twice - but I would marry her on the spot!"
"Kate? Who's Kate?" Henry wondered.
"Kate? Oh - yes! Katherine! She's the heroine in the play - The Taming of the Shrew. You know - the book I've been reading written by William Shakespeare?"
Marie tiptoed past Dr. Singh's study and raced to the library. She forgot the passive voice - active voice exercise she was going to do. Her interest was now in something else. It was the book called "The Taming of the Shrew".
The next morning, everyone was in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the next lesson. Dr. Singh entered the classroom and greeted his students warmly. He walked to the black door and stood before it. He was no longer smiling.
"What happens after death?" he asked in a serious tone. "This is an extremely important question. After we die - we shall certainly know what the Truth is. But what good would that be?"
"Yeah," said Andrew. "We won't be able to come back here and do something about it....coz we're dead!"
"Therefore it is better for us to know what the Truth is before we die," said Dr. Singh. "It is a good thing that you are here at this retreat. Whatever you learn and discover here - it will be for your own good. Remember - that it is only the Truth that can guide you and save you. And you care about nothing but the Truth."
He walked toward the blackboard and made a little dot. Underneath it he wrote "Birth". From that dot he drew a straight line which he ended with another dot. Beneath that dot he wrote "Death".
"How do we come into this world?" he asked.
"We are born," answered Richard.
"Right - we are created in our mothers' wombs - and then our mothers give birth. An occassion of joy most certainly! God is the One who makes you - gives you shape and form. He is the Bestower of shape and form. You were without life. God gave you life. He gave you being - and He gave you several other gifts. The gifts of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. He determined everything for you. The color of your hair, eyes, skin. The shape of your nose. How tall you will grow. God knows what else He has written for you!"
"I've written down something regarding that!" said Jim opening his note-book. "This was an article about why we grow old and I thought it was very interesting. And I wrote down here what the Encyclopaedia Britannica says. Let me read it out to you: "Locked within the code of the genetic material are instructions that specify the age beyond which a species cannot live." They say here that maximum life span is written in the genes. So if we do the passive voice to active voice exercise - we learn that God wrote all the instructions in the genes."
"I'm glad you are doing that passive voice - active voice exercise," said Dr. Singh. "Keep it up!"
He then pointed to the blackboard - to the dot under which was written "Birth". "So we come into this world - and we are born. We enter this world crying...as babies. Then we become toddlers. Then children. Then adolescents - or teenagers. After that - we become young adults. Then comes middle-age. Then old age. And after old age?"
"Death," said Richard grimly.
"Yep - that is our journey of life," said Dr. Singh. "We go through various stages. And we grow only because God makes us grow. He has determined that all of us will go through these stages in life. Inevitably our journey comes to an end. After old age comes death. However - not all people die from old age. Many people die before reaching that stage. Actually we can die at any time. There is no guarantee that any one of us will live to see the sun rise - or set."
They listened in gloomy silence. This was a very disturbing subject.
"You read in newspapers everyday about people dying. It is all over the t.v. It is everywhere you turn and look. Death is all around you! This is the reality that all of us face. We can't run from it! I know it is frightening. But we must do whatever we can to prepare ourselves for this eventuality. There is absolutely no doubt that this is going to happen. It is the biggest reality - for human beings. A reality that most people flee from. So the question is why? Why has God decreed and written down that every one of us must taste death?" He wrote on the board in big letters: WHY?
That was the million dollar question. Richard felt excited. This was what he had been waiting for!
"So how do we begin to find the answer to this question," said Dr. Singh. "Certainly - it is by looking at the evidence - by looking at the things that God has made. And the greatest clue is?"
They didn't have a clue what it was and they looked at Dr. Singh blankly.
Dr. Singh smiled. "The greatest clue - is something most obvious and evident. It is right before your noses! It is the difference between human beings and the rest of creation."
"Yes, we are different," he went on to explain. "And it is in the way we differ from animals and other creatures - that you will find the key - that will solve this mystery of life and death. When you find this key - you will know for certain what will happen after death."
"We greatly differ from animals in many ways," he continued. "One difference is - our world is full of injustice, suffering, violence and bloodshed. Human beings face untold number of problems in their lives which animals don't."
"Yes," said Richard. "There is much cruelty and wickedness in the world of men. We read about crimes being committed everyday. All over the world."
"And it is very distressing and disturbing," said Martha. "I get rather upset when I read or hear news about bombings, terrorist activities and war."
"And what about horrible things people do?" said Marie. "There are so many people who openly declare that they are homosexuals. And they live together as though they are married. Yuck!!"
Dr. Singh nodded. "Human beings commit crimes everyday. The pages of history are full of stories about man's evil deeds. The question is: Why does man do all these evil things?"
"There can be several reasons," said Richard. "Some people desire to take revenge for some wrong done unto them. Or perhaps they are just frustrated."
"I know that money is the cause of much evil," said Jim. "People will do anything for money. They are so greedy and want power, status - things that money can buy. I think that's the main reason why people do evil things."
"Some people don't agree with other groups of people. So they rebel and fight," said Andrew. "And sometimes people do evil things just to attract attention. They might want to get their message across - and nobody's listening - so they resort to evil."
Dr. Singh smiled. "Your answers are very interesting," he remarked. "But none of you has given me the answer that I wanted."
Amy was very curious. "Please tell us what the answer is, Dr. Singh!" she begged. "Why does man do all these evil things?"
"It is very simple, my friends," answered Dr. Singh. "Man does all these things because he can!"
-------------------------------------End Chapter 31--------------------------------
The day's lesson continued and all the students listened with their fullest attention.
"So now you know the reason why there is so much bloodshed and violence in the world of man," said Dr. Singh. "Man has been given free-will - and he uses his free-will to do whatever he likes. The question is - why does man have it?"
"That's easy," said Jim. "Man has it because God gave it to him."
"Right! You know very well that things are the way they are - because God made them that way. So if man has free-will - it is only because God intended to give it to him."
Martha raised her hand. She had to ask the question that had been on her mind. "Dr. Singh, could you please explain what it means when the Bible says that God created man in His image?"
"I don't read the Bible," Dr. Singh informed her. "But I can tell you what it might mean. Nobody knows what God looks like. Therefore - we cannot imagine him in any form. So by that word "image" I believe it means something else. I think it means that God made man like Himself."
"God made man like Himself?!" exclaimed Marie in disbelief.
Dr. Singh smiled and nodded. "Yes, that's right! God made man like Himself - and I can explain to you how that is by a very simple illustration."
He asked Henry to fetch a loaf of bread. Henry left the classroom and returned with the requested item in his hand. He placed it on the table and went back to stand at his usual place - behind all the desks, by the glass window.
Everybody's curiosity was terribly aroused. What did a loaf of bread have to do with God?!
"What can you say about the maker of this loaf of bread?" asked Dr. Singh.
"It's made by human beings," said Andrew. That was pretty obvious!
They stared at the loaf of bread. What else was there to say? They remained silent.
"Well, class," said Dr. Singh. "Isn't it clear to you that this loaf of bread was made by someone who must have been living at the time of making the bread? A dead person couldn't have made it!"
He wrote down on the board:
Attributes of the maker of loaf of bread
"The second attribute is..." and he turned around to look at them. "Whoever made this bread must have had knowledge. He knew how to make this loaf of bread. He had knowledge of a recipe. He knew how much flour to use, how much yeast. He knew how to knead the dough and how to shape it. He knew how to bake it. He knew what was the right temperature to bake it at - and also for how long. So he possessed knowledge." And he wrote down:
2. Had knowledge
"The third attribute is - he had the ability to make this loaf of bread. Think of a donkey. He may know how to make a loaf of bread - but with the kind of body he has - he won't be able to make it. So that's the third attribute - ability." He wrote that down:
3. Had ability
"And the fourth attribute is - the maker of this loaf of bread had desire. He wanted to make this loaf of bread. In other words - he had free-will. Man can make whatever he wants - whatever he desires. Because he has free-will. So that is the fourth attribute." He wrote that down:
4. Had free-will or desire
"This is what man is like," said Dr. Singh. "He is the creator of many things - and he makes them because he possesses the same attributes that God Himself possesses. He has to be living to create anything. He has to have knowledge. He has to have ability. And he has to have free-will. In this respect man is like God. Man is a creator like God."
"That makes a lot of sense," remarked Martha. "I never thought about it like that!"
"I can now understand why man rules over earth," said Marie. "He is like a god himself!"
"Mini god!" giggled Amy.
"Yeah - a mini god who has to die one day," said Andrew at once. It was pretty clear to him that God had no competition.
"Why did God make that rule?" asked Amy unhappily. "Why do we all have to die?! Why couldn't we just live forever!?"
Everyone felt the same way. They wanted to know why God created death. Martha too was interested. Especially now that it was clear to her that God did not make a mistake when He created Adam and Eve. God didn't make mistakes.
"Also - I would like to know why God created us," said Richard.
"It is not at all hard to figure out the answers to those questions," said Dr. Singh. "I've told you that the key is in observation. And the greatest clue before is the difference that exists between human beings and all other creatures on earth. Perhaps at this point you don't understand - it is all a mystery to you. But don't worry. You'll soon know the answers. So now - let us reflect upon how different man is from other creatures. We already know one thing and that is...?"
"Man has been given free-will," said Jim.
"Right! Human beings are free creatures. And they are free to do whatever they like." He paused and then said, "I have a question for you. What do you think would happen if this free-will was taken away from human beings?"
"They would be just like the other creatures God has made," said Richard after a bit of thought. "The rest of creation has no free-will."
"Exactly!" said Dr. Singh pleased with his answer. "Now - compared to other creatures - how does man fare when he is born into this world?"
"Ooooh! He is such a helpless little baby!" cried Marie. "It is many years before he can take care of himself."
"Which means that man is totally dependent on his mother to take care of him after he is born," added Jim. "If not for his mother he would die in no time!"
"Yes, that is so true!" said Martha. "Mothers have to do everything for their babies. Feed them, bathe them, change their diapers - and then later on - keep them out of trouble."
"Aha! Keep them out of trouble you say," said Dr. Singh. "Why do we have to keep our children out of trouble?"
"Because they don't know what they are doing," replied Martha. "They do things like poking their fingers in electrical sockets - or running out in the street. They have to be constantly watched! Mothers have the additional job therefore to protect their children from danger and harm."
Dr. Singh smiled. "Doesn't that give you a clue? You see - it is pretty apparent! Man might build airplanes and fly in the sky when he grows up - he might build a spaceship and go to the moon when he grows up - but the fact remains - that when he is born - he is born ignorant. He is not given any knowledge. The only thing he knows is to cry for his mother when he is hungry. He knows how to suck his mother's milk. That's it! And when he grows older - of course he is going to get into trouble. He is after all born ignorant. He has to learn about the world around him. All the knowledge that he acquires - it has to be learnt."
"Isn't it strange how man is so weak and helpless as a baby - but so strong and powerful when he is fully grown?" commented Marie.
"That's right," said Dr. Singh. "Man is the most powerful creature on earth. He has made a lot of progress in science and technology. And if you go to the libraries - you will see that man has acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge. There are books on every subject you can think of. Certainly there is no other animal out there that has acquired so much knowledge like man has. So here's a question. What difference between man and animals has been responsible for the incredible progress man has made?"
They thought hard about it.
"I think it is his great desire to make things better for himself," said Jim at last. "I don't think animals have this kind of desire."
"And God has given man the ability to think and reason," added Richard. "This is the major difference in my opinion."
Dr. Singh nodded. "Yes, man has the ability to think and reason. But it wouldn't have been possible for man to think and reason - unless God had given him a certain gift. Do you know what gift it is?"
They looked at him expectantly. Dr. Singh smiled. "It is the gift of language," he revealed.
"Wow! I never thought of that!" exclaimed Jim.
"In order to think and reason," said Dr. Singh. "You need to know words. Without words you cannot think. And if you cannot think, you cannot reason. God gave us the ability to reason so that we could distinguish between Truth and untruth. And you have learnt that we cannot make any progress unless we stick to the Truth. Do you remember?"
"Yeah, but there are so many languages in this world," said Andrew. "Doesn't that mean man created languages on his own?"
Dr. Singh smiled. He walked over to the table and opened the drawer. He withdrew a book from there and showed them the front cover page. The title of the book was "Story of the World's Worship."
"In this book," said Dr. Singh. "We learn something about man's language. Let me read it out to you." He read out loud:
"Those who have studied the languages of the world and compared them to each other have something to say, and it is this: All languages can be grouped into families or classes of speech, and all these families are seen to have started from one common source."
"So what does this tell us?" asked Dr. Singh putting the book down. "It tells us that the languages of the world did not originate separately and independently. Man did not create language. It is something that he inherited from his parents. And this in turn leads to the conclusion that God must have taught the first man and first woman words. He bestowed the gift of language to them, and they passed it on to their children. So what is the common source of all languages? It's God. God taught man speech. And that is the reason why man has made so much progress."
"Is that the reason why God created man?" asked Richard inquisitively. "To make progress - and acquire knowledge?"
"Aha! That's a good question. Why did God create man? We'll find out why by doing a little bit of thinking. You see, God has created many things. Zillions of things. He has created the sun, the moon, the stars and the galaxies. He has created plants, trees, birds, insects, reptiles and animals. On earth life is found everywhere you turn and look. In the water, in the ground, in the air. Our planet earth is packed with life. Man is just one of God's creations. He is different from everything else that is in the universe however. He has the ability to create many things just like God can."
