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I’m a rational being

books Updated: Dec 06, 2009 00:05 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Author Gregory David Roberts sticks to the essential positivity of life but questions the existence of god, excerpts from his interview with Shalini Singh.

What’s your idea of god?
God is the perfect and absolute expression of all positive characteristics. For example, life is a positive characteristic, death is a negative characteristic. God is perfect life. Love is a positive characteristic, god is the absolute expression of love.

Do you make a distinction between religion and spirituality?
Sometimes religion and spirituality are different words to express the same thing, and sometimes religion — in its practice — is the opposite of spirituality. Spiritual disposition exists in all people and religion was an attempt to formalise and organise the set of spiritual dispositions common to all people in all cultures. Spirituality is individual, while religion is collective.

Do you feel that something/someone keeps you protected?
I believe in the power of my will and directed energies of those who love me.

Are you agnostic?
I am but I don’t use the term. I don’t accept any explanations and descriptions of god. I’m a rational being. I’ve investigated all major faiths of the world and none of them provide any evidence for the existence of a divine being. That doesn’t mean a divine being doesn’t exist, it just means I’m yet to see any evidence. My personal belief is that there is a god according to the definition at the beginning of this
interview. (Smiles)

Isn’t a belief in something divine/higher a way to keep the ego in check?
I don’t think so. I think that you consider yourself special if you believe that something higher is looking out for you.

Greatest influences?
First it was my mother, who was the most intelligent, courageous, honourable and creative person. Then — too many to name any — all the artists and scientists whose works have influenced me.

What does happiness mean to you?
It means three things to me: one, when all the things you need are equal to all the things you want, two, to have the kind of understanding to forgive yourself and others and three, to be attached to the meaning and purpose of life as opposed to being detached from it.

What’s your solution for communal harmony in India?
There’s no magic bullet that will solve everything in one go. First, it’s important to reinforce the secular nature of India, second, religion should not be a part of politics and remain an individual matter and third, a complete change in the relationship with Pakistan — a friendly, loving one instead of just a diplomatic one.

Do you have a mind talisman?
I do. (Points to a locket hanging on his chain.) It’s Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess. She’s female, and represents loyalty, integrity, love, creativity, perseverance, understanding and forgiveness. It helps me to focus my mind and reminds me that I should be more like the qualities I mentioned.