God’s away on Business
I can’t count the times I wondered about God’s existence. I can’t count the times I got involved in numerous conversations with friends passionately arguing about it. By the way, THIS IS NOT an article about atheism! On the contrary, I will write about my thoughts and feelings that torment me, driven by the anguish of believing in something superior rather than our amazing but at the same time imperfect and flawed race. And of course these thoughts get triggered whenever I listen to Tom Wait’s thunderous vocals in God’s Away on Business.
This is basically why we humans invented religion. To answer all these questions that were wondering our curious minds from the early beginnings of our history. After all, as great philosopher Alan Watts said:
“Wonder and its expression in poetry and arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals” .
So what did religions came to answer? Mainly basic questions that kids randomly pop out only to baffle their parents and teachers. “Where did the world come from?” , “Is there any meaning in this world”?, “Where was I before I was born?”. Each individual religion provided its own answers to these and similar questions.
Christianity and the rest of western religions came to teach that there is one ultimate God, creator of everything. He created a perfect world for us by giving us free will but because of our curious natures we fell from grace into the original sin. This is also how Christianity describes the cause of misery and bad in this world. In Jesus Christ world, the goal is to lead a life full of faith and grace, obey God’s rules and through God’s glory live until the Judgement Day where we will be fairly judged under his eyes and live the eternal life next to him.
Buddhism, which is basically a variation of Hinduism, as the best representative of eastern philosophies, is centered around the philosophy of Siddhartha Gautama who renounced his wealthy lifestyle in search of spiritual liberation. Buddhism is also presented as a manifestation on how to live your life and not as a pure religion in the strict sense of it. Buddhism promotes a solitary and spiritual way of living away from the 3 basic bad habits of desire, anger and ignorance. The main principle Buddhism teaches is concentrated in the following phrase:
“Life is about suffering”
In Buddhism we come into our current conscious state from previous lives and the purpose of existing lies in preparing ourselves through meditation, mindfulness and spirituality for upcoming lives having as an ultimate goal to be enlightened and achieve Nirvana state where through enlightenment we experience another elevated way of living.
And now let’s take a step back to see what Tom talks about in God’s away on Business. From the first verse we get the idea that probably it’s not going to be an optimistic song..
“I’d sell your heart to the junk-man baby for a buck, for a buck!
If you’re looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch You’re out of luck, you’re out of luck.”
He quickly pops up in our face that society has decayed in a point where greed is triumphing and solidarity doesn’t exist.
“The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones left in charge?
Killers, thieves and Lawyers
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away
On Business. Business.”
Waits’ nihilistic lyrics continue with how humanity is abandoned by its Creator who has jumped out of the “ship” now driven by corruption and sin. Humans are sadly the ones ruling and no hope has been left to this place, no ultimate creature is here to give justice and to save the world. When asked about his own lyrics, and whether God is on Business or not, he answered that God might have never been here after all! Or he might have left and never come back again. The song in general is a bitter commentary on how society, and mankind in general, has degraded to such a despicable level due to the absence of any ultimate creature name it God, Buddha, Allah, etc.
And here I come wondering where do I stand when it comes to God. Do I believe in anything? To whom? If you are a curious mind like many people are and can’t help yourself but asking questions and analyzing all the time then it’s hard to deeply believe in the branded religions, especially the Western ones. Buddhism is closer to my mindset since it spans the narrow range of a religion and lays its core on the idea of research and observation. However there are times that disappointed from the constant quest of meaning, I shed my eyes towards atheism.
But I really feel quite blue when I catch myself not believing in anything. Seeking this inner drive of faith I have come to a conclusion from where I take some strength and hope, in order to keep going. No matter how we ended up here and no matter where we are going after what we consider life, I believe that anyone can hide a small God within us; a God and a Devil at the same time. If we cultivate this God and manage to bring the best out of us, not only for the sake of our little self but mainly for the purpose of humanity, we can elevate our whole existence in another level and live in better harmony with ourselves, the people around us and the universe as well. But the prevailing perception modern society is forcing us is to perceive about ourselves is far more egoistic than the real self we all hide. Borrowing again Alan Watts words:
“The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self — the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever”
So no, in my point of view, God is not away on Business. He lives in me, in you, in everybody, and all of us are synced with the Universe. Of course, each one has a different opinion about religion and God’s existence and should be welcomed to express it as soon as they don’t violate other people’s values and believes. After all we only have one life; living in harmony with each other and with ourselves is the way towards enlightenment as Buddhists say; towards well being.