Richard wondered why he didn't think of these things. It was so obvious! A little bit of contemplation revealed so many truths!
"So man is a creator just like God is a Creator," went on Dr. Singh. "We have made many things. We have built cities. We have made houses, airplanes, boats, computers. We have t.vs, radios, dvd players. Refrigerators, microwave ovens. Millions of things. Now - here's a question for you. Why do we make these things? Why do we create them?"
"To make our life comfortable?" said Martha.
"Because we need those things?" said Andrew.
"Yes - we make things so that our life will be more comfortable and also because we need those things," replied Dr. Singh. "However the main reason why we make things is so that these things would serve us. For example - we created the refrigerator so that we could keep food cold or frozen. Then suppose the refrigerator breaks down and stops functioning. It no longer keeps the food cold. And all your food gets spoilt. What would you do with a refrigerator that does not work?"
"I would try to get it fixed," said Marie.
"And if it can't be fixed?" enquired Dr. Singh.
"I would get rid of it!" answered Marie.
"So there you are! There's the reason why we make things. We create things only for one reason. And that is so that they would serve us. Therefore all the things we create are our servants. Even the nuts and bolts that we use in making cars and other vehicles. Even a small thing like a needle or a button. They are all our servants."
"The clothes we wear too," said Amy. "And the pots and pans that we have in the kitchen."
"Now that you know why we create things, you are now in a very good position to answer the question: Why did God create all the things that are there in this universe."
"Oh, now I know!" cried Marie excitedly. "God created all these things to serve Him!"
"Yep, that is the right answer," said Dr. Singh. "And while on this subject - let me tell you something quite extraordinary. Man has created many things. And all the things that he makes serve him. Man can make anything he wants except for one thing. Do you know what it is?"
They hadn't a clue what it could be. And they shook their heads.
"The one thing that man can't make is this," said Dr. Singh with a broad smile. "He can't make something that will serve him of its own free-will. The only one who has power and ability to do that is God."
-----------------------------End Chapter 32--------------------------
Marie was thinking and she had a question on her mind. "I know that we are like God in the sense that we can create things like God can," she said. "But don't we create things because we need them? God is not in need of anything. So He is not in need of the things He has made. If so - why did He create all these things?"
"Why did God create the things He has made when He doesn't need them?" said Dr. Singh. "That is a very good question. And the answer to that is very simple. God created all things because He can! He did it because He is God. If He didn't create anything - who would know what He can do? Who would know about His power, might and greatness? The entire universe and all things in it need God - for their very existence. God is not in need of us. But we are certainly in need of Him!"
"That is so true!" remarked Martha.
"Like God we can create many things," went on Dr. Singh. "It is easy to create things that obey us. For example we create computers and robots and they do exactly as they are told. The things we make don't act or behave the way they want to. They behave and act exactly the way we want them to. Even if you were to make a tea-pot - that tea-pot will look exactly the way you intend to make it. It will be whatever size you want it to be. It will be made of whatever material you choose to make it from. And it will have whatever shape you give it. That tea-pot doesn't have a choice regarding its shape, size and what else you determine for it. It is easy to create such things. But can we create something that will obey us of its own free will? Can you imagine a robot that obeys you of its own free will?"
"If it was possible for us to make robots like that and we made them," said Jim. "Then those robots would probably choose not to obey us! And if these robots do whatever they like - there will be chaos and confusion."
"And that is the case in the world of man," said Dr. Singh. "There is suffering, injustice, disorder, chaos and confusion because God gave man free will - and because man makes the wrong choices."
"I don't understand why God had to give man free will," said Amy. "It would have been better for us if we didn't have it!"
Dr. Singh nodded. "Yes, Amy - I agree with you there. Indeed, it would have been better for us if we weren't given this free will. Frankly I think the animals are better off than we are. They don't have to make choices."
"But aren't there people who make the right choices?" asked Marie. "I mean - people who obey and serve God?"
Dr. Singh smiled. "Yes, there are," he said. "And these are the people who God loves. They are the best of creation. Why are they the best of creation? Because they obey and serve God of their own free will. They obey Him voluntarily. And they do so even without seeing Him. So by creating man - God created His masterpiece. A being that chooses to obey Him of his own free will. By giving man free will - God created a creature unlike any He ever created. The creation of man and giving him the freedom to choose - proves the greatness of God as a Creator. He can create whatever He pleases. It is easy for Him. Because He is God - and He has power over all things."
He paused for a few seconds. And then he went on, "So now you should know the answer to the question : Who are we."
"We are a special creation!" said Richard a little bit amazed at the discovery.
Dr. Singh nodded. "So now you know why God created man," he said. "He is a special creature who can choose to obey God of his own free will."
Amy was thinking about all the evil things that man did. "I have a question," she said raising her hand. "If God is so powerful why doesn't He stop people from doing evil? Why does He let people do all kinds of horrible things - like murder and robbery?"
Richard's face went a little pale at the mention of the word - murder. He quickly regained his composure however. This was a question that even he wanted to ask. Actually, they all did.
Dr. Singh was smiling. "Again - the answer to that question is very simple," he said. "If God were to stop people from doing the things that they wanted to do - what would be the point in giving them free will? What is the point in giving anyone free will if they can't use it? Certainly God can stop people from doing evil. He has the power to do that. But if He were to interfere with people's affairs - people would no longer have any choice. All of them would have to do what God wants them to do."
"And people think God doesn't exist because He permits so much suffering!" observed Andrew.
"Yes - people do think that way," agreed Dr. Singh. "They watch t.v, and read in the newspapers - uncountable stories of men's evil deeds. They think about the tragedies that strike many people and how much injustice there is in this world. And they think - if God exists - why does He allow all this to happen? And then they come to the erroneous conclusion that He doesn't exist!"
"Also - think about people who commit crimes themselves," he went on. "They would think that God doesn't exist either! They do all these evil things - and nothing happens. They are not struck by lightning from heaven. There is no thunderstorm. There is no calamity that befalls these people who do wrong. The sun continues to shine. The rain continues to fall. Cows continue to give milk. The grass continues to grow. Flowers continue to bloom. The world goes on. And people think - oh nothing happened! So there is no God!"
"Why - oh why did God give this free will to man?!" wailed Amy again. "If man didn't have it - he would have done no wrong!"
"But not all people do wrong, Amy," Marie reminded her.
Dr. Singh looked thoughtful. "There is no point in wishing that we didn't have free will," he said at last. "We must look at the facts - and we must face reality. We are human beings and we have free will. So let us focus on this free will that we have. And if you were to think about it a little - you will realize that we have limited free will."
"Limited free will?" Richard wondered how that could be. Man was able to do whatever he wanted to do. There were no limits to what he could do!
"Definitely!" said Dr. Singh. "Man has limited free will. Let me explain. It is only God who has total and absolute free will. He can do whatever He likes. But man - he is very much limited. You see - there are many things that are not at all within our control. We cannot choose the time of our birth. We cannot choose where we shall be born. Nor can we choose our gender. We cannot choose our parents. We cannot choose what we shall look like. Nor can we choose the color of our hair - or the color of our skin or eyes. We cannot choose our talents and abilities. Some people can sing. Some can't. Some people can draw very well. Others are good at writing or dancing. We don't give these abilities to ourselves. We don't choose them. All these things have been chosen for us. God made those choices. He determined all these things for us."
"Whow!" exclaimed Jim. "That is correct! Absolutely, totally correct! We don't choose any of those things."
"There are many other things which we cannot choose," went on Dr. Singh. "God controls everything. Including our behavior. You see - when you go to the toilet - why do you do so? It is because you are compelled. Why do we eat? Because we are compelled by our hunger. Why do we drink water? Because we are compelled by our thirst. Why are we compelled to do these things? It is because God is The Compeller. We need to eat, drink and go to the toilet - because God created us that way. We don't have a choice with regard to how we are made. So what is the only thing over which we have any control?"
"Our actions," replied Jim.
"That is correct," Dr. Singh said. "We have control only over the things we can do. Everything else is controlled by God."
Richard nodded his head. He understood now what was meant by limited free will.
"We are going to do an exercise now," said Dr. Singh smiling. "I would like you to write down all the things that you can think of that make human beings so different from animals. It is essential that you do this exercise. Because when you are finished you will have before you the key that will help you to solve all our mysteries. And for the person who comes up with the most number of differences - there will be a special prize!"
He asked Henry to fetch the prize. Henry left the classroom and returned holding a silver platter upon which rested a large chocolate cake. He placed it on the table.
After several days of eating tasteless food the chocolate cake looked fabulous to them. What a treat! Amy's eyes shined brightly and she made up her mind that she was going to write many things - and win the prize.
After fifteen minutes Dr. Singh asked them what they had written. Richard read out his answers. "We are different from animals because we can think and reason," he said. "Second - we can speak languages. And third - we have very good memory." That was all he could think of.
Next spoke Jim. "We wear clothes. No other animals wears clothes!" he said. "And we have to cook our food. We can cry and we can laugh. We have sense of humor too. And one more thing! We like entertainment - like watching movies and listening to music."
"We can sing and dance," said Marie. "And we can also act. We can paint and draw. No animal can paint and draw! We also can play games. And there are so many of them - like chess, soccer, badminton and table-tennis."
Then it was Amy's turn. And her list was pretty long.
"I wrote down here," she said. "That we have to go to school. I don't know of any animal that goes to school. And we go to the dentist for our teeth check-up. Animals don't go to dentists - right? Then we have doctors to take a look at us if we fall sick. We go to the hospital for that. My dad has a car. He is a mechanic and he fixes cars. And he drives me to school. So we have things - like cars, buses, trains and airplanes that help us to go where we want to go quickly. In my house we have separate places - like the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. I mean there is no animal who makes kitchen or bathroom."
"Yes - that is certainly a difference between us and animals!" remarked Andrew.
Amy wasn't finished. "Then we have shopping centers. We buy and sell things. And we use money. We have banks and we open bank accounts for keeping our money. We have all kinds of shops. Like beauty salons - grocery stores - computer stores. Also there is the post office. And restaurants. I wasn't able to write everything that is there. There's a lot!"
Dr. Singh was very impressed. Those were differences alright! Amy had done a fine job.
Then it was Andrew's turn. "Some of the things I wrote, they have already been mentioned," he said. "But here are three things that I wrote down. One is fortune-telling. Second is - we have prisons. And third is - we have lawyers."
"That is good observation," commented Dr. Singh.
The last one to speak was Martha. She had nothing to add except for one thing. "We human beings - our sexual behavior is different from animals," she said. "We can have children any time of the year."
Dr. Singh clapped his hands. "Bravo!" he said. "All of you have done a splendid job! And I must say that our little Amy has outdone you all. That's a lot of differences she has noted. Well done! You are the winner of this delicious prize!"
Amy felt on top of the world. "Thank you, Dr. Singh!" she said. "But I can't eat all this cake. So could we cut it into little pieces and share it with everyone?"
"That's an excellent idea!" said Dr. Singh. Henry got a knife and they cut it into several pieces. All of them enjoyed the cake very much. Richard couldn't believe that cake could be so delicious!
After they had eaten, Dr. Singh sat on his chair looking very relaxed. Then he got up. "The observations you have made are wonderful," he said. "We are now going to focus on the most important differences. And the first has something to do what Amy said. She said that we have to go to school. That is correct. No animal goes to school. Now here - there is a very important point to be made. Why don't animals go to school - do you know?"
"Because they don't need to learn anything," answered Jim.
"Why don't they need to learn anything?"
"Because they already know what to do!"
"Aha! That's the biggest difference right there! You see, all animals know how to live their lives. They don't need to learn how to live. That knowledge is already given to them. An orange seed knows how to grow into an orange tree and produce oranges. An apple tree knows how to grow into an apple tree and produce apples. A spider knows how to spin a web. Bees know how to make honey. Animals know how to live their lives. They have their code of conduct. And they follow the rules and commandments that are given to them perfectly. No such code of conduct is given to man however. As a baby he is totally helpless - and looks to his parents to teach him how to live."
"Codes of conduct are guides that teach us how to live," he continued. "This code or guide is known as religion."
--------------------------------End Chapter 33-------------------------
"Everything in the universe has its code of conduct - or religion," said Dr. Singh. "God gave each thing its religion - except for...man."
"Why didn't God give man his religion?" asked Andrew.
"Because religion is the only thing that man can choose!" replied Dr. Singh. "You have already learnt that we have control only over our actions. God controls everything else. This means that God has chosen everything else for us - except for our religion."
Richard was astounded at the discovery. They all were. They had never thought about things like that!
"What is religion? It is nothing but a guide that shows you how to live your life," went on Dr. Singh. "It is a code of conduct that is programmed into every single thing by our Almighty Creator....with the exception of man. And to help you better understand what this means - I am going to give you some examples." He turned and walked to the blackboard and wrote down the following:
1. The blackspoil warbler.
"What's that?!" asked Amy.
"It's a little bird," answered Dr. Singh. "It weighs only three quarters of an ounce. Let me tell you more about this extraordinary bird. In the fall - or autumn - it travels from Alaska to the eastern coast of Canada or New England. There it will eat lots of food and store up fat. Then - it waits for a cold front. Or wind. When it comes - the bird takes off - and begins its journey. Did you know that its final destination is actually South America? But it first heads toward Africa?"
"But doesn't that mean this bird has to fly over the ocean?" asked Richard.
"Most definitely! It flies over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of some 20,000 feet! At that height - it picks up a prevailing wind that turns it toward South America."
