Guess I'm doomed, salvation-wise. (Of course, I already knew that, having denied the Holy Spirit and embraced eternal damnation in exchange for a free DVD.)
Someone sent me some copies of Australian "Science of the Soul" newsletters, figuring that I might be interested in news about Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) -- the India based religious organization I was an active member of for over thirty years.
RSSB is led by a guru. The guru is believed to be God in Human Form.
So not surprisingly, whatever the guru says is taken very seriously by his devotees. Me, not so much. In fact, not at all any more.
Nonetheless, I was interested to read in the February 2012 newsletter that social networking sites and blogs have attracted the attention of God in Human Form.
Download Science of the Soul February 2012
This how a newsletter item, "Correspondence Received from Dera" (RSSB headquarters), starts out:
With the increasing popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as personal blogs and personal websites, the RSSB organization and the Master have been unwillingly drawn into an arena of endless chatter and frequent misinformation. Most of the individuals who actively participate in these discussions are innocent in their intentions.
They believe that these online discussions are somehow beneficial and that they can receive spiritual motivation, clarification, and inspiration through these chats. However we should not confuse these outside distractions with something of spiritual value. Such spiritual ideals are gained only through satsang, the reading of spiritual literature, simran, and meditation.
Since 2004 I've written from time to time about my experiences with Radha Soami Satsang Beas. Not "endlessly," but fairly frequently. I'm not sure how the RSSB powers-that-be define "spiritual value." All I know is that I've gained a lot from writing about different approaches to spirituality, and learning how other people look upon these subjects.
RSSB publishes lots of books that are filled with lots of words. The RSSB guru gives lots of talks ("satsangs") that also are filled with lots of words. If you visit the Dera, headquarters of RSSB in the Punjab, you'll find people from both India and all over the world engaged in lots of conversations involving lots of words.
Yet somehow engaging in discussions, or reading, about spirituality on social networking sites and blogs is a no-no to the Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization.
Oh, except when the sites are run by RSSB. The last paragraph of this newsletter item says:
In order to inform people of Master's views on this matter, a decision was taken to put up official pages for RSSB, SOS/SSRC, SMRF, and Baba Gurinder Singh [the guru] on Facebook and other social networking sites. In this way, individuals participating in online discussions on Sant Mat and the Master will have an opportunity to view offically sponsored pages rather than become confused by sites which appear official but are not.
So the message is, online discussions aren't spiritually helpful, but if you're going to use the Internet in an attempt to juice up your spirituality, head to the official social networking RSSB sites (which don't seem to be active yet).
Thus if you're reading this, and are a RSSB disciple who believes the guru is God in Human Form, you'd better click your way elsewhere. However, if you want to live dangerously and risk damnation, read on.
What I disagreed most with is the statement that "spiritual ideals are gained only through satsang, the reading of spiritual literature, simran, and meditation." This is an other-worldly attitude that bothered me even when I was active in the RSSB organization.
("Simran" basically is mantra meditation, the repeating of a word or words to the exclusion of other thoughts.)
I no longer believe that spirituality, whatever that word means, can be separated from everyday life. Now I reasonate much more with the chop wood, carry water philosophy of Buddhism and Taoism. Anything, anywhere, at any time can be a "spiritual ideal" -- again, whatever those two words mean.
I've known RSSB disciples who paid little attention to their family (spouse and/or children), yet considered themselves to be saint-like when they headed off to India to spend weeks with the guru, doing what they thought was "selfless service" via volunteer work and meditation.
Well, selflessness and service begin right at home.
If we can't be decent with our family and friends in everyday life, or while interacting with other people on the Internet, what makes us think we're gaining anything from the "spiritual value" the newsletter says can only be gained through religious talks, reading of spiritual literature, and meditation?
But, hey, this is just my opinion, expressed on my blog. If you trust in the RSSB guru, you won't find anything of value in what I've said here, or in any comments left by other people.
On the other hand, you might want to make up your own mind about what provides spiritual value, and what doesn't. Just a suggestion.