« Simple spirituality | Main | Wisdom from Carl Sagan: A pale blue dot »

July 13, 2006

Comments

More Top Ten Signs you’re a Fundamentalist Satsangi:

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods and philosophies which are claimed by other spiritual paths, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "de-personalized" when vedantists say that all beings are the divine atman, but you have no problem with the Sant Mat claim that we are miserable souls imprisoned in the domain of Kal.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in subtle regions and their demi-god lords.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" to humanity attributed to religion, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how Sant Mat frowns upon charity to the poor.

6 - You subscribe beliefs that deify certain humans, but you reject any idea that all beings are of the same essence.

5 - You are willing to spend your life listening for some subtle phenomena of inner sound and light, but you won't spend even a minute in honest self-inquiry.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your same beliefs and meditation practice -- though excluding those in rival branch sects - will spend numerous lifetimes in ignorance and suffering, and yet you consider your Sant Mat religionto be the most liberating and genuine.

3 - While modern science, psychology, history, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot who merely claims to ascend to the imperishible region of Sach Khand via the "shabda", may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Sant Mat.

2 - You define 0.00000001 % as a "high success rate" when it comes to sucess in meditation. You consider that to be sufficient evidence that shabda meditation and guru bhakti really works. And yet you think that the remaining 99.99999999 % of failures to reach Sach Khand was simply... "the will of the master".

1 - Due to Sant Mat tunnel-vision you actually know and understand far less than many atheists, agnostics, advaitists, buddhists, and sufi mystics do about esoteric spirituality, myticism, and enlightenment - but you still call yourself a true follower of the "mystic path".

two signs that you are a rebel (in search of a cause)

1. string together meaningless quotes and claim to have realized the path / direction. are you sure this time?. [refer: simple spirituality]

2. put the gun on others shoulder - because people do this or that there must be something wrong with the path - and fire away to glory.

someone is taking the lack of progress very, very personally. Ouch!!

Brian and Tao;

Loved reading your 10 signs. They are so true. I really had a good laugh reading thru the list. Thanks for the chuckles.

Vikas, you've stimulated a #11 in me:

"You get defensive when someone criticizes your faith, because you know that this faith is really a state of not-knowing. But you don't want to admit your lowly state of unknowingness--even though you've supposedly surrendered your ego to the guru."

i should have clarified that i write with no vested interest, either way. having studied most of the subjects of your writing i was able to relate to the blog. it was not as a defender of 'my faith'. although your ascribing motives only proves my point 2.

you can dish out as much gobbledygook as you wish to. you may even make the reasons 101 instead of 11 for all i care.

religion is a matter of faith and comfort. what and who you follow is entirely up to you (though I doubt if you will ever make a sensible choice in these matters). you could belong to any faith, adopt any guru (or do without one) but to leave something and crib about it reflects rather poorly on you as a person. isn’t this a case of sour grapes?

I have learned that religion or spirituality is all but a matter of faith and comfort. To the contrary, it's more like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. And, it's a willingness to doubt and question when such issues present themselves.

Looking for something magical to cling to, IMO, stagnates the journey.

Don't just follow blindly....

This is hilarious! Love it!

Vikas:- I understand the point you are trying to put across to Brian about sour grapes but I hope you will take the time to consider the following please:- There are a multitude of Satsangi's that question the authenticity of path. Most stay silent; blame their doubts on Kal projecting negative vibes and feel an immense amount of guilty for doubting the path. What's more...there is no-one they can talk about their dilemma to because most of their confidants are also satsangi's and trying to explain Sant Mat to a non satsangi is generally greeted with antagonism. My point being...Brian has provided the doubters an outlet to express their scepticism but more importantly; Brian has allowed us to realise that it is normal to doubt a path(bond/relationship)that one holds dear to one's heart. It is a normal reversal of life if one was to fall out of love due to something about Sant Mat that may conflict with our inner most personal moral compass. You are welcome to express your opinion against Brian's views...he has allowed that platform for the haters too...otherwise; he would not have to publish your comment. Peace.

"religion is a matter of faith and comfort... but to leave something and crib about it reflects rather poorly on you as a person. isn’t this a case of sour grapes?"

No, it isn't a case of sour grapes because there were never any grapes to begin with - just the promise and the illusion of grapes. Anyone who doesn't "crib" about the danglers of fake grapes is enabling them.

First off, this was great! Could definitely relate to pretty much all of these.

