Is There Really A Supreme Being? or Is It Just An Illusion?
One time two men were washing in a pool. Under some extraordinary influence they lost their senses and when they opened their eyes, they saw that it had transported them to a strange land. It was such that with its perfect order it was like a country, or rather a town, or a palace. They looked around themselves in complete bewilderment: if it was looked at in one way, a vast world was apparent; if in another, a well-ordered country; and if in another, a fine town. And if it was looked at in still another way, it was a palace, which comprised a most magnificent world. Travelling around this strange world, they observed it and saw that creatures of one sort were speaking in a fashion, but they did not understand their language. Nevertheless, it was understood from their signs that they were performing important works and duties.
One of the two men said to his friend:
“This strange world must have someone to regulate it, and this orderly country must have a lord, and this fine town, an owner, and this finely made palace, a master builder. We must try to know him, for it is understood that the one who brought us here was he. If we do not recognize him, who will help us? What can await from these impotent creatures whose language we do not know and who do not heed us? Moreover, surely one who makes a vast world in the form of a country, town, and palace, and fills it from top to bottom with wonderful things, and embellishes it with every sort of adornment, and decks it out with instructive miracles wants something from us and from those that come here. We must get to know him and find out what he wants.”
The other man said:
“I do not believe it, that there is a person such as the one you speak of, and that he governs this whole world on his own.” His friend replied to him: “If we do not recognize him and remain indifferent towards him, there is no advantage in it at all, and if it harmful, its harm will be immense. Whereas if we try to recognize him, there is little hardship involved and if there is benefit, it will be great. Therefore, it is in no way sensible to remain indifferent towards him.”
The foolish man said:
“I consider all my ease and enjoyment to lie in not thinking of him. Also, I am not going to bother with things that make no sense to me. All these things are the confused objects of chance, they are happening by themselves. What is it to me?”
His intelligent friend replied:
“This obstinacy of yours will push me, and a lot of others, into disaster. It sometimes happens that a whole country is laid waste because of one ill-mannered person.”
So the foolish man turned to him and said:
“Either prove to me decisively that this large country has a single lord and a single maker, or leave me alone.”
His friend replied:
“Your obstinacy has reached the degree of lunacy, and you will be the cause of some disaster being visited on us. So I shall show you twelve proofs demonstrating that this world which is like a palace, and country which is like town, has a single maker and that is only he who runs and administers everything. He is completely free of ail deficiency. This maker, who does not appear to us, sees everything and us and hears their words. All his works are miracles and marvels. All these creatures whom we see but whose tongues we do not understand are his officials.”
FIRST PROOF: A hidden hand is working within all these works. For something, which has not, even an ounce of strength is raising a load of thousands of pounds. And something that does not have even a particle of consciousness is performing extremely wise and purposeful works. That means they are not working by themselves, but that a hidden possessor of power is causing them to work. If they were all independent, it would necessitate all the works which we see everywhere in this land to be miracles and everything to be a wonderworking marvel.
SECOND PROOF: Come, look carefully at the things which adorn all these plains, fields, and dwellings! There are marks on each telling of that hidden one. Simply each gives news of Him like a seal or stamp. So look in front of your eyes: what does He make from one ounce of cotton? See how many rolls of cloth, fine linen, and flowered material have come out of it. See how many sugared delights and round sweets are being made. If thousands of people like us were to clothe themselves in them and eat them, they would still be sufficient. And look! He has taken a handful of iron, water, earth, coal, copper, silver, and gold, and made some flesh out of them. Look at that and see! And so, O foolish one! These works are particular to such a one that all this land together with all its parts is under his miraculous power and is submissive to his every wish.
THIRD PROOF: Come; look at these mobile works of art! Each has been fashioned in such a way that it is simply a miniature sample of the huge palace. Whatever there is in the palace, it is found in these tiny mobile machines. Is it at all possible that someone other than the palace’s maker could come and include the wondrous palace in a tiny machine? Also, is it at all possible that although he has included a whole world in a machine the size of a box, there could be anything in it that was purposeless or could be attributed to chance? That means that however many skillfully fashioned machines you can see, each is like a seal of that hidden one. Rather, each is like a herald or proclamation. Through their tongues of disposition they are saying:
“We are the art of such a One that He can make this entire world of ours as easily and simply as He created us.”
