One of the powerful image of the later Heideggerian thought is the ability to see the opposites like presence and absence, revealing and concealing together. At the pinnacle of his philosophical career, thinking of divine creeps into his philosophy. (He had decided to keep God out of his philosophy).
Heidegger would say absence as the default-mode of God. For me, this is a very liberating sentence. Dear religious friends, if you are upset by this statement, let me try to explain first.
We live in the world of binaries, where things are divided into categories where one is privileged over the other. Presence is more important than absence,Christian in Bible is more important than pagan, men than non-men, brahmin than non-brahmin and so on. Heidegger attacks this type of thinking and is inviting us to see in a unitary manner. Absence or Presence is not privileged, but the unitary whole of both gives the full picture.
World is filled with the traces of divine. But the default mode of God is absencing. The divine manifests/presences occasionally. To understand the mystery of the divine, we need to see the presence of God and the absence of God together. Absence is much more than a negative term; absence means the divine has withheld its presence. When we are able to see the divine as absence-presence combined, it is an authentic image of the divine.
The tendency of the modern world is to look for evidences. This has also crept into the divine dimension too. Who are the beneficiaries of this trend? When there is a news that a miracle happened in a religious places, there is a big queue of people. When a fake religious person say, I can help you to experience god (or God is happy if you offer this prayer), there is a big rush. Is this mad rush a reluctance to accept the absenting dimension of God, always wanting some tangible presence of God. Without giving thought to the absenting dimension, we would never find God in the neighbour; we would never find the traces of divine in the creation.
Divine manifests in two modes, in an absencing and presencing mode. Heidegger would say absencing is the default mode. (it makes sense for me too). When we accept that
- We won’t go behind miracles to find God, but could see God in our day-to-day life.
- We would also respect the divine present in my enemy or friend in an absenting dimension
- We won’t have too much eagerness for extra-ordinary experiences of God as each moment is an experience of God (may be in absenting mode).
- Sacred-secular divide can no longer exist. You can’t be a religious and hypocrite together.