Secondly, I'd just like to comment on how I got to this post. I've never really talked about my experiences with RS with anyone, not because of shame or fear of ostracization or anything similar, but more because I never really felt the need to until now. The past couple of days I've thought more about RS than I have in about 15 years, and I don't mind if no one sees this (since this original post was more than 2.5 years ago), for me it's just about thinking things through while I'm typing, almost like free association.

I was brought up by parents who were (and still are) devoted Satsangis. Now straight off the bat, I want to emphasise that my parents are good people with strong morals as human beings. My dad is a nice, sweet man while my mother is a firm, highly intelligent woman. She was introduced to the path in her late teens and was initiated at 24. She introduced my father to the path, but he didn't get initiated until a few years later. I was brought up in Australia, where in 25 years an initially humble RS following has expanded quite significantly. As my parents are devout Satsangis, me and my sister were brought up as such. We would go to Satsang every Sunday and were strict lacto-vegetarians.

Now, when you're a kid, all you want to do is impress your parents so of course; you follow what they say, maybe even try to go over and above somehow, most likely to get positive feedback. I remember over time though, even at an early age, I started to question a lot of the principles that surrounded me. Actually, 'principles' might not be the right word; perhaps, 'circumstances' is a better option. For one thing, I resented having to go to Satsang every Sunday, and sit in a separate room with other children while we were looked after by a designated adult who told us to remain quiet so they could here the Satsang in the main hall via a speaker set up. But this was no different to any child who had to go to Church or Sunday school.

I started to get frustrated with having to check every ingredient of every item of food we ever ate. I understood that as lacto-vegetarians we should make sure we didn't contribute to animal cruelty, yet it still irked me that we had to always check for rennet, or "may contain traces of egg" etc. You can chalk that one up to being a shy, Indian kid in an Australian environment which wasn't as multiculturally diverse as it is today. I just wanted to fit in, and being at school, or out with friends, or in any social situation, and asking about ingredients made you stick out like a sore thumb. This point especially rang true if I was at a friend's house. Their parents knew I was vegetarian and did their best to accommodate, but how would they know to check for rennet? It was a question of me either staying quiet and eating the food, not sure if it was completely lacto-vegetarian and feeling wracked with guilt, or incessantly questioning the gracious host. In my opinion, if they went out of their way to make something that didn't have meat or eggs or fish in it, I thought that was very nice of them.

One of the downsides of growing up with an intelligent mother is the level of arrogance, or ego, that comes with it. Being brought up as "this is the only way" or "this is right" is not a good way to teach anyone critical thinking skills, how to ascertain right from wrong, or even how to make decisions. And like any child with strict parents who starts to form their own opinions and thoughts, I started to rebel in my teens. I just started to go completely against RS, stopped attending Satsangs (which made my mum furious - until Babaji quite fortuitously said not long after that parents shouldn't force their kids to attend), and just basically opposed more and more of their ideas (ie "meditating for 2.5 hours a day", "hanging around with the same group of people and talking about life after death all the time" - i found it so depressing etc.).

There was a level of hypocrisy to it as well. While I agree that drinking alcohol in no way is good for anyone, we shouldn't admonish people for choosing to drink it. Same goes for eating meat, if people choose to eat meat, whether or not you agree with it, it's their choice. Yet I was surrounded by Satsangis who, in public situations, would make others feel so uncomfortable about their choices because they themselves disagreed with it. It's almost like spiritual hipster-ism. Anyway, the hypocritical part of all this is that the reasoning behind these decisions (apart from the animal harm) was that "your body is a temple, so why would you let such harmful things into your temple". This is all well and good, except for the fact that so many Satsangis are, or were, cigarette smokers (only in the last couple years have I been told that smoking has been discouraged). I'm pretty sure smoking in a temple would be frowned upon to say the least. It was these judgmental, 'holier than thou' attitudes to others that alienated me further from RS. All in all, I just started to feel there was more to life than all this, and all followers of RS were missing out by wasting time by devoting their lives to what comes next. After a while, to their credit, my parents stopped pressuring me about RS and came to accept that "everyone has their own path".