This was amazing! "So here are some questions for you," said Dr. Singh. "How does this warbler know that it must wait for the cold front, and that it means good weather and a tail wind? How does it know that it must climb higher and higher - up to 20,000 feet altitude - where air is thin and cold - and has 50 percent less oxygen? How does it know that only up at that height does the crosswind blow that will carry it to South America? How does it know that it must fly toward Africa - to allow for the southwestern drift from this wind? How does it go on this trip of some 2, 400 miles - and fly for three or four days and nights - and reach its destination without any errors? Tell me, class - how does this warbler with a brain the size of a pea know so much about weather and navigation?"
They were speechless. "God is Great!" said Jim at last. "He really can create anything He likes!"
Dr. Singh smiled. "But this is just one bird," he said in amusement. "There are several other birds like the white stork, the golden plover and curlews. These are migrating birds - and many migrations are made for the first time by young birds - without any adults. So the question is - how do they know where they are and where they are going, when they don't have anyone to guide them on their first trip?"
"It's like they are born with a map in their heads!" said Marie in admiration.
"You are right," said Dr. Singh. "These birds are born with the map - code of conduct - or religion. God provides them with accurate and precise instructions and they know exactly what to do. Their religion is the one that God gave them."
"And that is the reason why they don't make any mistakes!" exclaimed Jim. "It's because God gave them their religion! And God never makes mistakes!"
Richard was beginning to understand many things that were previously mysteries to him. He now knew why man made mistakes. It was simply because God had not given him his religion!
Dr. Singh continued writing on the blackboard. He wrote:
2. The seed of the sequoia tree
"At least the warbler had a brain - even though it was the size of a pea," said Dr. Singh. "But what about the seed of the sequoia tree? It doesn't have a brain. It is no bigger than a pinhead! Yet - that seed knows how to grow into a giant tree - over 300 feet high! Just four feet above the ground - its diameter may be 36 feet! And listen to this! One tree can contain enough wood to build 50 six-room houses! Want to know more? It's bark is around two feet thick - and is flavored with tannin that repels insects! And its spongy, fibrous texture makes it almost as fireproof as asbestos!"
Richard's stared at Dr. Singh with his mouth open. Could this really be true!?
"No, I'm not finished yet," went on Dr. Singh. "The roots of the sequoia tree cover three or four acres! And guess how long it lives...!"
"Two hundred years?" said Jim.
"Nope. It lives over 3,000 years!!"
"God is Great!" said Jim again. He had no more words to describe his awe and wonder at what he had just heard!
Dr. Singh nodded. "This is just one seed and a tiny one. Imagine how many seeds there are on earth - and they all know what to do. Obviously - a brain is not needed to follow the instructions of God!"
He turned and wrote the final example on the blackboard. It was:
3. Our planet earth
"That tiny sequoia seed doesn't have a brain. We are now going to consider something else much bigger - which also does not come with a brain - our lovely planet earth. There would have been no life on earth - if our planet did not follow the instructions given to it precisely and accurately. The earth too has its code of conduct. It too has its religion. It is not a fluke that life is found only our planet. There are many conditions that are vital to life on earth - and one of them is the amount of light and heat received from the sun. The earth gets only a tiny fraction of the sun's energy. Yet - it is exactly the right amount needed to sustain life. And this is possible only because the earth is just the right distance away from the sun - average of 93,000,000 miles." He wrote the number 93,000,000 on the board so that Amy could understand what a huge distance that was.
"I don't think all the water that is on earth is enough to put out the fire in the sun," she said.
Andrew laughed. "Amy, don't you remember? The earth is just a grain of sand compared to the sun!" Amy nodded. She remembered how enormous the universe was. It was too huge to be imagined!
"Do you know what keeps the earth at just the right distance from the sun?" Dr. Singh asked. "It is the earth's orbital speed! And that speed is about 66,600 miles an hour! Of course God fixed its speed. It's not that the earth chose it. If it did - then there would have been no life on it! If it was just a little closer to the sun - everything would burn up. If it was a little further - everything would freeze. Under such extreme conditions - life cannot flourish. And by way - that speed is just right. If it was decreased - the earth would be pulled toward the sun. And it would become like the planet Mercury. For your information Mercury's daytime temperature is 600 degrees Fahrenheit!"
"Thank God - we aren't nearer the sun!" exclaimed Martha.
"And if the earth's orbital speed was increased - it would move farther away from the sun. Then what would happen? It would become an icy wasteland - like the planet Pluto. Want to know what the temperature is on Pluto? 300 degrees below zero Fahrenheit!"
"Thank God for that accurate speed!" said Jim. "God is Great!"
"Another thing that you may want to know. God programmed the earth to make a complete rotation on its axis every 24 hours. And the earth dutifully obeys. That is how we have regular periods of light and darkness. We have day and night. During the day we work and during the night we sleep. Wouldn't it be awful if the earth refused to obey God?"
"Yeah - all of us would die in no time - if it did!" said Andrew.
"We have day and we have night," said Dr. Singh. "But we also have seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. In other areas of the world there are other seasons - like the monsoon. Anyway - there is a reason why we have these seasons. And the reason is God commanded the earth to tilt 23.5 degrees in relation to the sun. If it didn't tilt - there would be no change of seasons. The earth's climate would be the same at all times. What would happen then? It wouldn't make life impossible. But it would certainly change the present crop cycles in many areas. And if the earth was tilted too much we would have extremely hot summers and extremely cold winters."
"I like the seasons," said Marie. "I love the spring when the flowers bloom. The summer when the fruit is ripe. Autumn is so colorful! And winter too has its own beauty! I'm so glad that God made the seasons!"
"It's alright for the earth to be at the right distance from the sun - to be tilted at just the right angle to allow all the seasons that we know of - and to rotate around its axis so that we can have day and night," said Dr. Singh. "But what if the earth was not given its atmosphere? The earth's atmosphere serves as a protective shell. About 15 miles above the ground, a thin layer of ozone gas filters out harmful radiation from the sun. Without this ozone layer - such radiation could destroy all life on earth! Not only that - the atmosphere shields the earth from meteors. Most meteors never reach the ground. They just burn up as they fall downwards - and appear to us as falling stars. If it wasn't for our atmosphere - millions of meteors would wreck destruction all over the earth!"
"God is Great! He is so Great!" said Martha. "He is our only Protector!"
Dr. Singh smiled. "So our atmosphere is a protective shield. It is also built to sustain life! It contains the right proportions of gases that are necessary for life. By themselves, some of those gases are deadly. But because the air contains safe proportions of these gases, we breathe them - and there is no harm done. Let me tell you about one of these gases - oxygen. Without oxygen human beings as well as animals would die - and that too within a matter of minutes! But too much of oxygen is not good. Pure oxygen becomes toxic if you breathe it too long. What's more - if there is too much of oxygen - things burn more easily. So if our atmosphere had too much of this gas - combustible materials would become highly flammable. There would be fires everywhere and these fires would be very difficult to control. So what has God done? He has diluted oxygen with other gases - especially nitrogen. So oxygen makes up just 21 percent of the atmosphere - and nitrogen makes up 78 percent."
"God is Most Wise!" commented Richard.
"Have you heard of carbon dioxide?" went on Dr. Singh. "It makes up less than one percent of the atmosphere. Yep. Just one percent! You think that's a small amount. Why even include this gas in our atmosphere? Well - it is very very necessary. You know why? Because without it - plant life would die! That one percent of carbon dioxide is all that the plants of this earth need to thrive and grow. And by the way - did you know that plants take in carbon dioxide - and give off oxygen? And we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide? It really is a perfect system, don't you think?"
"It's marvelous!" said Marie. "What a superb system!"
"The atmosphere also keeps the warmth of the earth from escaping to the coldness of outer space," said Dr. Singh. "And the atmosphere itself is kept from escaping by the earth's gravity. By the way, our earth's gravity is just strong enough to keep the atmosphere around it - but not so strong that we cannot move around easily."
"It is just right!" said Andrew. "Man! God is Awesome!"
"Well - those are just a few things to think about. If you look around you - the number of things that will astonish and amaze you are simply unlimited! Each and every thing you see and observe has something wonderful to tell you. Even a simple substance like water. You will be amazed to discover that it becomes heavy when it is cooled and it sinks to the bottom. But as soon as it reaches freezing point - it becomes lighter and floats! What does this do? It acts as an insulator and keeps the deeper water underneath from freezing! This protects marine life. But it also prevents the earth from becoming a frozen planet!"
"Everything is made in the right quantity, the right size and the right proportion!" commented Marie. "God is certainly The Most High!"
"As you can see," said Dr. Singh. "Everything in the universe has its code of conduct or religion. Each thing, whether it is the blackspoil warbler, the seed of the sequoia tree or our planet earth - each thing follows all the instructions given to it. They make no mistakes. Mistakes - these are made only by human beings."
------------------------------End Chapter 34--------------------------------
After their lunch break they were allowed to spend half an hour at the library to do some research. They went back to their classroom excitedly, eager to share their discoveries.
Amy told the class about fireflies. They came with built-in flashlights! Jim told them about bats that used sonar and eels that made electricity. Martha talked about gulls that desalted seawater! Richard found some intriguing information about wasps. "Did you know that they make paper?!" he said.
"And I found that there are termites that install airconditioners!" said Andrew.
"I was rather fascinated by that sequoia tree seed," said Marie. "So I searched for information on other seeds. And I found something really interesting. There are some seeds of some desert annuals - they seem to know in which direction the water comes from. So if these seeds are soaked up from below - they will not sprout. But if it rains down from above, they will! They won't sprout until a half inch or more of rain has fallen! You see - if these desert annuals started growing only after a light shower, they would die soon. Heavy rain is needed for these seeds to grow. Because then the soil will retain enough moisture for the plants to grow and it will save them from later dry spells!"
"It is true that there are many marvelous things on earth," said Dr. Singh. "But really - nothing is more wonderful than God's greatest masterpiece - man. God is the Master Programmer. He programmed everything and gave each thing precise and accurate instructions. And they all obey God. But man? God has programmed him a little differently. He gave man a brain. A brain that has many built-in capacities for learning. In other words - God provided man with a brain that would help him learn."
"So man is a learning creature," said Andrew.
Dr. Singh nodded. "We were not given our religion at birth. We come into this world with no knowledge about anything. But as we grow older - we learn many things. For example, a child may not know that the hot stove in the kitchen can burn his hand. He learns that when he puts his hand there and then withdraws his hand in pain. Do you think he will do that again? No, of course not. He has learnt his lesson. And there are many more lessons he learns. He learns very quickly about the law of cause and effect. He throws something in the air - and it falls down. He hits his little sister with his toy - and when she starts crying, he realizes that it hurts when he does that. If he sees a scar on the face of his friend - he will ask what caused it. When he falls down on the ground, he gets several bruises on his knees and elbows. So he is more careful the next time. Children are very curious about their surroundings and they are always asking questions. Which is good. Because when you ask questions - that's when you find the answers. That's when you learn. And children learn very fast by the way. Most important of all - they are very quick in learning languages. God preprogrammed the human brain with the capability for learning languages. There was one girl who was exposed to several languages from the time she was a baby. And by the time she was five years old - she had learnt eight languages - and she spoke them all fluently! Such is the power of our brain. It has a terrific capability to learn! What is more - we can program our brain to learn whatever we like. It is something that God gave us to use in any way we like!"
"We can program our brains!?" exclaimed Marie.
"Of course we can!" said Dr. Singh. "When you go to school - and you choose the subjects you want to learn. You are programming your brain to learn the subject you choose. You may want to learn German - and your brain will obediently learn it. It is at your service, you see. And that is how we have people with so many different abilities - and people with different learning. We have doctors, engineers, architects, film-makers, teachers, pilots and astronauts. Why? Because each person has programmed his brain to learn the subject of his choice."
"Our brain is like a muscle," he went on. "It is strengthened by use. And weakened by disuse. How much is the human brain capable of learning? Well....it has been stated that the human brain could take any load of learning and memory put on it now - and a billion times that!!"
"Did you say a billion times?" asked Martha in disbelief.
Dr. Singh nodded. He was not kidding. "God has provided us with an organ that we still haven't learnt to use. Our brain can hold information that would fill some 20 million volumes! And every second - I'm talking about every second! Every second - the brain receives about 100 million bits of information from the various senses. And it has no trouble processing this incredible amount of information!"
Andrew couldn't help whistling. This was awesome!
"So although God did not give man any religion - He did give him a wonderful brain. A brain by which he thinks and reasons and learns so many things. He may not have wings. He may not be able to fly in the sky - but he can observe the birds. And he can copy them and make airplanes. He can even go to the moon. He may not have fins and gills. But he can go underwater in submarines. Man can do many things - only because God has given him an extraordinary brain - a brain built for learning. So to be human is to think, wonder and reason....to ask questions...and to learn."
"And we have certainly learnt a lot!" commented Jim.
"Yes - we have learnt a lot. We have made a lot of scientific and technological progress. We have all kinds of gadgets and instruments. All kinds of things to make our life more comfortable. We have cars, airplanes, ships, space shuttles. We have computers, vacuum cleaners, refridgerators and all kinds of electrical appliances. We have great buildings and great cities. We have schools, colleges and many other educational institutions. Indeed man made much progress. He rules supreme on this planet. He has even the power to destroy earth. And all this....because God has given him an awesome brain."
"But at least he has made good use of it," commented Richard.
Dr. Singh laughed. "Man has made good use of his brain? No, my dear friend. I don't think so!"
Everyone was a little surprised at Dr. Singh's reaction. They didn't think it was something to laugh about.
