Since Gurinder Singh Dhillon is the guru of India's Radha Soami Satsang Beas, and is considered to be "God in human form" by devotees, perhaps it's presumptuous of me to comment on a letter he wrote to disciples in Japan following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami there.
But what the heck!
I'll gamble that if God exists, and if Gurinder Singh is God's representative here on Earth (two big "if's"), the Supreme Being enjoys commentary on his missives to humanity.
The letter can be read in PDF form:
Download Gurinder Singh message to Japan
Copying and pasting the text into this blog post resulted in a garbled PDF file mess, so I'll simply quote a few passages that seemed to deserve some commenting.
"We pray to the Lord that the worst is over and life for so many people can return to some semblance of normalcy."
This shows how an Eastern spirituality can sound an awful lot like a Western religion. It isn't true that "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." Some Indian mystics view God as almost exactly like Christianity does: granting favors in response to prayers.
To me, this is ridiculous.
If God is in control of the world, then God allowed the 9.0 earthquake to happen. What sense is there in praying to the Big Guy Upstairs who was responsible for the disaster to now ameliorate it? This seems akin to a battered wife begging her husband to be nice after he beat her up.
"Our life in this world is short and uncertain. We need to stay ever vigilant and keep focused on the real purpose of life; to regain our conscious contact, through our meditation, with the Shabd [spirit} within."
Well, I can't disagree with the first sentence. But though I used to agree with the sentiments expressed in the second, they now sound strange to me.
Gurinder Singh is saying to disciples in Japan, many of whom probably are still engaged in getting their lives back in order after the earthquake/tsunami, that they should be focused on putting in 2 1/2 hours of meditation every day -- not on helping to rebuild their homes, community, and nation.
I realize that this world is considered to be the realm of the "Negative Power" in the Sant Mat teachings followed by Radha Soami Satsang Beas. Supposedly we humans are enmeshed behind the veil of karma, maya, illusion. Returning to a realm of pure spirit is the only way out.
But this has come to feel deeply selfish and self-centered to me. There's no mention in Gurinder Singh's letter of relief donations being sent to Japan, nor of the necessity for Japanese disciples to help disaster victims.
"It is our meditation alone that will be of any real help to us, nothing else provides any lasting benefit. In the face of these recent events, please continue your spiritual practice with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment."
Again, no mention of helping others. Just sit on your meditation cushion, close your eyes, ignore the physical world, and try to elevate your soul to a spiritual region where earthquakes and tsunamis don't happen.
OK. Good luck with that.
Where's the compassion, though, for those who are suffering through earthly problems and need a non-divine shoulder to lean on? A real shoulder, a physical shoulder: food, shelter, medical supplies.
It seems to me that until we are decent human beings, filled with concern for those less fortunate than us, it's premature to envision ourselves as worthy of godliness.