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July 05, 2014

Comments

Couldn't agree more.

Dude, his last paragraph contradicts everything else he tried to convey about reward!

I couldn't agree more and I can totally relate.. my father in law, a devotee of the RSSB in India is always gone to "Seva". he doesn't have time to take his sick father to the doctor, while he is suffering in bed. but yet he believes the seva does at the dera is most important duty in his life. he travels thousands of kilometers to a different RSSB centre just to get a glimpse of baba gurinder dhillon. just the seva done with the RSSB people is considered selfless service for him. he can spend lots of money at the dera, yet has no money to buy medication for his own father. if you cant take care of your own parents when they are sick in bed, then what good is the so called seva done at the dera.

T to the E... I agree that the last paragraph from the second article does seem to contradict the sentiment of "there is no truly selfless service" from the first article.

But I took "compensation" and "renumeration" to mean monetary rewards -- not psychological rewards. Not sure if this is what the author meant; it just clears up the seeming contradiction.

To preity,
How sad!
It is nice to do sewa in a group and feel good.But not in stead of your near and dear ones and/or family.
That indeed is very sad..

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/05/dead-or-meditating/371846/

Excellent article.

May I put in a small quibble?

Seva doesn't really mean "selfless service". Seva simply means "service". Thus a servant offering a certain service to his employer would equally well be doing "seva". What I'm saying is, seva needn't necessarily be something extra-good or religious or humanitarian, and it certainly isn't self-less (unless the self-lessness bit is actually specified separately).

So if some community or religion says that seva or service to their deity is good for you, and further says that that seva or service can be done by such and such means and no other (since it's their deity after all, and they presumably know some of the ways and predilections of said deity), well then, I see no logical inconsistency there.

So for a RSSB devotee to do seva at the "Dera" while not doing seva generally in the community (or for that matter a Christian doing good works only amongst Christians or only among "heathens" they hope to "convert", while eschewing service to needy people nearer home) is quite logical. Not particularly 'good', perhaps, but not illogical.

Like I said, I'm not saying what they're doing is good. I have no clue whether it's good or not. But what I'm saying is, provided someone buys into some system (some particular denomination of Christianity, or some denomination of Islam, or RSSB, or some denomination of Buddhism), I suppose they are within their rights (I don't mean just legal rights, that they in any case have, even if what they do isn't logical) to offer such "seva" as is meaningful to them.

This is not just an empty quibble. It does have behavioral consequences. So, for instance, preity's father-in-law (in the comment above) doesn't look after his father, and that's bad. But that does not necessarily say anything about the seva he does at the Dera.

I'm not defending either that gentleman or this community, I have no skin here, but I felt I should point out that we're talking of two separate things here. (a) This man does not look after his father, and (b) He does seva at the Dera.

The two don't really relate to each other, do they?

That he does not look after his father is bad, but it would have been just as bad if he stopped doing that Dera seva as well, wouldn't it?

And it would be very good if he did start looking after his father. It would be good irrespective of whether he continued his Dera seva or not.

To go back to the main article, are we perhaps making a mistake in assuming that what they (RSSB) want is "selfless" seva, as opposed to seva done to their deity and done as they direct, but done selflessly? Two very different animals.

Of course, whether the whole system of RSSB is "the one path", or just a good system, or simply bull, well that is another matter. If the system is bull, then everything to do with it is bull, selfless or otherwise.

One question : we seem to be tacitly agreeing that selfless service is good. Is it? Why? (Service to deity X done per system X, done selflessly, is good if you follow system X. That is different. You either follow X, or you don't. But what I'm saying is, why do we seem to assume that selfless service is good simply because it is selfless? -- Or aren't 'we' saying that at all?)

My personal opinion after spending 1968 to 1996 involved with the organization is that RSSB is simply bull. However, some of the seva (service, selfless or not) done by some devotees for the organization could be called "good", i.e. helping out at the charitable eye camps for the impoverished needing cataract surgery. (I hear they don't do that any more.)

One kind of seva done at the Dera was carrying baskets of dirt on your head with masses of other devotees to reclaim land. If someone did that because they felt it was good for their personal salvation in lieu of attending to an ailing parent, I would say that seva was selfish, negligent and therefore "bad". They sometimes had thousands doing that dirt (mitti) seva. One dirt carrier would never be missed.

Tucson:
It's difficult to understand how you were involved in RSSB for 28 years before you realised it was "bull". I simply find this difficult to believe. I think after a couple of years one would know the truth or untruth of such a teaching.

Elizabeth,

You could compare RSSB to many religions. It is a matter of faith. One day you just realize that you don't believe in it any more. When this happens depends on the individual and could occur after a few years or never. People gain experience and their outlooks change at different rates or sometimes not at all.

With me RSSB just sort of sloughed off like a snake sheds its skin. Now, on the outside looking in so to speak, it is hard for me to believe I ever fell for it. I think I just wanted it to be true, so I turned a blind eye to my reason and instincts.

