In this interview series we asked Radhanath Swami universal foundational questions about life and spirituality. Here is a transcript of the answer to this question:
“How can I know if God exists?“
This question has been asked since time immemorial.
I remember in my own life I had heard so many things, from religious people, from atheistic people..
Some claimed that God exists, but specifically and exclusively according to their religion he exists.
And others deny that “God doesn’t exist at all.” sometimes just on the basis of people’s vision of the tragedies and the sufferings of this world.
Or sometimes people disclaim God’s existence on the basis of scientific evidence.
So I began to think, that throughout history the greatest most compassionate people that perhaps ever lived, in all cultures, in all places, in all times, were people who gave their lives to God.
In the Christian faith Jesus, St. Francis, they gave their lives for the welfare of others. They gave their lives to spread love.
They not only claimed that God exists but they claimed to be feeling God, and seeing God.
And then in the Islamic faith, the Prophet Muhammad, his experiences of God.
In the Jewish faith, Moses, his complete sacrifice for his people, sacrifice of such love, and his testimony of his experience with God.
And then in India we find people like Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Lord Caitanya, these personalities they gave their lives for the welfare of other living beings, they were embodiments of compassion and such deep wisdom, and such philosophy.
And even among people of today’s world who are doing such wonderful selfless service to others with such inner satisfaction, like my own Gurudeva His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The risks that he endured just to show kindness and give God’s love to others is overwhelming to me.
Then I have to think, “Are all these people liars? Are they lying to the public? Are they making up what they’re saying? Are they duped into speaking out of ignorance?”
Well if they are, then it’s the greatest thing ever, because it’s bringing about such wonderful, wonderful deep qualities of love, compassion and self-satisfaction and enlightenment.
But to me it’s certain that they must be speaking the truth. They’re the most honorable people that ever walked the earth. They’re saying what they see, what they feel, what they experience, what they realize. They must be speaking the truth.
And they’re teaching us how to be genuinely good. They’re teaching us about the eternal nature of the self and our eternal relationship with God, what everyone is ultimately looking for.
And when we see through the eyes of such great souls and the scriptures, we can see God’s presence everywhere. With every tree..
The big oak tree, it all came from a little tiny seed. How many millions and millions of trees are growing.
There’s no technology or science that could create that seed, to make an entire tree sprout from it. It’s a miracle. It’s an absolute miracle.
And every human being we see is a miracle. We’re just so used to miracles that we take them to be ordinary.
But a husband and wife, or whatever, they come together and somehow or other there’s a transfer of a seed into the ovum, they don’t know what’s going on.. and then there’s the emulsification and that little seed begins to develop, and it starts to develop organs and limbs and senses and really systematically in about 9 months time a beautiful baby is born.
Did the mother and father organize “Now let’s put the eyes, and put the legs.” They don’t know what’s happening, it’s all just by nature.
What an intelligence. What an incredible technology.
Every human being, every specie of life, every plant that we see is an absolute miracle, beyond science, beyond technology, beyond anything.
It’s the glory of God. It’s the testimony of God. It’s the miracle of God. And how blissful life is when we actually relish the miracle of God everywhere we look.
Ultimately does everything come from something or does everything come from nothing.
If there is no God then everything comes from nothing.
If there is a God then God is that something from which everything is coming.
The Vedanta sutra says “janmady asya yatah,” that the Absolute Truth or God is whom everything emanates from.
So just from the perspective of logic, is it more logical that everything is coming from nothing, or everything is coming from something?
We’ve never seen anything within our experience that comes from nothing. Everything is coming from something.
So it is logical that ultimately everything is coming from something, and that ultimate something, according to all the sages of the past, all the scriptures throughout the ages, through all times, that something is God.
So if it is logical, why not make a serious study?
It is explained in the Vedic literatures, Bhagavad-Gita (4.7),
yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham
That supreme something, that source of everything, or God, descends within this world time and again to reveal Himself, to reveal the nature of everything in it’s relationship with God. And that is the science of self-realization, to make a serious study of understanding how everything is connected to it’s source.
And perhaps that is the most important of all studies. Because in understanding God, we also understand our own existence beyond the temporary framework of this short life, and we can understand what is real love and what is real fulfillment in that relationship.