QR7.1.1 Divinity

Since time immemorial, people have died for divinities they didn’t understand, but in general, the divinity premise is that an immaterial supreme reality exists beyond the manifest world. Over five thousand years ago, in Persia, Zoroastrian scriptures called that divinity Ahura Mazda:

Verily I beheld Thee, O Mazda Ahura, to be the Supreme Benevolent Providence,
  For I beheld Thee as the primeval source of creation.”
(Yasna 43, v5).

Ahura Mazda not only created and sustained all things, but was also benevolent, for the good of all. At about the same time, or later, seers in India called their supreme divinity Brahman:

The wise realize everywhere that (Brahman) which cannot be perceived and grasped; which is without source, features, eyes and ears; which has neither hands nor feet; which is eternal, multi-formed, all-pervasive, subtle and undiminishing; and which is the source of all.” (Mundaka Upanishad, I.i.6).

Brahman, like Ahura Mazda, was the non-physical source of all things everywhere. The equally ancient Old Testament divinity, Yahweh, is also alone the invisible maker of all visible things:

“Thus sayeth the Lord (Yahweh), thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” (Isaiah, 44.24).

This divinity says “I am the Lord” as a person would so the New Testament adds that the invisible word of a personal God made all that appears:

“Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews, 11.3)

Meanwhile in China, the sage Lao-Tse called the invisible essence behind everything the Tao:

“There is a primal essence that is all-inclusive and undifferentiated and which existed before there was any appearance of heaven and earth. How tranquil and empty it is! … Yet this tranquil emptiness becomes the mother of all. Who knows its name? I can only characterize it and call it Tao.” (Tao, 25).

The Tao isn’t a personal God, yet its “emptiness” is the mother of heaven and earth. Buddhism began in India, then spread to China as Chan Buddhism, then to Japan as Zen Buddhism. Some call it a godless religion, but the Buddha was clear that a divinity existed:

“There is an Unborn, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, this Unoriginated, this Uncreated, this Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible. But since there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, therefore is escape possible from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed.” (The Word of the Buddha, p32).

He called this primal essence Tathata so the Buddha is a Tathagata, meaning one who has realized Tathata. We might translate this as God-realization but perhaps, given the many gods of Hinduism, he tried to avoid that. Buddhism doesn’t deny a supreme divinity, just the need to worship it, by the following logic:

“It is as if a man were pierced by a poisoned arrow, and his friends, companions, or near relations called in a surgeon, but that man should say: I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know, who the man is that has wounded me: whether he is a noble, a prince, a citizen, or a servant; or: whether he is tall, or short, or of medium height, Verily, such a man would die, ere he could adequately learn all this. Therefore, the man, who seeks his own welfare, should pull out this arrow – this arrow of lamentation, pain, and sorrow.” (The Word of the Buddha, p35).

Mohammed wasn’t a king like the Buddha, but an illiterate fifty-year old Arab. He heard a voice say “Read!” which he ignored, but it repeated “Read!” then gave the first verse of the Koran, said to be from the angel Gabriel:

Read! In the name of thy Lord who creates, who created man from a clot. Read! And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, who teaches by the pen, teaches man that which he knew not.” (Koran, 96).

The Koran also makes clear that there is only one divinity, Allah:

“Say! He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally besought of all! He begetteth not nor is begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.” (Koran, 112).

Different scriptures have different approaches but they agree that an all-powerful divinity exists behind the physical world, whether it is called Ahura Mazda, Brahman, Yahweh, God, Tao, Tathata or Allah. All these scriptures recognize a non-physical supreme power, which is the divinity premise.