God as Mother

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The word “God” rings different bells in different minds. To some, God is not a person but an all-pervading presence; to others, God is a person with benign qualities (God is loving, kind and just) but has no specific form. There are those who like to think of God as not only with qualities (saguṇa) but also with a form (sākāra). They don’t generally claim that that is the only form God has. It’s just that they like to think of God in that way.

Once God is thought of as a person, it is inevitable that question of gender would arise. That’s how we end of up with God the Father or God the Mother—both equally valid ways to think of God in personal terms. Neither way is better than the other. In fact, no particular way to think of God is intrinsically better than any other way. It’s just a way of thinking. God remains who God is. The chances are that we’ll know God as God really is if we are allowed the freedom to pursue our quest without anyone setting any limits to how our mind goes about its job.

I would like to share a story that I like very much. I don’t know its source but this is how it was presented to me:

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

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The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is she now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive her presence, and you can hear her loving voice, calling down from above.”

This is the “Mother Season”—as we celebrate the Navaratri (and the Durga Puja), followed in a few days by Kali Puja (on Diwali night). If we try to practice “silence” and “really listen,” chances are that we will perceive Mother’s presence and hear her loving voice.

Jai Ma!