Today someone sent me this hot-off-the-press notice from Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), a religious organization based in India that I belonged to for 35 years before I saw the churchless light.
It decrees that even though videos of the RSSB guru are now online, directly quoting Gurinder Singh Dhillon isn't permitted.
Only paraphrasing of what the guru said is allowed. And for some inexplicable reason, the notice isn't supposed to be shared with all devotees of RSSB, only those who have some official capacity in the organization.
Well, after reading this I had two heretical thoughts: (1) I've got to share this notice on my blog so anyone who wants to can read it; and (2) I'm going to quote Dhillon directly. Ah, the pleasure of defying ridiculously rigid religious rules!
So here's the notice.
My transcript of the first question and answer follows. I did my best to make it as accurate as possible. One word was unclear to me, so it has a question mark associated with it. After the transcript I'll share follow-up questions that deserve to be asked of the guru.
QUESTION: Hazur, I have read that we have to live in master's will. And in bigger incidents like death, serious health, we all say that it is master's will and we accept it. But in our day to day life, small things don't allow us to accept his will. And there's a lot of confusion regarding that.
GURU'S ANSWER: First we have to divide it into two portions. One is on the spiritual aspect and the other is on the administrative side. So on the spiritual there should be no question. On the administration I don't think anybody creates that kind of a focus where he looks deep into everything.
And that is why all of you are there as HODs [?] as sevadars, to look into it, to give the different perspectives. So definitely somebody could have a better perspective, and something could be more in tune to what the sangat needs. So sometimes in a hurry you overlook so many things.
So in day to day life, in administrative things, you should use your own discrimination. Give your suggestions, and at the ending of the day if he takes a decision, then you follow that. This is why right from the beginning I have said in spirituality there is no question, and in administration you are most free to give your suggestions.
And where the spiritual aspect is concerned, also you see, learning to stay in his will means understanding his will first. If you don't know what his will is, how will you be able to stay in his will?
So it also is reaching that level of consciousness that we understand what his will is. Today everything for us is our perspective. We are searching in the dark as to what we think his will is. So again, only an elevated soul will know what that real will is and to be able to stay in that.
For modern people like us, we are all sort of searching in the dark trying to understand the why and when of this creation, why has this happened to us, why has this happened to somebody else.
These are some of the questions that came to mind about how Gurinder Singh Dhillon answered the woman:
(1) By "his will," do you mean God's will or the guru's will? Sounds like the guru is speaking about God's will, but this isn't crystal clear. If somehow the guru is talking about his own will, wouldn't it be easy for the guru to simply describe what that will consists of? Regardless, RSSB considers the guru to be God in human form, so I'm assuming God's will and the guru's will are one and the same.
(2) Since it appears that God's will is being talked about, why is God referred to as a "he"? Does God have XY chromosomes? Does God have a penis? Inquiring minds want to know.
(3) How can anyone be sure that God exists? That's a prerequisite for God having a will.
(4) Assuming God exists (a huge assumption), where's the evidence that God has a will that humans are supposed to understand? This presupposes free will, since apparently we're supposed to choose to search for God's will, find it, and then remain in it.
(5) Every religion has a different idea of what God wants people to do. The guru says that only an "elevated soul" can know what the real will is. So why are there so many differing views of what God's will is? And how can someone recognize an elevated soul who supposedly knows for sure what God's will is?
(6) Is the guru claiming that he is an elevated soul who knows God's will? This is unclear, since he says "we are all searching in the dark" as to what that will is. Does this include the guru?
(7) And why should anyone care what God's will is? If God doesn't exist, obviously there's no such thing as God's will. And if God does exist, isn't the notion of God having a will regarding what people do horribly anthropomorphic? The guru's answer makes it sound like God is a bizarre ruler who demands that their subjects figure out what the ruler wants instead of the ruler making this clear directly.