"If man has made any progress - it is only thanks to God," he explained. He turned and walked to the blackboard. "You see, none of the progress we have made would have been possible unless God had given us the following things...." And he wrote:
"Dead people cannot make any progress whatsoever. Only the living can. And we live only because God gave us life. So that is the first thing." Then he wrote:
"It is pretty simple," he explained. "We cannot think without the help of language. And if we cannot think - we couldn't have progressed even a little bit. So we should thank God for giving us the gift of language. And the third thing is..." and he wrote:
"People have thoughts in their minds. They think about a lot of things. But in order to learn and discover new things - it is necessary for us to use our faculty of reason. It is reason that helps us to solve mysteries....remember? And who gave us this remarkable gift? God - no doubt!" Then he wrote the fourth thing:
"We have made progress only because God gave people different abilities. It is not that people gave themselves the abilities they have. He also created circumstances that would help people become successful. If a person is successful - it is only because God enabled him to be successful. For example - there may be a young child living in a remote, rural part of the world. He is the son of a farmer. He has a beautiful voice and can sing very well. He has the ability - yes. But he is never going to become a popular singer. The world would never know about his talent. Why? Because the circumstances are such. There are no opportunities out there where he lives. And the people of this world - who are rich and famous - and who are considered so talented - have become successful only because God created favorable circumstances for them to rise and shine, and to prove their mettle."
"So God gave us these gifts - He gave us life, language, reason and ability. If so - we owe our success to God. And by the way - God knows what man can do - and can't do. We think we are so great - and that we have accomplished so much. But did you know that some ancient people had perhaps even greater knowledge than we do now?! Evidence has been found to show that they made instruments that were far more sophisticated than our present day gadgets!"
"Like the pyramids of Egypt?" asked Jim. "I have always wondered how they built such massive structures! And that too such a long time ago."
"Yes, that is one of the wonders. Something to marvel at," said Dr. Singh. "This only shows that God gives knowledge to whosoever He pleases. We think we are clever. But the ancient people were cleverer! But they wouldn't have been able to make any progress - if God had not given them the four gifts we just talked about - life, language, reason and ability."
"So that means God is always in control," observed Marie. "He regulates the behavior of all things."
"Certainly!" agreed Dr. Singh. "God is the Supreme Ruler of this universe. And although He has given man free will - He is still in total control of all his affairs. Remember that all the things that God has created - they are all his servants. Including man."
"But how come man is his servant?" said Andrew. "There are plenty of men out there who don't even believe in Him. So there's going to be a lot of people who don't serve Him. They are not God's servants!"
Dr. Singh smiled. "You are right," he said. "They are not voluntary servants of God. They do not serve God of their own free will. But they are definitely God's involuntary servants!"
"What does that mean?!" asked Jim.
"It is so simple," said Dr. Singh very amused. "People may not believe in God. They may deny Him. And they won't serve Him of their own free will. But what can they do about eating, drinking and breathing in air? They have to eat - and not only that they have to cook their food. Then don't have fur or feathers. They don't have a thick hide. So they have to wear clothes - to protect themselves from the heat, cold - the weather and insects. They need shelter too. A roof above their heads. And another thing is - privacy. They go to the bathroom - to clean themselves, to bathe and use the toilet. To do these things - they need privacy. This is what I mean by - involuntary servants of God. They are still doing what God intends for them to do. Their behavior is controlled by God. You will never see a man or woman who doesn't eat, drink, breathe, sleep - or take rest. Man has control only over his actions - that is true. But these particular actions are those over which he has no control. He has to obey God and do whatever He has written for him. He is an involuntary servant of God."
"Just like women - they get pregnant and they have babies," said Amy. "They do what God wrote for them, right?"
Dr. Singh smiled and nodded. "God is the Controller of all things," he said. "He gave instructions to all things and all beings - and they all are made exactly the way God wanted them to be. He made man different however. He gave him a brain that has great capability to learn." He looked at Richard. "However - man hasn't made good use of this gift. All this progress that man has made is pretty useless. Because none of this progress has shown man how to live his life. Landing on the moon has not helped to solved any of man's uncountable problems."
"Animals live and die, we too live and die - but there is a big difference in how we live our lives," he went on. "How to live - this is a question that human beings alone face. This is our problem. This is our dilemma. This is the human condition. Many people who are educated - scientists, mathematicians, doctors and engineers - may have knowledge about certain subjects. But knowledge with regard to how to live their lives - they are very much in the dark. You see - God gave man his five senses. The brain processes a lot of information and man learns many things. He acquires a lot of knowledge. And he knows many things - only because he has his five senses. These senses or perceptions were given to man so that he could learn about the world in which he lives. They were given to him so that he could think and reflect - and know God. But most people don't use their thinking abilities. They don't use their reason. They don't want to know what the Truth is. They live their lives - only to enjoy themselves. They indulge in all kinds of pleasures. The pleasures of the senses. They spend time entertaining themselves, eating, drinking and making merry - and listening to music. Life is a big party for them. They figure - life is short - so we might as well enjoy ourselves before we die."
"I think most people are like that," remarked Andrew. "They live only to enjoy themselves - to the fullest. But what is wrong with that?"
"There is certainly something wrong with that," said Dr. Singh. "God gave us our five senses. And these senses give us plenty of enjoyment. But think! These pleasures don't last, do they? You eat some cake. It gives you great pleasure and you enjoy it. But how long does that pleasure last? You have to keep eating. And each time you eat, you enjoy it only for a very little while. Even the supreme pleasure which is enjoyed between man and woman - it lasts for a very short time. You are free to use your senses in any way you like. But purely for enjoyment? How wise is that? Especially when you know very well that nothing lasts for long!"
"People put their senses to the wrong use - when in fact - they should use their senses to look at the world around them - and think, reason and reflect," he continued. "They should use their senses to acquire knowledge - to see and understand - and to know - one very great Truth. And that is - everything is perishing. Everything is temporary. Nothing lasts. Nothing is permanent. How long is a person going to enjoy himself? One day all that enjoyment is going to come to an end. A person like that - who does not use his powers of thought and reason - is as good as an animal."
"I agree," said Richard. "A man who does not think is just like an animal. Animals don't think either!"
"But there is a very good reason why people want to spend their lives enjoying themselves," said Dr. Singh. "It is because they are suffering from a very big delusion. They are totally deceived. By the glittering life of this world."
-------------------------------End Chapter 35--------------------------
They were going out again. And this time Dr. Singh came along. The mood was sombre and a bit serious. They knew that they had come to a point where they had to face many bitter realities. Dr. Singh and Henry didn't reveal where they were going. So they sat there in their seats in silence, waiting to reach their destination - wherever that was.
At last the van came to a stop. And they all got out. The air was fresh and crisp. There was a gentle breeze blowing. The sky was a clear blue with a few clouds here and there. They looked at their surroundings curiously. There were no birds around at this part. The pine trees stood tall, green and majestic. Amy loved to look at them with her head tilted up. It was a very quiet place. And although it was broad daylight - they felt a peculiar eeriness in the air. However, they soon knew why they felt that way. They were at the graveyard.
"We're going to spend some time here to do some serious thinking and contemplation," said Dr. Singh. "We'll spend half an hour here and after that we shall return to our classroom to continue with our discussion. Please - no talking. I hope you understand the gravity of the situation. All of us are going to end up here one day. This is a very serious matter."
Richard looked very unwell. He knew that he was going to join the company of the dead in a matter of a few months. The thought frightened him. Amy saw the look on his face. She went to hold his hand. And they stood there together along with the rest of the company - staring at the tomb-stones.
They returned to their classroom, each of them occupied with his or her thoughts. The visit to the graveyard had been unexpected. They would never have gone there - it was a place to run away from! But Dr. Singh seemed to know what he was doing. His objective was to make them think. And as he regarded his students - he smiled. He had certainly succeeded in his mission.
He drew a straight horizontal line on the blackboard. "This is our journey of life," he said. "At one point we enter this world and at the other point we exit. We live and then we die. However, people do not give importance to how they spend their time. They give more importance to how long they can enjoy their life!"
Marie nodded her head in total agreement. This was so absolutely true!
"But how long we live - is that in our hands?" went on Dr. Singh. "Does any man know how long he will live? Ever heard of Christopher Reeve? He played Superman and became world famous. Who would have imagined that a man with a physique like he did would fall off his horse - and be paralyzed for life? He died just recently. What about Princess Diana? She died when she was pretty young - along with her friend who was with her in the car crash. And then there was also Kennedy and his wife - very rich, influential people - meeting a sorry end. They died in a plane crash. These were famous, well-known people. There are countless unknown and ordinary people who die every single day...before reaching old age."
He paused before saying, "So God is the Giver of Death. And He also decides how long each person will live. This is another thing we cannot choose. Our birth and our death. It is not in our hands at all. Babies, children of all ages, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged people and the elderly - can actually die at any time. Death often comes unexpectedly for many people. It comes without warning. Out of the blue. There are natural disasters that take the lives of many people as well. Disasters such as earthquakes and floods. These disasters can claim the lives of millions of people. God is indeed The Destroyer!"
"I can't imagine God to be like that!" said Martha at once.
"Well then," said Dr. Singh. "Let's think a little bit, shall we? Earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions - why do these things happen? They happen only because they are caused to happen. God is the One who is in charge here. He controls all these things. He is certainly aware of the things He has made. And if a volcano erupts - it is only by His command. If He was not controlling it - there would have been earthquakes, floods, cyclones and typhoons all over the place. You say that God can't be behind all this activity? Well.......if He is not - then who is?!"
Martha had to admit Dr. Singh had a point.
"Be reasonable!" said Dr. Singh a little impatiently. "It's like - God can do this - and He can't do that! You know very well about the law of cause and effect. If there is an effect, there has to be a cause. God is the cause behind all things, remember? Nothing happens unless it is His will! And now to continue with our discussion - people can die from all kinds of things besides natural calamities."
"Like sickness - disease and all kinds of illnesses," said Marie.
"Many people also die in wars and fights," said Jim.
"And famine too," said Andrew.
Dr. Singh nodded. "There are many ways a person can die." He looked at Richard. "Yes - you have informed us Mr. White - that you have just a few more months left to live. But it is quite possible that some of us might die even before you! Yes Amy - even you!"
They gasped in horror at the statement. At the same time they couldn't deny its truth.
"So if this is the reality," went on Dr. Singh. "How can anyone feel secure? No indeed! There is no security here on earth! Death is all around you. It will come to get you - when your time on earth is up."
They stared at Dr. Singh in stony silence, fully aware that what he was saying was absolutely correct.
Dr. Singh was pleased that he had their attention. "People give importance to how long they can live. So they occupy themselves in the task of lengthening their life-span. They will eat healthy foods, exercise and stay fit - just so that they can live longer. But what do you know? A person who is a fitness freak is walking across the parking lot and wham! He is hit by a speeding truck and dies instantly."
They listened with ever-growing interest. Dr. Singh was taking them to deep territory. And deep thinking.
"See what I mean?" he continued. "You may want to live a long life. But that is not for you to decide. It's God who decides when you have to go. Therefore - it is not how long - but how you live your life that counts. So let's consider how people live their lives, shall we? Let us examine the life of a sixty year old man. What can you observe about a man who has lived sixty years?"
They looked at Dr. Singh blankly. What was there to observe about a sixty year old man?
Dr. Singh looked pretty amused. "There are so many things that you can observe!" he exclaimed. "First of all, we can say that this man - he did not exist at one time. God gave him life - and then he was born as a baby. All of us were babies once upon a time! It doesn't matter whether you are a king or a queen, a President or a Prime Minister. And as babies we were weaklings. And totally dependent on our mothers. So for many years - sometimes for as long as twenty to thirty years - our parents took care of us. Otherwise we wouldn't be sitting here."
"Yes, I agree," said Jim. "I really must thank my parents! I was weak, helpless and couldn't take care of myself. And my mom and dad took care of me at that time. If they hadn't, I would have surely died!"
"Well yes," responded Dr. Singh. "You must thank your parents, especially your mother. But more than that - you should thank God! You see, He is the One who put that maternal instinct in the hearts of mothers. If He hadn't - no mother would have sacrificed her life for her babies and children. Why do mothers take care of their young? Why are they even ready to die to protect their infants? Only because God made them that way. No other explanation for that, is there?"
"God is Great!" cried Jim. "Certainly I can see now how great He is! I feel as though my eyes are only just opening!"
Marie nodded her head. "I never thought of that before!" she said. "God is the Most Great! How shall I ever thank Him - I have no words!"
"Well we must go on with our observations," said Dr. Singh smiling. "We have a sixty year old man before us. And these are the first observations that we have made. That God gave him life, and that he came into this world as a baby - so weak and helpless and that his mother and father took care of him. God provided him with parents who would look after him. Now - the next observation. If you have noticed - we need to eat, drink water and breathe in air. But have you really thought about it? We need to eat - not every week or every month - we have to eat every three to four hours! We need to eat at least two or three times a day! That's 1,095 times a year. In sixty years - that would be...." And he made a quick calculation on the board.
"Wow! That's a lot!" said Andrew.
"And mind you - that's just for one person! What about water?" went on Dr. Singh. "We need water more dearly than food. Most of our body is made up of water. God made us from water. You can go without food for many days - but water? You need it in constant supply. If you don't drink water for a few days - you will most certainly die! And even more than that - we need air. We breathe in air every few seconds! We cannot do without air. If we stop breathing for a few minutes - that would be enough to kill us."
Richard turned pale. He remembered how he had suffocated Ann to death. She had died in a matter of minutes. He hoped that Dr. Singh wouldn't notice the terrified expression on his face.
