Decades ago there was a skit on Saturday Night Live concerning an advertisement for a product called, as I remember it, “Clear Coat.” One actor gushed, “it’s an ice cream topping,” while another exclaimed, “It’s a floor wax,” and they repeated these statements with increasing fervor until an announcer declared, “Stop, you’re both right, it’s a floor wax AND an ice cream topping.”
This skit came to mind as I worked on today’s article. Many Baba people see Baba’s personal touch in their lives in ways big and small. Some see almost every coincidence as proof of Baba’s direct divine intervention. I have always been a bit skeptical of such an approach. For one thing, some of the coincidences seemed so ambiguous, and so devoid of significance that I found myself thinking, “If that’s the best Baba can do, then He’s not much of an Avatar.” Or, “With 6 billion people in the world, is it really likely that Baba made sure the light changed green just in time for you? What about people going the other direction who got the red light?”
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t think Baba was capable of interceding and changing earthly events in any manner He chose, it’s just that I more or less assumed He had more important matters to attend to. And I generally came to believe in what is sometimes called the watchmaker’s thesis, namely that Baba, like a watchmaker, had created the universe and wound it up, and was now mostly content to watch it tick away, letting the laws of karma and sanskaras guide events pretty much without the need for external tinkering. Interceding, perhaps, only in important or emergency situations.
But one evening as we were rushing to attend a play that our friends’ child was in, the mother said, “Don’t worry. Baba will leave us a parking space right in front of the theater so we won’t be late.” I didn’t say anything, content to let events speak for themselves, until we arrived at the theater with a few minutes to spare and saw a parking space only a few yards away (on a street which otherwise seemed devoid of any such spaces.)
This was the sort of thing which didn’t ordinarily happen to me. True, a parking space seems insignificant in the larger scheme of things but it also seemed too pointed to entirely dismiss. In the past I had always been reluctant to ask Baba for petty favors, or even to be on the lookout for them as this seemed somehow to shrink Baba from the Avatar to a good luck genie. But now, curious, I began to start actively looking for such intervention and, to my genuine surprise, I found it quite often.
What was going on here? Was Baba really interceding in my life? It occurred to me that this was a little like the shift from Newtonian physics to quantum mechanics. There were general laws, but the more minutely we examined things, the more we saw that other laws were at work as well. Duality (in the sense of either/or) seems to work until you get down to the particulars at which point singularities take over. Life is both a wave and packets of particles; equations can be solved with positive or negative values for time. And, this is perhaps the key point, it’s the very act of observation which changes results. When we “look” for Baba’s hand in our lives, this actually, in a way I can’t pretend to understand, causes it to be there.
It’s not that Baba cares about you more than the other 6 billion people. He cares about all of them the most, an impossible contradiction that is only resolved when you delve into the “subatomic” world of Baba particles in your daily life. I suspect, if only I knew more about quantum physics and were smart enough to understand any of it, that I would be able to make a more compelling case for the “quantumness” of the Avatar. But for now, I am content to accept that Baba is both the clockmaker and active participant in the world and that neither role impinges upon the other. And I suspect that this also solves the problem of free will versus predestination. We don’t have to worry about it anymore, we can simply say with confidence, “Stop, you’re both right.”