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H. Paul Lillebo
ECRU 1 – The Revelation.
(An Interview With Guru Radraj)
[A new faith, "Eternal Cosmic Relativism," has been sweeping the world, making inroads into all major religions as well as with nonreligious individuals; the number of converts now runs in the thousands per day. Its champion and professed receiver of divine revelation, known popularly as Guru Radraj, recently sat for the following interview. The interviewer was a senior journalist of this paper, who wishes, for the moment, to remain anonymous. He does, however, wish to report that he found Guru Radraj convincing, and he has requested an indefinite leave of absence.]
Good morning, Guru Radraj.
Can you tell us about your revelation?
“It was a spring evening in '92. I was attending an astronomical lecture by a particularly halting speaker. As the speaker uttered his umpteenth "uh" I heard a soft groan from the seat next to mine. Turning, I found an elderly gentleman with a long white beard and a mass of matching hair, dressed in unbleached cotton clothing. On seeing he had my attention, he leaned my way, raised himself slightly from his chair as if to leave, and whispered, 'I'm tired and sick of this; got a match?' There was something about the man's clear eyes – in fact his entire figure had a peculiar translucence – that made me follow him as he rose and glided, as if weightless, out the door.
I caught up with the gentleman outside in the clear but moist night air, produced a light for his pipe, and stood transfixed by a feeling of recognition and déjà vu.
‘Pardon me,’ I stammered, ‘you look like ...uh...’
‘Stop that!’ the man commanded. ‘I've heard enough meaningless use of that word for one day. I've come to put meaning in it. I've come to see you.’
He stood for a moment silently, gazing skyward. ‘There's truth,’ he averred, as fixed on the stars as I was on him.
‘Why have you come back, Mr. Whitman?’ I asked.
‘I told you,’ he said. ‘To see you.’
There was another long pause.
‘It's been a hundred years. Not much has changed.’
I objected weakly that it seemed as if a lot had changed in a century. He brushed me off.
‘Nothing meaningful,’ he said. ‘But that's about to change.’
I found myself astonished, not at the apparition, but at my placid reaction to it. It seemed to me at the moment quite natural that the great poet should return to instruct the world. We strolled – well, he glided – to a nearby cafe, where he spoke for two hours, downing countless cups of coffee, interrupted only by my restroom breaks and frequent questions.”
How did Mr.Whitman begin?
“Started with ‘God’. God's there, all right, he said, but we've got it all wrong. We've given our gods all our own nasty characteristics: jealousy, anger, bloodthirst, vengeance, irrationality... The real god is nothing like that.”
So what did he call this 'real' god?
“Well, God doesn't actually have a name, but Walt suggested a new pronoun, ‘uh’. I asked him why ‘uh’, and he said it was meant as a bit of a joke. It's the most used word in English as well as in every other language, so now it'll actually have a meaning. And of course, said Walt, uh can't be called by our usual pronouns because uh's neither a ‘he’, a ‘she’, nor an ‘it’. As for a ‘real name’ the poet suggested an acronym from his favorite god-characteristics: Eternal, Cosmic, and Relative, plus ‘Uh’: ECRU. ‘Like this,’ he said, and pointed laughingly at his clothing. ‘Basic, unbleached, undyed, and unadorned. Just good, honest truth. Uh will love that name, if uh hears about it.’”
And what's this Ecru like?
“Not like our God at all. Ecru is peaceful, reasonable, and smart – a great improvement. Ecru is not male or female ("uh is not a father, and doesn’t have a son," said Walt). Ecru is at least as eternal as the universe; not quite omnipotent, but as powerful as uh needs to be. Not omniscient, but uh knows what uh needs to know. Ecru is a sort of spirit, a being beyond matter and energy. Ecru moves throughout the cosmos at the speed of thought. It is not known whether there are other gods, but that's OK.”
So how should we relate to this Ecru?
“According to Walt, we shouldn't worry about it. All this foolishness about gods actually listening to humans is just hogwash. Ecru's got stuff to do; uh can't bother with my problems or yours. We humans are on our own. That, said Walt, is the heart of his message and the reason he was sent here:
‘Man is responsible for his own affairs. Ecru doesn’t interfere in uh's created systems; they have the capacity to take care of themselves. It's Man's choice, whether to create a glorious period on Earth, or to destroy it. The belief that a God is there to fix whatever wrong Man may do on Earth has already been disastrous.’
What about our current religions?