So now I'm 29, and a few days ago I was watching some random videos on Youtube, and clicked on to an episode of Penn & Teller's Fool Us. This is a show where established magicians come up with tricks or illusions to try and fool the hosts, Penn & Teller. After watching a few of these, I started watching some of Penn & Teller's other videos, including Penn & Teller's Bullshit!, where the duo debunk commonly held myths, beliefs and ideologies. Their first episode dealt with people claiming to be psychics or mediums who can communicate with the dead. It showed numerous ways these people would deceive and trick people into giving them money for a chance to "contact" their deceased love ones. After watching this, I started watching videos of famed skeptic James Randi calling out other psychics and mediums in more detail. Then all of a sudden, I started thinking about RS again. My parents are still devout followers and my sister is now as well, and while they still do talk about it consistently, I don't pay much attention to it. I respect their beliefs so I never speak against it, but I have never given it much thought since I was a child. Now when I stopped believing in RS, thinking back it was more due to disagreements with some of their philosophies and the attitudes/egos of people supposedly following a humble path. I realised that I never really questioned, or even researched, the history and the leaders behind RS or even the organisation itself..

I'm someone now that doesn't believe in astrology, psychics, mediums, fortune tellers, palm readers, prophets, or God. A good Randi quote I heard in his videos is that, "while it's true I can't prove that God doesn't exist, I can't also prove that Santa Claus doesn't exist". Even though I don't believe in God as such, I wouldn't identify as an athiest - which is pretty much a religion itself these days - or even agnostic. It's almost like an apathy towards these topics, most likely born from a mental exhaustion or burnout as a child. So anyway, I started thinking about the gurus of RS. Since i firmly believe these gurus aren't God in human form, I began to think that there were only two other options:
1. These gurus were deluded enough to think they were God in human form, and were either:
i) using their large following for the greater good,
ii) using their large following for monetary (or egotistical) gain, or
iii) both i) and ii).
2. These gurus knew that they were not God in human form, and were either:
i) using their large following for the greater good,
ii) using their large following for monetary (or egotistical) gain, or
iii) both i) and ii).

I'd like to believe it's 2. i), but I don't think that's the case. At the same rate, it's probably not just simply 2. ii) either. Very rarely are things black and white in the world. I began to think that each Guru would have different motivations, and it was then that I decided to do some research. After doing a google search, I came across this site and read several posts about RS, including ones from former disillusioned members and from Waking Now. While I am inclined to think that the truth in some of these posts may have been affected by some disgruntled former devotees, I was able to relate to and agree with many of them. Reading posts about how the current Babaji has been expanding the business side of things whereas the previous Master was against such things made me think that, just like other humans, no two Gurus would be the same, or have the same motivations, ideologies or goals in life. Therefore, in the above scenario, 2. iii) would seem the most appropriate fit. But, taking another step back, I began to question whether any of this is still actually okay? For an organisation to be all about morality (or their version of it) and humility, and letting go of worldly possessions, it seems to be quite an immoral, egotistical, and highly materialistic way of doing things. Like teacher, like student, I guess.

But is it just the human condition to be like this? Preach ideals and live differently? Judge others by what they do, judge yourself by what you think? In a way, it was frustrating for me to be thinking about these things again, having left them behind a decade and a half ago. But it's something I needed to question, as i clearly had unresolved feelings, thoughts and frustrations about RS. One thing I found hard to accept was how so many intelligent people believe in RS. Apart from my mother, I knew numerous people through Satsang who were incredibly successful lawyers, doctors, or other people with brilliant minds, who were devotees to a fault. Now, I consider myself fairly intelligent, thanks probably moreso to genetics than anything, but these other people were definitely on a higher level. So it was puzzling to me how they believed in these things when there was such a lack of evidence in it. Cue the old adage, "you just need to have faith".

Then I stumbled upon an article by Michael Shermer which outlined why even the most intelligent brains in the world believe, and want to believe, in such things. Shermer said that for one thing, smart people believe weird things because they are able to defend beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. He goes on to say that our beliefs are rarely formed by logic or fact, but rather by genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experiences, life impressions, along with societal and cultural influences. When I read this, it's like something clicked in my head, like things just started to make sense. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that nearly all the people I had encountered who believed in any religion, letalone RS, fell into one of these categories:
- my grandparents raised my mother as a Hindu who participated in many rituals and cultures required of the religion. It was her brother-in-law who introduced her (and her sisters) onto the path (parental predilection, sibling influence, life impressions, educational experiences, societal and cultural influences).
- my dad didn't have as strict an upbringing in religious practices, but after my parents got married, he fell very ill and was told he would not live past 6 months. During this time, he started to read many of the Sangat's books and soon became initiated after he recovered (life impressions)
- my sister always believed in RS yet didn't seek initiation until she was 26. This was triggered by some personal issues she was having at the time (life impressions, parental predilection).
- many, many people I've met over the years, the more I thought about them and their stories leading to the path, I came to realise that many of them were "broken" or had an "emptiness" inside them. Be it from alcoholism, drug abuse, parental issues, or other life choices, personal or professional, these people needed something to believe in, to give them hope, and were able to find it in RS (life impressions).