Back in 1991 I saw the current RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh, in San Francisco. I was sitting there in the auditorium looking at him and then at all the followers gazing with adoring rapt attention and something just clicked within me. I felt like I didn't belong there like I was in a foreign country. Something about it just didn't seem right. These people were brainwashed, hooked by a dream, a wish, a hope and were blinded by it. From that seminal moment my involvement became less and less until it was nothing at all.

I think after a couple of years one would know the truth or untruth of such a teaching.

If you've never been caught in a net of religious nonsense, Elizabeth, you've no doubt observed the flopping fish who have. They're in there because it's comforting and reassuring to have nothing better to do than flop around with other floppers.

Of course, every now and then a fish flies out upon realizing its predicament, but almost invariably, it flings itself into another net.

Katherine W,

I am going to change my tone from what I wrote above. Actually this is a big departure from what I have been writing on this blog for about seven years. Seven years? Yikes!! I need to get a life.

However, I am going to be brief.

Since all manifestation is ultimately illusory and objectively non-existent as other than self, all manifestation is therefore at the same time equal as a reflection of the formless Absolute. Nothing is other than It. So, anything can take you to Truth because everything is Truth while being at the same time illusory. When the discursive thinking mind drops, comes full stop, this seeming paradox is understood. So, if RSSB appeals to you, go for it. Any sort of discipline that puts the brakes on our conditioned relative thought processes such as repetition of names, merging into the guru's form, listening to the sound can all lead to a moment of clarity where our true nature is revealed. This can also happen while peeling potatoes. Ask any jnani, zen master or sage that comes your way. And don't take my word for it which I would hope you wouldn't without me having to say so.

all manifestation is ultimately illusory and objectively non-existent as other than self, all manifestation is therefore at the same time equal as a reflection of the formless Absolute. Nothing is other than It.

I'm sure you recite this mumbo-jumbo to yourself all the time, tucson, but must you publish it? If it's working for you, why can't it be your little secret?

If I have a cold, I stay home so as not to "share" it with anyone, but those stricken with religious conviction feel obligated to spread it around.

Religion is a virulent, contagious disease; if you've got it, keep it to yourself.

I have nothing against you cc but you are spreading also just that your view is contra but you are also spreading.

Hello tucson. Thanks for responding to my comment.

Not to flog this overly much, but this isn’t an either-or thing, is it? You seem to be saying that that man isn’t looking after his father because he’s doing mitti seva instead. It seems to me that he’s not looking after his father because he’s an a-hole. Were he to stop this mitti seva business, he’d go philander that additional time and energy and money away, or perhaps go clubbing or golfing, or even simply go work more at his office or shop or wherever. I doubt he’d use that time and money to look after his father, because he’s an a-hole. (Had he not been an a-hole, he’d have looked after his ailing father over and above his Dera work.) An a-hole’s an a-hole, and it’s he who is to blame (if judge and blame we must), not his extra-curricular hobbies.

Again, I’m not attempting to defend the man or the Dera people (neither of whom I have skin in), but merely pointing out what appears to be a logical offside in the position you’re taking. And (for what little that is worth) I empathize with preity’s disgust at her father-in-law’s conduct towards his father.

Anyway, that was only quibbling about a minor point. The major point, the far more important issue, is whether the system itself delivers on what it promises. And your own answer there, tucson, after long years of trial, seems to be an unequivocal No. (Actually your experiences in RSSB is something I’d love to know some more about, but since I’ve already asked that question in a comment to another of Brian’s posts, the more recent one about his mystical experiences, I won’t repeat it here.)

And to go back to Brian’s original post, and to what I tried to say in my original comment, was there perhaps some confusion on what seva is? Why even expect selfless service? Perfectly selfless service (or perfectly selfless anything) appears (to me at least) to be either impossible or insane. (Or enlightened, perhaps? Just kidding!)

cc, I’m just a newbie here, but I found your STFU comment to tucson a bit disconcerting. You needn’t believe him, or even read his comment if it's distasteful, but that’s what discussion boards like these are for, for discussing along broad subject lines (in the case of this blog, spirituality), isn’t it? I mean, practically everything on this website would be seen as mumbo-jumbo by most ‘normal’ people! Sorry, couldn’t help chiming in with my (entirely unsolicited) two cents on that. No offence meant! (For the record, I had to slowly, very slowly, read that paragraph of tucson's, twice or thrice over, before I understood what he was saying. And I am by no means sure that he's anywhere near right--or wrong.)


I had to slowly, very slowly, read that paragraph of tucson's, twice or thrice over, before I understood what he was saying. And I am by no means sure that he's anywhere near right--or wrong.

What is your understanding of what he was saying? Can you explain it? Tucson can't, yet he repeats it and publishes it as if it was a profound truth. Does it describe anything real, demonstrable, or is it just soothing gibberish for a feeble mind?

that’s what discussion boards like these are for, for discussing along broad subject lines (in the case of this blog, spirituality), isn’t it?

