The notion of a personal God who sees everything that we’re doing, and intervenes in our lives when He/She/It feels like it, seems increasingly strange to me. It just sounds too much like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
He’s…gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!Also, for the sake of getting presents on Christmas Day. Just as believers in a personal God expect that they’ll be rewarded after death with salvation for being such a good man or woman during their lifetime.
The problem, of course, is that religions don’t agree about what’s “bad” or “good.” So it’s up to each person to determine what code of moral conduct pleases God. Which assumes that there is a God who can be pleased. About that there is much more agreement among the theistic religions.
Which, rather strangely, includes the spiritual path of Sant Mat and other similar mystic faiths that manage to combine a belief in an ineffable divinity beyond all conception with a belief that a human being, the guru, essentially is identical to God.
Meaning, the guru (or satguru, “true guru”) has all the powers of God, even though they are not outwardly apparent. Devoted disciples of a satguru consider that he (apparently God very rarely manifests in a female form, since virtually all reputed satgurus are male) watches everything that they are doing. He then rewards them according to the “goodness” and “badness” of their inward and outward actions.
My wife and I belong to a monthly discussion group that meets in members’ homes. The November meeting was at our house and somehow we got talking about the idea of a personal God who is continually looking over your shoulder and judging you. This possibility, as unlikely as it is, was universally described as “creepy.”
It’s like being stalked by an invisible presence, one that can jump into your life on a whim and change things around without your notice or consent. It’s difficult to envision how this could be possible.
My wife, Laurel, who I used to lovingly call “the infidel” back in the days when I was more of a true believer in my guru and his organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, would wonder what would happen if her guardian angel wanted to change our lives in one fashion and my satguru had a different idea of what should be done.
Do they get together in some conference room in the sky and hash out how our mutual destiny should be changed? Do they spiritually arm wrestle, with the winner getting to exercise his or her life-changing power? Belief in a single overarching personal God is weird enough, but it avoids the paradoxes that arise when a belief in multiple God-like entities, embodied or not, is entertained.
Even so, I know lots of disciples who think that their guru is observing everything they do. I used to be such a person myself. Now, I do my best to put my faith only in what I’ve experienced directly. And so far I haven’t observed that a personal entity is watching me and altering my destiny.
Here are some quotations from recent issues of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas magazine, “Spiritual Link,” which reflect this belief in the guru’s God-like power. Such may be true, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
We must never forget that our loving Master sees every single little attempt we make at meditation, and he also knows how we conduct our daily lives. He watches over us every minute of the day and the night. He is there, whether we can see him or not.
The Master is always with us, and we must call on him at every juncture and in every peril.
When the disciple surrenders himself to the Master for good, the Master looks after him in every way.
When a perfect living Master accepts anyone as a disciple, that fact significantly alters his karmic status, because then it is the Master who takes charge of the disciple’s account and he administers his karmas according to whatever he thinks is best for the disciple.
Once the Master has initiated a soul, along with taking on the responsibility of bringing it back to Sach Khand [a high spiritual region] he is handling the initiate’s karmic account and administers it in a way that is best suited for the straight road back.
Our life is like a film, with all that happens already scripted. Once we are initiated, the director of what happens in our life is the Master. He is fully aware of what has happened and what will happen. He has ordained the chain of events we are going through.
Including, I have to assume, what is written on a disciple’s weblog. Funny, it sure felt like I was deciding what to post on the Church of the Churchless this evening. But according to the last quotation, apparently not. My keyboard was under another’s control.
Who knows, it could be. In which case, you’ve just read God’s writing.
I like that idea. I’ve always wanted to be able to write divinely.