Fortunately Dr. Singh was too busy delivering his lecture to notice anything. "So if we need to eat food, drink water, breathe in air - think about the billions of people who have lived and died. If people lived to the age of sixty - it was only possible because God provided them with everything that they needed in order to live. Furthermore, think about our special needs with regard to eating food. We need to cook our food. Not only that we need spices to enhance the taste of our food. We have salt and pepper and all kinds of seasonings. We make pots and pans to cook our food in. We have various kitchen appliances - like blender, coffee-maker, juicer. These are all needs aren't they? And God provided each person with all these things necessary for cooking. Of course God has also provided man with a great variety of food as well. He has provided him with everything he needs to make his food nice and tasty. And water - well He is the One who provides man with clean, drinking water. He sends down the rain. And we need to use water for several purposes. For cooking, bathing, doing our laundry and cleaning. A sixty year old man - how much water do you think he would have used in his entire life-time? We shan't even calculate that. The amount would astound you. Next - think about it a little more. Every time you eat and drink - you have to go to the bathroom, right? So each day of his life - that sixty year old man must have made several trips to the bathroom. And to go to the bathroom, you need a house to live in, right? And what about the time when he needs to go to bed? He needs blankets, pillows, bedsheets. Why does he need these things? Well - it is because when he sleeps, his body temperature drops - and he needs to keep warm. Each and every day this is how the sixty year old man lived. And from a baby, he grew into a child. He then went to school. He learned how to read and write. After that he must have worked to make his living. As you can see, all throughout his life - God provided him with all the essential things. Including books - because man didn't make the tree out of which paper and books are made. And the last point is this - God kept this man safe. He protected him all the days that he lived his life. So sixty years is how many days?" He wrote the equation on the board: 60 x 365 = 21,900 days.
"God is Great!" commented Andrew. "He is The Provider! And He is also The Protector!"
"So my friends, you eat of the things that God provides. You drink water that He provides. You breathe in air that He provides. And you get a wife or mate that He creates and provides. Everything that you have - it's all been given to you by God. This is a fact. Nothing that is in this world actually belongs to you. It all belongs to God. Even your own body is not yours. God gave it to you. If it was not for His care and protection - you wouldn't be alive, would you? Yet many people live their lives - they eat and drink - and they enjoy all the things that God has provided them - without so much as a thank you!"
Richard shook his head. "I have been extremely ungrateful!" he murmured holding down his head in shame.
All of them were feeling morose. All their lives they had never even stopped to consider these things. But it was true. They had been most ungrateful to their Creator. All of them inwardly reproached themselves for such ingratitude.
"I wish I could do something to thank God for all the things He has done for me!" cried Marie.
Dr. Singh smiled. "I'm glad to know you feel that way," he said. "But I would like to continue with our discussion. We have learnt that we need God for everything. In fact, man is the neediest of all creatures! Since the beginning of mankind's history - people have always prayed to God for help. They need Him for everything anyway. They pray to Him to provide them with food, water, shelter, clothing. To grant them children. To cure them when they are sick. To save them when they are facing major hardships, difficulties and calamities. Man is very needy. Therefore he has to pray to God. And in his code of conduct - or his religion - he has to include God! Because without God's help - he cannot live!"
Martha nodded. "This is so true! So true!" she exclaimed.
"There are people who don't believe in God," said Dr. Singh. "Even then God still provides them with what they need. He sends down rain and when it falls, it falls on all people - the good as well as the bad. The reality however is - God has the power to destroy us all. What is our planet earth but a speck of dust in His hands - which He can crush at any time?"
"He is so Merciful!!" said Richard completely awestruck. He was amazed at what he was discovering.
----------------------------------End Chapter 36-----------------------------
"There is no greater deception than the life of this world," said Dr. Singh. "Everyone knows that they have to leave this world one day. Even people who don't believe in God know that. Yet, they live in this world as if their life is not going to end. They think of death as a far off event. They think it will come to them when they are old."
Richard had to admit that Dr. Singh's observation was correct. He himself had lived his life in that way! He had thought that death was far away! Even though he had seen people die at any age. From all kinds of causes.
"And how do people live their lives?," went on Dr. Singh. "They need God to provide them with their needs. But they also need God to provide them with their wants. And their wants are far more numerous than their needs. For both - needs as well as wants - they have to ask God. Of course there are people who don't believe in God. And they don't ask Him for anything. But that doesn't mean that He doesn't provide them with their wants! God is The Provider. He provides us with what we need - as well as what we want. And what do most of people of this world want?"
"Riches, wealth. Money," said Jim without hesitation.
"They also want power," said Andrew.
"Some people want to be famous and well-known," said Richard.
Dr. Singh nodded. "Yes, these are just a few things that people want. They are not satisfied with a simple house. They want a nice, furnished house with all comforts and amenities. They are not content with the car they have. They want the newest model, fully loaded. People want the latest gadgets. They want to travel and see the world. And women - well...many women want jewelry. Gold, silver, diamonds and rubies. They want nice fur coats. They want to dine in the most expensive restaurants. You simply need to go the shopping centers. Go to the malls and see all the things that are on sale. You'll find a dazzling array of goods - and services."
He paused. "And then there are other things that people want," he went on. "In addition to worldy goods - people also want to become great. A person might have a dream to become the greatest singer in his country. That is his goal in life. That is what he wants the most. To be the best dancer, the best actor, the best swimmer or athlete. He may want to break the world record. He wants to be recognized as the best. And he devotes his entire life pursuing his goal. That is how he lives his life. And in the end - when he is successful, he has medals and trophies. He has awards and certificates. He is well-known all over the world. He savors the sweet taste of success."
"Well," said Andrew with a frown. "What is wrong with wanting to be the best - or famous?"
Dr. Singh smiled. "Don't you see it yet?" he asked. "Fame - worldly gain and riches - recognition and worldly success. Gold, silver and diamonds. Your medals and trophies. Your numerous certificates and degrees. All the qualifications that you have....these are things which God gives you. You might have earned your degrees or you might have received the award for best actor or singer. But you must remember - that you owe all your success to God!!"
Andrew frowned even more. "How do we owe all our success to God?" he asked.
Dr. Singh laughed. "I see you have totally forgotten," he said jovially. "Success - or progress, it's the same! Man has made a great deal of progress only because God gave him four gifts. Do you remember what they are?"
"I know!" said Amy instantly. "Life, language, reason and ability."
"Do you think a person who dreams of becoming a great singer would ever become one if he was born dumb? What about a person who is born blind. Do you think he can ever become a great painter? Think of all the people who have been successful in their respective fields.....none of them would have been successful if God had not granted them the four gifts - life, language, reason and ability. Think about it!"
Richard had to agree. He couldn't have made his millions if God hadn't given him those four gifts. Marie had to agree as well. She was a very good actress. But that was only because God gave her that ability. Plus she had also the other three gifts - life, language and reason.
Andrew nodded his head. He now understood what Dr. Singh meant. He was right. People did owe their success to God!
Dr. Singh explained further. "You might be an eminent scientist. And people might admire you and think you are great. But certainly God is Greater! Because if it wasn't for God - you would never have become a scientist! If God hadn't given you life - given you the ablilities to speak, think and reason. If He hadn't given you ability - and taken care of your needs - cured you when you were sick - protected you from harm and serious injury - and created conditions suitable for you to receive your education and learn - you would never have become a scientist! So if a person has become a great actor, singer, dancer or chess player - it not due to man's greatness. It is God's!"
"God is Great! God is Great! God is Great!" cried Jim. "Thank you Dr. Singh for explaining this to us! This is really fantastic!"
Marie thought about herself and her success. "I am nothing!!" she said to herself. "Absolutely nothing!" And Richard was thinking the same thing. They began to understand and realize how insignificant they were.
"No man is great," said Dr. Singh in a serious tone. "And those who are proud of their accomplishments and their abilities - we don't exactly have a high opinion of such people. But the man who has humility in his heart - and who knows that only God is the One who has the right to be called Great. Who is in awe of God and holds his head down in humility and who is always praying to God - acknowledging his weakness and utter helplessness. And who thanks God when he sees a blind man - realizing that God could have made him blind as well....It is this man who is better."
"I agree," said Richard with emotion. "I totally agree!"
"But a man who is proud," went on Dr. Singh. "He will not think of God. He will think that he is successful because of his own effort - his own cleverness. He gives credit to himself. And there are women who are proud - because they are beautiful in appearance. These people forget that they did not make themselves that way. They did not give themselves those abilities - or looks. Some people think they are superior simply because they are fairer. Ever heard of white supremacists?"
"Yeah, I read one time something about the Nazis. They thought that they were a superior race," said Andrew.
Dr. Singh nodded. "Such people - they did not choose their color, did they? Just as a black man did not choose to be black. So if color is something that people did not choose - how does that make them better? And by the way - if a person is richer than another - that doesn't make him better, either. Because a person is not rich by choice. It is something that God writes down for him. For example, a baby is born in a rich family. That baby didn't choose to be born in such a family. Neither did a baby who is born in a poor family choose that. These things are determined by God. He is the One who determines all things."
"Let me see if I understood you correctly," said Jim. "You're saying that a man is not better than another because of color, looks, wealth and abilities."
"Exactly!" said Dr. Singh. "Man did not choose these things, did he? If he had a choice, do you think any man would have chosen to be born blind, deaf or dumb? Do you think any man would have chosen to be born in a poor family?"
"You're right Dr. Singh," said Marie. "We don't choose those things. God chooses those things for us. It is indeed a shame that people think so highly of themselves. They think they are so important and so great! And they look down on people who are not as fortunate or successful as themselves!"
"There are around 500 billion people living on earth," said Dr. Singh. "Where do you think they will be a hundred years from now?"
"In their graves!" said Andrew. "We'll all be dead!"
"Right! And what do people run after? Temporary gain and fleeting pleasure? They want to be rich, successful, famous and well-known. But a hundred years from now - a thousand years from now - who will remember what you did? Who will care? The great kings and queens who ruled over ancient kingdoms - who built splendid palaces, forts and castles - what remains of them now? What happened to their greatness? What happened to the beautiful faces of the queens and princesses and the strength and power of kings? We read about them in history books. We think about them for a while and then we go back to our daily business. We forget about them. They were great kings and queens. Not any longer. They are now nothing but dust and bones. What remains of their pomp and glory? Their might and power? And these were kings! What about ordinary mortals like us? Who remembers ordinary people - people who were not successful or famous? They have vanished and disappeared. And we too shall vanish and disappear."
"You are so right!" said Jim. "So right! I never thought of these things before!"
"Well - it is about time you thought about it!" said Dr. Singh. "When you die - you can take nothing with you. You have to leave your wealth behind, your medals, certificates and degrees, your excellent qualifications and terrific achievements. All these things can't be taken with you. You came into this world alone - and you will go alone. You will be alone in your grave. You will have worms for company. There will be no more entertainment for you there in that little space. There will be no t.v, no music. No friends. In this worldly life - if you feel lonely and bored - you have friends and relatives to keep you company. What's there in the grave? Aren't you there all by yourself? Gone will be the days of eating, drinking and making merry. You can no longer enjoy food and drink. There's no party in the grave. Death puts an end to all your enjoyment. It is the destroyer of all pleasures."
Richard nodded. "This is so true!" he said.
"So if you have lived only for pleasure," went on Dr. Singh. "What pleasures do you think await you in the grave?"
"I want to know what happens after death," said Amy keenly. "Please Dr. Singh! Please tell us!"
Dr. Singh smiled. "Ah! That I can't tell you," he said. "This is something you are going to have to solve on your own. And believe me you are very close to solving this mystery."
"Really?!" Amy was now excited.
Dr. Singh nodded. "One of the clues is in the fact that all of us are going to leave this world one day. Compared to eternity - the time that we spend on earth is pretty insignificant. We are going to be dead much longer than alive!"
"So if there is life after death," commented Jim thoughtfully. "Then that life is going to be much much longer than the life that we live on earth!"
"Hmmm. So let us talk about the life that we live on earth," said Dr. Singh. He looked at Henry and gave him a signal. Henry nodded and left the classroom, returning with a vase in which was a beautiful red rose. He placed it carefully on the table and returned to his position.
"This rose - so pretty and so beautiful," said Dr. Singh. "It is going to wither and die. Its beauty and fragrance does not last for long, does it? That should teach us a very important lesson. And that is everything in this world is in the process of being destroyed. There are agents of destruction everywhere. Bacteria, germs, worms, the wind, the rain, the sun. Food rots and decays. Water evaporates. Iron rusts. Nothing lasts. Nothing is permanent! Think about a nice house. If you were to abandon it and come back to it after a hundred years - you will find it in ruin. Dust would have settled on it. The wind and rain would have battered it. There would be cracks in the walls. Weeds would grow around it. Creatures like snakes would make their home there. Fast forward a million years. That house would be totally destroyed and you would find nothing there! You can take a brand new car - and leave it in the desert. What will happen to it? Of course the process of destruction will begin. And now - think of the great paintings that are on exhibit in the museums. Paintings that show the great skill of the painter and his ability. These paintings are breaking down - decomposing. They are falling apart. There have been excavations made - and people have discovered great cities. Those buildings are old - and they are crumbling down with the passing of time. People try with all their might and expertise to save these buildings and magnificent structures. But in vain. Everything has a life span. And all things will meet with their death. And a time is certainly coming when this earth will also be destroyed. And along with the destruction of the earth will be gone mankind's delusions of greatness."