Good question. On the face of it, this blog seems to be about liberation from religious nonsense by means of reason and the scientific method, but when you read the comments, they're usually from believers seeking to "share" their precious nutty notions, so I'm not sure what this blog is about. It's a mystery, a conundrum, beyond our comprehension, and one can only have faith that at some point, all will be revealed.

Moongoes and New reader,

I agree with your comments.

New reader, I have commented on RSSB many times here. In short, I don't think the gurus have the powers attributed to them. I wouldn't trust Gurinder, but then others think he is just swell. Who's right? I think it is OK to have a drink of beer, to miss a day of meditation, to have some sex, to eat some meat. I think it is OK not to do those things. It depends on the circumstances and reasons why you are doing or not doing those things. There are no rules. What rules would Infinity/Absolute have or be concerned with if it is beyond time and relativity? All things deemed good or bad occur within It, as It. It is both sides of the coin and neither, I think.

I am flattered that some people find some of my writings worth reading a second time, to even bother to take the time to comment on how they like or dislike them.

New reader wrote: "And I am by no means sure that he's anywhere near right--or wrong."

That's the spirit!! That is what I am pointing to. We all have to see the Truth beyond words and concepts for ourselves.

We all have to see the Truth beyond words and concepts for ourselves.

This is the crazy notion underlying all religion. Truth is self-evident or demonstrable and has nothing to do with conviction. Tucson's stated belief, which he can recite but can't explain, is not truth.

The religious mind scoffs at this definition of truth because it believes it can go beyond the limits of the mind, "beyond words and concepts", as tucson says.

The religious mind is a mind addled enough to believe it can transcend itself; a mind that proves, demonstrates, exemplifies, the capacity for grandiosely delusional thinking.

Cc you sound religious

CC, this might be for you? Look what happens to a real religeous skeptic, who makes a life out of proving believers wrong. But she gently rebutts,.....( but thorougly) Fundies with facts, with out sarcasm . She converts Fundies to Skeptics, with out .....sarcasm. Mabe a lesson here for yuu? Smiling.

http://www.truthbeknown.com

She converts Fundies to Skeptics

She probably does, but I don't think she'd have much success with those who speak knowingly of that which is "beyond words and concepts" and can't be explained. They may be beyond help.

Sorry you don't like sarcasm.

Hello again, cc. What is tucson talking about, you ask me. (Sacastically I realize: but feeble-minded or not, let me still take that question literally and answer you.) tucson is talking of Shankara’s Advaita. It is a beautiful philosophy, and not particularly difficult to understand :

One single spirit. Everything else illusory. Duality drops off at finest level of Realization, and the seer experiences then this non-duality first-hand. How to get at that experience? Many methods. Some use mundane everyday reality, others use esoteric inner realization, but the end result of all spiritual endeavour, taken to its logical end, is the same : realization of the non-dual nature of reality.

Is all this true? Don’t know!. I myself keep an open mind. Could be pure fantasy (like you’re saying) ; just perhaps, could be the real deal (as tucson seems to be saying). Because I don’t know, but am interested to find out more, I like reading stuff like Brian’s blog posts.

Does tucson know what he’s talking about? (Asked rhetorically, I realize, but still.) That’s for him to answer, not me. I myself have no idea, but again, pending confirmation one way or the other, I prefer to keep an open mind.

Thanks for the heads-up on proselytizing attempts by zealots on this blog. I’ll remember to stay on guard against that possibility. :-)

Note about atheism : In my book, atheism is as irrational as blind faith. I say there’s a giant pink elephant in a far-away galaxy, that created this world and controls everyone’s fate. That makes me nuts. You say there’s no such thing, can never be such a thing, and anyone who even thinks about that possibility is feeble-minded. That makes you a bigot. Agnosticism is, to my mind, the only rational outlook. You may be agnostic and look for proof, or you may be agnostic and not care a hoot, but if you’re not agnostic you’re not rational. Until such time, that is, as you arrive at proof, one way or the other. At least that’s how I look at it. Isn’t that how science works, by treating hypotheses as hypotheses, and neither accepting them nor rejecting them until experiments validate (or invalidate) them?


tucson : As you say. It takes one enlightened master to know another. Greetings from Shambala!

Sorry, couldn’t resist that! :-)

Afraid all I meant by that statement to cc (that you quoted) was that I do not know if you are right or wrong, nothing deeper or more profound than that. I probably look (and sound) wiser than I actually am! :-)

One single spirit. Everything else illusory. Duality drops off at finest level of Realization, and the seer experiences then this non-duality first-hand.

This doesn't explain anything.

"tucson : As you say. It takes one enlightened master to know another. Greetings from Shambala!"

-- Who would be enlightened? There can't be self or other because there is no self that is not other, or any other that is not self. I guess the enlightened "One" is in there somewhere but it doesn't know it.

There can't be self or other because there is no self that is not other, or any other that is not self.

When you believe you understand what is "beyond words and concepts" and can't be explained, you can make idiotic statements with impunity.

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