Because s/he could make things appear out of thin air.
Now, this is quite impressive at first. So impressive, in fact, I decided to follow him/her around for a while (dropping everything else I was doing ... not really recommended).
After the 8th day of following this saint, I realised that s/he was truly amazing in several respects. The ability to materialize random objects, sometimes on demand was one. The other was the fact that s/he produced nothing of use.
"It's not about the usefulness," s/he told me when I asked him/her about it, "but the effect it has upon your faith. Do you believe?"
I just raised my eyebrows, and went back to my tent.
I lay, meditating on what had occurred that day. I returned to him/her next day before the camp set off towards the next town on our itinerary.
"What is the use of faith when the world is preventing you from living your life fully, or perhaps even helping your life to wane?" I asked.
"Faith and the life of the spirit are more important than this physical world, " was the reply.
"So, what is the purpose of the physical life, the only one we can truly know to experience outside of the life of our minds?" I asked.
"This physical life is but a test, a trial, in which you will prove yourself worthy of God's grace in the world of the soul."
I must admit that I was quite angry (I usually am angry, I must admit, but this was fortified angry). However, I restrained myself. I could not understand this logic.
The logic runs as follows:
- God made the universe, and is aware of everything in it. Past, present and future are known to God.
- Despite this (fore)knowledge, God tests his creations, time and again. The argument that supports this is the belief in free will. By this definition we have a contradiction: free will rules out determinism, which means that God cannot know the future.
- God, therefore, is not omniscient, as s/he/it has created chaos and randomness (directly manifested as free will). I will refrain from stating that "God ain't so great, then" as that's a cheap argument to make. Although it's tempting ... Then again, maybe God was bored, so removed the deterministic elements of creation in order to be surprised by it?
- However, free will validates the argument of God testing his creations.
The next question that arises from this is: Are we all tested equally?
If you look around the world, any world with sentient life, purportedly sporting souls we cannot see, you will see children being born into poverty, famine and starvation.
Equally, you will see people who are born into wealth, warmth and healthy lifestyles, lifestyles of the rich and famous, if you will.
This doesn't seem like equal testing, does it?
I confronted the guru the next day about this very question.
His/her answer can be summarized (and it needs to be, as s/he was damn longwinded about it) in a single word: "Reincarnation".
This didn't help me at all.
I couldn't help myself. I said it:
"So some of us have to resit our exams?"
As you would expect, s/he smiled and nodded, almost half-laughing to his/her self.
That wasn't a fucking answer, I thought.
The logic of the reincarnation argument ran as follows:
- A soul comes into being - by God's hand - and is awarded free will - by God.
- This soul enters into relationships with various sentient creatures, the levels of sentience varying. The success with which these souls conduct their physical lives, negotiating the trials set by God, and adherence to whatever moral codes they are expected to adhere to, dictates whether or not they will rise to the higher level permanently, or have to go through another set of trials.
- Now, if like me, you are quick-thinking, you might be wondering:
- What moral codes are amoebas, giraffes, otters, cats, dogs, dinosaurs - or whatever - meant to follow? And even as humanoids with full sentience (or super-sentience, as in some cases around the galaxy) how are you supposed to know the moral codes? Or to rephrase and rename moral codes: "The Rules Of God's Game".
Allegedly, God speaks to and through some select individuals (is there a dog prophet?) and these enlightened ones explain it for the rest of us.
How were these enlightened ones selected by God? What did they do to deserve this apparent honour (yes, honour - spouting morality at God's behest, when ACTUALLY commanded by God is a pretty big honour, if you think about it for 2 seconds)?
Is one's ability to negotiate and discover the rules and adhere to them without influence or prompting what makes an actual saint? Or at least, a prophet of some kind?
It would seem so, as my Guru had no answer for this, just that enigmatic smile thing ... and that smile was really beginning to get on my nerves.
The next question that was running through my mind was simple: does God make us all equal in the sense that our souls are all equal? because how else can our sentience and ability to fathom the rules of God's game come about? Or is this where the trials kick in, distracting some souls more than others? The more I thought about it all, the angrier I became.
And, to finally put the cherry on this theological and philospohical cake, I had to wonder: what could possibly be so good that you have to go through all of this? An eternal orgasm? Or final and eternal oblivion?
I made up my mind to leave. Before I did, I met with the Guru one last time.
"I understand why you want to help people find faith, or strengthen the faith of the already faithful."
S/he nodded wisely, smiling.
"But what would be the harm of materializing things that help people in this physical world? Why not produce things that alleviate their suffering? Surely you can't believe they all deserve the hardships they endure? And would acts of kindness not be proper examples rather than these parlor tricks you perform?"
S/he smiled again. But no words came. Instead, s/he materialized a pen. An ordinary, boring pen, as was the design and manufacture on my planet. Millions of them everywhere, in administration buildings, schools, and homes - just about everywhere on the planet.
S/he handed it to me.
"This will be of use to you, and will help you to relieve your suffering, and the suffering of others."
I was, in a very palpable sense, gobsmacked.
This was not the answer I expected. This belief that I, a mere mortal with so much anger, could do anything to relieve anyone's suffering, including my own.
I rammed the pen right through his/her left eye into his/her brain. S/he convulsed, small objects like plectrums and crucifixes and tiny figurines spewing amidst clouds of ash from his/her fingertips. Finally s/he lay still.
I left the country, finally boarding an intergalactic jet and leaving the planet. Never to return again.
It was only after many years of travelling, and finally arriving here on Earth, that my thoughts returned to the Guru. I was watching a reality TV show where 10 people were bickering over toilet roll, because the show's producers thought it would be funny to remove half of their supply while they slept, and then replace their food with various items such as figs, dates and bran cereals. It wasn't the Guru I though of first, though. It was God. Here we are, negotiating seemingly arbitrary events, some good, some bad, and often without any obvious cause, reason, or even effect (outside of the little moments of pain or pleasure they induce). We are God's Reality TV channel, all struggling to win the big prize or face eviction. Except we can't be sure how or why we might win or lose; nor can we be sure of what we win if we do win. And what is losing? Playing the game, whether we know we are or not.
My only question now is this: at what position is the Guru on the scoreboard? We'll never know ...