----------------------End Chapter 37-------------------
"Everything has a life span," said Dr. Singh. "Do you have any idea how long a bee lives? Or a monkey?" He turned and wrote on the blackboard the following:
Bee - 90 days
Mouse - 3 years
Dog - 15 years
Monkey - 30 years
Alligator - 50 years
Elephant - 70 years
Human - 80 years
Parrot - 100 years
Giant tortoise - 150 years
"Do you remember the giant sequoia tree?" he asked. And he wrote that down:
Giant sequoia tree - 3,000 years
"Can you think of anything else that lives more than 3,000 years?" he enquired. And without waiting for them to respond, he wrote down on the board:
Bristlecone pine - 4,700 years
"What's that?" asked Amy incredulously. She couldn't believe that anything could live that long!
"It's a tree," replied Dr. Singh. "And the things that I've written down here are all living things. All living things must die. Each living thing has a maximum life span that has been determined for it. That means God wrote down the life span of each living thing. However, all things - whether living or non-living - have a life span. Our planet earth is a created thing - it too has a life span. And a time is certainly coming when our beautiful planet will be no more."
"Is our planet really going to be destroyed one day?!" cried Marie in dismay.
"Yes, most definitely!" replied Dr. Singh. "A time will come when all life on earth will be completely wiped out!"
"No! That can't be true!" exclaimed Martha shaking her head.
"You may not want to believe it," said Dr. Singh. "But it happens to be a fact. You see, life on earth is totally dependent on the sun. The sun heats our planet - it provides energy for plants and prevents the earth from becoming a cold, life-less place. But let me remind you that our sun is a star. Stars are born and they have a life span after which they die. Our sun was born in the heavens about 4.5 billion years ago. Our sun is about one-third of the way through its expected life. And in the next 1.1 billion years its brightness will increase by 10%. Do you know what this will do our planet earth? Well - all the oceans upon earth will boil away. Yep. All life will be destroyed! And in about 8 billion years the sun will swell to 166 times its present size! It will then be called a Red Giant - because it will be very large and red in color. And guess what? It will swallow up Mercury, Venus, and maybe even our earth!"
They gasped in horror. "But won't we able to escape by then?!" asked Jim. "I mean - we are making a lot of progress in science and technology - and in a billion years - we might be able to find other planets and go there to live."
Dr. Singh threw back his head and laughed. "Sorry about that," he said. "But you must use your reason to know that this is impossible!"
"Why is it impossible?!" asked Jim.
"Well - it is pretty simple," responded Dr. Singh. "Man was made for the earth. And made of earth. There is no other planet out there that man can live on - no matter how much progress he makes in science and technology. Let me explain. You know that a penguin lives in a cold climate. And a camel lives in a hot climate. Why? Because the penguin was created for the cold region. And the camel for the hot region. You couldn't take a penguin and place it in the desert where the camel lives. It would die in no time! And you couldn't take a camel and place it in the polar region where the penguin lives. It is just not created to live in that kind of environment! So if man went out to explore the universe in search of a planet that was similar to earth - he would certainly die during his search! Man cannot go out of his environment - because if he did, he would die!"
"Yes, you're right," said Richard. "Astronauts have to take with them all kinds of things to live in space. They need special space suits. They need air, water, clothes. They need to have the right temperature and air pressure. I can understand now that man cannot live outside earth - and even if he does - not for long!"
Dr. Singh nodded. "True," he said. "And even if there is a planet somewhere that he can live on - he would never be able to reach it! Simply because it is too far away! He would have to travel thousands of years in order to reach that planet. And you know very well that no man can live that long. Therefore it is futile to think about escaping. We can't escape what lies in store for us. God has determined that. He is The Destroyer!"
What a grim and a terrible reality was this! They were disturbed to hear all this. They felt very depressed.
"Well - at least I shall be dead by then," said Jim consoling himself. They all nodded. They were glad that they weren't going to live to see that day!
"That's right!" said Dr. Singh. "We are going to be dead - in less than a hundred years. So that's the mystery. Why do we die at all?"
Martha wondered whether she should answer that question. She wasn't so sure now. But she decided there was no harm in answering it.
"Well - this is what I think," she said hesitantly. "Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They sinned by doing so. Therefore they had to die. Because the wages of sin is death. So that's the reason why all of us have to die."
Dr. Singh smiled. He didn't say anything for a moment and Martha felt highly uncomfortable.
"If that is true," he said at length. "Then why do animals and plants also have to die? They never disobeyed God, did they? Why does the sun also have to die? When did it ever disobey God? That explanation would have been valid if only human beings died. The rest of creation should not perish at all since nothing in the universe is disobedient to God. Therefore, it simply cannot be true that death is faced by human beings because of that one sin that Adam and Eve committed."
"Yes, I agree," said Richard. "There has to be another reason why we die."
"Let us try to solve that mystery then," said Dr. Singh. "Animals live and die. We too live and die. What is the point of it all? If you remember - I had told you that the key to solving this mystery is by observing the differences there are between man and animals."
"I remember the major difference," said Marie. "Animals know how to live their lives. Man doesn't."
"You have said it beautifully," said Dr. Singh. "Short and sweet. Yes, that's right. Animals have their religion or code of conduct given to them, whereas man doesn't. Man is a learning creature. Therefore he is bound to make mistakes. Bearing this in mind - imagine what would happen if man was created like the animals. What would have happened if every child looked the same? What would have happened if every man - looked the same?!"
"What do you mean, Dr. Singh?" asked Amy a little puzzled.
"I wonder if you have watched 'Men in Black'," said Dr. Singh. "Towards the end of the movie, our hero, Will Smith is having a battle with a giant cockroach. And he crushes under his boot several little cockroaches that come out of a garbage dump - saying - 'You know you all look alike!' And then there is a movie called 'Born Free'. It is a movie about a lioness by the name of Elsa. But the lioness that plays Elsa is some other lioness that looks exactly like Elsa. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"
"I do!" cried Amy. "All cockroaches look the same. And all lions and lionesses look the same too!"
"Zebras look the same," said Marie. "And so do giraffes - koala bears - kangaroos - elephants - gorillas and chimpanzees! Oh my! I never realized that!"
"So if human beings looked the same - there would be total chaos!!" cried Richard. "If anyone made a mistake - or if anyone did something wrong - there would be no way of saying who did it!"
"Wow!! I never ever thought of that!" exclaimed Andrew in amazement.
"And now I am beginning to understand why God made each human being different - and totally unique!" said Marie. "It makes perfect sense now! Indeed God is the Most Wise! He has thought of everything!"
"God is Great!" said Jim. "He has created billions and billions of people - and all of them have been different. We can recognize each individual because each person has a different face! And not only that - each person can be identified by his fingerprints - as well as DNA!"
"Well - it was essential to create human beings that way - if they were to be given free-will," said Dr. Singh. "Some people are going to make the wrong choices. And some people the right. If all people looked the same it would have been impossible to know who did what. How would anyone be able to catch a thief for example? Or a murderer? How would people engage in trade? If buyers and sellers looked alike - certainly there would be chaos."
"Yes! It would really be a crazy situation if the President looked the same as the street sweeper or beggar!" said Andrew.
"It would never have worked if people were made to look the same," said Dr. Singh. "So God gave each person a unique identity by which he or she could be recognized. And this is the biggest clue. This is that clue that which is going to help you solve the mystery: why do we die."
"Really?!" said Amy getting excited.
Dr. Singh nodded. "There is a reason for everything, right? All things are built upon Truth. As well as reason. So certainly there is a good reason why God created death. Animals live and they too die. But they do no wrong. They don't have free will. It is only human beings who have free will. They are the only ones who do wrong. And if you study the history of mankind - you will see that man has been involved in a great deal of evil, violence and bloodshed. Certainly many have been the people who have done wrong - and made the wrong choices. But God has not interfered with people's decisions. He allows them to do whatever they like! God can certainly interfere and stop people from doing wrong. But if He were to do so - nobody would have free will!"
"Oh! Is that why God keeps Himself Unseen?" asked Marie.
"Good observation!" said Dr. Singh. "Yes. If people could see God they would not be able to exercise their free will. Nobody would steal, nobody would kill, nobody would tell lies, nobody would do anything wrong. It's just like when you are driving your car and a police car is right behind you. You would never violate any traffic rules with that police car behind you! You would obey all rules - because you know that there is someone watching you. However, when there is no police car - you can take the liberty to break some rules. You can go over the speed limit for example. Or run a red light."
"So God keeps Himself Unseen - so that people can go ahead and do all kinds of wrong things?" said Richard with a slight tremor in his voice.
"No, Mr. White," said Dr. Singh. "God gave man free will. He gave man the freedom to choose between right and wrong. People can choose to do evil. Many people do. But they can also choose to do good. It is entirely up to them. And if He were to interfere in their decisions and choices - there would be absolutely no point in giving them free will in the first place! So He never interferes. We make the choices. God wants to see what we are going to choose. And this is serious because then it means that we have to carry upon our shoulders the huge burden of responsibility."
"Oh no!" cried Richard as he suddenly saw the Truth bright and clear. "This means that God is testing us! We are totally responsible for the choices that we make!"
------------------------End Chapter 38------------------------
Only TWO more chapters to go then?? I cant STAND the wait !!!!!! lol...Thankyou SO very much for all the work you put into posting these chapters! What an incredible story and I really pray she continues to write books like this! (inshallah) I think they are a beautiful and WONDERFUL way to teach the World about Islam !
No, not two, but 27 more chapters. I have a total of 65 chapters now in my posession, and there may be a couple or so more at the end that I haven't recieved yet. Anyway, let me give you as many as I can now:
Everyone was disturbed by Richard's statement. Was it really true that God was testing them? They looked toward Dr. Singh hoping to get some assurance that this was untrue. But Dr. Singh wasn't going to tell them anything. He was going to let them come to their own conclusions. After all, Truth stood clear from Falsehood - and if they had come this far, he knew that they would surely figure out the Truth on their own. However, it was clear that they needed help.
Dr. Singh smiled. "What makes you think that God is testing us?" he asked.
"Well - if He wants to see what choices we are going to make - that certainly sounds like a test to me!" replied Richard.
"Yeah - it does sound like a test to me too," said Andrew. "Just like those multiple-choice tests where you got several choices. You got choices when there's a test."
"You have a point," said Dr. Singh. "A man cannot be tested if he doesn't have freedom of choice. And since man has freedom of choice - it therefore follows that he has to face the consequences or bear the responsibility for the choices he makes. The law of cause and effect applies here. You reap what you sow. So if you make the good choices, you will get good. And if you make the bad choices, you will get bad. For example, if you work hard in school, you will get good grades. But if you do something wrong, for example - if you steal someone's bike - you will end up in jail."
"If God had given me a choice," said Marie. "I would never have accepted this gift of freedom - or free-will. I don't want it! I would rather be like the trees and mountains - who have no free will - and who do no wrong!"
"Why did God have to give us free-will?!" cried Amy dolefully. "Why didn't He give it to other creatures or things like the sun, the moon - or the trees or mountains?"
"The rest of creation must have wisely declined the offer of freedom - if God had made such a one to them. But obviously - man greedily accepted the gift. It is pretty apparent - just look all around you! See how the whole world is - see how people love and cherish their freedom! They love to have the ability to choose. They love the idea that they can do whatever they like - and nobody can interfere in their affairs! And indeed people are foolish. Because they don't realize that there is a great price that they have to pay for this freedom that they so greatly enjoy. The price is - they have to carry the terrible burden of responsibility. It would be fine if people made the right choices and chose things that were good for them. But most people don't make the right choices. They choose things that are bad for them."
"But why?" asked Amy. "Why do people choose bad things?"
"You should know the answer to that question," responded Dr. Singh. "You just need to think a little bit that's all!"
Amy didn't want to think. She wanted to know what the answer was without thinking about it. She just didn't have the patience!
"Oh, Dr. Singh! I can't think right now. Please can't you just tell us the answer?" she pleaded. And from the look on everyone's face, it seemed as if none of them were willing to trouble their brains with more work!
"It is so simple, my friends," said Dr. Singh in amusement. "People make the wrong choices because........."
They waited eagerly for Dr. Singh to finish his sentence. And when he did, they had to agree that the answer he gave made perfect sense!
He had said, "People make the wrong choices because - God has wrapped all the bad and evil things in extremely attractive and glittering packages. People flock to these packages like flies flock to honey."
"That is so true!" exclaimed Andrew.
"And the problem is compounded by the fact that there are evil whisperings in our hearts. They are suggestions - voices. We don't know where they come from. But they are there. And they persuade us to choose the wrong things. We'll call them evil voices. And they lead many people astray. Let me give you an example. Stealing is a bad thing to do. But people do it. Why? Because of the suggestions that come to them. The evil whispers say things like - oh nobody would know you did it. Nobody is looking. This guy is rich anyway. He won't miss his watch if you take it."
"Yeah - I've gotten into trouble because I listened to these evil suggestions," said Andrew. "These voices said to me that I wouldn't get caught. They said to me that this would be the only time I would need to do steal. And after that I would be so rich, I wouldn't need to steal again. They told me that I was too clever and smart. And the cops would never catch me if I left no clues for them. Boy - was I wrong! The cops did find me. And I landed in prison for several months because of the evil that I did."