Hope, I've found, is a major attraction for many religions or spiritual paths. The hope that there is something for us after we die. The hope that life has some meaning. The hope that we'll be okay, to dissuade our fears regarding the unknowns of death and the uncertainties in life. It's when you see tears in the eyes of attendees at a Satsang that you realise how much these words and feelings of acceptance resonate with some people. In some cases, religious hysteria takes over; I remember when I was young we were at one of Babaji's Satsang's in Bangkok, and as he walked in, one Satsangi two rows in front of me started violently shaking. I thought he was having a seizure, but a few seconds later I realised he was violently crying and couldn't control his emotions or his body. Should anyone be able to have this much effect on another human being? I guess you could ask the same of politicians, movie stars, singers, and sports stars, who also experience extreme devotion. Funnily enough, I'm sure we all know of many people in each of these categories who have experienced such maniacal devotion that they get engulfed by their own hubris, are involved in some scandal, and either cover it up or are sent crashing down to Earth.

Going back to the point about hope, I've come to the conclusion that if you need something to believe in, or something to help you through tough times for whatever reasons, you have to look internally and not externally for an answer. And by externally I mean religious/spiritual/cult organisations; of course there's nothing wrong with seeking help from a professional. But even a professional would help YOU. Other organisations would get you to help THEM, and somehow get you to feel like you're the one who's improving via feelings of accomplishment and "fitting in". By finding a way to learn to deal with, or recover from, hard times, not only will you come out the other side a better person, but you will have learned coping mechanisms for future tough times. And in the mean time you'll be able to enjoy that thing called life. In the example of my parents, more specifically my mother, who was more shaped by her upbringing rather than any personal problems, all I can say is that others can learn from this and start to develop critical thinking skills. Avoid confirmation bias by researching both sides of a topic whatever it may be, so then you can make an informed decision. This critical reasoning will help in other parts of your life.

My family wouldn't change their mind about RS even if I were to talk to them about these things. It's a tough one because I honestly feel like they're part of something which is not as pure as they think it is. But having said that, in the grand scheme of things, they aren't being harmed, they aren't being railroaded for money, nor are they being lured into a mass suicide. Therefore, it would be hypocritical of me to admonish others for giving their opinions on their beliefs, and to then try to push my beliefs on to them. It's ironic that in life things are rarely black and white as I mentioned before, but in terms of beliefs, many people either believe adamantly in something, or are nihilists. Maybe the grey area in between is where the "blissfully ignorant" live? Or the "happy-go-lucky"? The people who are good human beings, nice to others, and are at peace with who they are. Occam's Razor, perhaps.

Wow, I managed to ramble on a bit there. It was good for me to type it out. It's a lot to read so again, it's not a big deal if no one reads this. It was just more about me typing it, so thanks for having a forum for me to do so :)

Hi DownUnder,

I enjoyed the read, nice to hear other people's stories. Thanks and good on ya!

For me the big attraction with RS was that it didn't require faith or belief and that the practice would bring about revelations which would confirm everything. I.e. do the experiment, meditate.

I am now pretty much an atheist. I was initiated by Charan Singh in 1979. I still meditate about 30 to 60 mins a day depending on how much time I have. I have been through many strange experiences and have had some real transformative experiences, none of which we in meditation but which meditation definitely contributed to. but all my realisations have given me to accept that there is nothing outside of your own consciousness. Your world exists entirely within your consciousness as exists within my consciousness. The guru is your own consciousness. That state of being "In the consciousness" is free from who-you-think-you-are, which is exactly what the I is. I have met 6 people I know for sure had oobe's or are having them as a result of RS meditation including hearing the sound. I myself only ever had 2 and my current take on it it that all such experiences are projections of the mind similar to lucid dreams. My ex-wife had many experiences in meditation over a 4 or 5 year period but eventually came to the conclusion it was all projection of the mind.

Whatever the truth of all that, for me the beauty of being here, now, aware that I doesn't exist and that the only reality is consciousness itself is wonderful and breathtaking, mundane yet full of wonder and beauty at the same time. As you can see, my realisation as a result of earnestly meditating but never really believing RS totally, has taken a zen like form, not that I've really studied zen at all.

I am a science teacher and I take a very evidence based approach to everything now, so I only rely on my own experience and I am even sceptical about that! But hey, when I sit for meditation now I experience feelings of love, joy, bliss and wonder and my mind is pretty quiet, but definitely (no oobe or bell sound or whatever), and I am extremely grateful for that.

