Why is it that religious true believers are so upset when someone leaves their chosen faith? This confuses me, because many, if not most, members of a religion are converted -- either from a different religion or from unbelief.
So it isn't surprising that the process of conversion often keeps on going. People can convert to another religion. Or deconvert from religious belief entirely. (See my "Deconversion is as natural as conversion.")
Yesterday I got an email from someone who scolded me for -- shock! -- changing. Below I've shared what he said (minus his name), along with my reply to him.
hello Mr. Brian!
it was amazing and rather amusing reading your views on Sant Mat. what i am more amused about is that it took 38 long years for you to realise that you were on a wrong track!!!! i am also surprised that if something could keep you contented and satisfied for this long a period, there must surely be something Great.
otherwise we human cannot be satisfied for more than two minutes. then whats keeping you? i think its more of a frustration that you were not able to see the form of the master inside. i have surely met many people who do tell what they see and hear at what stage. i pray to babaji you meet some too.
i am even a bit surprised that if after 38 years of meditation (i think u did give 2.5 hrs daily) if you could go astray, then i should mind and watch myself very closely as i am new on this path.
another thing that surprises me is that how could you miss that radiance on the Master's face. have you ever, in you life met someone as radiant and illuminated as him.
and, my friend, your mind is playing very strong tricks on you. for all that you have written are just dirty tricks of the mind to set you off the track. i m sure that it is now that you are on a wrong track. BEWARE!!!!!!!
you better pray to the Almighty to set you on the right path once again.
lots of prayers, X
This is the email response that I sent to X.
X, have you ever changed your mind about something? Have you ever experienced big changes in your life? If you haven't so far, I can guarantee that you will someday, because life is full of changes.
Me, I was married for eighteen years to a woman that I loved for a long time. Then we got divorced. Now I'm married to a different woman, for twenty-one years now. I also love her. It's possible to fall in and out of love, whether with a religion/spiritual path, or with a person.
You seem to be surprised that people change. We can be satisfied with a belief, a person, a place, a belonging, a whatever, for a long time. Then we grow, evolve, move in a different direction. You might ask yourself why you seem to view religious beliefs as changeless, while everything else in life changes.
I was initiated into RSSB back in 1971 after changing from an earlier relationship with a Yoga master. Do you think that I was wrong to leave the Yogi? Way before that, as a child I went to Catholic church for a while. I had my first communion and was baptized Catholic. Do you think I should have remained Catholic my entire life?
I doubt it.
So I'm pretty sure you believe it's good for people to join up with Radha Soami Satsang Beas, but not for people to leave RSSB. However, almost every person who is initiated into RSSB previously believed in some other form of spirituality. Why shouldn't you scold RSSB initiates for giving up on their old religions, since you seem to believe that people should stay with the same belief system for their entire life?
Some questions for you to think about, at least. Thanks for writing.
No, I never saw any "radiant" (astral) form of the guru inside my psyche. I did see the guru, both Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh, quite a few times in person. I'll agree that they were/are charismatic men. However, I can't say either was more radiant or illuminating than other people I've met.
My wife has seen Gurinder Singh, once close-up. She wasn't impressed. But she doesn't believe in Sant Mat, or the notion of a guru being God in human form. So what someone expects to see in a guru is pretty much what he or she will see.
Speaking of seeing...
This afternoon I was thinking about what I was going to write in this blog post while on a dog walk. Lost in thought, I was brought back to here-and-now reality when our dog made one of her frequent sniff stops to smell some fascinating scent that escapes me.
I looked down at the ground. And saw an amazing form. It wasn't radiant, per se, but it sure brightened my mood on a rainy Oregon day. If we open our eyes to what is right around us, perhaps that's the nearest we'll ever come to ultimate reality.