Assuming Lesley’s life could be broken up into sections or modules, then the years of involvement with the von E’s could be seen either as a phase on its own or as a shift from one module to the next. But lives cannot be chopped up into manageable bits. They are analogue rather than digital structures, changing smoothly from one state to the succeeding one. This smooth change which we call ‘time’ and represent as a fourth dimension, the Radhasoami teachers call Kal, also meaning time, but often personified as a ravening monster, taking away what we have and giving what we do not desire. Seen this way, Anton’s involvement with S was brought by Kal, each of its phases, attitudes, feelings, postures and gestures were the work of Kal, and when the embroilment ended, it was Kal who packed it up into the non-existent basket of the past, in a smooth transition.
At a party they attended right at the end of their marriage, Lesley told me, Anton had danced with the most glamorous woman present, a tall blonde in a late-1960s cocktail dress with a hem above mid-thigh and high heels. They made a great couple, and when they whirled smoothly past the table where Lesley sat alone, Anton had flashed his handsome winning smile at her, over the woman’s shoulder. Stuck to his cheek with mascara was a single false eyelash.
Many Western followers of the Radhasoami teachings, and I cannot vouch for others, have taken the metaphoric Kal quite literally, seeing him (for he is male) as a malevolent figure with a terrifying face, bent upon exacting from us literal and minutely specified arrears of pain. He is the master debt-collector of the universe, knocking on our doors at the time of death with all the unwelcome presence of a retired heavyweight boxer, ready to cast us into whatever anguish we have earned through our ignorant and miscreant lives. Time, for them, has put on the clothes of the Devil and taken up the wig and gavel of the Final Judge. Charan Singh’s take on it was a little different: ‘It is just a concept we hold to explain change,’ he said, but, when faced with contradic-tions within a seamless system, people tend to prefer those interpretations to which they are already predisposed.