"Hmmmm. Very interesting," remarked Dr. Singh. "I hope you realize something important from this. These evil voices - these evil suggestions - they can only persuade us to do evil. But they can't make the choices for us. Their job is simply to make those evil suggestions. You listened to these suggestions and you chose to do evil. However, you cannot blame these evil voices for the choices you made. Do you know why? It is because - you - made the choice! A human being is a free creature. And nobody can force anyone to do anything against his or her will. A person cannot be forced. Therefore - when people do evil - it is not because they were forced to do so. They chose to do evil of their own free will! And that's the reason why they alone must bear the responsibility for their actions. They cannot blame the evil suggestions at all. Why? Because they had a choice. They could have chosen not to listen to these evil voices!"
"You are so right Dr. Singh!" said Jim. "Everything you have just said is so so true! God has really made evil very attractive and pleasing. And on top of that - God has also put these evil voices in our hearts. I can understand now why this world is full of people who choose to do wrong."
"It's a test!" said Richard feeling rather overwhelmed. "I'm sure this is a test!!"
Martha didn't like the sound of those words at all. She was highly distressed and dearly wished that the ground would open and swallow her up! She didn't know if she had the strength or courage to hear much more. It seemed as if her whole world was collapsing around her!
Dr. Singh didn't notice the anguish on Martha's face however. He was too busy explaining to them why evil was so attractive to people.
"Evil things have been made very attractive and alluring," he said. "They give people a lot of pleasure. And that is the reason why people go after them. However, the result of choosing evil - choosing things that look so nice and pleasing - is in fact very ugly. Let me give you some examples." And he turned to the blackboard and wrote:
"This is one of the major problems in human society," he explained. "Alcohol abuse accounts for many ugly things such as - domestic violence, accidents, rapes, homicides and violence. Alcohol is responsible for broken or bereaved families. It damages people's lives adversely. It poses a risk to your health - as well as others. So the consequences of consuming alcohol are pretty serious. It affects us physically and mentally. And it also affects us on the social level. A lot of teenagers get hooked on drinking - and they drink themselves to the grave. It is easy to get addicted on alcohol and many people do."
Andrew nodded. He had been lured into drinking by his friends and had got involved in a serious accident. He had been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. It was a good thing that nobody had got hurt in the accident. He mentioned this to Dr. Singh.
"Yes, certainly!" said Dr. Singh. "It is against the law to drink and drive. And there is a good reason for that. You see - even small amounts of alcohol can impair your driving ability. It affects your eyesight and road signs appear to be smaller. Your peripheral vision as well as your ability to judge distances - and to focus on distant objects is reduced while under the influence of alcohol. Information processing, reflexes and coordination get slowed down as well. And if you have an accident after drinking alcohol, your injuries are likely to be more serious than if you had been in a sober state. Not only that, your chances of surviving any emergency surgery become less...because alcohol has a bad effect on the heart and circulation."
"And what about the tragic outcome it has on unborn babies?" said Marie knowingly. "Babies suffer something called the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome because the mothers drank during their pregnancies!"
"Yes, that's true," said Dr. Singh shaking his head sadly. "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome causes babies to be mentally retarded. They have language problems and suffer from mental delay. Their growth is also slow. They are hyperactive sometimes and they could also have hearing and sight disorders. On top of that - they can also have facial deformities."
"And the mothers who consume alcohol are to be blamed for this!!" cried Marie agitatedly. How she hated women who destroyed the lives of their babies by drinking alcohol!
"As you can see," said Dr. Singh. "Alcohol is a very evil thing. There's a chemical compound called ethanol in most alcoholic drinks. This ethanol is a neurotoxin - a substance that can damage or destroy the nervous system. So when someone is drunk - he is in fact suffering from a form of poisoning. And did you know that in large quantities - ethanol causes coma and death?"
They all shook their heads. They had no doubts in their minds whatsoever about the evil that was present in alcohol.
"So alcohol is evil. It is very evil. Why is it evil? Because God made it evil. And He wrapped it in a very attractive and pleasing package. People are hooked on alcohol. They run after alcohol. They will do anything to get it! It intoxicates them and gives them a heady feeling. It makes them feel good. That's the pleasing package that alcohol is wrapped in. An evil wrapped in a glittering package." He then wrote another evil thing on the board:
"People get hooked on drugs the same way they get hooked on alcohol," said Dr. Singh. "Again - drugs are evil. They are evil because they are extremely harmful and can even kill people. It has destroyed the lives of many people - especially the young. They get hooked on drugs and then they will do anything to get it. They will lie, steal and even kill to get drugs. And why do they go after drugs? Simply because God wrapped these evil things in very pleasing packages." He wrote a third evil on the board:
"Ah ha! Gambling! Think about the lotteries, horse and greyhound racing, sports pool, casinos and the like! People get hooked on this evil habit - and go without food and clothes. They resort to theft and other illegal activities to get money so that they can gamble. And gambling is wrong. Why? Because gambling is about instant monetary gratification. It is about instant riches. It is about making money without working for it. It is about getting rich overnight - and losing all your hard-earned money. But people are hooked on this evil habit. Why - oh why? Only because God has wrapped it in such a pleasing package. Ah! The lure of easy riches! Who likes to work hard?" He turned and wrote the fourth example on the board:
"People love to smoke even when there is a warning notice on the cigarette packet from the surgeon. Smoking tobacco can cause cancer. It can cause early death. Even then many people are addicted to smoking. Isn't it strange how addictive evil can be?! Just because of the package it comes in! And now......before I write down another example of evil, I'd like to ask you a question. How many of you like to eat ham? Or bacon?"
"Mmmmm. That's the good stuff!" said Jim. "I love it! It is my favorite item for breakfast actually." Then he frowned. Why was Dr. Singh asking them this question. Especially when he was on the subject of evil things!?
"I like to eat ham too," said Amy. "It tastes really good!"
Dr. Singh smiled. And he wrote on the board the fifth example of evil:
"Are you saying that pork is evil?!" cried Jim.
"Oh yes!" replied Dr. Singh. "It is an evil thing wrapped in a delicious little package. And if you would keep your emotions and feelings aside and look at things a little objectively - you will realize that what I am saying is absolutely true."
They listened attentively. They had grown to respect Dr. Singh's opinions for they were all based on obvious truths.
"Let me tell you a little bit about the pig. It is a lazy animal and indulgent in sex. It is extremely dirty, greedy and gluttonous. It hates the sunlight and possesses no fighting spirit. It eats almost anything. Yes - even human excreta or even its own excreta."
"Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!" cried Marie. Was this true? It had to be! She knew a little about pigs and she knew how filthy they were.
"Amongst all animal flesh, pork is the favoured cradle of harmful germs," went on Dr. Singh. "Pork also serves as a carrier of diseases to mankind. Some examples are - scrofula, erysipelas, leprosy, biliousness, consumption, dispepsia, tapeworm and trichinae. I wonder if you have ever heard of J.H. Kellogg? The breakfast cereal Kellogg corn flake bears his name. Anyway - he wrote a very interesting article called 'PORK— OR THE DANGERS OF PORK-EATING EXPOSED'. If you get a chance - do read it for some great information on how deadly and dangerous pork eating can be! And yet - people are addicted to pork meat simply because God wrapped it in such a wonderful and tasty package! People consider pork to be such a delicacy that they don't want to waste even a tiny particle! And while on this delightful subject, let me read out to you what Kellogg says to people who say that the hog is cleanly if you give him a chance to be so!" He withdrew a piece of paper from the drawer and read it out:
"The Hog is Cleanly if You Give Him a Chance to Be so — It is surprising to us that any one who knows anything of the real nature of a hog can make such an assertion. Who has not seen hogs wallowing in the foulest mire right in the middle of a green, fragrant clover pasture? The dirty creature will turn away from the nicest bed of straw to revel in a stagnant, seething mud hole. If one of his companions dies in the lot or pen, he will wait until putrefaction occurs, and then greedily devour the stinking carcass. The filthy brute will even devour his own excrement, and that when not unusually pressed by hunger."
Jim made up his mind that he was never going to eat pork again! Amy thought the same thing though she didn't quite understand everything that was read out.
Putting the paper down on the table Dr. Singh said, "The pig's nature is fixed. It was like that a thousand years ago and it will be like that a thousand years later. God created the pig that way. Remember that He built everything upon Truth. And Truth never changes. Therefore - if it was bad to eat pork thousands of years ago - it will be bad to eat it even now....as well as in the future. Something that is evil doesn't suddenly become good. Nor does something that is good suddenly become evil."
"I've never liked to eat pork," said Marie. "Thank God I've stayed away from it! Now that I know all this - I won't even touch it!"
"Evil! See how pleasing evil is to people! You have seen many examples of evil. But there is one more that I must add to our list of examples. Can you guess what it could be?" He smiled enigmatically and wrote on the board the sixth evil:
------------------------------------End Chapter 39-----------------------------
"Flesh is evil? How come?" asked Andrew.
"Oh yes, it is evil," said Dr. Singh. "Remember that things are evil if they cause harm to us. And flesh certainly causes a lot of problems in human society. And by the term 'flesh' I'm talking about the skin - or - body. More specifically a woman's body. God has given the woman an extremely beautiful and attractive form. Her shape is a delight for the eyes of men. And certainly, a woman dressed in a skimpy outfit, baring her body and flesh - is one of the greatest evils a man can face!"
Richard had to agree. He had been attracted to Ann because she had a fabulous body - which she didn't quite cover. And she attracted not just his attention but the attention of other men as well.
"You see, men are turned on visually," Dr. Singh explained. "God created human beings naked. They were not born with clothes on. But it is necessary for them to cover themselves - simply because of the sexual attraction that exists between men and women. In men it is very strong - and their sexual awareness and desire is heightened when they see a woman's bare body. The gambling habit is fueled by the feeling of greed. In the case of a woman's bare body - it gives rise to the feeling of lust. Greed and lust. Well, these are feelings that drive people do a lot of wrong things. Prostitution is a thriving business because of lust. Then there's pornography. Think of how many people go for such things - and you will begin to understand what an evil thing it is for a woman to expose her body - for the pleasure of men. It causes many problems in our society. Prostititution and pornography however, are just two of the evil effects. Can you think of any more?"
"Rape!" said Andrew. "Adultery and fornication," said Marie.
Dr. Singh nodded. "Ah! Just think about the innumerable pleasures of the flesh and senses that people run after! Adultery breaks up marriages. Fornication and premarital sex causes great suffering as well. How does it cause suffering? Well - think about all those teenage pregnancies! Think of those babies that are born to unmarried girls! What security and stability are these girls going to offer their children? Children born out of wedlock? Aren't the lives of children destroyed because of fornication, premarital sex and adultery? Indeed children are the ones who suffer the most! Remember that they are like wet sponges and they absorb everything in their environment. So if their mother doesn't have values, morals and principles - they are going to learn the same thing and copy it! And guess what? When they grow up, they do the same thing that their parents did. And the vicious circle goes on!"
Amy was very glad that her parents were married. They didn't believe in God but at least they had some values! She had many friends in school and some of them didn't have their dads stay with them. Their dads had just been having some fun with their moms and then left them.
"I'm not yet finished with the pleasures of the flesh," went on Dr. Singh. "There's prostititution, pornography, adultery and fornication. But people can be even more perverted. Because they also indulge in things like incest and homosexuality."
Richard looked disgusted. He greatly detested homosexuals. And he had always wondered why people had such preferences.
"I can't understand how people can be attracted to their own sex!" he said. "Men with men and women with women! Ugh! It's horrible!"
Dr. Singh smiled and nodded. "It is disgusting, isn't it?" he said in agreement. "Homosexuality is indeed a great evil. You can take a look at the animal kingdom. There is absolutely no animal out there that mates with its own sex. A lion would never mate with another lion for example. But in the world of human beings, you will certainly find this particular perversion. Only because it is wrapped in such a pleasing package. The only reason why there are lesbians and gays - is because - the pleasure that people get out of this evil - is something outstanding. That can be the only reason why people indulge in homosexuality. The pleasure that they get is unlike anything in the whole world! And they absolutely don't care what the world thinks. Their pleasure is all that they care about! They live exclusively to enjoy themselves!"
"I had a friend who was homosexual," said Andrew grimacing. "I asked him why he preferred men over women. And he told me that he was made that way."
"Nah! God doesn't make anyone that way!" said Dr. Singh emphatically. "People are whatever they are only because it is their choice! Your friend is a homosexual not because he was made to be like that. It is because he chose to be like that! He liked indulging in fantasies that involved his own sex and it gave him enormous pleasure."
Andrew nodded. It was all a game of choice it seemed.
Dr. Singh sat down in his chair. "I think you are now in a very good position to solve the mystery of life and death," he said with a big smile. "We have discussed many things and the clues are all before you. And from all this information - I'm pretty sure that you will be able to figure out all by yourself - what happens after death!"
They looked at Dr. Singh wonderingly. All the clues were before them? They could now figure out what happened after death?
Richard spoke up. "I don't know what happens after death," he said. "But I do think that God is testing us. I'm sure of it!"
"Well - that's the biggest clue there," responded Dr. Singh. "You say that God is testing us. If this is true, then you will have solved the mystery! But the thing is - you need to have evidence to back up what you believe. Any belief that is not supported by evidence is a blind belief."
"But my belief is not blind!" cried Richard. "There is very good evidence before us! It shows that God is testing us!"
"I'm waiting, Mr. White," said Dr. Singh. "Please tell us about the evidence."
"The evidence is," replied Richard thoughtfully. "That human beings have free will. They have choices to make. They have to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. This means that God is testing us!"
Dr. Singh nodded. "Okay, we'll accept that. A man cannot be tested if he has no freedom of choice. And since man has freedom of choice it follows that he is being tested. Agreed. But is that the only evidence there is?"