“Well, of course I don’t know Ecru's views directly, only Walt's reports of them: Some spiritual leaders of the Earth have come close, he said, but none has got god really right. The ancient Hebrews, Jesus, and Mohammad understood the concept of god as well as it could be known in their time, but their jealous and authoritarian God was a creature of their times. The ancient Greeks and Norsemen may have come closer, with their more relaxed and fallible gods. The patriarchal Catholic God of liturgy, iconology, and ceremony, and the more involved and personal Protestant God of love alternating with strictures and punishment, are both equally far off the mark. What must replace them, said Walt, is a faith of positive values, which cannot cause suffering.”
And what of science?
“Ecru loves science, because it's about learning what there is to be learned. Ecru is still learning, himself. Learning what his original creative spark has led to. He's a real science buff.”
So what was this 'original creative spark'?
“OK, that's my word, 'spark.' I was just trying to clean it up. It should be 'original creative spit.' Thousands of universes were created from spit by Ecru, uncounted eons ago. Millions of cycles of expansion and contraction of these universes have come and gone, and the conditions for life have developed on millions of planets. But everything after the spit has been just a natural response to the physical laws – which Ecru threw in to keep some order.”
And does Ecru offer an afterlife?
“There's good news here: There is a 'heaven'. But it's not celestial, it's a solid-ground heaven on a planet ‘way out there’, as Walt put it. He called it ‘Uh'ven’.
On Uh'ven there is daily work, and a lot of time for fun. There's no rap music. There is conflict and sorrow, but not much misunderstanding. There's little crime, because the penalty for all crime is the same: annihilation. There are rewards for hard work. But nothing is free, like in the Christian Heaven. There's no singing praises to Ecru, because uh doesn't need the stroking. On Uh'ven there's no disease, but there is aging. Up to a point. Rebirth is the secret to eternal life. As I understand it, one arrives there at the age of one's death (but with diseases eliminated), then matures without disease to the age of 200. One is then recast as an infant in a family of 30-year-olds. One grows up again, and in one's 20's one finds (or is matched with) a mate (or not – free choice), later one is given a baby or two (there's no actual birth – the babies are former 200-year-olds) and so on ad aeternam.”
What do you have to do to get to Uh'ven?
“Not a thing. Getting there is the default condition. The question is rather, ‘What do you have to do to not get to Uh'ven?’ According to Walt, each human is recorded as either a success or a failed specimen. Successes are admitted to Uh'ven. Failures are not. Success means simply having treated fellow humans, other organisms, and Earth itself with basic care, compassion, and honesty. Those who deceive, despoil, or defraud (Walt mentioned criminals, priests, and politicians) are labeled failed specimens. Jerks will not be allowed in Uh'ven; they're extinguished at death.”
How about our concepts of Hell and the Devil?
“Man has made his Hell, and is his own devil. Walt says we and no one else have been responsible for our misery.”
“I asked that, of course. He modestly replied that he had time on his hands. On Uh'ven he had worked several jobs, writing poetry all the while – think what treasures must be waiting there – and was offered the mission shortly after his retirement. But I think the real answer lies in his earthly poetry. He was one of very few men who saw through the sham of religion in a positive way; who could see an alternative to it, pretty close to the truth as it turns out. Read again his Song of Myself. For example, from Song 6:
...What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier.”
Let's talk about you, Guru Radraj: you're starting a church – a place of Ecru worship?
"No, no, no. We're not establishing any church, and no worship is called for. Who do you suppose needs worship? The currently popular God has of course been very anxious to be worshipped. What vanity! Ecru doesn't suffer from that personality flaw. Naturally, ECR folks may want to get together, and so ECR centers may well be established, but if you're thinking of places to praise a god, or to fall on your knees and confess sins, this faith has nothing to do with that. It has only to do with living life honestly, with care for one's fellow creatures and environment."
And . . . why were you chosen for this revelation?
“Just basic good sense.”
You mean on your part?
“No, on Walt's.”
Was this your only meeting with the poet / prophet?
“In person, yes. But a few months ago he called – my number's in the book – and asked how I was doing getting the word out. It was a little embarrassing . . . I had been busy . . . but the upshot is that now we're truly on our way. I envision all six billion of us signed on pretty soon.”
Finally, Guru Radraj, some people have wondered: What's in this for you? Are you following in the footsteps of other religious leaders who have accumulated great wealth from their followers?
“Sir, the suggestion! I have no followers and seek none. I am a mere vessel, transmitting the message I have received. Eternal Cosmic Relativism does not require sacrifice, nor tithe, nor membership or contributions of any kind. My modest life-style will continue, though of course to the extent that my involvement with ECR prevents me from taking other employment, some small contribution from the movement, if funds are available, would not be out of order.”
How small a contribution did you have in mind?
(With a laugh:) “There's no telling. Believers have been known to be generous.”
Thank you, Guru Radraj.
“You're welcome. I'm here to help. Barada Nikto.”
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© H.Paul Lillebo 1994