FOURTH PROOF: O my stubborn friend! Come, I shall show you something even stranger. Look! All these works and things in this land have changed and are changing. They do not stop in any one state. Note carefully that each of these lifeless bodies and unfeeling boxes has taken on the form of being absolutely dominant quite simply it is as though each rules all the others. Look at this machine next to us; it is as though issuing commands; all the necessities and substances necessary for its adornment and functioning come hastening to it from distant places. Look over there: that lifeless body is as though beckoning; it makes the largest bodies serve it and work in its own workplace. Make further analogies in the same way.
Simply, everything subjugates to itself all the beings in this world. If you do not accept the existence of that hidden one, you have to attribute all his skills, arts, and perfections in the stones, earth, animals, and creatures resembling man everywhere in this land to the things themselves. In place of a single wonder-working being, which your mind deems unlikely, you have to accept millions like him, who are both opposed to one another, and similar, and one within the other, so they do not cause confusion everywhere and the order be spoiled. Whereas if two fingers meddle in a country, they cause confusion. For if there are two headmen in a village, or two governors in a town, or two kings in a country, the result is chaos. So what about an infinite, absolute ruler?
FIFTH PROOF: O my skeptical friend! Come, look carefully at the inscriptions of this vast palace, look at all the adornments of the town, see the ordering of this whole land, and reflect on all the works of art in this world! See! If these inscriptions are not worked by the pen of one hidden who possesses infinite miracles and skills, and are attributed to unconscious causes, to blind chance and deaf nature, then every stone and every plant in this land has to be an inscriber so wondrous it can write a thousand books in every letter and include millions of works of art in a single inscription. Because look at the inscription on these stones; in each are the inscriptions of the entire palace, and the laws ordering the entire town, and the programs for organizing the whole country. That means that to make these inscriptions is as wonderful as making the whole country. In which case, each inscription, each work of art, is a proclamation of that hidden one, and a seal of his.
Since a letter cannot exist without showing the one who wrote it, and an artistic inscription cannot exist without making known its inscriber, how is it that an inscriber who writes a huge book in a single letter and inscribes a thousand inscriptions in a single inscription, should not be known through his writing and through his inscribing?
SIXTH PROOF: Come; let us go out onto this broad plain. On it is a high mountain, which we shall climb to the top of so that we can see all the surrounding country. Also, we shall take with us a good pair of binoculars, which will bring everything, close. Because strange things are happening in this strange land. Every hour things are happening that we could not imagine. Look! These mountains, plains, and towns are suddenly changing. And how’? In such a way that millions of matters are being changed in a most regulated and well-ordered fashion one within the other. The most wondrous transformations are being wrought as though millions of various cloths are being woven one within the other. Look! These flowery things which we know and are familiar with are disappearing and others have come in their place in orderly fashion which resemble them in nature but are different in form. It is quite simply as though this plain and the mountains are each a page, and within them are being written hundreds of thousands of different books. And they are being written faultlessly and without defect.
Thus, it is impossible a hundred times over that those matters should have come about on their own. Yes, for these works which are skillfully and carefully fashioned to an infinite degree to have occurred on their own is impossible a thousand times, for rather than themselves, they show the artist who fashioned them. Moreover, the one who did this displays such miracles that nothing at all can be difficult for him. It is as easy for him to write a thousand books as to write one book. And look all around you; he both puts everything in its proper place with perfect wisdom, and he munificently showers the favors on everyone of which they are worthy, and he draws back and opens general veils and doors so bountifully that everyone’s desires are satisfied. And he sets up tables so generously that a feast of bounties is given to all the people and animals of this land, indeed, which is particular and suitable for each group and individual, even. So, is there anything more impossible in the world than that there should be anything attributable to chance in these matters that we see, or that there should be anything purposeless or vain, or that many hands should be interfering in them, or that their maker should not be capable of everything, or that everything should not be subjugated to him? And so, my friend, find a pretext in the face of these if you can.