Marie raised her hand excitedly. "God created every human being unique and different so that they could be identified! Animals look the same because they don't have free will. They don't have to make choices. So they are not being tested. But human beings have to be different from one another! Because they have free will. They have to make choices. So when God gave every person his own unique identity that is enough proof to show that we are being tested! Otherwise He would have made us look the same, right?!"
Dr. Singh got up from his chair. "I think I'll write down your clues here on the board. Clues that show us that God created man to test him." And he wrote:
1. Man has to make choices.
2. God gave every person a unique identity
"Yes Marie, whatever you have just said is true. And it is also one of our biggest clues. Take a look at each other! And see for yourself how God has created each one of us different. Why didn't He create us the same? Obviously for one reason. So that we could be tested. That's good evidence!!"
Marie smiled feeling rather pleased. Then her face brightened as she thought of another clue.
"Clue number 3!" she cried. "God keeps Himself unseen! If people could see God nobody would have a choice, would they? Nobody would be able to exercise their freedom of choice. And there wouldn't be a test at all!"
"Very good!" said Dr. Singh writing down clue number 3 on the board:
3. God is Unseen
Dr. Singh smiled mysteriously. "We have some very good clues here," he said. "And they certainly point to the idea that God is testing us. There is a fourth clue however which confirms this idea. Do you know what it is?"
Amy was impatient again. "Please Dr. Singh! Please tell us!" she cried.
"Alright, alright!" said Dr. Singh. "You see, in order to support the idea that God is testing us - we can ask a very simple question. And that question is - what would be the best way to test man?"
They looked at Dr. Singh blankly.
"The best way to test man would be to forbid him!" revealed Dr. Singh. "And you can see very well how God has wrapped evil in pleasing, attractive and glittering packages! This is your fourth clue, my friends! God simply has to forbid man from running after evil pleasures. And that would be the test indeed! To see which man would obey!"
"Oh my God!" cried Jim. "You are right, Dr. Singh! I can see now that God made evil very pleasing for man for one reason alone. It is all there to test him! Oh it is all so clear to me now!!"
All of them were blown away by the discovery. It confirmed what Richard believed.
'So Mr. White," said Dr. Singh. "You are absolutely right about what you think! All the clues mentioned here lead us to only one conclusion. And that is - God created the life this world - simply to test us!"
Martha shook her head wildly. "No! It can't be true! I won't believe it!" she said. "We are not responsible for the choices we make! And this is no test! Jesus carried all the burden of sin on his shoulders! He died for our sins, yes he did!"
Everyone looked at Martha in surprise. They couldn't believe what she had just said!
Dr. Singh regarded Martha with a grim expression on his face. "You may leave the classroom if you wish," he said. "I had warned you before. Truth is not something that many people can handle. I've told you that Truth is very bitter. And what is coming up ahead is going to be even more bitter! We do not force anyone here to believe in anything. We only ask that you look at things objectively. That you look at the facts and keep your emotions and feelings aside - and be reasonable. We want you to look at things the way they really are. We want you to face reality. We want you to see the Truth - and accept the Truth. Because Truth is the only thing that matters in a man's life. There is no place for blind belief here. There is no place for guesswork. And if we have come to the conclusion that God created man to test him - it is only because there is plenty of evidence to support this belief. If you do not wish to accept it that is perfectly fine. You can leave the class and go to your room. There would be no point in you sitting here, would there? If you don't accept this truth, you won't accept what follows."
Martha looked very unhappy. One part of her wanted to leave the class and seek the refuge of her room. But there was another part of her that insisted on staying. They were so close to solving the mystery of life and death! "Don't be silly!" said a voice within her. "Don't let your emotions get the better of you! You wanted a scientific explanation and answer. And you are going to get exactly what you wanted. And Dr. Singh is right! Every belief must be backed by evidence otherwise it is blind! And all the evidence that you have seen does prove that God is testing us. So just sit back and listen!"
"I'm not going anywhere," she said finally. "You are right, Dr. Singh. Truth is indeed very bitter. And you have told us repeatedly that it is something that many people dislike. I have disliked hearing all the evidence because it proves that God is testing us. I don't like the idea really. But I also understand that I must keep my feelings aside. The Truth is not going to change because I don't like it. I remember our lessons on Truth well."
Dr. Singh smiled. "You have courage," he said. "I'm pleased! Do I take it to mean that you have accepted the idea that God created man to test him?"
Martha nodded. "I accept it," she said quietly.
"But why do you accept it?" asked Dr. Singh.
"Because of the undeniable evidence that is there before me!" she replied.
"Great!" cried Dr. Singh enthusiastically. "We need to celebrate now!" And he walked straight to the black door and stood before it. "Now you have the key in your hand! You have as good as solved the mystery! Now - you are in a position to tell me - what happens after death!"
They didn't understand what he was saying at all!
"What do you mean, Dr. Singh?" asked Amy.
"Oh, come on!" he said with a twinkle in his eye. "You say that the life of this world is a test. And you are sure about it because you have plenty of evidence to prove it. So if it is true that God is testing us - then the mystery of death is solved! You see, my friends - a test cannot last forever can it? A test must come to an end!"
Richard understood then what Dr. Singh was talking about. "That means death marks the end of our test!?" he cried.
"And what happens after the test?" enquired Dr. Singh. "The same thing that happens when you sit for a test or exam!"
"Yes! After a test the teacher or professor evaluates our paper and gives us marks," said Jim. "If we make the right choices, we pass the test. And if we make the wrong choices, we fail!"
"So now you know what happens after death!" said Dr. Singh triumphantly. "After death comes - the Day of Judgment!"
-------------------------End Chapter 40-------------------------
They were back in the air-conditioned room. There was an air of festivity and gaiety, balloons everywhere and sumptuous delicious food. Henry had placed wonderful, exotic dishes on the table which made their mouths water. It was time to rejoice. It was time for a real party! However this party was without wine and beer. It was without music and dancing.
They had solved a very important mystery and Dr. Singh wished to reward them for it. It was a good reason to celebrate indeed!
They ate to their hearts content and enjoyed themselves thoroughly. "Dr. Singh is full of surprises," thought Marie as she bit into a slice of a delicious cheesecake. Richard was on a special diet and the strawberry cheesecake was one of the things that he was not supposed to eat. But he couldn't resist it and ended up helping himself to a large slice. "One of life's simple pleasures," he told himself relishing every bite.
After they had eaten, they settled down in their comfortable sofas. Henry served tea and coffee. And to Amy he offered a mango milkshake.
They had gone through a tumultuous, turbulent and difficult journey and they had discovered many bitter truths and realities. They had seen things which they didn't like - yet they had bravely looked at them for what they were and had accepted them. Richard had accepted it all. Actually he was very pleased with himself. He congratulated himself for his decision to join the retreat and despite his fears regarding the Day of Judgment he couldn't help feeling enormously satisfied. The logic of the whole thing gave him immense pleasure. He loved using his powers of reason and common sense. And the best thing was he had learned to keep his emotions under control. As for Martha - the discoveries had caused her much pain. It was like there were two people within her. And each was pulling her this way and that. And because she had been so well-informed about cognitive dissonance - she was able to look at things more objectively and realize that she should choose only that which made sense.
Dr. Singh was in a cheerful mood. "You all enjoying yourselves?!" he asked.
"I sure am!" said Amy licking her lips. She was really enjoying the mango milkshake.
"How about playing a game?" said Dr. Singh.
"A game! Ooooh! Please - lets!" cried Amy excitedly.
"Okay - the name of the game is - Better or Worse," said Dr. Singh. "I'm going to describe to you certain things and you are going to have to tell me if the world will be a better place or worse as a consequence. So now - here's the first example. Tell me - if everybody were to drink alcohol - this world would be a better place to live in or worse?"
"Worse!! Definitely worse!" answered Jim at once. There was no doubt in his mind about that at all.
"Why do you think it would be worse?" enquired Dr. Singh.
"Well - we already learned that alcohol is bad for us," replied Jim. "It causes many problems in society. And if everybody were to drink alcohol - then there would be more babies suffering from that Fetal Alcohol Syndrom. There would be more deaths on the roads. There would be more domestic violence. This world wouldn't be a safe place to live in!"
Dr. Singh nodded. "I just wanted to make sure you knew why it would be worse. For everything there has to be a reason. Okay, so now, here's the second example. Tell me - if everybody were to gamble - this world would be a better place or worse?"
"Worse!" said Richard. "I know all about this. And I'd like to explain why I think this world would be worse if everybody gambled."
They were all ears. "Think about a lottery - for example," said Richard. "A lottery for 40 million dollars. To win that lottery the odds would be very great. And those who run the lottery would be making more money. They would collect more than 40 million dollars from people - numbering in the millions! And as for the winner - he has got a big prize for doing absolutely nothing! He did not work for it. So if he wins it - he can't possibly expect us to admire him. We admire people who through hard work and perseverance have become successful. Not people who are too lazy to work - and who blow their money on lotteries. And the truth is most people will never win."
"And gambling is addictive too," said Andrew. "Say a person wins $10,000 at a casino. Guess what? He is not going to stop gambling. He's gonna play some more to win even bigger money! He wants more money and is not satisfied with what he has won. He's not satisfied with $10,000."
"And then what about those evil suggestions in his head?" added Marie. "They would tell him - you won this - you can win more! You are on a winning streak!"
"Right! Right!" said Andrew. "And before he knows it - his entire $10,000 is gone! Left with nothing! At this point - he refuses to accept his loss - and says to himself - I'm going to try again. Just one more try! This time I shall surely win. And after I win - I shall stop. I really will stop."
"Well - that is how people become bankrupt," commented Richard. "What's worse - they even commit suicide - after staking all they have and then losing everything. So if everyone were to gamble - this world would be a terrible place to live in alright. It would be worse not better!"
Dr. Singh was pleased with the explanation. "Here's the third example," he continued. "If all women were to cover themselves and conceal their bodies - this world would be a better place to live in or worse?"
"Better! Much much better!" cried Richard thoroughly enjoying the game. "And the reason for that is - there would be fewer rapes. Fornication and adultery would be also less. And I also think women deserve to be respected because they are our mothers. So if women cover themselves they will get the respect that they deserve. Not only that - it would also strengthen marital relationships...and families would have stronger foundations."
"Okay - example number four," said Dr. Singh. "If everybody lied - this world be better - or worse?"
Amy raised her hand. "This world would be worse!" she said.
"And why would it be worse?" Dr. Singh asked.
"Because....." Amy stopped. She couldn't think why it would be worse. She just knew that lying was bad.
Andrew came to the rescue. "It would be worse because it would destroy people's relationships with one another," he said. "We couldn't trust anyone in a world where everybody lied. There would be suspicion, doubt and chaos - if everybody lied."
Dr. Singh accepted Andrew's explanation. "Okay - here's the last example," he said. "How would this world be if everyone was honest? Better or worse?"
"Better! Very very better!" said Amy. "And I can tell you why it would be better. Because when everybody is honest - there is nobody going to cheat you. And then we will have no worries. All of us will be very happy too."
Dr. Singh smiled at Amy's answer. "You are right," he told her. "This world would be better if everyone was honest. So folks I hope you enjoyed playing this game. I just wanted to point out to you that - what is good for the whole society is good for the individual. And what is bad for the entire society is bad for the individual. So if we want to ascertain which action is good and which is not - we simply need to ask the question - would it be better for the whole society or worse. If it is better - then it is good. If not - then it is bad."
"Makes sense to me," commented Jim.
"You can go to your rooms to unwind, relax or take a nap," said Dr. Singh. "But before you go - we have these very interesting quotes for you."
Henry gave each of them a sheet of paper. The paper had the following quotes printed upon it:
1. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. - Albert Einstein.
2. Things do not change; we change. - Henry David Thoreau.
3. To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. - Marilyn vos Savant
4. Life is a long lesson in humility. - James M. Barrie
5. Death's brother, Sleep. - Virgil
"I really like the first quote," said Marie. "Religion without science is indeed blind!"
"I like the second quote," said Richard. "Things don't change. That's because God built everything upon Truth. Truth never changes. We are the ones who change."
"These are really good quotes," commented Andrew. "But I'm wondering about the last one. Sleep is the brother of death?"
"Would you like me to explain that?" asked Dr. Singh.
"Yes please!" Andrew was eager to know what it meant. But so were the others.
Dr. Singh asked Henry to get something. Henry brought it and Dr. Singh held it up for all of them to see. It was a big poster. On it was a diagram. There was a large circle. At one end there was an arrow that penetrated the circle. The arrow went through the circle and came out of the circle at the other end. At the first point was a label that said Birth - Enter. And at the other point of the circle was a label that said Death - Exit.
"The life of this world is like this diagram here," said Dr. Singh. "We enter this world at one point and then we leave it at another point."
"It looks like a big bubble!" exclaimed Jim.
"I think I'm beginning to understand!" said Andrew. "The life of this world is just like a dream! When we are dreaming everything is so real. And we realize that we were dreaming only when we wake up!"
Dr. Singh smiled. He didn't really need to explain anything. They were figuring it out all on their own!
"So now it makes sense," went on Andrew. "When we sleep we are dreaming. Then we wake up. When we wake up - we see the reality and we know that we were dreaming. And if the life of this world is just like a dream - then death is pretty similar to sleep. Because after death - oh my God!"
"What happened?" asked Jim. "After death - what?!"
"Don't you see?" said Andrew. "After death - we shall wake up! And that is when we shall know that the life of this world was a mere dream! And that is when we shall see the reality!"
-------------------------------End Chapter 41---------------------------