AI: "... I only rely on my own experience and I am even sceptical about that!"

Yes, I agree. Its good to let go of the fundamentalist satsangi attitude. I heard recently that my son told his brothers that 'Mum is always reinventing herself', lol.

A recent realisation is that I probably won't be here all that long now, walking around on this planet and its quite exciting really in the 'not knowing' aspect. Although I am hoping that we do continue on our journey as a conscious being in another realm... or, if we merge as a drop into the ocean of consciousness, and we've lived life with integrity to the best of our ability... so be it.

Jen: Yes I had chemo in 2014 for advanced cancer which was a very unpleasant experience, one I don't intend to repeat. It gave me a couple of good insights; firstly, I have no "bucket-list", there is nothing I really want to do before I die. That was pretty cool to realise. Second, my plans for the future were meaninglessly as I could die at any time. This has resulted in enjoying the here and now more without trying as my mind has given up projecting into the future very far.

As far as continuing on after death, that seems very unlikely to me now. Consciousness seems very ephemeral to me. It completely disappears in deep sleep when past of the brain stop communicating with each other so I can't see how it could continue when the brain is completely dead. I find that idea rather liberating. If it's true it means you can't really fail at life other than what you experience while you're here. It makes every moment more precious.

Dharma of another brings danger
It is said by Krishna in Hindu Bhagavad Gita

So why not be as honest with ones own inner path as possible? Seems the best all the way around

I was in different spiritual movements, some for 7 years, others longer. But 7 years usually enough to get to the bottom of the illusions that it was right for me

I was maybe 25 years not interested in belonging to any more movements. I wasn't empty inside. I wasn't full. I had just had enough of living other people's dreams of creating the ideal environment for spiritual growth while supporting them and their organization financially and with my time and volunteer efforts... until realizing in each case that it wasn't working like I'd expected or like they wanted me to believe.
So I'd just drop out quietly
Got PhD
Really pushed the envelope
Was successful
Health went downhill

Older age health issues led me to alternative health practices that helped me get a better perspective for me on what I valued more: making more and more money, amassing more and more personal power and influence
Versus
Being comfortable in my body
Being internally at peace
Content
Realizing that I quite had enough wealth to be comfortable and could stop and take a breath
Work on improving my health

The experiences that I experienced unexpectedly in my journey left me with many questions
Unexpected experience was less likely a projection of my mind because I wasn't looking for such.
I asked myself
What is that?

The satsangi books shed some light on my unintentional unexplained unexpected internal observations

I read them and got info that I needed over a few years

The org is not interested in me making contributions of time or money.

I've been on the fence about whether I NEED another form of meditation
But
What the heck

If I can learn something via that form of mediation and if I'm accepted for initiation then why not try it. And find out

Am reading here that most post-initiation disgruntlement has been arising from nonConfirming experience it makes sense folks are disappointed:
If one expects lights and sounds and inner exotic experiences and they don't happen then who knows if one will ever "get" any experience in future that one wants or expects. Why continue?

Just know that for one person, I can only speak for myself, the satsangi books help explain stuff I was already observing on the inner so that is my take and contribution here. That it can happen in reverse too. One can have unexplained experiences and the satsangi books can be a comfort because one feels one is not alone in having inner experiences... and one can have comfort that there is an explanation

I am comfortable knowing that books written by different Beas masters specifically state they don't subscribe to prostelization... no pushing others to "join"

Yet human nature being what it is, people who think they've found what's right for themselves, parents, siblings, friends, often feel like sharing
Even pushing

It's a mistake.
Every path is different for every soul

I hope we all can give ourselves permission to seek it not seek
Without pressure or guilt

And when pressured by others to "join " their own cherished path
We can feel compassion toward them and reply truthfully and sincerely as one of my spouses favorite fantasy novel character says:
"May Harmony find you"

It is only a demonstration of a "missionary's" own imbalance that goads them to make other people conform to their own mission-- they think if their target person confirms that their personal harmony will increase

Like others posting here
I agree that each of us finds our own balance within
Others behaviors aren't going to fix our own internal lack of harmony and balance.

I'm 100% for freedom and encouragement
For each to find his own way

Am feeling that I've had a chance to hopefully soothe and comfort any person who has left any org for any reason. Even as I am considering trying a new meditation.... I hope I never give any of my loved ones any sense that their path is less special or less desirable than my choice for myself.

We each, if we truly love, can bless all our differences and different choices.
Nobody is better than others
No path is better than others

Thanks for this forum!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Welcome


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...