SEVENTH PROOF: Come, my friend! Now we shall leave these particular matters and turn our attention to the mutual positions of the parts of this wondrous world in the form of a palace. Look! Universal works are being carried out and general revolutions are occurring in this world with such order that all the rocks, earth, trees, everything in this palace observe the universal systems in the world, and conform to them as if each was acting with will. Things, which are distant, hasten to assist one another. Now look, a strange caravan has appeared, coming from the Unseen. The mounts in it resemble trees, plants, and mountains. Each boars a tray of provisions on its head. And look, they are bringing the provisions for the various animals awaiting them on this side. And see, just as the mighty electric lamp in that dome furnishes them with light, it also cooks all their food so well that the foods to be cooked are each attached to a string by an unseen hand and held up before it. And on this side, see these wretched, weak, powerless little animals; how before their heads are attached two small pumps full of delicate sustenance, like two springs; it is enough for those powerless creatures to only press their mouths against them.
In Short: Just as all the things throughout the world look to one another, so too they help one another. And just as they see one another, so too they co-operate with one another. And just as they perfect each other’s works, so too they support one another; standing shoulder to shoulder, they work together. Make analogies with this for everything; they never end with counting. Thus, ail these things demonstrate as decisively as two plus two equals four that everything is subjugated to the maker of this wondrous palace, that is, to the owner of this strange world. Everything is like a soldier under his command. Everything turns through his strength. Everything acts through his command. Everything is set m order through his wisdom. Everything helps the others through his munificence. Everything hastens to the assistance of the others through his compassion; that is, they are made to hasten to it. And so, my friend! Say something in the face of this if you can!
EIGHTH PROOF: Come, my foolish friend who thinks himself reasonable like my soul! You do not want to recognize the owner of this magnificent palace! But everything shows him, points to him, and testifies to him. How can you deny the testimony of all these things? You have therefore to deny the palace as well, and say: “There is no world, no country.” Deny yourself, too, and disappear! Or else come to your senses and listen to me! Now, look, there are uniform elements and minerals inside the palace and encompassing the land. Simply, everything appearing in the country is made of those elements. That means, whosever property is those things, everything that is made of them is his, also. Whoever the field belongs to, the crops are his too. And whosever is the sea; the things within it are also his.
And look, these textiles, these decorated woven materials, are being made out of a single substance. It is self evidently the same person who brings the substance, prepares it, and makes it into string. For such a work would not permit the participation of others. In which case, all the woven, skillfully made things are particular to him.
And look! Every sort of these woven, manufactured goods is found in every part of the country; they have spread with all their fellows, and are being made and woven together and one within the other, in the same way, at the same instant. That means they are the work of the same person and the same act through a single command, otherwise their correspondence and conformity at the same instant, in the same fashion, of the same sort, would be impossible. In which case, each of these skillfully fashioned things is like a proclamation of that hidden one which points to him. As if each sort of flowered material, each ingenious machine, each sweet mouthful, is a stamp of that miracle-displaying person; a stamp of his, a mark, a decoration; each says through the tongue of disposition: “Whose-ever work of art I am, the boxes and shops where I am found are also his property.” And each inscription says: “Whoever wove me also wove the roll of cloth in which I am.” And each sweet mouthful says: “Whoever makes me and cooks me, the cauldron in which I am is also his.” And each machine says: “Whoever made me, also makes all those like me who have spread throughout the land, and the one who raises us in every part of it, is also he. That means the country’s owner is he, too. In which case, whoever is the owner of this country and palace, he may be our owner too.”
For example, in order to be the true owner of a single cartridge belt or even a button belonging to the state, one also has to own all the factories in which they are made. If a bragging irregular soldier claims otherwise, he will be told: “They are the property of the state.” And they will be taken from him, and he will be punished.
In Short: Just as the elements in this country each surround and encompass it, and their owner may only be one who owns the whole country, in the same way, since the works of art that are spread throughout it resemble one another and display a single stamp, they show that they are the art of a single person who governs everything.
