Question: My wife, who is otherwise the most reasonable of beings, insists that all religious beliefs are delusions brought about by existential anxiety. Most people find the thought unbearable that there is no meaning in life except for the biological and rational fact of life itself. This, she feels, should satisfy anybody. The fact of death, she believes, is to be similarly faced as a biological reality. It is an old theory, which, I realise, can neither be proved or disproved at an intellectual level.

Sri Chinmoy: The ultimate truth concerning life and death can never be adequately explained or expressed. It can only be felt by the aspirant. I concur fully with you that this view, as well as that expressed by your wife, cannot be verified intellectually. However, what she feels about life and death may not necessarily be so. Another view is that life is the link between birth and death and at the same time, it is life that precedes birth and succeeds death.

Human memory is not the first and last word of creation. If, at the age of eighty, I fail to recollect an incident that took place in my own life at the age of four, it does not mean that I did not exist then. Just as a series of years passes by between the ages of four and eighty, so is there a series of lives which connects the present with the distant past and projects itself into the imminent future.

Then, too, there is something beyond the comprehension of our limited body-consciousness. Even while a man is grossly involved in his most ordinary physical activities, he may feel within himself, at times, some strange truths. These are usually unfamiliar and greatly elevating. These truths come from a higher or deeper world, from a different plane of consciousness, and they knock at his mental door. Thus he possesses and is possessed by forces beyond his ordinary awareness.

It is when we put ourselves in tune with these higher forces, indeed with the universal harmony, that life ceases to be unbearable. I entirely agree with your wife's view that when a person sees no meaning in life, no goal or purpose, the thought, nay the life itself, becomes intolerable. However, regarding religious beliefs, I wish to place before her an analogy:

I am now living in a Brooklyn apartment. If a child calls on me and asks, "Is there a place called Cologne?" I shall reply, "Certainly, my child, it is in West Germany." Suppose he says, "You must prove it to me!" Now how can I prove it to him, apart from showing him maps and photos? I can only tell him that I have personally visited Cologne and that there are millions of others who have also done so. His doubt cannot negate the existence of the city.

Similarly those who have realised God fully have every right to tell us that there is a God. Simply because we have not realised Him, we cannot deny the existence of God. Just as the child has to satisfy his physical eyes by going to Cologne, we can only prove to ourselves the reality of God by seeing Him. And this quest for realisation would give to an otherwise purposeless life an unparalleled meaning and direction.

Sri Chinmoy, AUM — Vol. 1, No. 5, 27 December 1965, Boro Park Printers -- Brooklyn, N. Y, 1965