GOD AND THE DEVIL – A CONVERSATION
And finally God said “I give up!”
“You can’t do that!” said the devil with a start.
“It’s just not possible. I can’t run heaven anymore” continued God, “there are not enough number of people coming over here. How do you expect me to carry on with this big establishment? A pleasure house full of all the comforts conceivable, call it a treasure trove of all that you can ask for. You think it is easy maintaining this? Where do you think I can muster up the resources for such an enterprise when there are no takers? No it is just not possible. I can’t carry on”.
“You can’t do that”, repeated the devil in exasperation. “How do you think I can carry on without you? My very existence depends on you being here. See if you close down heaven then I will have to contend with the hordes that will overrun my kingdom, and you know what trouble I have taken to build it up. I will not be able to keep the fires burning. There will be long queues and traffic jams and I do not have the forces to control them. Don’t desert me now”.
The devil continued “Can’t you see it’s all your fault? You have specified the cut off marks for entry into heaven at a very high level. How then can you expect more people to come over there? You cannot get more people over there unless you dilute your standards. As it is your expectations are very high. You call yourself the creator and still churn out all those imperfect ones. Of course I accept that I owe my existence to your own imperfections and that has kept me occupied. But I did not bargain for what is happening now. I can’t handle it alone. You have to accept responsibility for this situation.”
God looked at the devil with scorn and said “You blame me? Look at what you have done, throwing all those freebies around. I can see from here all those people scrambling over there for a piece of the cake you have left in their midst. They have forgotten that it is I who grants them their wishes. They do not see me for you have pulled a veil over their faces with your antics. So why blame me? I have never resorted to such gimmicks to lure them. It is not what I am”.
“Ha ha, that’s a laugh! Why do you yourself resort to lies? You know fully well that the greatest enticement you offer is ‘Hope’. You fool people and have been doing so through the ages. Once in a while you threaten them saying that they shall carry the results of their deeds in this life to the next. Thereby obliquely telling them that if they do not fall within the scheme of things you have ordained for them, you will punish them when they are born again. When they look up to you and things don’t happen the way you promised will happen, they turn away. How long can they carry on waiting for things to happen? You see, you offer them something intangible and call it salvation. No one is sure what it is or when it will happen or whether it will happen at all. Why lead them on? You cannot blame them if they turn to me. I do not tell them anything of the life hereafter. I give them the pleasures they seek in their present life itself and so their disillusionment with you drives them towards me. Many are prepared to face the fires of hell rather than burn in them in their life. You see they have come to a stage where they are no longer sure whether there is a heaven or a hell, so why not live life as if there is nothing beyond it. But I did not bargain for this influx in to my domain in such large numbers.”
God was silent for a long time. For the first time he wondered whether he had played into the devil’s hands. He knew that as a part of his grand design he had created the devil also and now it was also his responsibility to ensure that the devil did not grow out of his bounds. In a sense he was relieved that the devil had expressed that he could no longer manage the situation. It was a question of giving the finger and losing the hand. Was it really true that the people had started choosing damnation to salvation? He thought of Dr. Faustus who had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power and signed a pact for eternal damnation. What he had started as a Divine Comedy was slowly turning into a Divine Tragedy.
But God had ‘faith’ in his own abilities to check the rot. Yes that’s what he had been telling to his creations ‘Have Faith’. His own inner voice said “Have faith in yourself and you can do it. After all haven’t you gone down there from time to time to bring back things to normalcy? It’s time now to go back there. But it is going to be tougher job.”
The devil continued “even if you go down there now to set things right as per what you think, it is going to be a tough job. You see there are many Gods down there who promise salvation and deliverance from the miseries the people suffer. They have grown powerful and rich but I know they will ultimately have to come to me. But they are not bothered as long as they are having a free reign over there now. If and when you decide to go down there, you will have to compete with them to prove you are the genuine one. If you can do that, then at least you will have lessened my burden of having to tackle this influx. I shall pray for you but I am not sure to whom. Is there a greater God?”
And so God said “I have ‘Hope’ and the faith that the people have ‘Hope’ in me.”