And so, my friend! There is a sign of oneness, a stamp of unity, in this country, that is, this magnificent palace. For while being the same, certain things are all encompassing. And while being numerous, some display a unity or similarity, since they resemble one another and are found everywhere. And as for unity, it shows One of Unity. That means that its maker, owner, lord, and fashioner has to be one and the same. In addition, look carefully at this: from behind the veil of the unseen a thickish string has appeared. Look, now thousands of strings have hung down from it. And see the tips of the strings: a diamond, a decoration, a favor, a gift has been attached to each. Suitable presents are being given to everyone. Do you know what a lunatic action it is not to recognize and not to thank the one who stretches out from behind the strange veil of the unseen such wondrous favors and gifts? Because if you do not recognize him, you will be compelled to say: “These strings are making the diamonds and other gifts on their tips themselves and offering them.” Then you have to attribute to each string the meaning of a king. Whereas before our eyes an unseen hand is making the strings too, and attaching the gifts to them. That means, everything in this palace shows that miracle-displaying one rather than themselves. If you do not recognize him, through denying them, you shall fall a hundred limes lower them an animal.
NINTH PROOF: Come, my unreasoning friend! You do not recognize this palace’s owner, and you do not want to recognize him, because you deem his existence unlikely. You deviate into denial because you cannot comprehend with your narrow brain his wondrous arts and acts. Whereas the true unlikelihood, real difficulties, hardships, and awesome trouble lies in not recognizing him. For we recognize him, this whole palace, this world, becomes as easy, as trouble-free as a single thing; it becomes the means to the abundance and plenty around us. If we do not recognize him and he does not exist, then everything becomes as difficult as this whole palace, because everything is as skillfully made as the palace. Then neither the abundance nor the plenty would remain. Indeed, not one of these things, which we see, would pass to anyone’s hand, let alone ours. Look at just the jar of conserve attached to this string. If it had not emerged from his hidden, miracle-displaying kitchen, we could not have bought it for a hundred dollars, although we buy it now for forty cents.
Yes, all unlikelihood, difficulty, trouble, arduousness, indeed, impossibility, lies in not recognizing him. For a tree is given life from one root, through one law, in one center, and the formation of thousands of fruits is its easy as that of one fruit. But if the fruits had been tied to different centers and roots, and different laws, each fruit would have been as difficult to produce as the tree. And if the equipping of an entire army is in one center, through one law, and from one factory, in regard to quantity it is as easy as equipping a single soldier. While if each soldier were equipped from all different places, then to equip one soldier there would have to be as many factories as for the entire army.
And just like these two examples, if, in this well-ordered palace, this fine town, this advanced country, this magnificent world, the creation of all things is attributed to a single being, it becomes so easy, so light, that it becomes the reason for the infinite abundance, availability, and munificence we see. Otherwise everything would become so expensive, so difficult, that if the whole world was given to someone, they could not obtain them.
TENTH PROOF: Come, my friend, who has come a little to his senses! We have been here fifteen days now. If we do not know the regulations of this world and do not recognize its king, we shall deserve punishment. We have no excuse, because for fifteen days, as though given a respite, they did not interfere with us. Of course we have not just been left to our own devices. We cannot wander around among these delicate, well-balanced, subtle, skillfully made and instructive creatures like an animal and spoil them; they would not permit us to harm them. The penalties of this country’s august king are bound to be awesome. You can understand how powerful and majestic he is from the way he orders this huge world as though it was a palace, and makes it revolve like a machine. He administers this large country like a house, missing nothing. See, like filling a container and emptying it, he continuously fills this palace, this country, this town, with perfect order, and empties it with perfect wisdom. Like spreading out a table then clearing it away, varieties of foods are brought in turn and given to eat in the form of a great variety of tables being laid out by an unseen hand in every part of his vast country, and then being cleared away. The unseen hand clears away one, then brings another in its place. You see this too, and if you use your head, you will understand that within that awesome majesty is an infinitely munificent liberality.
And see, just as all these things testify to that unseen one’s sovereignty and unity, so too these revolutions and changes which pass on in succession like caravans, and are opened and closed from behind that true veil, testify to his continuance and permanence. For the causes of things disappear along with them. Whereas the things which we attribute to them, which follow on after them, are repeated. That means those works are not theirs, but the works of one who does not perish. Just as it is understood from the bubbles on the surface of a river disappearing and the bubbles which follow on after them sparkling in the same way that what makes them sparkle is a constant and elevated possessor of light, in the same way, the speedy changing of things and the things that follow on after them assuming the same colors shows that they are the manifestations, inscriptions, mirrors, and works of art of one who is perpetual, undying, and single.
