Over my 59 years I've heard a lot of talk about grace. God's grace. Guru's grace. The word – "grace" – sounds good, maybe because it's what would be said before family Thanksgiving get-togethers.
Someone would utter, "Let's say grace." We would. Then we could eat.
In this sense grace was a predictable prelude to something desirable. But in spirituality and religion grace is much more mysterious.
An Indian word, "mauj," sort of sums it up. It means the will of God or the guru, which often is considered to be one and the same, as in this passage (#23).
One should have faith in the Supreme Being and Sant at [as?] Guru. As far as possible, one should conform to His Mauj (will, please [pleasure?]) and ordainments.
God or His delegate can do whatever the heck He wants. When this divine will is to our liking, it's known as "grace." When the mauj is much less desirable, as in much of the Old Testament (consider Job), it's the theological equivalent of the colloquialism shit happens.
Meditation is nothing but begging for His mercy…Meditation is begging for His mercy and asking for his forgiveness…the rest is His Grace which will come in His Mauj.
Now, as I so frequently say, I don't know. It could be that the guru (who is the "His" referred to above, being viewed as equivalent to God) has the power to erase karma, sins, and other barriers to spiritual elevation.
However, I doubt it, just as I doubt that Jesus saves in a similar fashion.
And increasingly I'm also distrustful, even repelled, by this talk of grace and mercy. Cause and effect strikes me as a concept that's more appealing and more scientific, not to mention more likely.
I wrote a book called "Life is Fair." It was published by Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), so we're on the same wavelength when it comes to the primacy of cause and effect in the cosmos.
The difference between us is that RSSB holds out the promise of grace and mercy as a "get out of karma free" card, and I'm not even sure I would want to play such a card if it were handed to me – as well as doubtful that such a card exists.
I talked about this in my Life is Fair post.
So when we look for fairness or unfairness in life, there aren't any objective signs of either. What we find are people who stamp something as "Fair" or "Unfair" on the basis of their subjective perspectives.
How, then, can I believe so confidently that life is fair? Simple. I don't see any evidence of the privileged position that unfairness requires. There's no Fairness King or Queen who can sit on his or her throne and proclaim, "This is fair; that is unfair."
What we do have is a demonstrably interconnected universe where no thing, living or inert, stands alone.
Grace and mercy require a disconnected dualism. Cause and effect require an integrated unity.
I like the notion of cosmic oneness more than twoness, just as I like the saying "we're all in this together" more than "each to his own" (though I use both of them depending on my mauj).
Consider a "fair" roulette wheel in Las Vegas. The physical laws of motion determine where the ball lands after the wheel is spun.
The gamblers place their bets with the understanding that they're all standing on a level playing field. The roulette wheel doesn't divvy out "grace" or "punishment." It just does what it does.
Spin, with the ball falling fairly in accord with universal laws of cause and effect.
I like to win. But I wouldn't enjoy making money from a roulette wheel where the outcome was fixed by the casino management.
Yet most religious people have no problem believing that they're going to get special treatment from God or a guru. They look forward to cutting to the front of the salvation line through divine grace and mercy, undeserved as this may be.
I've said that salvation isn't so serious to me anymore. Especially if it comes unfairly.
As Patrick Henry might have said, if he was me, "give me cause and effect or give me death." I suspect I'm going to get both.
And that isn't a bad thing. (As if I have a choice about it.)