It’s usually advisable to eliminate the middleman. He won’t like it. But if there’s no reason to keep him around, dump the guy. He adds extra overhead.
Especially if he’s standing between you and God. Or more accurately, if you believe he is. For given that the evidence of God’s existence is extremely scanty, it figures that a belief in the need for a middleman or mediator between humanity and divinity rests on even shakier ground.
I used to buy cars the old-fashioned way. And hated it. You know the routine. Find a car you like. Talk to a salesman. Tell him how much you want to pay. Then cool your heels while he supposedly goes off to try and talk his boss into accepting the deal.
You never see the boss. All you see is the salesman dejectedly walking back into his office, telling you “Man, I’m sorry. I argued for you, but my boss says the dealership would be losing money if he accepted your offer. So this is what he’s willing to sell the car for…”
And so it’d go. Of course, the salesman wasn’t really on my side. Nor, I suspect, did he ever talk with his boss. He probably had a cup of coffee and joked around with his buddies for ten minutes, then plastered on a fake dejected look before he tried to suck more money out of me.
But at least I knew the car I wanted was real, even if the middleman game was fakey. With “God” (a placeholder term, the way I use it, for ultimate reality), I neither know that my envisioned object of desire exists, nor that a mediator between me and God serves any purpose.
I don’t need a mediator to connect me with unicorns, fairies, or leprechauns. I can imagine them all on my own, thank you. No assistance required. Yet for some reason there’s a strong demand for a mediator between people and God, even though the middleman never delivers the goods.
Nice work if you can get it. It’s no wonder there’s never been a lack of prophets, gurus, priests, shamans, and all the other members of the God-human mediator class. If I could make a living by serving as a middleman between people and a being who I never had to prove even existed, much less actually show face to face, that’d be sweet.
I could even keep on with my go-betweening after I died. That’s what happened with Jesus. Countless Christians still consider that he’s striking a bargain for them with God: Jesus died for their sins. Since Christian theology says that you never get to talk about the deal with the Boss directly, believers have to take the word of the Salesman on faith.
My biggest problem with the God-human mediator business is this: the whole notion is founded on duality—separation. Jesus is considered to be the mediator between two estranged parties, God and humankind. Similarly, in Sikhism (and offshoots such as Sant Mat) the guru reunites separated ones with God.
However, a central thrust of modern science is that unity lies at the heart of reality. Physics speaks of the space-time continuum and quantum connectedness. It seeks the Theory of Everything, not Theories.
So it’s difficult for me to believe that the spiritual realm, if it exists, is more disconnected than the foundation of material existence. But this is what religions would have us believe.
Somehow we’ve supposedly gotten way out of touch with a distant God, and there’s no getting us back together without the aid of a middleman who says, “Listen, have I got a deal for you…”
In his book “Grassroots Spirituality,” Robert Forman says that wholeness is one of the hallmarks of a spiritual (as contrasted with religious) way of relating with the world. Speaking of the fresh ways of communing with the cosmos that are sweeping the world, he writes:
In short, the traditional western “transcendent” model of God is no longer operative in the Grassroots Spirituality Movement. Its Ultimate is reminiscent of the omnipresent, immanent yet infinitely extended vacuum state of quantum physics, more like an “It” than a “He” or “She.” In “It” “we live and move and have our being.”
…This sense of an “indwelling” One has an implication for our religious structures. If we each are gifted with an indwelling spark of the One, then we have no need for some mediating figure like a priest or a minister. For “It” is already available to each of us.
Nor do we need an intercessor, for it’s available to us by merely letting go of our attachments. If we’re each connected to the All through some deep inner wellspring, then no one of us is more connected to “It” than is any other.
Make your own deal with God. Eliminate the middleman. In the end, there might not even be two ends to ultimate reality. With One, there’s no middle. Nor a middleman.
But if you still want a guru (and have a broadband connection), I have a recommendation for you.