Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I don't write as much about my experience with Radha Soami Satsang Beas anymore. My of posts includes just about everything I want to say about my churchy phase. Still, there's always a bit more to say.
Today I answered an email from someone who wondered how to deal with unjust situations. I told him that keeping calm, cool, and collected is admirable, but there's a difference between not being unduly affected by an injustice and failing to deal with it.
Action is called for when someone is trying to screw you over. That's common sense. You don't have to get angry; you simply have to deal with them.
People who are still active in RSSB have left quite a few comments on my posts along the lines of: "Brian, you should get over your anger and disappointment with this spiritual path. Just because you didn't get the benefits you felt you deserved doesn't entitle you to criticize the guru."
Partly true, partly false. I'm not angry. And I no longer feel disappointed, because I've learned that what I expected wasn't reasonable.
So I admit that I'm responsible for embracing a delusion. So is every religious believer. But there's a difference between guru-centered faiths and traditional religions that justifies my criticisms of RSSB.
Now, let's consider what this means from the perspective of someone who signs up to be a satguru's disciple. Like me, who assiduously followed the guru's guidance for over thirty years.
Either the guru really is God, or he isn't.
If he isn't, then the alternative title I talked about in my "God-man or Asshole?" post holds true. Because someone would have to be a real jerk to pretend he or she is a divine being, accepting all the benefits that come with the satguru gig, leading devotees down an illusory enlightenment road.
On the other hand, if the guru is God, then he or she should act the part. Miracles should be forthcoming. Other-worldly wisdom should be evident. There shouldn't be any doubt that God has manifested in a human form.
However, there is. That's indisputable. Just as there is doubt that any religion based on belief in a personal God is true. John Loftus talks about this in his book, "Why I Became An Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity."
He wonders, what sort of God would leave his creation in the lurch rather than revealing himself to humans? Not a loving God, given the other options.
God could reveal himself to us in every generation in a myriad of ways ... He could become incarnate in every generation and do miracles for all to see. He could spontaneously appear and heal people, or end a famine, or stop a war, or settle an important question like slavery.
He could raise up John F. Kennedy from the dead for all to see. He could restore an amputated limb in full sight of a crowd of people that would include all of the best magicians along with the myth-busters and James Randi, who would all find fault if fault could be found.
Yet in fact, they are non-existent. This is easier to understand when God is considered to be a transcendent being. Maybe he's busy taking care of another universe, or otherwise has better things to do.
He could do any and all of the miracles he did in the Bible from time to time, including miraculously feeding five thousand men with their families. The list of things God could do in each generation is endless.
However, when God is believed to be living right here on Earth as flesh and blood it becomes much more difficult to rationalize his failing to come out of the closet and reveal himself unambiguously.
The likely answer why this doesn't happen: God-men and God-women are fakes. That leaves them open to well-deserved criticism for pretending to be someone they aren't, and promising benefits they know can't be produced.
Loftus has a similar attitude toward the Christian God he once believed in:
I too am shaming God, if he exists. I am an atheist to protest the fact that even if he exists he has not revealed himself clearly to his creatures, or shown us divine compassion. Even if there is a God after all, I will shame him for not providing sufficient evidence and reasons to believe.
So a supposed satguru is deserving of criticism on both fronts.
If he really is God, then he should act like a divine being and not pussy-foot around as a normal human. And if he isn't God, then he should never have led people to believe that he is.
No one is perfect. That's what I remind myself when someone lets me down, or a product doesn't perform as promised. But the claim is that a satguru is perfect.
That's why it's appropriate to hold him to the highest standards. If he doesn't meet them, that's proof perfection lies elsewhere -- or nowhere.