God’s awareness

Can God be aware of change?

Post-Dharmakīrtian Buddhist academics, such as Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla, provided a natural corollary to Vasubandhu and Dharmakīrti’s conclusions that a changeless being cannot perform the action of creation. Not only can a changeless being not create the world of sequential events, says Śāntarakṣita, but he cannot even know about the world of change. Even if there were a simple, beginningless and endless being endowed with the faculty of intelligence, such a being could not know the events of the transitory world, for if a being knew each event separately as it occurred, then he would have a plurality of cognitive acts and would lose his unity. But if he knew all events at once, then he would not know the essential character of events, which is that they occur in sequence. Knowing all events in history at once would be like hearing every note in a melody played at once rather than in sequence. Just as the essence of melody lies in the sequentiality of the notes rather than in the mere presence of the notes, the essence of history lies in the sequentiality of events. And so, concluded Śāntarakṣita, if God is indeed simple and eternally changeless, he cannot participate in or know about history, and so those of us who are caught in history can derive no benefit from God’s existence at all.

What might motivate God to c create a world?

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