ELEVENTH PROOF: Come, my friend! Now I shall show you a decisive proof as powerful as the ten previous ones. We shall board a boat, and sail to a peninsula, far away. For the key to this riddle-filled world will be there. Moreover, everyone is looking to that peninsula and awaiting something from it; they are receiving orders from there. See we are going there. Now we have arrived and have alighted on the peninsula. There is a vast gathering, a great concourse, as though all the important people of the country have gathered there. Look carefully, this great community has a leader. Come, we shall draw closer; we must become acquainted with him. Look! What brilliant decorations he has, more than a thousand of them. How powerfully he speaks! How pleasant his conversation! In these two weeks I have learnt a little of what he says. You learn them from me. See he is speaking of this country’s miracle-displaying king. He is saying that the glorious king sent him to us. And he is displaying such wonders that they leave no doubt that he is a special envoy of the King. Look carefully, it is not only the creatures on this peninsula that are listening to what he says; he is making the whole country hear in wondrous fashion. For near and far everyone is trying to listen to the speech here. It is not only humans that are listening, it is animals too. And look, even the mountains are listening to the commands he brought so that they are stirring in their places, and the trees, too, move to the place that he indicates. He brings forth water from wherever he wishes. He even makes his fingers like a Spring of the Holy Water, and gives to drink from them. And look, at his sign, an important lamp in the dome of this palace splits into two. That means this country together with all its beings recognizes that he is an official and envoy. They heed and obey him, as though knowing that he is the most eminent and true translator of an unseen displayer of miracles, and the herald of his dominicality, the discloser of his talisman, and a trustworthy envoy delivering his commands. All those with intelligence around him declare: “Yes, that is right!” about everything he says, and affirm lt. indeed, through submitting to his signs and commands, the mountains and trees in this country and the huge light that illuminates it, say: “Yes, yes, everything you say is true!”
And so, my foolish friend! Could there be any contradiction or deception concerning the miracle-displaying king about whom this most luminous, magnificent, and serious being, who bears a thousand decorations particular to the king’s own treasury, is speaking with ail his strength, confirmed by all the country’s notables, and concerning the king’s attributes which he mentions, and the commands which he relays? If there is anything contrary to the truth in these things, it will be necessary to deny this palace, these lamps, this community, both their reality and their existence. If you can, raise any objections against these; but you will see that they will be smashed by the power of the proof, and flung back at you.
TWELFTH PROOF: Come, my brother, who has come to his senses a little! I shall show you a further proof of the strength of all the eleven preceding proofs. See this luminous Decree, which descends from above and which everyone looks on with perfect attention out of either wonder or veneration. The one with the thousand decorations has stopped by it and is explaining its meaning to everyone. The Styles of the Decree shine in such a way that they attract everyone’s appreciative gaze, and it speaks of matters so important and serious that everyone is compelled to give ear to them. For it describes all the qualities, acts, commands, and attributes of the one who governs this whole land, who made this palace, and exhibits these wonders. Just as there is a mighty stamp on the Decree as a whole, look! There is an inimitable seal on every line and every sentence, and, moreover, the meanings, truths, commands, and instances of wisdom it states are seen to be in a style particular to him which bears the meaning of a stamp.
In Short: The Supreme Decree shows the Supreme Being like the sun, so that anyone who is not blind can see it.
And so, my friend! If you have come to your senses, this is enough for now. If you have something to say, say it. In reply, the obstinate man said:
“I can only say this in the face of these proofs of yours: All praise be to God for I have come to believe. And I believe in a way bright as the sun and clear as daylight that this country has a single King of Perfection, this world, a Single Glorious Owner, this palace, a Single Beauteous Maker. May God be pleased with you, for you have saved me from my former obstinacy and foolishness. Each of the proofs you showed was sufficient to demonstrate the truth. But because with each successive proof, clearer, pleasanter, more agreeable, more luminous, finer levels of knowledge, veils in acquaintanceship, and windows of love were opened and revealed, I waited and listened.”
The story in the form of a comparison indicating the mighty truth of Divine Unity and belief in God is completed. Success and Guidance are from God alone.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi