Today Arjuna left an intriguing question in a comment on my post, "Why I stayed with a religion for 35 years."
Hello Brian, I trust you are well?
May I ask a question and if you don't wish to reply - please don't. In what ways did you begin noticing Gurinder Singh was just as imperfect as the rest of us?
This may help this soul as I need closure on the above question.
I'm pleased to reply to you, Arjuna.
Here's some experiences that come to mind. Understand: my memory about some details of what I'll describe below regarding Gurinder Singh Dhillon is sort of hazy, since many years have passed. But I'm quite confident that the basic message of what you'll read is correct.
Irritation with a manuscript. l heard this story from someone who either had written a draft of a book to be published by Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB, the organization headed by the guru) or had brought a draft written by someone else to the guru. Regardless, I was told that when the person entered a room where Gurinder Singh was meeting with several people, he picked up the draft and threw the stack of papers at them.
I had the impression that the guru was angry about the manuscript. As you might expect from the way ardent disciples act around the guru, the person who told me the story seemed to feel that what Gurinder Singh did was justified -- maybe as some sort of lesson that the person needed to learn.
However, this story disturbed me at the time, and it still does today. If anyone else had done what the guru did, a CEO of a company, say, we'd say "He acted like a jerk." I no longer believe that a guru's negative actions should be interpreted generously. If a guru acts badly, let's just say it like it is -- acting badly.
Upset with a photo being taken. In the 1990s Gurinder Singh began visiting the United States. Since I was learning karate at the time, I ended up being assigned to security seva (service) when the guru gave talks in Palm Springs, California. I remember being with the guru and other people when he was walking around the venue, an auditorium complex. I believe Gurinder Singh had just visited the child care area.
We were outside on a walkway when the guru saw someone quite a ways away taking a photo of him. At this time the guru had a strict rule, no photographs. But the person taking the photo was on public property, as was Gurinder Singh. Nonetheless, some RSSB security people dashed over to the person with the camera and demanded that they surrender the film (this was before digital cameras).
In retrospect, this was a ridiculous demand.
Like I said, the guru was out in public. It is totally legal to take photos of people in a public place. Yet for some reason that I still don't understand, Gurinder Singh was adamant that no photographs be taken of him, and if any were, the photo had to be destroyed. Now I'm bothered both by the fact that the guru had this attitude, and that his devotees (of which I was one, back then) were so willing to comply with anything the guru wanted to have done.
Jiti Khanna's resignation as an RSSB representative. On another visit, Gurinder Singh visited Vancouver, B.C. Once again, I got to do some security seva. Mostly I, along with other volunteers, hung out at the place the guru was staying, a home belonging to Jiti Khanna, who was the RSSB representative for British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest (where I lived, in Oregon; I wrote about a charming episode with Dr. Khanna in "From Sant Mat to Buddhism.")
It was a fascinating experience.
Back then I was very devoted to the guru. One night I was assigned to stand outside the window of the room where Gurinder Singh was sleeping. At 3 am I recall wondering what the heck I would do if a van, say, pulled up with armed Sikh separatists who wanted to do the guru harm. I figured that the only thing I could do was try to stop them, even though I couldn't, because it would be too shameful to have failed to try to protect the guru, even if I lost my life.
Anyway, I thought it must be wonderful for Jiti Khanna and his family to be hosting the guru in their house -- getting all up close and personal with him. So it was quite shocking to hear that soon after Gurinder Singh's visit, Dr. Khanna resigned as RSSB representative and reportedly became a Buddhist. I have no idea what led him to do this. It just struck me as strange that after having some intimate contact with the guru, Dr. Khanna did what he did.
What did Jiti Khanna see in Gurinder Singh? I don't know. But if he had seen a God in Human Form, as the guru is supposed to be, seemingly he wouldn't have resigned his representative position and turned to Buddhism.
Life is Fair cover screwup. I spent several years writing a book for Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), the Indian spiritual organization currently headed up by Gurinder Singh, who succeeded Charan Singh. I agreed to write Life is Fair after being told that one of Charan Singh's wishes before he died was to have a fairly short book that described the karmic rationale for being a vegetarian.
Since Charan Singh was my guru, I felt this was a wonderful opportunity to do some volunteer service in the name of my guru. I ended up traveling to India to finish up the book with the help of Faith Singh, who was in charge of the English language books published by RSSB.
After I got home, the process of publishing started. I recall that I got an email from one of the volunteers working in the Publications Department that there was a problem with the first batch of books, several thousand copies I seem to remember. Gurinder Singh, had personally chosen the type of paper for the cover. But it turned out to be too thick, so it was difficult to open up the pages of the book.
When I got a copy of the book and saw the problem with the cover, I had the thought, "But how could this happen if the guru is supposed to be a Perfect Living Master?" However, at the time I believed that whatever the guru did had some deeper meaning, even if his action appeared imperfect. Now, though, I consider that Gurinder Singh just made a mistake with the cover.
So here's four stories that are some of the reasons I became disillusioned with the guru.
As I said in the above-linked post, I also was bothered by seeing that disciples/initiates who had the closest contact with Gurinder Singh appeared to be no more "spiritual" than me or any other ordinary person.